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Manna and Quail from Heaven 7/10

Wouldn’t it be great to walk outside and have breakfast and dinner ready for you on the porch? Every day? It’s not too likely anyone would turn down that service!
In a desert there are not many options for food. And the whole Israelite nation wandered around in a desert environment for 40 years. That would be quite a few mouths to feed for quite a long time.
The Lord was very gracious to his people. He said to Moses: Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” (Exodus 16:12) That’s how it went. The manna definitely was a regular occurrence every morning (6 days a week) for the entire 40 years. The quail was there as well, although we can’t say for sure it arrived all the time during the desert wanderings. All the Israelites had to do was walk outside and their food was waiting for them.
This, despite their frequent grumbling and complaining. God is good to the world he . . . . created, and provides all the sustenance we need.
An astounding miracle. Manna six days a week, 312 days or so a year, for 40 years. Really the miracle of food is not that much different for us. The intricate details of plant and animal life that cannot be reproduced outside of God’s power. The complex processes needed to produce just one grain of wheat or one grape on the vine. Then the systems and labor involved in getting the food to a supermarket nearby. More than enough food even as the population of the world continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Your cheerios and ribeye steaks are manna and quail from heaven, only available to you because of God’s almighty power.
People that visit the U.S. for the first time are often amazed at the abundance and variety of the food in our country. Every meal is a chance to give thanks to our gracious God in prayer and reverence for his good gifts to the world.
Every meal is also consumed, and we get hungry again. When we enjoy our food, we look in faith to Jesus’ teaching about himself, the “true bread,” that gives true life.

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Meaningful Ministry 7/3

We are all ministers of Jesus Christ! Just by being believers through the work of the Spirit, we are automatically ministers. Ministry simply means service. We all in Christ serve God and our neighbor.

Caring for your family, sharing the comfort of the gospel with a hurting soul, bringing food to the hungry, teaching a child about the Word – these are all some of the hundreds or thousands of different forms ministry takes.

While so many search for meaning, we have it in the Lord’s purposes in us and through us. What is meaningful about your own personal ministry? Join us Sundays for our NEW SERMON SERIES, “MEANINGFUL MINISTRY,” to deepen your appreciation for Christian service.

We Carry Around in Our Body the Death of Jesus6/26


We are a mix of all kinds of things on our inside. We know our bodies are mostly water. Anywhere from 50 to 60 percent on average. We’re made up of fat, muscle and bone. There are millions of microorganisms crawling around in and on us, generally good ones. On an emotional level we have happiness and sadness, instincts good and bad.

We also “carry around in our body the death of Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:10). That’s the way the Apostle Paul sees it under inspiration of . . . . the Spirit as he reflects on how fragile we are as we minister with the gospel. In our body is the death of Jesus.

No one likes to think about “death” being inside them (although in a way that’s true physically for us all!). This is a special death. The death of Jesus. All that means is that we will also go through some level of persecution and suffering while we share the light of Christ in this world. Philippians 3:10 says something similar: I want to know Christ—yes, … and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

This is always the case. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, is how it’s put in our Bible verse from 2 Corinthians. Living the light of the gospel will most definitely involve hardship of some kind. Let’s not be too surprised by that!

However, there are a couple wonderful blessings that come out of this. First, if we, the messengers, are less glorious, that just points people more to the glory of the gospel message. And that’s where we want them to look anyway. Second, if we participate in his death, we will also participate in his life. The full Bible verse from above is as follows: We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Carrying around Jesus’ death all the time isn’t so bad when life with Jesus is ours through faith, and his full life for us in heaven is right around the corner.

Can We Know Why? 6/19


One of the bedrocks of our legal system is the Sixth Amendment, which states, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, … and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation ….” We take it for granted that that’s how it should work. We shouldn’t be convicted without a trial, or without at least knowing what the charges are. We would consider that a basic human right, even if it’s not practiced everywhere around the world.

Job must have been thinking along those lines after going through so much loss and suffering without any explanation that he could come up with. His friends basically told him it was his fault for . . . . some sin or sins he had committed. Job didn’t think so, but he was confused to the point of challenging God to answer: Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. (Job 31:35)

And then God spoke in chapter 38, and did answer him. But it wasn’t really an answer as Job (or we) might expect. There never is a direct explanation of why. The Lord’s first words are a question: Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? (38:2). And then a whole long series of questions, like Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand (38:4). The answer was roughly, “You’re a human, and there are many things that you are not able to understand, even if I do.”
God did not support Job’s friends’ accusations that Job was being punished for his sins, but neither did he give Job a reason as to why this was happening. A reminder of the truth of Romans 11:33: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

God is gracious and compassionate to us at all times! If the “why” is not always available to us, that doesn’t mean his care is less. His grace is as strong as ever, even when we go through the trials of life. His love and salvation and forgiveness in Christ never change. If we’re not able to “look behind the curtain” and always get an explanation for everything that happens to us, that’s ok. The “not knowing” leads us to more peace and trust in God’s loving guidance of all things: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Prayers of Thanksgiving for the Gospel! 6/12


How often do you express your thanks for oxygen? For your hands and feet? For your oven at home? For roads? There’s no doubt we’re thankful for all the good things in life, but some don’t regularly rise to the level of our consciousness because they’re so common. They’re just always there. But life would be so different without them.

