Krista Hall “I Am the Light of the World”

In the Spotlight

 When I was six, my family was in the middle of some difficult times.   It wasn’t an easy for my family, and although I know I still don’t understand the scope of the entire picture, I knew that at times things were bad.  For the most part, my older brother and I lived in a family struggling for money and struggling for identity.  My parents were new Christians and learning a new life following a bout with addiction followed by rehab.

It was late one evening when my mom awoke me.

“Krista, I need your help,” she shook me awake with a frail voice and a glimmer of tears streaming down her face.  Peering up at my mom, I knew something was wrong and at that point, with no one to turn to, she turned to me, her innocent baby girl.  My mom told me she was worried about her husband.  He had not returned home after a trip to north Florida.  (I’m not really sure how we survived before cell phones!) She asked me to pray for him.

“What was he wearing?” I questioned her in a meek and sleepy voice.  She replied relaying his last known garments as well as his last known whereabouts.

I’m not sure how I knew what to do, but what happened next was my first experience with God touching my life and showing his love.  I prayed for my step-dad, and I remember it perfectly.  I envisioned him on a dark stage, in his clothes that my mom told me about.  He was standing center stage with a bright spotlight shining down on him from heaven.  I prayed believing that God would answer.  I prayed that my mom would feel relief from concern she had.  I prayed that this light, shining from heaven, would lead our family to a place of healing.  God shined his light down on our lives that night.  Within a few hours, Dan called.  He told my mom that something told him to just pull over and make the call.  He was coming home; it was time to fix some things.

My parents remained married and steadfast through a time that many would have chosen to give up.  I can’t deny, that in the days, weeks, and even years to come, there were many nights I wondered why and how the family stuck together, but in the same way God shined down on us that night I prayed, he continued to shine his light down on us.  He never gave up, so we never gave up. Thirty-plus years later, I know that God was with us then and still is shining down on us in both good times and bad.

John 8:12 tells us, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  At age six, I didn’t know this verse by heart, but I knew, innately, that Jesus was the Light that could bring my family peace.  I knew that God’s love was much greater than man’s addiction to the world, and I believed it fully. Today, I hold dear the memory of that moment when God revealed the incredible ways He answers prayers.

I share this story with others now as a reminder of the faithfulness of our Lord. My parents will tell you that they do not recognize themselves thirty years ago, and while I agree, I’m also thankful for the lessons we learned as a result.  Life is not always easy, and as a child I lived some difficult times, but God is what brought me and my family through.   Many people today face similar difficulties. Sometimes the darkness can be caused by other’s choices, but I pray that you too can grow from them, and faithfully pray for the light to shine down and provide clarity and connections.

Matthew 5:16 stresses this point, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” To be a light shining in darkness is what God calls us to do.  He does not want us to focus on the past, but rather live in the light that he provides and be a light to others.  Imagine if we went through life with a spotlight shining down on us.  How would we let that light shine?

Let us pray: Dear Lord, just like that light shining down during a humble and innocent prayer so many years ago, please let us see others in your light.  Lord, help me to be willing to experience prayerfully and faithfully, and be open to you.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gale Trantham “I Am the Light of the World”

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12)

I love to camp with my scouts.  And anyone who has been camping knows that you depend on light.  We need the sun in the daytime.  We use the moon and stars, lanterns and flashlights at night. And of course we use lighters or matches to start our charcoal or backpack stoves to cook our delicious food.

But the most important light in the world to all of us is Jesus.  We follow Him for guidance and depend on Him to help us make the right decisions now so that we can be with Him in heaven.  He is always with us, even in our darkest times and He is always there to forgive us when we stumble. Many times we have to work to remember to follow His path as our only guiding path, lit for us, even when we cannot see or understand it.

Dear God, help us to remember to follow you in all that we do so that we won’t have to walk in darkness.  Help us to let our light shine so that others will see what your love has done in our lives.  Amen.

