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The Bible is full of real people learning lessons about life and how to live it well. One such story in Exodus 16 recounts the release of the Hebrew people from a life of slavery in Egypt. They had experienced God’s miraculous deliverance and were on their way to the Promise Land. However, millions of people traveling through the wilderness required a bit of food and when hunger was upon them, they began to complain. God in His wisdom and mercy came to their rescue with a His bread from heaven called manna. So what’s the big deal about manna and what can we learn from God’s instruction concerning it?

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16: 4-5

And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. Exodus 16:19-21

So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted. Exodus 16:21

Fifteen years ago this week – well, February 3rd to be exact, something very significant happened in the Smith household. I think you might recall this as an occasion to remember as well, an occasion that has since changed the course of history or at least NFL history. Think back with me to Sunday, February 3, 2002 – anything significant going on? Aww yes, I knew you would remember! It was Super Bowl Sunday, with the highly favored St. Louis Rams taking on the New England Patriots. If you know me, you must be scratching your head thinking – how come Tracy has this date in her memory – she’s not a big sports enthusiast? Well, this date will forever be etched in my mind because it was the day our son was born! Yes, I did watch the game, in between contractions! After Chad and I walked around the neighborhood during half time and the game was finally over I said, “It’s time to go!!” Then at 10:48 pm, little red headed, blue-eyed Dylan Nathaniel was born at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton.

Now let’s back up a few months to September 2001. We can all remember this time frame, when our country was attacked on September 11th. I was about 5 months pregnant, at home with Jessica and Colin, when I heard the news of the attacks. The Marine base where we lived went on lock down; all was sober and unusually quiet. It was as if we’d lost our breath and were waiting to take the next one only if we could be certain our country was safe. Everything changed that day. Our country was sober as well; we saw one example of this in the area of sports. Traditionally, Super Bowl Sunday has been played the last Sunday in January. However, when the attacks happened on our native soil – the normal routines of life came to a halt even for the NFL and the Super Bowl was rescheduled a week later.

So, this is how Dylan became known as our Super Bowl baby . . . he was born on Super Bowl Sunday 2002, a rescheduled game due to the events on September 11th.

Soon after 9/11, President George Bush addressed Congress and I remember specifically him introducing a woman named Lisa Beamer during the service and having her stand. She was the wife of Todd Beamer, hero/victim of United Flight 93 that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. What was so significant about this introduction was that Lisa Beamer was pregnant – 5 months pregnant – just like me! It was as if we were kindred spirits. I felt her loss very personally and I just couldn’t imagine how she could stand in front of Congress and the world with such grace and composure knowing she would give birth to this child without her husband. I was undone.

The next Sunday, I met with a group of women with whom I helped facilitate a women’s Bible study. We were studying about Moses and the exodus of the children of Israel from the hands of Egypt. We were discussing the manna that God had provided every morning for his children to eat while traveling to the Promise Land when I began to break down over the horrific events of the past week. I began to say how I just couldn’t understand how Lisa Beamer could stand so strong after such tragedy had hit our nation and her world personally. After allowing my say, our pastor’s wife looked at me and said, “She stood strong because she’d gathered her manna.” Did you catch that? She stood STRONG because she’d gathered her MANNA!! I will never forget those words of wisdom my friend spoke into my life that morning. Every September 11th, every Super Bowl Sunday, I think of them! I must gather my manna! Every day, every morning – today’s manna won’t last for tomorrow’s unknowns. I must make gathering the bread a life a priority for today! Lessons learned, lessons rehearsed, lessons deepened by a life of the unexpected.

Many of you know real sorrow such as Lisa experienced; the loss of a father, a precious baby, a tiny 11-week old life. The diagnosis of a tumor, the loss of your vision or debilitating headaches. Liberty High School just lost one of their own to suicide and many of our young people knew him and considered him their friend. Loss, pain, sickness, persecution, politics - we live a life of the unexpected – but nothing is a surprise to God. He knows what our day will bring. And He knows we need our manna, our daily sitting in His presence reading His Word, communicating with Him through prayer, being still for a moment to listen. He knows how much to give, what measure we need to make it through and finish the race. Lessons from manna are true – they were true for the Hebrews, true for Lisa and they are true for you and me. Trust Him to know what you will need and be encouraged to never miss a morning of gathering your manna.


Posted by Tracy Smith with
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There are times in your Christian life...usually during a time of crisis where you find yourself in a state of anxiety and worry and you need peace. Not world peace; we won’t really have that until the day when Jesus comes again to bring real peace. Not peace with Jesus. As a Christian your sins have been forgiven when you placed your trust and faith in Christ. No, there’s another kind of peace that is needed, the kind of peace that surpasses all’s the kind of peace you need when your heart has been broken. You need it when the trials of life seem to be overwhelming; you need it because you are anxious and you worry; you need it because no one can seem to provide you with that inner peace that you need.

