90 Second Devotional | December 14

Welcome to my goofy attempts to have Advent devotionals with my busy college students who now live in 3 different cities…

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. . 

Micah 5:2

Micah 5:2 records yet another prophecy of the Messiah. In it, His birthplace is declared – a town called Bethlehem. In Hebrew, בֵּית לֶ֫חֶם means House of Bread. It’s fascinating to me that the Lord would be born in a town by this name because in John 6:35, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bread of Life.

And He is the Bread that nourishes, sustains, and makes eternal life possible. All other bread gives only temporary sustenance. He alone can satisfy entirely and eternally.

Interestingly enough, John 6:22-59 records one of the most difficult teachings Jesus gave to the people, in part because it was incredibly offensive. There’s a lot behind His talk of eating His flesh and drinking His blood – much more than I can go over in the space of 90 seconds. For brevity’s sake, think about the old saying, “You are what you eat.”

If we literally take the life of Jesus into ourselves, letting Him be our source of life and let His life become the driving force of our own lives – literally letting Him transform us to be more like Him – I believe that’s the gist of what He was saying. Many people left Him after this and just walked away.

My question to you today is this: what do you do with the hard teachings of Jesus? Do you scoff and turn away? Or do you, like Peter in verse 68, say, “Lord, to whom should we go? You have the word of eternal life…”


I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure…

…You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:8-9, 11

Not many days ago, I was talking with someone about a Bible study group, and in the course of conversation, it was lightheartedly suggested that one member would probably be happier with a beer and a movie. Immediately, I was struck by two thoughts.

First, I have been guilty of the same in my past and only by the grace of God as He has walked with me through many dark valleys of pain have I come to enjoy His presence more and more.

And secondly, how tragic. Sincerely tragic.

On one hand, we have a fermented beverage and a couple of hours’ worth of watching adults play-pretend in front of a camera. On the other hand, we are offered the very Word and Presence of the Most High God, Creator of all things including fermented beverages, adults, and the ability to make cameras. The path of life. Fullness of joy. Pleasures forevermore.

Perhaps because I have been reading in John’s gospel, I was reminded of the sixth chapter in which the Lord miraculously multiplies a few loaves and a couple of fish to feed a horde of people. The very next day, they chase Him down only to ask Him, “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” (John 6:30).

On that long-ago day, a multitude of people were offered the Bread of Life and preferred to see a miraculous sign that possibly included breakfast (or so they seem to imply). Discouraged when the Lord did not perform according to their expectations, many turned away (John 6:66).

Too often, we also prefer the gifts to the Giver of all good gifts. Too often, we choose the cheap trinkets and baubles of this world to the spiritual wealth and the immense and uncountable riches of grace found in the presence of God.

Oh, Church! How desperately we need to realign our desires! For as long as we would be more content with mere entertainments instead of indulging ourselves in God and in His law, the world will never see the power of the Gospel at work in us. If our lives and choices do not reflect that our God is, in Himself, truly delightful, how can we expect anyone else to believe it?

…for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
Psalms 119:47-48

Adonai who sanctifies us, we borrow from David’s own prayers today as we ask that You will turn open our eyes so that we may behold wondrous things out of Your Law and turn our eyes from worthless things. Incline our hearts to Your testimonies and not to selfish pursuits. Forgive us, and deliver us from our own propensity to selfishness! Search us and know our hearts; try us and know our thoughts. If there is any offensive way in us, help us to let it go and lead us in the way everlasting! 


Bread of Life

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….”
John 6:53-55

After Jesus spoke these words, many of the people with Him turned away.  I have to wonder what they were thinking…  Were they more angry at the audacity of His words or because He would not perform another miracle for them(see John 6:30)?

Whatever their reasons, one thing is certain: this part of the crowd did not really understand Jesus; did not know either the Man nor His purpose. And so, when He moved the conversation from the realm of the physical to the spiritual, many left.

Sure, a number of them may have truly been outraged by His words. Likely, however, the majority of the people did not really care what He meant. Once they saw that this Jesus was not going to use His power the way they wanted Him to, they walked away in disgust.

Are we any different?

What is it that we want from Jesus? Often, we want Him to answer our prayers, to grant some boon or provision. We want Him to bring His power to bear on our plans, moving the mountains we want moved when we want them moved — typically right now.

But we forget that He is not only a miracle worker. He is the Bread of Life, the very Living Word of God made flesh. His blood, too, is life; a pure and unstained life poured out as payment for the blood debt we owe our Creator. Though we do not understand Him nor even seek Him for the sheer wonder of Emmanuel, still He offers Himself for us. He cries out to us an invitation to drink deeply of His life and be quenched; to feast on His eternal Word and be truly and thoroughly satisfied.

It is a sad fact that many turned away from the invitation of the Lord; many did not wish to know the Man but only wanted to see what He would do for them.

It is still a sad fact today. Many turn away when told that they must take up their cross to follow Him. Many who are told that they must not only hear about the Word but spend a lifetime soaking it in also turn away. Many do not want a slow and abiding journey but a quick fix, a sort of one-time transaction of blessing. Many still are not interested in a daily diet of the Bread of Life but only in a free lunch.

The goals we have for ourselves are often far short of what our Lord has in store for us. We crave comfort, convenience, leisure, and many fleeting and flimsy pleasures here and now; He desires to give us inexpressible joy, absolute satisfaction, substantive and lasting pleasures in His presence forevermore.

There is good news yet in our tale. When the many turned aside, Jesus asked the few who remained if they would also like to leave. Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…”

What do you say, friends? Would you like to leave, to turn aside now from the hard sayings of the Lord? Or would you like to know more of this Jesus, to find daily spiritual nourishment in the Word of God, to feast forever on the Bread of Life? He has more than power to heal the sick and feed the multitude. He has the words of eternal life!