Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Daily Bread

Sufficiency in Christ

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:9-11

I am learning more and more what it means for God to give us our daily bread. I used to be a big planner, always thinking of and making plans for down the road. What is going to happen tomorrow? How should we handle the bills? What should we do about the kids schooling? Are our jobs secure? Should we start looking for other jobs? Where should we live? Should we relocate? What should we do to stay healthy?

However, lately, the questions are so large that my prayers cannot even seem to cover them. Now, it is all I can do just to ask God to get me through one particular day. Lord, the questions are so many, I don't know where to begin. Can you just help me make it through today? Jesus, please give me the strength and wisdom to deal with what I face this day. That is more than enough on its own. Our daily bread.

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34

If we think of it practically, this approach really just doesn't seem...well, practical. Imagine if we were speaking of literal food. I go to the grocery store and purchase bread for today. I return tomorrow to purchase that day's portion. I am back again the following day to get one more day's rations. Pretty soon, someone might suggest, "Why don't you just stock up while you are here so you have less trips to make."

Yet, this is not the pattern God sets out for us. He calls us to make frequent trips to Him; to ask for daily bread. And that is what He provides. He is not preparing us to be self-sufficient, but to depend upon Him for our sufficiency in all things.

Some might say, "Well, God, we have to plan! How are we supposed to do anything or even live if we are only sustained day by day."

The irony in such statements is that no matter how much we plan, we can literally only live one day at a time. No matter how much we worry about tomorrow, we can only ever be in the present. Even our abundances can only be enjoyed now. We have no knowledge of whether we will even see tomorrow. God is not depriving us of something by giving daily bread. He is sustaining us at the exact moment of our existence. He is an ever present help. He meets us where we are - right here, right now. Our daily bread.

God shows us what He is after and why as we look at Israel in the wilderness once they had been freed from the bondage of Egypt.

"And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt." Exodus 16:1

I truly love God's word. He always tells it like it is.

Upon leaving Egypt, Israel was brought to wander in the wilderness of Sin. They had been in bondage and were slaves in Egypt, so God had sent a deliverer to free them from this captivity. However, while in bondage, their hearts had begun to yearn for the things in Egypt. Instead of having a heart set to serve God, they wanted to be the Egyptians - have what they had, live as they lived.

So what does God do? The same thing He does with us when He is delivering us through salvation in Christ Jesus. He brings us face to face with ourselves, our carnal nature, our sin. And that is surely a barren, dry place.

"And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Exodus 16:2-3

The whole congregation murmured and complained. Not only did they wish they had died in Egypt, they even preferred to have died at the hand of the Lord. Why? They resented not having the luxuries and pleasantries of Egypt. They would rather have been a slave with their bellies full than to be free in God and in want in any way.

"Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily." Exodus 16:4-5

On every day but the Sabbath, they were required to gather bread. God knew that if He did not require them to come back to Him for sustenance continually, they would wander from Him. Why? Because their hearts were still in Egypt. His keeping the people dependent upon Himself was a protection for them, saving them from their own corrupt desires.

So God issued daily bread to "prove" them. Will these people walk with me? Will they obey my word? Not so that God could see the answer, but so that the people could. The people needed to be brought face to face with the wickedness of their own hearts. Only then could they be cleansed.

All the while, as they abided with Him wandering in the wilderness of Sin, He brings about the work necessary for them to inherit His promises. We learn in that chapter that this is how God sustained them until they came to the Promised Land.

"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. " Luke 12:22

It is rather easy to dismiss the passages in Scripture which speak of taking things one day at a time. Take no thought...yeah, yeah. Don't worry about tomorrow...sure, ok. I can think of many times where I would see those text and say, "Alright, God, I hear you. But right now, I have some things that must be dealt with. Health issues, financial issues, family issues, life issues. If you don't act now, such and such is going to happen."

At these times, it can be very hard to not be cynical about God's instructions to give no thought for tomorrow. Yet, it is not that God expects us to have superhuman strength so that we are not affected by what "tomorrow" brings. He wants us instead to turn to Him in those moments to get our sustenance. To cast our cares upon Him. Seek in Him our daily bread.

Thirst after me. Hunger for righteousness. Drink of the water of life that is freely given.

"For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." Luke 12:30-31

Every morning we are to wake up looking for what God desires for us in that day. He knows our needs, but He wants us to seek Him first. As we set our minds like a flint to seek His face, then our needs are met as He sends us on to do His will.

I don't want to get ahead of God with "my" plans. It is a great awakening to realize that God is not our financier. He is not blessing us so that we can move forward with our plans. Wow, if most people could understand that they could experience a real breakthrough.

God supplies for His church so that His church can then become a supplier of the needs of others. It is not about having little or having much. It is about looking to Him for everything and understanding the purposes for God's supply.

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God." II Corinthians 9:8-12

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