The gospel message sometimes makes its way onto that list. The gospel is working invisibly, and it’s working all the time. It’s such a regular and common force in the world that . . . . we may not often take a moment to recognize its enormous impact.

There are times when the results of the gospel are clearly there. In Acts we see 120 believers (1:15), then about 3,000 more (2:41), then 5,000 just counting the men (4:4). The message of Christ quickly spread into Samaria (8:25) and Antioch (11:21) among other places. Then there are times the gospel doesn’t seem to be producing such a harvest, or the church even seems to be in decline. But it’s always going out according to God’s purpose.

The Apostle Paul and his companion in ministry, Timothy, first give thanks for the faith and love of their brothers and sisters in Christ. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people (Colossians 1:3-4). Then they go on to recognize how it is that they are united in faith and love. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. (Colossians 1:6). The gospel!

Maybe consider adding to your prayers this week a heartfelt one for the gospel that brought you and so many others to faith in Christ. You can’t go wrong in giving thanks for the gospel. It’s hard at work every second of every day!

The Dragon Has Been Bound 6/6


When Christians look out on the trends and events of our world, the view is often not positive. Countries are stirring up trouble. There are people who choose violence to get their way. Church attendance appears to be in a slow decline. Hundreds of discouraging images and upsetting concerns can flood our hearts and minds (especially if we overly indulge in them).

There is an explanation for all this. The devil appears in the opening verses of Revelation, chapter 20, as a dragon (a large and fierce enemy), a serpent (a deceiver), the devil (the “slanderer”), and Satan (the “accuser”). There is no doubt that this powerful being is bent only on our downfall by . . . . whatever means possible. And this powerful being is often successful.

But we take heart! The dragon has been bound. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:2)

The “binding” happened when Jesus arrived in the world, taught the freeing gospel of forgiveness through baptism and faith in him, died, rose and ascended. He described his own ministry as “entering into a strong man’s (the devil’s) house” and “tying him up” (Mark 3:27).

For a thousand years the dragon is bound. The thousand years is a symbol for basically the entire New Testament from Jesus’ time on earth to right around his second coming. And being bound means that the devil is not able to stamp out the message of the gospel. He’s still active. But the gospel continues to spread throughout that whole time until the end, bringing peace, hope and salvation to all who believe.

So as you look out at the world, see not only the work of the dragon, but also the wonderful and powerful work of Jesus’ gospel message. The strength of the gospel reminds us that the final victory is the Lord’s!

Our New Testament Observation of “Rest” 5/29

We wouldn’t dream of trying to keep the entire law given to Moses in the Old Testament. It wouldn’t be possible, and we know that it’s not required of believers after the death and resurrection of Christ. But some occasionally wonder about the Sabbath day command since it is part of the Ten Commandments. Should we still go to church on Saturday and avoid work that day?

I’ve been “evangelized” a few times by zealous and probably well-meaning members of Christian churches that still preach obedience to parts of the Old Testament law of Moses. They generally started their “evangelizing” by . . . . promoting a following of the Old Testament Sabbath Day even for New Testament Christians. Meaning primarily the requirement, in their opinion, to go to worship services and refrain from work on Saturdays. If you worship on Sundays rather than Saturdays, that is not good enough from their point of view. And if you have a job, you definitely are not allowed to keep a job that involves Saturday hours.

We still follow the Ten Commandments, don’t we? Yes and no. Yes, the same principles as they are repeated in the New Testament. No, not in the same exact form as God gave them through Moses. The Ten Commandments in their Old Testament form are part of the law of Moses, the guardian we are no longer under since the coming of Christ (Galatians 3:23-25).

The book of Colossians also makes this clear specifically related to the Sabbath, the day of rest: 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

How can we “rest” in New Testament times? The Sabbath law was heavily focused on physical rest, and a pause in working, buying and selling. We can certainly do the same. We can have a reasonable amount of time every week that is not dedicated to production, making money, and spending money. Time for family and friends, health, relaxation, and leisure. The Old Testament Sabbath also included remembrance of God’s great works for his people: the creation of the world (Exodus 20:11), the freeing from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:10-15), and the people’s belonging to the Lord (Exodus 31:12-13). We, too, remember God’s grace to us as we spend time in the Word and prayer, gather together to encourage one another in the faith, and worship as a church family.

It's not as regulated, and there is not a specific day, but in the New Testament we have just as great a need to “rest” physically and spiritually as we look ahead to the eternal rest in heaven through faith in Jesus!