Daily Bread


The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.

Chapter 5: Sustenance

Give us today, our daily bread [Matthew 6:11]

In the beginning mankind had access to everything we needed in abundance.  No one went hungry or needed to work for anything.  It was all there in the garden for the taking whenever and whatever our hearts desired.

That all changed at the so-called fall of man.  Theologians have debated the meaning and cause of the fall for centuries, but I believe that at it’s core it was about doubt, pride and arrogance.

Adam and Eve doubted God.  They doubted his love for them and his desire for their well-being. They took maters into their own hands and as a result they were forced to leave the garden and begin to work for their survival.

When God turned Adam and Eve out of the garden he told them what awaited them out in the world.

Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food [Genesis 3:17-19]

But because this toil for survival was not part of God’s original design and because God’s love for his people is go great, we can see time and time again how he intervenes against nature itself and provides for our needs.

The most obvious example of this comes in Exodus 16 where God provides literal bread from heaven to feed his people in the desert.  Elsewhere, the prophet Elijah, while on the run from the evil king Ahab, received bread and meat delivered to him by ravens (1 Kings 17).   And who can forget the feeding of the 5000, (John 6:1-15) where a young boy offers Jesus his meager lunch and it miraculously turns into enough food to feed upwards of 10,000 people.  (Remember, in Jesus day only the men would have been counted so by the time you add in women in children the crowd could have been easily double that number).

These and numerous other examples show how God cares enough about us to make sure we have what we need to survive.  Therefore; when we pray for our daily bread we are reaching back through history and reminding ourselves that God is our great provider.

The words themselves should conjure up all of theses stories from scripture as well as instances from our own lives where God stepped into the narrative and circumvented the natural order of things so that we could go on living.  If God had not stepped in and dropped bread from heaven on the Israelites they would have died, plain and simple.  While not quite as dramatic, there are instances from my own past that can only be explained as a supernatural intervention made a just the right time to insure my survival.  Contracts that got signed and money that got transferred the very day a large expense came due or just in time to prevent an eviction notice or disconnection of utility services.  These things have happened to me and similar things happen to God’s people every day.  They’ve maybe even happened to you.  These Godly interventions are the manna of our modern times.

Don’t ignore the fact also that this is daily bread.

God’s sustenance is never meant to be hoarded.  There is always, plenty to go around and there is plenty more coming tomorrow, and the next day.  The Israelites learned that lesson quickly.  They could not keep manna, it spoiled within 24 hours of being gathered.  This is because, when God steps in and transcends the natural order of things he does so firstly to provide for and show his love to each of us individually, but he also does it to glorify himself.  You cannot hoard God’s glory, it MUST be shared.  Failure to acknowledge and share God’s glory with the world will result in the spoilage of the manna and the end of the blessing.

This is what some theologians refer to as the concept of mixed up grace.  God often provides blessings that are not meant for us alone, they are meant to be shared with others.  In this way he brings the community together and spreads his love far and wide.  We are directed by him to share our resources and redistribute his blessings through our relationships with one another.

So, when we pray “Give us today, our daily bread,” we are asking God to provide for our needs yes, but we are also asking him to help us to share our blessings with those around us and spread his grace more evenly throughout the world.  At this point, pause and make specific requests for the provisioning of your needs and the needs you see around you.  Thank him for the blessings he has already provided and ask him to direct you in the redistribution of his grace to others in need.

 

 

 

The Book is Finally Out!


That’s right, I finally finished the book and released it on CreateSpace today!

Book Cover

BUY NOW!

Four years of research, Six months of writing comes down to this.  I can’t afford the ShamWow guy to help me promote it so this will have to do… 

Follow the link above and get you’re copy today, only $12.95!

Book Project Update!!!


Chapter Three is now on-line, above!!!

Thou Shall Not Covet; and other lessons from the law of Moses.

This is the chapter where I explore God’s provision for his people while they wander through the desert, the Ten Commandments and the counter intuitive economic concept of Jubilee.

Check it out and let me know what you think…

Bread from Heaven


So we pick up the story just after the Israelites have been freed from over 400 years of oppression under Pharaoh.  God heard their cries and saw their suffering and send Moses, through a series of twists and turns worthy of film by the great Cecil B. De Mill to rescue them.  It’s been about 2 and half months since they left their homes, the only homes any of them have ever known, and set out in a bold step of faith based on nothing more than a vague promise of a better life in a land “flowing with milk and honey.”  A land none of them, save Moses, has ever seen. 

As they are fleeing Egypt they see first-hand the awesome power of their God in the parting of the Red Sea and the subsequent drowning the entire Egyptian army.   But by now they’ve run out of food and are understandably getting a bit concerned that they may have been duped.   So what do they do?  They complain saying they were better off in Egypt, at least there they had enough food.  

It’s easy to sit here with the knowledge of thousands of years of biblical history and first-hand experience of God’s grace to “tut-tut” at the Israelite’s lack of faith but truthfully can we really blame them?  They had very little first-hand experience and since being oppressed in Egypt for 400 years had likely lost touch with their own history.  My father once, tongue firmly planted in cheek, referred to the Israelites as notoriously slow learners but, were they really?  Or did they have simply no idea what God was like?

