Pentecost 11b

Preached: August 9, 2015

What Grace for Us to Trust In Each Day!
Exodus 16:2-15

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith in Jesus is Exodus 16

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”

Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’”

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. (NIV11)

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” We speak highly of God's grace that saves us from eternal death and hell. We understand that we don't deserve this in any way at all. He did it for an unworthy, undeserving wretch like me. We marvel at the greatness of his grace in giving up his own dear Son for us.

But dear friends, God's grace is not only for the day of death or for other great calamities in life. God's grace is not only for when we think about Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. God's grace is for you today, tomorrow, and the next day. God's grace is for the everyday struggles of life, the regular routine worries, and all the trivial problems we face. God's grace is for you, dear friend. It's for you and me to trust in each day. Let's put that theme into practice as we take to heart the text for Exodus 16. As we see God's grace in action, we can exclaim: What grace for us to trust in each day!

The Israelites had seen God's grace in action. His grace had come to their aid in Egypt, even though they did not deserve it. His grace had rescued them from slavery by devastating the Egyptians with ten plagues. His grace had parted the Red Sea to deliver them from their enemies and bring them a victory celebration.

But now a month later as the food they had brought with them from Egypt runs out, they grumble and complain: “If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted” (Exodus 16:3 NIV84). But if God's grace had stooped to rescue them from slavery by such mighty acts, would that grace now let them starve to death? Of course not!

But how easily our present problems can blind us to God's grace! That struck me about myself as I'm contemplating the call to serve in Ridgeland, WI. I was surprised by how tightly my thoughts became knotted up with questions like: How would moving affect the health coverage for Abigail and Caleb? Would it have a negative impact on their college tuition or grants if I move out of state? Even as those questions twisted my thoughts into knots, I knew those questions weren't focusing me on the ministry work the Lord might have for me here or there. Yet it was so hard to put them aside because my trust was weak.

So our lack of trust shows up in our worries and complaints. That's why those are sins against the Lord, even as Moses told the people that they weren't grumbling against him but against the Lord. And how many of our other sins stem from a lack of trust in God's grace? Greed, envy, and jealousy fail to trust that God has given us what we need. Hatred, anger, and revenge fail to trust God to give justice at the proper time. And how often doesn't the running after the lusts, pleasures, and fame of this world come because we don't trust God to satisfy us?

Yet you and I have seen God's grace accomplish even greater things than the Israelites saw. We have seen God's grace rend the heavens to send down his Son as an infant laid in a manger. We've seen God's grace tear through the flesh of Jesus as he bears the sins of the world on the cross. We've seen God's grace burst the tomb by Jesus rising from the dead. He has won the victory. And he gives us that victory. What grace!

Now if his grace has moved heaven and earth to bring you into his family, won't his grace continue to take care of you day by day? Trust his grace each day.

Look at how bountiful his grace is. Despite the people's sinful grumbling, the Lord takes care of them. He provides them all the meat they can eat that evening as quail covers the ground. Then each morning, six days a week, for the next forty years, he gives them manna, that remarkable bread-like food. It was white and tasted like wafers made with honey. And it nourished and sustained them day after day. How bountiful God's grace is! Trust the bounty of his grace each day.

His grace not only nourished their bodies but also trained their souls. Did you notice how he did not give them a year supply of food, or even a month or week supply? He wanted to train the Israelites to trust him one day at a time, just like Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” If they tried to save manna for the next day just in case the Lord didn't come through, it spoiled and stunk and became full of maggots. But on Friday God did want them to gather double, for they were to rest in the name of the Lord on Saturday. That manna did not spoil. Trusting in the Lord means following his directions, trusting that he will follow through on all his promises.

And look at the bounty of his grace to you and me. We have the full revelation of his saving plan recorded in the Scriptures. We can go to the Bible every day to see his grace. We don't have to wait for a special day of rest to hear his word. We have the bounty of his grace poured out on us in Baptism. Young and old, men and women, can look back on their baptism and believe that God's promises of forgiveness in Christ are for them. They can be sure that they have been reborn into God's family to live as his children. In the Lord's Supper, Jesus communicates his grace and love to us, not only with the sound of words, but also with sight, smell, taste, and touch as we eat his body under the bread and drink his blood under the wine. How bountifully the Lord showers us with his grace! What grace for us to trust in each day!

And as you remember the greatness of his grace, follow the example of Moses. Where did Moses turn when the people grumbled against him? He turned to the Lord. So also, dear Christian friends, turn to the Lord. Bring your complaints and worries to him in prayer. The Israelites did wrong by grumbling and complaining among themselves. That's a lack of trust. But taking your complaints to the Lord in prayer and laying your worries at his feet---that's an act of trust.

Notice also how Moses trusted the Lord to follow through. He announced to the people that they would have meat in the evening and in the morning they would be filled with bread. The Lord had told him this would happen. Moses trusted the Lord's promise. Imagine how human reason could've led Moses to do otherwise. He could have said to himself, “They're grumbling now. If I tell them there'll be food and there isn't, they could riot. It would only go from bad to worse. So I should wait until the Lord actually sends the food before I tell the people.” But Moses did not do that. He trusted the Lord to keep his promise.

So also as you take your worries and complaints to the Lord in prayer, trust that he will keep his promise. He has promised to hear your prayer. He has promised to act according to his grace and mercy. He has promised to treat you as his own dear child, for through faith in Jesus that is who you are. He has promised to give the best answer. That might mean things don't turn out the way you were expecting. But in the end it will be better than you expected. Do you think the people were expecting manna? When it came they said to each other, “What is it?” which in Hebrew is “mahn hu,” which is where the word “manna” comes from. In the same way trust the Lord, trust his grace to answer in ways better than we could have ever imagined.

What amazing grace! Not only grace that saved a wretch like me, but that same grace also takes care of me and you day after day. Oh, that I would trust his grace each day!

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313