The Bread Of Life

Not long ago, I read the story of a fisherman who was forced to move because of a house fire. In the move, he asked his aunt to hold onto his good luck charm, which he had kept under his bed for over 10 years. He took her a 75 pound pearl that his boat anchor had caught on all those years ago. Each day, he would touch it before going fishing hoping it would bring him luck so he could catch a lot of fish. It turns out, as he’s struggled to make a living for the past ten years, he’s been sleeping over a $100,000,000 pearl! He had no clue what’s its value was as the world’s largest gem quality pearl.

That story reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6. There were hungry people and it was getting late. The disciples asked if they should spend 200 silver coins to buy food for everyone. That’s when, in verse 38, Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have?” (GNT) They went to check and came back to tell Him, “Five loaves.” Jesus then had them seat everyone. He broke the bread and the two fish they had, fed all 5,000 men (plus women and children), then took up 12 baskets of leftovers.

When Jesus asked how much bread they had, they had already seen Him heal the blind, raise the dead, cure leprosy, and so much more. In fact, they had just returned from being sent out to the towns and villages performing miracles themselves. They knew the power of God was with Jesus and had flowed through them, but it never crossed their mind to ask for a miracle for a crowd. Until this time, with the exception of the wine in Cana, most miracles had been for individuals. But to me, the question of how much bread they had was a test.

They had more than five loaves. They had the Bread of Life with them and not one of them thought to include Him in the number of loaves of bread. Whenever you add Jesus to whatever you have, you will always have more than enough. We can’t stay in the same mindset they had. We can’t look at physical problems expecting spiritual results unless we are willing to add in the Bread of Life to the equation. We can’t see through blocked roads, huge obstacles, or insurmountable odds because we’ve been keeping Jesus under our bed as a good luck charm. He’s worth more than $100,000,000. He’s the answer to your struggles. Give what you have to Him and watch Him multiply it.

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The Power Of Touch

Think about any video of a famous person walking through a group of people. What is everyone doing? They’re holding their hands out in hopes that they will touch or shake their hand. People reach their arms through the crowd just hoping for the slightest touch. I remember as a kid, I got to shake hands with a famous person. I said, “I’m never washing my hand again!” Why? Because of the power of touch.

When Jesus was ministering, the Bible mentions that He touched people in order to heal them. There were also times when people wanted to touch Him. The crowds pressed in on Him with people reaching out their hands, desperate to touch Him. Where is that desperation today? Where is that desire in our hearts to touch God? I believe He desires to touch us and for us to touch Him. I love “The Creation of Adam” painting by Michelangelo. God is reaching out to Adam, and Adam is reaching out to God. It’s the perfect example of what our relationship with God should be like.

The Bible is full of examples of touch. Here are a few verses for you to read about it.

1. One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
Mark 10:13 NLT

2. Then they came to Bethsaida; and some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged Him to touch him.

3. And I will give them one heart [a new heart], and put a new spirit within them. I will take from them the heart of stone, and will give them a heart of flesh [that is responsive to My touch].

4. He had healed many people, and now everyone who had something wrong was pushing and shoving to get near and touch him.
Mark 3:10 MSG

5. Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”
Jeremiah 1:9-10 NLT

God is reaching out to touch you. Are you reaching out to touch Him?

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A Blessing Thief

If I’m honest, I’d rather be a person who helps others than a person who receives help from others. It’s hard for me to accept help even when I need it. There have been times in my life though when I’ve needed help because I was unable to do what needed to be done. When others tried to help, I tried to push them away. Then one day, a person who was trying to help me said, “You’re robbing me of my blessing if you don’t let me help!” I had never thought of it like that.

I had forgotten that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I was definitely blessed by their giving, but I didn’t think about the blessing on the other side. I know they weren’t doing it for the blessing, but in my refusal, I was robbing them of what they would have received from God for helping me. Every act of service gets two blessings. By declining my blessing (which was a dumb thing), I was denying them theirs. So why do we reject help?

For me, I grew up in a family that needed the help of others often. God was always faithful to us and people showed up at the right times. I’ll never forget one family that helped me in particular. As they gave me a tremendous gift, I asked how I could repay them. They said, “One day when you’re able, do the same for others.” I decided then and there that I wanted to be a person who helped others rather than a person who needed help. So when I need help, it takes me back to that time and feelings of being the poor kid come up.

In Matthew 10, Jesus was sending out the disciples to preach all over Israel. He told them not to take any money, which meant they would be dependent on other’s help. He knew that needing help also keeps us humble. In verse 41 He spoke a life changing truth when He said, “Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help” (MSG). By accepting help from others, you are actually helping them. They get a blessing from your acceptance. Don’t deny or rob others of blessings because of pride. Look at it as your way of helping them when you have nothing else to give. Don’t be a blessing thief.


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Faithless Panic

Sometimes at night, I’ll send my son to his room to get his pajamas. He’ll get to the stairs and say, “Are you watching me?” After he turns on the light, he goes up the stairs. He asks again then turns on the hallway light. I watch him as he walks across the balcony and gets to his room, but that when he stops. He peers into the dark room and asks, “Can you come with me?” I get frustrated and tell him to turn on the light, but his fear keeps him outside the door. I remind him that I’m watching him, but he wants me to come turn it on before he enters.

It can be a nightly thing sometimes. I try to explain to him that his fear is in his head and that he can just walk in. I remind him that there are other times when I’m going up the stairs behind him, and he runs into the dark room hiding in the darkness. It proves he has the ability to go in the dark room, but that doesn’t stop him from panicking during times when he’s just as secure. To silly from my perspective and also frustrating that he doesn’t get it.

