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“Heart’s Desire”

Psalm 21: 2, 6: “You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips … For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.” Verse two gets everyone totally excited, but those who know David realize what He’s talking about. All the material wealth he eventually received as king was never his goal at all; he received his heart’s desire from the joy of God’s presence. So can you!

“No Mask or Chest Protector Required”

Job 9: 32, 33: “For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together. There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both.” In baseball, the umpire is the one who makes decisions and settles disputes, keeping order on the field. Before Christ there was no umpire in the Game of Life between God and man. But now He, our Mediator (1 Timothy 2: 5; Hebrews 8: 6), has come to bridge the gap between us (Isaiah 59: 2). Now, everybody wins. Play ball!

“Comforter?”

Job 8: 3, 4: “Does God pervert justice or does the Almighty pervert what is right? If your sons sinned against Him, then He delivered them into the power of their transgression.” Check out Bildad (also known as Captain Condemnation). Imagine, he’s supposed to be comforting Job! Would you want him at the wake of one of your relatives? It just goes to show, consolation is an art practiced by many, but mastered by few.

“Opening the Door”

Acts 10: 2: “… a devout man, who feared God with his whole household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.” Imagine the dilemma of this centurion: He loved God, not just any God, but Jehovah God, with all his heart and soul, and expressed it every way he knew how, yet could not be accepted into the congregation of believers. But with Jesus Christ, all that changed. In the Holy Spirit, all that changed. And though it took a while for the Church to accept it, eventually they got the message: God is not one to show partiality! (v. 34)

“What Is Real?”

John 6: 63: “It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Is Jesus backpedaling here from His earlier statement, saying that it is ‘spiritual’, and thus unreal? Just the opposite. This verse emphasizes and reinforces everything in this sermon known as the sixth chapter of John, for the spiritual is more real than the realm of the five senses, and will last a lot longer.

“Of Trees and Eucharist”

John 6: 53: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” There’s an old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” It means that we focus so much on details, sometimes awesome or startling details, that we miss the big picture. We must beware of approaching this powerful verse in such a manner. Yes, it boggles the natural mind, but this is about the Spirit; and Jesus’ spiritual message, based on His metaphoric introduction to this verse that started in v. 26, is this: He is our rock-bottom, core-level source, and there is no life without Him.

"Purity of Commitment"

“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him … he who eats this bread will live forever.” The Samaritan woman testified to her neighbors after having an encounter with Jesus and they believed in Him. But they went further and came to Him, asked Him to stay with them and received Him. They themselves then had a direct, personal encounter with the Messiah and found life. That’s what’s made available to us at the table of the Lord. But we have to come to Him and receive Him, that He may abide in us and we in Him.

CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL

Throughout this chapter's discussion about the bread which gives life, Jesus' words have been greeted with misunderstanding, confusion, and objection from the crowd. In verse sixty we hear about the reaction from the "disciples" (in John not to be equated with "the twelve"; see verse 67). We may expect better things from them. After all, they were the ones who sat together with Jesus at the beginning of this text, who followed Jesus' instructions in gathering up the leftovers of the bread and fish, and who were rescued from the storm at sea by Jesus. Thus we may be stunned when we hear that the disciples are now the ones who are bothered by what Jesus has said. We may have been tempted to si

“Come One, Come All!”

John 6: 44: “No one can come to Me, unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” Now comes the big excuse: “I’d love to come into the things of God, but it’s only for those He draws. How do I know it’s me?” You know because “it shall be that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2: 21), and “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10: 43). Everyone includes you. The King James Version used the word ‘whosoever.’ Whosoever includes you. So consider yourself drawn. Come and join!

“Will of the Father”

John 6: 38, 39: “For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me. And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Our pattern in all we have been talking about this week is, of course, Jesus Christ. His own will: to have a normal life, to settle in as an influential rabbi in Jerusalem, or to call twelve legions of angels to deliver Him from His passion, didn’t matter. To raise us up, even at such a cost to Himself, was His only passion, His only desire. The will of the Father over the things of this life!

“Join the Party!”

Acts 8: 29-31: “And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’ And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ’Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” If Philip had remained aloof, what would have been the result? Isaiah would have remained a closed book to the Ethiopian official, and he would have returned to Africa the same man who came to Jerusalem. Again we see the importance of thinking beyond one’s self!

