Bread of Life

Basic human needs are food and water.  We cannot survive without them.  Four hours out in the sun and I feel like I am dying without water.  One bottle is not enough.

Today the Bible opened here:

All you who are thirsty, come to the water!  You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost!  Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what does not satisfy?  Only listen to me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.  Pay attention and come to me; listen, that you may have life.  I will make with you an everlasting covenant, the steadfast loyalty promised to David.  As I made him a witness to peoples, a leader and commander of peoples,  So shall you summon a nation you knew not, and a nation that knew you not shall run to you, Because of the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Isaiah 55:1-5

As I read these words, I am reminded of Jesus’ words:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

John 6:35

We know our hunger and thirst for food and water.  If we are able, we satisfy that hunger and thirst.  Many of us, at least I do, over-satisfy that hunger.  We satisfy this human need.  But that greater need, we often leave still thirsting.  We sometimes ignore our hunger and thirst for God.  We need food and water daily.  I know there is not a day that goes by that I do not receive both, in more quantities than I need.  I cannot say the same thing about the living bread and water.

We participate in can food drives for the hungry, serve meals in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, deliver food and water to hurricane and other disaster victims.  We help satisfy the human needs of our neighbors and friends, but what are we doing for their spiritual needs.  What are we doing to help them come to the water?

God reminds us repeatedly throughout the Bible that just like the bread and water that we need for life on earth, we need the living bread and water that only comes through God for eternal life.  We go through life hungry for it and unsatisfied, and often we do not even know that that is the emptiness we feel.  We spend money on all the things that the TV ads tell us will make us happy, will satisfy our every need, but no material thing ever does.  Instead we continue to suffer from depression and anxiety — a dissatisfaction with life.

Let us come to the water!

Dear Lord,

You know our every need.  Please help all who are thirsty and hungry to find the food and drink that they nee.  Help them to recognize what they truly hunger for.  I know I thirst and hunger for more of you.  Help me to help others find and satisfy their basic needs.

A Highway Thru Harvey

We are not powerful.  When we look at the world around us, at God’s creation.  It is clear, we are no match.  Tonight the Bible opened to Isaiah:

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?

The LORD is God from of old, creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.  He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak.  Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Texas and Louisiana are struggling from Hurricane Harvey.  There are many who may be feeling weak or weary as the rain continues to fall.  And there are many others throughout the country and throughout the world are struggling with their own battles and tragedies.  When a large  tragedy occurs there are many calls to reach out to help  with money and supplies.  Celebrities get involved and it seems that everyone bands together to help.  They need our help.  But money and earthly goods are not enough and it is not enough to only reach out when the tragedy is large.  Whether it is victims of a massive destruction, a single fire or a drug addiction, they all need our help.  They all need our prayers and reminders that God is there.  God does not grow faint or weary.  He continues to walk beside us, no matter how far we walk, no matter how deep the water we find ourselves in.  He gives us power and strength, when we ask, when we believe, when we have faith.  As Isaiah tells us: They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

This chapter of Isaiah starts with these words:

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.

God’s people need comfort.  Human comfort.  Human evidence of God’s love.  We may not be able to save everyone or make anything physically better, but we can remind those who are suffering that God will give strength, that God loves us, that God does not grow weary.  We can bring comfort.

Isaiah goes further:

Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!  Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low; The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.  Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 40:3-5

Harvey is creating a wasteland.  Where does God work better than with those in need.  Straight through the destruction is a highway for God where God’s glory will be revealed.  I often see God more clearly in my darkest days, in my tragedies, in my sorrow.  It is what we make of our tragedies.  Let’s make a highway, a fast lane, a fast pass straight to God.  Let’s turn our fear into faith, our pain into joy.  God gives us strength.  He gives us comfort.  No matter the destruction or earthly devastation there is a pathway to God and when things seem at their worst, it is a highway, a fast pass.  Because every struggle has an end date, we just need God’s help to not grow weary.  We need our faith to keep us strong.  Through every storm, eventually the sun will shine.  And we will see it brighter than we did before.  We will rejoice in it.  For the glory of God is forever.

Lord,

Help those who are struggling tonight.  Help them feel your comfort, help them know your love.  Help us all make a highway to you.

Fertile Ground

The Old Testament is always a little harder for me to comprehend.  I am not sure if it is the words used or the harsher tone that seems to fill its pages.  But it certainly appears there is more fear and wrath in the Old Testament and love and forgiveness in the New.  As a result, I prefer the New, but strive to understand the Old.  Today the Bible opened up in Isaiah:

Give ear and hear my voice, pay attention and hear my word:

Is the plowman forever plowing in order to sow, always loosening and harrowing the field?  When he has leveled the surface, does he not scatter caraway and sow cumin,  Put in wheat and barley, with spelt as its border?  His God has taught him this rule, he has instructed him.  For caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor does a cartwheel roll over cumin.  But caraway is beaten out with a staff, and cumin with a rod.  Grain is crushed for bread, but not forever; though he thresh it thoroughly, and drive his cartwheel and horses over it, he does not pulverize it.  This too comes from the LORD of hosts; wonderful is his counsel and great his wisdom.

