Advent Reading Day 6:  Jesus is the Bread of Life

“Yes, I am the bread of life!   Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.  Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” -John 6:48-51 NLT

Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means “house of bread.”  Bread was a staple part of Israel’s diet and is ours today.  Bread was also used in different acts of worship.  It was given as a first fruit offering or a peace offering.  The twelve loaves of unleavened (without yeast) bread (Bread of the Presence) symbolised the covenant between God and his people.  This bread was placed in the temple sanctuary next to the Most Holy Place as a constant reminder to the priests that it was God who fed and looked after the 12 tribes in the wilderness.  Bread was consumed at the last supper representing Christ’s body.

 

Jesus spoke of Himself as the bread of life after he had fed the 5,000.  The bread that was given was made out of barley (John 6:13).  Barley loaves were made by the poor, it wasn’t the wheat bread of the rich.  But Jesus distributed it amongst everyone and they ate to their fill.  After everyone was filled rumours started roaming around the crowd.  They started remembering the stories of manna that fell from the sky to feed their ancestors thousands of years before.  They began to think maybe Jesus could indeed be their Messiah.

However, they wanted to make him King.  Jesus knew what was going on in their hearts and he left to a more secluded place.  His disciples caught up with Him and Jesus began to teach about the true meaning of the Bread of Life.  The bread He gives does not spoil like the manna did.  If we eat of His flesh we will never be hungry again.  Yes, those words may sound gruesome, but please read on.

It’s easy to fill ourselves up on things of this world- money, success, comfort, pleasure, fame, fortune… but none of these things really satisfy our hearts.  Jesus longs to fill us with His presence.  If we feed on His Word, take time in His presence, things of this world will not matter so much.  Ask Jesus today to help you feed on Him- his life, his Word, his promises.  Tell Jesus you are hungry for more of Him.

Prayer:

Jesus, this world has a lot to offer me.  I can have all the riches of this world but none of them can satisfy my spiritual hunger except you.  Jesus, I am hungry for you.  I want more of you.  I want to be filled with your presence, your life, your peace and your joy. Satisfy me with your body, the bread of your holy presence.  Nourish my soul today.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study:

John 6:1-14,22-58; Psalm 78:24-25; Isaiah 55:1-2; Luke 22:7-22

 

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Advent Reading 5:  Jesus the Prince of Peace (Part 2)

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!  -John 20:19-20;26-27 NLT

Jesus spoke the familiar words “Peace be with you” to his disciples when he saw them after his resurrection.  He didn’t rebuke them for betraying him or running away when he needed them.  He blessed them instead with shalom, peace.  A week later he greeted Thomas with the same words- “peace be with you.”  He knew that Thomas struggled with his faith, yet Jesus didn’t condemn him, instead he then invited Thomas to touch his wounds to see that he indeed was alive to help his unbelief.

The wounds of Jesus brings us peace.  Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world that brings division, strife, anxiety and pain.  He took on pettiness, self-righteousness, bickering, anger, gossip, jealousy, lies, child abuse, slavery, drunkenness, rape, murder, adultery, and much more. Because he took those things upon himself whilst on the cross, he made a way for us to be healed and forgiven.

Jesus says to us “shalom aleichem,” “peace be with you.”  Peace with you in your relationship with God.   He has forgiven you, He is the Prince of Peace.  That peace can be yours if you allow him to live in your heart.  Allow your life to speak shalom to those you meet today.  Greet others with “shalom aleichem,” as you do you will be imparting blessings into their lives.  Jews greet each other this way, what a wonderful blessing to share!

Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for taking my sins upon the cross.  Thank you for bringing peace into this world.  I admit life around me is crazy and I sometimes forget about your peace. I try to live life my way and I realise I cannot do this on my own. Help me to rely on you and put on your clothes of peace.  As you spoke the words of peace to the disciples instead of condemning them, help me too to forgive others that may have wronged me, help me to forgive even myself and may your peace indeed rule in my heart.  Jesus help me to speak blessings of peace into those I meet today.  May my life be an example of your shalom.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

For further study:

Colossians 3:12-15; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 32:17-18; Philippians 4:4-9

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Advent Reading Day 3: Jesus is the Light of the World

“God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony.   John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.  The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” -John 1:3-9 NLT

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” -John 8:12 NLT

Jesus is the Light of the world. The phrase Light of the World is only used by Jesus twice when speaking of Himself and once for His disciples.  He calls us to reflect His light to a dark world.  Whoever believes in Christ becomes like Him reflecting light in a dark world.

