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Worship Message - Give Us This Day


Give Us This Day...

In chapter 16 of the Old Testament Book of Exodus, God performed a miracle. A

wonderful miracle that provided a blessing for His people. A blessing that was necessary

for their very survival.

It was not the first miracle God performed for those people. A bit earlier, the people of

God, after having been slaves in Egypt - they and their ancestors had been slaves for

over 400 years - God worked a series of miracles, at the end of which His people were

freed.

Upon their release, as the people of God headed east, going toward the Sinai peninsula,

they encountered a barrier. They ran into the Red Sea.

That barrier could have been overcome fairly easily. Except for one problem. Egypt’s

leader, shortly after freeing God’s people, had changed his mind and decided he wanted

the slaves back. With that, he had sent all his army after the newly-freed people, the

army’s purpose to catch up to them, capture them, and return them to slavery.

The Red Sea could have been crossed. That could have been accomplished fairly easily,

given enough time to build enough boats for all the people of God to cross from the

western shore to the eastern shore. But they did not have time to do that because the

army that had been sent was rapidly approaching where God’s people were.

What a dilemma God’s people faced. The Red Sea was in front of them. The Egyptian

army was approaching from behind them. There was nothing but flat wilderness on

either side of them, meaning there was no place for them to hide.

The dilemma was solved by God in answer to the prayers of His people. Actually, it was

not so much praying as it was whining. The people said to their leader Moses, “What?

There were not enough graves in Egypt for us? You had to take us away from there to die

here in the wilderness? What have you done?” That is what God’s people said. But in

answer to the concerns of His people, God solved their problem by performing a

miracle. He parted the waters of the sea.

God did that late one afternoon. All that night He caused a strong east wind to blow,

which dried the bed of the sea. Which allowed the people of God, late in the night, to

walk from the western shore to the eastern shore.

And get this, which is part of the miracle. The water stayed parted until the last person

of God was on the eastern shore. Whereupon, just as the entire Egyptian army was on

the bed of the sea, in hot pursuit, God caused the waters to come back together.

The result was the complete annihilation of the Egyptian army. All the men were killed.

All the horses were drowned. All the chariots were destroyed.

At the Red Sea, the people of God had faced a very serious crisis. God had helped them.

In chapter 15 of Exodus, there was a great celebration. God was publicly thanked.

But then two more crises ensued.

First, once on the eastern side of the Red Sea, the people of God had no water. Which

caused them to whine to their leader. “What shall we drink? Huh, Moses?”

God helped then, just as He had at the Red Sea. This time He performed the miracle of

providing a source of sweet water.

Second - this brings us to chapter 16 - the people of God had no food.

Once again the people whined. This time they said to Moses, “Oh, that we had died in

the land of Egypt, where we had so much food we were always full.”

Actually, that was rarely the case. But suddenly where they had been - though they had

complained about it - seemed better than where they were at that moment.

“Oh, how wonderful Egypt was,” they said. “And now we are here. For you, Moses, have

brought us out into this wilderness, apparently to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

I realize the complaining of the people is understandable. I mean, they had been in

danger at the Red Sea. And having no water had been a serious problem. And of course

food is needed to sustain life.

I also realize I don’t know if I would handle any of those problems any differently. I hope

I would be better. In fact, that is a challenge that goes along with this message. But the

whining is at least understandable.

Upon the whining about lack of food, God told Moses what was going to happen - the

miracle God was going to perform. God said, “Behold, I will rain bread from Heaven for

you. The people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day. On the sixth day, there

will be twice as much as they gather every other day. That is so they will have enough for

the sabbath day. But every day - every other day but the sabbath - I will rain bread from

Heaven.”

That was God’s promise. Which was preceded by something else. As the promise was

being communicated to God’s people - Moses and his brother Aaron told the people

what God had said - as Aaron gave his part of the report, they all looked toward the

wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in a cloud.

What was in the cloud? Quails. They were the something else that preceded the miracle

of bread. In the evening, quails came and covered the camp of God’s people. There were

enough quails that all the people of God ate and were satisfied. How good it was for

those people to have meat.

Then, in the morning, following a good night’s sleep, the people noticed dew on the

ground. When the dew was gone - when the sun came up and dried the moisture - the

people noticed something else. Where the dew had been, there was, in its place, a fine,

flake-like substance, fine as frost on the ground.

The people said to one another, “What is it?” Moses answered them, saying, “It is the

bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”

Moses then gave some instructions - instructions he had received from God - beginning

with this one. They were to gather the substance. Every man was to gather as much as he

could eat, plus enough for his family.

Every man did as instructed. Except some took more than was needed, hoping to have

some left over for the next day. That was a violation of the second instruction Moses was

about to give. The problem it caused will be mentioned in a minute.

Interestingly, others were too careful to not take too much. They took too little.

Those people discovered there was just enough for everyone, which was a blessing from

God. But for those who took too much, hoping to have some for the next day? They

violated the second instruction given by Moses. The instruction to let no man leave any

of the bread until morning.

