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Tuesday, July 12, 2011
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"Our Daily Bread"
"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God" (Proverbs 30:8,9).
I am struck by a photo in a recent edition of the National Geographic magazine that shows three men who appear to be about my age but are likely much younger. They are fishermen from Bangladesh, one of the most impoverished parts of the world. I consider how different my life is from theirs.
One of our favorite print devotionals is the booklet "Our Daily Bread." In the course of our pastoral and chaplaincy ministry we have distributed thousands of copies and continue to do so. It's a blessing to see that people read them and find value in spiritual truths revealed in these brief devotionals. We visit in homes and offices and see selected pages ripped out and taped to the kitchen cabinets or office bulletin boards as spiritual reminders!
The title is surely taken from the well-known words from the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread." In this context I believe the Lord is referring to our needed provision of physical food but we also need the Bread of Life, the living Word. This is the daily bread provided in the devotional booklet and we hope in our messages as well!
However I wonder if our Lord might have had the second daily verse in mind as well when He shared His model prayer. Proverbs 30 records the sayings of Agur son of Jakeh even though most of the Proverbs were written by Solomon. What a timeless truth he expressed as he introduces this section with these words that reveal his prayerful heart, "Two things I ask of you, O LORD."
Struggles abound in the life of faith and one is the continuous tension between poverty and wealth. As I carefully and prayerfully consider today's verse I admit I have a hard time praying it myself, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." I would desire riches over poverty and certainly more than just daily bread. I want my pantry to be filled with a variety of food!
But the basis of the prayer is easily observable and is just as appropriate today as three thousand years ago:
1) When things are going well and we're enjoying peace and prosperity it's very easy to forget that this world is not our home. We get comfortable and begin to drive the stakes more deeply into our temporal location along with its values and earthly perspective. Our heavenward focus is exchanged for an earthbound focus. Our eyes and thoughts begin to feast upon the pleasures of this life instead of Almighty God. Agur put it this way: "I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?'"
2) On the other hand when things are tough we may resort to the arm of flesh (stealing in its various forms) to get by rather than trusting in the Lord. According to Agur we would, in this manner, "dishonor the name of my God."
The tendency for those who live in the prosperous regions is to view those who have more than us as the "rich". Our economic classes reflect this. We look up the scale and then reckon ourselves "poor" comparatively. Most reading this do not consider themselves as rich because we use the term "rich" for the very wealthy or at least those several notches up the scale from us. You may even be annoyed at me for pointing this out!
But comparatively as my consideration of the Bangladeshi fishermen in the opening paragraph indicated most of us are very rich when we consider the perspective of the tremendous poverty in many, many parts of the world, especially third-world countries. I have visited some of these countries and seen people that truly know the meaning of "daily bread." Most of us certainly have far more than "daily bread" don't we? We have stocked freezers and overflowing pantries. We are "rich in this present world" (1 Timothy 6:17) and do well to regularly heed the cautions that accompany this. * (see note below)
Today let us count our blessings, share generously from our bounty, and praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You are the Giver of all good things. You have given us so much and we are indeed grateful. Move upon our hearts to be generous with our resources. When we're tempted to look at other's possessions in comparison to our own, bring to our mind those who have less rather than those who have more. This will help us to be more prayerful and generous toward those who are without. It will also help us to be less whining and more content with what we have. Amen.
* The Apostle Paul's words in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 are very instructive in this regard: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."
Note: Due to having house guests over the weekend and a rather painful toothache (Stephen) we did not post a new message yesterday. Early this morning Stephen has a visit to the dentist!
We enjoyed a visit this weekend with our long-time friends Mike and Kathy Matangelo who presently reside in Hickory, North Carolina along with their daughter, Tina. They were a part of the church we served for many years in northern Pennsylvania. We now see them a bit more frequently due to trips up to Rhode Island to see Mike's aging mother. He is now a Realtor after a long career as an electrical engineer, working in a large real estate office that has a slogan "Team Metro", apparently designating a realty team serving the metro area. A potential client not very conversant in the English language called the office one day and asked to speak to Teem Meetro, apparently assuming it was the name of a person and Mike took the call. Ever since he is known as Teem Meetro by fellow brokers in the Hickory NC area!
On our drive home from church Sunday afternoon Mike took a shot of this well-groomed garden. The third row boasts of bright, yellow sunflowers - a beauty to behold but not captured in this shot!
We walked over two miles early Monday morning with the Matangelos before we enjoyed our waffle breakfast. This is Nissley Road and we call it "Doggie Heaven", since many doggies take their walks on this road. Mollie and Roxie love the "doggie scent" as they stroll either side of the road. We enjoy the view!
Brooksyne can't stand to see flowers go to waste so she often buys them at deep discounts and revives them. In this case we stopped at Lowes and they had a clearance sale on annuals and perennials. They were dry and dying, ready to be discarded. She brought them home and soaked them in the pool to revive them. They're planted now and looking great!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"The Lord's Prayer" Video Michael W. Smith
"Count Your Blessings" Video George Beverly Shea
The photo and article I read concerning the Bangladeshi fishermen referred to in the first paragraph is here This is an interesting article to read for a perspective based on today's message!
"Our Daily Bread" This longstanding devotional series serves as a model for the layout of daily encouragement. I recall my Mom reading the "Our Daily Bread" from when I was a child right up to her passing. Most are familiar with the little three month booklets but you can also read the messages online.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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