It’s appearance was like Coriander with an indistinguishable hint of fragrance. It glistened with a pearl like luster and its taste? I guess one might say it was congruent with its origin. A wafer thin heavenly bread tasting as if it were cooked in oil and finished with a touch of honey. ( Numbers 11:7) They ate it raw, ground it and baked cakes with it. This manna appeared suddenly one day with the early morning dew. As the Israelite’s rose to discover this unusual sight, words of astonishment fell from their lips. “What is it?” they asked one another. Hence its name in Hebrew means just that. WHAT IS IT? As is often the case it was more than it seemed. Their heaven sent sustenance, yes, but it foretold something greater than they could imagine.
“Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations” Moses told Aaron. So in the Holy of Holies, guarded by the intricately woven Cherubim veil, this most holy place safeguarded the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod and the tablets of the testimony bearing the ten commandments.
In not many days the joy and gratitude for this miraculous provision turned to loathing. Having their every need met by the miraculous, they lusted for the familiarity of sin.
“But now we have lost our appetite! We never see anything but this manna!” they complained. “Meat, we want meat….why did we come out of Egypt?” (Numbers 11) And God satisfied their cravings as He “rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas.” (Psalm 78: 27) But God was not pleased with their yearning, for at its core it was covetousness. It spoke of an appetite not for the things of God but for a life of sensual pleasure and idolatry. Like us, they were not only slaves to Pharaoh but to their corrupt, death ridden natures. And He longed to deliver them.
Forty years later, Joshua safely brought this nation into the promised land. It was there they celebrated their first Passover and ate its fruit and the heavenly manna ceased.
Silently lying in its sacred bowl, the presence of God abode with this miraculous bread from heaven in the Holy of Holies. As it could only be.
I was startled to learn the Hebrew word omer, in its root amar, means: to pile on blows of chastisement, to deal tyrannically with, to treat as a slave. Another surprise was the characteristic ascribed to manna in scripture: The propensity for vast multiplication. The Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart.
“Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that come down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” ( John 6:32, 48-50)
“What is it?” they asked. “What is it?” you may wonder. It is the perfect sacrifice of the Father’s Son. The Spotless Lamb. The grain of wheat planted in the earth to die only to bring forth much fruit. Our Lord Jesus, the true manna took the blows of chastisement for our peace and suffered the scourge of a cat of nine tails for our healing. He tyrannically paid a debt He never owed and lay dead in a borrowed tomb. During those three days He erased the death sentence for each one of us. He apprehended the keys of Hell and He decimated the power of the grave. When He resurrected He resurrected an entirely new creation, a new breed of creation. He became the first born of many brethren.
The omer of manna in the pot was even the designated quota (ten percent) God chose for His First Fruits Offering. As He resurrected on the third day Jesus did so with a magnificent First Fruit offering for His Father. For many of the bodies of the saints arose and entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Mathew 27: 52-53)
My prayer is that the Lord will give us an appetite for the food that truly satisfies. The Bread from heaven and the water of life of His Spirit that springs up to eternal life and eternal joy. It really is the only thing that completes the human heart regardless of circumstance. It makes all the wonderful things of earth pale in comparison and it utterly satisfies.
Jesus the Bread of Life. The manna that heals our broken spirits, renews our worn out bodies and transforms our spirits to the new breed of creation Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for.
Reading about the early church excites me. I see the demonstration of God’s power in the lives of believers as a kingdom norm. I’m also quite sure had I not believed in miracles I would not have received any. But I do and I have. The book of Acts shines a light on the condition of the church today that’s tough to ignore. It was a period of time one might call the pre-cessation age, a term many ministers have embraced that explains away the power of God. Maybe they think negating His power affirms the validity of their own ministries and the lack of power in them. But doesn’t the mere fact one claims a belief in God justify the miraculous? Isn’t that what makes Him God?
Acts chapter 6 details a surprising outcome to a challenge the Apostles faced. After an explosion of newly converted Greek speaking Jewish believers an accusation was made against the Hebrew leaders. They were criticized for overlooking the Hellenistic Jewish widows in the food distribution. Feeling they should not neglect the ministry of the word and prayer to “wait tables” the 12 apostles chose seven men of good repute to correct the discrepancy. Stephen was one of those men.
I stand amazed this disciple of reportedly lesser rank blew the lid off evangelism and shook the entire early church. Stephen heated things up to the point the religious lot fabricated some of the very same lies against him they did against Jesus. (Acts 6: 11-15) As he boldly declared the resurrected Christ the sword of Gods word pierced their hearts. In just a few moments, Stephen’s exhortation decimated the value of political correctness.
