Sunday, February 22, 2009

Are You Hungry?

One of the first books my 2-year-old Wyatt memorized was a lift-flap book simply entitled “Moses.” Under one of the flaps was a picture & the words “quail and manna.” Ever since then, Wyatt thinks “quailandmanna” is one word. So, while I was searching without much success for a catchy title for this blog, I came across the Bible’s verses about quail and manna, and the title just seemed fitting. I love the Old Testament—so many Christians neglect it and focus on the New Testament, but I believe God gave us the whole Bible to teach us.

In the book of Exodus, after escaping from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites should have been thrilled with God and life, but it wasn’t long before wandering around the desert didn’t seem like too much fun and they turned into a grumpy bunch of hungry people. They sound a lot like us—fresh off a miracle from God and already finding something else to fuss about. Maybe you can relate to being hungry and grumpy. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I remember yelling like a crazy woman at my husband when we were driving to Florida because it was an hour past my usual supper time! The Israelites were no different. In fact, they started almost immediately moaning to Moses about him leading them into the desert to starve to death—how melodramatic, especially considering God had just shown His awesome power by parting the Red Sea and killing all of Pharoah’s army. Hmmm…God could defeat an entire army but can’t provide them with breakfast?

God provided anyway, despite their attitude: “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions….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: 4, 11). The result: manna for breakfast in the morning and quail for supper in the evening. If the Israelites collected more than enough, it would spoil overnight, a lesson in trusting God for their daily bread

While God doesn’t provide us today with the miracle of literal quail and manna on our doorstep, He does provide us with His miracle-working Word to sustain us through each day. Jesus is the “bread of life” (John 6:48-58). Jesus is “the Word” (John 1:1, 14). Think about it—the Israelites had to get up each morning and collect the manna; they couldn’t just stockpile it one day and not collect it the rest of the week. Likewise, if Jesus is our spiritual bread, do we really think that we can worship at church once a week and stockpile enough of Him in our hearts to get us through the week? Do we really think we can skip a day of reading His Word or praying to Him and not feel hungry that day? When I miss a day of being in The Bible, I can tell it—I’m more short-tempered with my husband & children and all my small problems seem bigger than ever before.
How many of you are feasting on Sundays only to starve the other six days of the week? Our spiritual stomachs need feeding each day, several times of day, whether that food comes in the form of a church service, quiet time in prayer, Bible reading, or praise and worship in our cars on the way to work or school. Pay attention to your spiritual health this week---feed upon Jesus each day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Little About Me & This Blog

A few years prior to 2005, my mother began studying her Bible openly and diligently. I'm not talking about just opening up the Bible and reading. She wrote in the margins, got a set of special pencil highlighters to enliven the pages with color, and spent hours on end working through the Bible's text. I didn't understand why, but as her completed studies started filling up a bookshelf, I kept having the nagging thought, "What am I missing?" I'd been in church every Sunday and Wednesday all my life; I'd done Bible Drills for three years to memorize scripture; I'd read through the whole Bible myself; I'd even taught Sunday School for 6 years--so what more could I really learn that the pastor or my own reading didn't teach me? Besides, who had that much free time to re-read something she had already read before? Some part of me even thought my mother was going a little overboard or that her kind of study was only for super-Christians, not "normal" Christians like me.

In the spring of 2005, I began my first in-depth Bible study. To be honest, I went to the first meeting more to experience the fellowship of other church women than to learn something. Imagine my surprise when by the completion of my first study, my life had been radically transformed in ways I could never have anticipated. With the help of other teachers who showed me how to look at historical context, how to compare word usage throughout the Bible, and how to use my dictionary to see what a word really meant in the original Greek or Hebrew, I began learning about a God and a Saviour that I only thought I knew. His Word that had seemed so cut and dry all my life, that had not been interesting enough for me to want to read it daily, suddenly began coming to life, leaping off the page, and opening up its riches to show me an incredibly deep, complex, too-wonderful-for-me-to-fathom Bible that kept my attention for hours and only left me wanting more.

Since that time, I have never looked back, constantly starting new in-depth studies to learn more, to be encouraged, and to apply the knowledge that I've gleaned from His Word. But, God has been after me for a long time to "do something" to share the riches of His word with others. So, after seeking His will, I have committed to write a short devotional each week and post it to this blog so that each Monday morning, you'll have something encouraging as you start your week. If you're like me, Mondays are rough and you could use all the encouragement you can get! While I am no authority on God's Word and am overwhelmed at the thought of finding something to say each week, much less the time to say it, I know God will provide, and I hope to plant a desire in your life to search the Scriptures yourself so you can fall in love with Jesus as I have. Check back here Monday, February 23 for our inaugural voyage.