Manna in the Morning

07-01-09

1 Corinthians 14:1, “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.”   

            This passage immediately follows the great chapter regarding our Heavenly Father’s love for us and our return of that love to our God.  The Last phrase of chapter 13 is “The greatest of these is love.’  Remember the chapter and verse designations are placed there by the early scribes in much the same way as the mile-markers on the interstate highways, to mark our location and make it easier to return to the same spot time and again.  The letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth moved in an easy progression from the greatest gift of all being love, to “pursue love.”  There is no change of subject or emphasis, Paul moves from the first and greatest gift of love to the second one, to prophesy.  The root meaning of the word is true of the Biblical prophets, to “Speak under inspiration” whether for future events or daily living. Certainly the words we have received from every writer of our Scripture has been written under the direct inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.  Every Pastor or teacher seeks to present God’s Word in such a manner that it is apparent that God the Holy Spirit has inspired each of them to prepare and present the message in the way that will convict hearts, glorify God, and lead the unsaved to repentance and salvation.  One way of saying this is that the word prophesy means to foretell events and to tell forth events in such a way that God is honored, glorified, and the message of salvation is proclaimed.  Every man or woman that teaches or proclaims the Word of God must ask God the Holy Spirit who indwells us, to not only put His stamp of approval upon the message, but energize and speak through the one who presents that message. 

            This is not difficult when we realize how God has protected His Word from Moses’ recorded words in Genesis to the last glimpse of the future place where we will forever proclaim God’s glory.  Our Heavenly Father let us be as inspired as those who wrote Your Word as we speak, teach, and write for your glory.  We ask for Your divine leading in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

06-30-09

Hebrews 6:7-8, For ground that has drunk the rain that has often fallen on it, and that produces vegetation useful to those it is cultivated for, receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and will be burned at the end.”

            All through the book of Hebrews the comparison is given between the Old Promise of God given In the Old Testament through the Prophets and the New Promise of God which is Salvation through faith in the Promised One of Genesis 3:15.  The Jewish people are depicted here as ground that has received the gentle rain of God’s blessings and promises through all the years since Abraham was first given the promise of a descendent that would bless the world.  The rain upon the people favored of God, the showers of the message of the Prophets, the outpouring of the birth of Jesus the Messiah from the line of David, bringing forth the grain and green grass of sacrifices offered in faith to the God who loved them and the spiritual nourishment the Old Testament Scriptures gave to the people chosen of God as His own. 

            When the Priests and spiritual leaders of that same people group rejected the Messiah, refused to acknowledge His divinity and arranged for His death, those beneficial grasses were turned into thorns and thistles, plants that benefited neither the Jews nor the Gentiles.  The sacrifices lost their meaning of a Savior to come.  Their prayers for a Messiah were answered, but rejected by the Jewish people group because of stubbornness and refusal to listen.  The old system was made of no effect, no longer accepted by God, because its worth had been superseded. 

            We who are redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus, who have put our faith and trust for all eternity in Him, are watered daily by the living Word of God, we are showered by His mercy and grace, we are blessed by our fellowship with Him and we are nourished by His Spirit within us.  Our Heavenly Father, we praise you for the love you have poured out on us and for the guidance and blessings that are ours as your children.  Guide us step by step this day we pray in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

06-29-09

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

            There are only three times in Scripture where a human sacrifice is required by Almighty God.  The first is when Abraham was called upon by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was the answer to God’s early promise to give him and Sarah a son.  As Abraham proved his love for God and raised the knife to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and provided a sheep for the sacrifice.  Abraham acted in faith that God would provide.  In the Levitical law, human sacrifice is specifically forbidden.  During the period of the Judges, Jephthah made avow to sacrifice the first thing he saw when he came back from battle if he won the victory.  His only child, a daughter came out to greet him.  Jephthah did not sacrifice her, but she never married or bore children and lived the life of what we would call today a Nun, dedicated to God until she died.  Jesus sacrificed His own life on Calvary for our redemption and it is in answer to this sacrifice that Paul wrote to the Christians in the Church at Rome, and to us today, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, not to seek death, but to live in total subjection to the will of God. 

