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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.

He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the Eagle’s! Psalm 103:5

blessedShe sat in my office in tears. After telling her husband for weeks that something was wrong with the car, it finally broke down on her way to work. Her husband was out of town so he was unable to help her.

When she was able to compose herself, I gently asked her a few questions. I knew this marriage was in trouble and sometimes, in a strained relationship, the smallest things can be tinder for a bigger fire.

“Were the boys still with you?”

“No, I’d already dropped them off, so I was alone.”

“So, I offered, it’s a good thing they weren’t with you isn’t it?”

“Yes, a very good thing.”

“Where did the car stall?”

“Just after I crossed the highway.”

“Good thing you got across that road! If the transmission had failed as you crossed it could have been tragic.”

“True.” (You could see the wheels start to turn)

“How did you get the car to the shop?”

“I called a couple guys from work. They towed it to the shop for me and since they were very close it didn’t take long at all.”

“That’s good, isn’t it? I mean, a towing bill can be pretty expensive.”

“Yes, and the weather was warmer today than last week. I’d have hated for those guys to work on my car if it had been as cold as it has been.”

“And, you made it to work in time?”

The light finally broke through.

“True. You know, the whole situation was frustrating to be sure, but it could have been so much worse if it had been colder or the boys would have been with me, or I broke down further from home. God was definitely taking care of me wasn’t he?”

Her story wasn’t really any different than ours. So many times in life we come across situations that frustrate us, make us angry, or make us afraid. Sometimes, to be sure, they are serious things that could be life threatening, but many times they are just small annoyances in the journey of life.

God is good. He allows things to come in our lives to test us, but he promises to walk with us along the way. Most of the time we don’t see God’s goodness because we are focusing on the things we want and not seeing how he has provided the things we need.

I’m convinced, from life experiences and scripture, that God’s angels watch over us daily. Who knows how many car accidents we’ve been rescued from because of a slow driver or missing a light. Take time each day to thank God for the little blessings he’s provided throughout the day. Thank him as well for the things you don’t know he’s done to protect and guide you along the right path.

PRAYER: Father God. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve. Thank you for watching over me daily. I especially praise you for the many ways your hand has protected me from unseen dangers and turmoil. Amen.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. Luke 17:15

Ten men approached Jesus to receive mercy and gain healing. Ten men realized their hopeless situation. Ten men saw Jesus as the only hope for live even remotely normal. Ten men left Jesus excitedly to present themselves to the priest.

Once they presented themselves to the priest they would be pronounced clean. Once pronounced clean they would be able to return home; to hear the laughter of their children; to feel the warm embrace of their wives; to be able to return to work; to laugh with friends. Once clean on the outside they could return to the temple and get their reputation back.

As they began down the road they nervously talked about the future. Up until this time they had nothing to talk about with each other than their past. We aren’t told how long into the journey it happened. It’s not mentions how they noticed, but they did. One by one they realized they were clean. “Hey, Harry, you look…different.” “Jacob, your spots are gone!” One by one they were healed. No doubt their walks turned into outright sprints…except for one.

Seemingly losing all track of time and forgetting the instructions, this lone man turned back. Was he noticed?  Did the other nine ask where he was going? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing all ten were far to excited to notice the others.

He retraced his steps. The teacher couldn’t have gone far. Then, he saw Him! After perhaps years of avoiding people and keeping his distance, he boldly approached Jesus. After yelling nothing but ‘Unclean’ and perhaps a few curse words as he considered his plight.

His praise was loud. Can you imagine the passion and excitement behind his words? Our praise is usually far to quiet, to reserved, to…proper, or it can be focused on entertainment and the ability of the musicians. This choir of one voiced praises loud enough so the angels in heaven may very well have been impressed!

While the other nine were returning home, to the warmth family and friends, the tenth man realized the importance of worship over religious activity, of giving God his due, than of following instructions, of freely and actively expressing praise instead of following a prescribed rituals. Like David dancing before the ARK of the covenant, the tenth man was oblivious to what others may think. He was healed. God did it. That’s all that mattered.

I’m thankful today for a God who heals. He may not heal us they way we’d like. But he is willing to touch us. There are many blessings he has bestowed on me, but I will not worship the things he’s given, I will worship him!

