Scripture Reading: Genesis 22:14
Let us begin today’s reflection with the words of a Christ writer: “God will provide beyond what we imagine, so much more than we can fathom, He will supply. God will provide when we trust in Him completely and take each step believing as a child. God will provide, He will provide……I know my God – will provide.” Indeed, Jesus wants us to live an anxiety-free life. Our scriptural reference says, “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Jireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (New Living Translation). There are at least 169 verses in the Bible that refer to the ways God provides for us. Philippians 4:19 puts it simply: “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” We should take a closer look at what God desires to provide for us.
Beloved, God is concerned with every part of our being: spirit, soul, and body. As the facets of His character are infinite, so the ways God provides for us are beyond anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We can trust His goodness, guidance, and shepherding care to do more for us than we could ever achieve on our own. God provides a way for us to develop an intimate, conversational, obedient relationship with Him so that we can lead ourselves and others into a “Psalm 23” quality of life. Those whose shepherd is the Lord can say, “I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1). The scripture says in Proverbs 10:3, “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”
Dear friends, our scriptural reading today tells us how God provided miraculously a lamb of sacrifice for Abraham. This Lamb which God provided was a prefiguration of Jesus the Lamb of God that will take away the sins of the world for our salvation. With this, it is clear that the first need which God provides for is our need for salvation; therefore what we must seek is first, the salvation of our soul. As such, scripture will say “Seek first the Kingdom.” (Matt6:33) God knows you need water, clothes, food, a job, etc. He’ll never let the righteous go hungry. Continually pray to God and don’t doubt, but have faith that He will help. God is able to do more than we ask Him. God is able to accomplish, provide, help, save, keep, subdue… He is able to do what you can’t do for yourself.
Child of God, what do you need from God? Are you in need of deliverance, spiritual empowerment, for personal revival, financial and economic expansion, security and protection, educational excellence, employment, life partner, fruits of the womb, restoration of good health and healing, miraculously uplifting, long life, justice? What are your needs, not your wants? Are any of these keeping you awake on your bed? What is it that has taken away the peace of your mind? Can you believe God for that provision? It does not matter how long the problem has lasted, what matters is your unwavering faith in divine providence, that is, faith that God will provide that miracle for you. He miraculously provided a lamb for Abraham; He abundantly provided the supply of a great catch of fish for Peter even after many hours of unfruitful labour. Peter had faith in him and obeyed. That same God will provide for your needs in the name of Jesus. Psalm 146:7 the scriptures says, “He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners.” Luke 12:24 says, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest, they don’t have storerooms or barns, but God feeds them. And you are worth much more than birds.”
God is the Great Provider.
I’d known that since childhood, but I didn’t truly recognize His personal provision for our every need until I was in my early thirties, with two young children and another one on the way, a husband who worked several extra jobs on the side, and an income that still didn’t cover all our expenses.
It was a desert season. We were frustrated by trying to make our money stretch, I was depressed, and our marriage was stuck in neutral. The tunnel looked dark, and I couldn’t see a way out.
On paper we were poor, yet I can look back now and see how I richly experienced God’s presence during that time. With a burgeoning belly, one toddler on my hip, and another wrapped around my knees, it wasn’t uncommon for me to open my near- empty refrigerator and whisper prayers of petition wrapped in thanksgiving: God, You will meet our every need. You have never failed us. You are in control. It was a “this is it” season. This, I would tell myself, is when our faith is proven real.
It wasn’t the first period in my life when I’d been forced to depend on God alone. A key example is the day my friend Courtney died tragically in a car wreck. I’d known Jesus as my personal Savior for ten years at that point, but at just nineteen, my faith was still mostly untested and immature. I felt empty, alone, and abandoned by God. The day I lost Courtney is still clear in my memory. Stifling tear-filled screams as I clenched and unclenched my fists, I crumpled to my dorm room floor and clasped my hands over my heart. “Where are You, Jesus?” I asked audibly, as I nearly hyperventilated. “Where are You now? Why can’t I feel You? Are You even real?”
Through heavy-hearted days during which sleep evaded me, God slowly, gently began to heal my grief. He soothed me through 1 Peter 1:6-9:
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Jim and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Fast forward more than a decade, and the circumstances of this season were certainly different from that heartbreaking day in 1999. But in this trial, too, God was building our faith. Just as I personally had learned to trust Him as I walked through a season of grief, our family would learn to trust God during a season of need. It had been easy to trust Him when we weren’t in want. Now that we were, God was cultivating in us a deeper faith, a stronger trust in His provision.
I started looking at and crediting each and every incident as God’s provision for our family. Like manna in the wilderness, the Lord provided again and again and again. As time passed, I saw it more clearly than ever, and looking back, I realize He provided all along.
The manna or “bread” from heaven in Exodus 16 wasn’t what the Israelites wanted, but it was what they needed. It wasn’t extravagant, and in their shortsightedness, forgetting the turmoil the Egyptians inflicted upon them, they grumbled against God’s provision. Still, it met their needs.
Born in the United States to a semi-affluent family, I’d never experienced true want. I’d lived in abundance, as most of us in this country do. But now that my family was in need, God proved that we truly lacked nothing. Perhaps we desired more, but just as the Lord had provided for the Israelites in the desert, He covered our needs.
Whether it was through a playhouse at a garbage dump or fruit from a stranger, God has consistently provided for our family’s needs. The ways He can do this for you too are unlimited.
