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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Deer in garden (Photo taken by Georgia)
My cousin Georgia took this photo of a deer outside their home in Wisconsin

"His Hand Still Provides"

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“Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day" (Exodus 16:4). "The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan" (Joshua 5:12). "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).

Faithfulness plaque

DarrenkampsEster had her first day at her new job yesterday. She works as a bagger at Darrenkamps, a popular family-owned grocery store here in Lancaster County.

Kroger signThat makes me smile since it takes me back almost 45 years ago to my first job with a real paycheck as a sacker at a Kroger Supermarket in Independence, Missouri. (Bagger is the Northeast term.) For many years, much to Brooksyne's embarrassment, I have often engaged in conversation with the young baggers/sackers as they pack our groceries. I inform them that my first job was working as a bagger and how I enjoyed it.

I aim to inspire them a bit when they see how well I turned out
but I'm not so sure about that. They probably more likely see me as just a talkative old man! (Do you remember how old 60 seemed when you were a teenager?) In that age we would also take the groceries out and load them in their cars but they don't do that much around here. Ester informed they would if their need is apparent or if asked to do so.

Do you remember your first "real" job? Brooksyne, the week after she turned 16, got her first job at Walgreen's, as a waitress serving in a small diner type restaurant within the store. So in a sense we both got our start in food service and for most of us that means either getting our food at a grocery store or eating out in a restaurant. However we still grow our own food as well and are still getting some tomatoes from our garden.

Collecting mannaBut today let us consider a unique period in history when food was provided directly from God who miraculously provided the manna during the wanderings of the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. At first it was seen as an incredible miracle; a rather fascinating, labor free way to receive daily bread and it "tasted like wafers made with honey" (Exodus 16:31). But over time it became a source of discontent and grumbling (Numbers 11:6). Isn't that the way we so often are concerning God's blessings?

Surely many in the younger generation merely took the manna for granted as they had grown up with this miraculous provision since birth. They had acquired no taste for other varieties of food so they didn't necessarily realize what they were missing. They probably just thought that's how food was always provided.

But when our second daily text was written the people had crossed over to the Promised Land and were then instructed to eat from provisions of the land.  The next morning, for the first time in forty years, the daily provision of manna no longer rained down from heaven.

The provision of manna was miraculous, for a specific reason and for a specific season. The reason is they were unable to stay in one place and cultivate any land, the season was their 40 years of aimless wandering. But when they entered the Promised Land and settled down it was a time when God knew the people could return to the normal means of provision as "they ate of the produce of Canaan."

God provides but not always as we expect. We have read testimonies of miraculous provision like that of the manna.

But the norm is that humans cooperate with God in working to prepare our food; from the hardworking farmer, the trucking industry, food processing plants, grocery stores, right down to those who mix it altogether in the kitchen to serve a delicious meal to the family. As I reflect upon my life I realize in one way or another I have worked in each of these fields. My first job was at a Kroger Supermarket in Independence, MO. While in college and early in our marriage I did both farm work and drove a truck. In the course of our chaplaincy work we have served at food processing plants like Turkey Hill Dairy, Herr's Snack Foods and Martin's Bakery.

Pantry in cabinet in our home
"Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen." This is a common table prayer often referred to as "saying Grace".

We also often pray that God would bless the hands of those who prepare our food but in doing so let us also consider the preparation that begins way back on the farm and through each step of the process till it graces our table including the person who bags your groceries! Bless those hard working laborers as well in your prayers and thank them personally when you see them!

Consider His care in your life today. Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." God is our Provider and desires our dependence on Him as an expression of faith. But in His ordained order He has designed our cooperation in working and demonstrating responsibility.

In God's timing and in accordance with His specific plan for our lives He could send manna (miraculous provision). But unless provision is supplied in this manner He has ordained that we work to provide for ourselves and others in our charge. Surely the ceasing of what had become routine was just as mysterious to the people as the initial provision, but God was in control. He still is and He always will be!

Be encouraged,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, we're reminded of Your absolute faithfulness as we reflect upon the Israelites journeying in the wilderness. Even when they were unfaithful and rebellious, in Your compassionate faithfulness, You provided for their daily needs. Your steadfast love never ceased and Your mercies never came to an end, for they were renewed everyday and are this day as well. All we have need of Your hand provides. We want to do our part in receiving it with thanksgiving and being careful not to waste, but to share with those in genuine need. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Pantry in cellar of Amish home
A well-stocked pantry in the cellar of an Amish home.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me" Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb A great perspective on being thankful for the basic provisions of life.

"So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt"  Video  Keith Green
  A very creative song!

"Break Thou The Bread of Life"  Video  A timeless old hymn

"Singing sacker bags happy grocery shoppers"  Video  We recall taking my Mom to shop at this supermarket!!!

I am musing this thoughtful quote for a future message: "When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic."  Dresden James

In light of a message last week this is sure a touching video, "Listen to the Baby Planned Parenthood Can't Silence"

Finally today: For those who like trains, especially steam and gadgetry here's a neat video of the Train on High Bridge in Hometown taken from a quad copter.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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