“The Price of Infidelity”

Judges 18: 20, 21a: “And the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod and the household idols and the graven image, and went among the people, then they turned and departed.” Micah had deserted the God of his fathers, made a graven image, and hired himself a rogue priest to help him and his family worship it. With such infidelity sown in the situation, who could be surprised that the hireling priest would snatch the first available opportunity for advancement, and leave Micah with an empty altar? Selfishness begats selfishness, and those who think only of themselves end up with only themselves for company.

“Keep on Keepin’ On”

Acts 8: 4: “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” Those who were in Jerusalem had most likely been there their entire lives; people at that time were not as nomadic as today. What a major upheaval it must have been for these early believers! But although their circumstances, their routines, their entire lives, had been changed, one thing did not: they kept on preaching the word for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ and His neophyte Church. Uncertain as life must have been, their love and devotion to God and His people remained sure!

“We’re All in This Together”   (with apologies to High School Musical)

Psalm 106: 4, 5: “Remember me, O Lord, in Your favor toward Your people; visit me with Your salvation, that I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance.” How many prayers like that in verse four are prayed solely for the benefit of self? But this psalmist knew the bigger picture: God’s chosen ones, His nation, His inheritance. In other words, His people. In the Kingdom of God it’s all about communion and the greater good.

"Purity of Sustenance"

All of us need food to live; a person will die if he does not eat for a period of time. In today’s gospel Jesus presents Himself as “the Bread of Life”. We need to understand the intentions of Jesus Christ: Why is He so persistent that we acknowledge that in Him we have eternal life? The repeated words “truly, truly” warn us to pay attention and give importance to what He is saying. One must not take for granted the Eucharist, the Table of the Lord. It is not just a symbol or a mere part of the liturgy. Partaking the Body and Blood of Christ is receiving Christ into your life. One must understand that the very life of Christ is in you as you partake of the Eucharist. Yes, it is true that wh

"Purity of Sustenance"

I am the living bread that came down from heaven." If you believe God can become man, shouldn't you believe God can become bread? But more than just a matter of doctrine, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a means of grace to bestow life and aid us in our goal of becoming like Him. And that's the whole point; elements are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus so that recipients can be transformed into the image and likeness of God. And have His life. In short: God assumes flesh, we consume that flesh, we have life.

“Lame, in More Ways Than One”

John 5: 15, 16: “The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had made him well. And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.” Phycologists have a great time with this character. He has lots of excuses for remaining lame, and afterward shows no loyalty toward the one who had healed him. Nevertheless, Jesus risked His own security to minister to him. The point today, as with much of this week, is clear: Our role is to minister to all with understanding, regardless of any foibles they may carry around with them.

“Untold Story”

Judges 15: 20: “So Samson judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” We can read Samson’s life tale in a few minutes, and it’s pretty much all negative. But we forget, he judged Israel twenty years! You never hear about that part. And remember the word of the angel to his parents, “He shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13: 5b) Didn’t he do this? And with a little more support and understanding, such as that which Jesus gave to the woman at the well, for instance (see Wednesday’s Office Memo), might he not have accomplished much more?

“Tale of Heartbreak”

Judges 14: 7, 20: “So he went down and talked to the woman, and she looked good to Samson … But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.” Whenever we read Samson’s story we make the same mistake that the people of that time did: we don’t see his side. But look at him from his own point of view. He really loved this Timnite girl, and he really was married to her, albeit briefly. All that was taken away by the treachery of his so-called friends and lack of support from his own people, who judged him based on their own fear. Shouldn’t he rate even a little of our pity? After all, the whole thing was “of the Lord” (v. 4).

“Revisionist History”

John 4: 5, 12: “So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph … ‘You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well?’” Talk about some serious revisionist history! Jacob had not been the father of the Samaritans; their race didn’t even exist until hundreds of years after Jacob’s time! No wonder the Israelites, the real children of Jacob, had no dealings with them! But did this stop Jesus from ministering to this factually-challenged person? Not at all, because He knew the role of Jacob’s children was to love and win those who had not a drop of Jacob’s blood.

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