What Do You Make of This?

Jesus was sent to the world to create in mankind a hunger for the everlasting food of the Spirit!

Written by Joney Caudill

What do you make of this?  At the beginning of John 6, we read that Jesus performed several miracles which astonished the people who had gathered around him.  First, seeing the large crowd that followed Him, He was overwhelmed with compassion and asked His disciples what they could do to provide food for so many.  Of course, as the passage indicates, he had a plan.

If you’ve walked with Jesus very long, you probably know that Jesus always has a plan.  The plan may be specifically designed for you and your needs, or it may be a macro plan that He has designed to affect large numbers of people, even nations.

In this case, by feeding the people and, later in the passage, walking on the Sea of Tiberias, He was establishing a foundation for faith in Him and the Father in heaven.  Everything He did that day was part of a bigger picture.  Unlike us, Jesus is always about the Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

Let me explain!  In the latter part of this chapter (John 6:27-29), Jesus gets to the point, so to speak.  To begin with, He exposes the true motives of their hearts.  These followers were not seeking to satisfy a hunger for God, but seeking to satisfy their physical hunger.  We do this too!  We live in a physical world, and, from birth, we seek the milk that will sustain us and satisfy our physical hunger.  A newborn has but one thought: food.  By nature, no one seeks God–no not one. We must be drawn to Him! First we are drawn to see Him, and then we are drawn to seek to satisfy our need for the things of God’s Spirit.

Jesus was sent to the world to create in mankind a hunger for the everlasting food of the Spirit!  After He had stirred their spiritual curiosity, they ask Him this question: “What are we to do, so that we may habitually be doing the works of God” (John 6:28)?  Now he had their attention!  They were waiting, with bated breath, for what they probably assumed would be a deep theological answer, and Jesus says this: “This is the work of God: that you believe in the One whom He has sent” (John 6:29). Can’t you just read their minds?  How about you?  I believe I can read your mind!  Are you thinking,”really”?  Is that it–just believe?  Well, I’m glad you asked, because it gives me an open door to begin my next blog.

Here’s a hint. In the original Greek, the word “believe” in that statement has a much deeper meaning than you might assume. It comes from the Greek word pisteuo, and it means all of the following: adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith.

Now, we have a foundation! In my next blog we will explore what believing looks like in action. Have a great day and God bless!

Grow and Go Make Disciples

Many of my friends, fellow Christians, are refusing to even entertain the idea that they should still be expected to actively serve God in their “twilight” years. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall reading about retirement in scripture.

Written by Joney Caudill    

Next November, if the Lord wills, I will celebrate my seventy-second birthday. Even as I type that fact, I find it difficult to believe. I look in the mirror and, yes, I see a somewhat familiar looking, seventy-ish woman looking back.  However I still struggle to grasp the truth!  Why even my doctor agrees that I am very healthy for my age.

With all that in mind, I would like to say that the mandate to grow and go make disciples is daunting and downright impossible for many folks my age and even younger. Many of my friends, fellow Christians, are refusing to even entertain the idea that they should still be expected to actively serve God in their “twilight” years. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall reading about retirement in scripture. In fact, most of God’s servants—Moses, Joshua, Abraham, and Samuel, for example—served God until they breathed their last breath.

Let’s take a moment to examine the lives of two more aging servants and the reward for their faithful service:   Simeon and Anna!  You can find Simeon beginning in Luke 2:25.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout [carefully observing the divine Law] and looking for the Consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Prompted by the Spirit, he came into the temple [enclosure]; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him the custom required by the Law, Simeon took Him into his arms, and blessed and praised and thanked God, and said, Now, Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to leave [this world] in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your Salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, Light for revelation to the Gentiles [to disclose what was previously unknown] And [to bring] the praise and honor and glory of Your people Israel (Luke 2: 25-32 AMB).

As I read this again, I notice several encouraging points: Simeon was righteous and devout, and he was looking for God’s anointed Messiah. He was energized by the Holy Spirit, and he believed in the Holy Spirit’s promise: “he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” He was also obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and, because of that, he got to hold the Holy One in his arms! He was quick to worship and praise God, and he was, at that point, excited to leave the world behind and spend eternity with his God.

Next let’s talk about Anna. We see only one paragraph about Anna in the entire New Testament, but it is a powerful one. We can find her a little further down in Luke 2:36.

There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old and had lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She did not leave the [area of the] temple but was serving and worshiping night and day with fasting and prayers. She, too, came up at that very moment and began praising and giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all who were looking for the redemption and deliverance of Jerusalem”  (Luke 2: 36-38 AMB).

