Provision

From God comes…

One of the many names for God in the Old Testament is Yahweh Yireh or Jehovah Jireh which means “The Lord Will Provide.” First found in Genesis 22:13-14, the actual Hebrew word here means “provide” or “see” or “see to it.” God is our provider. He will see to it that all our needs are supplied. (Philippians 4:19) He will make sure we have enough.

Of course, God’s idea of enough and ours could differ. When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, they appeared to have everything needed for a happy existence. However, Satan showed up and convinced them they needed more, so they ate the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3) Guess what? Satan has been convincing people through the ages that what God provides is not enough. 

From Satan comes feelings of envy, lust, and greed. We want what the other guy has. (Psalm 72:2-3) We think, “Why do they have all the good things in life and I don’t?” These thoughts drain all the joy out of our lives and make it impossible to appreciate what God has provided for us.  

We live in a world bombarding us with subliminal messages telling us we aren’t rich enough, thin enough, smart enough, successful enough, or happy enough—all designed to fill us with discontent. We aren’t thankful for what God provides physically, so we miss what He provides spiritually. Charles Spurgeon once said, “It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.”

Missionary Hudson Taylor had a passion to reach the people of China. At one point, his financial secretary told him he had a balance of twenty-five cents in his account. Taylor enthusiastically replied, “Twenty-five cents? I’m rich! I have 25 cents, and all the promises of God!”

It wasn’t the quarter that made him rich; it was all the promises of God. Our God can supply all our needs! (Philippians 4:19) A quarter in God’s hands is more than enough than a million dollars in the hands of man. Jesus fed the 5000 with a few fish and a small amount of bread, proving that a little is a lot when God is involved. (Matthew 14:15-21)

God is able to supply all our physical and spiritual needs. Jesus is the bread of life. (John 6:35) He is the living water. (John 4:13-14) God is the strength of our hearts. (Psalm 73:25-26) God is love. (1 John 4:8) God is our provider. As we trust God, we begin to see that from Him comes all the provisions we need in every facet of our lives. 

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Sufficiency

From God comes…

From God comes sufficiency. A definition of sufficiency is to have an adequate amount of something, especially something essential.

The world wants us to be self-sufficient. There is nothing wrong with working hard, taking care of ourselves, or learning to deal with problems. God expects us to put forth effort to succeed, sustain, and survive. However, our quality of life ultimately comes from being able to rely on God. When we face disappointment, discouragement, or dilemmas, our best course of action is to look to God and surrender to His will.

The apostle Paul had some sort of infirmity that he felt hindered him from serving God more effectively.  So, he asked God several times to remove it. God had other plans. He did not remove it, but instead said, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) Through God’s grace we have forgiveness, acceptance, and a relationship with a loving God. This relationship gives us everything we really need in life—and even in death.

God goes on to say that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. God wants us to rely totally on Him. Paul found that God’s grace was indeed sufficient for him, even in the midst of pain and discomfort. God can be glorified regardless of our circumstances.

Self-sufficient people have no room for God’s grace to shine through. God wants us to acknowledge our human deficiencies and rely on Him. Without God, we can’t really do anything of great value. (John 15:5) However, through Christ, we can do whatever God wants us to do. (Philippians 4:13) Our sufficiency comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Liberty

From God comes…

From God comes liberty. A concise definition of liberty might be the state of being free from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s life or the ability to act as one pleases. With Fourth of July so close, it is natural to think of the freedom we are privileged to experience in the United States. Unfortunately, today many spend more time using their freedom to argue, push private agendas, and spread hate, than serving others. Freedom can be a heady experience when not tempered by love and the Word of God.

Speaking of the Word of God, the Bible speaks of a freedom Christians have in Christ that many believers find hard to understand. Our ultimate freedom lies in Christ. John 8:36 Jesus tells us, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have been made free indeed.

Paul tells us more about this freedom in Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” This statement was controversial to some because before Christ, believers were linked to circumcision. They were slaves to ordinances, sacrifices, and rituals. Righteousness was measured by a list of dos and don’ts.  This list provided a certain comfort level because just following it made people feel assured of pleasing God. One never had to think about what was right or wrong—just look at the list. That was the old covenant, which was a physical approach to a physical law.

