Chapter 16 – Daily Bread

 

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

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. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

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.”

– John 6:27-35, NIV

Christ makes it clear to us that He is the nourishment we need; He is our daily bread – we are to trust in Him and not in the world, to value Him even above our physical needs. In this passage it seems that Jesus is trying to emphasise the importance of watching what we feed our spirit: choosing the nourishment that comes from Him and not what the world tries to feed us. So may we surrender to Him our mouth and what we “eat” – what nourishes us spiritually. Charles C. G. Trumbull said, “Those who are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His love.” May we allow Christ to lead us into a full understanding of what it means to be nourished by Him – to receive that “true bread from heaven” (Matthew 6, above).

No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

– Deuteronomy 30:14, NIV

I remember noticing last time I fasted for a week that I had some awesome times of prayer and great conversations and the like, but also had many times of just feeling hungry and weak and bitter – I perhaps wasn’t very nice to people during that time. It can be the same spiritually: when we deprive ourselves of the nourishment that we need for spiritual growth, it isn’t good for us at all! We can become weak and bitter and unattractively skinny in spirit when we do not feed ourselves with the “daily bread” that we so desperately need.

One Sunday morning in Bolivia my pastor said something of which the translation does not do justice. He told us that it’s incredibly important not to “malalimentar la corazón” – don’t badly-feed the heart. This really stuck with me, and it got me wondering how one would “malalimentar” the heart, and how one could possibly avoid this: how to choose the right nourishment and know what we need to be fed. Thinking ungodly thoughts, speaking ungodly words, following ungodly advice, making negative choices all participate in the “malalimentación” of the heart. And just as eating junk food or poisonous food all the time has noticeable effects on the body, so the same applies with the heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

– Proverbs 4:23, NIV

Sometimes this can show more clearly to other people than to ourselves, “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45, NIV). So when we negatively-feed our heart, the results can be obvious to other people because what we say and do can reflect what we have allowed ourselves to receive, what we have allowed to nourish us. Likewise, when we positively-feed our heart with the food that God wants to give us, He can produce beautiful Godly fruit in our lives and shine His own light through us: so again, what we say and do can reflect what we have allowed to nourish us.

So how do we know, and choose, the nourishment that He has for us over that of the world and of our sinful nature? Christ tells us that He is the bread of life, thus the nourishment that we need to live comes from Him. A very hungry Jesus told the tempter in Matthew 4:2-4 that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NIV). By choosing to look to Him, talk to Him, read of His life on earth and His words, listen to Him, recognise His presence with us, worship and adore Him, choosing to honour Him with our thoughts and words and actions – all of these things positively-feed our hearts with the food with which He wants us to be nourished.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

– Deuteronomy 8:3, NIV

Jesus, when directing and advising us on how to pray, instructed us to ask God to “give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, NIV). DAILY. Every day we must come to our Lord and Teacher, and ask for the nourishing and refreshing of His Word direct to our hearts, and whatever “food” with which He wants to feed us. While God was leading the ungrateful Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness, He graciously and faithfully provided food for them every day – the miracle of manna from Heaven. In Exodus 16:5 (NIV) we see that God commanded the Israelites to collect on the sixth day “twice as much as on the other days” (so as to take away the need to work on the Sabbath day of rest), but then in verse 19 Moses tells them that “no one is to keep any of it until morning” – no leftovers on the other days. God was testing their faith – did they really believe that He would continue to provide? They had to truly depend on Him and on His fresh blessing, every day – rather than living from their own understanding or developing self-sufficiency.

Verse 20 tells us that some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. How awesome is our God, that He can twist the laws of nature for the day He chooses, and cause the people to depend on His miraculous provision each day in this way! We can learn a profound lesson from this in our everyday lives: not to take yesterday’s spiritual ‘bread’ for today – because God’s food for us, His word, His bread, comes fresh every day. If someone were to ask you what God has done in your life lately, would you think back over this week? This past month, perhaps? Or today…?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

– Lamentations 3:22-24, NIV

God is the perfect artist, designer, Creator – infinite in wisdom and abounding in glorious beauty. He knows the ways things work and He provides for the needs of His Creation! When a young mother is breastfeeding an infant, the breast-milk gradually changes and develops to accommodate the growth needs of the child. Isn’t that amazing?! Similarly, God knows our needs; He knows the food that will equip us to grow in Him, and this food may “taste” different at different times, or for different people. He knows us intimately and completely, and no part of us is beyond His understanding. He is the milk we need at the infant stages of our walk with Him; He is the living water to sustain us throughout our spiritual growth, and He is the bread of life – giving us solid food to chew on and be challenged by. So may we surrender to God what we “eat”, what we feed our hearts with.

Our Christian experience must agree with the Bible. We will be taught by the Bible and fed by the Bible. But we do not believe in Christ because He is in the Bible: we believe in the Bible because Christ is in us.

– Claxton Monro

May we allow God to show us the spiritual food that He wants to give us each day, and lead us away from the things that could damage or poison us. May we give the health of our souls into His hands, and let Him be our spiritual dietitian – every moment, in every conversation and every situation.

 

Wow God, You’re amazing!

Give us today our daily bread.

Please Lord, I crave Your voice to nourish and refresh my soul.

Equip me to listen and receive Your fresh bread every day.

You always have more for me, fresh and new and perfect – You know me so well!

Help me not to hunger for things that “malalimentar” my heart.

May I not try to eat yesterday’s mouldy, smelly bread when You have new nourishment to give.

I surrender to You the things that I consume each day.

May You guide my decisions so that I receive what You want for me!

Teach me to love, appreciate, and be thankful for the food You bring, today and every day!

I surrender to You the way I live as a result of what I receive.

Please shape my understanding.

I give You my mouth and I ask that You replace it with Your own.

May I live in Your ways, with a hunger for You rather than for what my human nature craves.

Amen

 

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