Manna in the Morning

07-30-09

John 6:63, “The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63

            Of all the verses in Scripture regarding our new birth, none refer to or mention the works an individual does prior to redemption.  What we call good works, all the morally correct actions, our giving, nothing we could ever do has anything of heavenly value.  These things bring us earthly accolades, they may win golden trophies but they cannot sway the decision at the Judgment Seat of Christ Jesus, our fleshly works will condemn us.  All things done in our own strength are without merit.

            Only our trust and faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus can pay the penalty for our sin.  Every person has to admit to the sin we know resides deep in our hearts, thus all are condemned.  Jesus death, burial and resurrection paid forever the penalty for sin. All who accept Jesus’ sacrifice are not only born into our natural family, we are born again into the Family of God by the power of God the Holy Spirit.  God The Father promised, then provided the promised sacrifice, God the Son provided the perfect life, lived without sin, then given for our righteousness, God the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of sin calling us to the cross, and once we are in the Family of God we provide the witness to His grace and love to those who are still living in unforgiven sin.

            The Word of God is the source of all we know about God and His gifts, His Word guides our lives and allows God to impart His wisdom to us, we learn of His mercy and grace, we understand his plan for our lives and receive his directions to us to live and work for His glory.

            Our Heavenly Father, help us to understand the tremendous cost of our salvation, and the unfathomable debt of sin that was paid on Calvary’s cross.  We desire to live for you this and every day to bring you great glory.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

07-28-09

2 Tim 2:1-2, “You, therefore, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

            Timothy was a young pastor, inexperienced because leading a church and teaching God’s Word was a new way of growing believers.  He had been led to the Lord Jesus by the Apostle Paul, who was his spiritual mentor.  Paul taught him by example, personal instruction and by the letters he wrote for encouragement and education.  If these precepts were to enhance Timothy’s effectiveness, they certainly are worth our attention today for our daily spiritual walk.  First we are to be strong in the grace of Our Lord, an exhortation to understand, accept and enjoy the gifts of grace that flow daily from the Throne of God to our hearts.  God’s grace is the source of our spiritual gifts, the Godly influence upon our hearts and will be reflected in the lives we live for His glory. If God gifts us with his grace, it is our responsibility to show these gifts of grace to others through our actions toward them.  Not only are the unbelievers to know us by our love, they are to see the evidence of God’s grace toward them shown through us.  After we have been able to show grace to those with whom we interact on a daily basis, we are to encourage, mentor and get other believers to commit to the same spiritual activity in winning those who see Christ in us.    

            The gospel of Jesus is not spread through huge rallies or festivals; it is primarily spread through the hard work of individuals who share God’s Word and saving grace through personal contact and one-on-one conversations.  No matter how many should come to the front in a meeting with an evangelist sharing God’s truth, every soul is born into the family of our heavenly Father one soul at a time.  Christianity is a personal relationship between a man or woman and the Father in Heaven, based on God’s grace that continues to strengthen and grow in each of us. 

            Our gracious Heavenly Father, may we be the representative you desire today with the love and grace of God radiating out of us to touch those we meet.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Manna in the Morning

07-27-09

Luke 8:38-39, ‘The man from whom the demons had departed kept begging Jesus to be with Him. But He sent him away and said, “Go back to your home, and tell all that God has done for you.” And off he went, proclaiming throughout the town all that Jesus had done for him.’

            All of us have listened to speakers who have returned from a foreign country; we understand the need in the entire world for men and women to bring the love and compassion of Christ Jesus sharing the message of salvation to children and adults in every corner of the world.  Some places are difficult because of political unrest and pressure, some areas are under the domination of belief systems that are anti-Christian and to carry a Bible is equivalent to a death sentence and some nations are open to sharing the Christian faith and message if the person is actively employed in a non-religious occupation. 

