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Monday, January 30, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of the Father in heaven.”

Plans crumble. Dreams dissolve. Projects crash. Like a seismic shock their rolling consequences shake our cores. We cry, complain, criticize.

Were our expectations unreasonable? Did we have uncontrollable opposition? Why? Why?? We work our way through the grief and the debris to start again—Maybe.

Israel had a plan firmly in place. With the foundation set by God Himself. They were a chosen people. Chosen to bless the nations with salvation, with a guarantee—Mercy.


…,“If you obey the commandments of the Lord Your God that I am commanding you today;” A choice. A blessing and a curse before Israel.

When my desires disintegrate and my purposes shatter, I am so quick in my complaint to You, Lord. Do You not love me as You said? Am I not doing a faithful work? Patiently You hear my dismay and wait with me while I sort everything out.

Point me back to Your measures, Lord, before I moan and rage. Show me if I have placed my hope apart from You and am building on false presumptions. Keep my heart steadfast toward You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 78:7

so that they should set their hope in God,

and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments;

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”


Set before a holy God to appease

Seeking counsel

Sacrament of gratitude

Sealed in covenant

Steeped in ritual

Sovereign boundaries.


Sanctified by Christ, Savior’s gift given

Sacred strength

Spirit purifies hearts

Sanctuary open

Submissive to God’s grace

Sabbath worship daily.

Set apart.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 4:5

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Acts8:12, “But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

Awed by God’s display of power, filled with confidence in Moses, Israel left plague-torn Egypt fixed on new horizons. But when they entered the wilderness grumbling began to eat away their faith.

Doubts> disbelief> disobedience.

Announcements filled with good news, with old truths re-spoken; Philip’s audience faced a decision. How to choose? Would they be considered fools? Where was this kingdom? They trusted and stepped out in faith.

Belief> baptism> blessing.

Also filled with opportunities to live by faith. I too can walk in doubt or in trust. Despise my situation, blame God, or curse others. Let bitterness erode my witness. Or sink deeper into prayer and watch for God’s leading and embrace comfort from fellowship.

Choice> compassion> Christ.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 106:24-25

Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise.

They grumbled in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Luke 11:9, “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

When we ask a friend or family member for a favor and they answer ‘yes’ before even knowing the commitment, it makes us feel valued. They are willing to do whatever we need help with. It is warmth that cannot be manufactured with sweaters and blankets but an internal glow that overflows.

A search for a special gift is double pleasure to both the recipient and giver when the present brings joy. A knock on a door that opens to sweep us into a room filled with welcome brings delight. These simple gifts we share with each other create solid bonds, growing relationships, and secure comfort.

“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

According to Jesus, there are no limits set except to ask in faith. So simple a child can grasp. So magnificent we stagger. In doubts, in unbelief. Can it be true?

With the evidence of His love before me I still stumble at the possibilities. Yet the spiritual promises are more concrete than the physical. Christ’s realities more tangible than human frailties. I accept the offer from my friends with gratitude. Can I do any less for You, Lord? Help me to ask and seek and knock in faith.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 2:8

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Luke 11:8, “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.”

Persistence is a quality trait most of us deem positive. We admire those who persevere through difficult times and conquer their circumstances. We recognize that often perseverance in vocation leads to great success. So we acknowledge and encourage persistence.

Unless it’s being directed against us personally. As in a child’s repeated requests for an early snack, a co-worker’s continual request for an update on our part of the project, or a friend’s constant request for conversation during an unusually busy day.

‘Pest’ becomes our silent judgment on their perseverance. “How can I get them to stop’ becomes our question. And yet we comply. Out of love, for sanity’s sake, or out of consideration. Remembering that on some days it’s us who are knocking incessantly. On Jesus’ door.

Understanding our needs, He always answers. Undertaking on our behalf, he supplies our deeper hungers, the ones underneath our requests. Unceasingly He loves us exactly where we are.

Please continue to listen, Lord.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 36:10

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,

and your salvation to the upright of heart.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kingdom Manna

Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Threatened by winds of

change, words of life,

a hope apart;

control fades from selfish power.

Fear attacks

persecutes faithful


Attempts to crush

their voices with


Stop the sound,

stifle the whisper.

Silence. Wells deepen drawing

strength from the Word.

Life in surrender

shatters tyrant by forgiveness.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 119:161-162

Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart

stands in awe of your words.

I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

“What if…” is an excellent question for fiction writers to use to explore potential characters and plots. It opens countless possibilities. When we live each day questioning our faith, however, we become ineffectual fence sitters. Our commitments lag. Our indecisions surface. Our doubts multiply.

The further Israel moved into the unfamiliar desert, the more endearing Egypt seemed. The memory of better food and routine days pushed the harshness of their slavery to the background. They accused Moses of leading them to their death. They balked at this leadership, complained loudly, grumbled. And lost their entry into Canaan. Israel could not move forward into new beginnings until the generation of doubters and unbelief died.

What areas am I sabotaging in my walk with You, Lord, because of hidden doubts and rebellion? Where am I second-guessing decisions as an excuse for procrastination instead of admitting I’m just plain scared of the possible desert ahead?

The plower needs to keep a fixed eye on a marker to keep the rows even. A glance in any other direction causes a crooked path. Keep my days focused directly on You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 90:12

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Luke 18:29, And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no on who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,..”

Divided loyalties. They have the capacity to extend from anxiety over choices and priorities, like two important events scheduled on the same night, to deep wells of guilt over decisions. Especially if our decision equally separates two people we love.

We face emotional pain, doubts and turmoil. Feelings of inadequacy loom; ‘If only I’d planned better, prepared properly, I would not be the cause of such disappointment.’ Why then does Jesus so strongly call us to such a choice? Why does He ask us to divide ourselves from the same people He has surrounded us with?

Despite my love for my family and friends, I do not always know what choices are in their best interests. What successes or failures will bring them into a closer walk with God? Or when my motives have an underlying bias toward my own self-interests or needs. And neither do they for me.

With Jesus only can we decide rightly. With Him alone will we have the security of choosing rightly. When we all put His priorities first, we together move closer to His kingdom.

Lord, help me to center all my loyalties in You and trust in You alone for the outcome.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 119:121

I have done what is just and right;

do not leave me to my oppressors.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kingdom Manna


Luke 7:28, “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

The least is the greater. As a phrase it reminds me of math homework where we had to identify the concepts before we could work out the numbers. And I was never able to figure them out.

I can get a glimpse of the idea if I think of cooking. Too much salt or pepper or sugar or any spice can ruin a delicious meal. ‘Just a pinch’ is written on many recipes. But it sounds so trivial compared to Jesus’ affirmation of John, and of his life’s work, of his faith.

To his own disciples John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease”, when explaining his ministry in relation to Jesus. John saw only joy as the people turned more and more to Jesus.

If I am willing to stand back, as John did, I have the privilege of watching Jesus accept my least efforts and cover them over with His greater good. To see Him combine them with other ‘leasts’ and do a work in our lives beyond our comprehension. Although I still don’t understand Lord, help me to live out its truth.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 31:19

O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you.

and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone!

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