Sermon Info:

Responsive Reading:  Exodus 16:2-15
Key Verse(s): Exodus 16:12
Background Scripture:  Exodus 17:1-7; Number 11:1-14

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Introduction

A few weeks ago, I said that there are holidays and then there are holidays (holy-days) – Easter (Resurrection Day), Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  These are the days where the Lord should be honored and remembered, yet, on these holy-days, God is forgotten yet again.  I say to you today that the Lord should certainly be honored and remembered not just on those days but every day of the year.  Why? Because He is the Lord, our God and that should mean a great deal to all people.

An Ungrateful People

Why are we so ungrateful?  Why are we so ungrateful for the Lord, our God?  I feel like this is a question that I ask a lot throughout the year and around the holidays every year.

Not putting God first

Now, when I say that we are ungrateful, I want to make it very clear that I am talking about all people – non-believers and believers as well.  Now, some may begin to think to themselves, ‘how am I ungrateful’?  Some, actually, may not even care about  being ungrateful to the Lord which says a lot about their mindset.

So, how one is ungrateful for the Lord?  Let us consider that the Lord blesses all of us without hesitation.  For example, from a verse I often reference from Matthew’s gospel, God makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45).  This, I always point out, is a great blessing from God because it is the blessing of life.

In return, what has the Lord asked of mankind since the very beginning?  Has God not called for mankind to love Him and to obey (to keep) His instructions?  I am absolutely certain that I can turn to Genesis 2 and see the Lord gave Adam instructions to obey while dwelling in the garden (Gen. 2:15-17).  So, all that the Lord has asked of mankind is to obey — to put Him first just as He puts us, mankind, first.

Now, I feel I need to make it very clear as to what it means to put God first so that there can be no lack of understanding when it comes to this subject.  Some think that putting God first means that literally the first thing you do in the day is something dedicated to God.  No, to put God first in your life means to submit yourself to the will and way of God.  This submission, I want you to understand, is living by and moving out of genuine faith and obedience to the Lord.  True faith, not religion, is built on the foundation of submission to the Lord’s way.

So, as a sign of our gratefulness, some of us do our very best to submit ourselves to the will and way of God; we live by obedience and faith.  Refusing to be grateful and obedient to the one that blesses you day in and day out is a terrible sign.  Refusing to be obedient stands in opposition against God which, by the way, is the very definition of sin.

Something that many of us do not consider is the fact that being ungrateful of God and His blessings is a rejection of God; it is rejecting God as a guide, as a protector, and as a provider.  Rejection of God, again, is the very definition of sin.  Therefore, being ungrateful of God, we should understand, is also the definition of sin.

Contending with God

All that the Lord desires for us is for us to be happy and content in our soul and He moves to make that a reality (Jer. 29:11).  Yet, many of us are far removed from ever truly being content in our lives because we are ungrateful.  Scripture encourages us to let our conduct be without covetousness and to be content with our blessings (Heb. 13:5), but, in our ingratitude, man moves out of lust, jealousy, and covetousness; we want more than what God has given.

This thought reminds me of the children of Israel and how they treated God just after they had been freed from the bondage of Egypt.  You would think that the children of Israel would have been very grateful for their new found freedom.  Yet, scripture shows us that they were anything but grateful on the journey to the Promised Land (Ex. 32; Num. 11:1-15; 14:1-10; 16:1-50; 20:1-13).

In Exodus 16:2-15, we find the children of Israel complaining to Moses and Aaron because they had no food.  They said to the two, “Oh had we died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger (Ex. 16:3).”  In the very next chapter of Exodus, in Exodus 17:1-7,the children of Israel, yet again, complained and contended with Moses about not having water to drink.

You will often hear me liken our journey through life to that of the children of Israel as they journeyed to the Promised Land; we are bound for the Promised Land of God’s heavenly kingdom.  Yes, the journey to get there seems like it is a long one and it can be difficult but shouldn’t we be thankful to be on the journey to heaven in the first place?  You see, not everybody has chosen to be freed from the bondage of sin to take this journey to God’s heavenly kingdom.

So, how grateful are you to be  on this journey?  Are you grateful for all that the Lord has done for you thus far or are you finding something to grumble and complain about?  Are you happy (content) with the Lord or are you contending with Him every step of the way?

