God has promised to supply all our needs, yet fulfillment is sometimes slow in coming. What could be the problem? Perhaps we are.
When our Father fails to meet our expectations, we generally look outside ourselves for the reason. But while God’s love is unconditional, many of His promises are not. For example, Philippians 4:19 is a “family promise”—it can be claimed only by those who rightly call the Sovereign of the universe “Father.” His unlimited resources are not available to men and women who reject salvation through Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we look at the whole framework of Scripture, we see that the Lord makes obedience a condition for fulfilling our needs. (See Psalm 81:10-12.) He will not condone sin by blessing us while we rebel against Him.
Think of yourself as part of an army at war—which is what you are, in a spiritual sense. A top military priority is to keep the supply line open, as victory is impossible if the soldiers are weaponless, cold, and starving. Our willful disobedience allows Satan to cut our supply line from the Lord. Restoring that connection is a matter of repentance. Those who walk in God’s way are protected, provided for, and satisfied (Psalm 81:13-16).
Taking a promise out of its biblical context is very dangerous. And expecting God to keep a conditional pledge when we aren’t meeting its requirements is even more unwise. The heavenly Father keeps His word but rightfully expects us to do our part. Thankfully, His expectations of us are not burdensome but reasonable: What He requires is that we simply love, honor, and obey Him.
Bible In One Year: Psalm 145-150
Read: Philippians 3:1–11
Bible in a Year: Job 34–35; Acts 15:1–21
I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.—Philippians 3:8
As I was growing up in Jamaica, my parents raised my sister and me to be “good people.” In our home, good meant obeying our parents, telling the truth, being successful in school and work, and going to church . . . at least Easter and Christmas. I imagine this definition of being a good person is familiar to many people, regardless of culture. In fact, the apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, used his culture’s definition of being good to make a greater point.
Paul, being a devout first-century Jew, followed the letter of the moral law in his culture. He was born into the “right” family, had the “right” education, and practiced the “right” religion. He was the real deal in terms of being a good person according to Jewish custom. In verse 4, Paul writes that he could boast in all of his goodness if he wanted to. But, as good as he was, Paul told his readers (and us) that there is something more than being good. He knew that being good, while good, was not the same as pleasing God.
Pleasing God, Paul writes in verses 7-8, involves knowing Jesus. Paul considered his own goodness as “garbage” when compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness. —Karen Wolfe
Dear God, as I seek to live a good life, help me remember that knowing Jesus is the way to ultimate goodness.
We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness.
INSIGHT: It can be easy to miss the phenomenal change of perspective Paul states in today’s passage. His claims of righteousness were not empty boasts; he had followed God-given laws meticulously—literally to the letter. For Paul to say that all of that was worthless signifies change at a fundamental level. He changed from outward performance—doing (vv. 4-7)—to knowing Christ and what He had done (v. 8).
Public radio program This American Life ran a special report on a certain sub-culture of people whose prize possessions are their car stereos. They are called “decibel drag racers” and people flock across international borders to join them in competition. Like actual drag racing, cars line up across the track, except in this competition they will not be going anywhere. The winner is the owner of the car stereo that can play at the loudest possible decibel. Oddly enough (that is, more odd than the fact that these systems are too powerful to play music), most of the cars that win this competition are not even drivable. The world record holder at the time of this interview had 900 pounds of concrete poured into the floor of his van. Wind shields usually only make it through three competitions before cracking (and these are not normal windshields). Yet one competitor still seems to entirely miss the irony that there is no longer any room for himself in his car. “We need more batteries,” he laments. “But that’s all the room we have.”(1)
To anyone outside of this extreme audio sport world, “irony” is perhaps a generous word to describe the phenomenon. The TAL reporter was far more articulate: “Everybody wants to be the king of a hill,” he concluded. “But the number of aspiring kings always dwarfs the number of available hills, so in this country we build more hills.”(2) I’m not sure there is a better way to describe it.
Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. — 1 Peter 5:8-9
Sometimes we unintentionally give the wrong impression about spiritual warfare. We know that our enemy is the devil and that we must fight daily to win, but that’s not everything. If the Christian life were nothing but battles, it would be discouraging to fight every hour of every day.
I would feel that I could never relax because as soon as I did, Satan would sneak back again. That’s not the picture I want to present. The Christian life is one of joy and peace. God gives us a great sense of fulfillment, and we’re at rest because we know we honor Him by the way we live.
Peter wrote to Christians about their enemy—warning them and urging them to be vigilant, which is where we often put the emphasis. Just before he wrote those words, however, he said, Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully (v. 7). As we read that verse, it tells us that we must remind ourselves of God’s love for us—God cares. Because God cares, we can trust Him to take care of us.
“And it is He who will supply all your needs from His riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us” (Philippians 4:19).
God has faithfully met the needs of this great worldwide ministry since its inception. He met our needs when there were only two of us – Vonette and I – on the staff. He meets our needs today (1983) with more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members serving in most communities of America and in 151 other countries.
He met our needs when our budget was a few thousand dollars a year. He continues to meet our needs when our budget is approximately $100 million a year. During this exciting, incredibly rich and rewarding adventure with our gracious Lord, we have never had an extra dollar at the end of any day. We get only what we need – and no more.
During these years, there have been many dramatic demonstrations of His faithfulness, when He has led us to undertake major and frequently expensive projects. He has always supplied the funds to pay for what He orders. We have learned many lessons concerning God’s faithfulness.
First, whatever He leads us to do He will enable us to do by supplying the manpower, the finances and the know-how – oftentimes dramatically – if we continue to trust and obey Him.
Second, “we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2 KJV).
Third, we do not receive when our motives are impure.
But of this we can be sure: if our hearts are pure, our motives are pure and we do what we do for the glory of God – to help fulfill the Great Commission through the winning and discipling of men for Christ throughout the world -we can always be assured that God will supply our needs. Not to do so would be a contradiction of His attributes, for the idea of the Great Commission began with our Lord.
Bible Reading: II Corinthians 9:6-11
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will examine my heart to determine my motives and relate my needs to the scriptural commands with the confidence that God will supply all of my needs from His riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for me. I will thank Him in advance for meeting my needs, and encourage others to trust Him also. This is a part of my commitment to supernatural living.
Vengeance is God’s. He will repay—whether ultimately on the Day of Judgment or intermediately in this life. God can discipline your abusive boss. He can bring your ex to his knees or to her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it just entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right retribution. The God of justice has the precise prescription.
Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you and I come in. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Paul wrote, “and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Don’t give the devil territory or ground. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart, to rent a room. Believe me, he will move in and stink up the place! When it comes to forgiveness, all of us are beginners. Stay the course!
From You’ll Get Through This
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Kori Doty gave birth to a baby named Searyl Atli last November. The parent claims that a visual inspection at birth is unable to determine what gender a person will have or identify with later in life. As a result, the parent wants to keep Searyl’s sex off all official records.
This could be the first baby in the world not to have a gender designation. I predict that it will not be the last.
Meanwhile, ABC News reports that “earlymoons” are “the latest wedding trend.” More and more engaged couples are apparently taking vacations together before their wedding. One wife explained, “It was just us being able to enjoy each other’s company and just relax with no burden of kind of anything else weighing us down especially all the pre-wedding planning.”
Nowhere in the article does the writer mention the moral question of an unmarried couple vacationing together. This unfortunate omission is not surprising since cohabitation has increased by nearly 900 percent over the last fifty years.
I understand why a parent who rejects the concept of God-given biological gender would resist identifying a baby by gender. And why a couple who has no moral objection to sex before marriage would choose to live and vacation together before their wedding.
But what does the Lord think about these decisions?