            Jesus sent out the disciples two by two on two different occasions to visit the villages and towns around Galilee and Judea, but there is one man in the New Testament to whom Jesus gave a commission to tell how Jesus had changed his life to a specific people group.  After a lifetime of wandering around the tombs and grave yards, often breaking chains and ropes that had bound him, cursing and screaming while running naked through the cemeteries at night, this man met Jesus and was changed immediately.  When the people he had terrorized looked for him, they found him sitting with Jesus, listening to him, clothed and in full control of his mind and sanity;   Jesus had healed the man completely.  When the time came for Jesus to leave the area, the restored man begged to go with him to tell his story of restoration and healing in Jesus.  Jesus then gave the man an assignment, He told the man to go to his family, all those that formerly knew him as a mad-man and the ones who had feared and tormented  him so they could hear and see all that Jesus had done for him.  God our Heavenly Father has called us, re-birthed us and given us the commission to tell all those who we know and love how great His love is, the power of our changed lives is an everlasting witness to His grace, and our testimony is the one, best way they will understand God’s transforming power.  This man went to live his life with the power of the Holy Spirit within him, to share with all who knew him before his meeting Jesus, glorifying God with his life in one of the most difficult places.  He did as the Savior commanded for God’s glory, and for his own growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Lord God, our Heavenly Father, use us today in this same way in our assigned field of service we ask in Jesus’ name.

 

07-24-09

Rom 11:3-4, “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what was God’s answer to him? I have left for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

            Elijah had successfully defended his faith in Jehovah God up on Mount Carmel against over 800 prophets of Baal, or false gods, calling down fire from Heaven upon the sacrifice he offered, he then killed the false prophets, many of whom were loyal to Jezebel, Queen of Israel.  King Ahab had sworn to kill Elijah before the day was over, and Elijah fled into the wilderness.  Coming from his great success when the people of Israel vowed to follow Jehovah as their only God and to sacrifice only to Him, Elijah fell into the depths of depression, moaning and complaining to God about the way he was being treated for standing firm for his God.  After he fled into the wilderness alone, he went through an earthquake, a great fire and wind, and then heard a still small voice he barely heard.  God spoke to him and said, “Elijah, I have over 7,000 men in Israel who have never in their life bowed down before an idol.”  Elijah did as he was commanded of God, but God did not reveal his entire plan to Elijah, or let him know how many had remained faithful to God and His message.

            In our own Christian lives, we have all had an experience of a great high, having been used of God in a special way, expended ourselves and emotionally exhausted, fall into a spiritual low.  It is at times like this our adversary will direct his arrows of doubt and fear into our spiritual lives.  Neither Elijah nor we who live today, have lost our fellowship and relationship with God, it is that we have been using ourselves in mighty ways for our Heavenly Father, and our human bodies using its own resources becomes tired and weary.  Like Elijah, we have to let other things pass from our minds and souls so we can hear the still small voice of our Father speaking to us in a manner hear only to us, and no other. 

            Gracious Heavenly Father, guide our lives in such a way that we never lose sight of your love and direction.  May we remain faithful as did Elijah, listening carefully for you in the quietness of our hearts, in Jesus name we pray.

Manna in the Morning

07-23-09

Mark 7:9, “And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition.”

            The Pharisees continued to harass Jesus because they knew He was a real threat to the hold the Pharisees had on the religious worship of the people because of their tradition and dependence upon the ancient decisions by the Scribes and Pharisees, instead of adhering strictly to the Scriptures as God had intended them to be written.  In this passage Jesus is responding to the question, “Why don’t your disciples obey the traditions of the elders?”  Not following tradition is not a sin, while obeying tradition and not obeying the scripture is sinful. 

            The disciples had eaten some grain while passing a field, rolled it in their hands to ‘thresh’ it then ate the kernels.  Tradition said they should ceremonially wash their hands first and wash the grain.  These dietary laws were given in Leviticus to make the people of Israel a unique people but the Pharisees used the omission to fault Jesus as their leader and teacher.  Jesus continued to dialogue with the Pharisees.  It is nothing from the outside, like a little grime or dirt, that will defile a man before God, but it is the thoughts and lusting of the heart within him being perceived through his thoughts, actions and words that defile a person’s heart and lead him into sin.  The religious leaders could not understand this, they were so focused on obeying an outward legalistic system that, in all honesty, enslaved all who tried to live within the law as it was interpreted by the scribes and other scholars.  Jesus emphasized the thoughts within the mind of a Christian are, in the eyes of God, equal to the deed.  To greedily envy a neighbor’s house or property to the extent you have to have one just like it, is equal to the theft of the item, because your desire for that object placing it in a position higher than your love for God Himself. 

