You Need to Eat!

Bible:

As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. Acts 27:33-38 ESV

[Jesus said:] “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.” John 6:47-51 ESV

Reflection:

Mrs. Lester’s mother was sick with cancer. Mrs. Lester was very busy taking care of her mother–driving her to the doctor for treatments, cooking for her, doing her laundry, making sure the medical bills were paid, and making sure her mother had everything she needed. Mrs. Lester was so busy and stressed taking care of her mother that she didn’t take care of herself. She often didn’t feel hungry because she was upset, or else she was too busy to eat, so she didn’t eat good meals. Her friends became worried about her. They knew that if Mrs. Lester didn’t take better care of herself, she wouldn’t have the strength to take care of her mother. So they took turns cooking delicious meals and delivering them to her house. “You have to eat!” they told her. “You have to be strong so you can take care of your mother!”

Paul said the same kind of thing to the people on board the ship. They had been so stressed and fearful and busy in the storm that they hadn’t eaten anything for fourteen days! Paul told them that they had to eat something so they could keep up their strength. He reminded them that God had promised that no one would die. Then Paul took some bread and gave thanks to the Lord for it, and broke it and started to eat. When everyone else saw what he was doing, they followed his example and had something to eat themselves. After they did this, they went back to work. They had thrown out most of the ship’s cargo several days before, but now they threw out all the wheat they had kept on board. They did this to make the ship lighter and easier to maneuver.

There was a time when Jesus broke bread, gave thanks, and gave it to more than six thousand people who were hungry, and there was enough for everyone. The next day he taught them that he was the Bread of Life, the living bread that had come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this living bread will never die. When we believe in Jesus and trust in what he has done for us on the cross, we eat the living bread that gives us life forever. Jesus strengthens us by giving us his word, the Bible, to keep us strong in our journey through life. He also gives himself to his people in communion, where he gives his body and blood with the bread and wine, the same body that died on the cross to win our forgiveness and rose again from the dead to defeat death forever. We thank Jesus for being our living bread.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving yourself to us on the cross. Please keep us strong and forgive our sins each day until we reach our home with you. Amen.

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Wonderful Blessings Lost

Bible:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. I Corinthians 10:1-5 ESV

Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.

He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant. Psalm 105:37-42 ESV

Source:

There was once a beautiful princess called Adelmina who had every wonderful gift she could want. When she was born, a fairy godmother gave her a beautiful pearl, and the promise that as long as she didn’t lose the pearl she would continue to grow more beautiful, wise, and rich every day, but if she ever would lose the pearl, she would not only lose her beauty, riches, and wisdom, but she would even forget who she was! The pearl was put into a crown that Ademina wore constantly, and as the princess grew, she indeed became more and more lovely, wise, and wealthy. Then one day her beautiful crown with the pearl fell into a spring when she bent over it to drink and to look at her reflection, and she immediately lost her fairy gifts and forgot who she was.

This is only a story, of course, but it’s a little like what happened to many of the people of Israel. God had given them incredible blessings. He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and led them safely through the Red Sea. He led them  through the wilderness with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. He fed them manna every morning, and gave them a Rock that provided them with water when they were thirsty. But even so, many of them forgot who they were. They grumbled and complained and wouldn’t trust God to bring them into the promised land. They disobeyed God and worshiped a golden calf, and when they did that it was as if they threw away every good thing the Lord had given them. Most of them died in the wilderness and never came to the good land God had promised to give them.

Paul reminded the Corinthians about all this, and it is a good reminder for us as well. Jesus came to earth for us to die on the cross to save us from sin and death and hell. He is with us every day to help us and to lead us and to guide us. When we are baptized, he makes us his own people and gives us every blessing he won for us on the cross. He gives his people wonderful food in Holy Communion–his own body with the bread and his own blood with the wine. But we can throw away everything he’s given us and forget who we are. The Holy Spirit helps us and gives us strength every day, keeping us close to Jesus and using the wonderful gifts he gives to keep our faith strong. We realize how weak we are, and how much we need help to stay close to our Savior until the end.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please keep us close to Jesus, our Savior, through the help of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Alberg, Albert Whisperings in the Wood: Finland idyls for children London: W. H. Allen and Co., 1881.

A Little Leaven

Bible:

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1 ESV

Reflection:

A few years ago as I write something terrible happened in a milk tea shop in Manila, Philippines. Somehow, a cleaning agent called oxalic acid, which looks just like sugar, got into some tea in the shop. Less than a teaspoon of this powder will kill an adult, and just a pinch of it will kill a child. The owner of the milk tea shop and one of his customers both died because some oxalic acid was mistaken for sugar and put into some milk tea. Instead of making the tea sweet to drink, it killed them. It might have seemed like a small mistake, but it was a deadly one.