Here are some of Anna’s attributes which we would do well to emulate: She was a widow, but she was still serving God at the age of 84. (If I am blessed to live as long as Anna, I have at least twelve more years to actively serve the Lord! Now that’s a reason to keep moving!) At that age, she still served in the temple, and she was still actively serving and worshiping her God. (Day and night, by the way!) She invested her time by fasting and praying. She spread the good news about this baby who, as she said, was born for the redemption and deliverance of Jerusalem.

God’s goal for life—all of life—is for us to invest every last minute serving Him. If we spend our days only investing in ourselves, what do we gain? As for me, I will invest my remaining days growing and going to make disciples. How about you?

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Without Vision the People Perish. Proverbs 29:18

The mystery revealed herein is this: The supplied need is the goal of our prayer, but glory to God is the goal of the Holy Spirit. When our goal comes into agreement with God’s, then we become a partner in His will.

Written by Joney Caudill

For the past year and a half I’ve participated in a Bible-reading plan.  Most mornings, my motive for reading is the commitment I’ve made to the Lord and to the other members of the reading group.  I read with the hope that the Holy Spirit will speak to me through his Word.  Some mornings I wonder how the Scripture selection applies to me, but other days, like today, the Word shines a spotlight on a particular need.

Today’s reading in the New Testament was particularly enlightening.  It was from John 9:1-41.  It’s the story of the young man who had been blind from birth.  Jesus restored his sight!  That’s pretty remarkable in itself, but hidden in the story is an application to our lives in 2018.  To discover the hidden treasures in Scripture, we must dig deeper.  The Bible must be mined for the hidden nuggets that can change our lives.

Why did our Lord bother to heal this particular blind man?  What was it that drew his attention to the man?  I’m sure he had met other blind men.  Medical doctors were rare in those days and medicine or surgery was usually reserved for the wealthy.  The common man who was in need of healing was most often stuck with their particular malady.

The disciples were only focused on why the man was born blind.  Unlike Jesus, they didn’t see the man, they judged his predicament.  Did his parents do something wrong?  Was this a punishment for sin?

Those same questions have entered my mind.  I have two grandchildren who were born with special needs, both physical and mental.  There are four children in this family!   Two are “normal,” and the other two have special needs.  I do not presume to understand why these two precious children are different from the other two.  But I do know that Jesus’ explanation to the disciples in this passage directly applies to my grandchildren.  Jesus explained it this way: “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him (in them)!”  If time and space allowed, I could give you multiple stories about how the power of God has been demonstrated through my grandchildren.  The apostle Paul said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b King James Version).  As a family, we have learned to glory in the power of God to work miracles through this circumstance.

Jesus noticed the man.  Why did he notice him?  What made Jesus single the man out when so many were following him? Verse eight tells us that he was a beggar.  In other words, he would spend his days pleading with others for support because he could not support himself. This day was no different.  He begged for a handout, but Jesus wanted to give him a deeper, more permanent blessing.  It was a blessing that the man didn’t expect.

We have begged God for a miracle of healing for my grandchildren, especially for the one who cannot speak, but instead we have witnessed the power of God to sustain us and him.

This poor man could not see Christ, but Christ saw him. Does begging get God’s attention?  If so, what would you beg for today?  I have physical vision, but I would beg for greater spiritual vision!  If Jesus would notice a physically blind man as he sat beside the road, does he not even more pay heed to his children?  To me? Or you?

God often requires our participation in an answered prayer.  He does his part as is demonstrated by the fact that Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with the wet dirt, and put the plaster on the man’s eyes.  Why?  He moves toward us, but we must also move toward him.  He told the man “to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” There was something required of him before healing could take place.  There was an act of obedience necessary to complete the healing process.  Do your petitions go unanswered?  Perhaps God requires something of you, too.

In the crowd that day there were mixed recipients, mixed ideas, and mixed motives.  The religious were skeptical and angry.  The blind man’s parents were humbled and grateful.  The disciples, however, were in training.  Jesus said that the miracle occurred to show God’s power!   He demonstrated to the disciples that God is not limited by time, space, or circumstances.

Did the disciples learn from this training session?  What did they learn?

For the answer we must fast forward to the book of Acts 3:1-9.  In this example, we see another man who was born with a malady.  He also begged for support in his need.  Peter and John, well trained by Jesus’ example with the blind beggar and filled with the Holy Spirit, followed suit and gave the man no money, but something far more valuable.  They also required that the man do something to demonstrate his faith, and they, too,  gave a demonstration of God’s power.

The mystery revealed herein is this:  The supplied need is the goal of our prayer, but  glory to God is the goal of the Holy Spirit.  When our goal comes into agreement with God’s, then we become a partner in His will.