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Follow Along Advent Readings, Day 4

Welcome back to Day 4 of our discussion about the Painted Advent devotional from the Bible app. Today’s painting is called Good News.

You never know when it will happen.

You’re going about your daily work all things appearing normal when BAM! A chorus of angels lights up the night sky and scares you to death! At least that’s what happened to the shepherds in the Christmas story. What had been an ordinary day for them turned into an extraordinary one in a moment’s notice.

I wonder if the shepherds noticed anything different that evening.

I imagine all of heaven on the brink of a holy explosion—the angels barely containing their excitement. Was the night sky especially bright? Maybe a shooting star or two streaking across the sky in anticipation of what was about to happen? Or perhaps the air was charged with electricity, the impending fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

All we know is that one minute all was normal and the next it was not—the world forever changed.

The same can be true for us.

Within each day lies the potential for a Richter-scale change, for the glory of God to burst upon our everydayness with a power that takes our breath away.

What will that look like? It could be an angelic visitation (those things still happen today). But it could also be an invisible but just as mighty display of God’s power as evidenced by a changed heart, salvation for a loved one, a healed relationship, a new job, a sick person made well, a prodigal come home.

We go about our lives always praying for what God lays on our heart while watching for His displays of power. Today could be the day!

What do you think about living in holy expectancy? Share your thoughts below.

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Fish-and-Loaves Faith

Fish and Loaves Faith

“Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barely loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:8

Read John 6:1-15

Miracle Story

Of all the miracle stories in the Bible, this is one of my favorites–for many reasons. First of all, I love the fact that the lunch of five small barley loaves and two small fish belonged to a child.

Understand, the Bible leaves some of the details of this exchange to our imaginations, so I don’t know that this is exactly how the story unfolded, but I imagine it playing out in the following way:

The Bible tells us that Jesus asks Philip where they should go to buy bread for the five thousand people to eat. Philip replies that eight months of salary wouldn’t be nearly enough to feed the crowd of people.

Here is where things get interesting. I think that perhaps a young boy who is sitting close to where Jesus is teaching hears the conversation between Jesus and his friends and eagerly offers his lunch that his mom packed for him that morning. It would be just like a child not to see the futility of his meager lunch feeding such a crowd, but to instead faithfully hand over his bread and fish to Andrew to give to Jesus. And it would be just the typical adult thing to then bring it to Jesus—with the caveat of “but how far will they go among so many?”

Spark of Faith

Jesus was just waiting for that spark of faith. He takes the lunch, has everyone sit down, gives thanks for the fish and bread, and passes it around–and everyone took as much as they wanted (v. 11). After they had all eaten, Jesus wants nothing wasted, so the disciples gather up 12 baskets of leftovers!

Doesn’t it seem that we could learn a lot about faith from children? In most cases, their minds have not yet been clouded by the harsh realities of life. It’s not hard for them to believe in the improbable, or the impossible.Their eyes can easily see the thin space between the reality of this world and the unseen heavenlies where angels, miracles, and God all live. Jesus took the little boy’s lunch and multiplied it into a buffet for 5000.

That’s the kind of faith that Jesus is watching for, that we need to cultivate. A faith that causes us to unflinchingly step forward and offer up our bread and fish to Jesus to multiply beyond our wildest expectations.

When we feel that nudge of the Spirit to take our offering to God, we need to stamp out the adult voice that rises up with a “But, …” and just give it. Or just do it.

What does this look like in our lives?

  • The nudge to give that $20 to a charity, even though it’s just a drop in the bucket of what’s needed.
  • The nudge to teach a Bible class, even though you’re not a “real” teacher.
  • The nudge to keep praying for your wayward child, even though you haven’t seen any change in three years.
  • The nudge to start a Moms-In-Touch prayer group at your child’s school, even though you’ve never led anything in the past.

A vibrant faith requires that I present to God what I have. Jesus is waiting for people with a fish-and-loaves faith to take Him up on His promises so He can to equip us (2 Timothy 3:17) and set us loose in His kingdom. The results are up to Him.

What do you have to offer Him today? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Fish-and-Loaves Faith is the second post in our  faith series. Please leave a comment below on your thoughts, feelings, or experiences in growing your faith.

Image courtesy of [FrameAngel] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 




Easter Week-Tuesday: Who Says So?

Jane VanOsdol

Jane VanOsdol

During the week before Jesus’ death, His authority was constantly challenged. It wasn’t challenged so much by the Jewish people as it was by the religious leaders:  the Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and the scribes. We can see this in the following example.

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” Matthew 21:23

In reading the scriptures, we see that the religious leaders challenged Jesus numerous times throughout the week, just looking to trip Him up so that they could find a justification to kill him. What’s so interesting is that Jesus often responded to these challenges in parables, including the parable of the two sons. In that parable, the second son represents those who claimed to be religious but actually reject Jesus, of course a reflection on Jesus’ accusers. Jesus would answer them in such a way that they were rebuked without Him seeming to do it! It made it very difficult for them to respond back to Him.

While reflecting on this part of the Easter story, I thought about how arrogant the religious leaders were to question Jesus. “Surely, after seeing all the miracles Jesus performed that alone should have been enough to convince them,” I thought.

But then an uncomfortable thought crept into my mind. Would I have accepted Jesus’ authority then, and do I accept His authority in my life now?

I can remember as a little child if one of my sisters told me I had to do something I would often retort, “Who says so?” I wanted to know whose authority was backing up what they were saying. Sometimes if I wanted my own way bad enough, I would ignore them even if they said “Mom says so!” or “Dad says so!”

I have to admit that sometimes today I am tempted to ignore Jesus’ authority if I really want to do something. I’ll reason that it’s only a small transgression, or it’s not as important as the other really big rules I would never break.

But the thing is, once you question or ignore Jesus’ authority, it becomes easier to do it again and again.

So, today I’m going to reflect on Jesus’ authority in my life and whether I am yielding to Him or questioning His right to run my life! It seems this week of Easter is bringing up some difficult issues that I need to deal with ….

Tomorrow we’ll look at the annointing at Bethany. Until then, pray on!