Eternal Manna

Last night I was feeling the tempting, and sinful pull of my various distractions.  I was feeling frustrated and despondent.  I wanted to sleep, but I knew I wouldn’t.  I didn’t want to take a sleeping pill.  I want to get out of the rut of depending on sleeping pills to sleep.  So my mind was coming up with all sorts of ways to ‘pass the time’ until I felt tired.  The passing of time is mostly just me escaping my life until my life is suitable and agreeable again … i.e. until I can go to sleep.  In the middle of one of my distractions I wasn’t feeling any better, any more sleepy and tired.  So I closed my eyes and prayed for help.  And in that moment I realized I just wanted Jesus.  So I went to the book of John and began to read.  Jesus helped soothe my mind by chapter 5 and I slept beautifully, soundly.

So when I got up this morning I felt well rested.  Rather than get up immediately I just spent some time talking with God.  I opened up the book of John to read chapter 6.  There is a section in this chapter that I have always struggled with.  So I can easily imagine the struggles the people who heard Jesus say these things had.  But as I read the passage this morning the Holy Spirit opened my heart and my mind … and I finally got it.  I finally understood what Jesus was saying.  So I want to write it down, to remember.  Who knows, it might help others who have struggled with this same passage.  Or you could completely disagree with me and the Holy Spirit can be working some other thoughts in your heart and mind.  Either way, considering the words of Jesus is never time ill spent.  So here is the handful of verses in John 6:25-59

                “When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

Jesus answered them. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.  For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of god?”

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world

They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believe in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus answered hem, “Do not grumble among yourselves.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  And I will raise him up on the last day.  It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man gives us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died.  Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Now I did not grow up as a devote Jew, but I still know that cannibalism is bad.  But the crowd of Jewish people who heard this had Scripture to guide them.  There are several places in the Old Testament where God gives commands not do eat the flesh of man.  God also gives a command never to eat meat that still has life’s blood in it.  That’s not to say we can’t eat rare steaks.  But we can’t eat meat that still has living blood in it, like eating the meat off of a living animal.  The Lord expressly forbids the drinking of blood, or the consumption of life’s blood in any way.  So if I, a dumb gentile, has stumbled through this teaching of Jesus …how much more did the Jews there stumble?  The disciples themselves say that this is a hard word to understand.

Then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the beginning of John’s book.  John calls Jesus the Word of God.  Jesus is the living, breathing, incarnate Word of God.  Jesus himself says the only reason He lives is because of the Father.  Jesus emphatically and repeatedly says He is here to do the will of the Father.  His actions, His words, and His life are nothing more than the reflected will of God.  Which brings me back to Genesis, where the Lord says we are created in His image, to be His image bearers.  God the Father does not have a human form or body.  He is wholly spirit.  And if Jesus perfectly reflects that, He is not teaching about flesh and worldly things.  He is teaching about spirit things.

So how, and why, do I spiritually feed on Jesus’ flesh?  Jesus knew He was going to go to the cross.  He knew he would be beaten, scourged, and crucified.  His body, His flesh, would atone for every sin that everything and everyone has ever committed against God since the beginning of time until the end of time.  John the baptizer calls Jesus God’s atoning Lamb.  Jesus is a burnt offering to the LORD.  The perfect sacrifice.  Jesus repeatedly says this is the reason He came.  This is the very reason for His flesh.  This is the very reason He took on human form.  The only reason Jesus needed to have flesh for us to feast on is to atone for our trespasses.  So when he taught, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  He was not telling me to actually eat his flesh, He was telling me to spiritually feast on the only reason He had flesh.  I am to spiritually consume, daily, His perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross.  I will get to why I know He tells me to do this daily in a moment.  I want to talk through the drinking of His blood.

The Old Testament was taught to the Jews from birth.  They knew that the Lord required blood as the payment of sin.  God said in the garden of Eden that sin would lead to death.  And God repeatedly teaches that life is in the blood.  So the only way to cover the death created by our sin is to cover it in life, to cover it with blood.  The life in the blood would wash away the stain of death.  And as I mentioned above Jesus is the perfect, sinless, spotless sacrifice.  Therefore His blood is perfect and everlasting.  Jesus calls himself the living sacrifice, which means He lives through His sacrifice.  His blood will never stop flowing, because only death can stop blood from flowing.  Jesus’ blood covers my sin.  I must continually wash myself with His blood.  The body of Christ covers my body on the outside, my flesh, in His righteousness.  The blood of Christ covers me inside, for my own blood is inside me.  His skin is my skin.  His blood is my blood.  I cannot live without either my skin or my blood.  I cannot hope to live eternally without Jesus’ skin and Jesus’ blood.