The Bible uses a lot of images that relate to light- pillars of fire, burning lamps, consuming fire, etc.  Jesus is the Divine Light; His light is so powerful that it cannot be overcome by darkness, sin, and death.  Light was created by God when the earth was yet void.  Over and over again, God is seen as light: the psalmists talk about God being wrapped in light as in a garment, Moses shone with God’s light when he came down from the mountain full of glory and Jesus shone with brightness in His transfiguration.  Revelation states that in heaven there will be no need for the sun to shine for the glory of God gives light and Christ is His lamp.

Christ came as a Light of the World.  He desires us all to know Him and believe in Him.  He desires us to have His presence living in us.  When He does, we will also shine His light. Those who do not know Him are still walking in darkness.

As Light, Christ will bring justice for those who are oppressed, mercy to the suffering, healing to the sick, strength to the weak, hope for the hopeless.  Christ was so determined to bring us to His light that He spent 9 months in the darkness of His mother’s womb in order to be one of us.  He then suffered in darkness on the hill of Calvary.  Christ came as Light, He is Light and He will return as Light.  When He returns the veils of darkness will be gone and everyone will know He indeed is Lord of all!

Prayer:

Jesus, Light of the World, our world is so full of darkness.  People cannot see you as they are blinded and do not know the truth of your love.  Even I was once in darkness.  Forgive me for my blindness and unbelief. Help me to see your light, help me to follow you. During this Advent season help me to shine your light and glory. May others see your light and want to know you as their Lord and Saviour. Shine Jesus, Shine, fill this land with Your glory, blaze Spirit blaze, set our hearts on fire!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

For further study:

Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 60:2,19-20; 1 John 1:5-7; Matthew 5:14-16: Revelation 21:22-27

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Advent Reading Day 2: Jesus is the Word

“In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” -John 1:1-3; 10-14 NLT

John calls Jesus the Word or Logos in the beginning of his Gospel. John wanted us to understand that Jesus is God’s creative, amazing, life-giving Word. In verse 14 John says that the Word became flesh or human and made His dwelling among us. The word for dwelling is linked to the word for tent or tabernacle. Jewish readers would understand this word “dwelling” as a reference to the tent of Meeting where God’s glory dwelt before the temple was built in Jerusalem. Jesus was made flesh, carrying God’s glory, calling out to us to bring us back to God.

The incarnation of Jesus is the most compelling revelation of who God is. He loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. As He spoke in and through Jesus as the Word, He desires to speak to us. The question is will we listen and believe or will we turn a deaf ear to Him.

Jesus is still speaking to people today. He gives us assurance that He is with us. Nothing can tear us away from Him. The Word of God, Jesus, speaks hope, love, healing and peace into the world. May Jesus, Logos, the Word made flesh, speak to your hearts today and may your ears be opened to listen.

Prayer:

Jesus, you are the Word made flesh. You speak your love and peace to a world that is full of darkness and despair. Give me ears to listen and a heart ready to do your will. Help me to declare your Word to those around me. I may be the only Bible/Word that others will read/see. Help me to be confident in your power and love. May others see Jesus, the Word made flesh, living in me. Amen.

For further study:

John 5:24-26; Luke 11:27-28; James 1:22-25; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Revelation 19:11-15

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Advent Reading Day 1: Jesus is Immanuel

“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.   And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”   All of this occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” -Matthew 1:18-23

 

The name “Immanuel” appears twice in the Old Testament and once in the New. It may be considered one of the most comforting names of Jesus. It is literally translated as “with us is God” or as Matthew says, “God with us.” Our sins made it impossible to come to God, however, God sent His Son to us to cancel out the power of sin. In Jesus, Immanuel, we see how extreme God’s love is for us. Immanuel, God with us came to rescue, redeem, and restore our relationship with Him.

 

What does it mean that God is with us? It doesn’t mean we will have easy lives or we will be kept from failure or struggles. But it does mean that we don’t have to face these things alone. It means that God will enable us to go through them with His presence and strength.

Remember this the next time you feel discouraged, lonely, abandoned or afraid. Jesus is our Immanuel! He is indeed “God with us”.

 

Prayer:

Immanuel, I praise you for your faithful love. Thank you for drawing me close when I was far away. Instead of pushing me away because of my sins, you came to free me. Immanuel, you are with me forever. You promised you will never leave nor forsake me. Abide with me. I glorify your name.

