discipleship

Higher Than Eye

 

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In Bible times, it was common practice for fishermen to use a cast net to trap schools of fish. A cast net was circular and had heavy weights around its edges with a pull cord attached to the center. When a school of fish was spotted, the fishermen would toss the cast net into the sea above the school allowing the weights to drag the net downward trapping the fish beneath. Once the fish were trapped, the fishermen would tug on the pull cord to draw the net either into the boat or to shore if the catch was too large.

It was this manner of fishing being employed by Peter and the disciples in John chapter 21. They had toiled all night without success.

It was oftentimes difficult for fishermen to see exactly where a school of fish were located beneath the surface of the water. Why? The fishermen and the fish were on the same level…shoreline. The fishermen’s line of sight didn’t grant them the best visual vantage point. This was most likely the problem in John 21. Peter and his band couldn’t see the school of fish from where they were standing. The solution? Jesus. He wasn’t on their level. He was on the coastline above the shore. From His perspective, the school of fish was easily seen on the other side of their boat. My point?

Sometimes, we cannot see the solution to our problem. We’re too close to it. The good news? All we need is the vision of the Master. We need the divine line of sight that is above where we are presently toiling. He can see what we cannot. Keep your eyes and ears inclined unto Him and He will reveal where to cast your net!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 58:8-9

discipleship

A Shepherd’s Toolbox: The Reed

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Every Easter, I try to learn something new about the Passover, the Passion, or the Good Shepherd. This morning, I began to think about a shepherd’s toolbox. There were a few interesting items in his tool chest including the sling, staff/rod, scrip, and reed pipe.

 Today, the tool that piqued my interest most was the reed pipe used to soothe the sheep. It was common practice for Biblical shepherds to fashion a musical reed pipe from two pieces of hollowed-out cane. The sound was made by blowing across a sharp edge. Notes were controlled by blocking holes with the fingers in each tube. This Biblical reed pipe is an ancestor of modern day “reed” instruments such as the saxophone, clarinet, oboe etc.

The materials for making Biblical reed pipes were very plentiful and readily accessible to shepherds. They were also extremely easy to make. Because of this, it was common practice for the shepherd to break and dispose of a torn reed choosing rather to craft a new one versus repairing the torn one. It is this custom that Isaiah referenced when he prophetically spoke these words:

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgement unto truth. Isaiah 42:3

You see, even though it was the custom of Biblical shepherds to discard a torn reed, it is not the practice of the Good Shepherd to do so. Jesus does not break and toss out the torn, bruised, and broken. He is and will always be a repairer of breaches. If this Easter finds you torn and broken, take heart…there is a Good Shepherd who will not cast you aside.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. John 10:11

Your brokenness does not repel the Good Shepherd. Your bruises do not offend Him. In fact, He was bruised for you. He bore your grief and carried your pain. Your peace is upon Him.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

The Good Shepherd will not break a bruised reed. Jesus is in the mending business!

discipleship

Your Voice + His Word = Change

the-creative-power-of-gods-word-in-prayer

You can wait out a storm but battles are won and lost in the fight. If you find yourself in the middle of a spiritual attack, FIGHT! You will not come out the victor until you do. In all the pieces in the armor of God, there is only one offensive weapon listed…the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17

Someone who is hungry wouldn’t sit in a room with a biscuit on the shelf all week long and wait to be spoon fed on Sunday. Dust off your Bible and dig out a word for your situation! Heaven and earth shall pass away. However, the Word is forever settled!

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24:35

For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89

Everything else is temporal…temporary, subject to change.

TEMPORARY
adjective tem·po·rary \ˈtem-pə-ˌrer-ē\
: continuing for a limited amount of time : not permanent
: intended to be used for a limited amount of time

What changes it? He does. Who is He? The Word. The Word is forever settled and He changes the times and seasons!

And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: Daniel 2:21

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Ecclesiastes 8:4

The angels hearken to what? The voice of my word? No! They hearken to the voice of His word.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Psalm 103:20

Your Voice + His Word = Change.