Paul warned the Corinthians about the danger of letting a little bit of sin into the church. One member of the church was doing something wrong, and no one thought it was a very big deal. In fact, some of the people in the church were proud of how nice they were being to the person doing this thing. But just like a little poison in some tea, sin can be deadly to the group. Paul used the picture of just a little yeast that is put into some dough, and the way it grows and leavens the whole loaf. He warned them that they needed to get rid of the sin in the church, and become like the unleavened bread that the Jewish people ate at Passover. He reminded them that Jesus, the true Passover lamb, had been sacrificed for them, and that he had saved them from death and made them his people. When they celebrated this at Holy Communion, they needed to repent of their sins and live the lives of people who were redeemed by Christ.

We sometimes think that a little bit of sin won’t hurt anything, but even a small whisper of sin is dangerous. It hurts us, because it makes us start turning away from God and thinking that his love and forgiveness isn’t important. It can also hurt other people, who might see our example and start following us away from God. Jesus won life and forgiveness for us on the cross, and he forgives our sins every day. He sends us the Holy Spirit to help us turn away from our sins and stay close to him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and forgiveness you give us in Jesus. Please help us always be sorry for our sins and turn away from them to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/metro/485606/cleaning-agent-oxalic-acid-looks-like-sugar-kills-quickly/story/

Loving and Sharing

Bible:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 ESV

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:1b-7 ESV

Reflection:

Sylvia had lived with her aunt, but then her aunt became too old to take care of her properly and sent her to live with her cousin Bonnie. Bonnie was very excited and happy to have Sylvia come and live with her. She and her family were very rich, and she was eager to share everything she had with her cousin. She wanted Sylvia to have ice skates and new dresses and to share all of her wonderful toys. Bonnie even had a dolls’ house that was large enough to climb into, with a balcony, stairs, a stove that really worked, lovely furniture, beautiful clothes to try on, and real canaries nesting in the roof. Bonnie told Sylvia that she could go into the dolls’ house any time she wanted to. She didn’t say that any of her wonderful things were only her own, but instead that Sylvia could enjoy them as well.

The first Christians had the same attitude toward their fellow believers. Their faith and love were made strong by the way they listened and learned the teachings of the apostles, learned to love and care for each other, took communion, and prayed together. Some of the new Christians were rich, and some were poor, but none of the rich people said that their riches were only their own. Instead, they shared with the people in their group who were poor and needy. Rich people started to sell land and other valuable possessions, and they gave the money to the apostles to give to people in need. Their love for each other, and the wonderful times they had together eating meals in each other’s homes and worshiping in the temple, made other people notice. The apostles continued to preach and teach about Jesus, and the Lord allowed them to do miracles. The Holy Spirit worked to bring more and more people into the church who believed in Jesus.

The Holy Spirit still works through his church today. He helps pastors and teachers to teach about Jesus, and he helps us to show love and concern for each other. We take communion and pray together, and if we know someone is in need, we do what we can to help him or her. We don’t always do this perfectly, and sometimes there are bad times of anger and fighting and selfishness in churches. When this happens, we pray for God to help us to forgive each other and to help and love each other. We are able to love and to forgive because of all the love and forgiveness Jesus gives us every day, the love and forgiveness he won for us on the cross. All our love comes from Jesus, who sends us his Holy Spirit to build his church and make it strong.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness, and for the church family that helps us to know you better. Amen.

Source:

Aiken, Joan The Wolves of Willoughby Chase London: Jonathan Cape, 1962.

A Pledge for the Future

Bible:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29 ESV

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:6-9 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old Irish song about a woman who had gone walking one day and met a handsome sailor. He asked her to marry him, but she said she couldn’t do that. Her true love had gone off to sea, and she had promised to be faithful to him. He had given her a token of his love–a ring that he had broken in two. He had kept one half, and she had kept the other half. It had been so long since he had gone that this woman didn’t recognize the sailor as her true love, but when he pulled his half of the ring out of his pocket, she knew it was him, and that he had come back to make her his own wife.

Jesus gave his disciples a token of his love at the Passover meal. He took some of the bread from the table and broke it and gave it to them. He told them, “This is my body.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave it to them to share. Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant.” When he gave them the bread and the wine, he gave them his body and his blood, the same body and blood that was about to go to the cross for them so that their sins could be forgiven. Then Jesus said something else. He said that a new time was coming, the time of the kingdom of his Heavenly Father, when he would drink wine with them again. This Holy Supper was his pledge for the future, that he would someday return and bring them into his heavenly kingdom forever.

Jesus continues to give his people the gift of his body and his blood today, every time the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. Along with his body and blood, Jesus gives us the forgiveness of sins that he won for us on the cross. This heavenly meal is his pledge to us that we are his people, tied to him in a new covenant. He has promised that he will come back for us someday and bring us to his Father’s kingdom, where we will be with him forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of your body and blood, and your promise that we will be with you in your kingdom forever. Amen.

