Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lessons From Manna, Part One

The entire chapter of Exodus 16 is devoted to the first instance of manna for the children of Israel. And while there is much that we can learn from mamma, I would like to spend the next few posts focusing on a few things that the Lord brought to my attention in my recent studies. These things have been a blessing to me, and I hope that they will be an encouragement to you as well.

The first lesson I see from manna is that we need to focus on today, not yesterday or tomorrow. To quote from the movie Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why we call it the present.” Though this saying is from a cartoon movie, there is much wisdom in it. On more than one occasion, the Bible reminds us to keep our focus on today rather than yesterday or tomorrow, and that is precisely what we learn from Exodus 16 as well.

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. - Exodus 16:4

As he promised, God rained down manna from heaven every day except the Sabbath. The people were instructed to gather what they needed for the day, no more and no less. If they tried to hoard manna for the next day, it spoiled and became infested with maggots. In a sense, God was showing his people that He would provide for them each day, every day and that they could trust Him to provide for their needs.

In Matthew six, when Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray, he uses this phrase:  Give us this day our daily bread.   Did you catch that? He prayed for daily bread, not weekly, monthly or yearly. No, he prayed that His needs for the day would be met and instructed the disciples to pray in the same way. Later on, in the same chapter, the Bible instructs us, Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.   Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is already there, and He has already set things in order for us. We don’t need to fret about it or spend today’s strength and energy worrying about it.

I often wonder how much better I would feel, how much more energy I would have, and how much less anxiety I would have if I were to live one day at a time instead of regretting past mistakes and fretting over future events. What would happen if I used the grace, strength and provision that God gave me each day to live out that day and that day only? I can’t help but think I would be more focused, more productive and more joyful.

Please understand, there’s nothing wrong with making plans or having a daily schedule, but there is everything wrong with living in the past and dreading the future. The psalmist tells us that this is the day the Lord has made, and we are to rejoice and be glad in it. We’re not even promised a tomorrow. The Lord may take us home before it comes, so why waste today’s time and strength worrying about something that may never be? Instead, let us trust that God is already there, that He is working all things for our good and that we can trust in His never-ending faithfulness. Then, let us live this day to its fullest, leaving the past behind us and leaving the future in God’s hands.

Just as the Lord promised, He rained down manna from heaven six days a week, every week for 40 years. The children of Israel never went without. There was always enough, and they never had to worry about their next meal. God proved his faithfulness to them, and that God is the same God we serve. He has promised to provide for our needs, and He will keep that promise. Trust in that and enjoy today!

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