PRAYER: Almighty God. All that I see is yours. All that I’ve been given comes from your hand. I am so blessed because of your great, unending love for me. Keep me, Oh Lord, from worshipping what you’ve given me. Let my worship and praise only be for you. Amen.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

If you money were no object and you could provide your child with anything physically, spiritually or emotionally what gifts would you give them?

If money were no object and you could provide your child with anything physically, spiritually or emotionally what would you WITHHOLD from them? Would there be anything they needed to live that you would keep from them?

If money were no object and you could provide your child with anything physically, spiritually or emotionally would there be anything that your child could do that would cause you to say, “That’s enough? You are no longer my child. You’ve overstepped the boundaries. You are on  your own from now on. I don’t care about you!”

We have been blessed by our Heavenly Father with every spiritual blessing available. Our blessings aren’t based on our ability to deserve them. We are unworthy of even one of those blessings. But because Jesus loves us and because of His death and resurrection we have access to everything we need to travel though life’s journey. We will encounter obstacles and tragedy. We’ll be lied to and lied about. We’ll succumb occasionally to selfishness and anger. But none of those things will keep our Father from wanting to bless us.

Sometimes life gets hard. Sometimes we get distracted. When that happens, take some time to get alone, take a walk or just sit and meditate on the things God has done for you. When we focus on God’s blessings, it’s easier to endure life’s hardships.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I have to confess to you that I really can’t comprehend all you have done for me. There are so many times when I’m down. So many times when I want things my own way and feel abandoned when I don’t get them. So many times when friends and those who say they love me reject me. I ask that today, I would walk through life’s journey constantly reminded that You love me and have given me every blessing through Jesus. When things go wrong remind me of all you have done to help me through in the past. Amen.

When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:28

Growing up I remember listening to a Pastor’s wife telling a group of us about her years growing up as a ‘Missionary Kid’. Her father was the pastor of a small struggling church and her mother worked at a nearby hospital that was run by a larger church in the area. Her parents were not missionaries to some obscure remote jungle area where they lived in complete isolation. It was a Western European country with a standard of living much like her homeland of the United States of America.

She told, with humor now, about some of the things the family received from very well meaning people in the states. Christmas presents for the kids that were obviously used and sometimes broken, clothes with holes in them and two or three sizes larger than the sizes asked for ‘so the kids could grow into them, and other similar stories. The two that stuck in my head were the box of used tea bags from a dear prayer warrior who attached a note saying she’d only used them once!

Another time a package arrived with sheets in them that were full of holes and of no value for the beds. “Mom and Dad figured that the women’s group from this particular church sent them thinking that they could be used for bandages since that is all some missionaries had for bandages in the early 20th century.” So they sent off a note thanking the women for the bandages (and promptly cut them up for rags!). Months later they received a letter from a friend in that same church telling the truth about the ‘bandages’. These were sheets that a couple of the church women had gathered to send to the family to use on their beds because “they still had some value!”

God gives us good gifts! The things He provides for us aren’t used, leftovers or discarded pieces of trash no one else wanted. He knows us. He knows what we need. As a loving Father He gives us just what we will have to have to make it through the day.

The Psalmist writes, in Psalm 102 that ‘You open your hand and they are satisfied with good things.’ That reminds me of the time in the wilderness when God provided Manna for the children of Israel. We still are not sure what manna was. What we know is that it tasted good and supplied nourishment for over a million people for forty years (along with the quail).

There was another interesting thing about the Manna. The people of Israel could go out and gather and eat as much Manna as they wanted and eat to their hearts content. But if they gathered too much it was rotten in the morning.

God’s lesson for them is the same as His lesson for us. He gives us just what we need for today. We can count on the fact that tomorrow He’ll do the same; and the day after that; and the day after that. There was no reason for the Israelites to worry about what they would eat tomorrow. When tomorrow came the manna would be there.

God gives good gifts. God gives us all we need to make it through today. There will be bumps along the way. There will be times we aren’t sure we’ll make it another day. But He has our tomorrows covered and He’ll strengthen us for the tasks of today if we trust in Him. God loves us.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Creator sustainer of the entire universe. I thank you today for your provision. During those times when I fear the future or don’t understand today I praise You for the fact that I can look in the rear-view mirror and see how you have provided for my every need with good things. Things I needed, not necessarily wanted. Help me to live this day resting in the promise of your good and faithful provision. Amen.

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May 2023
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