Archive for December 2007

“… he who shared my bread …”

December 31, 2007

I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me;
       heal me, for I have sinned against you.” 

5 My enemies say of me in malice,
       “When will he die and his name perish?”

 6 Whenever one comes to see me,
       he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
       then he goes out and spreads it abroad.

 7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
       they imagine the worst for me, saying,

 8 “A vile disease has beset him;
       he will never get up from the place where he lies.”

 9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
       he who shared my bread,
       has lifted up his heel against me.
  (Psalm 41:4-9; NIV. Please read Psalm 41.)

He, who is the bread of life, sat with His disciples around a table with bread and wine. He shared the bread – His body – with those men, who knew Him best. All of those men will desert Him – but only one will betray Him. A man at His table – taking bread from His hand – will lift up “his heel against” Him.

I know something of what it means for a “close friend” to betray a friendship (see: www.rexboyles.com/blog); but nothing that I have experienced compares to what happened with Jesus when He was betrayed by “his close friend”, Judas.

I leave to God – His judgment of Judas, but I beg Him, according to the words of the hymn: “Oh make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be – Lord let me never – never outlive my love for Thee”. 

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“… a man ought to examine himself …”

December 30, 2007

 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.  (1Corinthians 11:23-32; NIV. Please read 1Corinthians 11.)

When they met to eat this bread … to remember their Master … they spoke of those events recorded in the histories of their gospels. They also remembered words and works not recorded for any – but appreciated by those who were there with Jesus when He shared a private moment. As they remembered – how could they not examine themselves … not compare themselves to Jesus … and beg for God’s mercy for their failures to be like Him and for His help to be more like Him. 

But whether the moment we choose to remember is from the written Word of God or some personal experience within the heart … let us “examine” ourselves … compare ourselves with our Lord, seeking His grace for our lack and His strength for our longing.   

“… the bread of idleness …”

December 28, 2007

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
(Proverbs 31:26-29; NIV. Please read Proverbs 31.)

Have you met my mother? If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that this was written about her. She is definately a worthy woman – “surpassing them all”.

Years ago, I would have naively said, “Everyone feels that way (Proverbs 31) about their mother.” But I have sat with too many broken children, abused by their violent mothers … too many empty children, neglected by their selfish mothers … too many lost children, confused by their deceitful mothers … too many conflicted children, tormented by their twisted mothers … too many hopeless children, drained by their controlling mothers. (Most, if not all of these children, live in fear of becoming like their mothers. That statement, in and of itself, makes me grieve for them … for I can think of no higher compliment or blessing than for someone to say – “You are just like your mother!”)

Have you ever met my mother?

Her name is Lena Jo (McNabb) Boyles, but we call her “Granny”. (I am going to get in such trouble for using her first name!) From my first day with her, the day I was born – until the last time I saw her, Christmas day – she has been cooking, cleaning, hugging, patting, kissing, listening, teaching, counseling, fixing, washing, ironing, vacuuming, sewing, painting, visiting, baking, delivering, praying, worshiping. She “does not eat the bread of idleness”.

Have you ever met my daugher?

Her name is Cheri Jo (Boyles) Smith. She is Granny Jr. in attitude and in action. She is the baker, Bible teacher, and booboo kisser in her family. She works at a paying job, 8 hours a day, and the job she loves most for the rest of the day. What she does best is raise my Titus and Lily. Even when her body refuses to cooperate with her wishes or intentions, she “does not eat the bread of idleness”.

Have you ever met my daughter-in-law?

Her name is Rebekah Ann (Williams) Boyles. She is “sugar and spice and everything nice”. She works at a paying job, 8 hours a day, and the job she loves the most the rest of the day – and she also gets to be a preacher’s wife. What she does best is love my Brooke and William. She “does not eat the bread of idleness”.

Have you met my friend?

Her name is Paige Foreman. If I am the Lone Ranger, she is Tonto … if I am Colonel Potter, she is Radar O’Reilly … if I am Jonathan, she is the armorbearer. She makes her living by teaching “special ed” in a special way, but she lives to serve her brothers and sisters in the fellowship (OPEN church) that welcomed her home and celebrates with her every week. She “does not eat the bread of idleness”.

Have you met my sister?

Her name is Juanita Bumpus, mother of one of my dearest friends, Heidi (Bumpus) Dockray. She is the wife of a preacher, who is also an elder … and the mother of seven children, raising them all to go to church … to live right … and to work hard, serving others. (Heidi is an example of what her mother taught and lived.) Neither one of them “eat the bread of idleness”.

Who have you met that “does not eat the bread of idleness”? 
 

“… see the bread …”

December 27, 2007

The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ”  33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.”