The gaze of those listening was fixed upon him as his face shone like that of an angel. They had no retort and rather than repent, their anger and hatred propelled them to murder. As rocks of rage plummeted Stephen’s body he proclaimed,”Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7: 56) I can’t help but wonder if Jesus rose from his throne to personally receive Stephen into paradise.
Not so today. For us Christianity has become a spectator sport. Residing in the passive posture of watching from the sidelines the church has been well trained in simply showing up. As if technology has not consumed enough of our lives now we continue to be “videod” to death even in church. Pastors provide a quick hour or so of inspired (?) entertainment and we’re in and out in the blink of an eye. Presuming we have now achieved some kind of good standing that will hold us for the week,
we pay our tithe and go with everyone seemingly happy. Except maybe the Holy Spirit.
Entertainment oriented musicians have replaced anointed minstrels, who are skillful in opening up the hearts of the people to worship. Worship is an important part of our invitation to the Holy Spirit to come and dwell with us. Political correctness has replaced a fierce passion for God’s word and placed the opinions of man on the altar above God. One could call that idolatry. The Pastors desire to fill his church with people has trumped filling the house with the glory and presence of God. That makes for an environment more interested in pleasing people than pleasing God.
The precious gifts and presence of the Holy Spirit are either overtly spoken against or politely hushed. Either way He knows where He is welcome and where He is not. The Lord has graciously provided a five fold ministry: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. Many of our leaders in the body of Christ embrace and acknowledge only one or two of those offices depriving their people of some of the greatest blessings God has for us. Meant to bring revelation and understanding of our knowledge of God they are called to steward a move of the Holy Spirit, not to replace one.
I can not help but think about the one thing that truly separates Christianity from every other religion. It can only be the vibrant reality of a living God! His presence! Jesus made it clear to his disciples it was better for them if He left for then they could receive the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He promised them the comforter would come and come He did! And to the surprise of many in the body of Christ He has never left! The early church embraced His presence and His power and all of His amazing gifts! He continually brought glory, honor and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ and He confirmed the words of the disciples with signs and wonders! The excitement of having the Spirit of the Lord move in our midst far surpasses any cool guitar player or slick video clip, wouldn’t you say?
The early church considered the reproach of the presence of the Lord and the name of Jesus an honor. They considered persecution a joy (Acts 5:41) and the Apostle Paul went as far as to say the best the world could offer was rubbish in his eyes compared to truly knowing the Lord. (Phil.3:8) So I have to wonder………why do we settle for the crumbs that fall on the floor, when there is a seat at the banqueting table of the Lord with our name on it?
For as David said, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. (a metaphor for the Holy Spirit) My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The House of the Lord. The place that is filled with His Presence, His Glory, His Spirit. May we never settle for less.
We’ve been in our home since 2001 and never have I seen this sight. The mere presence of this guy is unnerving enough but what made it even creepier was what he was doing. WATCHING. Right outside my glass door, as I worked away oblivious to his presence he was watching me. Staring through my pretty french doors he silently watched as I studied, wrote my notes and prayed.
I imagine it was like that in the garden. Satan so despised God’s beautiful relationship with Adam and Eve enjoying the paradise he believed was his, I bet he exercised great patience watching and waiting for just the right moment. “The serpent said to the woman, “You will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…”-Genesis 3:4 He has been a master deceiver from the beginning.
As I heard Champ, our Jack Russell/Lab starting to bark my attention was drawn to this unwanted visitor. DOMINION. In this situation I forfeited mine. My knee jerk reaction was to behave like a helpless child. I grabbed my phone, called my honey and detailed the staring creature at my door. When I hung up I snapped and texted him this picture lest he think I was being dramatic. An hour later this creepy guest was back in the arroyo behind our property. “A snake at your door” my friend commented. “Keep your eyes open.”
This morning in my same favorite spot, I engaged in my morning worship with the Lord. Did I mention that is my very favorite time of day? Distracted by unfamiliar sounds I thought were probably house settling noises my little girl Lyra (chihuahua mix) bolted up and barked frantically. YES! These sounds were definitely unsettling. Looking straight up
I almost barked as I saw 4-6 very large black crows attacking the sky light in my ceiling. WHAT??? ARE YOU KIDDING????? I jumped up yelled, screamed and waved my arms only to be completely ignored. Their strong beaks began to work the corners of the plexi-glass barrier between us as they vehemently attacked its edge. WHAT??? Never in my life have I seen such a thing!
My heart still throbbing and having no success with my rants I ran to find Lyra’s little tennis balls that she loves to chase. Any sense of aim I used to possess apparently vanished as the balls hit everywhere else in the room except the sky light. Still screaming and ranting I ran up the stairs hoping to narrow my target as they vehemently worked the edges of my protection. Yogi Berra I’m not, but with all my might and determination some of the balls made it. THEY DIDN’T CARE! They were on a mission… WHAT???? I ran outside on our deck, still one level below the skylight and jumped and screamed and threw all of Lyra’s remaining balls. THEY CONTINUED.
