The Agora
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Daily bread

Some of us will be familiar with the expression: "You are what you eat." All of us will have heard someone say: "Oh, I can't eat that... I'm watching my weight." We are becoming more aware of cholesterol levels, sodium levels, fiber and sugar content, etc, in our foods. This is the day of dieting, food fads, weight-watchers' clubs, and -- at the extreme -- bulimia and anorexia. Then there are other parts of this strange world where people can only wish for such 'problems' as too much food and too many choices.

Our Lord taught his disciples to pray: "Give us today our daily bread" (Mat 6:11). In the Old Testament we see the example of daily bread in the giving of manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. Israel, once again, were murmuring, this time because they lacked bread. They had, as one writer said, "sand in their sandwiches, monotony of landscape, thirsty kids, bickering families, no supermarkets at the corner... and now no bread". So God provided, once again: "He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat" (Psa 78:24,25).

The manna came from heaven, on a daily basis, to all alike without distinction. It was like a natural product, yet superior. It was adequate for the needs of all. It was white, pure, sweet and pleasing, although there were those who despised it as "this light bread" (Num 21:5). All the people had to do was to get up early and gather it, day after day, freely provided, for forty years.

We are told: "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deu 8:3). All were provided for: the rich, the poor, the righteous, the not so righteous. David tells us, in Psa 37:25: I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread".

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life" (Joh 6:35). Is he the bread of OUR lives? He is available to us freely, to all alike without distinction, on a daily basis. All we have to do is reach out for our Bibles, open the pages, and enjoy the wonderful nourishment provided through it.

Our spiritual beings, like our natural bodies, need to be fed daily. Just as an 'all you can eat' buffet will not stay with us all week (although some folks go through one like they think it will), so 'gorging' on a Sunday at Sunday School or memorial meeting will not sustain us throughout a 'meatless' (and 'milkless' and 'breadless') week. We need, each day, to read, meditate, pray, and use the nourishment we receive from "the bread of life".

The day is coming when, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, "On this mountain [Mount Zion, in Jerusalem] the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine -- the best of meats and the finest of wines" (Isa 25:6).

What a sumptuous feast to look forward to! But, even now, we can enjoy little 'appetisers' whenever we open our Bibles. So let us do it daily.

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