Heather Kauffman “I am the Bread of Life”

“I am the Bread of Life”John 6:35

Have you ever been hungry? I mean really, really hungry? There are people right here in Gordon County who know what it means to be hungry. Men, women and children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Thankfully, there is a place they can go to get a hot meal that will give them the daily nourishment they need. It’s called the VAC- Voluntary Action Community. It’s a warm and welcoming place where anyone who is hungry can sit down to a meal served with a meat & vegetable, bread and dessert. Yet, the meal only satisfies for a little while and the hunger returns. The food at the VAC fills a person’s stomach. But, what if they could find food that fills and satisfies the soul?

Jesus is the Bread of Life. He alone can fill our lives so we hunger no more. People try to satisfy their souls with all sorts of earthly things… money, success, works and fame to name just a few. But only Jesus Christ can fill the God-sized void in everyone’s lives.

God sent bread from heaven, called manna, to the Israelites in the desert. (Ex. 16:14-15, 31) He also sent bread from heaven, called Jesus Christ, to us. (John 6:51) He is the sustainer of life…eternal life. We can be confident that if we embrace him, we will never be hungry again. (John 6:35)

Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray for our daily bread. (Luke 11:3)  
Have you asked for your daily bread today? Not the bread that will fill your stomach but, the life giving bread that will satisfy your soul?

Prayer- King Jesus, you are the Bread of Life. The life you offer is eternal. You taught us to pray for our daily bread. Please help me to seek you daily in your word and in prayer so that my soul will be satisfied by you alone!

Mike Willett “I am the Bread of Life”

Jesus said: “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never go hungry…” John 6:35

This is one of the “hard sayings” of Jesus along with “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John14:16) and others stating that He was the Messiah! These are the matters we must consider have the deepest meanings to our lives and prove that Jesus was who he said he was, or as C.S. Lewis writes “ he would be a lunatic- on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg”.

Of course Jesus knew that bread and water were the staples of life for the people he was addressing in these scriptures. But, once again, his words were carrying a deeper meaning. He was not talking about the bread they baked daily or the delicious, huge biscuits we can buy in all shapes and sizes, but about True Bread that, sustains the True Life abundant, He came to give. (Another saying of Jesus.)

In my life situation right now, I am experiencing That Bread, That Life, in a special way as I feel God’s Grace being given to me through the prayers of many people. I am feeling each day the infusion of the Bread available to us because of Jesus.

This makes me remember hearing a report (not from internet) of a survey asking people the 3 things they would like to hear others say to them. The sayings were: I Love you. You are Forgiven. Supper’s Ready. You know. this is what is said to us at the Communion Table each time we come to celebrate Jesus’ giving of the True Bread. Maybe we ought to do this more often.

Prayer: Lord I am ever grateful for the fact that you provide the life sustaining Bread for or lives every day through your Son and your Spirit. I know it is by Your Grace this is possible. We merit nothing on our own efforts. We need to explore these deeper meanings of Your Word to be what we should be. All Praise and Glory and Honor belongs to You my God!

Michelle and Jeff Arwood, “I am the Bread of Life”

Food for Thought

These days every time you turn around there is something new that you should or shouldn’t eat. The dietary options out there are astounding. There’s gluten free, lactose free, dairy free, sugar free, peanut free, organic, vegan, non-GMO, low carb, low fat; and the list goes on. Some people choose to eat certain foods; others are forced due to allergies, intolerances or other medical issues. 

It is wonderful to be able to tailor our diets to our own unique nutritional needs. We are blessed to have access to such an abundance of food to nourish our bodies.  

We should also realize that we have access to an abundance of food to feed our souls. For Jesus said,

“I Am the Bread of Life” – John 6:35

We can each have a personal relationship with Jesus. He knows what our unique spiritual needs are and can fill us up, if we allow him to. It is really up to us to stop, listen and open ourselves up to receive the bread of life.

So when you pray the prayer God taught us to pray, remember that when we say, “Give us this day our daily bread” we are asking two-fold. We ask for bread to nourish our bodies (even if that means gluten free) and, we ask for the bread of life to enter our souls, to feed our spirits and fill us up with the love of Jesus Christ. And we ask this just for today, because Jesus asks us not to worry.  