Source:

A Fair Maid Walking – a sailor returns to his true love

The Lamb of God

Bible:

he next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). John 1:35-42 ESV

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12 ESV

Reflection:

In church art you will often see a lamb, sometimes wearing a crown or holding a flag of victory. For example, in St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, there is a very famous and beautiful altarpiece painted by a man named Van Eyck. The lower middle panel shows a large lamb standing on an altar, surrounded by angels and many, many people. The lamb is bleeding from a wound in his chest, and the blood is pouring into a gold cup. Van Eyck was painting a picture of Jesus, who spilled his blood so that people from all around the world could be forgiven. The cup reminds us that Jesus gives us his blood with the wine in Holy Communion. All the people around Jesus point ahead to the glad day when all of God’s people worship Jesus around his throne.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he called him the Lamb of God. John’s hearers would be reminded of all the lambs that were sacrificed in the temple in Jerusalem. They were killed and their blood was poured out to remind people that they needed God to forgive their sins. The blood of all these lambs couldn’t really win forgiveness for them, but it pointed ahead to the perfect sacrifice of the promised Savior. When John pointed to Jesus and called him the Lamb of God, two men who had been following John turned to follow Jesus instead. One of them, Andrew, brought his brother Simon to Jesus, and Jesus gave him a new name, Peter.

These first followers of Jesus were just the beginning. Andrew invited his brother, and over time people who love Jesus have invited others to come to know the love of the Savior. Someday, just as in Van Eyck’s painting, people from all over the world and all through time will meet in heaven to worship the Lamb of God. We will praise Jesus with great joy for everything he has done for us, and especially because he poured out his blood on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven. We are happy because we are his people, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being the perfect Lamb, and for giving yourself as a perfect sacrifice for us. Amen.

Source:

https://www.artbible.info/art/lamb-of-god.html

Eating a Scroll

Bible:

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

“But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. Ezekiel 2:1-2, 8-3:3 ESV

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. I Corinthians 11:23b-26 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever heard anyone say, “You are what you eat?” That’s actually very true. Much of the food we eat becomes a part of our body. Things like fruits and vegetables and milk and cheese have a lot of carbohydrates, which give your body energy to move and think and work and play. Meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products have a lot of protein, and protein makes up your brain, your muscles, and many other parts of your body. Whole milk, nuts, and avocados are food that have a lot of fat, and our bodies need fat to cushion our organs, to store energy, and to absorb vitamins.

There are many good foods to eat to keep your body healthy, but one thing that would be very unusual to eat would be a scroll! Scrolls were used to hold words in early Bible times, before books were invented. Writing was done on animal skins or on papyrus, on long sheets that were rolled around two sticks. God told Ezekiel to eat the scroll that he gave him, and Ezekiel did that. This scroll had the words of God on it, and when Ezekiel tasted it, it was as sweet as honey. God wanted his words to become part of Ezekiel so that he would know them and remember them and be able to use them.

God also gives us his word, the Bible, and while we don’t eat our Bible, we do read it and learn it and memorize parts of it and make it part of who we are. God sends his Holy Spirit to us to help us understand and to give us faith in Jesus, who died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. While we don’t eat our Bibles, Jesus gives us his Word in a very special way. In communion, he gives us his body and blood with the bread and the wine, and with that he gives us the forgiveness of our sins. In communion, Jesus gives us himself and becomes a part of who we are, and we are given new life in him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us your Word in the Bible and for giving us yourself in Holy Communion. Amen.

Source:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/absorption-food-human-body-4100.html

Breaking Down the Idols

Bible:

In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. . . . And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. II Kings 18:1, 3-8 ESV

O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved. Psalm 21:1-7 ESV

Reflection:

A long time a Christian woman named Helena wanted to find the cross that Jesus had died on, so she traveled to the Holy Land. It had been almost 300 years since Jesus had died, but according to the story, she found three crosses. She didn’t know which one had belonged to Jesus, so she took the three crosses to the body of a dead man. When two of the crosses touched him, nothing happened, but when the third cross did he rose from the dead! Helena then knew she had found the true cross. Pieces of this cross can be found in many different places today, and there are a lot of stories about people being healed of their sicknesses or even of rising from the dead when they come close to a piece of the cross. But these are only stories. We really don’t know if Helena found the true cross, and even if she did, it is Jesus who heals and helps people, and not pieces of wood. A church father named Ambrose said, “Let us adore Christ our King, who hung upon the wood, and not the wood.”