So here, in the desert, God shows up and gives them a glimpse of His profound love for them and teaches a lesson in what it means to live under his economy.

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  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.  Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. [Exodus 16:2-4]

God’s provision for his people is a daily act of grace and our acceptance of it is a daily act of worship.  Here He very clearly tells Moses that the people are to go out each day and gather only enough for that day.  There is to be no attempt to store it up.  Those that doubt God’s promise and disobey this charge quickly learn that it’s futile, manna spoils overnight. 

This point here is simple.  God’s provision for his people is immediate and ongoing and it is not something that needs to be managed.  The whole idea is contradictory to both our ruler and caretaker mentalities.  The care taker says that we must protect this food source, gather as much of it as we can, store it away and preserve it for the future, while the ruler says we must take control of it, build walls around it and post a guard so that our enemies can’t get in.  In the end however; all our attempts at management and control are for nothing because when we wake up the next morning yesterday’s manna has spoiled and just outside the encampment walls are miles and miles of fresh new manna just waiting to be collected.  

Our modern society has becomes so entrenched in a need to for us to take care of ourselves that the idea of “letting go and letting God”  seems nonsensical but here me out on this.  It’s not until we release our hold on material things, even things that are viewed as necessities like food that we can truly begin to live under God’s Perfect Economy.  When Jesus taught his disciples to pray for “our daily bread” it was in direct reference to this event.  He was reminding them that just as with the Israelites in the desert God will provide for your needs if you earnestly seek Him and His will for your life.  There is no need to hoard and protect these provisions from others, they are a gift from God and as such are meant to be shared generously. 

Now I am not advocating that you walk away from your savings plan and start wandering around the back yard looking for manna every morning.  There is still a strong case for the planning and management of the resources God has given you.  Remember the ruler and caretaker mentalities are still God given traits of humanity they just need to be held in balance with God’s grace and love.  What I am saying here is that God’s will is to continue to provide for your needs even in times of desperation when you have no hope of being able to do things for yourself.  But remember, once the Israelites reached the promised-land and were able to establish fields of their own, the daily provision of manna stopped, and to my knowledge God has never again rained down bread from heaven.

 So for forty years, manna rained down on the Israelites daily as they wandered through the desert, even when they were actively sinning and refusing to follow the rest of His commands. 

About a month after God started to provide His people with daily provisions of food they arrived at Mount Sinai and Moses went up to meet with God face to face.  While he was there God gave him the law, a code of conduct that was to provide a reminder to the Israelites of who He was and how to honor and respect Him for all that He had done for them.

Bread from Heaven


We sure had a winner last night for dinner
Flaming Manna Soufflé! – Keith Green [So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt]

 

In my morning devotional time I recently came across the story of how God provided for the Israelites in the desert after they had fled Egypt.  It’s a really interesting commentary on human gratitude and greed.

The Israelites have just been freed from over 400 years of oppression under Pharaoh.  It’s been about 2 and half months since they left their homes, the only home any of them had ever known, and set out in a bold step of faith based on nothing more than a vague promise of a better life in a land “flowing with milk and honey.”  As they fled Egypt they saw first-hand the awesome power of their God on display, parting the Red Sea and drowning the entire Egyptian army pursuing them.   But by now they’ve run out of food and are understandably getting a bit concerned that they may have been duped.

So what do they do?  They complain saying they were better off in Egypt, at least there they had enough to eat.  

It’s easy to sit here with the knowledge of thousands of years of biblical history and first-hand experience of God’s grace to “tut-tut” at the Israelite’s lack of faith but truthfully can we really blame them?  They had very little first-hand experience and since being oppressed in Egypt for 400 years had likely lost touch with a lot of their history.  My father once, tongue firmly planted in cheek, referred to the Israelites as notoriously slow learners, were they really?  Or did they have simply no idea what God was like? 

 After the Israelites complain to Moses, no doubt very forcefully, perhaps even laced with a bit of profanity, some insults about his mother and some threats to his life, Moses prays to God for help.  It’s interesting to note here that it was not the Israelites who prayed, or even asked Moses to pray for them.  Again, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the Egyptian oppression had effectively destroyed their religion and sense of who God was.  Not unlike what happened to the church in communist Europe in the last half of the twentieth century, they had no idea how prayer worked.  But that’s a post for another time.

So, Moses prays to God and God answers him;

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. [Exodus 16:4]

There is something in that statement that leads to a clear commentary on how God views our needs.  God’s provision for his people is a daily act of grace and our acceptance of it is a daily act of worship.  God very clearly tells Moses that the people are to go out each day and gather only enough for that day.  There is to be no attempt to store it up.  Those that doubt God’s promise and disobey this charge quickly learn that it’s futile, manna spoils overnight.  

This point here is simple.  God’s provision for his people is immediate and ongoing.  It is not something that needs to be managed.  God knows exactly how much is needed and if it appears to be a short term solution to a long term problem rest assured that God will continue to provide for your needs. 

I have personally been a recipient of “manna from heaven” on more than one occasion.  The manna provided to me has always been just enough and when it seemed that it would run about before a longer term solution could be found more manna was always forth coming. 

Have you ever experienced “bread from heaven”?  Was it ever less than enough?  Did God provide more when it ran out?  Did to try to hoard it?