Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finding nourishment in a dry and desert land

Matthew 6:11 (NIV) Give us today our daily bread.

I was up earlier than normal this morning and went about my normal morning routine; made my coffee, let the dog out, and finally settled into my quiet time with the Lord. My quiet mornings with the Lord, spending time in his word and prayer, have become essential to my day. Ask anyone who truly knows me – they know when I’ve spent my morning with Jesus and when I haven’t. It’s like something that day is missing – my attitude, the way I carry myself, or the words I choose to speak.

This morning, I read the story of God’s provision for the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. The story is found in Exodus 16. They were leaving the land of Elim, where there were springs of water and palm trees, and came into the wilderness of Sin. Whoa… they left the “country club” and ended up in the desert. Of course they weren’t comfortable…there was absolutely nothing there to provide shelter from the sun or to nourish them. Under these circumstances what would you do?  Honestly, I’d probably do the same thing they did…complain about their circumstances.

When faced with dangers and shortages in the wilderness they grumbled and longed to be back in Egypt. Really? They had been slaves in Egypt. They wanted to go back to that? Ok, this is a little drastic don’t you think?  I don’t think I’d want to go back to a place of slavery…even if food and water were abundantly flowing. The Israelites probably didn’t want to go back to Egypt either; they were miserable and wanted their lives to be easier. Okay, ouch.  Isn’t the same true for us? I know it is for me. When I go through times of struggle, I just want it to be over so I can go on my little merry way.

In the wilderness, the Israelites took their focus off of God and put it squarely on their circumstance. Hummm. “There’s nothing to eat or drink! We’re all going to die!” [my paraphrase] Can you hear their griping? I think I have a pretty good visual. They lacked trust/faith in God to get them through their “wilderness.” Hummm. In Exodus 16:4 the Lord speaks to Moses “I am going to rain down food each day for you to eat.” As I continued to read through the next few verses, God told Moses exactly what He was going to do and how He wanted the Israelites to respond.

God provided manna (bread) and quail daily. The people were only to take enough food for that day. On the 6th day they were to gather double; half the portion would feed them that day and the other half would feed them on the 7th day. They were also instructed on the 6th day to pre-prepare the food for the 7th day (the Sabbath). They were not to work on the Sabbath…even it was to cook. God created the Sabbath after He had spent 6 days creating the universe and everything therein. On day 7, He rested. He knows we need that type of rest too. God met their need for food in the wilderness. But did the Israelites obey his detailed instructions?

In verse 27, some of the people went out to gather manna and found nothing. Ummm did they not hear God’s instructions? I’m sure by the 7th day they trusted God to provide for their needs…but they really didn’t obey what He said did they?  Hummm.

We see through this story in Exodus, that God would meet their daily need. He wanted a part of the Israelite’s day; going out and gathering “food.” He also wanted them to set-aside a day to worship Him and rest.  He wants to be a part of our day too. In Matthew 6:11, Jesus taught us to pray for our daily provision. “Give us today our daily bread.”

For us to receive our manna from Heaven we need to spend time with the Lord on a daily basis through prayer and the reading of His word, the Bible. It is so easy to let work, family, recreation and other responsibilities crowd our schedules so much we “forget” or “don’t have time to spend with God.” He promises to meet our daily needs just like He did for the Israelites.  It’s up to us to trust Him for provision and then obey (spend time with Him, worship Him and rest.)

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