Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jesus Created The World!

It was Jesus who created the world! What?! Sounds whack doesn't it? But let's take a broader look at who Jesus really is, and not just know Him as the one who died on the cross for us (although the cross is obviously hugely significant). 

Let's start with this scripture. "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2 NLT) 

So, who is the 'Word'? If we didn't have John 1:14, it might be confusing, but look at verse 14: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 NLT) That clarifies it! The Word is without a doubt Jesus. Now we can substitute Jesus for the Word in verse one above. 

"In the beginning, Jesus already existed. Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. Jesus existed in the beginning with God." WOW!!!

It gets even more amazing. Look at John 1:3, "God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him." The "him" in this verse directly refers to Jesus. In other words, "God created everything through Jesus, and nothing was created except through Jesus." Incredible. Based on that verse, forget the thought that Jesus was simply created by God when He was born as a human. He wasn't. Based on the above verse, it's absurd to say Jesus was a created being because Jesus can't make himself! Jesus was not a created being.....Jesus existed before all things, and through Jesus all things were created.

I love it when the Bible reinforces its teachings, when different scriptures corroborate truths. For example, look at Hebrews 1:1 NIV, "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe." This verse reinforces the truth that Jesus was involved in creation! Through Him God made the universe. Amazing!

Here's more support for the fact that Jesus was involved in creation. "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17 NIV)  It says that in Him, all things were created. And not just this world, but things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible. Mind-boggling!! ALL things were created by Jesus and for Jesus.

How can this be? It's because of the three-in-one Godhead. Some call it the trinity - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - one God in three persons. Don't try to totally grasp it because our finite minds are not capable of understanding such things of the spiritual realm. Some things need to be simply left to faith, and remain a mystery that we aren't meant to totally comprehend.

This idea that Jesus is God makes sense when you look at the above creation scriptures. This scripture helps clarify that truth. "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV)

So, yes, Jesus was involved in creation. And even if you look back in Genesis chapter one, you'll see that the concept of the trinity was there from the beginning. "...Let us make human beings in our image..." (Genesis 1:26 NLT). Notice it says "in our image", not "in my image".

I hope this gives you a broader picture of who Jesus is, and how amazing it is that He came to earth, to die for our sins. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Mystery Of The Miracle Bread

OK - First realize this is not some secret bread recipe, although I have a really good wheat bread recipe I can share with you sometime. Instead, this mysterious "miracle bread" that I'm referring to was an actual, real-life food that God referred to as "the bread from heaven". The Israelites called it "manna", which literally is translated "what is this?"

Manna was miraculously provided by God for the people of Israel to eat. It appeared on the ground after the dew was gone. Manna could be gathered up, ground in a hand mill, or crushed in a mortar.  It could be cooked in a pot, made into loaves, and could be baked or boiled. It appeared as small flakes the size of coriander seed, and had the texture of resin or something like semi-dry pine sap. It tasted really good, like something made with olive oil, like wafers made with honey. It was incredibly and perfectly nutritious, and could, by itself, sustain human life indefinitely. Miracle bread! (see Exodus 16 and Numbers 11).

Each day, everyone was allowed to gather as much as they needed before the manna would melt away and disappear. However, if anyone tried to hoard it, or keep it overnight, it would stink and be full of maggots by morning. They had to trust that God would provide for them one day at a time, day in and day out. There was one exception. On the sixth day, they could gather a double portion because on the Sabbath, God told them that no manna would appear. It was the one day they could gather a double portion and keep it overnight without it spoiling.

The story of manna starts at the time Moses, when he led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. After the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, they ended up in a vast, desolate desert of rock, sand and dust, with no water and no food. That's where they lived for 40 years before they entered the promised land! I was checking out Google Earth on this whole area, and it's amazing that anyone or anything can survive there! If you get a chance, look at the views of that area. Today, it's the Sinai peninsula that's between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

How can tens of thousands of people live in a desert for 40 years, where nothing grows and there is absolutely no source of food? Simple...they can't! They might last a few days, but that's it. Impossible by man's reasoning. However, God can do the impossible! That's what I like about God. He fed His people when they couldn't feed themselves. He never abandoned them, but cared for them and provided for them. Even their clothes didn't wear out for 40 years!  ("Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years." - Deuteronomy 8:4).

So, why is this miracle bread, manna, a mystery? And what is the answer to the mystery of the miracle bread? It's a mystery because this miraculous provision of manna was only a model for something much, much greater to come! The answer to the mystery is this: It was a model for Jesus! Jesus is the real bread of life that came down from heaven.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  “Sir, they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:32-35)

Below are 10 parallels between manna and Jesus that help solve the mystery:
1. Both came down from heaven miraculously
2. Both offer a salvation from certain doom
3. Both offered free
4. Both given to those in a type of desert 
5. Both all-sufficient for sustaining life
6. Both white and pure 
7. Both were humble (manna small in size)
8. Both require bowing down to get it
9. Both faithfully and consistently present 
10. Both require faith and trust

You see, manna was just a shadow of greater things to come. It was a model for what Jesus brings to us today. Manna was the 'bread from heaven", but Jesus is the true "bread from heaven". Manna gave physical life but Jesus gives spiritual life.

So, how does solving the mystery of the miracle bread help you? Think of this.....no matter where you are in life's journey, even if you are in what seems like a 'desert', God, through Jesus, will sustain you through what ever it is, for He is a God who is faithful, day in and day out. He still cares and will never abandon you. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Believe and trust in Him and you will find life - real life, spiritual life, and eternal life!

"Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:47-51a)