 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept. 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.  (Exodus 16:31-35; NIV. Please read Exodus 16.)

 It was bread from heaven … like frost on the ground in the morning that would melt away with the rising sun. It was provided once a day … good for one day (except on Friday). But God wanted a jar of manna saved for generations to come.

God wanted their children and their children’s children to have a memorial … a reminder …  

of His Power – Nothing is impossible with God! Light explodes from darkness … dust breathes the breath of life … a sea parts and a nation falls … a virgin gives birth to a son … the crucified Savior lives as the risen Lord.

of His Providence – He is the giver of all good gifts. A rib becomes a helper … a ram becomes a substitute sacrifice for a son … a rock becomes a river … a lunch becomes a feast … a prisoner becomes a preacher.

of His Precepts – Fear God and keep His commandments.  Obey His commands … Accept His promises … Heed His warnings … Follow His examples … for it is always right to agree with God.

As for me … for my memorials:

I have an old Bible – new when I began to preach – worn after years of study, travel, and preaching. It is my reminder.

I have a letter from Cline Paden, a man who was used by God to change the world and who would never let me go. It is my reminder.

I have a church, the OPEN church – a fellowship of Samaritans, who search for the broken and bruised (including me), binding up their wounds and carrying them to a safe place. It is my reminder.

“… kept my bread to myself …”

December 26, 2007

“If I have denied the desires of the poor
or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,
17 if I have kept my bread to myself,
not sharing it with the fatherless-
18 but from my youth I reared him as would a father,
and from my birth I guided the widow-
19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing,
or a needy man without a garment,
20 and his heart did not bless me
for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,
21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
knowing that I had influence in court,
22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder,
let it be broken off at the joint.
23 For I dreaded destruction from God,
and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

(Job 31:16-23; NIV. Please read Job 31.)

 Job was a blameless and upright man. He feared God and shunned evil. He even taught his children to live the same.

Terrible things happened to him – God ordained terrors. He is hurting … confused … wanting, even demanding a hearing before the Lord. As he presents his case to his friends and to the righteous judge, he notes his character – a lifetime of devotion to the Lord.

He asserts his compassion for the poor – the widows and the fatherless. In an attempt to make his case he mentions that he has not kept bread from the fatherless.

Were the fatherless more noticeable then than now? Does the fact that I don’t seem to notice the fatherless mean that they are not there – or that I am just not looking for them? So much of what I do seems to involve being asked to give to this cause or that. I am grateful for the reminders … grateful for the opportunities … but I do not just want to be token godly man. I want it from the inside out … I want to learn that just because I do not hear about the need – just because I do not see the “widows and the orphans” – just because I do not get asked to participate in the need – THE NEED STILL EXISTS – and I should do my part!

May God and my family be able to say of me – at some point in my life – that I am a blameless and upright man … and that those I have met … served … loved will agree with God about me.  

“… the bread of life …”

December 25, 2007

So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 

34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” 

41 At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
(John 6:30-51; NIV – Please read John 6.)

After He was born, wise men brought gifts to reflect His majesty – His holiness – His sacrifice. During His life, He received gifts: a supper at the Pharisee’s house … an annointing of perfume, preparing Him for His death … and moments of praise from cleansed lepers, comforted widows, and humbled disciples.

But He did not come to be served … but to serve; not to receive gifts … but to give gifts.

He offers the bread of life for the hungry … 

He offers the water of life for the thirsty … 

He offers the light of the world for the blind …

He offers the resurrection and the life for the dead …

He offers the Way – the Truth – the Life for the lost … the deceived … the dying.   

 On this day – receive His gift – the free of eternal life.

” … five small loaves …”

December 24, 2007

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”  13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
(John  6:5-13; NIV – Please read John 6.)

The hungry crowd in body and soul.

The disciple without enough money or faith.

The disciple without enough faith – but with a young friend.

The boy with a lunch of 5 biscuits and 2 fish (i.e., Long John Silvers Happy Meal).

The Bread of Life with the power to feed both body and soul.

I have been – and even am now – among the hungry – scattered – hopeless crowd. I have been the disciple, who was concerned more with money than with serving … more with the means that the end. I have been the disciple, who has felt hope -but not much faith.

 But I want to be like that boy – willing to share what little bread I have with the One, who can make what is too little – more than enough. He offered his handful of bread and fish to Jesus … who with His blessing gave each of the 5000 men (and whatever women or children) more than one bite – but a full meal deal – leaving them satisfied – even wanting more.

My Lord – in this season of gift giving … please accpept the gift of what little I have – what little I am – what little I am willing to give. Please bless it and multiply it for those who are hungry in heart and soul – until they have had more than enough.