King Hezekiah became the king of Judah after his father Ahaz. Ahaz had been a wicked king, and he had led the people in worshiping false gods and goddesses. But Hezekiah loved and trusted the Lord, and he did everything he could to get rid of the idols that the people had been worshiping. He even took the bronze serpent that Moses had made and broke it into pieces. God had told Moses to make this serpent when the people of Israel were being attacked by fiery serpents. They were dying because of their poisonous bites, but when they looked up at the bronze serpent on the pole, they were healed and didn’t die. But after many years, the people had given this bronze serpent a name, Nehushtan, and were making offerings to it. Something God had used to save his people became something the people ended up worshiping as an idol.

It can be easy to take a good thing that God has used to help us and turn it into a kind of good luck charm. Wearing some jewelry shaped like a cross can be a good way to remember Jesus and to show others we believe in him, for example, but if we think that wearing a cross will protect us from bad things, we have made it into a good luck charm, and even an idol. God gives us things to help us remember him, and he comes to us through the water of baptism and the bread and wine of communion. It’s not wrong to be thankful for these things and to treat them with respect, but we should always remember that it is God who works through them to help us. In Jesus he became a human person that others could see and touch, and Jesus died on the cross to bring us back to our Heavenly Father. We can trust Jesus completely for everything that we need.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to be our Savior. Please help us to always trust in you. Amen.

Source:

http://www.thecross-photo.com/The_True_Cross_by_Ron_Loeffler.htm

A Stone Memorial

Bible:

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. Joshua 4:1-7, 19-20 ESV

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:19-20 ESV

Reflection:

Some time ago the United States was involved in a war in Vietnam. Many people died in this war, and many people from the United States were sent over as part of the military. Lots of these American people died as well. In Washington D. C. there is the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall. This is a huge stone slab that lists the names of over 58,000 service people who died in the Vietnam War. The stone with the names engraved on it is so shiny that a visitor can see his or her face reflected right along with the names. This shows that what happened in the past is part of everyone’s history, and that it is everyone’s responsibility never to forget the war and the people who died in it.

God called on Joshua to do something similar as the people of Israel were crossing the Jordan. Each of the twelve tribes was to pick up a big stone from the Jordan River, and that evening they were to pile these stones at their campsite. This pile of stones was meant to be a reminder forever of what God had done for Israel at the Jordan River that day. Parents were to show the pile of stones to their children and to teach them what it meant. It was part of their history and of who they were.

The greatest thing God has ever done for his people is to come to us in Jesus and die on the cross to save us. Jesus gave his people a way to remember what he did for us that is much better than something made of stone. Jesus gave his people holy communion so that we would always be reminded of what he has done for us. Jesus uses bread and wine in the holy supper, but along with the bread and wine he gives his body and his blood. We don’t only remember Jesus in holy communion, but he also comes to us and gives us his love and forgiveness. God never wants us to forget his love for us, and he comes to us in his Word and in baptism and communion to help us always remember.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the love and forgiveness you won for us on the cross. Help us to never forget what you’ve done. Amen.

Source:

http://www.nps.gov/vive/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Grain Offerings

Bible:

When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests. And he shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the Lord’s food offerings. Leviticus 2:1-3 ESV

For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?” Psalm 50:10-13 ESV

Reflection:

Through history and around the world, many people have worshipped false gods and goddesses. One thing they often do is offer food to them. Long ago a Roman man named Cato wrote a book about farming, and in this book he explained about all the gods who needed to receive offerings of food or wine. Some of the gods that had to be fed were Janus, Jupiter, Mars, and whatever god or goddess owned the grove of trees a farmer wanted to use. For example, if a farmer wanted to cut down some trees so he could use the land, he was supposed to sacrifice a pig to the god of the grove.

The true God is different, even though things might seem similar when we read about the food sacrifices he taught his people to offer him. God doesn’t get hungry, and he doesn’t need us to bring him any food. In fact, all the food in the world belongs to him, and he’s the one who gives it to us! So why did God ask his people to bring him the kind of sacrifice called the grain offering? The grain offering was meant to be food for the priests. God’s people would settle in the promised land and become farmers, but the priests would be busy leading worship in the tabernacle. So God, who would provide food for all his people on their farms, also provided food for his priests through the grain offerings. By sharing the food offered to him with his priests, God set them apart to do their work of serving him in a special way.

God also provides us with our food and all the things we need every day. The biggest need we have is for a Savior to forgive our sins, and God provided us with our Savior when he sent us Jesus. Jesus died so that we could be brought back to God. He also shares a special meal with his people, Holy Communion. In this meal Jesus gives his people himself in his Body and Blood. Jesus’ death on the cross and the meal he gives sets us apart to do whatever work God has for us to do.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us yourself to be our Savior, and for setting us apart to serve you. Amen.

Source:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cato/De_Agricultura/I*.html