God’s Unmatched Love

I want you to see today just how thankful you ought to be that He is the Lord, our God.  I believe that every last one of us has reason today to be grateful for the Lord and to acknowledge that He is the Lord, our God.

12 “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”

KEY VERSE – EXODUS 16:12 NKJV

Supplying our every need

As I just mentioned moments ago, scripture from Exodus 16 takes place after the children of Israel had been freed and crossed the Red Sea.  You may recall just a couple of months ago how I preached about the Lord, as a good shepherd, protecting the children of Israel from Pharaoh and his army while they were at the Red Sea.  Then, God parted the Red Sea and guided them on dry ground over to the other side (Ex. 14:19-31).

With setting them free from the bondage of sin and guiding them over the Red Sea, you would think that children of Israel would have been grateful for what God had done for them.  Yet, all that the Lord had done for them was seemingly not enough as we saw their complaint about God leaving them to starve and go thirsty in the wilderness.  How many of you believe that the Lord has left you to go hungry and thirsty, figuratively speaking, in the wilderness?

Even though the children of Israel were complaining about not having food to eat, we see in my key verse for today’s sermon that the Lord moved to tend to their needs!  The Lord said in that verse, “I have heard your complaints … At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall (will) be filled with bread.”

Now, I feel I must ask, how many of us would tend to someone when all they do is complain and complain about something you have done for them?  Most of us wouldn’t put up with that complaining for too long!  In fact, this ungrateful complainer is most likely the last person we would ever want to do anything for!  Thankfully, God is not like us.

We will see that God had said to Moses, earlier, after hearing the complaints of the children of Israel, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.  And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day … (Ex. 16:4).”  The bread that “rained down from heaven”, some of us will know, was called manna by the children of Israel.  Scripture stated that manna formed from the dew of the ground, was white, and tasted like wafers made with honey – so it tasted really good (Ex. 16:13-14, 31).

Now, let’s point out the fact that even though they had complained, God said He was going to give this manna to satisfy their hunger every day.  The only day that manna did not form on the land was on Sabbath (Ex. 16:5, 26).  Since they were not supposed to do any hard labor on Sabbath, the children of Israel were to gather twice what they would normally gather on the sixth day.  So, see this — God met their needs liberally.

Do you know that the Lord supplies your every need liberally?  In Psalm 23, David said that at God’s table, the Lord anointed his head with oil and his cup ran over; this was David speaking of how God blesses His.  Do you realize that when the Lord supplies your needs that He does not do it half way?  No, God supplies your every need to the point that your needs are met with room to spare!  God is a good God, even when we are contending with Him along the way!

God’s enduring love for us

Have you ever wondered why the Lord puts up with us the way He does?    I believe that in order for us to answer ‘the why’ we must remember what John said in his first epistle when he said that God is love (1 John 4:8).

By now, we should know that our idea about what love is does not compare to the love of God.  You see, when the Lord moves, He does not move out of ego and selfishness; God moves with a selfless and unconditional love.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, love suffers long and is kind; it does not envy nor does it parade itself nor is it puffed up.  Love does not behave rudely nor does it think evil (1 Cor. 13:4-5).

As I said earlier, our idea of love lacks patience and quickly gets tired of ungrateful people.  Yet, true love, the love of God, endures all things, even our ungratefulness.  The Lord could have easily left the children of Israel and their ungratefulness right there in the wilderness to starve to death, but that is not how God operates.  The Lord had a promise to keep to them and He has a promise to keep to those of faith today.  In order to keep His promises, God’s love must endure.

Of God’s enduring love, Moses said to the children of Israel, that the Lord would never leave them nor forsake them (Deut. 31:8); we know this to also be true from our own walk of faith.  God, I believe, was being so patient with the children of Israel, and all of His children today, because He knows what we can be.  God knows our full potential through the gifts that He blesses us with.

So, why does the Lord bear with us the way that He does?  Firstly, the Lord does this because He is love and He loves us.  As Paul said about love, God does not think evil against us nor does He seek for us to fall down.  No, the Lord bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and will endure all things for us because He is the Lord, our God, and again, He is love.

