God’s Provision for a New Year

provision, Philippians 4, faithLast year is over.  A new year has begun.  While making New Year’s Resolutions might be the popular thing to do, as God’s people we are assured that we don’t have to wait until a new year in order to turn over a new leaf.  God says “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2) and God’s help and provision are always present tense and available right now to all who would receive.

Maybe last year wasn’t a good year for us.  Maybe there were circumstances that brought pain and sorrow or perhaps we found ourselves in a place of regret over mistakes that were made.  Maybe we began this new year with a hope for something better but without a concrete plan for positive change.

I’m here to tell you, God has what you need.  In his letter to the church at Philipi, Paul offered encouragement and Godly wisdom which is still applicable to us today and can completely transform our lives if we will put it in to practice.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7 (NASB)

Thankfulness in all things and in all circumstances is the first step.  No matter what’s happening and no matter how we feel at the moment, we can express our thanks to God.  Not that all things are good or desirable, but that God Himself is always worthy of our thanks and that His salvation and Spirit sustains us even in the midst of the darkest days.  And with that thankful heart we are then in a perfect position to offer up our prayers and requests to God who is able to provide for all of our needs.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

Once we have decided to be thankful (and it is a conscious decision that we must make) and offered up our earnest prayers to God, then God Himself will provide an incredible peace which is able to do a miraculous thing for us.  God’s peace will “guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”!  This is a wonderful promise because a heart and mind that is guarded by God’s peace is one that is not easily moved or swayed by the evil of this world and can begin to be a light for others.  In other words, this is the foundation for a vital and growing faith that we must exercise and put to daily use.

Ultimately it is God who controls our circumstances and much of what happens around us is outside of our ability to change.  What is possible and expected of us is to become all that God would have us to be by putting His word into practice.  We must trust God with our lives and with our needs and most importantly, with our hearts and minds.  There is no blessing that God will withhold from the one who is completely surrendered to Him and there is no power in this world that can overcome those that are committed to doing His will.

The First Step Towards God Meeting Your Needs

provision, Matthew 6:33I would like to focus on a thought the Holy Spirit shared with me this week and examine it in closer detail.  God is so good and faithful to His children and as I was praying for wisdom and direction for this week’s blog entry, this is what was impressed upon me:  In order for God to fully provide for us, we must fully provide ourselves to Him.

Immediately following this thought I recalled a verse of scripture, Matthew 6:33, which says:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to (provided for) you. (NASB)

By the fact that this scripture immediately followed the thought I knew that it was from God and that I needed to share it.

On a basic level, all of us enjoy the blessings of life, whether we know God and acknowledge Him or not.  But according to our thought for today and the scripture verse that goes along with it, certain things will only be provided once we have begun to seek Him first, over and above all else.  Does that mean that God will withhold certain things from His children when they do not seek Him and do not put him first?  Yes, I believe that is exactly what it means and once again we can go to scripture to look for examples.

“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities
And lack of bread in all your places,
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
 “Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you
While there were still three months until harvest.
Then I would send rain on one city
And on another city I would not send rain;
One part would be rained on,
While the part not rained on would dry up.  (Amos 4:6-7) NASB

Notice, God withheld rain and there was a lack of food because His people were in rebellion and would not turn back to Him.  Rain is necessary for water to drink for all living things and without it food becomes scarce.  Rain and the water it brings can be thought of as the most basic and critical necessity for life and God alone is responsible for its abundance or lack thereof.

Our verse in Amos was in the past but what about in the future?  Does the Bible have anything to say that would indicate God could use this type of withholding again?  Yes, it does, in fact.

 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. (Zechariah 14:16-17)

Zechariah chapter 14 is prophecy.  It speaks about a day that has not yet come to pass and verses 16 and 17 are thought to take place after the 2nd coming of Jesus.  So if God withheld provision in the form of rain and water from His people in the past and will do so in the future then it does not take any stretch of the imagination to believe that He is doing so now.  And if He will do it for an entire nation or body of people then He will certainly do it for us as individuals.  To turn around the thought we started with, if we are withholding ourselves from God and seeking after other things then we can expect God to begin withholding certain things from us and before too much time has passed we will begin to find ourselves in need.

