Tag Archives: victory

Jesus and Christmas in a Land of Skepticism

The Gospels tell us that Jesus fed a crowd of more than 5,000 people out in the wilderness with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. And everyone was satisfied. A miracle! But why did he do it? What does it mean?

Some folks claim that Jesus did nothing supernatural. They say that many people in the crowd already had food but were too selfish to share. All Jesus did, they argue, was inspire them to open their hearts and share with one another.

The non-miraculous interpretation of Jesus feeding the 5,000 may sit well with skeptics, but it doesn’t fit the Gospel writers’ accounts. The Gospel writers clearly present Jesus as a man of miracles, born of a virgin, healing all kinds of diseases, casting out demons, and even commanding storms to stop!

So, if Jesus did not feed the 5,000 in order to inspire people to be more generous, then why did he do it?

Another interpretation of this episode starts by recognizing that Jesus truly performed a supernatural act by dividing 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed more than 5,000 people. But this version goes on to say that Jesus’ goal in feeding the 5,000 was to inspire sacrificial giving. As a young lad in the crowd gave his lunch to Jesus, we should give our all to Jesus.

But John is the only Gospel writer who mentions this lad and John never says anything about the boy’s desire to give his loaves and fish to Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke never mention the youngster at all, so the boy certainly cannot be vital to a proper understanding of Jesus’ actions.

If Jesus is not inspiring generosity toward others or promoting sacrificial giving to him, then what is the meaning of his feeding the 5,000?

The people who ate Jesus’ miracle meal that day recognized that Jesus was doing something similar to what God did when he fed Israel in the wilderness. After the Lord rescued his people from bondage in Israel he rained down manna from heaven to provide food for them in the desert.

Jesus is demonstrating that he has the same kind of power that God displays. When they asked for more miraculous meals, Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life, whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus believes in generosity and sacrifice, but something bigger is at stake. Jesus is God in the flesh, come not just to promote or inspire good deeds, but to give himself so that we can have eternal life in heaven with God.

Each year we hear heart-warming and sentimental expressions about the true meaning of Jesus’ birth, the real spirit of Christmas. A plethora of virtues find room in the inn of a humanistic Christmas: love, generosity, sacrifice, family, compassion, and so on.

As the wise men came and brought gifts to Jesus we should give gifts to one another, so the popular reasoning goes. But the magi from the east were not on a goodwill tour. They traveled a great distance not to promote a spirit of gift-giving, but to worship the King.

The Bible says that Jesus’ birth is a cosmic turning point in human history. The nations of this world languished in violence and hatred, hunger and poverty, suffering and sorrow, disease and death. God made us for better.

Jesus, born to a young lady named Mary and laid in a manger, is God stepping into this tragedy we call life, sharing our ups and downs. His mission? to bring victory over death and joy in God’s presence forever. That’s bigger than anything that comes in a gift bag.

So Christmas is not just a time to promote human virtues or to enjoy temporary delights. Christmas is the time we remember this greatest episode in all human history: Jesus is God in the flesh come to save his lost people.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill,

Brother Richard

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

Angels and Demons

In the same way that scientists use telescopes and microscopes to see realities about our world that are invisible to our physical eyes, God’s people can use God’s Word to know things about our world that are invisible as well. And in the same way that unseen physical realities can be either life-saving or life-threatening, unseen spiritual realities can be either a wonderful blessing or a terrible curse.

Very early in the Bible we read about three deadly enemies that operate in the unseen spiritual realm. First, we read that Satan deceived Adam and Eve, convincing them to disobey God. Second, we see that Adam and Eve failed because of their own selfish desires, wanting more than what God provided. Third, creation itself was cursed by God because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. These three dangerous enemies are also known as the Devil, the flesh, and the world.

God’s people still face these same three enemies today. Satan may be invisible to most people, but he is still leading people astray by planting doubts about God’s Word and about God’s goodness. Selfishness and jealousy still drive people to disobedient and destructive acts. And the world we live in is just as broken now as it was when Cain killed Abel. If we ignore these Bible truths, then we will be misled into fighting the wrong enemies, and the result will be terrible defeat and loss.

The Bible also tells us about invisible realities that are forces for good, enabling us to fight the right battle and to win the real victory. Satan and his demons are not the only supernatural beings in this world. Angels are sent by God to help those who are inheriting eternal life. And God’s Holy Spirit, his invisible, powerful, personal, Presence in the hearts of his people, is also working in the world today. God’s Spirit enables God’s people not only to fight the right battles, but to win the greatest victory.

The Bible helps us to understand the true nature of the world in which we live. By devoting ourselves to God’s Word, we can gain wisdom about the struggle that rages all around us. And not only can we understand the real struggle, we can share in the victory that God is even now bringing about, a victory that will be final and complete when Jesus returns. Let’s gain the understanding that God is making available to us and let’s fight the good fight, keep the faith, and enjoy the crown of righteousness that the Lord will award to all those who long for his appearing.

May God’s Word dwell richly in our hearts and may God’s Spirit empower us to share in his eternal victory over Satan, sin, and death,

Brother Richard

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

Noah’s Proclamation

Noah must have been one of the most tenacious and single-minded people who ever walked the face of the earth. He lived at a time when God was all but forgotten; a time when wicked living was standard operating procedure everywhere. But Noah stood strong for what was right even though the whole world was against him. He was willing to speak the truth in a world that did not want to hear. Surely his life would have been easier had he simply kept his mouth shut, but he did not.

And Noah did more than speak the truth; he lived the truth. Noah’s faith was so strong that he not only worked to support his family, he also worked to build an ark according to God’s design and for God’s purpose. He was devoted to doing work that would please God and lead others to faith and deliverance.

So Noah proclaimed righteousness in a world of wickedness and he built an ark for safety in the day of God’s judgment. He did all this despite the apathy of his generation. How did he do it? How did Noah stand for truth and build for God under such difficult conditions?

One reason that Noah had such a strong faith was his conviction that he had received a word from the Lord. He had no app on his iPhone with multiple translations of the Bible and word-search capabilities. He had no TV preachers, Sunday school teachers, or conference speakers, but he knew that God had spoken to him.

And Noah was willing to live his life based on the word which he had received from God. Even though God’s word to Noah meant that he would be going against the strong tide of public opinion, Noah obeyed. Pleasing God was more important to Noah than getting along with everyone else.

Like Noah, we have a word from the Lord. Like Noah, we are called to speak for God and to build for God in a world that is unfriendly to God. And like Noah, we can choose to be silent and get along with the world, or we can decide to speak up and get the approval of our Lord.

Noah went through some tough times, but God was with him. In the end he experienced a great victory. God is calling us to proclaim his truth and to build his kingdom in a rebellious world. Going against the flow is not easy, but our Lord promises to be with us. And he promises that we will share in his ultimate triumph.

May the love of Christ compel us to say and do all that our Lord desires,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

Leave a comment

Filed under Evangelism, Religion, Service