Summary: Exploring the need for God’s newness every day
Paddy Venner is the Senior Pastor of Harfield Road Assembly of God in Cape Town, South Africa
Who Wants Old Food?
Have you ever looked in your fridge and wondered what life forms are mutating in there because of leftovers that never got eaten?
Old food is repulsive to us and we get vigilant about getting rid of stuff that once tasted good but has clearly passed its use-by date.
I often wonder then why we don’t use this same vigilance in our spiritual feeding habits when we seem to be satisfied with left –overs and moldy crusts.
We have spoken over the past few months about establishing God’s house here, about tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, about building our altars, digging our wells and laying bare the ditches, all in anticipation of God’s outpouring, and last week some ditches got filled.
That was not the end of it –in fact that was only the beginning and we need to harness that which started last week and ride it out to see where God wants to take us.
There is a new sound coming from this place and compassion and caring is its name – and at Eldership level even we have been deeply challenged about tending the flock, and we are putting together a strategy to ensure that every person in this church is cared for according to their needs and according to our resources.
We are in an exciting period here, but there’s still more.
The challenge to us now is not to give in to the desire to settle, but to pursue fresh outpourings regularly.
Exodus 16: 11-30
I liken the experiences we read about here to what I feel God desires for us.
The sending of the manna to the Israelites was a sign from God of His acceptance of them as His children – V12 He says after He has done this... ’Then you will know that I am the Lord your God’
An important thing to note here is that all of this happened in a desert.
I cannot get way from something God has been showing me again and again in my preaching and in my devotional times, and that is the importance of the desert.
There are 2 types of deserts – deserts of disobedience and deserts of obedience.
The first one you get into when you have disobeyed God and are doing wrong in His eyes – there comes a barrier between yourself and God called sin and you are in a desert and you know it and it’s amazing how many people know how they got there and now how to get out but stay there anyway.
Then there is the desert of obedience where God leads you there – Ezekiel said it in Ez. 37:1 when the Spirit of God lead him into the desert to reveal to Ezekiel new dimension of His greatness.
The Israelites were in a desert of obedience still –it became on of disobedience later after the episode with the spies, but as long as there is obedience there is a plan.
Look at how barren deserts have come up again and again recently – the Shunammite woman, Hannah’s barrenness, the need to dig wells in dry places and so on
What God is saying to all of us is that we cannot afford to wait until we feel good about what God is doing in our lives before we start to establish our lives around Him.
We need to start establishing our relationship with Him first, and then He comes with the rest – first Abraham had to put Isaac on the altar and then God provided the Lamb
First the priests had to step into the flooded Jordan, and then it parted so that Israel could cross over to Jericho.
And just when you feel you cannot go on any longer under the harsh sun and the heat of the desert, look down and you could just see manna on the ground – like in V14
Elijah was in a desert of obedience at the Kerith Ravine when God sent the ravens with food.
Walking close to God and obeying Him is the key, then the manna falls – the provision to get you to tomorrow.
The Israelites had no idea what it was – do we recognise the hand of God in our lives when He moves and works?
When God moves in our meetings there must be a common witness that it is God and that is why almost every person who was here on Sunday night jumped into the river – because it was genuine and we recognised it because we have been taught to recognise it.