The new covenant is a spiritual approach. We have access to God directly. There is no need to jump through hoops to get His attention. He walks with us and talks with us. However, even though Paul reminds us to stand fast in this freedom and not be tempted to go back to our old list of dos and don’ts, he cautions us to use it wisely—the way God intended. We are told not to pursue works of the flesh such as “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, murders, drunkenness…” (Galatians 5:19) Rather we are encouraged to walk in the spirit of “joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Freedom in Christ does not give us license to do evil. Just like freedom in America should not give one license to harm others. If anything, it should fill us with a sense of responsibility to use our freedom for the good of everyone. We do good things because we want to, not because we have to. Therein lies the real freedom in Christ, the liberty that comes from God.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Transcendent Eyesight

From God comes…

From God comes transcendent eyesight. Transcendent means above and beyond the range of normal or merely human experience. In other words, the ability to view the world, our circumstances, or people we meet from a spiritual perspective.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he asks God to give them a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so they can know God better. He prays that the eyes of their hearts may be enlightened so they can realize the riches of God’s glorious inheritance for them. (Ephesians 1:17-21) It’s a powerful passage pointing us towards God’s strength, power, might, and promises.

Paul wants their hearts to be enlightened which is another way of saying to open the eyes of their hearts. We have a legally blind woman in our congregation and I’m sometimes moved to tears when I see her raising her hands in worship as she sings, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart.” Her physical eyesight might be weak, but her spiritual eyesight is 20/20.

This kind of vision or perspective can only come from God. We want to see God as He is, not what others perceive He is. We want to see circumstance through God’s eyes, not human eyes. We want to see the spiritual meaning behind the physical situation. Prayer and relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the only way to achieve this sort of transcendent eyesight.

Physically speaking, we have a limited view of the world, a two-dimensional understanding. God’s view gives us spiritual depth perception. It opens our minds, hearts, and eyes to the miracles all around us that may be there, but we don’t recognize them. As Jacob once said, “Surely the Lord is in the place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16). We need spiritual insight to be aware of where God is working all around us, so we can allow Him to work through us to help others.

When the King of Aram sent armies to capture the prophet Elisha, the city was surrounded. His servant was frightened at the site of so many soldiers. Then Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha asked God to “Open his eyes, Lord, so he may see.” Then God opened his servant’s eyes and he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17-18)

Of course, God may not deliver us out of every dire situation the way we wish. However, without this spiritual transcendent eyesight, we forget that what we experience on earth is not as important as the eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ. Inviting Him to be part of every aspect of our physical lives gives Him the opportunity to grant us deeper spiritual understanding. Only God can open the eyes of our hearts to see Him everywhere we go and be present in everything we do. 

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Call to Worship

From God comes…

From God comes a call to worship Him. God beckons us to worship Him! This is not just an invitation, but an admonition. We were created to worship God. (Isaiah 43:21) The Bible is full of exhortations to praise God.

To worship in the biblical sense means to admire, adore, esteem, exalt, honor, glorify, respect, reverence, pray, supplicate, sanctify, or extol. We don’t worship God from an academic duty, but a heartfelt gratitude because He is our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and so much more.

There are many ways to worship God. We can worship through praise, adoration, thanksgiving, prayers, offerings, music, and so on, but our biggest act of worship is presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. (Romans 12:1) Our whole life should be an act of worship towards God. Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Psalm 113:3 says, “From the rising to the setting sun, the Lord is to be praised.”

God doesn’t command us to worship Him for His benefit, but ours. If He just wanted His name shouted over and over again like some sort of rock star, He could create beings to do that. What God wants is our heart. He wants a relationship with those who realize how much He loves them. Then they will want to worship Him.

There are so many different forms of worship. Worship can be informal, formal, meditative, exuberant, quiet, or lively. All can be an outpouring of love to Jesus. Since worship is relational and a heart issue, it can manifest itself in many ways with various people. Therefore, we must guard against judging the hearts of those who express their love for God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit a little differently than we do.    

Take for example the woman from Bethany who poured very costly fragrant oil over Jesus’ head. This was an act of worship that many there could not understand. This ointment cost 300 denarii which was about a year’s wages back then. So the disciples criticized her sharply. They thought it offensive to use expensive oil in this way when it could have been sold to help the poor. (Mark 14:1-9)

Jesus had a different perspective. He defended her actions saying, “Why are you finding fault with her? She has done a lovely thing for me.” He recognized her heartfelt act of worship.

How quick are we to judge how people worship God? Although we may not choose to glorify God through rap lyrics or rock music, that doesn’t mean it’s offensive to God. It all depends on the heart of those bringing it before the Lord. God likes soft music and loud music. While not all of us feel comfortable enough to dance before the Lord, David did and so did many others. (2 Samuel 6:14; Psalm 149:3) The Psalms are full of examples of worshiping God through quiet meditation, speaking, shouting, singing, bowing, standing, dancing, lifting hands, clapping, playing musical instruments, etc.

We are called to worship God. God leaves the way we do that up to us. As long as a person’s worship is sincere, heartfelt, and pleasing to God, who are we to criticize?  

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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A Way Out

From God comes…

From God comes a way out.

