Every Day Words | Daily Devotional
First Presbyterian Church • December 07, 2021
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
— Ruth 1:1
Yesterday we discussed how God promises to provide food for his people. We see that promise specifically in the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread.” So, did Elimelech leave Bethlehem and go to Moab to seek food for his family in an act of faith or sin? Let us refresh our memories about Moab and the Moabites to answer that question.
Moab was the son of Lot by way of his daughter. Moab became the father of the Moabites, and the Moabites were cursed to never be part of Israel for generations. They strongly opposed Israel’s entrance into Canaan and called for Balaam to curse the people of God. After that, their daughters married into Israel and led the Israelites away from God, causing God to judge the people. Twenty-four thousand died before Phinehas speared a Midianite woman and Israelite man to end the judgment. Later, Eglon, the king of Moab, was killed by Ehud, one of the judges of Israel.
Moab was not somewhere that a faithful Israelite should be fleeing to find refuge. It is much different from Jacob taking his family to Egypt. In that instance, Jacob took the whole of Israel with him and was led there by God for salvation. In the case of Elimelech, he took only his small family and left the rest of Israel to perish. He specifically left God’s promised House of Bread – Bethlehem – to find bread elsewhere. It was not an act of faith but the exact opposite.
First Presbyterian Church • December 06, 2021
I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread.
– Psalm 132:15
Over and over again God promises good to His children, and often this goodness comes in the form of food. At least twice in Jesus’ ministry he multiplies food for the sake of the people (Mark 6:30-44, Mark 8:1-10). Elijah and Elisha both have similar miracles of impossible provision (1 Kings 17:8-16 and 2 Kings 4:1-7). We talked about Moses and the manna and quail last week. God’s people were saved from famine when Joseph was sent ahead to Egypt by means of the sins of his brothers (Genesis 37-48). We could go on.
Obviously, God cares about the physical well-being of His people. He cares if our bellies are full. He cares if we have the necessary food to give us energy to fully serve Him. He has promised it; He will certainly do it.
Why is it, then, that God’s people all across history have hungered? How do we put those two things together? This is too small a page to give a full answer but let’s consider a few things.
Most of all, God wants to turn us to Him. When God’s people hunger for food without any earthly hope for its provision, they will look to Him to provide it. There have been multiple times in history and Scripture where God has miraculously provided food for his people, as described above. However, in other times, God gives us hunger as a correction to our rebellion against Him. Hunger takes the focus off of our sinful and selfish desires and allows us to reorient ourselves toward Him.
First Presbyterian Church • December 03, 2021
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
– Deuteronomy 8:3
What is God’s goal with both His gifts and His discipline? We could list many things individually, but a summary statement might be that He wants to teach us that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
The gifts of God should cause us to remember that God is our Provider. And we need Him just as much for spiritual food as for physical.
The discipline of God is also for this reason. When we become too content and proud, He disciplines us so that we know that He is the One who provides both spiritual and physical food.
In a further humiliation, God uses men to communicate His words to us. I say humiliation because, as one who teaches God’s word regularly, I feel the immense weight of trying to convey God’s thoughts. Couldn’t God just use angels to teach us? Or impart Scripture directly into our minds? But rather, to ensure that we don’t think too highly of ourselves, He gives us our food by pastors – men who sin. It shows us that the speaker is much less important than the words that feed us. It keeps us humble, knowing that God’s food is necessary for life – physical and spiritual.
First Presbyterian Church • December 02, 2021
Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.
– Deuteronomy 8:4-5
God is a good Father, isn’t He? He gave the Israelites unbelievable gifts – clothing that did not wear out and a freedom from pain while traveling on their feet. He did this for forty years.
At the same time, though, God was disciplining His children by having them dwell in a desert rather than the Promised Land. He refused to let any of the men who were twenty years old during the Exodus enter into Canaan. All through those years, as they died from various causes, the discipline of God was present.
He did this to humble them. They were so proud and stiff-necked when they came out of Egypt that they quickly forgot their God and His commandments. They made themselves out to be their own gods countless times. The Lord dealt firmly with them. He wanted to shape them into people that reflected His character.
God still does this for us. He doesn’t leave us alone to be made how we want: if we are His children, He disciplines us. The recent history of our church, I think, is an example of this discipline. The difficulties we faced for the past ten years were meant to humble and shape us more into His good image. Though there was much that was unpleasant to endure, we ought to be glad that He has counted us as His own and desired good for us.
First Presbyterian Church • December 01, 2021
It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.
— Hosea 13:5-6
This week, it is easy to remember the feeling of fullness. Just a few days ago many of us feasted and gave thanks to God for His good gifts of food and provision. Yet, all too often we forget our good God when we are full.
One of the tell-tale signs is when we are dissatisfied with the food and clothing God provides. When the Israelites had dwelt for some time in the wilderness they complained of the monotony of manna. It sounds absurd to us. They were eating the food of angels and got sick of it. And yet, how often do we do the same? We hate leftovers. We don’t like the repetitive nature of many of our meals. So, we spice it up by going out to eat. Or, we dump the last of the leftovers into the trash.
God has given us so much abundance, and we are frequently full to the point of pride. We tell ourselves that our hard work got us this car, this house, and this meal. But it is always God who provides.
Think back to your childhood. How often were you thankful, really thankful, for your father who worked to put food on the table and a roof over your head? Or, were you too often discontent with things – wishing for that extra toy at Christmas without a word of thanks to your father? We often do the same with our Heavenly Father.
