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He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. Deuteronomy 8:16

MANNA-005SThe story of Manna has always intrigued me. God’s people are heading on a journey in which they really have no idea of the outcome. They are being led by a murderer with an anger issue. For hundreds of years they’ve lived as slaves in a foreign land under the rule of ruthless Pharaohs who were more interested in their own comfort than they were protecting the integrity of the Hebrew race.

In the midst of their journey God provides Manna for his people. No one is sure what Manna was/is, but whatever it was, it was a vital part of the Hebrew diet. Today, Manna serves as a lesson for each of us about God’s provision. Take a look at what Manna means to us:

  1. Manna shows we serve a creative God. God could have had any number of foods appear for his people. After all, he was God. The Hebrew nation was desperate for God’s intervention. They felt abandoned, afraid and angry. Jehovah God not only provided food, he provided the realization that God isn’t confined to explainable events to prove his presence. When they needed it, it appeared. No explanations. It just came. God still does that. He doesn’t always use Manna, but if we rely on him we’ll see small things throughout our day that prove his presence and desire to provide for his people.
  2. Manna reminds teaches us need v. want. My wife and I constantly remind ourselves not to succumb to what we call the ‘bigger-better-best’ syndrome. The ‘bigger-better-best’ syndrome is that little voice inside of us that tells us constantly that we need to have the biggest house, the better toys, the best car. ‘Bigger-better-best’ is driven by desire and desire is never satisfied. Many a Hebrew went out and collected far more than they needed only to find it full of maggots in the morning. Desire can never stay in the same house as trust. Jesus said “Why worry about tomorrow. Take care of today.” No doubt more than one Hebrew understood that truth thanks to Manna.
  3. Manna reminds us of the need to obey. Obedience is a bad word now days. To demand obedience is old fashioned. It squelches creativity. It’s intolerant. It destroys the rights of the individual. At least that’s what the world says. I think God responds by looking down on our self-destructive tendencies and says, “So, how’s that working out for you?” God’s rules are difficult to follow because the voice of desire screams loudly in protest. However, his ways are best. Many a Hebrew father no doubt listened to his children cry themselves to sleep because of hunger. Hungry stomachs that could have been filled if he’d obeyed God and went out to collect Manna.

Gods’ desire is to fill us each day with new life, with daily Manna from above. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

Each and every day God provides new blessings for you to enjoy and share. Take time each day to take notice of this blessings and thank him for them.

PRAYER: Father God thank you for the example Manna is of your unfailing love for us and the blessings of each new day. Help me to never lose sight of all you have for me. Amen.



People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Proverbs 16:2

passion 2.3.2016I remember sitting in the pew listening to the old preacher. I have to confess I did what many of us preachers/speakers do. Rather than listening to the message I critiqued the message, the content and the delivery. I came to a conclusion that, while my friend was a godly man and had a passion for Jesus and others, he wasn’t an effective speaker.

As his presentation drew to a close he did what I considered would be ‘ministerial suicide’. He gave an altar call and asked people who had been spoken to by his message to come forward for prayer. I remember thinking how bad I felt for him as I bowed my head. I’d been there many times before. You preach your heart out and when it comes to decision time, no one responds.

I heard some rustling, which I assumed was the sound of people shifting uneasily waiting for the pain to be over. Someone whispered, ‘excuse me’ and I moved so someone could move quietly past me. As they did I looked to the front. The entire stage area was crowded with people kneeling and praying. Some were weeping!

I remember thinking, rather flippantly I admit, ‘How on earth did this happen? That may have been the poorest presentation I’ve heard.’

Later, I talked with my friend and he asked me how I thought it went. I avoided telling him my critique notes that had been accumulating in my mind and simply said “Well, you certainly made an impact on the people. I was amazed at how many people came forward for prayer.”

My old friend smiled. “You know, I think that may have been one of the worst prestations I’ve ever made, but I agree. God certainly used my efforts for his good. I guess the old adage “passion beats technique every time’ was true in this case.

His words hit home. There are so many times in our lives when we have a passion to influence people. When those passions are built on selfish motives such as gaining popularity, ‘atta boys’ and prestige we have our reward.

When our passions are built on Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, great things happen. I’m still learning that time spent at my desk in study is vitally important, but the most important time is the time I spend on my knees. God doesn’t pay as much attention to ‘how we do things’ as he does ‘why we do things’. Passion [for Jesus] beats technique every time.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for the many opportunities we have in life to be examples of your love, grace and mercy. Help us to focus more on our motives than our actions and to rely on your Holy Spirit to guide us in how we can influence others for the Kingdom. Amen.


Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

One day my family and I were driving down a logging trail deep in the forests of northern Minnesota. As darkness fell we kept our eyes open for any wildlife that may be roaming in the woods alongside the road, or better yet, on the road we traveled. We were disappointed. Our trip didn’t produce any success.

As we returned to our campsite my wife made a statement that struck me as being far more profound that she may have realized. Her statement was simply this, “We didn’t see any animals, but I wonder how many saw us.” It was a point well taken. God has given animals tools to keep them safe from enemies. Some animals would be easy prey if it weren’t for the camouflage that hides their true identity from the enemy.

While camouflage may be a good thing for animals, it has no place in the Christian life. There have been a few times recently when celebrities have spoken openly about their faith and it came as a surprise to me. Then I thought, why? Why should I be surprised that someone is ‘bold enough’ to speak about their faith? Why should that be considered a courageous thing?

