Manna Mania

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Have you ever wondered if the Israelites ever tried to get clever with their manna? God provided them with all that miraculous food each day to keep them alive. But I do remember reading that they got a little whiny about eating the same thing day in and day out. I can picture them moaning, “Oh, the hu-manna-ty”—even though the manna must’ve been pretty sweet and tasty. Exodus 16:31 says “it tasted like honey wafers” (NLT). Add a drizzle of chocolate and it sounds perfect to me.

I wonder if they ever tried to get creative. Maybe they tried new recipes. Mannawiches, maybe?

What if they got even more clever and made it into a loaf, then added berries? Wouldn’t that make “Berry Manna-loaf”?

Would eating too much of it cause them to sing mellow songs and consider music and passion always the fashion? Perhaps they could’ve kept the showman theme, added different fruits to make other tasty treats. You know, like “Copacabana-banana-manna.” Could’ve happened, couldn’t it?

Or maybe they were just too busy whining to get creative. I would make fun of them for it, but I’m afraid there are too many times I ask God to provide and then take it for granted when he does. Or worse, I complain about the way he does it. How embarrassing to still be so quick to be full of myself instead of being full of him.

I’m so thankful our God is a God of mercy. He demonstrated it again and again with the whining Israelites. Psalm 78: tells us, “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities.” (verses 18-19, 23-25, 30, 32, 38a, NIV).

His mercy still shows up in our every whiny inadequacy today. Even after I’ve been too shallow and full of self to recognize him and thank him, he graciously shows me mercy. And he’s faithful to continue to remind me to recognize him and to thank him and to crave his presence more than anything else. What a mighty, merciful, loving God we serve!

I think my lunchtime prayer might be a little different today. It’s very likely to be fuller than usual of thanks and praise to the merciful God who provides. And I want to crave him more than I crave lunch.

Speaking of lunch cravings, does banana bread sound especially good to you right now too?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

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Manna Mania: Remembering to Be Thankful – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: For what are you most grateful to the Lord today?

Warming My Soul

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  Isaiah 60:1 NKJV

Winter in Texas is as dependable as a monkey on Mountain Dew. Thirty today, eighty tomorrow. Or worse, eighty in the morning and thirty by lunch. People in Texas do not plan out the weeks’ worth of outfits on Sunday night. Last week we had a string of days where the temperatures never got out of the upper twenties with precipitation and freezing rain. Miserably cold. In Texas these are the conditions that inspire panic, food hoarding, the updating of wills, and gas shortages.

But as quickly as it came, the cold left, and the sun shone through. Having spent several days writing in the climate-controlled comfort of my office, I was ready for some sunshine. I grabbed a light jacket and headed out to catch what sunlight I could. When I stepped from the trees surrounding our house into the open, the warmth of the winter sun wrapped around me like the embrace of a beloved friend.

I turned my face to the sun and let the rays soak into my skin. This was not the heat of the intense summer sun that hits like a furnace blast. No, the winter sun reached through the chilly air and settled against my skin like butter melting onto a piece of warm bread. Delicious. Slow. Soaking.

I am keenly aware of the warmth steadily reaching deeper into my body, feeding my soul. I feel as if I’m being filled with a golden glow.  The warmth makes me smile. The tension in my body releases, my arms open, hanging loose and ready to receive. I feel the radiance of the Lord washing over me.

Then I hear a commotion behind me—the dog and cat were having a disagreement about which one was more important, I think. It distracts me and I turn to look, my back now to the sun.  The warmth disappears in an instant, much faster than it came. I wrap my arms around my middle, holding myself tightly, trying to preserve the warmth and protect myself from the chill.

Then it hits me.

This is exactly what I do with God. I turn my face to Him and feel His love radiating through me. I relax my anxious worrying. I stand open to receive whatever He has for me. I glow.

Then something captures my attention. Distracted, I turn my face from Him. Perhaps it is an unexpected event—a diagnosis or job change. Or it could be a series of small things turning me slowly by degrees. An overcommitted schedule. A wounded heart I refuse to address. A television show I won’t stop watching or friends that pull me toward things that aren’t God’s best for me. Soon my arms no longer hang open to receive from God. I hug them tightly against me for protection. My body becomes tense, uncomfortable and aching.

I have two choices. I can grow accustomed to the cold and learn to live with the ache until I accept it as normal.

Or I can turn back to the Son.

Oh the unmistakable beauty found in the everyday rising of the sun!  Is it possible that God has established this as a picture for us? The writer of Lamentations thought so. “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every monring; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). The Son is always there. We have only to turn to Him and be warmed.

Turn your face to Him today and feel the warmth of His love.

TWEETABLE
Turn your face to God and feel the warming of your soul – hope from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: What tends to distract you from soaking in God’s love?