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Sermon 8/22/04
Clutter – Job 1:21

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Clutter

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” (Job 1:21)

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

www.FridayStudy.org

www.FirstChurchontheNet.org
www.BlessedHands.org
E-mail:
Ron@FridayStudy.org
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

 

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