Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Despising the Manna

Pastor Bickel preached from Deuteronomy 8 on Sunday.  He was talking about the way in which God leads us, and the provision with which He feeds us.  Verses2-3 say,

Deuteronomy 8:2-3  And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.  3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

I have been thinking about the Children of Israel and their Manna.  Their “what is it” was God’s heavenly provision for their need at that time.  It lasted until He gave them a new provision – the Promised Land…victorious Christian living.

What did they do with the Manna?  They were thankful for a while.  Then they complained and wanted meat.  God gave them their desire but sent leanness to their soul (Ps. 106:15).  The meat was okay…for a while.  Then they remembered the leeks and the onions and the fish in Egypt.  God’s provision wasn’t good enough anymore.

I think I have been guilty of the same attitude.  God has provided for us every step of the way since we moved to NYC in June 2010.  We never had enough money to pay all of the bills, but they all got paid, and on time.  God always sent His Manna from unexpected sources, and right when we needed it.  It was there when the sun came up.

But I think I’ve been complaining.  I’ve been viewing God’s Manna as not enough…anymore.  I have said to Ben several times that I am not asking for an extravagant lifestyle.  I just want to be able to pay the bills and afford food (and maybe even dining out once in a while).  It never occurred to me that maybe God didn’t want to provide a lifestyle where we could always afford the bills.  The food.  The entertainment when we wanted.  Maybe He wanted us to run short every month.  It taught us to depend on Him.

Recently we have mentioned our salary in Virginia Beach upon several occasions.  I think we have been remembering the leeks and onions, and it has caused us to despise the Manna – God’s provision for right now.

I read Jeremiah 7-8 this morning.  God is pronouncing judgment on His wayward people.  They were a people that took what God had given and used it to serve other gods.  Then they came to stand before God and expected Him to bless what they were wickedly doing in His Holy House.  God was disgusted with their sin. With their hypocrisy (7:9-11).  With their inability to blush as their rank sin (8:12).  He was so outraged that He didn’t even want anyone to pray for His people, because He would turn a deaf ear to those prayers (7:16).  They had provoked Him to anger and brought this harm upon themselves (7:19).  All He wanted was obedience (7:23).

I don’t want to be like Israel.  I want to be thankful for the Manna today.  I want to bask in the awesomeness of God’s provision for me.  Not always in abundance, but always when I need it.  I have questioned before Psalm 36:7-9 saying “Where is my fatness and abundance?  Why doesn’t God give that to me?”  But He has given it.  Every time He pours out a blessing from His heavenly store it is good, and fat, and in abundance, because it came from Him.  He knows my needs and He sees beyond my limited vision to know what is best for me.

Despise not the Manna of today.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jeremiah 6–No Blush

In this chapter the Lord continues to use Jeremiah to pronounce judgment on Israel by the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  The Lord gave His people so many chances to repent, to confess, to turn from their sin.  If they would have returned to Him, He would have foregone the judgment.  But they would not hearken.

How many times in my own life has He pointed out a particular sin or an area that I need to surrender?  And yet I continue to choose my own way.  I do not hearken, I will not forsake my sin.  Surely judgment is coming.

Jeremiah 6:10  To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

Vs. 11 – The Lord is weary of waiting and holding in His judgment.  Am I causing Him to be weary, or to rejoice?  I sometimes feel so weary of dealing with Elaine.  She will disobey on the same issue over, and over, and over again.  I just get so tired of instructing, of repeating myself, of administering discipline.  Is this the way I am causing the Lord to feel?

Jeremiah 6:14  They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

The people had a false sense of security, and believed that in spite of their rebellion there was peace.  There is no peace apart from the Lord and living in a right relationship with Him – Is. 26:3-4

Jeremiah 6:15  Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

The people couldn’t even blush over their sin any more – they saw nothing shameful in their lifestyle.  It had become that much of a habit.  What about me?  I hardly blink an eye at the first curse word in a movie.  If there is cursing every other word, then we turn it off and I feel ashamed.  Should not I respond the same way to the first wrong word?  Whether small or great, it is all sin to God.

Jeremiah 6:16   Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

The remedy is to seek the old paths.  Return to the former lifestyle, return to the Lord.  Find the good way and walk in it.  Do not respond as did Israel, “We will not walk therein.”  Such a sad statement – to hear the Lord’s call to repentance and a better life, and to refuse Him.

Jeremiah 6:17  Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.

The Lord even gave them watchmen – like Jeremiah – who told the people of coming destruction.  Yet they continued in sin.

Jeremiah 6:19-20  Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.  20 To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.

The result is that the religious “routines” of the people had no meaning to the Lord.  He wants the heart, not outward conformity.  He wants obedience, not sacrifices.  Is my “incense” sweet to the Lord and acceptable in His sight?  Or is my lifestyle stinking and putrid to Him because He sees my real motives and my heart?  If I continue in my sin I will reap the fruit of my thoughts and of my rejection of the Lord.

Jeremiah 6:29-30  The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.  30 Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

I want to be pure silver, having the dross removed.  I do not want to come to the end of my life and realize that it was all reprobate and fake.  Am I living a genuine Christian  - “Christlike” – life before the world?

Proverbs 5:21   For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.