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Thank God.

LORD of reconciliation, Master of mercy, Author of true joy, there is no greater hope to be found than the hope You have provided through Jesus Christ. You alone have the words of life, there is nowhere else to turn. Peace flows from the veins of Christ across all of us who were once at war with You, & You have drawn us near, glorifying Yourself. This is not our effort, but Yours, not our battle, but Yours, not our righteousness, but Yours & You alone are praised for the defeat of sin & death & victory over the grave rests with You. Open our eyes, revive our hearts & continue to draw glory to Yourself as we spread the Gospel around the world. We pray this through Christ our Lord, amen.

Luke 24:36-53
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

I am real
You wouldn’t think you would ever read through the Scriptures & come out thankful that Jesus ate fish. It’s such a simple action, a basic thing to do. Look at His life with His disciples, how many times do you think Jesus ate fish? Grilled fish, baked fish, boiled fish, broiled fish, stewed fish, smoked fish & I’m sure the possibilities continue. But Jesus takes this common basic thing, this simple sign of something comfortable to reassure His disciples that He is indeed really there with them, present & constant. He’s no spirit, no ghost, no hallucination & He proves it by eating something they themselves prepared. I would have done some small miracle before them, shown myself through a divine sign, proving myself in that way. But He chooses something they can do & duplicate & I think that says an awful lot more.

He wanted them to know without a shadow of a doubt that He was indeed alive, present & moving forward into the next phase of life & covenant with them. A risen Savior is a real Savior, & this crew of confused & disheartened disciples needed something they could sink their teeth into, like a piece of fish. Jesus provided that for them that wonderful morning.

Forgiveness is real
Not only did Jesus want them to see & understand that He was & is real, He wanted them to remember the context of everything that had just happened & that not one moment of it all was coincidence or accident. He reminded them of the Scriptures they were raised with, a comfortable & familiar remembrance. He reminded them about Moses & the prophets & everything the Father had promised & been promising over the preceding millennia. This was the plan the whole time.

And why? This didn’t happen for nothing, right? This wasn’t something that was done simply for the sake of saying it would be accomplished. This is the promise of God to glorify Himself by the redemption of creation & humanity to Himself. This was all about God offering forgiveness to rebels like them & us & bringing peace & righteousness back into creation. This was the first step in seeing holiness win out over sin & evil. The foot of the Savior was bitten by that serpent, but his head was now thoroughly crushed. This has been the plan since the garden had to be cleared out  & Adam & Eve first perceived their own nakedness & brokenness entered the world. This was all about God’s glory & how He would provide forgiveness to all who would come to Him.

You are witnesses
And Jesus didn’t leave them out, either. In this moment where disbelief & joy slam into each other, Jesus reminded them that they had a part to play in this whole wonderful affair. This wasn’t just something done for them, but to them & would now happen through them. They are -the- witnesses to this universe altering news. They are the ones who would take this first-hand account of holy truth into the world. They are the ones with these words written on their hearts because they lived it, every single moment of it. Where they were feeling hopeless just hours before, & confused just moments ago, Jesus was letting them know from the onset that they had what everyone else needed. They have a purpose to fulfill. They are the bearers of the Gospel of love, peace, mercy, grace & forgiveness, & if this world is going to learn how to walk in the rhythms of grace with God, the it’s going to happen through them sharing all of this good news.

Joy is real
The world needs to know that joy is real. There is so much trouble, so many hurts, so many reasons to mourn & feel trapped in the brokenness & God doesn’t desire for another moment to pass from this one where people don’t know about the beacon of joy that will draw them back into wholeness with Him. Jesus knew that people outside of that room would struggle, & so He was sending out people who had struggled. Jesus knew that people outside that room would doubt, & so He sent out people who wrestled with doubt. He knew that people outside that room would deal with loss, sorrow & pain & so He sent out these people who had those feelings fresh on their hearts.

He knew the world needed joy, so He sent these out who were first to experience it. This fresh message, this amazing truth was needed more deeply than anyone could imagine & this firestorm of joy would burn without ceasing for the millennia to come. The disciples carried it, you & I who are in Christ carry it & the world still desperately needs to know about it. There is work to be done, joy to be spread. The Savior is real. Forgiveness is real. We are the witness to true & lasting joy. Let the whole world hear our praises!

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Mark 6:35-44 // Multifold miracle

“35 When it was already late, His disciples approached Him and said, “This place is a wilderness, and it is already late! 36 Send them away, so they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.”
37 “You give them something to eat,” He responded.
They said to Him, “Should we go and buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”
38 And He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look.”
When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”
39 Then He instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks of hundreds and fifties. 41 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate and was filled. 43 Then they picked up 12 baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. 44 Now those who ate the loaves were 5,000 men.”
Mark 6:35-44

Part of discipling, according to the way of Christ, is to challenge someone to do something that they cannot possibly do on their own so that their lack & weakness draws them to understanding. That understanding being that they cannot operate for the sake of God under their own power, they must rely on Him from the onset. From the moment the disciples looked at the situation Jesus presented, their very first thoughts were on their own weakness, their lack of resources and the enormity of the crowd overtook them and doubt trumped their faith.

As we walk with Christ, looking at Him and His example, we learn that we must approach every situation, not looking at what we think we can do in it, but recognizing what God can do with it from the beginning. When we look at issues, difficulties and problems with the understanding that they are never to be done from our strength or ability, but form whatever resources God has at our disposal. There is a miracle in that moment, because in the moment we cease relying on what we can see and hear, we are crossing over into the supply of the supernatural. We are operating on faith.

Here in Mark 6, faith took the disciples and had them do something they said was impossible just moments before. They took a limited resource, blessed by Jesus, multiplied by the Father, and distributed five loaves and two fish to around 20,000 people. They moved from the rational to the seemingly irrational, from sight into faith, and a barrier of ‘reality’ was crossed over as supply for thousands was made from the supply of one. Jesus’ lordship over creation was shown, also a miracle, and people were shown the provision of God and the heart of God for those who seek Him, also a miracle in my book. The disciples went from doubt to belief and the crowd was provided with sustenance for life. Miracle. Miracle.

Now, you may think I am being a little loose with the word ‘miracle’ but in my estimation, if God is choosing to glorify Himself in a way that breaks us from what is ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ and He shows Himself to us in the process, then He has done something miraculous. Jesus’ actions, the Father’s provision and the strengthening of faith that takes place here creates a multifold miracle. And God can continue to do whatever He wants to do today to glorify Himself that is not contrary to His character. And as we GoLove others in the Name of Christ, we must look at every day, every moment, every opportunity as a place and moment for God to be glorified and for God to work as He sees fit.

If we try to do it on our own, we are bringing a lunchbox to feed a multitude. If we do it God’s provision in mind, we find that the caterer has already been called, He has set up and is ready to go on our arrival.

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