One passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:
- Exodus 16
- John 6:1-15
- John 6:16-24
- John 6:25-40
- John 6:41-59
- John 6:60-71
- Matthew 6:5-15
eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection, too!
Pastor Steven kept coming back to the Lord’s Prayer in this sermon. If you haven’t yet learned the Lord’s Prayer, it’s a great prayer to memorize, learn from, and trust in. The version I grew up learning goes like this:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever,
This prayer comes from Matthew 6:9-13. The doxology at the end comes from the King James Version but may not appear in every translation. If you grew up Catholic, the prayer probably ended with “but deliver us from evil.”
Pastor Steven’s sermon centers on two accounts: One of Jesus in John 6 and one of the Israelites in Exodus 16. At the beginning of John 6, Jesus feeds a crowd of 5,000 people, then later teaches the people, saying “I am the Bread of Life” (6:48) and “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (6:51). Exodus 16 puts Jesus’ words into context; God feeds the grumbling Israelites by raining down “bread from heaven” in the Wilderness after leading them out of slavery in Egypt.
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”John 6:48-51, NIV, emphasis mine (Pastor Steven quoted this passage using the NIV 1984; the above passage comes from the NIV 2011; I also included verse 51 for context)
A Change In Perspective: Not Just the Provider
He starts his sermon off with an illustration: How many of us learn something new about someone and it totally changes our perspective of that person? Example: Pastor Steven wants to throw away expired cheese and Holly wants to keep it, saying, “I feed you expired food all the time. The expiration date is just a suggestion.”
When life breaks you, it allows God in, when earlier we were all sealed up thinking we were perfect.
God was progressively revealing who he was, not that he was changing, but allowing the Israelites to progressively see who he really was. A change in perspective.
God has love. God is love. We’ve learned that God is not the “god of love,” but that he is actually love itself.
Sometimes God won’t tell you what’s on the other side of the lake because he know you won’t go if he told you. (John 6:16-24, Jesus feeds the 5,000 then sends his disciples across the Sea of Galilea/Lake Tiberius. During the night, Jesus walks on water and the disciples think he is a ghost. On the other side of the lake, the people ask him for more bread, so he teaches them, saying, “I am the bread of life.” By the end of the chapter, many disciples desert Jesus.)
The disciples were learning about the identity of this Christ by watching what he did, but sometimes people got so wrapped up in what he was doing, they missed who he was.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes himself using what is commonly referred to as the Seven I Am Statements, each one a call back to Exodus 3, when God said I Am Who I Am to Moses.
God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’”Exodus 3:14, NIV, this phrase can also be translated I Will Be What I Will Be
The very first I Am statement is here in John 6: “I Am the Bread of Life.”
The people are learning that:
Jesus is not just our provider.
Jesus is our provision.
A Time of Too Much In a Land of Not Enough
We’re living in a time of “too much”
- Too much information
- Too much compassion (compassion fatigue)—send them away it’s just too much (Matthew 14:15)
- Too much debt
- Too much on my schedule
If the spirit of too much hangs on too long it becomes the spirit of not enough.
The Wilderness = Land of Not Enough
When we are in the Wilderness we become susceptible to substitutes (Jesus tempted to turn stones into bread, Matthew 4:3)
[Nick: In Matthew 14:15, the land that the people have gathered to hear Jesus is described as a wilderness, a “remote place” in the NIV, literally a “desolate place.” This is the same phrase used to describe the “wilderness” where Jesus was tempted, and the “lonely places” he goes to pray and be by himself. So when Jesus feeds the 5,000, he does so in what is essentially a desert, a place that produces no food of its own.]
The Disappointment of Deliverance
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.Exodus 16:1, NIV
Sometimes God leads us out of situations that are bad, but it seems like things get worse before they get better. This is the Disappointment of Deliverance. The Israelites experienced this in the Wilderness, and instead of showing gratitude, they grumbled.
