Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum.
And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.
So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.
But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
[John 6:15-21 NKJV]
Jesus separated Himself from the Disciples because He could see that by naming Him ‘the Prophet who is to come into the world’, they were forming the wrong idea of Him. They had yet to see Him as their saviour, more than a miracle-worker; as God become man, more than oracle or holy man. The disciples had only a limited vision of Jesus.
This is something that we all do — limit God — because we do not know Him in His fullness. We cannot; but we can realise that He is so much greater than our understanding of Him. Then we will accept that He is the only one who can carry us through the storms of life and nurture His life in us, which will begin to lift us into the perfect relationship. It is an ongoing work ... it cannot be otherwise.
Capernaum can be translated as ‘village of comfort’; literally ‘correctly three times’. The disciples headed across the sea to find the right place, only to get into difficulty. Our best intentions can do that; we seek comfort and peace in the wrong things, in the wrong place, because we go in the wrong way — even though everything tells us it is right.
But then — miraculously — we see Jesus walking on the water; He is above the turmoil and He comes in where we are; He sits with us, in the midst of us. Immediately we are at our destination. There is no stressing, for He is The Comforter — fear and trepidation are gone in three short words — ‘It is I’.
“They feared as they entered the cloud.” Is there anyone “save Jesus only” in your cloud? If so, it will get darker; you must get into the place where there is “no one save Jesus only.”
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
[John 6:8-14 NKJV]
I am a little overwhelmed by the many aspects of Jesus’ ministry and the truth of our Lord that can be seen in these few verses — more of them than can be adequately described in this short study.
Appropriately it was Andrew (whose name means ‘manly’) who found the ‘lad who has five barley loaves and two fishes’ and Jesus asked Andrew to make sure that everyone was seated, for ‘There was much grass in the place’. This means not only that it was comfortable to sit in, but also it was a place of life, of growth and regeneration in what still is a notably dry land.
In the distribution of the loaves and fishes we see that Jesus gave thanks for that food and passed it to the disciples to give to the assembled multitude. This is exactly the way that the word of God comes to us in the first instance until we are able to hear directly from Jesus (The Holy Spirit) for ourselves. But before that we need to be discipled — disciplined in the Spirit — in knowledge and understanding.
The loaves are surely ‘the bread of heaven’; the provision of the Lord for His people. Indeed later on in this chapter, in verse 51, Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” There are five loaves, which speak of God’s grace, which He bestows abundantly ...
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
[Titus 3:5-6 NKJV]
Jesus’ concern was that the remains of this amazing and abundant provision should not be scattered to the elements and wasted, but ‘that nothing is lost’. That leads us to Isaiah 55 where we are told in verse 11, ‘ So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.’ Nothing that The Lord accomplishes is ever lost, and the fact that the Disciples gathered 12 baskets of fragments testifies not only to the abundance of the miracle but to Isaiah’s prophecy that ‘the government shall be upon His shoulders’ — again, that Jesus is who He says He is.
Another translation of ‘lost’ is ‘perish’; so we can see that gathering the fragments is an aspect of the Lord’s desire that ‘none should perish’; or to turn that around, that all should be saved.
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
[John 3:15 NKJV]
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
[2 Peter 3:9 NKJV]
Which leaves us to consider the message in the ‘two small fish’. When we see ‘two’ mentioned, we know that there is a witness, a confirmation, a testimony. These fish most likely were caught in The Sea of Galilee, which Jesus had just crossed. It seems likely that they testify to Jesus Himself, that in His abundant provision as ‘The Bread of Heaven’, He also brings Salvation and Redemption ... so that nothing is lost.
Never blink facts because they don’t agree with your theory.
After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.
And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
[John 6:1-6 NKJV]
These first few verses of John 6 are intriguing, because they show us Jesus growing in stature and strength as He now knows that ‘His time has come’.
Jesus plainly at this time had a following and His reputation was spreading, so many came to hear Him and because they saw the healing work He had performed. This is early in Jesus’ ministry and — as is always the case — people only see what is of benefit to themselves. They have yet to see that He is the centre of their existence, not their own thoughts and ambitions.
