Provision

So Ben, What’s God talking to you about?

God’s been talking to me about provision but from a strange place.

In Matthew 4 after Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan, the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” – Matthew 4:3

I want to focus on just one aspect of this temptation, though there are many. After all, Jesus experienced every temptation we do.

My thought…

The devil tempts Jesus to provide for Himself.

Again–I know that’s not all that’s going on here, but I realized that the devil tempts Jesus to do the very thing we spend our lives doing.

The more I ponder this, the more I think I’ve been missing something in my understanding of kingdom living my whole life.

Before I dig deeper, let me highlight the Lord’s answer.

It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” – Matthew 4:4

Jesus says we are to live by every word God speaks to us. The “Word” here is Rhema, not Logos–spoken word, not written word. And in fact, Jesus lived this way. He said, I only do what I see the Father do and say what I hear the Father say. How did Jesus live day to day, how did He eat and drink?

When He wanted to throw a party, He sent the boys to a particular man who would give them a room to use. When He wanted to feed multitudes all He needed was a boys lunch–more accurately–all He needed was a word from God. When the tax man came, He sent Peter fishing–and not net fishing which would have been like saying “go work for it,” but “throw in a line” fishing. When He needed a donkey to make His entrance into Jerusalem, He didn’t call Uber.

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

We all know this verse, but here’s a fact–most of us believe something much different. The average Christian I know believes this version:

I will supply all my needs according to my toil and hustle, and if I have a shortfall, desperate prayer to Jehovah Jireh, and some belt-tightening will rescue me.

Peter tell us:

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. – 2 Peter 1:3

If you have ever given to a Christian charity then you know the mountain of junk mail that you’ve just signed up for. Have you ever had this thought which I have all the time: Why can’t you be more like George Mueller who never asked for support, but simply trusted God. If God ordained it, He’ll supply it. Stop begging.

Does this mean God didn’t ordain my life? Am I toiling for a living because that’s what God ordained for the common man, but the full time Christians should live by faith. Woops. There it is. I’m exposed. I’ve chosen to fall for the lie Jesus resisted. I’ve taken the bait and spent my life toiling.

Let me drop two more scriptures into the mix here.

…Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. – Genesis 3:17

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” – Galatians 3:13

I’m not suggesting all the Christians in the world quit their jobs. Work is not the enemy here, but toil originates with the curse.

We know Paul made tents for a time to support himself and his ministry.

Let’s start with a simple change in perspective.

Let’s make hearing the voice of God our first and most important job. Stop thinking of Him as the safety net or the One Who fills our shortfalls, but rather the One responsible for all supply. Let’s ask Him to light our path and show us how to walk in His provision.

Paul, in his discourse about giving in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 says the Lord gives seed to sow, food to eat, and plenty to share. If our finances drive our lives from stress to stress instead of from glory to glory, we’re not doing it right.

Finances place high in reasons for divorce.
Finances figure among the top reasons for suicide.

God does not intend for His people to be stressing over money. Stop trying to provide for yourself! If you are a child of God, it’s His job to provide, and your job to listen and obey.

cropped-BenHeadshotWhat do you think?

Ben

Drifters

Hebrews teems with promises and encouragements, wonderful reminders and strong theology. But it also holds a number of stern warnings. With the promises, it delivers consequences that need to be reckoned with. When taken as a whole, the book disrupts any leanings we have toward universalism and even shines the spotlight on eternal security for our scrutiny.

Aside: Don’t hang up on me. I’m not saying I don’t believe in eternal security, but our study will uncover some weakness in our pray-a-prayer-and-forget-it gospel.

Warning #1

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. – Hebrews 2:1

First – notice the “for.” Again, this militates against chapter breaks, since clearly what follows belongs with chapter one.

But what part of chapter one are we “for”ing back to? …pay attention to what we have heard. What have we heard? Let’s read a couple more verses and see if we get some more clues.

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. – Hebrews 2:2-4

The writer is taking us back to the first four verses of chapter one, in particular, verse two.

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. – Hebrews 1:2

Jesus, who is superior in every way to the angels and prophets spoke to us through His words and His life. He continues to speak to us through the testimony of those who walked with Him. Further, this testimony is confirmed to us by signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

These four verses actually hold two warnings.

drift wood on rack near the shore
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

1) Don’t drift.

I love that he uses such a visual word, drift. He’s not warning against a turn-and-run rejection of the gospel. He’s not warning about scoffers and skeptics. He’s warning about the kind of Christian that warms the pew every week but does not walk by faith.

He’s talking about dusty-Bible Christians.
He’s talking about when-it’s-convienient Christians.
He’s talking about Sunday-morning-only Christians.

They are drifters. They have not left the church or the basic belief system. But their life is not marked by faith. They live life with minds set on the things of the flesh. Every problem gets the natural solution, and prayer is the furthest thing from their mind until it’s the only thing left.

Paul talks about this in Romans 8.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8

Don’t skip over that. Here Paul speaks some of the most sobering words in all of the Bible.

This carnal mind, mind set on the flesh, is not indifferent toward the things of God. This drifter is actively hostile toward God himself.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 8 that this one who fills his or her mind with the natural world and its thoughts and priorities CANNOT please God.

Later in Hebrews, we will learn that only the life lived by faith and not by sight can please God.

Have you been drifting? Have you been walking by sight and relying on natural solutions for your day to day needs?

Get out of those waves that wash to and fro. Step out of that sandy-bottomed trap and get on the Rock today.

You can please God. You can hear those wonderful words – “Well done.” But it’s not going to happen by itself. You’re going to have to put your faith in Jesus.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about warning #2.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

Walk in the light.

Ben

Looking to catch up? You can find all of chapter 1’s posts here.

Hostility: A Profile

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; – Romans 8:6-7

Hostile–not exactly a passive kind of word.

What does this hostility–this warfare look like? In what way does my wandering mind take up arms against the lover of my soul?

Try this on for size.

There’s the pile of bills sitting on the dining room table. There’s the checkbook that’s not quite as tall as the stack.

God says “I will supply all your needs according to My riches in glory.” (From Philippians 4:19)

I look at the heap. I look at the balance. I look at the pile–the problemthe circumstancesthe giant and I start looking for a part-time job.

God says “I am your provider.” (From Genesis 22:12)

I pull out the want ads and tell God, I’ve got this covered.

God says (perhaps a bit more emphatically):

For I am the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, I will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. (From  2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NLT slightly tweaked)

My mind set on my own ability to provide militates against my ability to trust God. My flesh based solutions undermine my ability to hear God’s voice.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take that part-time job. I’m not saying God won’t use your job–your overtime–your next gig–to provide for your needs.

I AM saying that as soon as you look at your own ability as your source, or your employer as your source, your next gig as your source, you’re making war against God’s provision.

A mind set on the flesh doesn’t always look like a porn addiction or an inordinate interest in sports or entertainment. It’s not always related to seeking pleasure or plotting evil.

A mind filled with worry is a mind set on the things of the flesh.

A heart that hoards every last penny for the future rather than stewarding with open hands–yep–mind set on the flesh.

And it’s all hostile toward God. It all fights against God’s will in your life. It closes the door to God. It closes the door to faith. It says, “No Lord.”  As our text in Romans 8 continues:

…because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:7-8 NASB

The war for ownership (Lordship) of my soul takes place in my mind. Worry, preoccupation, distraction–these are the weapons or my warfare. These are the tools I use to flex my will and drive off the will of God for my life.

I must put down the weapons of my warfare today, and let the Lord Jesus rule. I need to set my mind on things above.

How is it with you?

I hope this helps.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

Don’t forget to shine where you’res screwed in.

Ben