A hundred years ago, when I was in seminary, a mentor of mine provided me with powerful spiritual encouragement and direction. His words were usually overflowing with wisdom and insight, but those words were fastened into my heart and mind and have stayed with me all of these years because they were supported by a life that exhibited the truth of them.
In particular, this man loved God’s Word. I believe his love for Scripture was one of the key influences of my life.
He would often tell me about a tradition he had with a dear friend of his. When one of them would see the other he would ask him: “Got any fresh bread for me?” Their purpose was one of accountability, to see if each had been spending time in God’s Word. And not just within the last day or two, but that day. Not stale, week-old or even day-old bread, but fresh bread.
The Bread of Life
Our Lord referred to himself as the Bread of Life. One of the chief ways we encounter and experience him is when we read, study, and meditate upon his Word day and night. His Spirit, which first inspired the authors of Holy Scripture, continues to illuminate our hearts and minds as we engage that same Word. As we dig into God’s Word on a daily basis we are renewed, strengthened, directed, comforted, convicted, corrected, and more.
Or, to put it another way, we are shaped… shaped into the likeness of Christ.
Our Daily Bread
Interestingly, Jesus teaches us to prayerfully ask God to give us each day our daily bread. The implication is we need to depend on God daily for his gracious provision. To make such a request each day reminds us we are in constant need of him and what he supplies – whether it’s spiritual, physical, or emotional nourishment.
The children of Israel were taught the same lesson. After they escaped from Egypt they wandered around, not quite sure where they were heading. And they were hungry, which didn’t help their attitudes much.
Therefore, God in his great mercy, promised them food – manna from heaven. But there was a stipulation about this divine sustenance: One could gather only enough manna for each day (except on the day before the Sabbath, when one could gather enough for two days). No storing was allowed. In fact, if they tried to store the manna it would begin to rot immediately. Why? I suspect for two reasons, at least. The first reason is the same as why Jesus told us to pray daily for our bread; it shows our continual dependence upon God.
The second reason, I imagine, has a great deal to do with our fallen human nature. If God had set no limits on how often the manna could be gathered and stored away (and that it wouldn’t spoil if it was stored for more than a day), I believe the children of Israel would have started to believe that they, and not God, were responsible for meeting their needs. They would have robbed God of his glory. They may have begun to actually believe that they were smart enough, righteous enough, industrious enough to diligently collect, store, and even sell the bread.
God’s message was clear: “You must depend on me each and every day. My grace will have to be sufficient for you. Trust me… I’m all you need.”
So it is in our spiritual lives. We must turn to God each and every day. We can’t store up enough grace on Sunday morning and coast on it the rest of the week. We need fresh bread to sustain us. This is how we abide in Christ and how he abides in us (John 15:1-8).
So next time you see me, ask me if I have any fresh bread for you. Hold me accountable. I need it. And by the way, be ready, because I just may ask you first.
Until then, let us join with the psalmist who knew the joy and delight of feeding on God’s fresh bread…
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Thanks be to God