April 22

Joshua 5:11-12 (NIV) 11The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.

Israel celebrated their first Passover in the Promised Land. As soon as they ate the food of that land, the manna stopped. I wonder if the next morning they got up by habit to go out and collect it. For forty years God had provided angels' food for them on a daily basis Now that they are home, they can eat of the good of the land that God has given them.

God provides for us. He is Jehovah Jireh, "the LORD provides". He won't give us too much, but He will give us enough to sustain us. As we travel through this life, as long as we have a need, the LORD will provide. We can count on our daily manna. As long as we go out to gather it and don't try to keep it over night, we will always be able to fill our jars. We will have just enough.

But that land to which we are going will have an abundance and variety. The Lord is still our portion and our cup, but instead of coming from above, He will be all around us. One day, the angel of the second death will pass over us because of what Jesus did in our place. Then we will be home and eating freely of the abundance of the land.

Meditation: I'm on my way to something better. This world is not my home.

April 22

Mark 15:21-23 (NIV) 21A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

The beatings and Roman scourging had so weakened Jesus that He could not carry the crossbeam to the site of the crucifixion. Jesus was at the end of physical ability. A man who had journeyed from North Africa to celebrate the Feast of Passover, Simon, was forced to carry the beam. His children later became well known in the early church. This encounter with Jesus would change his life.

There is some debate about where the crucifixion site is. Two popular ones exist in Jerusalem, but no one can say for sure which, if either, is authentic. It would have been near a gate and beside a road. The Scriptures tell us He was brought to a hill, not on a hill. It was probably a place used regularly for executions.

A group of Jewish women regularly met those who were to be crucified to offer a pain deadening mixture of strong wine and myrrh. When Jesus tasted it, He refused it. He had promised not to drink the fruit of the vine until He drank it new with the disciples in the Kingdom. The women pitied Him, but He grieved for them; He knew they were rejecting their only hope. Their pity was a mere human sentimentality. His pity was that of both the suffering Jerusalem was about to endure and an eternal perspective. We would have welcomed anything to deaden the pain. Jesus met death head on, determined not to flinch but to conquer it for us.

There is a lesson in His determination. We often skirt our trials, looking for the easy way out. Jesus faced them with faith in His Father. He knew that total reliance on the Father would see Him through anything, even if it meant obedience unto death. That is faith!

Prayer: Lord, when we are faced with the trials that inevitably come from obedience to You, help us to face them with Your resolute determination.