This is our spiritual sacrifice, our act of worship, to dedicate ourselves totally and completely to the Will of the Father. 

            We are only able to accomplish this is to avoid conforming to this world’s allurements and the expectations of ungodly people but instead to be transformed in the same way a lowly grub is transformed or metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly.  It is a complete rebirth from our human nature into the Family of our Heavenly Father, receiving into our being His compassion for the lost, the love for others and a desire to serve instead of being served.  When we have been transformed, we will understand how to please our Father by doing good things in His name and by understanding and desiring to do His perfect will in His perfect time.  Our gracious Heavenly Father, we ask you to complete the transformation that began with our new birth.  May we grow into the person you want us to be, in Jesus’ name we pray.

Manna in the Morning

06-26-09

Lamentations 1:18, “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against His command.

Listen, all you people; look at my pain.”

            One of the things that is hard to understand about people is why they willingly or unwittingly cause themselves pain.  One hand-written sign in an old ranch bunkhouse read, “Don’t squat with yer spurs on,” obviously a remnant of some poor cowboy who forgot he was wearing spurs and squatted down on his haunches for some reason.  It is just as self-inflicted when followers of Jesus deliberately sin, disobeying the laws of God when they full well know it is wrong.  God’s judgments are always right, He is the Righteous Judge,  As He is judging our actions, He has already provided the means by which we can be forgiven and cleansed from unrighteousness. 

            Many people who are in the family of God are living with pain, the pain of a divided family, pain resulting from severed relationships, pain from disobeying the will of the Father, by neglecting God’s Word, failure to walk and talk with Him on a daily basis and failing to follow his plan for their lives.  Not all of this pain is self-caused, but the pain is severe none the less.  God has promised us the courage and ability to suffer through the pain and look to Him for the relief and release from earthly pain when we see Him.  This promise is given in Revelation 21:4, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”

            Our gracious Heavenly Father, give us the wisdom to avoid careless mistakes that cause us pain, forgive us for our sin and give us full opportunity to serve you this day we pray in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

06-25-09

1 Samuel 14:41, “So Saul said to the Lord, “God of Israel, give us the right decision.”

            Our lives are full of decisions, we make some without even thinking, and others are made after carefully weighing all the considerations, both positive and negative.  Some we tend to think we can handle on our own, others, we seek advice from friends and counselors.  For major decisions we ask our Heavenly Father for wisdom and discernment in making the right choice.  In ancient Israel, the High Priest was consulted for major decisions regarding the entire nation and he would go before Almighty God for the answer.

            Scripture has given us some help in making right decisions for our lives, First, always make the decision yourself if you are involved, don’t let others influence and make the decision for you.  Second, determine whether or not the choice will make your life more like that of Jesus or will the resultant action make your witness less effective and diminish your influence for Christ?   Ask God your Heavenly Father for direction.  Scripture is the best channel marker by which you chart your life’s course.

            Next, will it help me achieve my life purpose?  Each Christian should have an overall life plan, often accompanied by a life verse.  Fourth, does this choice violate Scriptural precepts or my personal convictions?  If this choice is contrary to the principles and convictions under which I feel God would have me live my life, it is the wrong choice.  Always consider your spouse and family when making a choice, God has given them to us, and they are to be consulted before any major life-affecting action. 

            Last, can I honestly pray and ask God’s blessing on my chosen path?  If there is even a hint of reluctance to ask God to honor any decision, it is the wrong one to make.  Our gracious Heavenly Father, give us the wisdom to seek Your will in every decision we make by consulting Your Word and being sensitive to Your voice in our heart.  Keep our testimony strong and our may our lives declare your grace and glory, in Jesus’ name we pray.

Manna in the Morning

06-24-09

Isaiah 6:1, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple.

