HE TOOK THE LOAVES

Jesus therefore took the loaves.
 John 6:11
I love the pictures painted in the gospels. What a masterpiece is painted by today’s short, simple verse; the little boy’s lunch in the hands of Jesus. This is the way Jesus works even today, we look to Him in our need and He wants to know what is in our hand. Recently I was reminded of a powerful lesson the Lord taught me as a young Christian. I was driving home after looking for a job after just arriving at Bible School when I randomly picked up a hitch hiker. As I shared Christ with this apparently homeless man the Lord kept telling me to give him my lunch. You see I had my lunch under my seat. But that was not the whole problem, I needed a job, I was out of money, and there was no more food at home. I remember giving this man my lunch in reluctance as he climbed out of my car. But here is the best part, when I got home there was a package waiting for me, loaded with groceries full of my favorites from my mom. What a great lesson, our provision is right there in front of us, that day it was in the form of my last lunch. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on today’s verse. 
“For most of His miracles, God makes use of material. Here Jesus accepts five loaves and two fishes. He might have turned stones to bread, but He did not. He chose instead to work with what was offered Him. “Bring them hither to me,” He said. What He does, He does through us. All miracles begin here, with my all in His hands. Keep my loaves to myself, and one man is fed. Give them up to Him, and shall I go hungry?

In a day of extreme national poverty, the prophet Malachi brought to Israel God’s answer to her problem. It was: bring the whole tithe into the storehouse—and see! It takes only a tiny stopper to close a very large bottle, so withholding from us its entire contents. And heaven is like that. Often for us there is no miracle simply because we give God nothing to work on. He asks only a very little—what we have! But He needs that.”
So there you have it, the miracle has been in your hand (or in your pocket) all along. It doesn’t take much, it only takes trusting in the Lord. After all, He has you in His hand. 

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES EASTER MAKE?

Rom. 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 

The disciples had no idea about the resurrection and what it meant. Like, all of the rest of us they had other fish to fry. Like what? Like how does Christ’s death effect me and my family? How am I going to provide for them? Are the Romans coming after me next? They had no idea why Jesus had come, what His death meant, and if the resurrection would even happen. But it did and it changed everything. The resurrection was not just about Jesus coming back to life, it was about all of us. It was about our whole being. Resurrection life was to effect our whole being; our thoughts, our health, and our very reason to live. Putting it mildly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything. Now this same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in our mortal bodies. We have received more than we could ever imagine. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on the resurrection. 
“He that had power to restore him to life, has power to give life to you. He that did, in fact, restore him to life, will also restore you. The argument here seems to be founded, first, on the power of God; and, secondly, on the connexion between Christ and his people. Because I live, ye shall live also Shall also. The sense is, that under the gospel, by the influence of the Spirit, the entire man will be made alive in the service of God. Even the corrupt, carnal, and mortal body, so long under the dominion of sin, shall be made alive and recovered to the service of God. This will be done by the Spirit that dwells in us, because that Spirit has restored life to our souls, abides with us with his purifying influence, and because the design and tendency of his indwelling is to purify the entire man, and restore all to God. Christians thus in their bodies and their spirits become sacred. For even their body, the seat of evil passions and desires, shall become alive in the service of God.”
So in effect Easter has changed everything. We are different kinds of people now. We have received a different Spirit. We have been made alive with the life of God. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now dwells in us. He is quickening our lives with resurrection power. 

THE TORN BODY OF CHRIST

Therefore, brothers, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place,
by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened

for us through the curtain, that is, his body.

Heb. 10:19–20
Why such suffering? Why was Jesus beaten so mercilessly? The prophet Isaiah said that He was marred more than any other man. This visual and public beating of Christ was important. God was speaking to all of us with visuals that are hard to ignore. Just as the Old Testament temple was filled with illustration, so was the death of Christ. Just as the veil in the temple spoke to us about being separated from God because of our sins, the beating and death of Christ speaks to us about the price involved to redeem us from our sin. When the beating and crucifixion was complete an earthquake tore the veil in two. Flesh had been torn, the veil was rent, the way into God’s presence was now open. Here are some words from Andrew Murray on this new and living way. 
“In the temple the veil hung like a curtain between the Holy and the Most Holy Places. At the altar in the entrance, the blood for the forgiveness of sins was sprinkled. The sprinkling of blood gave the priests permission to enter the Holy Place to burn incense there as part of the offering. But into the Most Holy Place only the high priest could go, and only once a year. The veil can be seen as a symbol of the sinful nature. In spite of the forgiveness of sins by the sprinkling of blood, entry and fellowship with God were forbidden. But when Christ died, the veil was torn. Christ showed the new, living way to God through the torn veil—His body. The new way, through which all believers now have access to the Most Holy, always goes through the torn veil, the body of Christ. There is no other way to God than through the torn body of Christ.”
This is the message of Easter, we have been given a new way to live our lives. What is this new way? It is life behind the veil, life in the very presence of God. This is why Jesus died, there is no other way to approach the Lord. We must come as Murray says, “through the torn body of Christ”. 

The life of God is immortal!

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” John 11:40
What a week Martha and Mary were having! Their brother Lazarus had died and Jesus was no where to be found. I know as a minister this isn’t the best way to “win friends and influence people” when your not around for a “family disaster”. In fact, he purposely stayed away. McClaren commentary called it the delay of love. Learning to abide, and enter into the rest of God becomes a Christian’s way of life. So many of us become spiritually bankrupt when we refuse to wait upon our master and see the glory of God take place in a situation. 

Like Mary and Martha we will be always surrounded by people who only see the death and sorrow of the situation that is facing us. But when we let Jesus take us by the hand and bring us to that tomb of death, he always speaks life. He wants us to see the glory of God in the situation.

