Our Daily Bread
Friday - June 26th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Psalm 107:4-9
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 5:33-37
Give us today our daily bread.
Last year I spent time both in India and in Africa. Some of the areas I visited were places the United Nations and other groups have designated as places of extreme poverty. Just visiting these locations, you can see the depth of hunger and malnutrition. You see people carrying small amounts of flour or other food basics from the store to their dwellings made of discarded boards and other trash. You instinctively know that what they carry is barely enough for a meal. I found myself overwhelmed with both gratitude and guilt.
When I realized how little food these dear people had and how hard they had worked for it, I thanked God for his provision in my life. Never have I missed a meal. Never have I had to scrape together pennies to buy barely enough for one meal. Rather than walking miles to a store for my next lunch or dinner, I open my cabinet or refrigerator. Rather than buying raw basics like flour to put together over an hour or two a basic meal, I can drive up to a fast-food restaurant and buy a complete meal (maybe not a nutritional meal). You cannot visit a developing country without recognizing the extent of God's provision for you and your family. It is evident within the contrast of what you see among people suffering in extreme poverty and what you know your life is back home.
While I do not believe I should feel guilt for God's provision in my life, I do think my travels last year to several developing countries highlighted how my stewardship of God's provision has failed. That is where guilt can be legitimate. It is not wrong to be blessed, but it is wrong to squander that blessing. A year ago, I read statistics on worldhunger.org that 45% of all child deaths worldwide annually are due to extreme hunger that leads to severe malnutrition. My heart ached for the loss the families and communities had felt with each child's death.
Understanding the suffering in our world due to a lack of daily bread weighed heavy on my heart and mind. It caused me to look at the waste of food in my own life. It caused me to think about ministry partners around the world and how those in some of the world's most impoverished areas address the basic physical needs of those their ministry touches. Meeting some of the physical needs (like hunger) of children will open doors to whole families to address spiritual needs. It is hard for someone to hear the Gospel if they are suffering from extreme hunger.
While I have confessed my poor stewardship, tried to be less wasteful, and sought to proactively find ways to help meet the hunger needs through ministry partners, I have been reminded of my own daily bread. In his great example of prayer known as "The Lord's Prayer," Jesus demonstrated how our prayers should express our daily dependence on God. "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). While we should both seek to have our daily needs met and express our gratitude, we should also be reminded that everything comes from God. Without Him, we would not have the simplest of basics (like our daily bread). He has provided or does provide our education, health, experience, and opportunity to have the job and resources to have our basic needs met.
How about you, as you pray? Do you ask God to continue to provide for your daily needs? Have you been leveraging His blessing in your life to be generous to others, or have you squandered His provision? Even praying the phrase, "Give us this day our daily bread," do you understand that everything you have has come from God? Without Him, we would have nothing. Over the next week, pray that phrase about our daily bread from the Lord's prayer. Let God's Spirit shape how you process those simple words.
As we ask God for our daily bread, we should allow God to work in our hearts regarding our attitude toward His provision in our lives!