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Today’s Manna – Our Daily Bread

Ecclesiastes 2:11 NLT
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Today’s Observation
Each day,  we find ourselves chasing something.

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We might find ourselves one day chasing and hoping for physical healing for our bodies. Because we are sick and our physical bodies are experiencing the results of man’s fallen nature – physical sickness and eventually physical death – as these bodies will return to the dust from whence they came. But even chasing after healing is meaningless.

Aren’t there quiet times that come during our rest and recovery from sickness that we soon trade for the hustle and bustle of our busy lives?

Aren’t there opportunities to prove our faith strong and firm when our bodies are yet weak and frail?

Isn’t our witness and testimony to others proven when the peace of our faith shows in our faces during trials that would have men of courage and strength broken and complaining?

Isn’t it freeing to not get over whether I live our die, knowing that we are just travelers passing through, on the way to our final destination?

You see, there is a big difference between chasing the wind and chasing the Holy Spirit – between chasing the things of this world and seeking the presence of God – between setting our desires upon the thing of this world and surrendering our lives to love God first with our body,  mind,  and spirit – between worshipping and idolizing the things of this world and worshipping and praising and honoring God with our daily lives.

And many might say, “But you took a giant leap with that last one, I’m not worshipping idols! ”

The Point
If you are putting anything else ahead of loving God, you have made it your idol. If you are taking solitude in anything other than Almighty God,  your heavenly Father, then you are turned away from His face.

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Self Examination
What does your bank account register tell you that you love? Where is your seed being planted? How much is being used in ways that demonstrate obedience and that glorify and bring honor to His name? How much is being used in ways that serve others and spread His Word to others?

Many will say,  you go too far! But I say,  I have not gone nearly far enough – because I hope to continue finding new ways and increasing the ways that His money – Yes, HIS MONEY that He trusts me to manage wisely in ways that glorify and honor His name – is sown in greater and increasingly more effective ways that fulfill His Kingdom work here on earth.

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You see,  if I’m chasing the wind, spending it on the pleasures of the day,  the physical desires of my hardened heart, won’t that just pass through my fingers like sand? Doesn’t pleasure escape my grasp and leave me thirsty to bargain for more? Won’t I eventually wither and suffer and die when the well runs dry?

But if I’m chasing the Holy Spirit, I’m investing in a future that will last,  I’m growing in upright ways of self control that leave me content and satisfied and fulfilled, and I’m sowing seeds so that others might be grafted into the vine, so that they might drink from the flowing springs of living water that satisfies or thirst permanently.

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If I’m finding my security and peace of mind in my wealth and prosperity – or in trusting the promises and assurances of men, of insurance corporations,  of banks,  of nations – instead of trusting in God to carry me through every circumstance,  whether rich or poor,  whether mountaintop or valley, have I not turned away from being content in the Lord and handed over my freedom to the guards of the very prison of which I am supposed to be freed?

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What do I do?
We must place our cares in His hands. We must surrender our lives to Him.
His desires must become our desires.

Find Hope
And some will say, “That’s easy for you to say, you spend your time dedicated to scripture,  you are called.”

If this is your heart’s reply,  I beg you to surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ now at this very moment,  ask Him to come into your life,  ask Him to convict you deeply and strongly of your calling and purpose in life,  for each of us serves a purpose in this life. Each of our lives will be a demonstration and a testimony to God’s glory and honor. But some vessels are for holy use and will remain in His temple for praise and worship,  while others will be used to demonstrate His power and authority over His whole creation by their destruction. I hope that today,  you are choosing a surrendered life as a part of His Kingdom, fulfilling your purpose of bringing Him Honor and Glory. We each have a calling and a purpose, know tips today.

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Do not delay.

Have Faith
And others will say,  “That’s easy to say,  but hard to do.”

And you are right, beloved friends. It is hard to do if we are just spiritual babes, if we are new in the faith and are finding our way, it is clear that we are redeemed,  but it takes growth,  it takes work,  it takes trial and testing to stand up and walk. But if we just trust in Him,  He is faithful. He did not call you to fail.  Either you are a true Child of God destined for victory – or you are a liar,  a trickster,  a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And the Lion of Judah will have no problem dispatching those wolves from the midst of His flock when the time is at hand,  so we should know who we are, and we should stand up and examine ourselves,  and prove ourselves each day, by our faithful obedience and love for God.

So I encourage you to look to the example of His life, meditate upon His teachings, speak with Him in prayer, praise Him constantly by being aware and thankful for your blessings,  and always be grateful for the heavy price paid for your salvation. If you keep your eyes on Christ and keep Him in your memory, you will walk faithfully. Learn to be ever aware of the dangers and snares,  and ever mindful of Christ – and your life will be changed. You will grow into a fruitful tree bearing all kinds of wonderful nourishment for those around you.

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Show Love
And yet others will say, “I do that already.”

And I approach this topic with great humility of self and with great boldness for the Truth of the Word of God. If this is you,  friend,  then I ask you to examine your heart deeply. If you are a Father, if you feel that you have overcome, and that your life is a shining example unto others, I would ask if that truth is being demonstrated to others in pride of your royal position, or in humility as a loving servant unto others.

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You see, Christ demonstrated that it isn’t just about self improvement,  it isn’t just about my own salvation, it isn’t about making sure that I have earned my ticket to heaven and then sitting the bench. It is about running this race and bearing our cross for others.