What is the wording in some buffet restaurants? “Take all you want, and eat all you

take.” That was the gist of the second instruction. Whatever any man gathered was to be

consumed that day. None was to be saved for the next day. The point being they were to

rely on God again the next day.

For those who did not obey that instruction, the next morning they discovered they

might as well have obeyed. The next morning, the substance that had been kept was

infested with worms. It was spoiled.

But then this instruction. The substance was to be gathered in the morning. That was

because when the sun grew hot, the substance melted.

Through the next six days, the people gathered the substance, identified later as being

called manna, which was Heavenly bread. Te bread promised by God. Morning by

morning they gathered it.

On the sixth day there was, just as God had announced to Moses, twice as much of the

bread as on the other days. That caused the people some confusion, which was taken to

Moses, who explained that the next day - the seventh day - was to be a day of solemn

rest. A holy sabbath to the LORD.

Moses then added the instruction for the people to bake or boil what had been gathered

on the sixth day. To do that because that day there would be some left over, which on the

next day would be good.

On the seventh day, despite what Moses had said, some of the people went out to gather.

They were surprised when they found no bread. That angered God, but eventually, the

people got the message and rested the remainder of the seventh day.

The eighth day, the manna was once again available - enough for that day - which means

God’s people once again had food to eat. Food that was given to them by God. That

continued through all of six days. On the sixth day, there was once again enough bread

for two days.

And then the process started again. And again. And again.

Listen. The people of God ate manna, doing so during all the time they were in the

wilderness between the Red Sea and when they arrived at the Promised Land. For 40

years God performed the miracle of providing bread for His people. Every day He made

sure they had their daily bread.

What a fantastic miracle that was. But you know what? It is not just in the Old

Testament that God’s people’s need for bread was met. It happened in the New

Testament as well.

For instance - we are not going to spend too much time on the first two examples

because we talked about them in another message just a few weeks ago - but remember

what happened one evening when it was discovered a huge crowd that had gathered

around Jesus was hungry, but there was almost no food at all?

Remember? Jesus took what food there was - a little bit of bread and a couple fish - and

multiplied that small amount into enough food to feed the crowd. To feed them until

they were satisfied.

The size of the crowd is described as 5000 men. Counting women and children, there

might have been 15,000 people altogether. And there was enough food left over for the

disciples, who had done the serving of the multiplied food.

The people in the crowd that evening received from Jesus their daily bread. He gave it to

them. A short time later, when surrounded by another hungry crowd - a crowd that

again had almost no food with them. Jesus again took a small supply of bread and fish

and again multiplied what He had into enough food to feed the crowd, again until they

were satisfied. The number that time was 4000. Again there was some left over for the

disciples.

The people had needed their daily bread. Jesus had given it. And then this example in

John 21. An example that came following Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe a week-and-a-half

- maybe a bit longer - after Jesus’ tomb was discovered to be empty.

Some of the disciples were fishing.

As kind of an aside, I have always found it interesting that so soon after Jesus’ death, the

disciples who had been fishermen before being called by Jesus were once again fishing.

Had they already given up on the ministry for which Jesus had trained them? Is that

how discouraged they were? Of course, they might have simply been filling in time as

they waited to see what else might happen. Or maybe they saw the need to try to support

themselves. But one night, they got into a boat and went out on the Sea of Galilee and

fished.

All night long, they caught nothing. But then, just as day was breaking, the disciples

heard a shout from the shore. “Children, have you any fish?”

Being called “children” must have sounded a bit strange to them. But they answered.

They said they had not caught any fish.

“Cast the net on the other side - on the right side - of the boat, and you will find some.”

That, too, must have sounded strange. I mean, they were fishermen. Who was the one

on shore to tell them how to do their work?

But they decided to give it a try. Immediately, they had so many fish in their net they

could not haul it in.

At that instant, the disciple John turned to the disciple Peter and said, “It is the Lord!”

Now, I do not know why Jesus had not been recognized earlier as the one who was on

the shore, though it might have been that the sun had somehow blinded the disciples. Or

maybe the fatigue of being out all night kept the ears of the disciples from recognizing

Jesus’ voice.

But suddenly, John recognized Jesus. He told Peter, who put on his clothes and then

sprang into the sea to swim ashore. That is how anxious he was to get to Jesus.

I wonder if the rest of the disciples were a bit miffed that they were left to handle the

catch of fish without Peter’s strength. But eventually the others also arrived at the shore.

Peter did help a bit with the net then. But when they got on land, they saw a charcoal fire

on the beach, with fish lying on it. And, according to the Bible, bread. Both those things

being prepared by Jesus. Then, when they were all settled, Jesus took the fish and the

bread and gave it to them. He gave them their bread for that day.

Manna in the Old Testament. Fish and bread for crowds that surrounded Jesus during

His ministry. Fish and bread for Jesus’ disciples after His resurrection. All of those are

examples of miracles. Miracles by which one phrase in the Lord’s Prayer was acted out.

