Archive for November 2007

“… bread from heaven …”

November 30, 2007

Read these words from God. (Please read Exodus 16.)

2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.

The Lord had remembered them … but they seem to have forgotten Him.

The Lord had rescued them from bondage … but they seem to prefer the bondage.

The Lord had exalted them in the eyes of their enemies … but they seem dissatisfied with their circumstances.

So … “the whole community grumbled”. They are tired – and have reason to be … they are hungry – and have reason to be. They have been walking for several days – carrying or carting Egyptian riches and their personal possessions. Tired and hungry – I would be too. We all would.

But they grumbled. Isn’t that so “human” – so “us”. When things are just not what we want … we complain – vent – voice our dissatifaction.

There is no mention that they stopped – took a moment – to thank God for what He had done for them – what He had given to them. They just “grumbled”.

But in their grumbling, hear the extent of their misery: “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in Egypt.”

WHAT? The only people that died in Egypt by the hand of the Lord were the unbelievers – the enemies of God – or their firstborn sons, when God passed through Egypt (and over Israel). They are tired – but they wish they were dead? They are hungry – but they wish they were damned? 

Can’t they take a moment and just ask God for what they want? They cried for deliverance – He delivered them. They cried that plagues be removed from their homes – He focused His wrath on the Egyptians. They cried that His judgment would “pass over” their firstborn sons – He passed over. They cried for a way of escape – He opened the Sea. The Almighty God hears …

Why can’t they just stop – take a moment – and ask Him for bread?

Notice that in their misery they begin to fanatize about “the good ol’ days”, when they ate “all they wanted”. Was that ever the case? They were slaves – they had all they wanted? Of course not, but isn’t that so human – so “us”? When we cannot get what we want right here – right now – we wish that things were the way “they used to be”.

They do not thank  God for what they have.

They do not ask God for what they want.

They do not trust God for what they need.

They grumble – complain – murmur – moan – gripe – whine.

So what does Almighty God do … He who deserves their honor – praise – devotion … He who could send a plague, drown an army, and pass through them to destroy? What does He do? He rains bread from heaven on them.

I am ashamed of their ungrateful and hateful manner … for I have grumbled too. I have failed to thank Him for what I have … ask Him for what I want … trust Him for what I need. I have “wished myself dead”, because I was “tired and hungry”. 

I am amazed at the Lord’s grace and patience … for them and also for me. I have deserved every plague – and would, even now, suffer His wrath if it were not for the blood of the Lamb sprinkled on my soul. But He rained bread from heaven on me.

I lost a ministry … but even now He gives me opportunities to teach and counsel.

I lost a career … but even now He keeps me on the job (from convenience store associate – to Social Worker – to Marketing Director).

I lost a reputation … but even now He surrounds with people, who know me (all about me) … who accept – forgive – love me.

He rains “bread from heaven” down on me … everyday. So … today … I will thank Him for what I have … ask Him for what I want … trust Him for what I need. I will pick up His gift to me … everyday. It will be my daily bread.  

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“… bread and wine …”

November 29, 2007

I am not a big fan of counting the number of times a certain word is used in Scripture to establish it’s significance. (I always figured that if God said it once – that should be enough for me.) Though there would seem to be some benefit to noticing if God was repeating His words for the purpose of emphasis. (A lesson I learned early from my mother and father; i.e. “If I have told you once, I have told you …”). But it seems interesting to me that the first time that bread is mentioned in the words of God is when …

“… Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
(Genesis 14:18-20; NIV. Please read all of Genesis 14.)

Seems ordinary enough … and I like the simplicity of it all. An honorable man, both priest and king, shares bread and wine with a noble man, who has shown himself to be both courageous and compassionate. This king and priest offers “the blessing” and calls upon his God to favor this gracious man.   Then this worthy man makes an offering to this man of God – a gift – a tithe – a tenth of all that God has given to him in the victory over his enemies. (Such is the way that honorable men deal with each other.)

