Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bread of Content

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. 
Proverbs 30:8b-9
How would our lives be different if we trusted God to provide for our daily needs?  Not just the basic physical needs, but ALL of our needs; our emotional needs, our financial needs, and our spiritual needs?
I was pondering this very question this week as I meditated on this particular chapter of Proverbs. (I have taken up the challenge that Solomon posed when he said, “Get wisdom.  Get understanding.”)
“Give me just enough…”  There is profound wisdom in the contentedness of “just enough.”  Instantly my mind flashed to the Israelites in the wilderness and God choosing to feed them from His very own hand by raining manna down to them every morning.  They were told to gather just enough to feed everyone in their tent for that day.  If they took more than that, or if they tried to save it for another day (aside from the Sabbath) it became full of maggots and began to smell! 
What was God trying to teach here about His provision? First of all, he told the Israelites that at twilight you will eat meat and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.  He wanted them to know that HE was their God because HE was the one providing for them.  Secondly, God told them to gather enough for that day because this was His way of testing them to see if they would follow his instructions.  Our actions prove what or whom we place our faith in.  Do I trust God to provide for my needs or do I only trust in myself or other people?
All throughout scripture we see that God wants us to be satisfied with “enough” while He goes on to prove that He is much MORE than enough.  Think of the feeding of the 5,000…there was more than enough!  What about the widow’s oil?  More than enough.
In the book of John, Jesus tells us, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” He will provide what we need.  HE is enough.
These days we tend to worry a lot about money and the economy.  We are worried we might not have enough, but how are we defining “enough?”  Enough to meet our needs or enough to live the lifestyle we think we deserve?  This brings us back to our Proverb…
We don’t want to have too much because then we tend to forget who our provider is. We begin to believe that WE are our own providers and we place ourselves in the position that God should have in our lives.  So what happens when we lose that job or can’t pay that bill?  We come to a crisis of faith!  If we have too little, we can become desperate and once again because we trust in ourselves and not God, we can easily fall into sinful acts such as lying, cheating, or stealing to meet our needs.  The ability to be content hinges on our faith in God’s promises and on our obedience to his word.
What things am I always “complaining” or worrying about just like the Israelites?  Does my impatience with His timing make me behave like them?  Think about it.  Did they realize how awesome it was that God was miraculously feeding them from His very hand each day?  All they had to do was go get it?  Do I do that?
Never was the hand of God so strong upon them as when they were in the wilderness yet they failed to recognize their incredible favor and took it for granted.  Worse yet, they became so spoiled that they began to focus on what they DIDN’T have.
We tend to apply this scripture to God’s provision of physical needs but what about applying it to our spiritual needs?  The question that came to my mind was, Do I spend so much time begging God to “show me” what He want me to do, that I’m missing what He IS doing in my life right now?  When I read and receive revelation from His word can I be content and enjoy that time in His presence?  Admittedly, I get so caught up at times with what I’m receiving that I constantly find myself saying, “What do you want me to do with this Lord?”  I struggle a lot with just being content to receive and not DO!
I saw the silliness of this when I pictured the Israelites standing out in a field full of manna and saying, “God, this is awesome!  This is wonderful!  This is certainly from the Lord! What do you want me to do with this Lord?”  And Him saying,
“Good grief, JUST EAT IT!”  Ha ha! 
Lord, help me just to be in awe of your faithfulness and your miraculous presence in my life. You ARE my daily bread…my source for existence.  Help me to just be content to receive that. Thank you for giving me what I need for today.  You know what I need to sustain me. Help me not to constantly want to run ahead of you that I might “disown” you and believe that I can do anything by myself or become complacent and fail to see the opportunities and blessings you have put right in front of me for today.
I can enjoy where I am because you are always more than enough.  You are my bread for content!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Faith Comes by Hearing…

Bible teacher and writer Beth Moore explains in one of her books, Believing God, that there is a big difference between ‘believing in God’ and ‘believing God.’ She argues that believing that God exists is completely different from believing what He says to us in His Word and how that applies to our lives. Indeed, many people say that they believe in God’s existence, but more often than not their profession of faith can easily be followed by the statement, “I just don’t know anything about Him or the difference He can make in my life.” Now, what good is it to believe in God, when we don’t know the role He plays in the world today and especially in our individual lives?

Hebrews 11:6 says: 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. There is an important truth in this verse. Not only must we believe in God’s existence, but we must understand that He has blessings and rewards for those who believe and seek Him. But how do we get to that point? One way to acquire this kind of faith according to Romans 10:17 is by learning what God says in His Word. Here the apostle Paul says that, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Therefore, in order to go beyond simply believing in God’s existence to the point of trusting Him completely, we must hear/read His Word and meditate upon its truths. We also need to cultivate our relationship with God through prayer and daily interact with Him.

In other words, if we want our faith in God to make a difference in our lives, we must seek real knowledge of Him by learning who He is, what pleases and displeases Him, and what He thinks and says about us. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has good plans for our lives, to prosper us and give us a future and a hope. But how can we fulfill His good plans for us, if we don’t know anything about them?

Therefore, the question confronting us today is, “Will we take the time to get to know God?”