Good deals, great finds, and unexpected gifts
Have you ever opened your mailbox to find a higher tax return than you anticipated, a rebate from an item you purchased, or an unexpected check? None of these are random, my friend. When we cultivate a spirit of gratitude for God’s provision, we’ll see clearly how He cares for us in tangible ways. (And I argue that He gives to us so we can, in turn, give back to others as well.)
When our firstborn was three, her pediatrician diagnosed her with gluten intolerance. At the time, we were struggling to buy basic groceries. How would we rise to the overwhelming challenge of fitting expensive gluten-free foods into our budget? Not long after her diagnosis, I was poring over my weekly meal plan when I heard a knock on our front door. It was one of Will’s coworkers, Kathy. Kathy has celiac disease, which had forced her to go gluten-free several years earlier. She knew how expensive gluten-free foods cost, and she knew how little money we had. She took it upon herself to purchase some extra gluten-free groceries that day. Among them were gluten-free animal crackers for our little girl.
I held back tears as we accepted this surprise gift. It was enough food for the next few days, and it helped me realize we could trust the Lord to meet our future needs because He showed over and over that He met our present ones.
Another time, my college roommate’s parents offered our little family an entire week at their beach house. Our marriage was stuck in survival mode, I was expecting our second daughter, and we hadn’t had a real vacation in years. The tiny town of Edisto, South Carolina, provided a much-needed respite during that week. We thanked my friend’s parents for their generosity and told them how they were testaments to us of God’s provision, not only for our physical needs but also for our hearts during a turbulent time in our lives.
I believe that God provides for all of our needs; nothing is coincidental. The wild blackberries we foraged from my parents’ back yard? Those were from God. The packages of organic rolled oats that showed up at Big Lots? They were from God. The gluten-free cake mix that landed on the clearance shelf for a fraction of the retail price? Yes, from God as well.
When we choose to believe events like these are simply coincidences or somehow our own doing, we fail to credit the One who has orchestrated our entire lives (Psalm 139:16), the One who has promised to provide for all our needs (Philippians 4:19), the One who deserves glory in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31) since the beginning of time. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), and sometimes His provision comes in the form of a Craigslist find or a great deal at the store.
God’s Great Supply Promise
We’re looking tonight at one of the grandest, most encouraging promises in all the Bible. But first, let’s briefly consider the background. The book of Philippians was written under divine inspiration as a letter probably while Paul was in prison at Rome, which means that it was written in approximately 61 A.D.
Here in chapter 4 Paul thanks his friends at Philippi for gifts they’ve sent to him recently and in the past and it is in that context that he, as God directs him, records the wonderful promise of Philippians 4:19. I call it “God’s Great “Supply” Promise.” Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
In order to appreciate and apply that promise as we should, we need to understand the five key elements contained in it. Let’s look at them.
I. THE GIVER OF THE SUPPLIES
First, Paul points up THE GIVER OF THE SUPPLIES. He says, “My God shall supply all your need….” Paul was saying, in essence, “You treasured friends have been gracious to share what you have with me, and I want you to know that the Lord is going to supply all of your need.” Paul’s expression, “My God,” is indicative of his personal relationship with God, who has revealed himself ultimately in Christ.
Paul is making the point that regardless of the avenue by which they reach us, all good things whatever their nature come ultimately from the hand of God. In James 1:17 we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
God uses human instrumentality, and we are to be grateful to those whom God uses to bless us and we should express our gratitude to them, although we give the glory to God. Also, you and I should always be available for God to use us to bless other people.
An elderly lady was praying, asking God for help. She prayed, “Oh, Lord, I desperately need a hundred dollars. Please send me a hundred dollars.” Her praying became very intense and loud, “Lord, I’m pleading with you please send me that hundred dollars.” Her window was slightly ajar, and a man passing by heard her and was deeply moved. He stopped on the sidewalk outside her house, and took out his billfold. All he had to his name was fifty dollars, but he determined to give that to her. He knocked on the door, and when she answered he said, “M’am, I’m a Christiana member of the local Baptist church and the Lord told me to give you this money.” She thanked him, he went his way, and she went back to her knees. She prayed, “Lord, thank you for answering my prayer, but next time please don’t send it by a Baptist he kept half of it!”
Well, maybe she just wished for a hundred dollars but actually needed only fifty. At any rate, God is the one who supplies our need.
II. THE RECIPIENTS OF THE SUPPLIES
Notice in the second place THE RECIPIENTS OF THE SUPPLIES. Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your need….”
Two things were true of those folks at Philippi to whom that promise was originally directedand, by virtue of the timelessness of the Bible, the promise can be claimed by people of all generations if they meet those same two criteria.
First of all, those to whom Paul wrote at Philippi were saved. Notice that in Philippians 1:1 Paul addresses the entire letter of Philippians “to the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” Some people have the mistaken idea that only the oldest, most mature, most spiritually discerning Christians are saints. But the fact is that in New Testament usage, a saint is any person who has been born again. Dr. Jim Smith says that there are just two kinds of people, “saints” and “ain’ts.” He says,
“Either you are a saint, or you ain’t!”
But not only were they saved, they were also givers. As we’ve already noted, they made it a point to share what they had with Paul and, that being true, it is reasonable to assume that they also shared with others, as well. Every
Christian should be a giver.
Go, break to the needy sweet charity’s bread,
For giving is living, the angel said.
“And must I be giving again and again?”
My peevish and pitiless answer ran.
“Oh, no,” said the angel, piercing me through,
“Just give til the Master stops giving to you!”
God blesses unselfish Christians. Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Proverbs 4:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” Acts 20:35, “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”