The angels are ministering spirits who minister for the heirs of salvation.

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14

We are washed by the water of the word.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word… Ephesians 5:26

In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Read: John 1:1-17

The word wasn’t made flesh one time only then mysteriously robbed of its power. It is made flesh over and over again when we speak it! God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils and he became a living soul.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45

This “living soul” is best translated “speaking or discoursing spirit.” Mankind was given a gift unlike any other in Creation!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil… Deuteronomy 30:14-15

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live..Deuteronomy 30:19

It’s your choice! Death and life are in the power of your tongue. What you speak will be made flesh. What we bind here is bound there and what we loose here is loosed there.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:18

When you speak the Word only, it supercharges your voice because it never returns void!

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

The centurion understood the power of the Word!

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Matthew 8:8

His words are spirit and life!

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

That’s why scripture identifies the Word of God as a sword. It is a weapon…use it!

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17

If you do not know the Word of God, you ARE NOT equipped for battle! Know it. Believe it. Speak it. Receive it.

Your Voice + His Word = Change

Related Posts:
Your Mouth Will Abort The Promise
A Right Appetite: Bread of God

 

discipleship

A Right Appetite: Bread of God

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

If we are to be blessed through spiritual hunger, what then will satisfy our hunger? If we are to be blessed through spiritual thirst, what then will quench it? In “The Right Appetite” series, we will explore a balanced spiritual nutrition plan that includes the Bread of God, Fruit of Praise, Living Water, and Oil of Anointing. In order to develop a right appetite, we must first understand the individual elements of the spiritual food pyramid. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the first…the Bread of God. What is the Bread of God?

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THE BREAD OF GOD:

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. John 6:33

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:35

We see, in these two scriptures, that Jesus is in fact the bread that came down from heaven. He, the Bread of Life, was born in the House of Bread (Bethlehem) and laid in a manager (feeding trough) for all the world to eat thereof. Great! We’ve established Jesus Christ is the bread we must eat. But, what does this mean? How are we to eat this bread? You see, the OT Jews were already expecting the Messiah to bring manna from heaven again. We can see this illustrated in numerable places. Here is my favorite.

Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. John 6:7-15

Okay, we see in this setting of scripture there were at least 5000 hungry mouths to feed (not including their wives and children) with only five loaves and two small fish. Jesus gave thanks and multiplied the resources. (Side note: If you want to multiply your resources…give thanks for what you already have.) Now back to it. Everyone ate their fill and the leftovers were so numerous they filled 12 baskets. When the men saw this miracle, they perceived Him to be the Messiah that should come into the world. Why? Was it because of the miracle? No, Jesus had performed 18 previous miracles. They already knew Him to be a miracle worker. That was the reason 5000 men along with their families were already following Him in this setting of scripture. No, they perceived Jesus to be Messiah because He supplied manna (bread) from heaven. In verse 15, Jesus perceived this new revelation was so powerful that the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him king. They received revelation and were beginning to make the connection between Jesus and the manna from Heaven but their revelation was not complete. Therefore, Jesus departed. On down in the chapter, the people pressed Jesus further:

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. John 6:31

To which Jesus replied:

…Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. John 6:32-33

Next…

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. John 6:34

And…

Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:35

This puzzled the Jews which heard it exceedingly.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? John 6:41-42

Their limited revelation needed to be expanded. Jesus obliged beginning in verse 48.

I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:48-51

We’ve scripturally outlined Jesus as the Bread of Heaven of which we are to eat. Like the Jews, this may present a new question for many.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? John 6:52

To discover how we are to eat His flesh, we must know more about who Jesus is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Here, we see the Word was in the beginning. The Word was with God. The Word was God. In verse 14, we see the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. At the end of verse 14, we see that flesh revealed as the only begotten of the Father. Who is the only begotten of the Father? John the Baptist reveals the answer in the next verses. Let’s read on.

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 1:15-18

So the Word that was with God, was God, and was manifest in the flesh as none other than Jesus Christ the only begotten.

