Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fear and Provision

I'm a scaredy-cat. There. I said it.

And who wouldn't be? With so much unknown... so many what-ifs.

What if my wedding falls apart? What if we get to our honeymoon destination and there's a fiasco and we have nowhere to stay that night? What if David's Bridal doesn't have my dress ready in time? Will God provide for our finances? What if I lose my job? What if we get pregnant right away? What if we never can get pregnant? What if Eric dies and I'm left with little ones to care for?

Some of these things might happen. There's no way I can know. But what I do know... is the character of my God.

"Lord, I believe; only help my unbelief!"

So I think about His provision.

David was afraid. But he still faced the giant.

Mary and Joseph were scared. But they were obedient in the face of opposition.

Abraham was scared. But he took Sarah and journeyed to the unknown.

Esther could have been killed for approaching the king. But she took a step of faith.

Ruth was afraid to approach Boaz. But she was brave, did it anyway, and God provided.

Those Israelites were distrusting and whiny. But God still gave them the manna they needed.

I was wondering how God might provide. But I survived those 7 months of joblessness with a little extra money still in the bank.

I doubted that He'd ever bring me a husband. But He gave me Eric at just the right time to do His work in us.

And I have 7 months' worth of proof of provision recorded right here.

7 months of daily graces, recorded.

Silly me.

"When What Ifs come into our lives, we must ask ourselves if we're going to judge God by the circumstances we don't understand or judge the circumstances in light of the character of God."
-Linda Dillow, from her wonderful book Calm My Anxious Heart

The character of God. The same God who said:

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Matthew 6:26-27

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." Matthew 6:31-32

“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Mark 6:50

"Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous" Joshua 10:25

A favorite song of mine is called The Lord Will Provide. Would that God grant us to really believe these words.

Though troubles assail and dangers affright, 

Though friends should all fail and foes all unite; 
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide, 
The scripture assures us, the Lord will provide! 

The birds without barn or storehouse are fed, 
From them let us learn to trust for our bread: 
His saints, what is fitting, shall ne'er be denied, 
So long as it's written, the Lord will provide! 

We may, like the ships, by tempest be tossed 
On perilous deeps, but cannot be lost. 
Though Satan enrages the wind and the tide, 
The promise engages, the Lord will provide!

His call we obey, like Abram of old, 
Not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold; 
For though we are strangers, we have a good Guide, 
And trust in all dangers, the Lord will provide! 

When Satan appears to stop up our path, 
And fill us with fears, we triumph by faith; 
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried, 
This heart-cheering promise, the Lord will provide! 

He tells us we're weak, our hope is in vain, 
The good that we seek we ne'er shall obtain, 
But when such suggestions our graces have plied, 
This answers all questions, the Lord will provide! 

No strength of our own, or goodness we claim, 
Yet since we have known the Savior's great name; 
In this our strong tower for safety we hide, 
The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide! 

When life sinks apace and death is in view, 
This word of his grace shall comfort us through: 
No fearing or doubting with Christ on our side, 
We hope to die shouting the Lord will provide!

And so it stands. Rest, anxious heart.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July

As I celebrate tomorrow, I hope to remember that "This nation, indivisible will perish from the earth... And the band will end the anthem—to dust she will return. So the sun must set on all things, great and small. But the first star of the evening will outlive them all." (Ben Shive)

Words and Music by Ben Shive

The first star of the evening
Was singing in the sky
High above our blanket in the park

And by the twilight’s gleaming
On the 4th day of July
The city band played on into the dark

And then a canon blast
A golden flame unfolding
Exploded in a momentary bloom

The petals fell and scattered
Like ashes on the ocean
As another volley burst into the blue

But the first star of the evening never moved

We stood in silence
The young ones and the old
As the bright procession passed us by

A generation dying
Another being born
A long crescendo played out in the sky


This nation, indivisible
Will perish from the Earth
As surely as the leaves must change and fall

And the band will end the anthem
To dust she will return
So the sun must set on all things, great and small

But the first star of the evening
Will outlive them all

Monday, July 2, 2012

We reap what we sow. Do not grow weary.

Today I listened to a sermon by Josh Harris entitled "Holiness is a Harvest." Wow. What a good reminder it was! While we never want to believe that our salvation comes by any of our own works, we also must never forget the value of sowing seeds of holiness. Of choosing to be obedient even when we don't see immediate results. And, when we get weary, of remembering the promise that, if we sow seeds of righteousness, we will reap a harvest of holiness. I couldn't more highly recommend this sermon! Some of the highlights:

Galatians 6:7-10, ESV
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

"To ‘sow to the flesh’ is to pander to it, to cosset, cuddle and stroke it, instead of crucifying it … Every time we allow our mind to harbour a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, or wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk which strains our self-control, we are sowing, sowing, sowing to the flesh. Some Christians sow to the flesh every day and wonder why they do not reap holiness." -John Stott, quoted in the sermon.

What an important reminder! Even though the seeds we plant may seem small, they will grow!

This is a warning if the small seeds we plant are seeds of the flesh. One seed of a hurtful word spoken, or of entertaining one little thought that shouldn't be entertained, or of complaining or gossiping when in tempting company... they can all grow to reap a harvest of the flesh. Christian, be warned. Don't underestimate the growth these small seeds can have over time! And if are not a Christian, be equally warned: God will not take lightly a repeated rejection and ignoring of Him.

But the encouraging part is: This is a sweet promise if the small seeds we plant are seeds of holiness! "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Ever spend time in the Word and wonder if it accomplished anything in your heart? I have. Be comforted: it did accomplish something. Ever get discouraged that no one noticed that you chose obedience instead of sin when you were tempted? Ever feel like you're making no progress in a specific area of sin? Do not grow weary. There's a lot more happening than we can see. There are mountains on the ocean floor—we can't see them, but God is growing them.

Verse 8 of the passage above says: "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Key word: will. It will happen. Believer, whenever the Word says something will happen, it's a promise. So, claim this promise, seek holiness, and do not grow weary and give up! "Do not doubt the promise of the Word of God. You will reap a harvest. If you are faithful, there will be a harvest of righteousness. Do not grow weary! Do not give up!" - Josh Harris. 

Let's trust Him, and be obedient in the next step. One step at a time.

one step at a time