            The sixth chapter of Isaiah is a wonderful description of the majesty of Heaven and the glory of our Awesome God.  Some translations use the word ‘glory’ filled the temple.  This is a description of something that is hard to translate into our English Language; it is the description of the ‘train’ or the trailing portion of a regal robe, or even the lacy train of a bride going down the aisle.  As our Lord God, Jehovah entered the Heavenly Temple in Isaiah’s vision His glory, majesty, regal demeanor, His awesome personage fills entire temple.  God is beyond our ability to comprehend.  Seraphim attend Him, angels repeat praise and adoration before Him, He is everywhere present in all His fullness, His power is without limit and His knowledge is limitless.  His love for us is from before the beginning, while His perfect righteousness demands death as the penalty for sin, His perfect mercy provides a way through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Perfect Sacrifice, His perfect grace makes this gift available to us and His perfect love accepts us into His family.  In the Heavenly Temple the glory of our God fills every corner and crevice, His glory is perfect light, casts no shadow and in Him there is no darkness because of His glory and presence.  This is the heaven that is waiting for the person who puts his trust in Jesus as his Savior and King. 

            This same awesome God infuses and permeates every cell of the Christian, He dwells within us in all His power and love, therefore it is our responsibility to share this Savior’s love with everyone we meet while we complete our time on this earth.  Our gracious Heavenly Father, let us have just a tiny idea of the glories of Heaven when we will look upon your face.  Give us an eagerness to share with others this day, and accept our thanks and praise in Jesus’ name

Manna in the Morning

06-23-09

Genesis 19:26, “But Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.”

            Lot, Abraham’s nephew, separated from Abraham because their combined flocks needed too much land to provide graze and water.  Given his choice of land, Lot opted to go toward the shore of the sea and live in the comparative ease of the city of Sodom, ignoring the rampant sin in the city and disregard for the edicts of the Lord God that had been shared with mankind, even before the Ten Commandments and other laws given much later to Abraham’s descendents.  Lot liked the life of a city, as compared to the nomadic way of Abraham.  Lot and his wife became insensitive to the sin around them and while they did not participate in the sinful behavior, they did not preach against it or actively oppose it. 

            God’s punishment was announced against the city of Sodom and its companion city, Gomorrah.  Abraham pled for his nephew’s life and God said if 10 righteous men could be found in the cities, He would withhold his judgment but none could be found.  In his mercy, God sent two angels to bring Lot and his family out of the doomed city, leaving behind all they owned and the betrothed husbands of Lot’s daughters; they were rushed out of the city just as fire fell from heaven upon them for their vile sin and disregard for Almighty God.  Lot pleaded to be allowed to go to another small village, and God allowed him to go to Zoar where he escaped the judgment of God upon the evil cities

            Lot’s wife, reluctant to leave her possessions and life of comparative ease, turned to look at the place where her material wealth, everything she possessed, lay behind them.  Just as men and women today, she had an adoration of material things and a lingering regret at having to leave the vile citadel of sin.  As she turned back, against God’s command given through His messengers, she instantly became a pillar of salt, a mound of metallic salts from the earth, the same minerals that make the Dead Sea the distasteful place it is.  She became a reminder and warning to all people, even today, who take lightly God’s commands and His perfect justice for mankind’s deliberate, willful, disobedience and sin.  God’s anger burns against those that call evil good. 

            When God calls a specific sin an abomination, do not call it good, when He says ‘you shall not’ or ‘don’t do this,’ to go against His command is to face His perfect judgment.  Do not be like Lot’s wife and yearn for the “Citadels of sin.”  Our gracious Heavenly Father, keep our focus upon You and Your Word

Manna in the Morning

06-22-09

Proverbs 17:3, “A crucible is for silver and a smelter for gold, but the Lord is a tester of hearts.”

            When we buy a package of flashlight or camera batteries, one manufacturer includes a tester in the packaging.  If you think the package may be an old one, you may test each battery to see its voltage potential, assuring yourself the batteries aren’t worn down.  When it is time to have your automobile battery tested, the mechanic can tell you how it functions under a full load, lights on, radio running, explain why when you attempt to start the car you get little results.  Each individual cell is tested, and the tester can tell you the amount of life left in the battery, whether it will hold a full charge or if it is weak and ready to be tossed in the recycle bin.  King Solomon was wise in all things, this wisdom was given to him as a gift of God, and he writes “The Lord is a tester of hearts.”  Our gracious God tests the heart of every Believer in Christ Jesus, knowing the relative spiritual strength and stamina in our hearts, the potential for service, the likelihood of our withstanding temptation and our ability to bear up under persecution and temptation.  Just as a smelter produces the pure gold and a crucible drives the dross out of silver, our Heavenly Father uses His Word to drive the impure thoughts, actions and attitudes out of our life, leaving the pure, dedicated life as beautiful as a piece of fine jewelry. 