At times, we all feel trapped by our trials. Some circumstances are beyond our control. Life can be overwhelming. We think we have no way out. We pray for God’s deliverance but nothing seems to change. Academically, we know God is our refuge, strength, and ever-present help in times of trouble. (Psalms 46:1) Our all-powerful God can indeed make a way for us where there seems to be no way. (Isaiah 43:16, 19) However, God’s way may not be the way we envision.

The purpose of prayer is not to always get us immediately out of our troubles, but to get us through them. In order to get out, we may have to go through certain challenges. Prayer doesn’t always change our circumstances, but prevailing, persevering, and passionate prayer can change us. It can give us a spiritual perspective so we don’t feel that God is letting us down. It can give us the patience to wait for God’s timing. It can teach us to trust God because He loves us dearly. We learn to praise God in spite of our hardships. We realize God’s solutions will be best for us and His plan for our lives, and will bring glory to Him.

Sometimes the roads we travel are filled with mountains to climb and rivers to cross. We get tired and weary. Our faith grows weak. Perhaps sorrow and grief seem greater than we can bear. Our strength is depleted—and if we are only relying on our own strength, chances are we might not make it. However, God has promised to “pass through the waters” with us.

When Ancient Israel went through distressing times, God had words of comfort and hope to offer them through the prophet Isaiah. “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you…” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

The Israelites had been dispersed and scattered by the Assyrians. Judah was being taken captive by Babylon. Yet even though these overwhelming events were happening, God told them He would be with them. When they had to “pass through” difficult times, God would be with them. This was His promise to them—and to us—and God keeps all His promises. (1 Kings 8:56)

How can we be sure that God will “pass through” with us? Because God says, “Fear not! I have redeemed you! I have called you by name and you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). We are God’s. He has purchased our eternal salvation. We are precious to God. And while it’s true that we must sometimes “pass through” trials in order to have a way out, God is always with us. Christ is in us.

This quote from missionary Elisabeth Elliot sums it up nicely: “The secret is Christ in me, not me and a different set of circumstances.”

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…” ~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Spiritual Companionship

From God comes…

From God comes spiritual companionship.

Companionship is not just fellowship but intimacy and closeness. Spiritual companionship goes even deeper because it means we never have to feel abandoned, alone, or forsaken. It’s the reason Paul could say that he was troubled, but not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, and cast down but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

When Christ was born, He was named Emmanuel which means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) God desires to be with us—so much so that He came to us. He is with us all the time. He’s with us in the good times and bad times. He’s with us when we feel like we can’t go on. He’s with us when our hearts are breaking. He celebrates with us. He cries with us. He feels our pain, plus helps us cope, keep perspective, and survive.

God will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) In fact, the very last thing Jesus told His disciples before He ascended to heaven was that He would never leave or forsake them. (Matthew 28:20) He did not want them to feel alone. He wanted them to know He would be with them everywhere they went and in everything they would do. The same promise applies to us. Even if we walk through the shadow of death, we have nothing to fear because God is with us. (Psalm 23:4)

Not only is God with us, He understands us. Our high priest Jesus can empathize with everything we go through because He knows our weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15) Not even our best friends, spouses, or family members understand how we feel all the time, but God does! To be honest, half the time we don’t even know why we feel the way we do, but God does! God knows us better than we know ourselves.

God even knows why certain things happen in our lives. Believe it or not, we don’t always need to know why things happen. All we need to know is WHO we can rely on during the tough times. Emmanuel is our spiritual companion. God is with us! God is even in us! (Colossians 1:27) There is never a reason to feel abandoned, alone, or forsaken because you can’t get any closer than that!

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…” ~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Abundance

From God comes…

From God comes abundance.  

Christ came so we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Some modern ministers want us to believe this refers to wealth and prosperity. They encourage people to go boldly before God and claim this promised abundance. These “health and wealth” or “name it and claim it” preachers measure faith by how much God blesses us materially. That is not what this scripture means.  

In fact, Jesus said that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things he might possess. (Luke 12:15) If we seek first the kingdom of God, we won’t have to be overly concerned about such matters. (Matthew 6:31-33) If we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us when the time is right. (1 Peter 5:6-7)   

I’m not saying an abundant life precludes riches or worldly success, but it does not depend on it either. Paul knew this better than anyone. He knew how to be abased or exalted, have a full tummy or an empty one, to abound or suffer—and through it all be content and give thanks. (Philippians 4:11-13; Ephesians 5:20) In other words, we can experience the abundant life even if we are going through major trials or poor as church mice.  