But what they could not see – could not understand – limited by their time and space – was what was really happening. We would have known nothing more of it either were it not for the words of God in Hebrews 7 … (Please read it.) … where the inspired scribe of God brings this moment in history out of the shadows and reveals to us its reality.

That priest and king (the one with the long and difficult name) was a shadow – a hint – of the King of kings and the High Priest of the Most High God … Jesus. He is our king and our priest. And when the blessing was announced and the tithe was offered … it signified (to all who were waiting for its significance to come out of the shadows) that Jesus is the great high priest – better – far better than any priest born of the flesh under a covenant in stone.

Then there comes a day when this humble king, enters his city on the colt of a donkey to shouts of coronation and praise. He comes not as a king to sit on some ornate throne … he comes as a priest to make a sacrifice. He comes as the High Priest to make the sacrifice of atonement – to offer blood at the mercy seat of God – through the veil into the presence of God.

But before He goes to the altar – before He offers blood for the sins of all men … before He enters the Most Holy Place behind the veil … He sits in an upper room with a small group of confused and conflicted men. From His hand He offers them bread and wine.

 Take the bread and wine He longs to share. Receive His blessing – the gift of His grace – the life in His blood – the entrance through the veil into the throne of grace. Then do the worthy thing – make an offering to Him – not a tithe of things – but present your body as a living sacrifice. That is holy and acceptable. (It is the way honorable men treat each other.)   

“… have some bread …”

November 28, 2007

She was a stranger – not just from out of town – not just “we have never met”. She was a foreigner. Her look – her mannerisms – her speech were different. She had been raised differently. What she believed … what she practiced – all strange and unfamiliar. She had chosen these people – their ways – their God, but she was still “different”.

She was in mourning, too. She lived with the memory – the heartache and the fear that comes from having to say, “goodbye”, to her husband. Was he the only man she ever loved? Was he the love of her life? Had they shared more than their bodies in marriage? Their hearts? Were they ready to start a family? Were they “one” more than in flesh? When they were apart, could they breathe … could they rest until the other was once again safe in the other’s arms?

I do not know all that they shared – all that she felt. But her husband was dead. He was a young man, so she had no time to prepare her heart like those who are blessed to grow old together. She was forced by death to let him go. Hard enough – sad enough … but she also watched her sister-in-law have her union severed by death … and too – her mother-in-law. So painful was the loss of a husband and two sons, her mother-in-law resented her life – gave up on life – and changed her name from “pleasant” to “bitter”. 

It was to this “bitter” old woman that this young widow made her promise. “Where you go … I will go. Where you stay … I will stay. Your God … will be my God. Your people … will be my people.”

In order to keep her promise – she gleaned in the fields, picking up the leftovers – as the beggar poor so often do. “It just so happened” that she was in the field of an older man, wealthy and respected. When he noticed her … he took compassion on her. He gave her a safe place to rest … a break from her back-breaking labor … a piece of bread to satisfy her hunger and sustain her heart.

 14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” (Ruth 2:14; NIV – please read the book of Ruth.)

Such a simple invitation: “… have some bread …” – and it changed the world.

From that first meeting – that first act of kindness – that first piece of bread … Boaz will choose Ruth to be his wife. She will accept, respectfully and graciously. They will marry and have a son … Obed. Obed will also have a son … Jesse. And Jesse will have a son … David, who will be the great – great – great – great – great (etc) grandfather of a baby boy born in Bethlehem … Jesus.

Consider how the world changed – how eternity changed, because one good and noble man said to one good but brokenhearted woman, “… have some bread …”.

What could happen … would happen in my world – if I noticed the poor, tired, heartbroken people around me and offered them bread – the bread of life? 

Who is out there in the field, today? Who is out there – tired, hungry, heartbroken – who needs a safe place to rest – a kind gesture – an invitation to have some “bread”? Do I already know them? Are they strangers? How did it happen that they came into my world? How did it happen that I met them?   

