Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bread of Life!

Psalm 117

1 Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.

Reflection: This is a short but sweet psalm, which was used in singing. It reminds us that we do not need to be too wordy to praise the Lord. It is not the amount of words we use, but our adoration and thanks that accompany our praise. Sometimes we can just meditate on one word or phrase of thanks or praise, and that can bring us into the company of saints who praise God all day long.

1 Samuel 30,31
David Destroys the Amalekites

30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

9 David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.

11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”

He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”

15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”

He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

Reflections: This was one of David’s darkest hours. His wives and kids had been taken off as plunder by the Amalekites, and the troops were angry with him and talking about stoning him. So we read why he was such a great man of God. It says, “David found great strength in the Lord His God.” Notice too instead of reacting and going after them what does he do? He brings Abiathar the priest and inquires of the ephod. This was a way of asking God if it was right to go ahead and pursue the raiding party. And God answered (how He did this we are not sure), “Go ahead you will surely overtake them and rescue them.”

In David’s darkest hour, family gone, the men mad at him, he is tired and hungry, and fortunately runs into an Egyptian who helps out in God’s providence. Then, we see why he was such a great leader. He found strength from God and did nothing without inquiring of the Lord before he presumed to know God’s will.

How do you make tough decisions when the chips are down? Let’s learn from King David today, a man after God’s own heart, who listened to God even when all around him were questioning his leadership ability, and his family was gone. Thanks God for a great model in King David, we look forward to meeting him some day!

John 6:25-42
Jesus the Bread of Life

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

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. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Reflection: Jesus is trying to teach the disciples about his true identity as the Son of God, and how by knowing him they will be able to do the will of God. Before the Word of God was external through the Law of Moses, and now the Word had become flesh and was dwelling among them. The disciples however were still focused on their own physical needs, and not realizing that Jesus would satisfy their deepest needs. As they fed on the Bread of Life, their lives would take on an eternal quality. He also reminded them that it was not what they did that brought them to eternal life, but their relationship with God the Father through God the Son.

Meanwhile the Pharisees grumbled completely missing the point and thinking only of the earthly Jesus the son of Joseph, instead of realizing that He was the Bread of Life. Through this claim Jesus is indirectly claiming that He is the Son of God, and eventually this will get him killed. Bread was God’s provision in the wilderness and now, Jesus is the Bread of Life that had come to give them life.

As the saying goes, “We all have a hole in our soul that only Jesus can fill.” Where are you getting your bread of life? The bread the world offers will only temporarily satisfy, but the bread Jesus brings us will satisfy us both now and forever. As we believe in the Son that the Father has sent, and continue to abide in Him and He in us; our lives will take on an eternal quality and do the works of the One who has sent us.

I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously. Exodus 15:1

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace. Ephesians 1:5-6

Too often we are blinded by mindless focus on the tasks and routines we have set for ourselves. Let us stop now and pause in gratitude, for we are your beloved children through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Blessed be your name! Amen.

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