TIME TO GET SERIOUS I thought.
OPTION A: Call Gabriel and try not to sound hysterical as I insist he rush right home before they break through.
OPTION B: Take dominion.
Sometimes you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is and I wasn’t going to wait another minute. I COMMAND YOU ALL TO STOP RIGHT NOW AND LEAVE THIS PROPERTY IN THE NAME OF JESUS. Nothing. They continued. DID YOU HEAR ME? I COMMAND YOU RIGHT NOW TO STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND LEAVE THIS PROPERTY IN THE NAME OF JESUS. LEAVE NOW AND DO NOT COME NEAR HERE AGAIN IN JESUS NAME!!!
This was a better work out than my elliptical machine as sweat dripped from every inch of my body and my heart raced. BUT I WAS DEAD SERIOUS AND THEY KNEW IT. Maybe more importantly…….SATAN KNEW IT.
They all left immediately. As my heart quieted and I returned to a somewhat normal state I began to process what happened.
DOMINION. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and SUBDUE it, and have DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”- Genesis 1:28
Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. See, I have given you AUTHORITY to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. NOTHING will harm you.”- Luke 10:19
So what do I think? Do I think the enemy sent those birds to do damage to my home and my well being? I absolutely do. But whether they were demonically inspired or just very poorly behaved birds God has given me dominion. Given us dominion.
DOMINION. In Hebrew the word is Radah. It’s a royal word capturing the essence of ruling over, having authority over. It’s ours. It was purchased with a great price. We need to EXERCISE it.
A top of a hill overlooking the city of Santa Fe, I enjoyed my quiet time with the Lord this morning. My canine com-padres resting close by I suddenly experienced a sweeping rush. A beautiful visit of the Holy Spirit. Even my little Chihuahua mix Lyra seemed to respond to His presence. “Call them home…” He said. I began at first to whisper, gently calling hundreds, thousands in the city I call home as I gazed upon it from this high place. “Come home children” I whispered articulating the heart of the Spirit. These are sons and daughters who have known His touch. Who have been familiar with the tender love of Jehovah and His magnificent son, Jesus, our compassionate, gentle shepherd. As the Holy Spirit stirred within me, I began to call more.
The expanse of my minds eye widened and I saw masses of beautiful, quiet armies being formed as they walked with resolve and humility, returning to their first love and their destinies. These are those bathed in mercy, broken by their own wills, now coming home. I saw beautiful, quiet, leagues of soldiers being aligned. Armies passionately devoted to their King, bound to Him in love, mercy and humility. Returning as servants, they are being restored as sons.
If you have a son or daughter, brother, sister or friend who once knew the touch of the Master’s hand this is the time to call them back. The Holy Spirit within will stir and move for this harvest season, for the great in-gathering has begun. In this season mercy and restoration is abundant for their embrace. People of God, call their names today and tomorrow. Call them until they return for now is the time of restoration.
Sometimes it’s so incremental you barely notice. Tiny little shifts in perspective. In your heart response. They’re like the little crows feet sneaking up on you around your eyes. Ever so gradual until one day; POW! You look in the mirror and wonder, what happened? Spiritually it’s the same. Every day we’re changing. We are either conforming under the pressures of this world, or being transformed by the workings of the Holy Spirit through us. Either solidifying an optimistic sense of it is well with my soul or experiencing an erosion of trust, buoyant faith and well-being.
The seed of Christ planted in our spirit at the moment of new birth bears His nature and seeks to flourish within us. It burns with holiness and desires to consume the outer shell of our Adamic nature. The one that shadows our thinking, darkens our vision and keeps us bound. TRANSFORMATION. It’s not fast, cheap or easy. It’s both death and life; and yes, in that order. It comes from Beholding Him. Dining on the Bread of Life He feeds us in His word and drinking from the Heavenly rain of His Holy Spirit. Basking in His Presence for as we see Him, we become like Him.
TRANSFORMATION. A young virgin overshadowed by the Holy Spirit bore the seed of the Messiah and nine months later gave birth. But she had a virgin womb. Many of us received this Holy Seed of Christ years ago when we said yes to God’s spirit, but have we yet given birth to His nature? Have we created a consecrated womb in our spirit for the Son of God?
Holy Father, transform us into the image of your Son that we may become Christ in the earth. That we may be eternally marked and permanently changed in our nature as Jesus is forever marked by His nail scarred hands. Precious Lord, for me at least, let His sacrifice not be in vain.