Offer them “bread” … and change the world.

p.s. I wonder how it happened for you. Who took the time – showed the interest – in offering you the bread of life? Was it your parents or grandparents? Thank God. But who found them gleaning for truth and shared with them the Way – the Truth – the Life? Whoever it was … however they did it … I want to be one of those people.  
 

“… by bread alone …”

November 27, 2007

2 “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”  (Please read God’s Word in Deuteronomy 8.)

 I first heard those words, “… man does not live on bread alone …” from the Lord Jesus. He was hungry when He said it … so I do not believe that He was just quoting some prophecy so that it would be considered fulfilled (much like some of our teachers think He does at times when He quotes from the Law and the Prophets). He was hungry … so I do not believe that He was  just presenting a theological position for further philosophic discussions (much like the things discussed by those who want nothing more than to tell or hear something new).

HE WAS HUNGRY – 40 DAYS HUNGRY. (Read it for yourself. Matthew 4 or Luke 4.)

He wanted bread. He knew how bread smelled and tasted. He knew how a hot loaf of mother’s homemade bread (with butter melting on it and running between his fingers) would make him feel – good … full … satisfied. He wanted … craved … lusted for that bread. But He also needed bread. His head had to be hurting. His stomach had to be cramping. His body had to be feeling weak and dizzy. He was – in fact – starving to death for some bread.

But in His hunger – in His pain – in His lust … He remembered, “… man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Knowing that truth – did not make Him any less hungry. Quoting that verse – did not make Him any less desperate. But it did remind Him – that even when things are at their worst – “starving to death worst” – there is something more important than bread … God’s Word.

That is the lesson that God was trying to teach those that ate the bread from heaven, manna. When you are hungry, do not forget to trust the Word of God. He said that He will provide your daily bread. He will. You do not need to pick up enough for the next day – it won’t last. And when you do pick up enough for the next day, preparing for the Sabbath – it will be more than enough. God said it – that settles it … you have His Word on it.

So when I am hungry – there is something more important than food.

So when I am lustful – there is something more important than satisfaction.

So when I am jealous – there is something more important than recognition.

So when I am afraid – there is something more important than confidence.

So when I am upset – there is something more important than making everything “okay”.

So when I am lonesome – there is something more important than companionship.

So when I am addicted – there is something more important than “sniffing, smoking, drinking, shooting, taking or watching stuff”.

So when I am bored – there is something more important than having fun.

So when I am angry – there is something more important than getting my way.

So when I am hurt – there is something more important than making it feel better.

So even when I am “starving to death” – there is nothing more important than knowing … remembering … living by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

I want to learn this truth … remember this truth … live this truth.

“… treasured the words …”

November 27, 2007

“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” 

There are some who come here, who want – maybe even need – some hints or helps getting into the Word; so let’s start with something simple … small tastes of the sweet honey of God’s Word.

Read the first chapter of Job. (I could copy it here – maybe I should – but I would prefer that you to read it from your Bible.) Once you read it … you will notice the character of the man named Job.

“This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

Even after he suffered the loss of all that had – all those he loved (except his wife, who will encourage him to curse God and die) … he refused to blame God or to live bitter.

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Where does a man get that resolve … that faith … that strength of character? Is it possible that his “secret” was that he treasured the words of God … more than his daily bread … more than the sustenance that gave him life?

Can a man trust God’s Word to comfort his heart?

Can a man trust God’s Word to direct his steps?

Can a man trust God’s Word to fortify his determination?

Can a man trust God’s Word to purify his motives?

Can a man trust God’s Word to sustain his hope?

Job was a man deemed worthy of God’s trust – a worthy example of patient endurance. Of the several possible reasons for such strength – at least one must be that Job treasured God’s Word.

If I treasure the Word, as he did … may God work in me – enable me – to be such a man with that kind of resolve … faith … character.

 What Word from God have you “treasured” in your heart? What nourishment have you found in His Word … more than your daily bread? (If you choose to respond, please type out the verse; because it will make it easier for some of my folks to “taste” it.)