Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii[a] worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

– John 6:1-14

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Did Jesus Really Turn Water Into Wine?

2 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

– John 2:1-11

What people often forget is that if Jesus created the world (see Genesis 1:1John 1:3;Colossians 1:15–17), not only are miracles possible, but miracles are actual, because the biggest miracle has already happened—making something out of nothing. What’s harder: for Jesus to take water and turn it into wine or for Jesus to take a handful of nothing and make water? It’s a lot harder to make water out of nothing than to make wine out of water.

The evidence of modern cosmology points toward a supernatural Creator. And if you’ve got a God who can make something out of nothing, then the other miracles of the Bible would be like child’s play for him.

Adapted from interview with Dr. Norman Geisler
Case For Christ Bible – Thursday, April 24, 2014

O Come Together, All Ye Faithful

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

– I Corinthians 1:10-17

THERE ARE MANY different kinds of churches.

There are Presbyterian churches, Episcopalian churches, and Lutheran churches. There are the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ. There are Nazarene, Brethren, and Reformed churches.

There are even different kinds of Methodist churches (Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist) and different kinds of Baptist churches (Freewill Baptist, Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Regular Baptist, Primitive Baptist, even Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptist!).

There are churches with long names (National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul-Saving Assembly of the United States of America), short names (Congregational Church), and confusing names (Duck River Et Kindred Association of Baptists).

A lot of non-Christians look at the different denominations and say, “Hey, you Christians are so divided! Look how many different denominations there are and how many churches split over disagreements. Why should the rest of the world listen to you when you can’t even get your own act together?”

To some extent, they’re right. There are a lot of unnecessary divisions and disagreements in the church today. But Jesus does not insist that we all worship in the same style. He doesn’t command all of us to walk the same, talk the same, or look the same. He doesn’t demand that we all call ourselves the same thing.

But he does command us to be one. His Word makes it clear that all true Christians should “stop arguing among yourselves.” His Word does instruct us to “Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church.” He does plead with us to “be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

God desires unity in the church. He commands unity in the church. We are com­manded to live in unity with other Christians whether we feel like it or not, whether it comes easily or not. Why? Simple. God commands unity because God values unity. And if he values unity, we should, too.

REFLECT: God doesn’t command us to make all churches the same, but he does command us to live and work in unity with all Christians. Is there anyone at your church with whom you’re arguing or not getting along with right now? How can you “stop arguing” (1 Corinthians 1:10) and start living “in harmony with one another” (1 Peter 3:8, NIV)?

ACT: Ask your parents to plan a visit to a church that worships the Lord in a different place or style than what you’re used to as a way of affirming your unity with all true Christian believers.

PRAY: “Thank you, God, for Christian believers everywhere. Help me to live in harmony with everyone in my church family, especially with________.”

– Josh McDowell
Today’s Youth Devotional

Did Jesus Ever Laugh?

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I’ve heard some people answer this question in the negative by saying that laughter is always a sign of frivolity and a thinly veiled attempt to make light of things that are sober. They say life is a sober matter; Jesus is described as a man of sorrows. He’s described as one who was acquainted with grief. He walked around with enormous burdens upon him. Add to that the fact that there’s not a single text in the New Testament that explicitly says Jesus laughed. There are texts, of course, that tell us he cried. For example, John 13 tells us that in the upper room Jesus was deeply troubled in his spirit. We know that he experienced those emotions, and yet it’s strange that nowhere does it tell us that he actually laughed.

You also asked if he had a sense of humor. When we translate any language into another, we will often miss subtle nuances of speech. If we don’t have a knowledge of the original language and its idioms, we might miss the humor. Also, different cultures have different ways of being humorous. Jesus used one form of humor we call sarcasm. In his responses to Herod, for example, he called him a fox and made other statements that I think had a touch of oriental humor to them. It’s purely speculative whether or not Jesus laughed, but I can’t imagine that he didn’t laugh for this reason: He was fully human, and he was perfect. We certainly wouldn’t attribute to Jesus any sinful emotions or forms of behavior, and it would seem to me the only reason to think he didn’t laugh would be if we first came to the conclusion that laughter is evil.

The Bible does say that God laughs. In the Psalms it’s a derisive laugh. When the kings of the world set themselves against God and take counsel against God, it says that he who sits in the heavens shall laugh. God will hold them in derision. It’s sort of a “huh!” kind of laughter. It’s not a jovial response of happiness, but nevertheless it’s laughter.

In the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament—for example, in Ecclesiastes—we’re told that certain things are appropriate at certain times. There’s a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to build, a time to tear down; there’s a time to dance, a time to sing, a time to laugh, a time to cry. Since God has, in his seasons, appointed appropriate times for laughter, and Jesus always did what was appropriate, it would seem to me that when it was time to laugh, he laughed.

R.C. Sproul
Tough Questions with RC Sproul

The Beatitudes

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

– Matthew 5:1-12

Forgiveness: There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Ask

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. – Romans 3:21-24

When you confess your sin to God, he does not rub it in; he wipes it out!

But, there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask for forgiveness. Let me tell you the wrong way.

First, don’t beg. God wants to forgive you more than you want to ask for it. You’re not waiting on God; he’s waiting on you.

Second, don’t bargain. Bargaining is saying, “God, if you will forgive me, I will never do this again!” If that’s your area of weakness, you will be back in that area of sin in a matter of hours or days. Don’t bargain with God and say, “I’ll never do it again,” because you will.

Third, don’t bribe. Bribing is saying, “God, if you’ll just forgive me for this, I will …” You’ll go to church every week. You will read your Bible every day. You will tithe 15 … 20 percent! But God doesn’t want or need your bribe.

So what do you do?

You don’t beg, bargain, or bribe. You just believe.

You believe the many promises of God that tell you if you confess your sins, he will forgive your sins. Period.

Another great verse of promise is Romans 3:24: “Yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sin” (LB).

I know what some of you are thinking: “Rick, you don’t know what I’ve done.” And you’re right. I don’t know what you’ve done. I don’t need to know what you’ve done. But I can tell you this: It doesn’t matter what you’ve done.

Your forgiveness is not based on how little or how much you’ve sinned. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. What matters is what Jesus has done for you. That’s what the cross is all about! When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant it. It’s done. The price has been paid. You can be forgiven today.

Talk It Over

  • Why do you think God wants you to confess your sin when he already knows everything you’ve done?

– Rick Warren, Daily Hope