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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 13:33, He told them another parable; “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Bubbling jam beats a soft rhythm in the pot. The tang of sweetened fruit lingers in the air. Froth rises to the surface to be spooned off, discarded, so that pure preserves pour into the jars. A process measured in stages.

First the fruit is cleaned, ingredients added, then a slow heat and thickening begins-gradually, effectively, consistently until we can see the finish, sculpted white foam skimming a dark surface.

Bread yeast moves in silence. Steadily, sufficiently until all the dough is affected-leavened. Ready. Prepared for baking, set in pans, heated in ovens. Then our noses follow the savory smell drawing us to complete the process. Nourishment.

Finished product. From unseen activity. Prepared every day. Each day we need bread to sustain our physical growth. Each day I need Your spiritual manna, Lord to work through the measures in my life. I stop occasionally only to skim the surface, to sample the jam. Until the next time.

But Your leaven works succinctly, faithfully, completely, until the mixture in me becomes purified. Processed. A fragrant aroma.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 138:8

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O

Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 13:31, He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;”

Power packaged in a small parcel. We tend to ignore or disdain the ‘least’ whether people or property. Who can doubt, though, the sting of a wasp, the persistence of a fly, the determination of an ant?

Mustard seeds are among the smallest of plants yet produce a rapid, abundant, visible harvest. Tiny start. Tremendous yield. Continuous miracle that from minuscule seeds grow crops and flowers and trees. Beginnings unseen buried in a dark earth their shells split, their inner life tumbles out, and multiplies.

Protected at first. Before they reach the surface and the blast of wind and sun. Hidden until the right time. Secure until their strength will stand the barrage.

Mysterious germination. Seeds of vegetation, seeds of life, seeds of faith. Disturbing the confines of their space, insisting on change.

Potential growth or possible blight. Where am I seeded Lord? In Your word, or in the world. In a hidden life of prayer, or a hothouse of pride? Plant Your life in me. Crack open my self-contained shell and grow me up in You, Lord. Into kingdom fields.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 92:12-13

The righteous flourish like a palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kingdom Manna


John 3:5, Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit.”

Brand new. Immediately senses of smell and touch ignite our minds. Leather , wood, paint. A newborn baby, wrapped in softness, purity, innocence. A brief time in which we linger inhaling life’s crisp moment.

Leprosy. When pronounced unclean by the priest the victim is cast out, isolated from the community. Shunned. Unless the skin turns white and repeated examination from the priest shows no further curse. Pronounced clean, sent to wash themselves and their clothes. Re-entry to society. Inhaling a new beginning.

Before God’s tabernacle the laver, the altar. Washed of soot and trespasses and self-centered goals. Prepared to meet with the Lord in His sanctuary, inhaling incense of prayer.

Lessons I need to remember Lord. I can wash and scrub on the outside. Wear new clothes, smell fresh, and come into Your Presence. But unless I open my heart to Your Spirit, to wash in Your cross, to allow You to be born in me—Your kingdom doors are closed. Life stagnates. And I continue to inhale sin’s tainted air.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and put a new and right spirit within me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 25:1, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.”

Procession of light and laughter waiting to lead the bridegroom to his bride. A special task. The bridesmaids either had to time their welcome to the burn of their torches or bring extra oil should he be delayed. They could only bring enough extra for each torch. To share meant the torches wouldn't last the return trip and the groom would greet his wife in a diminished ceremony. And the bridesmaids, not alert, not ready, would miss the feast, closed off from the celebration.

Missed sharing. Missed joy. Missed faith. For lack of oil. For lack of preparation.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Prepared for us. Ahead of our time, above our understanding. A light that cannot be extinguished, a lamp that burns continuously. And ceaseless oil.

Manifest Your kingdom to me, Lord, I pray. Keep me attune to Your world and Your ways so that I don’t grow weary and dull and forget to prepare for Your coming.

Bringing a heart of joy and gratitude to meet You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 132:17

There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David;

I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 20:1, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.”

Each day the crowd seeking work grows larger. A group of men cluster at the town square. The sun is just above the horizon and its warmth has not spread yet. The men stomp their feet and blow on their hands for heat. Each man looks at the other, but sees only the eyes of his own hungry family waiting for a meal. A murmur moves through the men. The vineyard owner is seeking extra help. He wants them all. All! Then they will receive little pay but, no, wait, his offer is a full daily wage. Relief. A full day of work and full pay. Gratitude.

Until the owner gathers more and more men throughout the day. The work is heavy. He extends opportunity right up to the last hour. And pays them all equally. Resentment. The latecomers did not bear the burden or the temperature. Grumbling.

An answer from the owner. Can I not be generous if I so choose? I decide what is needed and who shall work which task. Remember what you agreed upon.

Underneath I squirm. Memories of envy rise to the surface, when a friend succeeded immediately in a task I had spent many hours doing. With similar results. But I had worked so long and so hard. Why does it come so easy for her?

And then I remember the joy of the process and the people along the way and the wonderful sense of accomplishment and a sense of God’s Spirit sustaining me. Growth.

Unfair thoughts slip away. Thank you Lord for Your generous opportunities to each of us. To co-labor in Your fields. To experience Your vineyard. To see a task through from beginning to end.

A full day, a full season, a full life with You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,

those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord guards the city,

the guard keeps watch in vain.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 8:12, “while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Driven by whips

and cords of wrath

deep in Egypt’s land. A people cried.

And God heard. He remembered.

With gifts of love and covenant.

He lavished them.

Land of milk and honey. A Law to serve.

And they prospered. And they forgot.

Dignity stripped. Dispossessed.

Exiled deep in Babylon.

On the river’s edge they cried.

And God heard. Again He restored.

Words of scripture. Prophets sent.

Hoped for Messiah stood

among them. Present.

And they were blind. They refused.

And God’s heart broke. And He cried.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 107:10-11

Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons

for they had rebelled against the word of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 8:11, I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,

Strangers were not unknown or unwelcome in Israel. Hospitality was universal in the middle east. Caution was not ignored. Often travelers arrived with letters of introduction from previous hosts verifying their guests. When Abraham opened his door to strangers, he made angels welcome.

But this comment is a concern to the listeners. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob held the promises of God to His people. To Israel. Promises of land, inheritance, Messiah. A past and a future concentrated in God’s blessings.

Security shaken. Who are the others? If remnants of the lost tribes-joy! If foreigners, unbelievers-dismay. How could the blessings be so tarnished? What right did these others have to God’s table?

By invitation.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints, and also members of the household of God,…” Welcomed.

By grace. By faith. Each of us included. Lord, let me never forget that once I stood as an alien, a foreigner at Your door. And may I extend a warm hand of reconciliation to each stranger that tentatively comes to Your house.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 23:5

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 13:52, And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Memories pieced from fragments: a baby’s soft nightshirt, a birthday ribbon, worn denim jeans. A snip here and a rip there. Combined with new cloth, fresh appliqu├ęs and fluffy padding. A gift quilt stitched with love to commemorate a shared past, and beginning dreams.

We gaze at the heavens, a brilliant display, breathtaking every time. Formed in ancient days. Stargazers old and new forged together under God’s canopy.

Message within God’s word. From Adam’s days stretching onward. Founded on Jesus. Language multiplied into countless translations. Old truths: justice, righteousness, mercy, love. New opportunities. Fresh formed today.

Weave Your treasures into my life Lord, as I study Your scripture. Stitch Your words into my heart and mind and will so that out of me each day will come Your love.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 33: 5-6

He loves righteousness and justice;

the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

and all their host by the breath of his mouth.

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