            Our gracious Heavenly Father, we ask you to make us less aware of the traditions of men and more attentive to the words of Scripture.  Keep our full attention focused on you as we go through this day, we ask in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

07-22-09

Hosea 4:16, “For Israel slides back as a backsliding heifer.”

            There are so many metaphors in Scripture that refer to an agrarian society, which is defined as a society based upon agriculture.  Many people have never spent time on a farm, do not understand the terms used, therefore do not get the intended message.  A heifer is a young female cow, never having calved.  The word backsliding is easily understood, taking two steps forward and falling back one.  This happens to rock and mountain climbers, especially to kids trying to climb sand dunes and piles of dirt like many did in their youth playing ‘King of the Hill.’  A heifer is young, inexperienced and given to foolish activity.          

            Israel is known throughout scripture for calling upon God for restoration and deliverance from their enemies who had enslaved them.  When they cried out as a nation, the Lord God heard them sent them a deliverer who defeated their enemies, then restored them to independence and true worship.  After a period of time, the Israelites would forget their dependence upon God and the promises they made as a people and fall into sin ending up in slavery once again.  This pattern is seen repeated six times in the Book of Judges, and also seen with regularity in their entire history. 

            There is very little difference between ancient Israel and the way we live our lives today, we ask our Heavenly Father for forgiveness which is freely given, then in the course of our daily activities we make the same mistakes, commit the same sins, and come to Him again for the forgiveness he so freely offers.  As sincere as we may be, the devil knows our weaknesses, and we attempt to resist the temptations in our own strength instead of depending upon the power of God the Holy Spirit within us.  Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness, mercy and grace.  Put within us the ability to rely upon Your strength to overcome the temptations hurled against us.  Use us today   we ask in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

07-21-09

Gen 24:40, “And he said unto me, Jehovah, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way.”

            One of the great privileges Adam had in Eden was that he walked with God every evening in the Garden of Eden.  What a great opportunity he had, and its possible for us to do the same thing, by walking in the evening, or perhaps early morning and praying, communing with God, talking of our concerns, asking for guidance and direction in the many things that complicate our days.  And, as an added benefit, walking is one of the best exercises for keeping our entire body fit.  Even if you use a tread mill, the time can be spent in prayer or meditation upon God’s Holy Word.  God told Abraham to walk the length and breadth of the land God promised to give to his descendents.  Our manner of life is also called our walk.  When we walk in the paths our Heavenly Father has chosen for us, when we walk in accordance with His precepts and when we walk with Him daily, we will live a life that glorifies Him in every respect. 

            Not only will our lives be blessed, Our Lord will send His angels to guard and protect us in our daily activities.  The heavenly hosts are always there to help us in the battle with the demons of our adversary in the ongoing spiritual war.  If we take advantage of all the gifts and help our Father provides for us, our lives will indeed be fruitful for Him both in our living testimony and those he has allowed us to introduce to our Savior.  Our Heavenly Father, we desire to walk with you this and every day.  Help us to put our time with you at the top of our priority list so we may be profitable servants for you, this we ask in Jesus’ name.

Manna in the Morning

07-20-09

Philippians 3:18-19, “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

            On the earth today, even within the church there are those who are, in effect, enemies of the message of salvation.  There are many ways the pure gospel message has been perverted or subtly changed.  Paul warned the church at Philippi about these teachers who began to teach a false gospel almost as soon as the message of Jesus’ death burial and resurrection were made known.  For those who do not preach or teach the Biblical Truth, there is an everlasting punishment.  Scripture says their final end is destruction because they are more dedicated to their physical appetites than they are to their message.  The Jews of Jesus’ time felt that the way God showed approval to an individual was by blessing his life with riches and material wealth.  Jesus told His followers to look beyond that for the blessings from our Heavenly Father.  Wealth, enough to eat, a comfortable air-conditioned home are luxuries much of the world’s population do not enjoy.  Their glory or worship is their shame.  One of the words that come from this same root is ‘dishonesty.’ These teachers are dishonest or less than truthful in their teachings of Scripture.  While it is no sin to be comfortable, it is wrong to wish for more and more of the earthly rewards instead of the heavenly awards that will be ours from the hands of our Savior.  We are not to be men and women who are concentrating upon this world’s goods or the physical, bodily desires that can burn uncontrollably within our minds when we allow ourselves to shift our focus from Heaven’s glories to the temporary, fading physical desires common to the unregenerate men and women. 

