Tag Archives: Church

It’s not about the bread!

bradIn Matthew 4 we find Jesus being “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” We know that he fasted for forty days and nights, and that the bible clearly states (as I checked this against 5 different versions) that, “He was hungry.”  Forty days and forty nights, yea, he’d be hungry. He’d have a hunger inside of him that would literally make him sick, weak, faint and at this moment of weakness what should happen… The tempter came. “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Remember how hungry He must have been… his reply?

Matthew 4:4 – But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this part of scripture, but when I was reading it this weekend something struck me, one word, shall.

Just last night, I was having dinner with my parents at an Italian restaurant and of course there was bread, I love bread. Mom asked me, “would you like a piece of bread?” Of course I’d like a piece of bread, but you know man can not live on bread alone. Yup, that’s what I said. It’s what I’ve heard and I’m sure you’ve heard, lots of people say. “You know what the bible says…man can not live on bread alone.”

WAIT! The scripture says, man SHALL not live by bread alone. BIG DIFFERENCE FRIENDS! I thought to myself when I read this again last night… how did I miss it? So I went searching through every version of the Bible I have in my house, and do you know what I found? They all say the same thing.

King James: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

New International Version: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Revised Standard Version: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

New Living Translation: People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the Mouth of God.

The Message: It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.

Yes, I am telling you that man can live on bread alone, it’s not healthy, and I don’t recommend it. Bread may feed our bodies but not our souls. Only the word that proceeds from the mouth of God can feed our souls, make us whole, bring freedom, forgiveness and salvation. Bread may keep your body alive but will not give you life.

One of the definitions of the word ‘shall’; expressing an instruction or command, “Man shall not live by bread alone”, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:2-3 where Moses is exhorting the people of Israel to remember how God cared for them in the desert for 40 years stating in verse 3, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your father know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”

It’s not about the bread! It’s about living by the word of God. His promises are many and cover ALL our needs. We don’t need to focus on the immediate hungers of the flesh, we need to keep our eyes, hearts and hopes on him. Everything else is just a distraction and will keep us from fully living the life He has planned for us.

I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.

 

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Out of the mouth of Marcus

ED00393x_Eqyptian_Gods-EDMarcus is my 7-year old son (almost 8). He is bright, energetic (to put it mildly), intuitive and quite often very insightful. Right now, he is into watching bible movies, and to be honest, I’m loving every minute.

Last weekend we watched the animated story of  Joseph the King of Dreams and Moses back to back. While watching these movies, Marcus noticed that the Egyptian gods didn’t look quite human.

“Mom, did the Egyptian gods actually look like animals?” he asked. “I mean, in real life were they part animal, did they actually look like that?”

To which I replied, “no son, they didn’t look like that in real life. The Egyptians fashioned their gods out of a combination of human and natural/ animal characteristics.”

Marcus lifted one eyebrow (which I LOVE that he can do), and said the most amazing thing…”if the Egyptians made them, then how can they be god?” A pretty deep yet accurate question for my 7-year old.

I find myself lately in more and more conversations with individuals who seem to have a sincere desire to experience God, however they are incredibly uncomfortable with committing. They tell me that they believe in a supreme power but think that there is a lot of “truth” in all religions. They begin to fashion for themselves a ‘god’ that aligns with their wold view; part Buddha, part Christ, part Native American or New Age, whatever fits into their perception of a reality they craft for themselves. Then they are unsatisfied that this ‘god’ they have created doesn’t fulfill their desire to connect to the divine.

Exodus 20:2-4, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth…”

If you can create it, it’s not a creator. If you can chose it’s name, it’s name has no power.

John 1:1-4, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

We create our idols/gods as a result of an innate desire to connect to the divine,  that desire is from God. But out of our fear, we design a version of god that doesn’t challenge us, or hold us accountable or to whom we must be accountable. A god that allows us to continue with the status quo, not telling us what to do or how to do it. Never expecting us to be more than what we are. We create an idol to say we believe in something, then become disgruntled when that idol does not fulfill our deepest need to connect.

Then we talk about how, “we tried religion” or “we gave God a shot, but it didn’t work out for us”. Did we really give God a chance? More likely than not we were too afraid of what He’d ask of us so we backed off, created our own version of truth and when that didn’t fulfill us, blamed it on our own man made macaroni sculpture.

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light…”

God doesn’t want to ruin or control your life. He wants you to come to him of your own free will. He doesn’t want you to settle for less that the very best He has for you. Choosing Jesus is choosing a life of love, abundance, peace, joy, fellowship and fulfillment. It isn’t a choice to make lightly as it will change your life. Consider the alternative, a life with your favorite macaroni sculpture and endless one sided conversations or a life fulfilled with a loving God, personally involved in your life every day.

I saw a sign on social media recently, it simply stated, “If you are right and there is no God then I’ve wasted my life, if you are wrong and there is a God then you’ve wasted your eternity.” (unknown author so I ask for forgiveness if I’ve misquoted).

I chose eternity, and apparently so does Marcus.

I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.

