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Posts Tagged ‘God’s provision’

Faith is the heroic effort of your life,

you fling yourself in reckless confidence on God. (1)

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The moment you step out in faith, trusting God, a friend will caution you to be careful and to be reasonable, as he asks, “Have you lost your mind?”

My response has become:  “I have not lost my mind, but I have relinquished my will!”

Losing your mind is easier than releasing your will.

At the age of 73, while scrimping by on a fixed pension and social security, Pat told her husband, Ray, that God recently spoke to her.  Rolling his eyes, Ray asked, “What did He tell you?”

Pat explained that God told her that she and Ray needed to started tithing, giving away 10% of their income to God’s ministry through the church.  Ray laughed, explaining that to do so would be impossibly foolish since they were barely making ends meet while not giving to the church.

Pat thought that with a sacrifice here and there, they could do it.  Ray’s response was, “Do what you wish, but I am not giving up anything, especially my Steelers’ tickets!”

A year later Pat came to Ray and said, “God spoke to me last night.”  As he did the year before Ray rolled his eyes and asked what she heard.

Pat reported, “God wants us to give 15% of our income away this year!”  

Poised to laugh and make fun of such a crazy idea, Ray paused and realized that if God was asking for more this year, then Pat must have given away 10% of their income the year before.

Ray looked at her and said, “You could not have given away 10% last year, I did not notice anything different!  I had everything I wanted.”

Pat smiled and said, “No, you did not make any sacrifices!  Yes, we did give 10% away last year.”

I did not meet Pat till she was 77.  She and Ray were then giving 25% of their annual income to God’s ministry through the church.

Pat’s faith and generous trust in God inspired a church to build a medical clinic for the poor in Africa.  This is something she would have never been able to do.  Her heroic faith inspired others who did.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (2)

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Isaiah 12:2.
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If God is slow in coming, wait!

He is on His way!

He will be right on time! (1)

There are times when we endure want, need, loneliness, absence, and pain. In these times we are likely to cry out to God either questioning His absence or demanding His presence with us.

During these difficult seasons we may be surrounded by Christian friends, immersed in the Word, and receiving compassionate care from our Pastor, yet we find these gifts of grace inadequate.  While each is valuable, none of them satisfy our deep longing for God Himself.

For these difficult times, this analogy by Hannah Smith is most helpful:

If a child cries, its father does not always go himself at first, but waits to see if it will quiet down without him.  If it continues to cry, he may send someone else in the family to comfort it, or give it something to cheer it up, and if it is satisfied with this, he himself may not have to take care of it himself.  But if it still continues to cry for its father and will not be satisfied with anything else, then that the father himself goes and takes care of the child and lets it know his love. (2)

God has provided for our comfort.  He frequently uses others and His Word to bring us comfort and hope during trials and seasons of suffering.

Through these instruments of His peace, God woos us to Himself.  In the darkness and through the maze of confusion, God draws us to Him in our time of need.  

Yet, if we cannot find our way to Him, He will come to us.

The only way to live an abundant life is to depend upon God, to live by His side, and not to let worldly comforts become the source of your comfort.  

So often, we are miserable, not because God has abandoned us, but because we seek comfort from a world which cannot provide it.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. … 

When God is with me … 

He comforts me … (3)  

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  1. Habakkuk 2:3.  Exegetical note: I have revised this verse by replacing the impersonal pronoun it with God. Habakkuk is waiting on a Word from God.  God promises that His vision, i.e., Himself, will come.
  2. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
  3. Psalm 23:1 and 4

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Self-sufficiency is a myth perpetuated 

by pride and temporary success. (1)

John Wayne is The American Hero.  He is strong, compassionate, firm, gracious, and independent!

Most Americans are raised to be self-sufficient.  I was, so was my wife, and so were our sons.  My parents poured the importance of fierce independency within me.  Dependency was never reinforced at my house.

Independency works well when all goes well, but when times are difficult, we learn that if it were not for others we would have not survived.

Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41 reminded him that his years of fertility and gluttony would be followed by years of sterility and want.  With Jacob’s help he planned ahead and survived this crisis.

However, hardship can come in an instant and endure for seasons leaving no time for planning and the storing up of adequate reserves.

Most of us deplore relying upon others for help.  I do.

When I am strong and self-sufficient, I forget that I need God because I am confidant I can pull myself up by my own boot straps without Him.  This is a deadly presumption.

I once went through a 4 year struggle.  I was convinced the world was against me and that by simply enduring and plugging away, I’d reach the end of the tunnel.  Whenever I saw the light at the end of the tunnel it disappeared.

Only when I when I reach a point of desperation did I acknowledge that I was in spiritual warfare.  I was in a battle with Satan and the forces of evil and darkness.  This is a battle which none of us will ever win by ourselves no matter how strong.

It was Jesus, not John Wayne who said to me:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2)

I may manage meeting most of my earthly needs on my own, but the day will come when only God will be able to help me.

My success is always less than His.

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  1. Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 127). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. 2 Corinthians 12:9.

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Come to me with empty hands and an open heart, 

ready to receive abundant blessings. (1)

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I have a hard time receiving gifts because either my pride or my expectations are too high.

I do not believe I am alone.

A friend wanted to say thank you to me earlier this week with a simple gift.

In gratefulness, I should have accepted it and say, “Thank you,” but I did not.  My pride was a hinderance.

In exasperation he told me to at least take it and give it away to someone in need.  It was only then when I accepted the gift.

He wanted to say thank you and I frustrated him with my pride.

Shame on me!

I wonder how often I have done this to God?

