Monthly Archives: March 2018

Maundy Thursday Bread

Bread for Breakfast: the first meal of the day.
• Matthew 6:9
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

I’ll bet you’ve never thought of your hours of sleep as fasting but that’s what they are. This “break-fast” meal is nourishment that only comes from heavenly food.  The downloadable graphic image at the left is created by Pastor Greg Long and used with his permission.  Click on the image to enlarge it and print.   Jesus’s familiar prayer can become bread for your daily nourishment.

Bread for Lunch: A meal eaten in the middle of the day.
John 6:32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven…35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.

Lunch is often a meal eaten on the run, “sandwiched” in between that first awakening and the end of the day. Doesn’t that sound like a metaphor for the span of our life on earth? Jesus declares “it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven…I am the bread of life.”  He is our spiritual nourishment for this “middle of the day meal” we call life.

Bread for Supper: the final meal of the day.
Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.“

Jesus had probably eaten many evening suppers with his closet friends. Unlike  other meals they’d shared, this “last” supper was to become one they’d never forget.  A simple piece of bread and an ordinary cup would become enduring reminders for his followers of a life link between them.  Jesus still honors his covenant to nourish “his” life within us through that bread and cup.  He doesn’t need to be reminded about that, but today we do.  

Focus of Preparation

•Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.
•Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. [Deut. 8:3]’”

Jesus was sending his disciples out for a very special purpose.  That didn’t just happen, it took time to prepare. That’s what makes his instructions to the disciples so interesting. “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” It seems like comfort and convenience weren’t to be a part of their preparation. I wondered about the “no” parts.

The disciples were prepared to go out to “proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick”  but why not send them out with those small things that could give them comfort and convenience?  Did Jesus have in mind his own experience of being tempted in the wilderness as he gave them those instructions?  His own temptation had not been about hunger at all. The tempter had used comfort and convenience in his failed attempt to entice Jesus to settle for any means to an end and become a “convenient” Messiah.

Jesus still wants his disciple’s focus of preparation to be on proclaiming the truth that protected him from the temptation to settle for any means to an end – the word of God.  “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  There’s bread enough to last until tomorrow morning.  I invite you to check back then for fresh Maundy Thursday Bread.

Jesus Chose

Matthew 26: 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

“There always remains a choice to be made between the creative power of love and life and the destructive power of hatred and death. I, too, must make that choice myself, again and again. Nobody else, not even God, will make that choice for me…
Reading the Signs by Henri Nouwen

Jesus chose to reveal himself rather than hide in that garden. Jesus was not the hunted victim of Judas’ betrayal. He chose Judas. He chose the time. He chose the spot. He chose God’s will when he could have chosen rescue for himself. This is an heart-inspiring truth to think about this Palm Sunday because of what we know is coming.

Not even God, His Father, made that choice for Jesus.  Jesus chose…to rescue us instead! Hosanna!

It’s a Daily Thing

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law. [NIV]‬‬

I try to find ways to read Scripture to experience it’s meaning for my life. That one word “freedom” and the association Paul made to the fruit reminded me of a study method I’d learned from William Barclay’s commentary. Jewish Rabbis would study Scripture based on these four words that formed the consonants of PaRaDiSe:
1. Peshat – literal
2. Remaz – suggested
3. Derush – investigative
4. Sod – allegorical

That idea of reading Scripture as a connection to paradise seems helpful and right. Here are my cliff notes if you want to try this method of studying the Bible for yourself.
1. What is the simplest possible meaning?
2. Is there a sub-text meaning?
3. What can I learn from references, footnotes & commentaries
And finally the bottom line…
4. Can I see how to make these truths a part of my daily life?

