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Life Project Blog

Mark 1:21-28

Parallel Text: Luke 4:31-37

Jesus went to the synagogue at Capernaum and taught there. Mark doesn’t tell us what He taught, just that He did teach; the exact content isn’t the issue in this text, the reaction of the people is the real message. The people were amazed not so much by His content, apparently, but at His manner.

I know a preacher who is more than capable of bringing a brilliant sermon to his group, but as he does so, it is obvious that he is uncomfortable, nervous and insecure.  By the time his people have finished their lunch, they have forgotten what he taught only an hour earlier. Other preachers I know present really weak content with confidence and an air of command that their groups recall and consider greatly inspiring. Jesus had both content and an air of confidence and authority; He really made an impact…

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He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. Deuteronomy 8:16

MANNA-005SThe story of Manna has always intrigued me. God’s people are heading on a journey in which they really have no idea of the outcome. They are being led by a murderer with an anger issue. For hundreds of years they’ve lived as slaves in a foreign land under the rule of ruthless Pharaohs who were more interested in their own comfort than they were protecting the integrity of the Hebrew race.

In the midst of their journey God provides Manna for his people. No one is sure what Manna was/is, but whatever it was, it was a vital part of the Hebrew diet. Today, Manna serves as a lesson for each of us about God’s provision. Take a look at what Manna means to us:

  1. Manna shows we serve a creative God. God could have had any number of foods appear for his people. After all, he was God. The Hebrew nation was desperate for God’s intervention. They felt abandoned, afraid and angry. Jehovah God not only provided food, he provided the realization that God isn’t confined to explainable events to prove his presence. When they needed it, it appeared. No explanations. It just came. God still does that. He doesn’t always use Manna, but if we rely on him we’ll see small things throughout our day that prove his presence and desire to provide for his people.
  2. Manna reminds teaches us need v. want. My wife and I constantly remind ourselves not to succumb to what we call the ‘bigger-better-best’ syndrome. The ‘bigger-better-best’ syndrome is that little voice inside of us that tells us constantly that we need to have the biggest house, the better toys, the best car. ‘Bigger-better-best’ is driven by desire and desire is never satisfied. Many a Hebrew went out and collected far more than they needed only to find it full of maggots in the morning. Desire can never stay in the same house as trust. Jesus said “Why worry about tomorrow. Take care of today.” No doubt more than one Hebrew understood that truth thanks to Manna.
  3. Manna reminds us of the need to obey. Obedience is a bad word now days. To demand obedience is old fashioned. It squelches creativity. It’s intolerant. It destroys the rights of the individual. At least that’s what the world says. I think God responds by looking down on our self-destructive tendencies and says, “So, how’s that working out for you?” God’s rules are difficult to follow because the voice of desire screams loudly in protest. However, his ways are best. Many a Hebrew father no doubt listened to his children cry themselves to sleep because of hunger. Hungry stomachs that could have been filled if he’d obeyed God and went out to collect Manna.

Gods’ desire is to fill us each day with new life, with daily Manna from above. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

Each and every day God provides new blessings for you to enjoy and share. Take time each day to take notice of this blessings and thank him for them.

PRAYER: Father God thank you for the example Manna is of your unfailing love for us and the blessings of each new day. Help me to never lose sight of all you have for me. Amen.


Sword of the Spirit

CONCERT OF PRAYER

Pray Week 977

God_s Grace “Visible Grace”

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people… Titus 2:11

The early church heard reports from Antioch of great numbers of people coming to salvation through Jesus Christ. This caused the church leaders in Jerusalem to send Barnabas to investigate. The bible tells us that when he arrived he saw or witnessed the grace of God. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad… (Acts 11:23)

It is true that it is by the grace of God that we are saved. Grace is a free, unmerited gift of God. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8)

But what does grace look like? What did Barnabas…

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For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11

Small stuff 2.9.2016One time I was being my father’s chauffeur to a speaking engagement. We decided to stop for lunch at a favorite chain restaurant of ours. Rather than order my ‘usual’ I decided to try something different. It was close to Thanksgiving and I decided to try the daily special, a Turkey Omelet. I’ve always been an omelet fan and I like turkey. Seemed like a winning combination. It wasn’t. While the picture looked good and the presentation was good, something in the recipe made it virtually inedible for my taste buds.

I’m sure we’ve all run into situations like that. It may be food, a different route, a new piece of clothing, a relationship or any number of other things. From a distance it looks good to us but once we’ve made the commitment we realize we’ve made a mistake.

David had that experience on night when he was relaxing on the roof of his castle when his eyes wandered to the house next door and a woman bathing. His mind wandered and his feet followed. What seemed like a good idea in a moment of carelessness, led to a series of actions that nearly destroyed his kingdom, badly tarnished his kingdom and caused life-long problems to his family.

The Psalmist writes “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”(Psalm 84:11)

The sun offers us warmth, guidance, life and encouragement. A shield gives us security and protection from the enemy. David learned the secret to holy living in a human realm wasn’t perfection but confession and repentance

While our perception of what is good is finite; God’s perception of what is good is eternal. Like David, we make mistakes in life. Some of those mistakes lead to harsh consequences. Regardless of what we have done the warmth of the SON gives us new life through forgiveness. The SHIELD of the Holy Spirit protects us from the enemy, and sometimes the biggest enemy we face is ourselves.

God always gives us the way out. He always gives us something that we can use to get through the struggle we are in. He’s our strength and our shield when life gets hard. When we learn to give him all our secrets we find him more than faithful to bless us.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the forgiveness we have in you through Jesus. So many times I find myself focusing on things that look good to me but aren’t best for me. Help me to see things through the light of your Son. Protect me from the schemes of the enemy. Amen.

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