Normally The Familiar isn’t a good thing because it keeps us from experiencing the Adventures God has for us. It denies us the wide open spaces where we uncover and discover the greatness and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. It hides and denies us the truth that we can do anything through Christ who strengthens us. The wide open spaces teaches us how to hold on to God in every situation and throughout all seasons.
But. . .but sometimes we need to go back to The Familiar–the good Familiar. I’m talking about those times and places where are reassured of God’s faithfulness to us–even when–especially when–we have been unfaithful. Or maybe it’s a season of doubt where we struggle to embrace our future. Even David, the mighty King and Warrior, needed to go back from time to time to The Familiar. Psalm 23 places were essential for David. Before he became a mighty warrior and long before he became the Mighty King, David was a shepherd. And when life as a Warrior or as a King became difficult, I can easily imagine David singing this Psalm to himself–maybe even out loud.
As a shepherd in the wide open spaces, David experienced the faithfulness and provisions of His Heavenly Father. Imagines of green pastures and still streams helped him remember the Faithfulness of God. I have my places where I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. Sometimes all I can do is go there in my mind. And sometimes I can literally visit those places. Each time I find myself renewed and refreshed, and enabled to go forward into “my” unknown future, but a future that is known to God–and a future where I know He is right there with me. What are The Familiar places for you? Places where God’s amazing love and grace overwhelmed you? The Familiar isn’t a place made to live in–but it is the place to visit where we find the reassurance we need when the Journey becomes difficult.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements Jesus Ever Made. We are looking at some of those rich and powerful moments when Jesus said: “I Am.” Remember that Jesus never said “I Am” because He didn’t speak English. He would have spoken Hebrew and the word he would have used was Yahweh. Yahweh is the name God revealed to Moses.
It Is God’s Eternal Name, His Name For All Generations To Remember. Jesus uses that Name at Mission Critical Moments. He doesn’t just claim to be Yahweh; He backs it up with truth and Kingdom Principles. Let’s look at John 6:32-51 (The Message)
32-33Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.”
34They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!” 35-38 Jesus said, “I Am The Bread Of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me.
Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
39-40“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then Aligns With Him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
41-42At this, because he said, “I Am The Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
43-46Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come.
Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see Me.
47-51“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I Am The Bread Of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I Am The Bread—Living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
Have you ever thought about how images of bread are used in our ordinary day to day life? “That’s the best thing since sliced bread. He’s rolling in the dough (meaning money). Their bread isn’t buttered on both sides (meaning they lack common sense). Man, he’s toast.” In Middle Eastern culture, and Mediterranean culture, eating bread together is a sign of friendship and connection. Bread is a symbol for life.
When It Comes To People’s Spiritual Lives, They Will Be Living EitherThe Manna Life Or The Living Bread Life. There is a sharp distinction between the two. There is no confusion about which life we are choosing to live. And make no mistake about it; it is our choice whether we live The Manna Life Or The Living Bread Life.
Let’s find something we can all agree on: We have no control over some things that come our way in life. There are some things that happen to us that are absolutely beyond our control. Does everyone agree with this? I didn’t say we liked it; just that it happens.
Now, my next point is something that you may dislike even disagree with, but it’s the truth: We Do Have Control Over How We React To Those Times. How we live each day and our reactions to life as it happens is the result of what we feed upon each day. If you can remember only One Thing today, then remember this:
Your Heart, Life, And Mind Are Being Fed By Either The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life. One life never satisfies and the other will always satisfy and see us through anything that life throws our way. Let’s see the difference by setting up today’s passage. The day before Jesus had fed a large group of people with a young boy’s sack lunch of 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. Now Jesus and the 12 are on the other side of the lake, and the people have come to Jesus again. This time they are seeking a sign. They wanted a sign from Jesus before they would accept Him as Messiah. They pointed out that Moses had given them Manna as a sign that God was with them. Now they want Jesus to give a sign that God was with Him.
OK, excuse me, but He has turned dirty water into the most extraordinary wine, healed every disease put before Him, cast out demons, opened eyes and ears, and gave voice to those who could not talk. And added to all that, He taught the Kingdom principles with authority, like no one else ever had. And Now, they want a sign? Jesus doesn’t waste His time or their time. More Than A Sign, Jesus Talks About Life Through The Images OfManna Life And Living Bread Life. Think about the differences.