First of all, we see that Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee — and naming it that is important for it was also known as the Sea of Tiberius, a Roman name. Galilee, however, is significant because it means commitment and trust at its essence. This is the point where Jesus committed Himself fully to the path He knew to be His destiny. He trusted the Father for the way ahead and so He knew in Himself what He would do.
Have you ever been in such a situation where despite the unfamiliar circumstances and a lack of certainty, you knew within yourself what you should do? The Holy Spirit will reveal to you the path, and often it will be counter-intuitive; it is the way you would not go if you tried to work it out for yourself. That is when trust is the only option; a commitment to Jesus and trust that He knows the answer.
When you are ‘all at sea’, the word is ‘Galilee’.
God cannot trust us with His unsearchable riches if we are not faithful in the least things. “The cares of this world” will make us put the least things as the most important.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
[Numbers 23:19 NKJV]
Today’s post is from Debbie Berry, who recently began a weblog with the name ‘Righteous Realism’. Though we do not know Debbie personally, we have corresponded with her regarding prayer requests in recent times. This is her most recent post, which was entitled ‘Characteristics of God’ and featured her Word Cross above. By clicking on the image you can enlarge it for easier reading. Debbie writes ...
“I have put together this scripture cross for us in hopes that it will serve as a helpful tool in bringing us to a deeper understanding of who God is. May it serve as a reminder to us just how much He loves us and wants us to gain the victory in Him. He is 100% for us! Please feel free to take a screen shot, save it, print it, use it, and give it to others to use. Blessings to all of you, my readers and co-labourer in Christ.”
Debbie Berry: Born and raised in the heart of Vermont, I am known as a fun-loving, joyous, party-waiting-to happen. “If you can’t find happiness, make your own!” A sign that hangs in my residential home describes me perfectly. I am a poet, writer, and author. I mostly write fiction based on true events. A self-taught photographer, I have spent the last ten years creating stories from my pictures. With the birth of my grandchildren, I have used my God-given, child-like imagination, to capture not only fond memories of true events but also to demonstrate a life lesson for children and adults alike. Writing is my passion, as well as music, and photography.
Life is out there waiting for me to live it. To not do so is unspeakable to me. Quoting Danny Kaye, "Life is a canvas and I plan to throw as much paint on it as I can."
God comes in where my helplessness begins, that is the bedrock of entering the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet:
I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white.
Then I said, “My lord, what are these?” So the angel who talked with me said to me, “I will show you what they are.”
[Zechariah 1:7-9 NKJV]
This passage from Zechariah has fascinated me, ever since I first read it. It describes the first vision of the prophet Zechariah
The angel who — who is standing among the Myrtle trees — promises to answer the prophet’s question, saying that ‘all the earth is resting quietly.’ In the verses that follow, The Lord gives the angel a message of ‘good and comforting words’.
The picture is completed when we know that trees in scripture represent the saints and myrtle has many properties including healing and a sweet calming scent. Myrtle leaves were also used to form the ‘victor’s crown’, and as such was thought to symbolise glory, power and eternity.
So to see ‘the man’ among the Myrtle trees can be seen as Christ amid the saints, glorifying God, having become a ‘sweet-smelling savour’ to Him.
Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
[Psalm 46:4-5 NKJV]
The picture of the river is often used in The Bible to show the action of The Holy Spirit; indeed, the Spirit of God — personified in Jesus Christ — runs through all Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
I have been reading a book called ‘The Hidden Agenda: An Extraordinary True Story Behind
Colombia’s Peace Negotiations with the FARC‘. It tells the story of an American, Russ Stendal, who has worked tirelessly as a vessel to bring Jesus to the factions at enmity with one another in Colombia. His story is a truly remarkable one. From founding his own Christian radio station; publishing and freely distributing a new translation of The Bible to make it more accessible to people, he has frequently found himself in dangerous and life-threatening situations.
In this book, the third in a series, co-written by his daughter Alethia (a photographer and film-maker, who has written and directed a film about the conflict in Colombia, La Montana), we are shown how The Lord is working to bring amazing change in hearts and minds in that country. Alethia says:
I remembered something a very dear friend of mine named Anibal Hernandez had told me once while discussing the peace negotiations. He said, “Alethia, there is no good side in these negotiations. There are just two sides of things: the government on the one hand does bad things legally and under the premise of the law, and the guerrillas do bad things outside of the law, but both are as bad as the other. The only ones who have the possibility of doing something good are those who let God reign in their hearts. That is the only way justice and righteousness can flow as a mighty river.”