We are, during this year’s Lenten messages, looking at all the Lord’s Prayer. Each week a

certain phrase is being highlighted.

We began with the 10-word phrase, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy

name.”

Last week, it was the 14-word phrase, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as

it is in Heaven.”

Today the seven-word phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

As we have before, let’s think about what can be called key words in the phrase.

Including the word bread.

Actually, I have something else to say in just a bit about bread. But for now, let’s think of

the physical sustenance needed to maintain and sustain life. For the people of God in

Exodus, it was bread. For the people served during Jesus’ ministry and for the disciples,

it was bread and fish.

Fortunately, our diets are more varied.

You know, I am always amazed that the Old Testament people of God, as reports of their

40-year journey through the wilderness continue, often complained about the manna.

My first thought is that they should have been thankful for what God provided for them.

But 40 years of bread? With only an occasional something else? I’m sure I would get

tired, too, of the same food day in and day out, year after year.

But bread refers to the food we need to survive. That word being in the Lord’s Prayer

gives us permission to remind God of our need for food. And yes, He already knows that

need. But by praying this part of the Lord’s Prayer, we are expressing our willingness to

rely on Him for what we need.

And consider the word give. What an extremely important reminder that whatever food

we have is a gift from God. That word in the Lord’s Prayer means we are to remember to

thank Him for whatever we have to eat. And let’s not complain if what we have may not

be what we want. We need to be thankful for whatever He gives us.

And He does give it. Yes, we might have to work to get money to buy our food, but it is

God who gives us work to do. Even if we grow our own food - or at least some of it - it is

God who created the seeds and the soil and the water and the sun, along with the

strength to work in gardens or fields.

Bread is important. God gives it to us. And consider the word daily, which is a call to

rely on Him day in and day out for what we need. Certainly the Old Testament people of

God did that. They had to just to survive. Certainly the people in the crowds around

Jesus that we talked about did that. Otherwise they would have fainted from hunger.

Certainly the disciples did that after a night of fishing.

I do not think there is anything at all wrong with storing food in a freezer or a fridge or

by canning. But I think the Lord’s Prayer should remind us to not rely on what we can

store. That we are instead to rely on God to take care of us daily. The question being, “If

God provided for His people thousands of years ago, can He be trusted to do the same

now?” The answer of course being “yes.”

The theme of this year’s Lenten season is Teach Us to Pray. One part of that is to ask

God to give us this day our daily bread. That is what Jesus taught us to pray.

And yes, I do believe Jesus is specifically referring to the physical nourishment - the

physical bread - the physical food - we must have. That we are to trust Him to give that

to us each day.

But may I suggest something? Something based on an answer Jesus gave Satan after the

devil tempted Jesus the first of three times?

After Jesus, while in a wilderness, had fasted for almost six weeks, Satan appeared and

suggested to Jesus He turn a stone into bread so His hunger would end. Jesus answered

by quoting the Scripture that says “man does not live by bread alone.”

Of course physical bread is needed. Eventually Jesus did again eat. But what He said to

Satan is so critical. That it is not just physical food that is needed, but spiritual food as

well.

A point Jesus shared with some people who asked Him for food from Heaven. In that

conversation, they reminded Jesus of the manna that had been given to the Old

Testament people of God. They asked Jesus for food from Heaven. They wanted it

always.

Jesus answered them it was not just physical bread - even that which comes from

Heaven, which is reality it all does - that is needed, but spiritual bread as well. As He

worded it, “I [referring to Himself] am the bread of life.” The spiritual bread that is

needed.

Jesus added that anyone who comes to Him “shall not hunger.” His meaning in that

context is hungering spiritually. So while I know the meaning of today’s Lord’s Prayer

phrase is physical bread, I do suggest we also ask for spiritual bread, which is also

needed. That God will give us spiritual satisfaction. That as He has done that in the past,

He will now for us. That He will do that daily.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be

done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” For that, Jesus

taught us to pray.

Today’s closing song is a simple chorus. It is God Is So Good. It has been chosen because

it reminds us, in verses 1 and 3, that God is good. So good that He cares for us. It

reminds us in verse 2 that He answers prayer. Including that He give us even today our

daily bread. And it reminds us in verse 4 that He is worthy of our love.

God is so good, God is so good,

God is so good, He’s so good to me!

He answers prayer, He answers prayer,

He answers prayer, He’s so good to me!

He cares for me, He cares for me,

He cares for me, He’s so good to me!

I love Him so, I love Him so,

I love Him so, He’s so good to me!

Throughout Lent, we are commemorate Jesus’ suffering. Suffering all the way to death

on a cross. As we do that today, may we remember His love. A love so strong that He

taught us how to pray.

May we commit ourselves to learning how to pray, including to pray for the strength to

rely on God to give us what we need. The bread we need, both physically and spiritually.

To rely on Him for that each day. Every day. Amen.

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