Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lord, give us this day our daily bread...

I named this blog “Daily bread and Living water” because of several verses from the Bible that changed the way I thought about food, about giving into temptations to sin, and most importantly, about God’s Word.

First, Deuteronomy 8:3 “He humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna. He did it to teach you that people do not live on bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” When the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness after Moses led them out of Egypt- out of slavery and imprisonment- to enter the Promised Land God had for them, they complained about the harsh conditions and not having enough to eat! Or food that tasted good, anyway and had some variety. This grumbling and their ungratefulness angered the Lord (rightfully so!) and he wanted to show them that He was sufficient. He was enough for them and He would meet their needs in his own way. When you research the definition of manna you find- the food miraculously provided for the Israelites in the wilderness during their escape from Egypt; Spiritual nourishment of divine origin; A fine, white, flaky  bread-like substance with the taste of honey and wafer. I love that he provided them- and provides us- with just enough of the physical nourishment they needed. He was purposeful in his decision of how and what to feed them (and his ways are perfect!) even though they couldn’t understand why all they were getting at the time was manna. But he wanted to show them while they were in the wilderness between Egypt and an uncertain future (from their perspective) that they needed him more than anything. That he was the one who freed them, who was guiding them into their future, and who cared for them.

Second, Matthew 4:4 When Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he was challenged to turn stones into bread. He was very hungry after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Yet, he responded to the enemy by saying “No! For it is written that people do not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” I love to see when the New Testament reflects back on the Old Testament and we see how woven, how interconnected the Bible is! Here Jesus is referencing what was said in Deuteronomy. He could have turned the rocks into food easily, but He knew and trusted in the Word of God. He knew that by giving in to the temptation to eat he would have tested and sinned against the Father.

Next, Jeremiah 2:13-14 “For my people have committed two sins against me- They have abandoned me, the Fountain of the Living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” This one really convicts me. So after fleeing Egypt and finally walking into the Promised Land that God led them into, the Israelites got comfy and didn’t really need God’s help anymore so they abandoned him. They started to rebel by giving in to all sorts of sins and worshipping idols. Verse 14 is my favorite- although most humbling- because it’s such a perfect description of what we do when we choose to give in to sins instead of obeying God and finding our satisfaction in him. When I came across this scripture a couple of years ago, I felt like it described in exact detail how I was living. I always felt frustrated and empty. I finally realized it was because I was chasing after things that only satisfied temporarily but made things worse in the long run. Giving in to sin satisfies us for a moment, then we’re left feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled again because God is the only lasting and completely good “nourishment” for our souls. We sin when we turn away from God (stop talking to him, spending time with him, obeying him) and when we turn to other things or people to feel better (instead of the only one who can truly bring us joy) In other words, idolatry. Note: Joy isn’t necessarily happiness, though it can be. It is contentment and peace even while you’re suffering. Joy is a product; a blessing of knowing God and knowing that he loves and forgives you, no matter what else is going on in your life.

Lastly, John 4:13-14 Jesus said, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Similar to the last verses, in this one Jesus emphasizes that people pursue all sorts of other things to quench their thirst (the thirst and hunger we all feel deep in our souls, yearning for wholeness and meaning). This could come in the form of substances (food, alcohol, drugs), activities (sex, bulimia, exercise-bulimia, sports), objects (idols, money, material possessions), other religions, and people (politicians, celebrities, athletes, church leaders, friends, parents, love interests, our spouses, our children). There are so many choices we have of where to place our heart’s devotion. But God is the only one who deserves our entire heart, soul and mind (Luke ). He’s the only thing that can truly quench our thirst, for forever. Sinning leads to more sinning. Once we do something it’s hard not to do it again because the good feeling goes away and we have to give in to the desire over and over to get the good feeling- whatever that sin is. But Jesus promises that once we get a taste of him and know the real thing we won’t want any other kind of “water.” It’s like eating ramen noodles every day then one day finally having an extravagant, delicious meal like filet mignon and cheesy au-gratin potatoes and a wedge salad covered with bacon and ranch followed by a chocolate dessert of some sort (…you can tell I love food). You’d be like “where has this been all my life?! I didn’t know this was out there, it’s so filling and who knew food could taste so good!” That’s what Jesus is saying a relationship with him is like. Once you feel the fullness he provides, you won’t want the other stuff. Don’t settle for less than God’s best!

I created this blog as an extension of my original blog because I want to devote it completely to devotionals (Ha, pun wasn’t intended). These verses made me realize that even though we do need food and water to live (which God will take care of for us, Matthew -33), we also need to “consume” God’s Word daily. We can’t live our lives and deal with everything we go through- all the trials and decisions we face, all the tough emotions and temptations to sin, all the opportunities to not show love and mercy to others but to take offense and be hurt or angry- on our own. We need God’s help! His guidance, His strength, His comfort, His grace. We get that nourishment (all of these things He possesses) through his Spirit in us. We can go about our day and stay “healthy” through it by reading the Word, meditating on the Word (dwelling on it and memorizing it), praying the Word (speaking it outloud) and trusting in the Word.

I want to be transparent and real with you here. Another reason why these verses impacted me so significantly and why I titled this blog the way I did is because I’ve struggled with food for most of my life. It’s a generational thing in my family- A sin I aim to stop from going any further down the family tree. We’ve struggled with food in different ways, but mine has been mostly with see-sawing between eating very little and exercising a lot (to feel in control and powerful in my own strength) and over-eating (to feel comforted, satisfied, and happy in the midst of stress and conflict). God’s Word has convicted me over the years that both of these things are wrong- they are sins. Food is a broken cistern and He alone should be my rock, the one I turn to when I feel that my world is out of control. Instead of running to food, I can run to him for all the things that I’m needing in that moment. That’s not to say that eating is wrong, obviously it’s not! Most things in life are good if they are handled in moderation. Things become a sin in our life when we use them for the wrong reasons (to replace God) or in excess. That’s what I’m talking about here. This can apply to so many other things besides food! I might talk more about my struggle with food later, but for now I just want to describe the general purpose of this blog which is to fill myself and others with the daily bread of God’s Word that we so desperately need!

1 John 1:8-10 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

I pray that the hunger and thirst we feel in our souls would by quenched by the Lord, by the One who put those holes inside of us that He alone can fill, through his Word and his Spirit. I pray that we abandon our broken cisterns (little by little, day by day. It’ll take time) and return to God in repentance. That we exchange the things of this world that don’t satisfy for the most satisfying Heavenly One- Our Creator, Redeemer, Father and King.

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