Aug 5, 2018: 11th Sunday of Trinity

Let us pray: Lord, improve our attitude when it comes to our blessings! Open our eyes to see Your manifold blessings clearly, to thank You for them every day, and to then use those blessings with gratitude and joy! In short, change our attitude and take away our apathy and grumbling spirit and cause each of us to be content with whatever You graciously give us. Amen
Text: Exodus 16: 2-16
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
I had to laugh and then I shook my head. A young, millennial woman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently won the Democratic party primary spot in one NY congressional district. She will run for Congress in the Fall general election. She’s the darling of the liberal left. Recently she gave an interview in which she espoused free college education for all, no national borders, free health care for all, and various other “goodies.” They will cost trillions—far surpassing the total national budget. When asked where she will get the money to pay for them, she gave nebulous answers which don’t compute. In essence, she must believe in the “money tree.”
You all know about the money tree, don’t you? It’s that magical, mystical tree that grows in everyone’s back yard. It produces hundred dollar bills overnight. You just have to go out and pick them off the tree and voila! All your problems will just disappear! Everyone wishes for a money tree. Who wouldn’t? The problem is: no one has ever seen one…..
We gauge and measure happiness by money. The more we have the happier we will be. At least that’s the theory. After they left Egypt and escaped Pharoah’s army at the Red Sea, God’s people had a lot of money. They had all the gold, silver, and gems that the Egyptians gave them, just to get rid of them after the terrible plagues. But now, in the desert, their money was worthless. They needed food to survive (don’t we all?) and none grew in the desert and no marketplaces or stores were to be had. It’s funny how the pretenses of life are stripped away when famine comes calling. So, the people grumbled against God, Moses, and Aaron. In almost an instant they forgot the care and compassion God had shown them in rescuing them from 400 years of slavery.
But, God didn’t change His attitude towards them, even though they had changed theirs towards Him! And so, God announced that He would provide them free food, food to feed the hundreds of thousands of people in the camp! All they would have to do each day is gather and prepare it. Each morning they would receive Manna, a wafer like substance to eat, and each night flocks of quail would come to be snared in their nets. It was a nutritionally precise diet. Probably the best diet ever known to man since God designed it. And mind you, this continued on for 40 years! Yes, this was better than any money tree!
The Hebrew word correctly translated here as: “What is it?” is pronounced “manna.” Manna was the “what is it” food. God gave specific orders to them to gather only as much as each person needed each day otherwise it would go bad and be inedible. So, they could not hoard it. Also, since the 7th day was God’s day of rest for them, on their Saturday they could gather double the usual amount for the next day and miraculously it would keep! So, each day they literally ate a miracle and each Saturday/Sunday they experienced another miracle! All this was by design. How could you grumble while experiencing a miracle every day, especially one that gave you life? But, of course, with time, they did just that. They got sick of this miraculous free food and longed for variation. They promptly forgot the toil, the sweat, the uncertainty and the cost that came with raising crops. And yet, God graciously did not withdraw His hand of blessing. He kept His promises to them for the next 40 years.
America’s version of manna today, our money tree, the fountain of imaginary blessings is the stock market and people’s retirement accounts. It will always go up, grow taller, and produce magical dollars which we can then pluck off and enjoy. It will never have a bad year, or 3 or 5 years. And so, the more we worship at the altar of this money tree, the more we can “eat, drink, and be merry”! We can hoard our bounty in various accounts and then our future will be secure. Really? Back in 1933 most people knew otherwise. Back in 2000 when the Nasdaq crashed, most people learned otherwise.
For the Christian, we need to always remember this: you cannot hoard blessings. You can and should appreciate them. You can and should acknowledge God’s hand in providing them. But the minute you put your trust and confidence about life in a thing (even a blessing) instead of in their giver, God, that’s the moment grumbling begins and also the moment those blessings will dry up.
Now, manna didn’t cease and neither did the quail. This shows us that these weren’t just physical blessings, but also spiritual ones. They stood for Christ, Who is bread for the soul and meat for our faith. Christ, Who physically died on a cross to save our souls and our bodies from death and hell. Christ, Who now feeds us with spiritual food of immortality via His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. Christ, Who holds out His love and forgiveness to us, even though we often grumble that spiritual food isn’t enough—a money tree would be preferable, at least right now.
This entire text is all about our attitude towards God’s blessings and whether or not we value the physical blessings over the spiritual ones. We always seem to attach a price to everything. Since we can see the money tree side of life and enjoy what its fruits may buy, but cannot always see the spiritual side of forgiveness and the inner joy and peace it brings, well, Dear Christian, we have a problem, don’t we?
The ultimate truth is that every one of us is totally dependent upon Christ every single day. We can never sit back and take an hiatus from life because “we have enough hoarded up in advance.” Manna didn’t last for more than a day. Tomorrow you may die. It’s not a question of if, but only of when. And then your soul will be required of you as you stand before your Judge…. But if you live with that in mind, if you live each day with the attitude of faith, being: Christ will never let me down and provide for all my needs because He promised “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Well, then you’ll sleep in the joy of Godly confidence, and arise each morning thinking: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it!” Amen