So why daily?  Because Jesus teaches me this by comparing Himself to manna.  When God brought Israel out of the land of Egypt, across the Red Sea, they had no food to eat.  They feared they would starve to death.  So they cried out to the Lord and God provided.  God gives them manna from heaven.  It dusts everything around them.  The Jews were to gather it to make bread.  Good commands them to only gather as much as they need for the day.  When a few of the Jews try to gather more than what they needed that day …the manna rotted.  God was teaching the Jews how to depend on Him daily for the very basic necessity of food.  The Lord will provide.  Yet all those Jews who ate this life giving bread in the wilderness still died.  None of them are still walking around today.  That’s because the manna was a gift of bread and life.  It was not an everlasting gift of bread that would lead to an everlasting gift of life.  Manna would rot after only a day.  The Jews could not depend on manna to live.  They needed to depend on the LORD.

That is why Jesus taught, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died.  Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Manna was never living.  It was a powder like substance that could be molded by human hands and turned into bread.  Eternal things are of God.  We cannot create eternal things.  We cannot alter, mold, or shape eternal things.  We are not little gods.  Jesus is saying that the Father is living, eternal, undying.  Jesus lives as the Father lives because the Father is in Him and He is in the Father.  Jesus is eternal.  Jesus died, but He did not stay dead.  That is why we do not know where He was buried.  Jesus isn’t there any more.  Jesus is the true manna from heaven, the ever living, ever eternal manna.  And just as the Jews at the manna to live in the wilderness … I must daily consume Jesus’ atonement for me in the wilderness of this world.

I know this might be a ‘no duh’ moment for some of you.  While these are things I have known, I have never really connected them to this very hard word.  I couldn’t see past the cannibalism I thought Jesus was calling these people to do.  This was one of those passages where I thought Jesus to be a little mean by giving such a hard word to the people.  But these were supposed to be godly Jews, who went to Synagogue every week.  They were to memorize the Old Testament.  These should have been things they knew.  They just didn’t have proper teachers.  Then there is the fact that Jesus is the perfect teacher.  He does not wish me to be a parrot of facts.  He does not want me to simply remember that  1+1 = 2.   He wants me to know why, and how that addition works so that I can apply the same idea to  2+2 to come up with the answer of 4.

So this was my ah-ha moment.  I no longer stumble over this piece of Scripture.  For that I am eternally grateful that the Holy Spirit took the time to teach me this morning.  And I find myself content, and at peace.  In this moment I feel completely loved by the LORD (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).  And I am so grateful that They take the time to come spend a morning with me for a little Bible study.  I am no one doing nothing in the middle of nowhere.  But to God I am His daughter, and Jesus has time for all His children, and there is never a place the Holy Spirit cannot go or find.  Which makes me perfectly special to the LORD.  And that is a miracle I would like to never get over.

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The LORD’s name for me

“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5)

“(15)Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. (16) And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.’” (Genesis 17:15-16)

“And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’” (Genesis 32:28)

“(17) Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’” (Matthew 16:17-18)

“Then Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.” (Acts 13:9)

I was saved four years ago this autumn.  Very soon after I was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit laid something on my soul.  The problem was that I was a new Christian, I didn’t know much about the Holy Spirit, and I thought this ‘thing’ being laid onto my heart was just in my head.  I was told to change my name.  That I was such a completely different person, this change went down to the very roots of my being.  I am not the person I used to be.  I am nowhere near that person.  But I didn’t understand the fact I was a new creation.  I didn’t have the Biblical knowledge that God did this sort of thing; changed people’s names at key moments in their life.

You see I, Sarah, was a practicing pagan: a Druid.  I had a spell book, practiced rituals, and belonged to a grove.  I regularly communed with spirits.  I was also heavily into the BDSM community.  I was a submissive, a sexual slave.  Sarah is a masochist.  In my life I have had numerous sexual encounters with males and females, some younger and some much older, some married.  On top of all of that I persecuted Christians.  I mocked them, belittled them, and lashed out at them in so many horrific ways.  I told myself it made us ‘even’ since it was the Catholics who burned Druids, and tortured Shamans.  I think somewhere in my heart I was angry at Jesus for doing this, or supporting this, or thinking this was okay.  I assumed this is what Christians wanted.  And I was adamantly against reading the Bible to learn any differently.

Then I got cancer and I started to read the Bible thanks to the pushing of my fiancé Jeremy.  I read the book of John three times before I had surgery to remove the tumors.  I was terrified of the surgery.  My neck is the one place on my body where I am not supposed to have cut open.  I prayed a lot that day as I waited to be taken back.  Then, right before I went under, I heard the most amazing thing.  Three words were spoken to me that changed my entire life.  I heard Jesus say to me, “You are mine.”

When I woke up everything was different.

Everything had changed.  I actually couldn’t remember anything about my old religion.  I couldn’t tell you the names of the gods or goddesses.  I couldn’t remember if it was Winter Solstice or a Winter Equinox.  I couldn’t remember my spells.  I couldn’t remember the meaning behind any of my rituals.  My desire to go back to the fetish club was gone.  For the first time in my life I began to long for monogamy and hungered for marriage.  I found myself thirsting for the Word, and I began to read my Bible a lot.  I stopped persecuting Christians and instead publically proclaimed myself one.  I lost almost all of my friends.  My entire world turned upside down.  Nothing about me was the same.  From the inside out I felt different.  Everyone who was still around me began to pick up on the difference.  I no longer responded to things and situations as Sarah would have.