I think that’s how Jesus felt when he was sleeping on a boat they were all on. A violent storm arose and the disciples panicked. They went to Jesus, woke Him up, and said, “Lord save us, we are going to die!” (AMP) Isn’t that how it usually goes. We let our fear of whatever cause us to panicky to the point we think we’re going to die, and we flip out. It’s often as silly and frustrating to God as my son’s irrational fear of taking two steps into his room to turn on the light.

In Matthew 8:26, Jesus woke up and said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” I wonder how many times Jesus says that to us when we are in a panic, banging on Heaven’s doors with prayer. What often seems so big, daunting, and scary to us is so little to Him, and He wonders why we don’t trust Him more. Has He failed you before? Has He left you? No. He’s still in the boat with you. Have faith that whatever has you panicking right nows under His control. He’s watching you and won’t let you down. Have faith that He will be true to His promise to never leave you nor forsake you. Even if things don’t go the way you want, they go according to His plan and purpose got you. He sees the bigger picture. 


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The Freedom Of Forgiveness 

To me, one of the saddest things anyone has said is, “I can never forgive you for what you’ve said and done.” That’s a pretty strong statement and it’s usually spoken out of hurt and anger. It’s meant to hurt and cut to the core the way that person has been hurt. If you’ve ever spoken them or had them spoken to you, you understand. The problem is it creates bitterness and hate within a person. Pain mixed with a grudge is an incubator for anger. Nothing good comes from situations where one side isn’t forgiven.

If you’ve had those words spoken to you because of something you’ve said or done, and you’re truly sorry, it’s also difficult to handle. Every one of us makes mistakes. Every one of us hurts other people whether intentional or not. When we’ve said or done the unforgivable, and the other person won’t release us, we can either spend a lifetime trying to prove how truly sorry we are or we can walk away knowing we’ve done our part. Either way, there’s an incompleteness to being unforgiven. 

In Matthew 12, a Pharisee said some hurtful things to Jesus. He accused Him of being demon possessed and that His power came from Satan. After Jesus explained to him how a house divided can’t stand, he then addressed the sin inside the man. In verse 31, Jesus said, “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven” (MSG). That’s a powerful statement that you and I need to grasp and meditate on today. Read it again.

There is nothing you can do or say that can’t be forgiven by God. No matter how bad or how wrong, He’ll never say He can’t forgive you. If you’ve been holding back asking forgiveness for something, I want you to release it today. Get rid of that incompleteness that’s created from unforgiveness, and be made whole at the cross. God isn’t human. He doesn’t hold grudges or harbor resentment against us for things we’ve said or done and been forgiven of. Give it to God and be set free today.

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Dropping Heavy Burdens

Recently, as I returned from a trip, my son wanted to help take my suitcase to my room. He went to grab my suitcase and computer bag, which were stacked on each other. He struggled for a minute trying to move it. Then, with a loud crashing sound, he fell with it. I walked over, helped him up, and removed the computer bag. My wife told him, “Baby, that’s too heavy for you. Don’t try to do that again. You’ll get hurt.” He was sad, but he walked away from them. He realized that as much as he wanted to move them, they weren’t made for him.

That’s the perfect example of what happens when we try to carry burdens that aren’t ours or that aren’t given to us by God. We struggle with them. We try to walk with them. Then ultimately, we come crashing down. We then try to pick them back up to try again. For many of us, this is the rut we get stuck in. Pick up, struggle, fall, repeat. But God is telling you, “That’s too heavy for you. Don’t try to carry that load. You’ll get hurt.” 

I’m not sure why we try over and over to help God with burdens that aren’t ours. It doesn’t impress Him that we are trying to carry a burden He didn’t give us. Yet we think that if no one else carries it, someone has to, and that someone might as well be you. Let me set you free today. You weren’t meant to carry burdens that God didn’t give you. Set those down, and walk away. It doesn’t matter that no one else is carrying it. If God didn’t give it to you, it’s not yours to carry.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus told us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (NLT). If you find yourself tired and weary all the time, give that burden to God, and pick up the burden He has for you. It’s the only way you’ll find rest, contentment, and purpose.

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Refuse To Worry

Many of us struggle with understanding the difference between fear and anxiety. Fear is an emotion triggered by real danger. Anxiety is an emotion triggered by things that may or may not happen. Fear can save your life and anxiety can cause it to end prematurely. They elicit a similar feeling inside, but fear goes away after you’re out of danger. Anxiety continues to eat away at your energy, your mind, and your life if you don’t put a stop to it.

At work, I do an exercise with people to get them to stop assuming. I get them to admit that they don’t know the outcome. From then on, when they assume something, I ask. “But do you know?” Assumptions of the future are what cause anxiety. The truth is, we don’t know the future, but as Corrie Ten Boon says, “We can trust an unknown future to a known God.” When we allow assumption and anxiety to take over, we in essence are not trusting our future to God. The key to losing anxiety is to admit you don’t know and to trust God to take care of you.

The Bible says a lot about anxiety and worry. Here are some verses about it.

1. Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing?

2. Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.
Proverbs 12:25 NLT

3. Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].

4. Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble.
Psalm 37:8 GNT

5. Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad.
Psalm 94:19 GNT

6. Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

7. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. 
Ecclesiastes 11:10a NLT

8. I am filled with trouble and anxiety, but your commandments bring me joy.
Psalm 119:143 GNT

9. To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do.
Job 5:2 GNT

10. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

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