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:26

Have faith. 

Heavenly Father, Thank you for blessing us each and every day with the food we need to sustain our bodies and for your son Jesus Christ who feeds our souls and sustains our spirit. Let us be open to receive the bread of life every day and grow closer to you as a result.

Amen

Janice Burrell “I am the Bread of Life”

I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35



In reading this scripture, one has to ponder – there is only so much we can do. God does it all. We only need to believe in Jesus Christ, His son, for he is the bread of life which sustains us.. In Jesus Christ there is no lack. 
In February 1982 I had to have major surgery. On February 2nd, the surgeon in formed me that the surgery would take place on February 7. This was short notice. My four children were young and my parents were middle aged. I had to prepare them for what was to come and make important decisions concerning the course of events. My parents could not take me to the hospital, since it was in Atlanta. Sister Kate, a nun who worked in my church, volunteered to take me. We prayed as she drove – for my family, the doctors and me. 
The surgery went well, but rehab was a long an slow process. My ex-husband’s sisters came to the hospital and took me to their home, where they took very good care of me. My parents were taking care of my children and through it all did a very good job. My mother went grocery shopping at the Piggly Wiggly and the manager recognized her and asked about me. She told him about my surgery and that I was recuperating at the home of my sister-in-law’s home in Atlanta. The manager told Mother that he had groceries for the family and that shh would not have to pay anything for them. It was a surprise for Mother and Daddy! Of course they thanked him. They called me as soon as they got home to tell me the news. 
God does provide!
Dear Father, thank you so much for filling our needs, even when we least expect it. Amen.

Carol Gomez “I Am the Bread of Life”

John 6:35 (NIV)

This verse is from the well-known “bread of life” discourse and comes shortly after Jesus and the disciples feed a crowd of 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. After all were fed, Jesus walks on the water to the western side of Sea of Galilee and the crowd follow by boat in search of Him. To their queries, Jesus replies, “You seek Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” In verse 35, Jesus declared, “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  

The importance of bread is found throughout the Bible. As a matter of fact, my concordance lists some 226 Biblical references to bread, including its use during the Last Supper and as manna for the Israelites during the Exodus. Bread is also mentioned in many of our hymns and our prayers. Bread…the staff of life; a universal food; a staple item. Bread…given in hospitality, taken for nourishment, provided for strength. By equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying that He is essential for life. Further, Jesus is not simply referring to this physical life, but to eternal life.  

As I worked on this devotional, I was struck by the timelessness of this powerful analogy. Jesus accused his followers of following simply because their bellies were full. Modern times encourage us to put ourselves first, to fill our own bellies. When we do that, we miss the signs, and opportunities just like Jesus’ followers did. Jesus cautioned against working for food which perishes. There are people today who equate doing good works with God’s grace. Jesus tells us faith in Him is all we need. In this season of Lent, let us remember that HE is our bread of life, our staple, our strength, our nourishment.
A prayer from my great-grandmother at Easter:

On this glorious Easter, our hearts are filled with joy and love, for Thou hast given us our daily bread, and hope of life eternal, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. We know that faith, love, and hope are real, just as we know the lilacs will burst into fragrant bloom in spring. Mayest Thou keep the light of faith glowing in our hearts for ever and ever. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Carol Howel Gomez

Dr. Jim Rewis “I am the Bread of Life”

Have you ever had a concept repeatedly presented to you in school that just left you staring, open mouthed, completely lacking in understanding? Then, sometimes, months or years later, you finally “got it” and wondered why you were so obtuse while your long suffering, patient teachers tried to open your mind?

For me, it was diagramming sentences. Literally, for years, I would stare at the board while instructors vigorously filled their lungs with chalk dust making stick diagrams depicting the parts of speech and how, joined together, they made human communication possible and transferable. I sat dumbfounded as if I were staring at stick figures created by some demented people playing a game of hangman while on LSD. I even took three years of German still not having any idea about predicates, articles, or direct objects and only squeaked by because of being blessed with a good memory and some German friends who helped me limp along.  

