(Thanks to Pastor Martin Giese of Faith Baptist Church in Park Rapids, MN for the sermon that inspired this post)
At first glance, it seems like a Christian’s paradise. Three chapels a week, church every Sunday, Bible-centered teaching, weekly active ministry is a requirement, and many classes even integrate reading the Word into the syllabus. It doesn’t take long for Moody students to realize, however, that their greatest blessing is also the most dangerous obstacle to their spiritual growth. It’s not just Moodies who fall prey, either. In fact, this phenomenon spans across the country. In a world where God’s Truth is available to us in a hundred and one ways, we’ve grown less and less interested in reaching out and taking it.
Even in a place like Moody, where the Bible permeates the very air you breathe, people are spiritually starving. Obviously it’s not from a lack of teaching, but could it be the very opposite? Could it be that we are relying on our professors, our pastors, our televisions and radios and the most famous spiritual giants to be our link to God, and in so doing growing more distant from Him than ever?
We need to learn a lesson from the Israelites, something some of them had to learn the hard way. Here’s what happened to them in Exodus 16:
11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” 13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer[a] for each person you have in your tent.’” 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
When the Israelites asked God to provide for them, He came through with bread straight from heaven. He let them gather all they needed, but here’s the thing: they had to go out and gather it for themselves. There were no designated “manna gatherers” who stepped outside every morning and gathered omers and omers of manna for the whole community. If you wanted to have food for the day, all you had to do was step out the door and scoop it up – but you still had to move. Notice what Moses says next:
19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
Not only did the Israelites need to gather their own manna, they needed to go out and do the same every morning. They had to trust that God would bring more the next day, and they had to be willing to do the work every day to keep themselves nourished. God would bring what they needed right to their doorsteps, but anyone who decide to get a little extra one day so he wouldn’t have to gather on the next woke up with a smelly tent and an empty stomach. The Israelites who ignored Moses learned the hard way that you can’t live off of yesterday’s manna.
Why can’t we understand the same concept?
Your relationship with God is a living one, vital and active, and in order to remain close to Him you need to meet with Him on a daily basis. He comes right to our doorstep, but if we won’t step outside and gather the Bread of Life that He offers to us, we’re going to go spiritually hungry. So many of us wonder why our spiritual lives are stagnant and empty, but it’s no surprise when you realize that all you have to eat is yesterday’s manna. We want to give God just enough space in our lives, just enough of our time and energy, but He wants all of us, every day. Don’t hold out on Him, and don’t hold out on yourself. Don’t settle for a half-hearted relationship with our awesome God when all of the wonder of knowing Him more is right outside your door. Stop living on yesterday’s manna.