The Complexity of Simplicity

9-16-19 Simplicity

2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV)

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.”

Living simply is simply not simple.

That’s the conclusion I have come to as I have sought to apprehend simplicity. My church has been studying the book, “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. And this past week I have been applying last week’s sermon on Simplicity. Every day, asking God to help me, little by little, to get rid of what I don’t need. “A bag a day” in about 10-15 minutes is about all the time I have, but little by little I am making a dent.

And why pursue simplicity? Because at the heart of our faith in God is the understanding that we are on a mission down here. Jesus paid our sin debt not so we would seek to be comfortable in a fallen world, but so we could live lives focused on knowing Him and making Him known. But this world can distract us so easily.

Wants

That’s where simplicity becomes complex. We make simplicity complicated because of our wants. We convince ourselves that our wants are needs and in our own deception, we are convinced that we need even more. That is the nature of the flesh—never fully satisfied.

Paul is encouraging us to boast in our simplicity while the world is encouraging us to boast in what we own and achieve. How can we be simple in a complex world? it is complicated.

If we are just setting out to be a minimalist, this can have a good effect on us, but the inward motivation of sacrifice is missing. A minimalist can still be a minimalist but still have his or her “wants” unchecked. Oh, to be satisfied with Jesus and not just things. Or statuses. Or positions. Or comfort.

In the world

Another stumbling block that makes it difficult to live a life of simplicity is the fact that we are in the world and influenced by its messages of materialism. But Jesus encourages us to be in the world and not of it. This is so very hard for us but Paul encourages us toward God’s grace, not toward earthly wisdom. Unless we are constantly looking to the compass of God’s word, we will be led down a confusing, complicated path. What does the Bible say is needful? Time with Jesus. Time in prayer. Time in God’s word. Time with others. Clothing. And our daily bread.

Peer pressure

Wanting acceptance or approval from others can also affect our ability to live simply. My precious husband has been such an example in this area. While others would mock our vehicles that were approaching 300,000 miles and showing plenty of wear, he was just grateful for faithful transportation. While some of us in “said vehicle” would slide down to avoid being seen, he would honk and greet passersby—those who told him that I “deserved” a better car.

While we don’t drive “the green beast” anymore, our trusted Chevy Astro van of 12 years or so, it was not before that thing had been used up that we moved on to another used vehicle. The shame for driving a busted up vehicle is not remembered. And the contentedness for what we have now is enduring.

Pain

There is a degree of pain that can deter us from living simply. We have to let go. It might mean sacrifice, which feels so very hard at times, but the feeling that comes after is our reward. A weight lifted. An inner joy bubbling up because we could let go. Things have less of a hold on us.

Disappointment and life’s struggles can also inflict pain in our lives that make us want to hold onto what seems certain in this life. But things cannot comfort us like the One who is truly certain and needed—Jesus.

Ah. I have so very far to go, friends. How about you? There are so many other things that make simplicity complex. What makes it difficult for you to live a life of simplicity? When we lack the strength to choose simplicity, our God is well able to help us.

It might be a small step at first. It might mean getting rid of material things that cloud our vision. One bag at a time. Or removing things from our calendar that keep us too busy. Asking God what needs to be pruned. But one thing that matters most is simply getting into God’s presence. Let Him do the work on us. Time in His word. His word changes us when we study it and ask God to help us apply it in our lives. Bible Reading plans can go a long way in helping us to put “the big Rock” first in our lives.

When we feel condemned for our lack of simplicity or whatever area we struggle in, we have a Savior who died to set us free. It does not matter how many times in our walk with God that we think we have covered an area. Oh my, we have blind spots. Big ones. And God is so very patient with us to bring these topics up, again and again, to help to set us free. Free to live the abundant life of Christ. One step at a time.

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

series (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 17 – Our Provider

God provides

bobakins.org

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Genesis 22:13-14

“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”

God knows what we need when we need it – though sometimes our patience might be tested in the process.

When we accepted His gift of salvation, He gave us everything we needed right then and there, but we do not use every gift He gives us in that moment.  It is in the sanctification process we go through which causes us to access His grace when we need it.

Sometimes in the fire of life, we tend to forget that nothing happens to us apart from His will.  If He brings us to it, He will bring us through it.  But still we are tempted to stare at the waves instead of at the Creator of the waves.

Like the Israelites, we wonder if God will provide the Manna again that we need the next day.  This dependence on God tries our soul as we prefer to provide for ourselves, as if that seems more certain.

Everything that surrounds us belongs to Him – and He freely gives to us sovereignly what we need, not necessarily what we want.  This is where our trust in our relationship with God grows, that He knows what is best.

We have no earthly idea what might be around the next bend in this life, but God knows it all completely and knows what we will need, as well.  He is our Faithful Provider, lovingly giving and denying when He deems one course is better than the other.

Lord, thank You for being our faithful provider.  All that we have is Yours. Help us to steward the gifts of grace, nourishment and shelter that You lovingly bestow upon us and to seek ways to glorify You in providing for other’s needs, as well.

Worshipful Wednesday: Worshiping the Grumbles Away

Photo Credits: fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Psalm 105:1-5

Give thanks to the LORD! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! 2 Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds! 3 Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 4 Seek the LORD and the strength he gives! Seek his presence continually! 5 Recall the miraculous deeds he performed, his mighty acts and the judgments he decreed.”