God said, “That’s enough.” He hears the suffering of the Israelites. (Exodus 2:23-25)
Suffering has an expiration date. We don’t have access to the calendar of God’s plan. We just need to trust that he is taking care of us.
They needed something to eat (both the Israelites in the desert and the Israelites listening to Jesus teach in the Wilderness).
Jesus is the Bread of Life (“the bread that came down from heaven”)
“Just as I was, I am, and just as I am, I will be.” [Also see: Hebrews 13:8, and the footnote from Exodus 13:4 above]
Sometimes trusting God means you move to a place where you need to trust God even more. Algebra II is your reward for passing Algebra I. God asks us to trust him bigger and broader and wider.
Example: Having a kid. The “disappointment of delivery”: You take care of your child in the womb, but it doesn’t get any easier once they’re out. You put plastic plugs in the sockets at home, but when they become teenagers, you can’t put plastic plugs in their friendships. Your trust in God matures as your needs change.
Choosing Familiarity Over Freedom
2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”Exodus 16:2-3, NIV
I wished this passage said that they thanked Moses for his courage for facing Pharaoh and leading the people through the Red Sea… but people forget. We have a selective memory.
What prevents you from trusting God in the present is holding on to the past.
The Israelites were hanging on to Egypt. They chose familiarity over freedom.
Give Us This Day Our DAILY Bread
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.Exodus 16:4, NIV
Our first impression of God when we grumble, especially if we grew up in church might be: “I’m gonna kill ’em all” (Like Triton from The Little Mermaid: zapped you with blessings or curses).
But instead of wrath, God feeds the people.
Grace is really that good.
God gives grace for the grumbling.
He says, “I will rain down bread from heaven.”
In this account, the physical manifestations of God’s blessing (the manna) had an expiration date. (They were only allowed to keep a day’s worth of manna.) But God’s spiritual blessings don’t have an expiration date.
“Gather enough for that day” (16:4) God is testing to see if they trust him—to know he’s enough.
They are to gather twice as much the day before the the Sabbath (16:5) so that they can REST.
The Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our DAILY bread” (Matthew 6:11), is a direct callback to this episode in the Wilderness.
The Israelites have constantly looked elsewhere for the provision: THERE in Egypt (Exodus 16:2), WHEN the Messiah comes (John 4:25, 7:27, 7:31)
But Jesus is HERE, NOW.
The Bread of the Presence
If you stay close to Christ, your bread will be blessed. You will have twelve baskets of leftovers (John 6:13).
The twelve baskets of leftovers represent the twelve tribes of Israel and is a callback to the twelve loaves of the Bread of the Presence in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:23-30). As the bread moved closer to the presence of God, its substance changed.
You don’t have to be enough, you just have to get close enough to the One who is more than enough.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19, NIV
Maggots in My Manna
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.Exodus 16:20, NIV
You are wasting today’s grace trying to fight tomorrow’s battles. Trust that God has given you enough for today.
Please don’t quit your job over this message: this is about the perspective of the past.
What may appear as trouble is really training.
When failure is familiar you will recreate it.
Sometimes we surround ourselves with people who treat us like crap because it’s emotionally familiar. (When people treat us nice, we secretly wonder, “What do they want from me?”)
What Is It? It Is What It Is
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”Exodus 16:13-15
Manna sounds like the Hebrew for “What Is It?”
Sometimes we don’t recognize the blessing God is giving to us… what is it?
Sometimes we don’t know what to call it because it’s new… it is what it is
The I Am Who I Am provides the It Is What It Is.
The Power of Enough
16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’” 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.Exodus 16:16-17
Not too much.
Not too little.
When they waited until morning, they found maggots in the manna.
God’s provision is for today. Trusting God means trusting him each day.
Deal with today, trust for today.
“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”
“Great is Thy faithfulness!”
“Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided”
[Select lyrics from the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”]
The message is going to be called “Expiration Date” online but those who listen will know the real title is “Here is the Bread.”
The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize Jesus until he broke the bread (Luke 24:30-32).