We expect God to bless us in specific ways. When He does not come bearing the gifts we expect, we act like He is a burden to us.

God has a specific gift for us.

The gift is Himself!

Unfortunately, we frequently reject the gift of Himself because we want a specific blessing rather than Him.

Jesus taught, 

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (2)

I wonder how many times has God come to me with a gift and I have rejected Him?

Sometimes, I am amazed God keeps blessing me.

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  1. Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 123). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. Matthew 6:8

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The mind is the most restless, 

unruly part of mankind! (1)

Earlier this week when heading off to work before sunrise the moon caught my attention.  It was a simple crescent, a sliver of light adorning the predawn sky.  It was gorgeous.

In that brief moment I paused to reflect on the beauty and complexity of creation.  Everything arranged in perfect order for the creation and sustainment of life.  

How can anyone imagine that all of this just happened by an evolving explosion of the dice of fate?

The imaginations of our minds can lead to an amazing assortment of thoughts to justify actions which defy reasoning and the love of our hearts.

For example, I have yet to figure out why it is illegal to kill baby animals, but it is o.k. to kill a human baby in the womb. 

Only a restless and unruly mind could think of such an egregious act.

When we observe animals in nature we see the natural paternal love of a male protecting the pregnant female and the mother’s maternal love protecting her young while the father searches for food.  We observe in the animal kingdom the power of love to protect and provide for life from conception.

Yet, humans, who we claim are smarter than any of the animals, have decided that willful choice is more important than compassionate love.  We have decided, in our minds, that the protection of the right to kill is more important than protecting the life killed.

The restless unruliness of our minds can lead to horrible genocide.  Hitler was convinced that pure bred Germans would be better for the human race than pure bred Jews.  Sunnis are certain they are better than Shiites. 

The list of reasoned, yet tragic hate is long.

All of these convictions are justified by minds gone wild.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (2)

When the human mind goes wild in sin it fails to love as commanded by God and desired by all who live.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with ALL YOUR MIND. (3)

Let God’s love and a love for God control your mind.

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  1. Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 117). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. Romans 8:6, Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 117). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Matthew 22:37.

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I must still live by naked faith alone, resting on His word, 

and trusting in His infinite love. (1)

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Naked faith, the phrase grabbed me the first time I read it.  

Three times the Bible tells us that as believers we live by faith alone! (2)  This is a phrase which I have used so often that I am afraid it passes through the mind of those who hear it like teflon, it no longer sticks.

To live by naked faith alone reminds me of the old Greyhound Bus commercial: “Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us!” 

Isn’t God saying the same to us, “Trust me and let me do my work!” 

This is what a farmer does.  He tills, plants, fertilizes, and then trusts God to do His work.  An agriscientist can tell us how plants grow and what’s needed to make them grow, but at the end of the day, she has to wait for God’s miraculous work.

I would go crazy as a farmer.  Everyday, I’d be out in the fields looking for something to do to make my crops grow.  I’d stare down the sky for either more sun and heat or more rain and moisture.  I’d pluck a weed here, fluff a clod of soil there.  While I might think I did something spectacular, I really did nothing.

We keep ourselves busy, frantic, and stressed trying to gather the most toys and to grow a great life for ourselves and our kids.  

I know many people who have been successful gathering toys, but are miserable failures when it comes to building lives.

They keep wondering what’s wrong.  They are dying because they trust in themselves, alone.

We are so busy doing, we often forget that only God can get it done!

I wonder if God would be happier, if we would tend to our lives like a farmer?

I wonder if we would be happier if like a farmer, we lived by naked faith alone?

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  1. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
  2. Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38

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He is not afraid of bad news; 

his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

Psalm 112:7

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Frequently, I will be told, “I do not think I can handle anymore bad news!” 

As a Pastor I have stood and wept with friends who are bearing more burdens than is fair nor than I can imagine bearing myself. That’s the key word, myself.

God has done two things to make sure I am never by myself during times of difficulty.

First, He has promised to be with me always (Matthew 28:20), to share my burdens (Matthew 11:30), and not to let anything separate me from His love (Romans 8:37-39).  When I remember these promises, I am confidant of His presence and am not afraid when the darkness of the world overshadows me.  I know He is with me.

This is when David’s affirmation in Psalm 112:7 makes perfect sense in my heart, mind, and spirit.  I am never alone because God is with me.

However, I must confess there are times when shadows are so deep and threatening that my heart, mind, and spirit cannot fathom the presence of God.  Even though God has always proven Himself to me during seasons of difficulty, there are times when my faith wavers and dims and I feel horribly alone.

This is when God’s back-up plan is a blessing which overcomes my overwhelming sense of loneliness.  His second blessing is that He has placed me within a community of faith.  In His gracious mercy, He has brought me into the Body of Christ, the Church.

Frequently, I am told, “I would have never made it without my friends in the church!”  

God envelopes us in His loving arms through sisters and brothers in the Church.  God makes His presence real, fleshy, warm, and fuzzy through the Body of Christ.

The Church is God’s Body, His presence with us, when to our insides, in our heart, mind, and spirit, God seems absence.  When we are alone on the inside, God is with us on the outside through brothers and sisters in His Church.  Friends who care for us with their bodily presence.

Frequently, I will say to a member who has stopped participating in the church, “We miss you!” 

In response they will tell me, “All is going well in my life … I do not need the church, right now!” 

I sigh, grateful that all is well with their soul today.  Then I simply say, “But some body in the church needs you to be His God-in-the-flesh, today!”

God still needs you to be His blessing to someone in need, even if you do not need His blessing today.

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