Our Heavenly Father, may our teaching, witnessing and communication be without guile, impure earthly motives and any desire to change the pure message of salvation in Christ Jesus.  May we be content to forsake worldly acclaim and seek Heavenly blessings, in Jesus’ name we pray.

Manna in the Morning

07-17-09

Ps 107:23-30, “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of Jehovah, and his wonders in the deep.   For he commands, and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths: their soul melts away because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.  Then they cry unto Jehovah in their trouble, and he brings them out of their distresses.  He makes the storm calm, so that the waves thereof are still.  Then are they glad because they are quiet; so he brings them unto their desired haven.”

            I served in the US Navy and went through a hurricane in the Atlantic aboard an aircraft carrier.  That huge ship twisted, yawed, ploughed through waves that were so high, solid green water rolled down the flight deck.  This passage describes the power and destructive force in the waves driven by a storm.  When Jesus was sleeping in the boat while He and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, the disciples who were seasoned fishermen and boatmen feared for their lives in the storm that arose.  They quickly woke Jesus and asked Him if he cared that they were about to perish.  With a single phrase, Jesus calmed the wind, caused the sea to immediately become calm and they were at their intended landing on the shores of the sea.  This event in the lives of the disciples as they followed Jesus was described in this Psalm written almost 1,000 years earlier. 

            If you have gone through a storm while in a boat on the open water, you understand full well the dependence upon God’s grace and goodness.  All of us have been in a fierce storm in our lives, undergoing emotional and/or physical upheaval and you are as storm battered as any ship in any storm in any sea.  The winds of uncertainly battered your soul, the waves of doubt began to overcome your heart.  When you called upon your Redeemer and Lord, He calmed the storm, restored your soul and soothed your heart. 

            Jesus is the Prince of Peace; we live in the center of his peace, comforted and surrounded by his caring arms, and in Him no harm can come upon us.  Our gracious, loving Heavenly Father, we seek to live in the center of your peace this day.  Use us in any way you desire, in Jesus’ name we pray.

Manna in the Morning

07-16-09

Isa 1:19, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.”

            We’ve talked of the need for us to exhibit faith, hope and compassion and next we need to look at every individual’s need to be willing to obey the commands of our Lord God, the precepts presented in His Word, then enjoying the good things our Heavenly Father has in store for us.  In the gospel account of the feeding of the 5,000 men plus their accompanying families, the disciples were concerned about how to feed the people and provide for their obvious needs.  The disciples’ spokesman Phillip said it would cost nearly a year’s wages to buy enough bread for all of them to eat just a little bit, but a young boy came up and he gave Jesus his lunch of five barley loaves and two fish the size of sardines.  A meager lunch for a small child but it was all the lad had to offer.  Jesus took his gift, blessed it, thanking God for the provision and every one of the people had as much to eat as he or she desired with twelve baskets of food left over.  None of this would have happened unless the young boy had given all he had to the Master’s use.

            The obvious application for us is for each of us to give all that we have and are, to our Heavenly Father for His use.  Any abilities, talents or capabilities we may possess are gifts from our great God and are to be used for His greater glory.  The gifts we have been given are for the edification and building up of those that love Him.  Because we are saved by faith, have every confidence in God’s using us, we love Him with all our being, and are willing to be used by Him in any way and at any time, we are confident in our expectation of being used this day.  The child who allowed Jesus to use his scanty lunch could not boast of feeding the 5,000, nor could he take credit for the substance itself since they were given to him by another.  In the same way we cannot take credit for the gifts that have come from the Father, nor for the miracles He works in hearts we have touched.  Our Heavenly Father, May our gifts be as dedicated as the lad’s bread and fish, and the works that result be as miraculous as their multiplication, all to God’s glory.  This is our prayer in Jesus’ name.