Excursus Article: It’s His AnywayRelated Media
Jesus said to His followers in Matthew 6:32-33, “Don’t let your needs dominate your thoughts.” Your heavenly Father knows your needs. He cares for the creatures in the natural world so they lack nothing. He will care for you. Give yourself to the Lord first. Pursue God’s purposes more than your own purposes. Think differently about God’s provision for you.
Out of my study, I believe God has 4 lessons for us to learn today regarding God’s provision, and they are tough ones. We might all wish we had skipped this class!
Lesson #1: God’s Provision Is His To Give And Take Away. Regard It Humbly.
Everything We Have Comes From God.
Paul reminds us about this in one of his letters to the Corinthians.
“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT).
There isn’t anything we have that we did not receive from God—birthplace, height, attractiveness, intelligence, natural talents. Yet we boastfully live as though we had everything to do with those things.
What We Have Is Not A Measure Of Our Goodness Or Our Faith.
How God chooses to provide for you or for me at any time in our lives is His sovereign choice. Paul was in God’s will and doing what God purposed for Him to do. Yet, he experienced times of hunger and need (2 Corinthians 6:5, 10). Philippians 4:12-13). When God removes what makes us comfortable and strips away our support, we actually begin to depend on Him as God Almighty—as an essential to our lives, not just an appendage. Don’t let anyone deceive you by equating prosperity with your measure of faith.
God Determines Our Provision—The How, When, And Why
Most of the time, God’s provision is going to come through people, not miraculously appear from the sky. People design products and services to sell. People take the risk to start businesses and hire workers, including you. People buy farmers’ crops. And, people provide meals for someone in a time of need. God determines how He provides to His own. We must learn to trust whatever manner He chooses.
Our Provision Belongs To God. Hold Onto It Loosely.
In 1 Kings 17:1-7, Elijah was in hiding after confronting wicked king Ahab with God’s judgment upon his wickedness—a drought for 3 ½ years. God sent Elijah to live beside a stream for about 6 months. Birds (specifically, ravens) brought him food twice a day—not exactly ordered from a menu. And, it’s during a drought so he watches the stream gradually dry up!
Chuck Swindoll says in his sermon series on Elijah, “The God who gave the water has chosen to take the water. It’s His sovereign right! He gives the child; He can take it away. He gives the business; He can take it away. He gives the house; He can take it away.”
Yikes! I don’t like that, do you? But, it’s true. #1: God’s provision is His to give and take away. Regard it humbly.
Lesson #2: God’s Provision Is Always Enough. Receive It Gratefully.
The definition of “enough” is “as much as is needed or can be tolerated.” I think I can tolerate quite a bit, don’t you? But, maybe God knows better. I’ve learned two things about this.
The Sufficiency Of God’s Enough
At the end of 40 years of nomadic life in the desert, with manna in the morning and quail every night for supper, no house or farm, no new shoes or clothes, Moses tells the people of Israel they “lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2:7). Later, he tells them that in their new land with abundant water and bountiful food they “will lack nothing” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). With little or with lots, they “lack nothing.” When you have the Lord’s provision (whatever it is), you lack nothing that you need at this time in your life. It’s what you HAVE that counts, not what you don’t have. Then, there’s…
The Creativity Of God’s Enough
When you receive God’s provision, you learn that He is trustworthy, creative, and personal. For one Old Testament widow (1 Kings 17:8-16), she had endless pancakes but only enough for today with a promise for tomorrow. No 50-pound sack of flour in her pantry. She had to trust that her jars would be refilled with flour and oil for the next day’s meals. She lacked nothing. For another woman (2 Kings 4:1-7), she had a bottomless pot of oil, enough for today and to sell for her future. She lacked nothing. God doesn’t do the same thing for everyone. Both of those widows learned to follow God’s directions even when it made no sense. Your hope is to be in your God, not in prosperity—current or future.
#2: God’s provision is always enough. Receive it gratefully.
Lesson #3: God’s Provision Is Meant To Be Shared. Give It Generously.
Compassion Is Doing, Not Feeling.
Compassion is doing something to ease someone’s pain, whether it’s for this week or more. And, most times of need last longer than a day! God’s plan for the needy in Israel was that perfectly good food was purposely left in the fields for the poor to have. It was proactive.
Compassion Requires Trusting God, Not Having Plenty.
This is totally opposite of the world’s thinking, isn’t it? There is a fine line between good stewardship of the provisions God’s given today and not trusting God enough to be able to share it.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes some of the most mind-blowing verses in the Bible. He tells about some of his Christian friends,
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity… they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. (2 Corinthians 8:2, 7)
That is so radical! Extreme poverty giving generously with overflowing joy! That’s trusting God. It’s what you do with what you have. As someone once said,
It is not what you’d do with a million, if riches should e’er be your lot. But what you are doing at present with the dollar and a quarter you’ve got. (R. G. LeTourneau)
Compassion Shares God’s Riches Flowing Through Us
God’s grace can make a dynamic difference in the mindset of His people when it comes to provision. Whether you are the receiver or the giver, how you do both should be different than what the world does.
Paul goes on to say,
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14)
Here’s the key: God’s riches to us are supplied through us to meet another’s needs. We are brothers and sisters in a large family with a responsibility to care for each other. That may require some learning to live without something so we have more to give.
Compassion Is Personal
Have you experienced the joy of deliberately and delightfully meeting the specific needs of a person with a name and a face you know? I remember a time when a friend of mine shopped with two baskets—1 for her family, the other for our family. Everything she bought for her family for Thanksgiving, she bought for us, including all the staples to make everything we’d need. When she pulled up in my driveway, I was absolutely floored by her love in action. Compassion is personal.
#3: God’s provision is meant to be shared. Give it generously.
Lesson #4: God’s Provision Brings Him Glory. Praise Him Openly.
Knowing women, we usually want to openly share how God creatively provided for us in a tough time. That is giving Him praise. Acknowledging that what we have, whether much or little, all comes from God is giving Him glory. Every time you tell about it, thank Him. Ask God to give you frequent opportunity to tell that story and give Him praise.
#4: God’s provision brings Him glory. Praise Him openly.
My dear sisters, let’s recognize God’s provision to us as being supplied to us for His purposes. Whenever there doesn’t seem to be enough, remember these four truths to stand strong in the tough times:
- God loves you
- God knows what is going on in your life
- God can do something about it
- You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do
Whatever provision you do receive from God: regard it humbly, receive it gratefully, give it generously and, praise Him openly.