Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

James 1:7

"For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;"

I've been doing The Morning Watch on-and-off now for about five years. In all that time I've never disciplined myself to do one verse and one verse only per day as a way of working through a book. Working this way is kind of like how Israel received the manna in the wilderness. There was today's supply... only today's supply and nothing more. They didn't get to choose what they would eat, and there was the same amount every day.

It took Israel only a little while before they started to complain about this arrangement. Personally, I don't know what their beef was. Maybe "beef" isn't a good word to use here. Anyway, manna sounds like it tasted good. Kind of like fried dough with honey. I could eat that every day. Couldn't you? But complain they did. AND God supplied. According to the Exodus account God gave them quail in the evening and manna in the morning. Not a bad gig if you can get it. In every point of what God told Israel to do some of the people took matters into their own hands. Not everyone tried to hoard some until tomorrow. Not all of them gathered more than they needed. A few of them tried to gather on the Sabbath. And what became of the jar of the stuff God told Moses and Aaron to keep throughout their generations?

The life of faith has always been a quirky, fluid thing. Now I'm not trying to justify sin. I'm merely saying that if God was all about making a covenant based on a legal agreement between him and his people, he chose the wrong clan to do it with. These people complained and groused (heh... grousing about quail) and moaned about manna. And yet, in the end they ate the manna in the wilderness for 40 years. There's a profound message in there for you and me. In the life of faith we often get it wrong. Bold people of faith get it wrong far more often because they're not "being careful", not staying in dry-dock to use the metaphor from yesterday. And sometimes we have to wake up one morning and say to God "I blew it." And that has to be o.k. It is like that tee shirt I wish I had that says, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

The real lesson from Israel in the wilderness is that they did live in faith toward God. And sometimes they got it very very wrong as they learned what it means to be dependent on the God who is there (note: golden calf). But they came to EXPECT the manna in the morning as surely as I expect one more verse of James tomorrow and the next day and the next. I trust in God's supply. In THIS I am not a double-minded man.

For a greater definition of the man "in-two-minds" we should also look at the witness of Ahab in Isaiah 7. God told him he could ask ANY sign at all and God would do it. But Ahab said, "I will not put the Lord to the test." (translated: I don't believe God is really there) The man who is really in two minds is the one who doesn't know for sure that God is really there or that he will supply or that he has a plan or has our best in mind. How CAN that person ask in faith?

Jon

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