January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021

Psalm 111, Revelation 2:17 and Deuteronomy 12:32
Bernice Howard
Laity
1st United Methodist Church, Maryville
Smoky Mountain District

Psalm 111

1 Praise the Lord.[b]

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

Devotion

My grandmother used to say, “Lord, Lord,” whenever she heard things that made her feel sad or overwhelmed. That was her prayer continually – “Lord, Lord!” These many, many years later, I find myself saying the same prayer – over and over, all day, every day! I am sad and overwhelmed by Covid and politics, the right and the left, my way and your way, and to be or not to be. I am sad and overwhelmed by sickness, death, homelessness, joblessness, businesses failing, unmet hunger, food lines, loneliness, overworked first responders, and healthcare heroes. This list just names a few of the things I am calling out to the Lord for.

When the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years and cried out “Lord, Lord,” in hunger, God gave them manna to eat. God gave so much manna! Every morning it was found new and filled them with just what they needed to sustain and survive; yet, they complained about having the same food daily and grew bored. The people grumbled against the Lord’s gift. As you probably know, God taught them a little lesson in thankfulness by giving them QUAIL! Wow, did he ever give them quail! Numbers 11 says quail piled up two cubits high (that is 3 feet high to you and me). God said they would eat this for 30 days. They grew sick of quail too. These people had free food provided fresh every morning to sustain their bodies and yet they grumbled, complained, and rejected God’s gifts. Their manna was food for the body.

Our manna is food for our soul. Ravi Zacharias, in his book Jesus Among Other Gods, wrote, “What oxygen is to the body, the bread of life is to the soul.” Our manna appears fresh every morning and like the Israelites, we only have to go out and pick it up for that day. And like the Israelites, it is up to us whether or not we are fed and satisfied that day. Did we pick up our manna this morning to start the day?  Did we center ourselves in the Lord, and commit to holding on to faith, hope, and love through the trials and worries of today?  Or, did we skip our daily allowance of free manna? Have we chosen to wallow in worry with hungry souls?

Revelation 2:17

17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

I can hear the Lord gently encouraging me to eat my manna, much like I encouraged my children to eat their broccoli. Sometimes, my little ones would try to hide the broccoli in a glass of milk or under their plate; but, I would eventually see it and find out who was not eating the nourishing broccoli.

The Lord sees what we are eating each day. Is it the never-ending bad, discouraging diet of news, news, news? Is it the tasty, addictive food of social media? Is it gossiping, grumbling, or constant complaining?  Or, is it manna, the nourishing food for our souls: scripture, prayer, and meditative contemplation in quiet time with the Holy Spirit?

Deuteronomy 12:32

32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

Our Lord Jesus says the Greatest Commandment is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He adds the second greatest commandment is to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is so simple, yet often so hard for us. With manna, our Lord keeps on saying, “I AM enough. Love me. Love each other. Forgive as you wish to be forgiven. Trust me.”

EAT YOUR BROCCOLI – oops, I MEAN MANNA! It will make you big and strong - strong in the Lord. And when you say, “Lord, Lord,” you will say it with confidence and trust; and, He will comfort you.

Prayer

Dear Lord, please lead us as we seek closer communion with you. Prick our hearts with the desire for your peace and fill us with hope and love toward all humankind.

Amen

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