1. Paul tells us our freedom was the whole point of what Christ did to free us from the “law.” We have within us a willful desire to identify freedom with being satisfied that what we are doing is right if we meet certain requirements. √
2. Relying on what we think God requires of us instead of Christ changing us is an invisible barrier that distracts us from the real freedom God means us to experience. √
3. New thoughts from Rev. Bruce Puckett at Duke University. “We are a society and a culture that loves (and I mean loves) to talk about freedom… we’ve looked for the wrong fruit within a community and called it freedom. We see…desire for more and more and more — and call it ambition and success. We see strife, dissensions, and factions…and call it our right to individual opinion, and options from which to choose.” √
And finally the bottom line…
4. Pay attention to the distractions of daily life. Don’t let them become an invisible barrier that settles for “fake” fruit. “Walk by the Spirit…” and choose a serving from the fruit of freedom: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  It’s a daily thing.

PTL for Seeing Reality

We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord. —Colossians 1: 9–10 NRSV

Today has become one of many meaningful lessons for me since I created this site. I decided I should tackle The Revelation. I’d spent 4 or more hours to come up with what I thought would be my first post until I read the last few sentences of what I’d written:
…from my point of view the end times began the day Adam and Eve ate that fruit. End times are all I’ve ever known. I’ve spent more than half my life learning to live with, and from, Jesus. Personally it matters more to me that I know the end of the story than the details. Jesus wins…and I’ll be there with him.’

Then I had my own revelation and had to confess and pray ‘I can’t do this.’  It was humbling to admit that A. I didn’t have the theological expertise to understand all that symbolism and B. I didn’t really care about the details. I feel twinges of guilt about both “A” and “B” but truth is a reality of God’s will and that reality is a process not a program you can decide on.   And…I do know the end of the story!

In the meantime I rediscovered the reality of this prayer from Colossians and by changing the pronouns to personal ones it could become my prayer.  I also found  this quote in Reading the Signs of Daily Life by Henry Nouwen; “theology is all about—looking at reality with the eyes of God.”  I really did need a spiritual eye check-up to see God’s reality.  I’m am not a theological scholar but I am learning to see the reality of God’s will at least some of the time.  PTL for seeing reality.

Cause and Effect

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I’ll bet most of us have thought about our own salvation in terms of surrendering our circumstances and behavior to God. There may be as many stories of personal conversion as there are saved people. That testimony almost always states the effects, the blessings, of “our” surrender to him.

This quote from My Utmost for His Highest reminded me of the “cause” of my surrender: “The fact that He [Jesus] saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.”

It’s a blessing to live with the effects of our surrender but there would be no blessing without the reality of John 3:16. It was God’s “total surrender” of his own son Jesus on our behalf that caused our surrender to effect his blessings in our life. We surrender to God because he first surrendered to us!

I Think it’s Safe to Say…

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
2 Timothy 1:9 NIV

•”So many have the idea that in sanctification we draw from Jesus the power to be holy. We draw from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him… This is the mystery of sanctification… it is His holiness in us.” Oswald Chambers from Our Brilliant Heritage.

This Scripture reminded me how easy it is to equate holiness with behavior. Holy behavior is an convenient yardstick for us but even that good thing can be a problem if it’s the goal instead of the outcome of a relationship to Christ Jesus.     I’ve actually never thought in terms of holiness and power before. It seems an odd combination to me. Then I realized I’m sitting here with the perfect object lesson. Remember this is meant to be a spiritual comparison to ponder for daily life not an ad for digital devices.

I think it’s safe to say right now you’re reading on your computer, an iPad or maybe a smart phone.
•These are all amazing devices created for an important purpose. In my comparison these devices would be us. We are created for God’s own purpose that we might life a holy life.
•These devices have given us finger-tip access to almost limitless information. In my comparison this would be the resources of faith that God has made available online including many versions of the Bible and commentaries of saints, old and new.
•The bottom line is these devices are dependent on a source of power outside themselves. They have to be regularly recharged or they are not able to do what they were created to do.

I think it’s safe to say that is the bottom line of my comparison too. We are dependent on a source of power outside ourselves to live a holy life. Our holiness is “not because of anything we have done but because of his [God’s] own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…” Our power source is this: “We draw from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him…”