Monday, April 11, 2016

The Lord Our Provider

Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (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." (Genesis 22:14 NLT)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).

This week we are sharing a message on God's love and faithfulness to supply our needs. The first Bible verse above relates the story of Abraham when, out of obedience to the Lord, he went to the mountain to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham had faith in God when he responded to Isaac that “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8). The Lord was faithful and provided a ram for the sacrifice, and in remembrance Abraham honored the Lord by naming the place “The Lord Will Provide”. The second verse from the New Testament is a very literal statement by the Apostle Paul; it is a statement of intent and faith and any Christian believer who has need can add his or her faith and receive supplies from the Lord (Matthew 21:22).

While there are many other Scriptural references highlighting God’s faithfulness in providing for the needs of His children, there are still many people who doubt this and say, “It is not that easy!” Yes, it is not easy, but this applies only if you don’t have faith and real need!

In this week’s article, we will share with you what the Lord has taught us along with a few references to the Bible why some believers fail to receive supplies from the Lord. Our aim is to help those who are really in need to find comfort that the Lord still provides supplies to those who ask. We have learned as a family that the Lord requires faithfulness -- in fact this is how He warned my wife and I. This message is by no means an exhaustive study of the subject and, as always, we strongly encourage you to study your Bibles for additional insights and answers.

The Priceless Gifts of God Are Available to Everyone

Many people have a perception that rich people who have an abundance of material things have no needs, and thus they don’t qualify asking the Lord for help. This should not be the position rich people should take, for the Lord does not show partiality; He shows equal love and attention to all His children! (Romans 2:11). Some of the rich people have needs which money cannot buy. For example, we know that children are a priceless gift from God (Psalm 127:3) . The patriarch Abraham was very rich materially, but God gave Him a promise to stimulate his faith and to draw him near to God and that he trust the Lord to bless him with children (Genesis 15:2-6).

Furthermore, the rich and poor alike need good health, which is priceless. Despite modern advances in medical sciences, we still have diseases and sicknesses that medical professionals cannot cure. There is and will always be a limitation to human knowledge and therefore we need God to do and work the impossible for us (1 Corinthians 1:25; 31). As we know, King Hezekiah was richly blessed by the Lord but God humbled him and on his sick bed he humbled himself prayed and regained his confidence in the Lord and received healing and protection against the mighty Assyrian army (Isaiah 38:1-8). Likewise, Naaman was “commander of the army of the king of Syria… a great and honorable man… a mighty man of valor”, yet His strength and riches could not cure him of Leprosy until God healed him “and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (Genesis 5:1-2; 14).

Wealth and riches may buy security for a limited time, but against death we have no match and no protection, except through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 8:51; Luke 12:20). As a stark reminder, the Lord said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 KJV). In addition, there is NO cure against trouble caused by demonic attacks except through Christ (Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 4:18). Whether you believe it or not, demons are responsible for many troubles, bloodshed, confusions and sicknesses in this world (Matthew 9:32-33; Job 1:13-21; 2:7). In the Lord, we have steadfast security against even the things we think we don’t need but which are essential to help us lead trouble-free and peaceful lives.

Why the Needy Fail to Receive from God

Biblically, there are many reasons why we fail to receive answers to our prayers. It would be impossible to list and account for every reason here, but we will consider the most frequent answers the Lord gave to both members of our ministry and others elsewhere. We would like to encourage you to consider reading our articles on Prayer is the Key to Solving All Problems – Part I and Part II, as they contain helpful hints on how to sincerely present requests before the Lord for results.

The Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). In my interactions with people through the ministry, I have heard many desperate people say that they know what the Bible says about faith, but God still has not granted or does not grant their requests. This is often not a good statement to hear, and since I do not want to harbor resentment towards God, I would open myself up to listen instead of looking for reason to blame the person for not having faith. We have had quite a few people in our ministry whom the Lord rebuked for their lack of faith, and the Lord counselled us not to add to their frustrations, but instead aim to encourage them (1 Thessalonians 5:14). According to the Lord’s counsel, by encouraging the weak in faith we should highlight the importance of Scriptural examples where faith was required as a prerequisite for benefits from God. Most importantly, people should remember that God will not allow people to use Him for wrong purposes; He blesses those who love Him and have a consistent relationship with Him (Romans 8:28). Sadly, I have often found that some of the most needy people are not living right with God, and yet they desire to be used by God and enjoy His blessings. Brethren, this is not how God wants people to know Him! In the Old Testament, we read how God repeatedly warned the Israelites to live right before Him so that it may go well with them materially and spiritually (Psalm 84:11; 34:10; Deuteronomy 10:12; 28:1-14; Jeremiah 7:23). This still applies today!

