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After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:2-4)
When the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt, God provided for them by causing a bread-like substance called manna to appear every morning on the ground. Moses instructed the people to gather as much as they needed for the day, with two caveats: they could not save any manna overnight, because it would rot, and on the day before the Sabbath, they had to gather enough for two days, so that they could rest on that holy day. And for 40 years, God’s provision of daily bread sustained them through the wilderness.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he told them to ask God to “give us each day our daily bread.” Thanks to grocery stores and advances in refrigeration, most of us do not find ourselves in situations where we have to pray daily for food, and for that we can be thankful (while hopefully not losing our sense of dependence upon God for all that we have). But the principle of daily provision is vital for us to keep in mind when it comes to our spiritual food. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness to turn stones into bread, he answered “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). And like our daily bread, we cannot stay strong or live very long if we forsake daily dining spiritually on God’s Word. If we neglect time in God’s Word and in His presence, our faith and strength will atrophy.
When I fast, one of the passages I often quote to myself is John 4:32 & 34, where Jesus says to his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about… my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” The most delicious steak dinner (or salad, for the vegetarians out there) can never nourish or satisfy the way hearing and obeying God’s Word can. But this is a meal that is meant to be partaken of daily. Most of you set aside three times every day to eat physical food without a second thought. When do you set aside time in your life for God’s daily bread?
Last year, many of us read through the Bible in a year while listening to a daily podcast called The Bible Recap. This year, at the beginning of Lent, I began sending out a daily text with a Scripture verse and prayer prompt to help our church continue to be strengthened by God’s daily provision. Those are just two possible rhythms of receiving God’s daily Word. Whatever method you choose, the principle remains: just as the manna could not be saved overnight, God’s design is for us to be daily nourished by the Word He provides. Take time today to make sure that this habit becomes as regular in your life as eating physical food.
And if you need help developing the daily discipline of Bible reading, I encourage you to watch this video I made.
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