Immanuel, come again. The world is in need of you, your hope, your joy, your presence. O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny; from depths of hell thy people save, and give them victory over the grace. Rejoice, rejoice, Immanuel shall come O Israel. Amen.

 

For Further Study:

Isaiah 7:14; Psalm 139:7-10; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5-6

Matthew 1.23

Let go and let God!

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  –Matthew 11:28-30

God is saying to you and me today to “Lay down our burdens.  We’re carrying burdens that we don’t need to bear.  Give them to Him for He cares for us.”  When we do give them up, we will experience great freedom within our relationship with Him.

Jesus tells us to come to Him when we are weary and tired.  He realises that we are prone to carry heavy loads and that we tend to try to do things in our own strength.  However, He promises us that if we give Him our burdens and cares, He will give us rest and a load that is much easier to carry.  Sometimes we carry around burdens that really do matter.  However, most of the time, we carry extra and unnecessary baggage around.  David talks about his guilt weighing him down and being overwhelming (see Psalm 38:4).

2 Corinthians 5:4 says: “While we live in this body, we have burdens and we groan.”  We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home.  Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life.  – It is human nature to groan about our burdens.  We know that there is a better life beyond this.  Whilst we are here on earth, we are not exempt from burdens.  It’s because we desire to be clothed with life.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7- “Give all your worries to Him, because He cares about us.”  God has a plan for us, a great race for us to run.  We will go places where we never thought that we would and we will serve in many ways that we could have never dreamed.  However, burdens hinder us from fulfilling what the Bible describes as our responsibility to care for others.  God desires for us to show mercy, kindness, and gentleness to others.  Help the weak, comfort others as we have been comforted, care for the interests of others and help with other’s troubles.

If we want to be truly free, we must give our everything to God.  Give Him our burdens and cares.  Allow Him to give us His load which is far lighter than ours.  For the sake of our God we serve, let it go.  For the sake of those we love, let it go.  For the sake of our own joy and the joy of others, let it go.  God is saying to us, “Lay it all down, children, let it go and I’ll carry the heavy load.”

Deuteronomy 33:12 says “The Lord’s loved ones will lie down in safety, because He protects them all day long.  The ones He loves rest with Him.” Notice what God tells His children here; we can lie down in safety, God protects us whilst resting in Him, and the ones God loves rest with Him.

Sometimes we find this very difficult to do, because we are so used to carrying our own burdens.  But Jesus says in John chapter 8, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed!”  If He promises us that we will be free in Him if we give our burdens to Him, would we not want to live in that freedom?  What are some things that may be hindering that freedom within our lives?  May it be stubbornness, pride, or even fear?  It’s not easy to let go and let God take complete control of everything.  It’s like a prisoner that is held in ball in chain, being set free, but not willing to take off the chains.  What chains are holding us back to being all that God desires us to be?

God wants us to let go of the old man.  Let go of worldly desires, such as uncleanness, passion for worldly things, evil desire, covetousness, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying. Let go of the guilt from the past.  Let go of the troubles that wear us down.  Then God says to us, put on the new man, clothes of righteousness, etc.  When we put on the things that God desires us to wear, to carry, etc. we will have the peace of God rule within our own hearts.  People will see the difference within us and will be drawn to God through us.

The only way that we can put on godly attributes is to let go of the worldly and ungodly ones.  Laying down our heavy weights of the world at the foot of the cross and allowing Jesus to carry them.  When we do this, we will experience a great freedom in Christ.  Paul tells us in Galatians 5:13, “My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self.  Serve each other with love.”

Mary, like the rest, stood amazed at the appearance of Jesus in the room.  She had been weeping since Friday, when news of His capture and trial had reached her.  Her heart had been pierced at the sight of Him, beaten almost beyond recognition.  But a mother always knows her son.  She had longed to run to His side, to clean the blood from His face, and sooth His tattered back.  She had wanted to stand between Him and the Roman soldiers, protect Him from His persecutioners.  When the nails had pierced his hands, she’d turned her eyes from the scene, but she’d stand her ground.  She would not abandon this precious son, her gift from God.  And thought it had broken her heart, she’d stayed nearby until he was gone.  She had seen Him dead.  And yet here He was, alive!  And in his resurrection, she found freedom.  She was free from the approval of the temple leaders, free from all her little motherly worries about him, free from the tensions and sibling rivalries within her family, and free from the sorrow that had pierced her heart like a sword.