Isaiah 28:23-29

I am not a farmer.  And not a scholar of the Old Testament.  I am not positive what this is supposed to mean, but here is what it is saying to me tonight.  I assume God is the plowman.  He has first leveled the surface — we are all on equal footing in His eyes.  We all have an equal opportunity to grow.  But we are all different.  We all have different needs and different paths (hopefully paths to God).  And the path is not easy.  We may be threshed, or beaten or rolled over with a cart, but we are not destroyed.  We are being cultivated, and nurtured.  It is only through these hardships that we grow to our full potential.  Like the plowman, God wants us to grow.

God,

Your plan does not always make sense to me.  Sometimes I feel like I have been beaten down or even rolled over by a cart.  Looking back, I know this is necessary for me to grow.  But I still balk at the process.  Help me to recognize the bumps in the road as the opportunities that they are.  Help me to help others see this too.  Help us to trust that you will not allow us to be pulverized and to recognize how good your plan is. Thank you for taking care of each of us and providing us with a path designed just for us.  You have provided us with fertile ground, help us to continue to grow.

O Lord, you are my God!

Tonight I am taking in this passage from Isaiah:

O LORD, you are my God,

I extol you, I praise your name;  For you have carried out your wonderful plans of old, faithful and true.

For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin, The castle of the insolent, a city no more, not ever to be rebuilt.  Therefore a strong people will honor you, ruthless nations will fear you.

For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress; Shelter from the rain, shade from the heat.  When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rain, the roar of strangers like heat in the desert, You subdued the heat with the shade of a cloud, the rain of the tyrants was vanquished.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples  A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples,  The web that is woven over all nations.  He will destroy death forever.  The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.  On that day it will be said: “Indeed, this is our God; we looked to him, and he saved us!  This is the LORD to whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”

Isaiah 25: 1-9

As it was foretold, God has provided for all of us.  He gave us the richest bread and wine.  He destroyed the veil and destroyed death’s power over us.  He will wipe away the tears from all faces.  His plans for us are indeed wonderful and beyond our human comprehension.

O Lord, you are my God!

I praise your name!  I want to be among the strong people who honor you! I rejoice in your plans!  Thank you for saving us!

Called by name

There is so much in today’s short verse:

I will go before you and level the mountains; Bronze doors I will shatter, iron bars I will snap.  I will give you treasures of darkness, riches hidden away, That you may know I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.

Isaiah 45:2-3

God goes before us.  He leads us, makes sure the path is clear, and clears obstacles in our way.  No mountain, door or  bar is a match for Him.   His words are a promise.  “I will go before you.”  God leads us and he will snap anything that keeps us from following.

He promises us treasures of darkness.  We sometimes blame God for dark times.  But even our darkest day can lead to treasures and riches.  When I look back at dark times, I can see now the growth that results from those dark times, and the good things that eventually result.  Indeed without dark times, I would not recognize the good times or experience them in quite the same way.  God changes darkness to light time and time again — Indeed every 24 hours He reminds us of this as His beautiful sunrise pierces the dark sky.  There really are treasures hidden away in the darkness.

But my favorite part of this verse is the very end “I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.”  God is all powerful.  God can level the mountains, shatter bronze doors, snap iron bars and turn darkness into light.  God can do anything.  He does not need me or you.  And yet He tells us over and over how special and important we are to Him.  The Lord, the God of Israel calls us by name.

Thank you God!

A good night kiss from God (Sweet Dreams)

I am ready for bed.  The alarm clock went off way too early this morning.  It has been a long Monday.  Time to open the Bible and then quickly go to bed.  But first God gave me this goodnight kiss and hug:

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you.  For I, the LORD, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I give Egypt as ransom for you, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.  Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you and nations in exchange for your life.

Fear not, for I am with you; from the east I will bring back your offspring, from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Do not hold them! Bring back my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth: All who are called by my name I created for my glory; I formed them, made them.

Isaiah 43:1-7

Thank you God!  I love you too!  Good night!

I am weary

God knows when we need renewal.  It seems like everyone around me is tired and weary.  My friends and family are weak and in pain.  Today I opened the Bible and found strength for our weakness:

Lift up your eyes on high and see who created these: He leads out their army and numbers them, calling them all by name. By his great might and the strength of his power not one of them is missing!

Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is God from of old, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak.

Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Isaiah 40:26-31

Life can certainly make us weary.  Even in our youth, we grow weary.  Weary from making mistakes.  Weary from choosing not to follow God.  Weary from the sins of the world around us.  We stagger and fall along the way.  Sometimes it seems we may never get up.  But God does not grow weary.  And God does not give up on us, even when we give up on ourselves and give up on God.  From the beginning of time, God has provided strength.  “They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”  It seems like the end of the week is when I am at my weariest. But I hope in the Lord!

Renew my strength, O God!  And renew the strength of those around me!  I want to run (to you, O God) and not grow weary!  Help me to soar on eagles’ wings.