It’s not that people aren’t trying to give you the help you need. The parents...they try, your husband or wife...they try, sons and daughters...they try, your friends and extended family...they try. Their intentions are good but they just can’t seem to give you what you really need. What you really need, and what I really need is a “peace that surpasses understanding.”

What is a peace that surpasses understanding? It’s the peace that God gives us that takes away the worry and anxiety from our inner lives. When the circumstances of life should, by all human understanding, be tearing us apart and leaving us in a heap, with no joy, no power, no testimony of the goodness of God, instead of those circumstances leaving us with a sadness of heart and a spirit of defeat and gloom there is the “peace that surpasses understanding”. It takes away the anxiety, it takes away the worry, and it replaces the sadness with joy.

Whenever I had a problem with something as a kiddo, when the wheel was coming off of my bike I would go to my father because he was willing and he had the ability to help me when my wheels were coming off. I could have gone to mom, but she wouldn’t have been able to help. I could have tried my brother, but it wasn’t going to be a good move, not that they didn’t want to...they just didn’t know how.

But whenever I needed a “peace that surpasses understanding”, that you just can’t explain, I discovered you receive that from Christ. How did I find out that He was the only one I could turn to when the “wheels were coming off” of my life? Through the teaching of my primary Sunday School teacher, Mr. Walls.

He noticed in Sunday School one day that something was troubling me, and that was because there was something troubling me. Something I didn’t really want to talk about with my dad or mom, or anybody for that matter. It was taking the joy out of my life and I worried about what to do about it. The guys and gals at school were making fun of my speech again. I had a speech impediment that made it hard for people to understand what I was saying, and I was worried about what was going to happen and anxious about speaking to anyone at all. My parents had enrolled me in a special after school class for special attention that sought to teach me how to pronounce my words more clearly. They were doing all they could, but they really couldn’t do anything about the inside.

It bothered me for a long time, I would spend sleepless nights, anxious about what I would face the next day...but I kept it on the inside. For whenever I would mention it to someone they would just kind of tell me not to worry about it, everything was going to be okay. But it wasn’t...on the inside. I needed the “peace that surpasses understanding”.

When I was eight years old things began to change. I believed and trusted Jesus Christ to be the Savior of my life. I started a personal relationship with Christ. I finally had access to the one that I needed to take the worry and anxiety away. That’s where anyone must start if you want this kind of peace that only Christ can give. I was different on the inside...I wasn’t the same...and the presence of Christ in my life changed everything. Mr. Walls knew that I had what I needed to take away my worries and anxieties. Someone who was willing to love me and help me and who had the ability to give me a peace that just can’t be understood by the human mind alone. He explained to me what God had revealed through the Bible, the Word of God, about how to have peace on the inside. It was just what I needed and throughout my life it has come to mean more and more to me. You’re probably familiar with the verses.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

Throughout my life, the pattern began to emerge that would change me on the inside. Crisis, trial, worry, anxiety, would eventually lead me to a deeper personal relationship with the Lord. He was real and I was gaining understanding about Him and myself. All the worries and anxieties have provided me with opportunities to know Christ better and to experience Him in a more personal way. I discovered that the Word of God was leading me to the God of the the “peace that passes understanding”.

Believe me there have been plenty of times where God has given me that peace and I would turn right around and pick the burden up again and place it on my shoulders, but over the years I have watched Him change me and help me trust Him more than I used to...even though I certainly haven’t “arrived” to where I need to be. But I do know Him better...He is real to me...I can go to Him...and trust Him.

Real prayer is the key. You replace anxiety and worry with prayer. You start the passage in Philippians in worry and anxiety, then you talk to the Lord. You pray, about everything. You don’t have to parse your sentences; you don’t have to hide any thoughts. When you trust someone you have a lot to say. You can say anything and make requests of God, even about a speech impediment, or maybe even the loss of a grandchild, or anything that is causing you to worry and have anxiety. When we pray we are to pray about everything with thanksgiving. We don’t wait until we have an answer. We are thankful for the answer, whatever it might be, because we know that God will work all things together for good to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) We know that He always answers our prayers. It will be yes, it will be no, or it will be wait. We know He will answer in the best way. We know we can trust Him and it brings us inner peace,

You enter the passage with worry and you exit the passage with peace, and it is prayer that occurs in between. I know that prayer changes things, but really, it changes me more. The storms of life, the trials, and the circumstances are usually still there; they haven’t changed but He has changed me and given me peace.

When I try to carry the burden alone...and believe me I’ve done that way too many times...the worries and anxieties will come back and dominate my thought life, and if they do, I know where I must go and what I must do. Pray with thanksgiving to Him. He is my only relief.

Maybe you need that kind of peace. Go ahead, take the worry and anxiety and replace it with a prayer of thanksgiving and trust, and receive the “peace that surpasses understanding”.


Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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