“The Bread of Life”

We are to learn the Cross as that which has separated us from things here; we are to find out what the Lord Jesus is when there is nothing else but Himself, or, as the Scripture teaches in a figure, when there is “no bread,” the Lord says, “Do not look for a sign.” The leaven of the Pharisees was looking for a sign, but the Lord Jesus is to be sufficient for you when there is nothing but Himself, when there is nothing to supply you naturally. The natural is what man looks for; but what the Lord Jesus would teach us is that it is not for what is natural we are to look, but for Himself.

After forty years wondering in the wilderness Israel learned, “man doth not live by bread alone.” God’s purpose is to teach me this lesson, and He does so in various ways: not only by leading me through sorrow; He gives me the bright days as well as dark ones. But though there are dark ones, I wish to correct an idea that often troubles people, namely, that God always wants to bring us down when He chastens us. When He corrects a man, it is not that He may bring him down, but that He may lift him up. He says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1Pet 5:6). I discipline my child in order that I may exalt him morally.

You never learn strength but in weakness, and the measure of the strait you go through with God is the measure of your strength. People shrink from distress, whereas it is in distress you learn what He is in Himself. What strait have you passed through with your Father? I do not doubt you have had troubles; but it is not passing through troubles that makes you strong, but passing through them with God. It is “that the trying of your faith worketh patience”; the trying (testing—NC), not the trial.

You may say, I have gone through plenty of trials. But how has it been with you in them? You have been looking for bread, and often the bread has come in, and you have missed the blessing of the lesson which you might have learned. If the Father is going to teach you, He will not let you have any relief until you have learned it; He will not give you relief until He has you fit for it. Then, with Paul, we can say, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2Cor 12:10).

No one ever got a right sense of dependence on the Father who did not learn it through death. This is the practical difference between a nun and a widow. A nun is a person trying to retire from things; a widow is one who has lost them all through death. And not all the nunneries in the world will teach you this; it must be death. A nun dare not look out of a window for fear of what she might see; but a widow says, “However much I look out I can see nothing to engage me, for I have lost all.” So when I have learned death I have learned what the sufficiency of the Lord is.

If you have thus gone through death you will never lose the mark of it. Do you think you could forget what your Father is, when He is thus known to the soul and thus learned? And how did you learn this? Was it in His favors? When I have the mind of Christ, I know that the highest portion I can have is, not favors, but suffering. Hence I am brought beyond the bread that persiheth, to the Bread of Life. “I am their inheritance. And ye shall have no possession in Israel; I am their possession” (Eze 44:28).

- J B Stoney

Daily devotional by Miles J Stanford
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