Strong’s Reference:
monogenés: only begotten
3439 monogenḗs (from 3411 /misthōtós, “one-and-only” and 1085 /génos, “offspring, stock“) – properly, one-and-only; “one of a kind”
Literally: one (monos) of a class, genos |  the only of its kind

The manifested Word of God was declared unto the world through the flesh of Jesus Christ the one and only. The flesh of Jesus and the Word of God are one and the same thing. Most are familiar with interchanging the name Jesus with the term Son, Son of God, Son of Man etc. Below we find an interesting exchange of terminology.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 1 John 5:7

I highlighted the previous scripture because it further validates our conclusion that Jesus, the Son, and the Word are interchangeable. We see the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost phrasing used in the NT. Here, the writer interchanged the Word in place of Jesus or the Son because he understood the terms as referencing one and the same entity. This brings new light to our current question. How do we eat the flesh of Jesus. Now that we understand the flesh of Jesus to be the same thing as the Word of God, we can rephrase the question as such. How do we eat the Word of God? Phrased this way, the question makes more sense. When we study and learn the Word of God we are actually devouring the flesh of Jesus Christ. We now know that Jesus Christ is the real manna. The phrase “bread of God’ in Leviticus is actually referencing the bread of the Presence.

They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. Leviticus 21:6

Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy. Leviticus 21:8

How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Matthew 12:4

Showbread
(Hebrew: לחם הפנים lechem haPānīm‎‎, literally: “Bread of the Presence“), in the King James Version: shewbread, in a biblical or Jewish context, refers to the cakes or loaves of bread which were always present on a specially dedicated two crowned table, in the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to Yahweh.

An alternative, and more appropriate, translation would be presence bread, since the Bible requires that the bread be constantly in the presence of God (Exodus 25:30).

In the ESV, the term for shewbread is correctly translated as bread of the Presence as seen below.

How he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Matthew 12:4

SIDEBAR:

God’s Word, or the Bread of God, is further subdivided in scripture into two categories: milk and meat. Paul acknowledges feeding milk to some while reserving meat for others. (1 Corinthians 3:2) He also admonishes those who ought to be feeding others but instead have returned to the bottle and not the meat. (Hebrews 5:12) Can a mature Christian eat strong meat? Absolutely! More importantly, a fully mature disciple of Christ is one who digs into the meat of the Word not only for himself but for others. Like a breastfeeding mother, a fully mature Christian will hunt down dinner, prepare it first for themselves, digest it, and then deliver the milk to the youngling. In nature, we know breastfeeding is best for babies. The same applies in discipleship. Bottle feeding baby Christians does not deliver the same quality of nutrients, immunizations, etc. as breastfeeding. As disciples who desire to feed others, we cannot serve up another’s milk. The most effective discipleship happens when we personally break down the meat of the Word and build up our own milk supply for nurturing others. Mature Christians should be fully stocked with milk and meat and be able to discern who needs which. We’ll talk more about these subdivisions in the future.

In conclusion, Jesus is the bread that came down from Heaven. To grow spiritually, we must continually consume Jesus Christ…the bread of God…the Living Word.

FOR ADVANCED STUDY:

There is a connection here between the presence bread and Jesus Christ. As we read above in John 1:14, we know that Jesus Christ is the dwelling place for the Shekinah or glory of God. The person of Jesus Christ was how the world beheld or looked upon, the glory of God. It was this Shekinah, or glory, that was revealed to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark Chapter 9 when Jesus pulled back the veil of His flesh. Just as the presence bread is constantly in the presence of God, so also is Jesus Christ continually before the presence of God ever living to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25) The indwelling Spirit of God in the flesh of Jesus Christ ever lives, ever remains, in the Presence interceding on our behalf. Does this mean Jesus is praying continually? No, it means every time God looks upon a blood bought child of God, He must look through the veil of Jesus Christ. That sacrificial flesh is a continual reminder that the price has been paid once and for all. We are hid. Where are we hid? We are hid in Christ with God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then we too will also appear with Him in the glory. (Colossians 3:3-4)

Related Post:
The Right Appetite: Fruit of Praise (Pt1)