1. First, Look At The Manna Life.
What does this life feel like? Let’s go back to the time when God gave them Manna. It appeared every morning on the ground. Each family could pick up enough for just 1 day, and no more—except on Friday. Then they could pick up enough for 2 days. It never lasted longer than that. Every meal was the same. The husband or kids never asked, “What’s for supper?” It would be manna casserole, manna pot pie, manna sandwiches, manna stew, manna soup—and for dessert it was always manna cake. I mean, there was not a whole lot of variety to their meals. And they had to do nothing to do to get it. They didn’t have to trade or buy or barter for it. Every morning, day after day after day, there it was. And here was where the problems started. It produces the same problems today:
They Believed They Were Entitled To It. They did not have to buy it and it was always there every morning. They begin to feel like they were entitled to it. Few things are worse than living every day with a sense of entitlement—that life owes you something simply because you are breathing and alive. Living With That Evil Spirit Of Entitlement Will Remove From Your Heart Any Sense Of Gratitude. Oh, for sure, at first they were grateful. But after only a few weeks of it, things changed. First, they always expected it to be there.
They Got Tired Of It. But can you blame them? The same meal day after day after day is enough to make them want something else. This is what the Manna Life is like. It’s waking up every morning to the same routine.
There Is No Sense Of Excitement In TheManna Life.
There Are No Adventures To Explore in theManna Life.
There Is No Anticipation For Anything Different To Happen In TheManna Life.
It’s The Dull Life. Nothing to inspire the mind or stir up the heart.
It’s The Life That Is Afraid To Get Out Of That Comfort Zone. It produces its own kind of Comfort that becomes more important than Purpose.
It’s The Life That Is Unwilling To Take The Risk. Playing it safe is the key to survival for them.
It’s The Life Spent In Waiting And Then Wondering Why They Never Experience The Great Victories In Life. Now mind you, they haven’t sought great victories, they’ve never engaged in the battle—but they expect great victories and are disappointed.
And For Church People, It’s The Life Sitting In The Pew Sunday After Sunday, Who At Best Think It Is Enough, And At Worst Think This Is All There Is To It. They never get to experience the surprises of God’s presence, God’s grace, and God’s activities. And sadly, they never experience the joyful surprise of being used by God to touch another life and watch God change that life.
It’s routine life, nothing is more unfulfilling, and few things make a life more ungrateful, than the Manna Life. These people around Jesus thought they wanted the Manna Life. But Jesus did not come to bring the Manna Life, but something so much better. He came to bring them and us the Living Bread Life. Jesus is much more than a free lunch or a vending machine dispensing what we want.
2. Now Look At The Living Bread Life.
What does it feel like? Look like? Allow me to sum it up for you.
It Is The Life That Is Deeply And Intimately Connected To Our Heavenly Father Through Christ Living In Us. It is living your life with the assurance and confidence that Jesus actually lives in your heart as more than just a presence—He lives in you so that you can grow to become all God sees in you!
It’s A Life That Is Abundant In Power, Love And Grace. There is more than enough of Jesus living in the heart of every believer to accomplish everything that God wants. It’s more than enough for today. It’s more than enough for tomorrow, and the next day and the next, all the way to eternity. There is more than enough grace, more than enough mercy, and more than enough love to lead us right up to the very throne of God.
It’s The Life Of Adventure. Living Bread Life calls us into an adventure where we trust in Him to provide what we Cannot See Or Even Imagine. God wants to take you on an adventure in life where nothing is bland or dull. It’s the life of excitement knowing that Jesus lives in you, and that He is going to use you in ways you never imagined.
It’s The Life Of Exploration. It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants done. God is anything but predictable when it comes to how He works in this world. It’s going down different paths, trying new things. The only thing we know about the future of this life in grace is that one day, we will end in His eternal presence.
It Is The Life Of Contentment. There will be times of abundance in our life. And there will be times of scarcity. There will be times when all of our ducks are in a perfect row. And there will be times when the ducks will scatter in all directions. There will be times when the sailing is smooth as silk. And there will be times when it will feel like we are on a monster roller coaster. But the one thing about the Living Bread Life is that in every condition and situation, we learn to be content—that we are at peace with God, self and the world.
The only source of life for all of this—comes through the only thing—rather the only ONE—who will be present in both extremes and every point between them. I’m talking about Jesus living in your heart. You know He is the one who blesses us far more than we deserve. And you know He is the ONLY one who will stand with us to strengthen us and guide through the rough waters and over the steep mountains.
We can choose to accept the Manna Life with all its Hollowness. Or we can choose to accept The Living Bread Life with all its Hallowedness—by inviting Jesus, The Living Bread, into our hearts. For someone here today, this may be the very first time for you to invite Jesus into your heart.
For the rest of us, it’s our time to renew our decision by inviting Jesus to go deeper into our hearts. Just bread on the table will leave us hungry again. But the ONE who dares to call Himself Yahweh! Living Bread, can and will satisfy our deepest hunger and deepest thirst. Since you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s a Next Step:
Select A Verse Or Passage That Speaks About God And Your Relationship With Him—Then Read That Verse First Thing Every Morning And Make It The Last Thing You Read At Night.
Change the verse or passage every Sunday. Here’s mine for this week: Isaiah 55:10-11
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with My Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.