Experience God, Sundays at 10:30 am

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Yes that is an actual sign, outside at an actual church in my home town. Now before you jump to conclusions about this very well meaning sign creator, I’m sure that the way it reads is not the way it was meant. However, churches today behave that way, whether intentional or not.

Experience God, Sundays at 10:30 am. Well, what if I want to experience God at 2:30 pm on Thursday or 11:55 pm Friday night, sitting inside my car wondering whether or not to walk into that bar, night club or liquor store? I’m sure that the sign wasn’t meant to express that the only time you get to experience God was in that building at 10:30 am Sunday mornings; but more of an invitation to experience God at their church at that time. I guess the question I want to pose is where’s God the rest of the time?

Does God limit our experience of Him depending on the day, time or location? Does it matter if we are inside a ‘sacred’ building or with with a community of believers? Do we have to meet certain criteria before we can have an experience of God? NO!

Actually the gospels are full of God experiences, and they almost always take place out among the people in concert with the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 12:22-23, Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed the man so that he could speak and see. The crowds were all amazed and asked, “Could this be the Son of David?”

Mark 1:33-34, ...and the whole town gathered at the door. And Jesus healed many who were ill with various diseases and drove out many demons. 

Luke 7:20-22, …The men came to Jesus and said, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the One who was to come, or should we look for someone else?'” At that very hour Jesus healed many people of their diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits, and He gave sight to many who were blind. So He replied, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleaned, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor…

Jesus was with the people praying, healing, praying some more, listening to  the Spirit, and giving glory to the Father. Yes he went to the Temple, His Father’s house, but is that the only place he experienced God’s presence? No!

Does this mean we shouldn’t go to Church, No! Jesus calls us into fellowship with other believers. Acts 2:41-42 Those who embraced his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to the believers that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Think about it, how many letters did Paul write to the Churches across the ancient world? How many times did he implore the people of those churches to love, serve, provide and care for one another, (notice no mention of the building in which they met)?

Strangely enough this struck me last night as I was watching one of the plethora of Avenger movies with my husband and oldest son last night, (yes we like the Avenger Movies). We love the heroes and their sacrifices for the greater good. In this particular scene, Thor and Heimdall were speaking as they watched their home, Asgard burn and explode. Heimdall commented that, “Asgard is not a place, it’s the people”. I always find it humorous where there are Christian truths tucked away inside cultural mythology. The Church isn’t the building…it’s the people. And it’s when we are with the people, loving, serving, providing and caring that we experience God.

And by the way that can happen at any hour, in any location and on any day, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20.

I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.

What comes First, Grace or Gratitude?

I know, I know, it sounds a lot like a chicken or egg conversation. Well to be honest, it kind of is. I was struck this week by how many times my children were telling me they loved me. We had a busy week preparing for summer…at least summer temperatures, we live in Arizona. We had to go out and get some warm weather clothing, “I love you mom!” Then it was the sandals, “you are the best mom ever!” Then it was spring cleaning, pulling out all the old stuff; clothes, shoes, toys, making the rooms look like rooms and not junk piles…yup you guessed it, “Mom, I love you so much, I couldn’t have done it without you!”

No this is not a tirade on whether or not my children love me, I know they love me. I have never doubted their love for me, even when they aren’t yelling it at the top of their lungs. While I don’t doubt my children’s genuine love for me, I often think of how they’ve learned to express it, only after a blessing. How do they learn that flow of gratitude? Yes, I do know the answer, they learn it from us. We teach them the ‘please and thank you’ from the time they begin talking. Making sure they give hugs and send thank you notes to grandparents after a gift. We teach our children that gratitude is expressed after a blessing.

God, however doesn’t want us to praise him only after he blesses us, so why do we teach our children that? Ephesians 5:19-20 tells us to, “speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father, for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It doesn’t say, “when God give you what you want, then give him praise…it says always giving thanks to God the Father, for everything. Always and everything…big words.

The Psalms says it best, “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods”, Psalm 95: 1-2.

If this is the case, as scripture tells us, then why do we seem to primarily express our affection, our love for our Lord after He blesses us? Are we in love with who He is, or with what He provides? Does He bless us because we praise Him or because that is who He is?

Natalie Grant has a song playing now that I absolutely love it says, “Help me want the Healer more than the healing, help me want the Savior more than the saving, help me want the Giver more than the giving. Help me want you Jesus, more than anything.”

Do we love Jesus because he heals, saves and gives or do we love Jesus because he is the Healer, Savior and Giver? Do we love Him because of the gift of grace or because He is the Sovereign Lord of the universe, because He is?

I have found myself lately expressing my gratitude, my love to my savior for no reason at all. He is mighty, glorious, righteous, just, and loving; there is nothing out of his reach or control. His love for me is perfect and mine is imperfect but He loves me with a love that surpasses my understanding or comprehension.

Do I only tell my children I love them when they are good, no. Do I only bless my children when they show me gratitude, no. I love my children because they are my children, I want only good things for them. I want them to experience all the greatness that life has to offer. My God who is goodness personified, loves us infinitely more than I love my children, and wants us to be happy, blessed and have the fullness of his riches. Ephesians 2:6-8, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God…”

I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.

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