We too can all have this same freedom.  If we are living in Christ, living in His power, putting on the clothes of righteousness, and letting go of all the burdens and weighty burdens we carry, we can experience freedom as Mary did: freedom from approval of the world and freedom from the heaviness that comes with carrying everything on our own.

Jesus invites us to drop all the baggage at the foot of the cross that we are carrying in this life.  He doesn’t want us to keep trying to carry these burdens alone.  If our hands are so full carrying this heavy load, we are not able to reach out to others in need.  Worrying about life and all its troubles, not letting go and letting God will interfere with our ability to help others with their troubles.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free….Therefore if the Son makes you free, you are shall be free indeed!

Lay it all down, children, let it go and I_ll carry the heavy load

The Double-Edged Sword

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints, and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12 NIV

I had a vision of a beautiful sword which was stuck in the ground. The area around the sword was full of leaves and darkness.

I carried a much smaller sword, more like a dagger. I heard God say to me to pick up the large sword in the ground. Tried as I may, I could not.

I cried out in anguish and asked why I could not. The Lord gently said, “You can’t pick the sword up in your own power. You need the Holy Spirit’s power and the Word of God inside you.”

So, I prayed and asked for the power of the Spirit to fill me and give me the strength to pick up the sword.

I then, in the power of the Spirit, lifted the sword out of the ground. It was stunning with beautiful gems encased on the handles. There were delicate inscriptions down the length of the sword.

The Lord clearly told me to be ready. This was the sword of the Spirit and I was to use it in battle. He told me I needed to hide the Words he says in my heart. He told me the sword was very powerful.

I read that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. I heard the Spirit speak to my heart to pray the word of God over myself, family, the church, world events, etc. The word of God is powerful and can penetrate the heart of man. The power of the Holy Spirit makes the word come alive. The only way to carry the sword is through the power of the Holy Spirit and hiding God’s word in my heart. Otherwise, it is too heavy and burdensome.

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The Amplified version of Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energising, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature]. Exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The word of God is simply the word God speaks. Anything that God says penetrates the heart. Have you ever listened to a sermon and felt like someone saw the real you or stepped on your toes? It wasn’t the minister who did this, it was the Word of God.

Whenever the Word of God is spoken power is released. God spoke the world into being by his Word.  God’s word does not return void but accomplishes what it sets out to do (see Isaiah 55:11). God’s word endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). Christ will return with a sharp, doubled edged sword (the word) coming out of his mouth (Revelation 1:16). He will strike down the nations and rule them from the sharp sword (the word) coming out of his mouth (Revelation 19:15).

Jesus is the very Word of God (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13). When we are born again, the word changes us and fills us with his Spirit (John 3:34; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The word is used in battle against Satan and his demons (Ephesians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 10:4). And by his word, Jesus will war against them when he returns (Revelation 2:16).

Because of the power his word has, I believe we need to pray his word. Lysa Terkeurst says, “When we pray the Word of God, we pray the Will of God.” She also says in her devotional book, Embraced, “When God’s Word gets inside us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs, and our desires. Our soul was tailormade to be filled with God and His truth; therefore, it seeps into every part of us and fills us completely.”

God’s word has the power, through the Holy Spirit, to change lives and situations. His word reaches down into the deepest part of us, the marrow inside of our bones! It reveals the true intentions of not just our actions but our thoughts. His word sends the enemy fleeing! This is the reason we need to always have the Sword of the Spirit (the word of God) as part of our daily armour (Ephesians 6:17).

Don’t just read the word or study it. Memorise the word. Write it down. After having this vision, I was really convicted about praying the word over everything. I struggle with memorising due to brain fog with illness, however, I have a notebook in which I write scriptures in to pray. I have different colours for them. I have one colour for praise, another for confession, and another for every day prayers. Whatever is the most helpful to you is good. Just do it.

Praying the word releases God’s power into ourselves, our family, our situations, everything we pray for. His word is powerful. Don’t go without it!

Prayer: God, your word is power. It penetrates deep into my soul and spirit. Your word sees everything about me, my intentions, my thoughts, my actions. Your word changes me. Sometimes it steps on my feet and I don’t like it. However, I know the words are from you and I need to hear what you are saying. Help me to pray your word each day. Help me to memorise and learn it. Help me to live it in my daily life. Thank you, Jesus, for being the Word of God. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for empowering me and making the word come to life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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