Back then, nearly four years ago, the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to change my name.  I resisted Him.  I told myself it was just my imagination.  I knew that it would hurt my mom deeply if I changed my name.  I couldn’t even begin to fathom how to get people to start calling me a new name.  I convinced myself it was too much work for such a little thing.  For such a simple thing.  So every time the Holy Spirit continued to bring it up, I shoved it back down.  It was nonsense.  I told the Holy Spirit it wasn’t something that happened in the Bible.  So He took me to several verses, the ones above, to show me it was Biblical.  That when Jesus grabs a hold of someone for God they so completely change that they are a new person.  A new creation.  Who Sarah was died four years ago.  She was left under the water when I was baptized.  Someone new came out of that water.  Someone I am still learning and at times fighting for.

What has brought this to a head in these last few weeks is that I began attending a Redemption Group.  I signed up because I read the most wonderfully horrific book I have ever read in a long time, “Rid of My Disgrace” by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.  If you have ever been raped, sexually assaulted, or abused this is a book I HIGHLY recommend reading.  It took me nearly three months to read it.  It was so hard, but in reading it I realized I have PTSD from being tormented and raped all those years ago.  Despite having seen a rape counselor I am not okay.  I realized he helped me merely to function again as a normal human being, but I wasn’t healed.  I was so broken inside and I had just come to accept the fact I would always be broken.  For six months of my life I was tortured in a hell I couldn’t escape.  Then I lost five years of my life because I was completely checked out of my life.  I haven’t grieved all of that.  All the gritty, horrific, terrifyingly painful memories.

And I have been fighting the Holy Spirit again.  He is walking me through this.  He is the reason I joined a Redemption Group.  On the first night He pressed in on me so tightly.  Despite what Jay did to me I am a new creation in Christ.  I am completely redeemed.  I can be whole through the cross.  The blood of Jesus covers even what happened to me.  My identity can no longer be there, nor can it be held captive any longer.  I struggle with this concept.  I struggle with fear.  I struggle with the weight the Holy Ghost, HG, has placed on my soul.

I am not who I was.  I haven’t been for four years.  For four years I have been a new creation.  I am a new woman, a fresh and good tree, one who bears the figged fruited desires of God.  HG has told me the name of this new creature, this new being, this godly woman.  And I am scared to call me by His name for me.  I still don’t want to hurt my mom.  I don’t want to offend her because I don’t think she will understand.  I know this is a fear of man issue.  I know Jesus gave me a name.  I know I need to start using it.  So I pray I have the strength.

Abba, Father … You are wonderful, mighty, and worthy of praise.  I can’t believe you wanted a wretch like me.  I am in humbled awe that You, Jesus, pursued me for 30 years.  You never gave up.  LORD you are so good.  You are so incredibly good to me.  Thank you for giving me this chance to be the woman You want me to be.  Thank You for taking out my heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh.  Holy Spirit, please, I beg you to be with me.  You have been after me for nearly four years now to do this.  I want to stop resisting you.  I want to fall into the freedom of Your strength, guidance, and control of my life.  You wove me together from the very start.  LORD You had a name for me from the beginning.  Please give me the wisdom to explain this change to those who question.  I need Your strength.  I will curl up in the comfort of your arms Heavenly Daddy.  I will be your daughter.

My name is Lael (Lay-el).  It means “Belongs to God.”

I pray that will always be true.  I hope to always strive to live up to this name You have given me.  In Jesus’ most holy, profound, and wonderful name I pray.  Amen.

Naked

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
Genesis 2:25

It might come as a surprise to many, but yes i am actually reading the Bible. i am by no means an expert on this subject at all. But as i was reading this line caught my attention. i read it several times, over and over again. And i honestly believe that this has little to do with being physically naked.

From what i understand God made Eve for Adam, and in return Adam was created for Eve. They were the only two humans in the world. They were meant for one another. It is how God intended things to be between husband and wife. They are supposed to be naked to each other, and not be ashamed. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and soulfully naked to one another.

And that isn’t something you see any more in relationships. There are not supposed to be walls, barriers, secrets, or shame between a husband and his wife. Your husband or your wife is the one person you are supposed to be wholly yourself with; without shame. You should never be afraid to show them any part of you because there should be that intense love. That sense of being made for one another. And i think too many people rush into getting married before reaching that point or even understanding that point.

And not only should you be naked with your husband or your wife, but you should foster, nurture, and encourage that feeling in your other half. Encourage it, seek out your husbands or wifes nakedness. Show interest in their soulful nudity as much as their physical nudity. Because the physical goes away. Inspire the want to be naked in your husband or your wife. And build a solid foundation of comfort for them to find respite in when they do lay themselves out naked before you.

Don’t take advantage of it. Don’t nit pick it apart. Don’t point out the flaws. Being naked with someone isn’t about pointing out all the way things are wrong or different. It is about celebrating all that is right, and drenching yourself in the profound, and awesome power and love that you are able to be who you are without shame. That your husband or your wife actually sees you, and you see them in return.