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, makes it clear that a person who claims to be a child of God should show by their lives who they are. Disciples of Christ should never be camouflaged by the world. People should recognize them easily just as they recognized Jesus.

Slide1Jesus wasn’t known because he ‘had all the right answers’. Jesus didn’t stand out because he spoke out against the evil rule of the Roman government. He didn’t spend his time demanding other people follow his way. Jesus didn’t call people by their sin, he called them by their names. He didn’t point out their failures, he healed them of their pain.

What will you wear today? Will you wear the camouflage of ridicule and condemnation or will you wear the name of Jesus proudly and show it through graceful living. Will you notice people by their sin or reach out to them because of their pain?
Lord Jesus, help me to show others your love and grace. Keep me from hiding behind the camouflage of judgment and religion so others can see you. In your name I pray, Amen.


Your Majesty, look at what I’m holding. You can see that it’s a piece of your robe. If I could cut off a piece of your robe, I could have killed you. But I let you live, and that should prove I’m not trying to harm you or to rebel. I haven’t done anything to you, and yet you keep trying to ambush and kill me. 1 Samuel 24:11 (CEV)

“You deserve this,” David thought as he watched Saul enter the cave where he was hiding with his small group of men.

It had to have been fate. Saul had been trying to kill David for years. Although David had been anointed King by the prophet there was no indication that the throne would be his anytime soon.

Creeping through the shadows, knife in hand, he moved closer to Saul who was preoccupied with relieving himself in what he thought was an empty cave. One slash with the knife and the kingdom was his; the kingdom that was rightfully his in the first place.

Great story, huh? Trouble is, that’s not what happened. No one would have blamed David for taking Saul out that day in the cave. He was an arrogant, angry, deranged man.

Did David have a right to kill Saul that day? Yes.

Did he have the opportunity to kill Saul? Certainly.

Did he have the power to kill Saul and execute revenge upon him? Definitely.

David’s action that day in the cave was not only an act of mercy, it showed meekness on David’s part. Meekness isn’t the same as weakness, in fact meekness is just the opposite. Meekness is power under control. David chose to act with integrity and set aside his rights in order to wait for God’s timing to get the kingdom promised him.

Our culture has taught us that success comes from being the strongest; from standing up for your rights; from being the best at all costs. But Jesus says “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Meekness isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s part of our human nature to want to be on top, to succeed, to receive the accolades, the relationships and the status (power) to overcome.

There are many other examples of people in the Bible who chose not to use their power and rights to overcome those who were against them. His name was Jesus Christ. As God in the flesh, Jesus was misunderstood, mistreated, mocked and eventually killed. He had every right to put a stop to the way he was treated, but he didn’t because in order to give you life he had to renounce his own rights.

Setting aside your rights for others isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of Christ-likeness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus it’s so easy to get caught up in the desire to be right, to take what is mine, to demand my own way. Especially when I’m pretty sure I’m right. Give me wisdom and strength to be strong enough to be meek. In your name I pray, Amen.


Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:15

A friend of mine came around the corner of his garage just in time to see his young son with the garden hose, filling his lawn mower with water! He stopped him immediately, but it was too late. The tank which had been nearly empty, was now full of a mixture of gasoline and nice fresh water. The little boy was very proud of himself for ‘helping daddy’ get ready to mow the lawn!

The lad, of course had no idea the damage that could have been done had dad not discovered his actions. Not only would the mower not had run properly, the engine would have been completely destroyed. Water and gas don’t mix. Gasoline engines weren’t made to run on water.

To fix the situation, dad drained the fuel tank completely and made sure it was completely dry. Then he filled it with fresh, untainted fuel. Any moisture left behind could have had disastrous effects on the engine.

The prophet Amos, found a similar situation during his ministry to the people of Israel. The people had strayed far from the laws that God had instituted. They were a greedy people. They were an immoral people. They had turned worship into a bunch of rules, traditions and activities.

Amos tells them that if they were to escape the consequences of their sin, changes were going to have to happen. They needed to rid themselves of all evil. Just as my friend needed to completely empty the fuel tank of his mower, Israel needed to completely remove all vestiges of evil in their lives. We call this repentance. It’s a change of activity, a change of attitude, a change of mind. To confess our sin means nothing without repentance.

But more was needed in order for Israel to be restored. They needed to replace the evil actions in their lives with something else, something good, something pleasing to God. It would have done no good from my friend to empty the fuel tank of the mower and then try to start his machine. It needed new fuel in order to run. Clinging to the good rather than evil is called holiness. It involves actions, thoughts and motivations that please God rather than man.

In our lives it’s even more important to replace the ‘evil things’ with good things. Jesus tells us that if a demon leaves and we don’t replace that part of our lives with good things, he’ll just return at a later date…and he’ll bring friends. You’ll be worse off than you were before.

The end result of turning our back on evil and clinging to good is that our lives will be marked with justice towards others. Not the fickle kind of justice the world offers, but the graceful and merciful justice of a loving God.

You can’t run on empty. Ask the Father to search your heart and reveal anything that may be hindering your relationship with him. Then fill that spot with things that are pleasing to him. Your ‘engine’ will run more smoothly.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, reveal to me the areas of my life that need repentance. Empower me to change so that my life is filled with good things, not bad; so my life will exemplify the graceful and merciful justice of your word. Amen.

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