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Friday, November 28, 2008

Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry." (John 6:30)

The people had come to Jesus, reminding Him that God had given the Israelites bread from heaven, manna, in the wilderness. Jesus' response was to explain that He is the true bread from heaven and people need to feed on Him.

The Lesson of the Manna
We can learn a lot about feeding on Jesus by studying the way God provided manna to his people. Seven points emerge from the account in Exodus 16.

1. Heavenly Supply
v4 tells us that the supply of manna was from heaven. In fact Psalm 78:23-25 states that it was the bread of angels. Eating the manna sustained the Israelites physically. Feeding on Jesus, spending time in His presence and in His word, sustains us spiritually (Jn 6:27).

2. Daily Supply
v4 also tells us that the manna was provided daily. The food gathered in the morning sustained the people throughout the day. Likewise we need to feed on Jesus daily, preferably as the first thing we do when we wake up, if we are to be sustained spiritually.

3. Sufficient Supply
v 8,12,18 show us that the manna was sufficient, whatever the need. The day before Jesus claimed, "I am the bread of life," He had fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. We can keep gathering our bread until we are replete. In our feeding on Jesus we should aim to gather from Him until we have eaten sufficient to satisfy our spirit. Equally, if what we find enough quickly the wise thing to do is digest it rather than to keep gathering more.

4. Overflowing Supply
v16 indicates that the people gathered not just for themselves but also for dependents. When we feed on Jesus we will be able to gather enough to overflow into other people's lives. Heb 5:11-14 tell us we should grow up to become teachers ourselves. The question is, are you one of those who looks to feed from the supply others have gathered, or are you one of those who attracts people seeking what you have gathered?

5. Fresh Supply
v5 shows how manna needed to be gathered daily. Except for the Sabbath, they could not be sustained by what had been collected the previous day. Nor can we live indefinitely on what the Lord has given us in the past. We need something fresh from the Lord each day. We need the whole counsel of God's word, not just our favourite passages of Scripture. 2 Tim 3:16 says, "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteousness." In Deut 8:3 Moses explains to Israel that one purpose of the daily supply of manna was, "to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." There is so much in Scripture that there will always be a fresh supply to sustain us spiritually.

6. Mysterious Supply
v15,31 reveal that the Israelites did not know what the manna was. In fact, the very word, "manna" means, "what is it?" The Lord Jesus, when speaking to the church in Pergamum, refers to hidden manna (Rev 2:17). The sustenance we receive from feeding on Jesus and His word is not something than can be adequately explained or described. But those who live on the bread of heaven know how powerful and effective it is.

7. Sweet Supply
v31 also tells us that the manna tasted like "wafers made with honey." Ps 119:103 says, "how sweet are your words to my taste." Ps 34:8 says, "taste & see that the Lord is good." Ps 19:10 describes God's laws as "sweeter than honey." Our times of feeding on Jesus are meant to be very sweet.

Prayer College Assignment
Are your times with Jesus sweet? Do they sustain you throughout the day? Do you find you discover things that help others as well as yourself? If you do, you will need no encouragement to persist in feeding on Him. If not, do not be discouraged. Press on, daily feeding on Him and His word. You will grow to appreciate those precious times of sweetness.

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