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H Arthur Woolley, (the late)

We all know what bread is and how essential it is for the upkeep of the human frame. Though not in the least likely to forget the bread that perisheth, seeing that most of our waking hours are spent in labouring for it, under the strain of modern conditions we are in grave danger of forgetting, or failing to find time for, the Bread that endureth, the Bread of Life.

Result? The body fed well, the soul almost starved. How different from some of whom we read in the Volume of Truth. Job, for instance, esteemed the words of God's mouth "more than my necessary food" (Job 23.12). The Psalmist rejoiced "at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil" (Ps 119.162), hiding that Word in his heart that he "might not sin against thee" (v 11). Recall Jeremiah's successful search for spiritual bread: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them …" (Jer 15.16). Here is communion and meditation. No wonder he goes on to write "and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart". Mary knew that joy. For she "also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word" (Lk 10.39). Attracted to Him, loving Him for the glorious worth she saw in Him, she definitely chose "that good part" (v 42). She wanted HIM, and waited to hear what He would say. All these saints realised that it is not by bread alone that man lives, and in their measure they fed upon the heavenly Manna.

Life and service are seriously impoverished by neglect of private prayer and secret study of the Scriptures. But there is a far more solemn aspect to be emphasised. Letting habitual communion go means that God is deprived of His portion. He is forgotten.

Consider Israel. Warned against forgetting the Lord (Deut 6.12), they nevertheless did forget Him after all He had done for them: "My people have forgotten me days without number" (Jer 2.32). Think of it! "Days without number". How heart-moving is the divine complaint! Can you not hear the sob in that loving voice? And does it not vividly remind us of Luke 19.41-42? "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes". But how is it with His heavenly people? Do we forget Him? Do we let whole days slip by without being occupied alone with Him for some little period? Perhaps without once actually speaking to our Lord? During this present day, how many minutes have been devoted wholly and entirely to the Lord Himself? Put this question to yourself now and see what your answer is. It is sadly possible to be very busy, doing much that is good, yet utterly failing to give Him His due, failing to consciously enter His transforming presence with the sacrifice of praise, or listening for, and responding to, the words He would fain speak to adoring hearts. Remember Malachi 3.8: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings". To forget God is surely to rob Him!

Remember, too, that Israel being a picture of ourselves, these things were written "for our learning" (Rom 15.4), that we might profit thereby. Ample fare for the wilderness journey is provided in the written Word. But the Lord's portion must be first. What He looks for must come before all else. Of old the offerings were "unto the Lord" (Lev 1.2; 2.1; 7.11), and the priest's share came after.

Let us then learn to sit at His feet, not merely for personal gain, comfort or nourishment for our ever-needy souls, but because He is expecting something from us. "The Lord's portion is his people" (Deut 32.9), and He looks for that which only those redeemed by precious blood can give Him. If Christ has first place it is certain we shall suffer no lack so far as our needs are concerned, for He Himself will be our food. Thus shall we live by Him, and not by bread alone.

(This article, by the late H Arthur Woolley, was first published in Threshed Wheat in May 1930)

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