As a family and ministry, in our struggles against life’s necessities, we humbled ourselves and sought the Lord daily as long as we had the need and while living obediently, and we were blessed. The Lord taught us to live the Word, read it daily, praying often daily (Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) and being obedient (John 14:15); by so doing we would not fail to hear and receive from Him. We cannot emphasize enough that reading our Bibles daily grows our faith, discernment and spiritual fruit in Christ. The prosperity teachers are deceiving folks when they encourage people to give to them and trust God for their needs, even when they (the people and the pastors) don’t live right. We cannot continue to live in sin, yet expect the Lord to bless us. Simply because the some wicked people seem to "prosper" is not necessarily an indication of God's blessings, and we should therefore not be envious of them (Psalm 37:1-2, 7-8). Please also be on guard not to be deceived into greed by wanting things that you do not need; God knows what we need and He gives what is needed (Matthew 6:8). By being humble, God grants us grace.We also need to add that asking God for something out of envy, jealousy, pride, or to show off is not asking from pure motives (James 4:2-6).

A brother in the Lord once shared with me that he could not find a job and was also not receiving any breakthrough in his prayer life. As a friend who confided in me, I asked him if there was anything in his life that he was doing which was displeasing to the Lord, and he said that he had a habit of smoking and lying. I encouraged him to go on a fast, pray and seek the Lord for his deliverance. Thankfully he listened, and in Jesus' name after he completed his fast, God not only delivered him from the bad habits, but he also received a well-paying job!

Furthermore, if we express an ungrateful spirit after receiving from the Lord, we would have despised the Lord's provision and I have learned that this kind of attitude grieves the Lord. The Lord also dealt with us that being unhelpful towards others is displeasing to Him and we must repent of this selfishness and learn to share and help others (Deuteronomy 15:9; Proverbs 19:17; 21:13). It is worth mentioning that some brethren rely on excuses and are unwilling to give up on some of their sinful worldly habits. For example, someone may need deliverance from bitterness or need a breakthrough in something but will choose not to fast and pray stating that giving up food even one meal will give them a headache. Excuses will gain us only poverty and hardship and drive us away from the stream of living waters (Jeremiah 17:5).

Some people blame God for not meeting their needs, but in truth they fail to receive because of being lazy, giving excuses, misplaced priorities (putting wants ahead of needs), and not willing to exercise their faith. God's Word is a treasure trove of wisdom on all matters pertaining to life, and the Holy Spirit will often highlight specific Scriptures to convict our hearts and lead us into a close relationship with the Lord our Provider. In this regard, the Bible has many sobering warnings that we should take note of, and we are encouraged to be diligent workers (Proverbs 6:6; 22:13; 24:33-34; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-16; Ephesians 4:28).  Additionally, some times we have the wrong focus -- focusing more on the channel of provision (be it a person we perceive to have, the employer, government, or a job) instead of focusing on God as the Provider, and trusting that He is able to provide using whatever channels He deems best. Jobs, careers, and even generous people are merely channels of provision -- these are not the "provider" -- and we should not put our trust and confidence in these since we will be disappointed when the channels change or dry up (Jeremiah 17:5-8). However, God as the sole Provider never changes! (Hebrews 13:8). For example, the Lord used various channels of provision to bless Elijah when he was on the run: the ravens brought him bread and meat, and the brook provided water (1 Kings 17:4-6; 9-16); when the brook dried up, the Lord used the widow at Zarephath; and later on he was fed twice by an angel of the Lord when he lay down under the bush (1 Kings 19:5-8), and the Lord provided him shelter (1 Kings 19:9). In all these cases, God the Provider, who remains the same, used various channels to provide for Elijah's needs. If you were Elijah, by which channel would you have planned to establish a permanent residence -- the brook, in the widow's house, by the bush, or by the cave? If you chose any of these channels as your preferred place to stay put, be comfortable and and keep getting free sustenance, you would have missed completing your mission and God's calling for your life, because the Lord had more plans in store for Elijah! (1 Kings 19:9-18) So, be careful not to idolize any person, company, or job!

In conclusion, we encourage the rich and poor alike who have needs to heed the words of the Scripture: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the [Heaven’s] door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). The Lord, being faithful, promises to give and to help those who ask Him, be found by those who seek Him, and to open Heaven’s door to supply our needs and invite us into His glory (Matthew 7:7-8; Malachi 3:10; Revelation 3:20). Salvation, the greatest of gifts leading to eternal life is a free gift.

Finally, the Lord says in Isaiah 55:1- 3 NIV:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
Have you been neglecting to trust God to supply all your needs, be it provision, good health, a spouse, peace, time management, etc. Please turn and put your trust in God (Psalm 62:8). To accept the Lord God as your provider, and Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please start by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Grace and peace to you,

Brother Glenn.