Finally, in high school, I took Latin. Honestly, being lazy, I took it because there was no after school language lab, since no one really knows how to speak it as Caesar and his pals did. The teacher, an aged, kind, fierce, old fashioned matron, Mrs. Betty Farr, made the scales fall from my eyes. At last, I saw how language was like a puzzle and, when fitted together, sculpted the beauty of speech and literature. Plus, magically, if one knew these concepts, you could learn just about any new language by just figuring out the rules for that puzzle: Italian, French, whatever!

I thought, “So, THAT’S what they’ve been trying to tell me all those boring, frustrating hours!”.

Well, I think that Jesus must have felt the same frustration as my teachers when he was trying to explain to the people who he really was in his “I am” statements as recounted by John in his gospel.  

Jesus was no fool. He knew that many of his listeners were uneducated peasants living from hand to mouth, so he cleverly used metaphors that they could understand…if only they would try!

In John 6:22-61 he uses bread. Rich or poor, we all have to eat, a point well understood by people who often suffered famine and want, to whom seeing undernourished countrymen would be commonplace.  

Around Passover, the ancient Hebrew festival intimately involving special bread and meals, Jesus fed 5,000 curious followers with five loaves and two fishes in a desolate area beside the Sea of Galilee. While I’m sure many of them were there for spiritual enlightenment, I also suspect it was pretty hard to think about salvation of one’s soul if you hadn’t eaten for two or three days! That night, the disciples depart via ship, Jesus walks on water, joining them, and they proceed to Capernaum

Well, the crowd, having enjoyed full bellies, was probably a bit put out when they awoke without their miracle worker, so they found him and asked why he had left them in John 6:25.

Jesus, like my teachers, realized immediately that they weren’t getting it and were still concerned only with their next Earthly meal, and he tells them so: “Ye seek me…because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”.

He chides them a bit, trying to get his point across, telling them not to labor for transient, Earthly nourishment, but to expect everlasting fullness from God, via the Son of Man. Feeling peckish, and, probably, a bit peeved that Jesus isn’t magically producing breakfast, the crowd reminds him that their ancestors enjoyed manna from Heaven. They’re still stuck at the back of the class staring at the chalkboard!

Jesus finally decides that with this bunch he is going to have to be a bit more blunt to get the point across that HE is sent from Heaven to fill their souls forever, not just satisfy their daily appetites, reminding them that Moses didn’t provide any manna, God did. And, in 6:49, their ancestors still died! Even more directly, in 6:35, he finally says, “I am the Bread of Life” and that believers will never hunger or thirst. He bluntly tells them that HE has been sent by The Father to raise them up and provide everlasting life.

I imagine Jesus must have rolled his eyes when those dullards first questioned his authority saying, “is this not Jesus, whose father and mother we know?”  

Then, he gives them their final exam, using the metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Most of the crowd fails abjectly, thinking that this is some kind of crazy man, even though in 6:63 he clarifies, “It is the SPIRIT that quickened; the flesh profit eth nothing..”.

Many walk away and “walked no more with him”. Sadly, they flunked out in spite of having a teacher sent by God. Hopefully, they found breakfast somewhere.

The twelve, lead by Simon Peter, realize “Thou hast the words of life”. They “got it” and, using these revelations, were able to put Jesus’ ideas to use to piece together the puzzle of our relationship with God through Jesus while here on Earth.

John probably wrote his gospel late in life, trying to define and claify who Jesus was before the apostle’s death. He was trying to help us become star students, understanding the divinity of this man Jesus.

John didn’t want us to keep thinking of our rumbling stomachs, as we often do on Sundays when the pastor goes on too long. He wanted us to always hunger after satiated souls, completely filled with the knowledge that Jesus was sent by God to “raise us up”. When we are physically hungered, we should pray and remember Jesus’ metaphor of Bread of Life, being thankful not just for our “manna”, but for His sacrifice that will feed our souls forever.