Uplifting us in His faithfulness

Secondly, the Lord bears with us us because in His love He desires to uplift us and supply our every need, just as we have seen with the children of Israel.  By supplying manna to the children of Israel daily, we know that the Lord supplied their needs liberally; they were able to gather and take in all that they needed in order to be full and satisfied.

Now, thirdly, we will see in scripture that the Lord still moved for the children of Israel, though they were being ungrateful, because He wanted to see if they would walk in His law or not (Ex. 16:4).  So, why would He care whether or not they would walk in His law or not?  This goes back to a point that we have already seen established in this sermon.

In our key verse, notice that the Lord wanted the children of Israel to know that He is the Lord.  God wanted the children of Israel to recognize Him and His love.  God desired that they recognized that He brought them out of Egypt and was blessing them along the way; He desired their gratitude and their faith.

Why does the Lord care today about whether or not you and I walk according to His will and way?  The Lord desires that we recognize Him and His love.  God desires that we recognize He gave a sinful world His only begotten Son so that we can be freed from the bondage of sin (John 3:16).  So, on our journey, the Lord desires our gratitude and faith in return for all that He has and still does for us — God wants to be loved.

Yes, God’s works for us stand as a sign of His love but His works, we must also understand, stand as a sign of His faithfulness towards us.  God endures our ungratefulness – our sin – because He is faithful.  So, for all that He has done through His faithfulness to uplift us, God desires our genuine faith in return.  Faith is not dictated, it is a choice and we must genuinely choose to love and believe in Him.

If we would recognize and appreciate all that the Lord does for us, it would truly mean a lot to Him.  Firstly, recognizing all that the Lord does is a sign of gratitude.  Secondly, when you think about it, when we appreciate what the Lord does for us, we will repeatedly return to Him.  Then, if we think about it even more, how happy are we to help those who are thankful for the help?  I believe the Lord moves even more swiftly to bless the grateful believer.

He is the Lord – Appreciate Him

As we head into the holy season, I again wonder this year, do you appreciate the Lord?  Do you recognize Him?  Are you thankful for all that the Lord has done for you?

Appreciating our manna

I often wonder how often we come off like the children of Israel who ended up at one point not appreciating God’s liberal supply of manna and initially didn’t appreciate when they brought them to the Promised Land.  Again, I tell you, we are making our way to the Promised Land of heaven and God is supplying our every need along the way.  Yet, how many of us are contending with the Lord and being ungrateful and unappreciative on the journey?

Do you know what makes our contending with the Lord even worse?  The fact that we know that He is the Lord, our God.  We know that because He is the Lord, our God, that He still is moving liberally for us.

I want you to understand that we may not receive the same manna from heaven that the children of Israel received, but we, His faithful children, do receive manna from the Lord today.  Manna, today, is that ability to have the resources to go out and have a place to call home; it is that ability to have the resources to go out and buy a car, SUV, or truck.

We may not receive manna in the same form as the children of Israel did, but manna today is the ability to pay a mortgage, rent, a car note, utility bills, and electricity, especially when it seemed it would be impossible.  Manna, again, we may not receive in the same form as the children of Israel, but manna is the blessing to put clothes on your back, shoes on your feet, food on the table, and have something to drink day in and day out, especially when it seems impossible.

We may not receive manna from heaven in the same form as the children of Israel did, but I tell you today that manna is the blessing to be cared for in our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  The resources are there for us to be able to make it so long as we choose to consume and be content with the manna that God has provided us with.  I hate to think about where I would have been just a few years ago had I chosen to contend with God and not consume the manna that was given to me.

So, we should certainly know better than to contend with the Lord.  In our contending with the Lord, the only thing we actually manage to do is slow down our receiving of the Lord’s blessing.  Let us stop doing this and let us appreciate the Lord.

Do you know that He is the Lord, our God?  How many of us are being faithful to Him in appreciating all that God has and is doing for us?  If we truly recognized all that the Lord has done and still is doing for us, churches would be overflowing today.  If we truly recognized all that the Lord has done, and still is doing for us, we would live in total submission to His will and way in appreciation for all He has done.

I am so thankful this holiday season and every other day of the year because He is the Lord, my God – He is so awesome and so wonderful to me.  God is worthy of my thanks and He is worthy of my praise.  I say to you, I also know that God is worthy of your thanks and He is worthy of your praise.


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