The life Jesus refers to in John 10:10 is eternal life, everlasting life, or life without fear of death. The phrase “more abundantly” is the Greek word “perissos” meaning “beyond, more, and above measure.” It refers back to the word “life.” Not only did Jesus come to give us eternal life, but even more than that, He lives His life within us right now. His very presence in us adds something immeasurable to our existence. He is what makes our life worth living in spite of how much money we have in the bank.

If we read the whole passage of John 10, we see it says that Jesus is our shepherd, we sheep hear His voice, and His door is always open for us. The whole context is about us having access to God. And that, my friend, is what the more abundant life is all about. Not only do we get eternal life, but as an added bonus we can have a relationship with Jesus Christ—the very One who makes it all possible.

Man views abundance in terms of physical possessions. God has a different perspective. His abundant life is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, character, wisdom, enthusiasm, dignity, optimism, confidence, honesty, and a relationship with Him. In other words, the more abundant life is full of all the things money can’t buy.

Abundance is not always about having more possessions; sometimes it’s about having enough.

*****

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Identity

From God comes…

From God comes our identity. Our identity is in Christ.

A lot of people are confused today about who they are and have what is called an identity crisis. People try to define themselves based on their occupation, looks, education, gender, success, lack of money, or background. Sometimes they let others define them which can be tricky since each person we meet views us differently. Images we have of ourselves can be hazy, like looking through a carnival mirror full of distortions. Our mirror needs to reflect who we really are in Christ, not some ambiguous likeness full of uncertainty.

Once we turn our lives over to Christ, our identity is in Him, not in what the world would have us think. From that very moment, we become a new person. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24) Learning to view ourselves as God sees us, can make a difference in how we live our lives.

God calls us His children. (John 1:12) He has chosen us to be His. (Ephesians 1:4-5) He loves us unconditionally. (Romans 5:8) He has forgiven us. (1 John 2:12) He accepts us. (Romans 15:7) He redeems us. (Ephesians 1:7) His grace has justified us. (Romans 3:24) He does not condemn us. (Romans 8:1) He frees us from being slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6) He lets the Holy Spirit dwell in us. (1 Corinthians 6:19) He blesses us. (Ephesians 1:3) He completes us. (Colossians 2:10)

We have done nothing to earn these things. They are freely given to us because of who we are in Christ. While we may want to change our behavior to reflect our identity in Christ, we do not need to earn our salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9) God has welcomed us into being members of His household and heirs. (Ephesians 2:19; Romans 8:17) Sometimes it helps to see ourselves as God sees us and He sees us as His children. (1 John 3:1)

Embracing our identity in Christ brings a certain peace. We have no need to seek the world’s approval. We don’t need to compare ourselves with others which usually leaves us feeling like we will never measure up. We don’t need to fear the unknown. We can even have confidence in what the future holds for us eternally because God has everything under control.

If we already know who we are, we don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to figure it out. Recognizing our identity in Christ gives us more time to live a meaningful life.  

*****

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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Power

From God comes…

From God comes power.

Often we hear the adage that there is power in prayer. That may be a little misleading because prayer by itself has no power at all. The power actually comes from the One to whom we pray—God!

David understood this. In 1 Chronicles 29:12, he praised God by saying, “Both riches and honor come from You and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might.” In God’s hand is power! We pray to the One who has all the power!

Prayer is not a means of coercing or manipulating God into doing what we want. It is a process of recognizing His power and plan for our lives. We yield our lives and circumstances to the Lord and trust Him to act in His time and in His way. We have faith in on God‘s grace, not only for the outcome of our request, but for the process as well. We can trust God’s wisdom in our situation because we know He loves and cares for us. (John 3:16; 1 Peter 5:7)   

For our own growth and edification, God may think it’s best not to give us everything we want instantly. Instead of healing, He might give us strength. Instead of deliverance, He might give us perseverance. Instead of a sparing a loved one’s life, He might give us peace. Instead of winning the lottery, He might give us a job.

How foolish we would be not to continuously access power that is available to us! God wants us to pray. Prayer acknowledges that we know how great God is. Prayer lets God know we depend on Him, not only for our emergencies, but our daily needs. Praying that God’s will be done and not our own shows God that we trust Him!  

Trying to rely on our own feeble attempts to produce a desired result is shortsighted. Only God has the power to mend the broken heart of a mother or father whose son has died. Only God has the power to grant peace and calm to someone facing a cancer diagnosis. Only God has the power to give a caregiver strength to deal with a spouse who has Alzheimer’s. Only God has the power to restore a family full of grudges and deep resentment. Only God can grant understanding. Only God can reveal Himself to others.

God has the power, but we have to pray to access it. You might say that a day without prayer is a day without tapping into the power available to us. Life is hard. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need all the power I can get to just make it through one more day!   

*****

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God…”

~James 1:17 (NLT)

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