Expositor’s Bible says, “Eternal life He defines, not as a future continuance to be measured by ages, but as a present life, to be measured by its depth. It is the quality, not the length, of life He looks at. Life prolonged without being deepened by union with the living God were no boon. Life with God, and in God, must be immortal; life without God He does not call life at all. His life is hid with Christ in God. It is united to the unfailing source of all existence.”

It’s time to allow Him to uncover the tomb of dead things. He commands those things to be loosed and let go. What do you need to be loosed today? 

DEAD MEN WALKING

Now if we died with Christ,
we believe that we will also live with him.

Rom. 6:8
Nobody wants to die. Paul didn’t want to die; but die he did. The day he died started like most of the others. Paul was headed to Damascus and was determined to stop the growth of those heretics called the Way. He hated Christians and everything related to Christianity. Paul had to die. It was either him or them; he died that day with an unexpected encounter. His old life was gone when he met Christ on the Damascus Road. The Lord had others plans for this new Paul. He was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, unthinkable. That Pharisee had to die for that to ever happen, there was no way he would want to bring life to the Gentiles. From this day forward Paul was crucified with Christ, you could say he had become a dead man walking. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on today’s verse. 
“The reason why God’s children so seldom live in the power of the resurrection is that they have so little insight into dying with Christ. This becomes clear with Paul’s words: “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.… The death he died, he died to sin once for all. Therefore, says Paul, we must remember that we are dead to sin and alive for God in Christ Jesus. These words give us God’s assurance of who and what we are in Christ. It is a truth that we cannot master with our minds or call our own, but which the Holy Spirit must reveal to us. Through His power, we must experience the death of the cross as the power for our daily lives. Then together with Paul, we can also declare that we will not place any part of our bodies in the service of sin or as an instrument in the pursuit of godlessness . Every part of our bodies will be given to the service of God, for a holy life.”
So maybe you need to die. None of us want to but after it happens you could never go back to that old you. There are places the Lord wants to take you and things He has planned for you to do that you would never consider; at least you wouldn’t consider them until you too experience this untimely death. Yep; you too will join the forces of dead men walking. 

PRUNED

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:2
I often think of the pruning season of the vineyards next to us in California back in Bible school days. Those beautiful green vines would suddenly be pruned back to what looked like stumps. Who would ever think that pruning was the way to fruitfulness? Like clockwork, every spring, the vines would grow back again preparing for another season of harvest. Before you knew it,the vineyard was alive again. From the first growth of the early spring, to the vines bending from the heaviness of the fruit. Pruning plays a major role in it all. Pruning is important, without it there wouldn’t be much fruit. The Lord Himself is the farmer, He knows exactly what needs to be pruned away. He will prune back members of His body to prepare the way for future growth and harvest. At the end of the day the Lord is after fruit, fruit is the glory of the Lord. Here are some of Luther’s thoughts on today’s verse. 
 “God separates the wild branches from the others so that they won’t spread and spoil the true vine. God singles them out to protect the true vine. He determines which ones should be cut off and tossed into the fire. But it all appears very different to us. We see these wild branches growing and spreading. They are much stronger and thicker than the others. They look like the only true ones that will produce fruit. In contrast, we appear small, puny, and unfruitful. Yes, people want to root us out and cut us off as useless and unfit. But the false vines appear as if they will remain forever, and the entire world respects them highly. We need spiritual understanding and vision… From the time of the apostles until now, many heresies have challenged the teachings of Christ, of baptism, of the Lord’s Supper, of justification by faith, and so on. These heresies are so pervasive that it appears they are correct teachings and the Christian church might pass away. But God has cut off all of these wild branches and preserved his true branches, so that we nevertheless hold on to right teaching, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as the apostles gave them to us.”
We have to trust the Lord when it comes to pruning. When He gets out that pruning knife it is never fun. We have to trust Him to cut away. He cuts away stuff from our personal lives as well as things or people from His body. He is the Vinedresser, we are just branches. As He nourishment flows into us, before we even know it, growth begins to appear all over again. 

FORM OF GODLINESS

2Tim. 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 

Paul gives a pretty direct description of the last days in today’s verse. Actually, it is quite terrifying. He talks about loving ourselves and loving money and being proud and arrogant. He also mentions being traitors and pleasure lovers rather than loving God. The part that scares me the most is the one that at first glance may not seem like that big a deal. He warns about having a form of godliness without the power of God. Wow! Have you ever been to that church? Everything is perfect. Slick marketing, slick preaching, great youth and children’s programs but one little problem; no power. The power of God has been replaced with an outward form of godliness. The Fire Bible speaks about this description of the perilous, last day church. 
 “Paul is referring to those who claim to be Christians, appear to be religious and seem to do the right things, but who do not have an authentic personal relationship with Jesus. Their lives are not characterized by the spiritual power that frees people from sin, selfishness and ungodly behavior. Such people tolerate immoral behaviors and lifestyles in their churches and among those who claim to know God. They even teach that a person may practice these sins and yet still be spiritually saved and have a part in God’s kingdom. While Christians need to reach out and maintain positive relationships and influence with people who do not know Christ, they are to “have nothing to do with” hypocritical people who pretend to follow Christ but are simply trying to fool God and others. Such people tend to distort Christ’s message, mislead others spiritually and cause divisions in the church.”
Some may think that Paul was a little harsh; I don’t think so. He was warning us about the danger of moving away from the power of God in our churches. You see it is the power of God that enables us to live a different kind of life. Without His power we begin to deteriorate into the list of sins that Paul used to describe the last days. Rather than pursuing pleasure in God we replace it with the pursuit of pleasure in worldly activities.