“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, October 15, 2007

Give us this day our daily bread?

This past Sunday I spoke on this petition in the Lord's Prayer. This seems a strange petition to offer up in a land that is suffering from obesity! How many Christians in the US actually have to pray for their next meal? Most do not have to.

And herein lies one of the problems with Western Christianity -- we are so confidence in our self-sufficiency that we no longer feel the need to pray for provision, be it bread on our table or a roof over our head. The prayer life of many a Christian resembles an inflated Neiman Marcus Christmas List as opposed to a humble petitioner approaching a Holy and transcendent God. When we do pray for our provision it is often in a flippant and casual way -- Our attitude seems to be one of -- "I paid for the meal before me, why should I thank God for it?"

You may laugh, or be totally disgusted by Will Ferrell's prayer in Talladega Nights, but the sad truth is, it is not far off from the truth. Many so-called Christians give God a nod when it comes to provision, but they really don't consider Him to be THEIR provider -- maybe some of those 'poor orphans' in Africa, but not THEIRS. Like Ricky Bobby in the clip, they portray Jesus in a comfortable image, and flippantly give Him a 'shout out', but the entire time, their actions belie their true attitude.

One day God will remove His blessing from this land: many feel it has already begun, and when that occurs many who claim the title of Christian will show their true colors. It should ever be in our mind, as Paul said in 1st Corinthians 4:7 - "What do you have that you did not receive?" We who live in this land have been given a gift; what are we doing with it? I fear we are forgetting the Provider!

When the most popular 'pastor' in the land is one who teaches self-sufficiency, are we surprised when his church grows to 43,000+ attendees? The US Christian no longer believes that it is God who provides their basic sustenance and necessities, instead, He is that 'special' relative with all the money who gives us the really good stuff we can't afford on our own.

And you know -- Israel has been here - go read through the Prophets -- how about Amos 4:1, 2 -- Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, Bring, that we may drink! The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks., or

Amos 8:4ff -- Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat? The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? And on that day, declares the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. In that day the lovely virgins and the young men shall faint for thirst. Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria, and say, As your god lives, O Dan, and, As the Way of Beersheba lives, they shall fall, and never rise again.

A chilling indictment, and one that echoes the situation in our society -- just as the Israelites despised God's Sabbath and waited until the very minute when they could begin conducting business again, we have people who go to church ONLY to network amongst business colleagues; just as the rich were haughty and abusive to the poor, rich Christians in the US often live and play within the safety of their uber-rich Mega-Church, all the while the surrounding community is untouched by the church; just as Israel was to suffer a famine in the land, a famine of the Word of God, there is definitely a famine in our land for the Word of God (witness the 60 Minutes piece on JO).

I fear that the US Christians will only recognize God as their provider when He stops providing! Actually in many ways, He is allowing us to kill ourselves with our affluence -- much like the Israelites in the wilderness -- they ate quail till it came out of their nostrils, and we now suffer death from mostly diet-related diseases.

At what point will US Christians come to recognize God as their provider; what will it take?

May God have mercy on us all!

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