‘the only way justice and righteousness can flow as a mighty river.’ The Holy Spirit flowing — reigning — in our hearts, ‘shall make glad the city of our God.’ The story in Colombia is an inspiring one, but the reality is that such change, such miracles of forgiveness bringing peace out of conflict are happening everywhere that ‘God is in the midst.’
The psalm also tells us when this will occur — ‘just at the break of dawn,’ at first light, when what is dark sees and feels the changing that comes with something other than itself.
“It is good that man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD”—quietly wait, submit to the yoke, sit silent. All these are characteristics the world ridicules. There is nothing that so quickly reveals whether we are one with Jesus as derision. If we are not one with Him, we always want to explain ourselves.
But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
And did not destroy them.
Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
And did not stir up all His wrath;
For He remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.
How often they provoked Him in the wilderness,
And grieved Him in the desert!
Yes, again and again they tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel.
[Psalm 78:38-41 NKJV]
I was led to look at my grandmother’s Bible the other day, remembering that she had written in the fly leaf. As well as ‘All things point to Christ’s resurrection, all things depend on it’, which I expected to find, there was another truth at the foot of the page; ‘Everything passeth away. Eternity only remains.’ This was prescient, as It spoke to my own current thoughts about the nature of things.
We have just concluded the sale of my mother’s home in South Kintyre. What began as a holiday home in 1971, became the centre of family life these past 50 years. Here was the focus of many a celebration, and the safe haven from the storms of life. It’s name, ‘Dalbuie’ (an dail buidhe), can be translated as ‘yellow meadow’ or ‘fallow field’, but I prefer ‘pleasant place’, which it surely is.
Now, the family has to pass the property on to another — none of us has the resources to give it the care and attention the old place needs — and that parting, for me at any rate, brings a grieving at the loss. It seems like a seal on most of what I knew for three-quarters of my life. Everything passeth away.
It also brings a reminder of one’s mortality, leaving all that we have loved behind; but immediately afterwards is the blessed assurance, expressed so well in Psalm 78, that our God is full of compassion — He forgives, and does not destroy — He brings the gift of everlasting life. Eternity only remains.
Our God knows ‘the end from the beginning’; He knows too, that we are ‘a breath that passes away and does not come again’, but He is able to take that breath and transform it; holding it to Himself.
I love the way that so much of scripture gives us God’s perspective — His is the more excellent way — and then shows us why we need Him; why we fall short. We are made all the more aware of the need for Him; to be reassured that His nature is forgiveness, regardless of whatever our fault may be. He surely knows that we limit Him with our thoughts and our ideas. We are not capable of understanding the fullness of His glorious presence. We only catch the fleeting moments; small fragments of the whole.
And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.
So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.
[Exodus 33:21-22 NKJV]
My grandmother wrote, appropriately at the end of her Bible, ‘he who walks with God always reaches His destination.’
May it be so.
May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh, how far you are from home
Believe and you will find your way
A promise lives within you now
May it be the shadow's call
Will fly away
May it be your journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun
Believe and you will find your way
A promise lives within you now
A promise lives within you now
music composed by Enya
lyrics by Roma Ryan
When we receive the Holy Ghost He turns us into passionate followers of Jesus Christ. Then out of our lives will flow those rivers of living water that heal and bless, and we spend and suffer and endure in patience all because of One, and One only.
Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from afar;
The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
[Isaiah 49:1-3 KJV]
A story from South-Eastern Australia suggests that a once thriving bird, the Regent Honeyeater — now fewer than 300 in number — is losing the ability to sing. "They don't get the chance to hang around with other honeyeaters and learn what they're supposed to sound like," explained Dr Ross Crates, a member of the Difficult Bird Research Group at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is now trying to preserve the birds' song by teaching captive Honeyeaters the songs of their wild relatives.