Margaret “Mugsy” Thornton “I am the Vine”

We have knock-out roses and each year around the middle of February the roses need to be pruned, cut way back, to encourage new growth and ample roses. As I walked by one bush, I noticed a branch which was broken off, completely severed from the bush. That branch will never again bear a bloom and will be thrown away. 

Jesus, ever the Master Teacher, often gave His listeners lessons from their day-to-day life experiences. They would be familiar with the work of the tender of vines. They understood the need of both lopping off and purging. The analogy likely made perfect sense to them. 

In John 15:4, he reminded them, and us, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

In the next verse, he makes it clear: “I am the vine; you are the branches.” The reminder, “…apart from me you can do nothing…” is for every person who has acknowledged need of a Savior and desires to follow Him in obedience. A branch not connected to the vine becomes useless, fruitless and ultimately, dead. 

So how does one “remain in Christ,” wholly connected to the vine? It’s a very human tendency to focus on self, MY life, MY family, MY ambitions, MY desires, etc. So to remain in Him, a new focus is necessary. Study His life, His words, His admonitions. Offer Him your life, your praise and your thanksgiving. He states, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love…my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” (V. 9,12)

In following these instructions, one will be led by the Holy Spirit, who always points to Jesus. He will enable us to,”…see You more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow You more nearly, day by day,” as the song from Godspell so aptly puts it!

Reverend Bob Daniel “I Am the Vine”

What did Jesus mean when he said, “I am the True Vine.”?“I am the True Vine” is the last of seven “I am” declarations of Jesus recorded only in John’s gospel. These “I am” proclamations point to His unique divine identity and purpose. Jesus said, “I am the True Vine” to closest friends gathered around Him. It was only a short time before Judas would betray Him; in fact, Judas had already left to do his infamous deed. Jesus was preparing the eleven men left for His pending crucifixion, His resurrection, and His subsequent departure for heaven. He had just told them that He would be leaving them. Knowing how disturbed they would feel, He gave them this lovely metaphor of the True Vine as one of His encouragements.

Jesus wanted His friends, not only those eleven, but those of all time, to know that He was not going to desert them, even though they would no longer enjoy His physical presence. His living energy—His spiritual reality—would continue to nourish and sustain them just as the roots and trunk of a grape vine produce the energy that nourishes and sustains its branches while they develop their fruit. Jesus wanted us to know that, even though we cannot see Him, we are as closely connected to Him as the branches of a vine are connected to its stem. Our desire to know and love Him and the energy to serve Him will keep flowing into and through us as long as we “abide” in Him.

He said that no branch can even live, let alone produce leaves and fruit, by itself. Cut off from the trunk, a branch is dead. Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to serve Him effectively. The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). Our source of life and spiritual fruit is not in ourselves; it is outside us, in Christ Jesus. We can live, live rightly, and serve Him effectively only if we are rightly connected to Him in a faith/love relationship.

Then Jesus underscored His point even more strongly by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing”. This illustration of the vine and branches is no thoughtless generality or careless simile. It is absolute, stark reality. No believer can achieve anything of spiritual value independently of Christ Jesus. He also reminds us that there are some who are “in” Him who bear no fruit. But these are not, as some would suppose, true branches that just happen to be fruitless. All true branches bear fruit. Just as we know a healthy, living tree by the good fruit it produces, so do we recognize fruitless branches as having no connection to the True Vine. This is why Jesus tells us, “By their fruit you will know them”. Those who do not produce good fruit are cut away and burned. The reference here is to apostates, those who profess to know Christ but whose relationship to Him is insincere. He neither called them nor elected them nor saved them nor sustains them. Eventually, the fruitless branches are identified as not belonging to the Vine and are removed for the sake of truth and the benefit of the other branches.

Father, we depend on You for everything, starting with our very life- it is or in You we live and move and have our being” including our reconciliation with through Christ Jesus. Help us to realize that we can only serve You effectively when we are connected with Jesus Christ by faith. Jesus is our only connection with You, the one who gave us life and who produces in us a fruitful life of righteousness and service.

(Note: This devotion was borrowed from Got Questions Ministries. I pray that you find it helpful and enlightening. Robert Daniel)