Our Daily Food

Autumn

We have a cute little white dog in our house, named Autumn. She is a maltese bichon, who loves everyone she has ever met. You can read the story about how she came into our home here.

Every morning, her breakfast routine is exactly the same. My wife prepare her an egg, a spoonful of yogurt, an omega supplement, and one scoop of dry dog food. And every day Autumn’s response is the same. She watches intently as my wife prepares her food for her, licking her chops. Then, she gobbles it down. You can check out a video of the event here.

As I recently watched this taking place, I reflected upon how she is totally dependent upon us. She looks intently at us because we are her provider. Without our provision, she would surely perish.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). These aren’t mere words. This is reality. We are just as dependent upon the Lord every day to provide us with our daily needs as our dog is. Without the daily provision of the Lord, we too would perish.

 

If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust (Job 34:14-15).

Veneer

 

veneer
Veneer can make sub-quality wood look great. The wood itself may be unattractive plywood or particle board, but glue a thin (1/8 inch) strip of oak on the outside and the wood looks like solid oak.

Many people live as if they were veneer-covered plywood. Whenever they are in public, they put on their good face. But in private they live otherwise.

The Pharisees of old lived like this. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs,” which look beautifully clean on the outside, but inwardly are full of decomposing bodies (Matthew 23:27). Jesus described them as cups that were clean on the outside, but on the inside were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25). To such people, Jesus said, “Woe to you.”

Over my years of pastoral ministry, I have discovered that people can hide their true selves pretty well (for decades, even). But eventually, their hypocrisy will be exposed, either during their lives or during the final judgment.

The good news is that we don’t need to be clean to be received by God. Neither do we need to cover our lives with a veneer of righteousness. The opposite is true. We must confess our uncleanness. God will take the old wood and transform it into something beautiful that doesn’t need to be hidden.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5).

Our Public Prayer

PublicPrayer

Perhaps the most famous prayer in all of the Bible is called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is better named, “The Disciple’s Prayer” as it is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Here is the prayer, …

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
You kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but delivers us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

If you know this prayer, you have probably prayed it hundreds of times. Have you ever noticed the pronouns in the prayer? Jesus taught us to pray in the first person plural (i.e. “our,” “us,” and “we”).

Certainly, it is very appropriate to pray this prayer alone in your closet. It’s helpful to focus your attention upon the character and kingdom of God before asking for your needs. But Jesus didn’t give this prayer for us to use alone. He gave it to us to use in public. It is a prayer to be prayed with others. This is our public prayer.

Let God Work

Snow1

Above is a picture of my driveway shortly after I shoveled the snow that fell last night. It looks like I didn’t do such a good job, as there are patches of snow still left on the driveway. Given the time (and effort), I could have scrapped the driveway clean, so that no snow would remain. However, today is one of those cold, sunny days in the Midwest where the sun sparkles off the snow to create a beautiful scene. I know that the sun on my black driveway will melt the snow and do a far better job clearing away the snow that I will ever do. Here’s a picture of my driveway I took about two hours later.

Snow2

Notice how the sun has done it’s work! My driveway is practically snow free! Look closely and you can see the water draining down the driveway. By the end of the day, I’m sure that all of the snow will be gone, without me lifting a finger. The lesson is clear: let the sun do the work.

There are many times in this life when we try to do all the work ourselves, as if all depended upon our effort. But God is working in our lives far more than any of us realize. It is better (and more efficient) (and more glorifying to God) to let God do His work. Sometimes we simply need to “be still, and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10).

When the Egyptians were pursuing Israel by the Red Sea, Moses said, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. … The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13, 14). Jesus said, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:31, 32). When worried come your way, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Give your cares and concerns to God and let Him work.

 

Paint Job

I recently happened upon a house that was being painted. Half of the house was was painted and beautiful. The other half was scraped up and looked very bad.

I reflected upon the untold numbers of people who attend church each weekend who are like this house. Though their lives are full of sin and sadness, they dutifully make themselves up to look good when morning worships rolls around. They put on nice clothes and bring their smiles as if all is OK when all is not OK. Such was the life of the Pharisees. On the outside, they were like whitewashed tombs. But, on the inside, they were full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27).

Let’s be real. Let’s not hide our sin. But, let us rejoice in the cleansing that is in Christ!

Don’t Waste Your Life

John Piper wrote an excellent book entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” The aim of the book is to call us all to consider our lives and the little time that we have and not waste it with trivial pursuits. Desiring God has done a great job at providing accessories to help pound this point home to us.

We have purchased several of them to help teach this vital lesson to our children. One of them is a poster, showing a bunch of “stuff,” cars, homes, boats, animals, tools, electronics, furniture, etc. Boldly placed in the picture are the words, “DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE.”  The idea of the poster is that we shouldn’t waste our life on the trivial items of the world.  On the poster is written the following, …

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he hand and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).

“Jesus saves from the American dream.”

“When you put your trust in Christ, your bondage to the world and its overpowering lure is broken. You are a corpse to the world, and the world is a corpse to you. The world is no longer your treasure. It’s not the source of your life or your satisfaction or your joy. Christ is.”

We have hung such posters in the rooms of our teenagers. We have also given them t-shirts with the same message on them. We hope that the message penetrates us all.

Church Hurt

Down through the years I have spoken with many people who have been hurt by churches. They have been hurt by what people have said to them. They have been hurt by what people have done to them. They have been hurt because someone let them down. In some cases, these hurts have taken years to heal. Some have vowed never to return to church again.

There are those who see this and use it to attack the church, saying how the church is full of hypocrites. Actually, such hurts demonstrate the reality of what the church is. We are sinners who have been saved by grace through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation compels us to seek to live with others who know this same grace. Such tight-knit communion can lead to great hurt. Those who love much have much to be hurt by.

The good news is that those who know saving grace can know forgiving grace. Our prayer is this, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).