John Donne, in his Devotions (1624) famously said “No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” Not one of us can survive without our fellows around us; even if — like myself — you can be fairly happy for periods of isolation. Too much of oneself distorts the mind; we lose our mental balance ... and it seems, the ability to communicate effectively.
For some of us, it is a refusal to listen which causes a problem. Isaiah tells us that The Lord has given him the words to speak, and has honed him to effectively communicate His truth, but the prophet is concerned that it is all in vain, and that he has been ineffective. Is anyone listening? As the chapter progresses, Isaiah hears the Lord speak to him, and reassures him that ‘In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You;’ [Isaiah 49:8a KJV]. In telling this, Isaiah reveals that we are in constant need of comfort and the only true source of that is The Lord, and significantly, we see that, in The Lord’s eyes, we are not a collection of disparate individuals. We are ‘His people’; a gathering; a remnant; captives of Jesus Christ, and we are meant to relate to one another as ‘His people’. Isaiah reveals that The Holy Spirit is teaching us to hear His voice and to sing songs of praise, lest — in isolation — we forget how.
Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted. [Isaiah 49:13 NKJV]
h0339. אִי ’îy; from 183; properly, a habitable spot (as desirable); dry land, a coast, an island: — country, isle, island.
The world, the flesh and the devil will put imaginary grief in your way just when Jesus Christ is wanting you to enter into fellowship with His sufferings.
Princes also sit and speak against me,
But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
[Psalm 119:23 NKJV]
Today’s meditation is another from Ellel Ministries ’Seeds of the Kingdom’, which we hope speaks to you as it did to us ...
It’s horrible, isn’t it? when someone (especially someone in authority – a ‘ruler’) says things about you that you know are both unkind and untrue. Words have an incredible capacity to hurt. And it’s even worse when they are spoken behind your back (gossiping – ‘sitting together and slandering’ you). The trouble is that what people are saying so often seems to have more impact on us than what God is saying.
David gives us three practical keys to ensure that God’s words to us are much louder than the gossip.
First, he reminds himself that it is God, and not the gossiping ‘rulers’, who is in charge of his life. He is God’s servant. So, what God says is far more important than what these ‘rulers’ are saying. It is as we acknowledge the Lordship of God over every part of our life that we come under His protection.
Then he will focus his mind is on God’s decrees. The Hebrew word means what God prescribes – the boundaries that He sets for right living. If he has, in his thought life as much as in what he does, moved outside these God-given boundaries, he’s become vulnerable. Perhaps he will have some things to confess, repent of, and change.
And, thirdly, he will meditate on what God says.
As we do one of the country walks that we love, Sue will sometimes say, “Can you hear that buzzard?” I hadn’t heard it. I was listening to the ducks quacking away in the river. But now I could, because I was listening out for that ‘peee-uu’ that is so unmistakable.
Meditating on God’s word means focussing our spiritual ears on to His unmistakeable voice, as He speaks through the written word. It means spending a little time to change the focus of our listening. And it means staying focussed – focussed on God and what He might be saying, not on the gossip. The thing about buzzards is that they make their sound a bit intermittently. If my ears went back to the ducks, I would miss the next buzzard call. But, as long as I kept listening for the buzzard, my ears became pretty well deaf to the ducks.
If we ‘meditate’ in this way, it will allow God to speak directly into our problem. And when God speaks, He brings peace. He calms our agitation and anxiety. The gossip may still be there, but it has been drowned out by what God is saying.
Prayer: Father, thank You that when You speak into my life, You bring healing and peace. I bring to You the unkind words that others have spoken against me. Would You please take away their power to hurt me, and give me Your peace. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of peace. Amen.
Today's Writer : Richard Griffiths When Richard retired from full-time Anglican ministry in Chichester in 2009, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Northumberland. He joined the ministry team at Ellel Grange in 2011, where he and Sue regularly ministered at healing retreats. They are now helping on the "Explore" team. They greatly enjoy walking in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and along the coast. Richard loves seeing God bringing people into a strong personal relationship with Him as their Father and the healing that comes with it.
Happy to repeat this beautiful song with this meditation!
The more complicated the actual conditions are, the more delightfully joyful it is to see God open up His way through.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART