“Naked I came from my
mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and
the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”
I held a pen once more that had the legend “Swissair”
etched on it. It hadn’t been seen for awhile, but there it was and
it touched interesting memories. It’s my understanding that the
airline called “Swissair” has
since gone out of business, but the pen is a reminder of our trip to
Israel a few years ago, and it had been in a drawer, along with a
pile of more pens and stuff from other events. It produced
memories, but like many of the other pens in that drawer, it doesn’t
work anymore, and therefore it’s really – clutter!
The pen came to us this way: Swissair lost our
luggage, probably somewhere between New York City and Geneva,
Switzerland. Every one of us on the tour had no bags! We landed at
Tel Aviv, in Israel, inquired about the luggage, but then left on
the bus empty handed, because our suitcases were gone. It wasn’t an
emergency, but it was a concern and it’s interesting how little
problems can seem large at the time.
Our luggage would show up in another day or so,
when it was driven by a Swissair van to our lodging in Kfar Blum, a
kibbutz some distance to the north. At the airport, Swissair gave
each of us zippered cases containing T-shirts (I still have mine),
shaving materials, tooth brushes and tooth paste, deodorant,
aromatic oils and more. Included, as I prowled through the case in
my room at Kfar Blum, was the pen which no longer works.
MOST of the stuff found in that drawer doesn’t
work anymore, and that’s a problem. It’s actually clutter, of no
use to anyone and it fills a place that I could use for something
else. Items that seem important, though, ARE hard to let go.
You probably remember the “manna”
that was given to the nation Israel after they were rescued by the
Lord from Egypt. You can find mention of it in various places in
the “Torah” or “Pentateuch,”
the first five books of the Bible. “Manna”
is a Hebrew term that basically means, “What
IS this stuff?” - We only know it was food from God and it
was given to Israel, as revealed in Deuteronomy 8:16, “that
He might humble” the people.
They didn’t WANT to be humbled by God. They
wanted their OWN decisions, even when those decisions were bad.
Manna had a wonderful taste, “like wafers
made with honey” (Numbers 16:31) and it was nutritious like
nothing we have known - It sustained them in a place of little food
(the desert) for literally decades. But the people despised it
(Numbers 11:4-6), and many even wanted to go back to Egypt just to
get “better” food.
Can you imagine? Let’s say YOU open your door
in the morning and somehow, something is in front of your home that
looks incredibly edible! You take a taste, and it IS; it’s
wonderful! It’s good! EVERY morning it’s there, and it’s so
satisfying, so nutritious that you don’t have to go to the store
anymore! You don’t need vitamins or minerals – It’s got it all!
You just walk to the front of your house and pick it up! You never
need to shop and spend your money for food again! What’s the catch?
Well, for one thing, it spoiled! Moses had
related God’s command to the people: “Let
no one leave any of it till morning” (Exodus 16:19), but of
course, being human, they did save some in their tents, and “it
bred worms and stank” (Exodus 16:20). Unlike money or the
stuff in the drawers and closets of our homes, they couldn’t save it
or make clutter out of it! It was a resource for TODAY only, but
they kept it, anyway, much like I kept that pen. If it was outside
their tents and was not picked up – it melted away (Exodus 16:21).
When they tried to hoard it (and clutter their tents with it), the
stuff smelled – bad!
Char Sims attends our Sunday Fellowship, when
we seek God for each of the prayer requests received during the
previous week. She was recently reading about the “manna”
in Scripture and as God tends to do, He touched her heart while she
was reading. She wondered, “WHY were
they not allowed to gather extra manna? WHY did the extra that was
gathered SPOIL?” And here is the concept, the answer that
God placed into her understanding as she asked such questions: “Because
I want you to depend on Me on a daily basis. Sunday (or another
special day, like Saturday) is not good enough – I want you to seek
Me on a daily basis.” He will be FIRST in your life.
Another part of the manna which is very
interesting, is that it did NOT spoil when they kept an extra amount
for the “Sabbath” (Day of Rest), instituted by God for that nation –
When they kept extra as commanded, (Exodus 16:23), “they
laid it up till morning… and it did NOT stink, nor were there any
worms in it” (Exodus 16:24).
Through the law, through God’s direction for
our lives, He is NOT emphasizing formulas that we are to blindly
follow without thought or prayer. In fact, if our worship becomes
recipe-driven, He will show it to be insufficient, for we must look
to Him daily, instead of trusting in doctrinal law. We tend to
become cluttered, not only in our homes, but also in our thoughts,
preferring our ideas about God, to the love given in Christ Jesus.
The outward manna is designed to show us our cluttered hearts.
When the Lord shouted to the people, “I
am the bread of life!” (John 6:48), He compared Himself to
the manna of Israel, teaching us to NOT keep looking to ourselves or
men, but instead to trust in God. He continued, “Your
fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” Even
the best of this world, the food that sustains us, the medicines
that heal us, aren’t enough – We need more than temporary life on
this planet. We need ETERNAL life. We need HIM! “This
is the bread which comes down from heaven,” He continued, “that
one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down
from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and
the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the
life of the world” (John 6:49-50).
The Old Testament character, Job, observed in
our Scripture for today, that we brought nothing into this world and
we can’t take anything out of it. Either we find the Lord who lived
and died for us, or we have nothing at all. We need something
INSIDE that only Jesus Christ can give. He gave Himself “for
the life of the world.” He died that you might receive this
“living bread” forever. Let the
clutter of this life go, and TRUST – in Him.
Father, my life is cluttered with worries,
fears and doubts. I don’t fully understand, but I know my need and
I TRUST in You. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"