Day Five: Seek First

This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”…

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:9-13, 31-33)

Jesus’ “teaching grew out of his own experience.  When he told his followers not to worry about tomorrow, we must assume he led them by example.  He wasn’t always looking ahead anxiously… No: he seems to have had the skill of living totally in the present, giving attention totally to the present task, celebrating the goodness of God here and now…

And he wanted his followers to be the same. When he urged them to make God their priority, it’s important to realize which God he’s talking about.  He’s not talking bout a god who is distant from the world, who doesn’t care about beauty and life and food and clothes.  He talking about the creator himself, who has filled the world with wonderful and mysterious things, full of beauty and energy and excitement, and who wants his human creatures above all to trust him and love him and receive their own beauty, energy and excitement from him.

Of course, because we live in a world filled with anxiety, it’s easy to let it rub off on us.  But the underlying principles of the whole Sermon on the Mount come together at this point in a huge but exhilarating challenge.  God’s kingdom, and the way of life that goes with it; the ‘righteousness,’ or covenant behavior, the way of life, that marks out God’s people; these are the things you should aim at.  Then you’ll find that food, drink and clothing look after themselves.” [Wright, Nicholas Thomas.  Matthew for Everyone, Part One. p. 66-67]

Let’s pray as Jesus taught us to pray (v 9-13). As we do so, let’s be filled with His Spirit, and empowered to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness – here, now, today, each day. And let’s live today trusting in our heavenly Father, who knows and gives all that we need.

Song – “Seek First – Housefires III

– BR


Day Four: Shine Brightly

Dear friends… Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:12-16 NLT)

“The term…translated ‘complaining’ occurs only rarely in the New Testament, and this is its only appearance in Paul’s letters. It occurs frequently, however, in the narratives of the Greek Bible that describe Israel’s desert wanderings, where the Israelites ‘complained’ against Moses and Moses made clear to them that their complaining was not as much against him as against God.

“…the peculiarity of the word probably means that Paul intended to echo the biblical narratives of Israel’s desert wanderings. If so, his point is… that the Philippians, …as God’s people… should learn from the mistakes of their spiritual ancestors. The Philippians should, in fear and trembling, not presume upon their salvation but instead take measures to quell the dissension in their midst.” [Thielman, Frank. The NIV Application Commentary:  Philippians.]

What “measures” can we take to quell the complaining, arguing, and quarreling in our midst?  Perhaps a better place to start, although likely more daunting – What about the complaining and arguing we see in ourselves?

Our hope lies in this – we are not the Israelites, seeing God’s glory in the cloud from afar. Rather, we are the redeemed people of God, and He Himself is working in us, living in us by His Spirit, giving us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. We are the children of God, and we are to shine brightly and hold firmly to the word of life, the salvation we have in Jesus Christ.

Let’s respond to this passage, declaring who we are as His people in the world today.  Let’s also pray for one another, particularly those in our missional group or campus, thanking God for being at work in us, and asking Him to cause us to shine brightly as we hold to Him.

– BR


Day Three: Remember

Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’”
So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.”
As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan. (Exodus 16:32-34)

In the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle that God would have His people build (Exodus 25-27) was “the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff the had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.” (Hebrews 9:4)

God’s loving, daily, always sufficient, sweet-tasting, miraculous, like-nothing-ever-seen-before provision of manna was to be remembered for the generations to come.  It was to be kept in the Most Holy Place, before the Lord.  When the people turned for forgiveness and to worship, they were to remember Who the Lord their God is – rescuer, provider, and the One to be obeyed and followed.

As we worship and pray to the Lord today, let us remember His rescue, provision, and calling in our own lives.  Let us remember Jesus, the Bread of Life, broken for us, providing life –  eternal life!  And let us remember and give thanks for all that we have received because of Him – all that we need, and so much more.

– BR


Day Two: The Bread of Life

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:27-35)

“The bread and the fish that Jesus had distributed to the crowds were there to lead the eye, the mind and the heart to the true gift of God to his people, then and there.  They were there to open up their understanding to the fact that the new Passover, the new Exodus, was taking place right in front of them, and that Jesus was leading it…

… the ‘sign’ of the feeding is meant to lead you to the true food: the food the Son of Man will give (verse 27), the food which is Jesus himself (verse 35).  What matters is not just what Jesus can do for you; what matters is who Jesus is.  Only if you’re prepared to be confronted by that in a new way can you being to understand what he can really do for you, what he really wants to do for you.

The question of who Jesus really is now comes to the fore…

First, he is the one upon whom the father has set his seal (verse 27)…

Second… this means that God is making a demand on them, and it is this: that they believe in Jesus.”  [Wright, Nicholas Thomas.  John for Everyone, Part One. p. 79-80]

Let’s respond in obedience to the truth of John 6 –

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (v. 29)

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (v. 35)

Jesus, we believe in You!  Jesus, we come to You.  May we live by You, by believing in You, by your broken body and blood shed for us.

– BR


Day One: Come before the Lord…

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…”
Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.”
While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.
The LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” (Exodus 16:9-11)

God’s response to the grumbling of the Israelites may not be what we would expect:
He tells them that He has heard their grumbling.
He calls them to come before Him.
And He graciously provides for them.

He does this that they may “know that I am the LORD your God.” God wanted His people to not just have ideas about Who He is (and lacking, incomplete, outright wrong ideas at that), but to truly know that He is the LORD their God.

The Lord our God is the One who rescues His people, and the Lord our God is the One who provides for His rescued ones.

In our need, in our desert times, what is our response? Today, let us hear the fearful yet comforting truth that the Lord hears us (even when we think that we are not “talking to Him”). Let us turn away from grumbling and complaining and instead come before the Lord in trust and obedience. May His provision in our lives bear testimony to us and to others that He is the Lord our God.

Worship Him in song – “You Never Let Go by Matt Redman

– BR