You say that it’s hard for you to love others whose sins are so readily present and visible? You say that you detest sin, so that makes it hard for you to love and forgive others? You point your finger at your sins of choice that others are guilty of,  while ignoring the great debt of sin that has already been forgiven of you?

You hard hearted and ungrateful servant! You wolf amongst His flock!  Hear the roar of the Lion of Judah and repent of your evil ways! I give you an opportunity to correct your ways and offer a fitting sacrifice, you murderous seed of Cain who seeks to slay your brother. Fall to your knees,  know your fate if you do not repent!

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Do not remain blind,  but accept healing salve for your eyes, open your eyes and see that your brother of flesh and blood is not your enemy. He is your brother, and each of you is either lost or found.

And even the found sheep will face struggles,  so don’t think of yourself so highly that you would sit upon the throne of judgement, or your pride might demonstrate that you are like your evil father,  the one who accuses the brethren, the one who thinks himself mighty enough to make war against the Almighty,  the one destined for destruction.

Be quick to forgive, eager to listen, prepared to encourage, equipped to show love, and pure of heart so the Lord might share His wisdom and guidance through you as His messenger. Let Him bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life so that the sweet aroma of the nourishing fruit might draw these last little lambs of the master’s flock back onto the narrow path.

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But you evils of darkness,  you harvesters of goats for the slaughter – the thorny bushes and hedges that grow from your hardened hearts, may they prove as a protected hedge,  that only the stubborn goats will draw near to you – that only the goats bound for destruction will fall into the hands of the wolves. Because the goats will eat anything that they can lay their mouths upon, but the sheep know their master’s voice,  and they know the aroma of that fruit that nourishes,  and they do not drink from the bitter waters of death,  but from the living waters that being life. Oh, we wait for your judgement,  for you to be forever cast away into the pit.

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So any who claim to no longer be children, are we standing in judgement,  or stooping down to help others in mercy and forgiveness and service unto our brothers and sisters?

Even Christ,  who was God come in the flesh, didn’t count his equality with God as something to be grasped,  but He emptied himself by making himself a servant. He humbled himself instead of exalting himself.

Philippians 2:3-8 NLT
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Does this sound like our lives, friends?

Have we fallen into the pride of believing that we have arrived? I should hope not!

Even Paul makes it clear that he had not obtained this or yet been made perfect:

Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Paul encourages us to not lose sight,  to not fall into the leaven of the Pharisees (religious practice and spiritual pride),  to know ourselves as we are,  and to humble ourselves for the service of others.

This is in stark contrast to envious Cain.

Genesis 4:9-10 NLT
Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!

Are we killing our own brothers,  or are we their keepers,  their watchmen? What do my words,  actions,  and thoughts about others tell me about my heart?

Are we ungrateful servants, unwilling to forgive others?

Matthew 18:23-35 NLT
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.  In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.  He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’  Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.  But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.  Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

Love, forgiveness, humility,  and service unto others.

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How much more room is there in your life for more of these, my friend? There is much room for increase in my branches. At times, it fears me that my branches are not budding or bearing as fruitfully as they should be.

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Prayer to consider
I have so much to be thankful for in my life,  Lord. You provide opportunities for pleasure, enjoyment,  recreation, fellowship, entertainment, relaxation, and all types of experiences in this short time that we have in these bodies.  Chasing these things proves foolish,  because we are alloted what we are allotted in life. If we burn it all up in advance, we are left thirsty and in debt hungering for those blessings that we chased after in excess. Instead of chasing physical things of this world,  we should chase you,  who teaches us to be calm and content in whatever circumstances we may encounter in our lives. It is when we find our hope in you,  when we learn to trust in you and follow faithfully,  that we can learn how to love and serve others just as you demonstrated love and service to us when you came in the flesh,  to reveal fully your nature and your glory to a world in need of restoration and renewal.
Lord, help us to love you and love others. Do not allow us to fall into the tricks and traps and snares of the enemy – but lead us along your path.  For we are your sheep,  and we seek the nourishment that only you can provide. Keep us from eating of the thorny bushes of judgement and ungratefulness. Keep us from drinking from the bitter waters of resentment that comes with pride. Help us to love our hurting,  trapped,  brothers and sisters who are in such great need of healing, and who need freedom from their captivity. Lord, tear down walls in hearts so that we might help build up our brothers and sisters with encouragement. Lord,  break the chains of slavery – whether it be to the rebellion of a sinful life,  guilt,  shame,  bitterness, envy,  strife,  anger,  hatred, or any of the evil, unseen darkness that is death and disease of the spiritual kind – so that we might tend to the wounds and offer assistance to our brothers and sisters.
Lord, don’t let us forget that our work is not what earned us your love,  but that you lived us,  and you forgave us,  even while we were still sinners,  and that our debt is paid by you,  so that we might always remain grateful for this undeserved gift,  and that we might never fall into boasting or spiritual pride, but that our lives will be a living testimony of YOUR glory and honor – that you might display your glory in a vessel even as broken and unworthy as mine. And that with the touch of your presence upon our lives, you are remolding us and reshaping us,  and changing us,  into a vessel prepared and refined to let YOUR glory shine through, so that the anointing of YOUR Holy Spirit might spill out onto the lives of those around us. And so that our chasing you, our pressing closer into your presence,  will one day be fulfilled when we enter into your very presence to know your glory and sing your praises for eternity. Amen.