As children of God, we should know that He is generous and desires to give abundantly.  It is never His desire to withhold from us and to see us in lack or in need.  We have a responsibility to stay in the place where God can bless us and He can only do so when we are actively seeking Him.  To find healing and renewal for ourselves, for our families and for our country we must turn our eyes and hearts towards Jesus our savior and cry out to Him.  Only He can provide what we so desperately need.

Today’s Bread Is Ready, Are You?

Matthew 6:11, provision, faithOur title today comes from Matthew 6:11 which is part of what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Jesus Himself prayed this prayer as an example to us and that makes it especially important for us to learn and understand.  It is to our great benefit to apply His words to our lives and when we fail to do so we miss out on many of the blessings that God has prepared for us.

I find it especially important that Jesus included the phrase “give us this day our daily bread”.  In effect, Jesus is telling us that we need to recognize that our provision comes from God and that it will be sufficient for “today” (meaning now).  Looking at it another way, when we fail to ask God to provide what we need, we are either exercising a lack of faith (we don’t believe God can really provide what we need) or outright denial of God (we ignore His authority completely and count on ourselves or others for provision).  Either way, it is a mistake that we can’t afford to make.

It’s also important here to know what the Bible means when it refers to bread.  In a broad sense, bread is everything that we need to survive and thrive.  It is physical nourishment, it is energy and will, it is fellowship and spiritual renewal and it is most definitely salvation unto eternal life.  All of this comes from God and is available to us if only we will ask and believe.

The problem for us comes when we fail to ask or worse, fail to believe.  For many of God’s children, even though we have may have made a profession of faith at some point, we leave God out of the most fundamental things in life by simply not asking and by not taking our needs directly to Him.  He knows us, He created us and He is standing ready to provide.  He has our daily bread ready and waiting for us before we ever ask.  He loves us that much and I know it hurts His heart when we struggle alone or look to other sources for what He alone can provide.

The good news is that it is still “today”.  There is still time (there is never a bad time) to call upon the Lord and cast all of our cares on Him.  He has prepared what each of us needs to make it through whatever we are facing today.  Have we humbly asked and then, in faith, expected Him to provide?  Or, in the midst of our business and worry, have we forgotten Who created the world and everything in it, and is due all glory and honor forevermore?

 

The Believer’s Proof

faith, provision, dependenceToday I am working off of a very simple but very powerful truth.  That whatever it is that I lack, God can supply it.  Or to turn it around, whatever it is that you lack, God can supply it.

Lately, for whatever reason, God keeps bringing me back to the basic idea of faith and belief in Him and His sovereignty.  And for us to really “get” the idea that God really can supply all of our needs and that He really does love us so much that He is standing, waiting to provide what we need if we would only ask, we need our faith increased.

Our faith needs to be proven and it needs to be exercised and stretched, like a muscle.  And for that to happen we need to be in a position where we don’t have all the answers and we don’t have the resources that we need.  Because once we realize that we don’t have what we need and we can’t manufacturer it or get it anywhere else but God, then we can rely on Him and watch as He miraculously provides above and beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

And then the process needs to be repeated and in that process, our faith in and dependence on God will increase.

There are many ways that this can happen.  For some of us who are very stubborn, we will only realize this truth when we have made almost every mistake that there is to make and gotten ourselves in very bad shape.  Call it a crisis point or coming to the end of ourselves, but that is what it takes for some of us.  And it is only when we’ve realized how wrong we have been and how far we have strayed and how fruitless our actions have been can we then turn to a holy God and repent and ask Him to turn our lives around for good.

For others, it is a more gradual process of realization as the Holy Spirit draws and the individual begins to listen and prove what God is saying.  Thankfully, the end result is the same.  No matter how we come or when we come, as long as we fully commit our hearts and lives to God and continue to depend on Him for everything, God will use us and bless many through us.

So my question today, for all of us, is this: what do you lack?  Whether it be something obvious and incessant or something subtle and hidden from the view of most.  And once we have realized that need, are we completely dependent on our precious Savior to meet it, waiting for His provision, or are we looking somewhere else?