            In the same way a battery can be recharged to recover the power expended, we who are followers of our Savior and Lord are kept at a full power level by God the Holy Spirit within us.  Daily Bible reading and personal prayer time will renew our power and reinvigorate our enthusiasm for the work God has called us to do.  Our gracious Heavenly Father, we pray in Jesus’ name for a full measure of your blessing and power as we live this day for you.

Manna in the morning

06-19-09

Job 1:8, “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.”

            There was a time when Satan had access to heaven.  I do not pretend to know how God deals with the various classes of angels and other created beings, but Satan came from going back and forth around the earth and presented himself or was called before God.  In the conversation that followed, Almighty God called Satan’s attention to Job.  As God looked at Job, he was a man of integrity, his yea was yea and his no was no, he loves and adores God. The word ‘fear’ literally means a reverential awe, Job was in awe of the power and person of God and showed God deep reverence.  Job also turned away from evil when ever it presented itself through the wiles of Satan.  Because of his standing before God, Job was blessed in substantial ways.  Satan responded, saying Job fears God because God had put a hedge of protection around him and all his family and possessions to protect them from the power of Satan.  In the ensuing test, God allowed the temptation and severe trials of Job by the devil, to take away all that Job had, land wealth and family, leaving only his wife.  Job was scraping his boils, sitting in squalor when his neighbors came to talk with him.  In spite of the losses, Job declared that even if God allowed his life to be taken, still he would serve and love Him. 

From this we can learn that God does indeed put a hedge of protection around those he loves, those that choose to love and serve Him.  We, like Job can live our lives under the umbrella of God’s protection, safety and blessing.  Unlike Job however, who chose not to leave the protection of God, we, because we choose to, will step away from that protection into the storm of Satan’s darts and temptations. 

            Because of Job’s steadfast determination to live to the glory of God, refusing to blame God for his losses and troubles from the hands of the tempter, God restored Job to a position of blessing far greater than in the beginning.  Does God reward those that trust Him, those that seek his favor by holding Him in reverential awe?  All eternity in His presence in a place He has prepared for us is a far greater reward than we deserve.  Heavenly Father, we choose to stay under the protection of your love and care.  We fear and adore you because of all You have done in our lives, keep us today we pray in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

06-18-09

 1 Timothy 1:6-7, “Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
            Looking at another Bible character, Timothy, who is often called the Apostle Paul’s son in the faith, is encouraged in this letter by Paul to keep the fire lit in his ministry, that enthusiasm and dedication to Christ that comes when a person is fully committed to God’s will in his life.  When the time comes in the ordination of an individual who is being ordained, all the ordained ministers of the Gospel present to gather around the one being set apart and lay hands on him to consecrate him to the gospel ministry.  This particularly meaningful part of the service reminds us of the unbroken chain that goes back centuries to the original apostolic laying hands on those who were chosen to pastor and teach in the early church.  In a very real sense, each of us has been chosen and gifted by God for some specific duty or ministry and have been dedicated to that ministry by God the Holy Spirit within us.  That fire within gives us a confidence so we can face those trials and adversities that come against us.  In God’s wisdom he has given us a fearlessness that can not be overcome by Satan.  God who dwells within each believer has given us a spirit of limitless power, backed by the very power of God. 

            God has also given us a spirit of sound judgment, or as an alternate translation indicates, of a sound mind.  When people tell us we are not thinking clearly when we claim all that is, has been created by God,  when we aver Jesus, God the Son came to this earth to be our perfect sacrifice, people look at us like we are somehow a little off the mark.  We are truly fearless in the face of Satan’s attacks, are thinking soundly and can approach everyone we meet with the love of God shining and working through us. 

            Just as Timothy was encouraged and successful in the ministry to which God called him, you and I can be successful in whatever we do to God’s great glory.  Our Gracious Heavenly Father, make us fully aware of the power within us, may the love of Jesus be seen in ur lives, and make us effective in serving you this day.  In Jesus’ name we pray.