First Presbyterian Church • November 30, 2021
But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.
— Exodus 16:20
When the people of Israel were in the desert, they grumbled because they had no food. God answered kindly and gave them food despite the fact that they despised His deliverance from Egypt. When you read the Exodus story, you will notice the Israelites never asked for food. Rather, they just grumbled.
With His provision, God also gave the Israelites instructions (see today’s scripture). Moses delivered these instructions to the people, and some immediately did what? Ignored the rules. They gathered too much and left some of the manna overnight.
The Israelites’ behavior is eerily similar to a story Jesus told of a man who gathered too much (Luke 12:16-21). He had to build bigger barns, but then his life was required of him before he could spend his vast fortune. Those who do not trust in God’s good provision spend their time gathering for the unknown. They wrongly assume they are the provider and have to have rations in place.
The disobedient Israelites did this on the very day that manna was given from heaven: their faith in God was absent, so they had moldy bread in the morning. We, likewise, can spend our days storing up God’s gifts as though He might forget us tomorrow – or we can live in faith to God each day. We can be content with God’s provision. Content with His kindness. Let us not be like the Israelites who had so little faith.
First Presbyterian Church • November 29, 2021
“By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
– Genesis 3:19
What would bread making look like without the fall? We get glimpses of the answer throughout Scripture: manna in the Exodus, Elijah’s continuous supply of oil and flour, and, most importantly, Jesus, the Bread of Life.
But before we look at bread in Scripture, let’s think about the importance of bread for life, in sight of the curse. It is a fairly well-known truth that a man can live for 30-40 days without eating – and then he dies. It is not a good death. And even though bread is essential to life, because of sin, God cursed the work needed to make that bread with difficulty and sweat. Why would God have cursed the work that would bring us life?
Because the human heart after the fall is a strange one. When we receive abundance, we tend to believe we were the source of that abundance. Or, as in the case of the Israelites, they despised the gift and the giver. God, in his kindness, cursed work so that we might know who actually gives the growth.
Each year seeds go into the ground. Each year the livestock is fed. Each year the farmer waters. But God decides whether the plants and animals grow or die. Whether there is famine or feast. Whether there is plenty, enough, or death. The curse of work and bread is meant to turn us to the giver of life.
First Presbyterian Church • November 26, 2021
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,
– 1 Corinthians 15:23
Just as we all are destined to die in Adam, we should aim to be raised in Christ. He Himself was raised from the dead as a first fruit. What is a first fruit? It is the first portion that is set aside as a sacrifice, holy to God.
If the first fruit offered is an ear of corn, what will the rest be? Peas? Wheat? No, of course not. If the first fruit is an ear of corn, then the rest will be like it: corn.
Consider this, too. If the first fruit is puny and scrawny and full of pith and rot, what does that spell for the rest of the harvest? It doesn’t give great confidence that the harvest will be good.
But what if that first fruit is the resurrection from the dead? And if that first fruit is perfection? If that resurrected and perfect body dwells with God, then it follows that we will have the same if we are in Christ. Jesus, being the first fruit, gives not just the sacrifice to God for the whole crop but also a glimpse of the nature of the crop: eternal life in a resurrected body, dwelling in perfection with God.
Our old inheritance in Adam will be swallowed up. Death will be no more. Sin will be no more. The curse will be gone and there will be nothing but delight in the Savior of the World. He gives us the hope of the resurrection, and for that reason we work to please Him.
First Presbyterian Church • November 25, 2021
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
– 1 Corinthians 15:22
So far we have made the problem of our guilt more apparent, and it should feel quite impossible to find a solution. It is, in fact, impossible. We need a nature change and an inheritance change. But we can’t do that in ourselves.
The solution is the impossibility of being born again from heaven. We need a new federal head, a new covenant representative.
Enter Jesus, the last Adam. We need to be born into Him and given a new nature with a better inheritance. And that is exactly what Christ does. He is from heaven and His inheritance is eternal life with God. His nature is without deformity and undefiled.
The new birth gives us rights to that inheritance just as our physical birth gave us rights to the inheritance of Adam. The family of God is not just a metaphor for understanding the church, it is the whole nature of what it means to be found in Christ. We are made new creations and being made into the image of Christ. And all of that so that we might be called children of God and dwell with Him forever.
First Presbyterian Church • November 24, 2021
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned
— Romans 5:12
Our inheritance from Adam is both our fallen nature and the curse of sin: death. Obviously, we all die. But the reason for our death is something we work very hard to hide. We consider our death to be the result of our own actions or those of the world around us: cancer, drugs, a car crash, a tsunami, or the flu. We would never say that our death was caused by our inheritance. But God teaches us something very different. We die because of Adam. We all died in him. He was our covenant representative, our federal head, and gave us our inheritance of death. This doesn’t mean that our own sins don’t condemn us. They do. We are guilty of sinning and of being a sinner.
Think of something like Jim Crow Laws. We tend to acknowledge two kinds of guilt with those laws: guilt for making them and guilt for implementing them. Very few people were involved with making those laws. Many more were responsible for implementing them. But everyone in the country was guilty of the laws by nature of being a U.S. citizen. It didn’t matter if you helped write them or if you put them into practice. You participated by being a citizen of this country.
Our sentence of death from Adam’s sin is of the same sort as this last kind of guilt. We weren’t in the garden. We didn’t eat the forbidden fruit. But we are children – citizens – of Adam. We are, therefore, guilty and need to remedy the problem.