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9th Sunday after Pentecost

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Dear friends in Christ Jesus:  I’m sure it’s happened to you before too.  It’s frustrating.  It’s antagonizing.  It’s exhausting.  It just about drives you crazy.  Last year when I was at the Seminary I came home from work one evening and my wife, Katie, told me she couldn’t find her cell phone.  So, I said, “Well, let me trying calling it.”  So I called it…and called it…and called it…and we looked and looked and looked everywhere in our apartment…nothing.  So, “Did you go anywhere today?”  “Yea, the grocery store.”  So we looked in the car…nothing.  And then we went to the grocery store and looked up and down the aisles…nothing.  We asked the customer service lady…nothing.  We went back home and looked, and looked, and looked…nothing.  We then canceled the phone, plan, everything.  It’s frustrating, it’s exhausting, when you lose something important, isn’t it?  Then a few hours later…there it is sitting in plain sight in the back seat of our car.  What!!!  So much frustration, exhaustion, and effort could’ve been avoided if we just first looked in the right place.  Ever had times like that?

Today we’re going to take a look at what we’re praying when we say, “Our Father in heaven…give us today our daily bread.”    In our text we’re going to see that so much of our angst, our anxious concerns, and our worries about the day-to-day things of life are really caused by looking in all of the wrong places.  Where do we focus our eyes on for our daily needs?  We’ll find out, but first we need to know what we’re looking for: daily bread.  What is daily bread?

Are we asking God for a piece of bread every day?  Or a piece of food every day?  For a moment, picture a loaf of bread on your table at home before dinner.  How did that loaf of bread get there?  Did God cause it to fall out of the sky?  Nope.  Well, first of all God provided someone with the abilities to be a farmer, then God provided that farmer with grain seeds, then God gave the farmer machinery to plant that seed, then God caused the rain and the sun to shine, then God caused a bunch of seeds to sprout, then God allowed the farmer to harvest the seed and to sell it and a company to bake it into a loaf and package it and put it on a shelf in a store.  Then God gave you the money to buy that bread, He gave you the means to go to the store to buy it, He provided a place close to you to sell it, then He supplied the protection for you to get to the store without being harmed, then He gave you peace in your family to enjoy that loaf of bread and then He gave you your health to be able to eat it.  So…when we pray, “Give us today our daily bread” we are praying that God would both supply all our daily needs and everything else so we can enjoy them in peace and harmony.  And if you let your mind go there’s a lot more involved than just those things for getting one piece of bread, things like air, water, a beating heart, etc.  And that’s just for a loaf of bread!!  Now how about everything else in your life?!!  Wow!!

Daily bread is everything that we need for our bodies and our life here on this earth.  When we pray “give us today our daily bread” we are asking God to continue to provide our daily necessities of life on earth.  And so we both recognize that all of the things for our life on earth come from our Father in heaven AND that we give Him thanks for blessing us so richly.

But guess who doesn’t want you to have daily bread: the devil.  He’s not content to just lead us away spiritually; he’s also interested leading us astray with the things of life.  He does this in two ways: either he uses disasters, turmoil, riots, murders, calamity of every kind in order to deprive us of our daily bread.  Or he’ll try to give us more, more, more so that we start to love possessions, money, things, the “daily bread” in order to lead us astray.  So, when we pray, “Give us today our daily bread” we’re also praying that God would prevent the devil from both depriving us of our daily bread and causing us to misuse our daily bread.

And how does God normally provide us with our daily bread?  Does He cause it to fall from heaven?  He normally uses natural means like sunlight and water AND the income we earn by working.  If someone cannot work for their daily bread God wants others to share with them.  But, conversely, if someone can work for their daily bread but doesn’t want to, then that person should not expect others to provide for them either.  God says, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

In short in this petition we are asking God to provide everything that is connected with our life on earth, to guard us from anything that would harm our lives on earth, that we recognize that all things come from our gracious God, and that we receive all our daily bread from God with thanksgiving.

But why do we pray for our daily bread?  Why not just pray “Give us our bread”?  That’s what we’re going to focus on in our text this morning from Matthew chapter 6.  This is part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, Jesus is speaking: (read text)

If we were perfect and not constantly tempted to worry and have anxious care then Jesus wouldn’t have had to speak the words of our text.  But guess what…Jesus understands our constant weaknesses and our many cares so He graciously gave us these words to help us.  Unfortunately, when we do worry or when we are anxiously caring or constantly troubled by what we’re going to eat, drink , wear, or any of our “daily bread” that means we are looking in all of the wrong places.  Essentially worry is looking to ourselves for the answers; thinking that everything depends on us.  Worry is doubting that God will do what He’s promised to do.  And notice what looking in all the wrong places gets us: “I don’t know what I’m going to do…I don’t know how I’m going to make this work out…I don’t know how I am going to put food on the table tomorrow…what am I going to do?!”  So much worry, and yet, what does it accomplish: frustration, angst, exhaustion, headaches, etc.

And so God tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on me, for I care for you” (1 Peter 1:7).  God our Father instructs us to pray: “Give us today our daily bread.”  If we pray for our necessities of just today then we trust that God will continue to provide our needs the next day and the next day and so on into the future.  And yet, at the same time, it’s not wrong to plan.  God even encourages us to “count the cost.”  But we do that with the trust that God can- and will- change our plans.

So to help us Jesus gives us the right places to look.  Look here: If God has provided you with your life (which He has), well then He’s certainly going to continue to provide the things you need for your life, like food, drink, clothing, your daily bread.  And look in this place: the birds, if God continues to provide for the birds so they have food to eat every day, will your heavenly Father, who does that for birds, will He not continually provide for His own children!!  And look here: the flowers of the field, see how beautifully God clothes them, which are here today and tomorrow are gone, how much more will God make sure His own children are taken care of!!  And look here: long before we even realize that we have a need, guess what, God already knew about it!

And God gives us one more right place to look: when troubles come (and they will) cause we’re sinful people living in a sinful world, when you think everything is fine and then it all collapses, when you come face to face with that thing that most people spend tons of time worrying about: death, when temptations to look everywhere else come, when you’re frustrated from looking in all the wrong places, look at this place: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given you as well.”  Look in that one right place.  Look at Jesus.  Look at what Jesus has done for you.  Look at how He took every one of your sins away by dying on that cross.  Look at how in exchange He’s given you His perfect life.  Look how you are wearing Jesus’ perfect robes of righteousness.  Look at how He’s established His kingdom in your heart.  Look at how He’s preparing a place for you with Him in heaven.  Look at how He turned death into the doorway into heaven.  Look at how He’s now leading you through this temporary world to your eternal home.  Yes, in everything that’s the right place to look first and all of our daily bread will be provided us as well.  So with trusting hearts we pray, “Heavenly Father…give us today our daily bread!”