Psalm 106:1, 7, 12,13, 20-25, 29, 35-45

Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his loyal love endures! 7 Our ancestors in Egypt failed to appreciate your miraculous deeds, they failed to remember your many acts of loyal love, and they rebelled at the sea, by the Red Sea. 12 They believed his promises; they sang praises to him. 13 They quickly forgot what he had done; they did not wait for his instructions. 20 They traded their majestic God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They rejected the God who delivered them, the one who performed great deeds in Egypt, 22 amazing feats in the land of Ham, mighty acts by the Red Sea. 23 He threatened to destroy them, but Moses, his chosen one, interceded with him and turned back his destructive anger. 24 They rejected the fruitful land; they did not believe his promise. 25 They grumbled in their tents; they did not obey the Lord.  28 They worshiped Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead.  29 They made the Lord angry  by their actions, and a plague broke out among them. 35 They mixed in with the nations and learned their ways.  36 They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. 38 They shed innocent blood – the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. The land was polluted by bloodshed. 39 They were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions. 40 So the Lord was angry with his people and despised the people who belong to him. 41 He handed them over to the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them; they were subject to their authority.  43 Many times he delivered them, but they had a rebellious attitude, and degraded themselves by their sin. 44 Yet he took notice of their distress, when he heard their cry for help. 45 He remembered his covenant with them, and relented because of his great loyal love. 

The saga of the broken down cars began to ebb away on nerves yesterday.  I confess I had a pity party.  Alright, I grumbled.  We are all entitled to a little grumbling every now and then, right?  Hmmm . . . maybe not.  I was praising Him in the storm on Monday and ready for the trial to be over by Tuesday.  Patient, aren’t I?  This morning I was so thankful for a correction in my attitude from a loving God.  His Word is just as effective and able to speak to us from a message spoken thousands of years ago to some other grumbling spirits . . .

The sea was parted for them to cross and God defended them like no other, but they were bummed over the food God provided.  While I have judged them in the past, the same whining and ingratitude can flow in my veins, IF I let it.

We were made to praise God.  Our hearts need to praise the living God, the One Who is far greater than ourselves.  We need to thank Him, sing to Him, boast about Him, seek Him and remember all that He has done for us.  This thankfulness expressed to God changes us.  But what if we don’t?  What if we choose to complain about what God has allowed in?  This passage truly is a sobering one and injects the fear of God in me.  When we do not praise God, we are not doing what we were created to do, but the consequences of ceasing to thank God at all times are devastating, as well.

The destruction of a people began because they failed to appreciate what God had done.  That simple.  They also forgot God – the One who made them.  They chose to focus on what they felt were unfair circumstances and replaced the glory of God for complaints about things that don’t matter in all of eternity.  Ultimately, they forgot how important it was to be a grateful people.  How do we fail to appreciate God?

Thinking we deserve more than what He has allotted to us is perhaps one of the chief causes.  I remember being caught off guard by a brother who, when I asked him how he was doing, he said to me “better than I deserve”.  I recognized in that moment the humility and grace to be able to say such a statement.  Could I say that with the same sincerity?

It is easy to be religious and say the typical statements associated with ascribing glory to God, but God knows our hearts.  The words fall flat when my being is not completely about bringing Him glory but is distracted, instead by bitterness, unforgiveness or irritation over our discomfort.

The root sin long ago and today is the same – a lack of thankfulness and not purposing in our hearts to be faithful to acknowledge the God Who gave us everything.  Like Jonah, who grumbled when God took away the vine He had previously provided, we must hold all that He gives us loosely and be thankful for all he has given and done for us, even when He chooses to remove the blessings He has provided, too.

God help us to see our need of Him.  How quickly our spirits can go from worshiping Him to making our worship a thing of mere duty.  Slowly time with Him can be crowded out and before you know it, gratitude is replaced with a distrust in God, if we are not careful.

The enemy is ready to take us down the lane of ingratitude.  He knows the ending result – our demise.  But we do have a choice, as powerful as emotions can be.  To be thankful even when the chips are down, to love even when someone has hurt us and to forgive as we have been forgiven.  These actions are catalysts for sincere worship and gratitude to our God, Who is so very worthy of our praise!

Lord, we take so much for granted.  Please forgive us for the many times we have chosen grumbling over gratitude.  Spur us on to worship You in all circumstances.

Thoughtful Thursday: Our True Need

Job 35:9

“People cry out because of the excess of oppression, they cry out for help because of the power of the Mighty.”

Job 36:15

“He delivers the afflicted by their afflictions, He reveals Himself to them by their suffering.”

 

 

Deep inside each of us in a need – most likely there are many needs within us.  Some of the needs are hidden from our eyes and others control us, whether we are aware of it or not.  Sometimes we are ashamed to admit our needs or hurts, but ultimately all of our longings cause us to in humility see our need of God.

It is in our raw time of need that we cry out to God.  When everything is comfortable, we often do not feel compelled to ask God to help us with the basic aspects of life.  In our independence we do not want to have to need God so much and fail to see that everything we are able to do is only His grace in our lives.  We take for granted how much He has done for us and how many needs He has already met in our lives.  In reality, I needed God only when I thought I needed Him – when times were challenging.  But I need Him for every aspect of life.

God invites us to come to Him in our need.  When we come to God, He examines us.  We come wanting Him to give us something – maybe relief from suffering, but many times when we cry out to God for the affliction to stop, the affliction is the very tool He is using to heal us.

Sometimes we do not see or recognize our TRUE NEED.  We come crying out to God and leave changed, perhaps seeing our need from a different perspective.  We focus on the external, but God is wanting that hunger, that ache to open our eyes to see our need of HIM.  More than anything this world has to offer, we were made for Him and He wants to meet all of our cares with Himself.

Lord, thank you that You know what our real needs are and in Your wisdom You use our needs to bring us to Yourself.

Worshipful Wednesday: Who is Worship For?

Photo Credits inbythroughhim.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
inbythroughhim.blogspot.com

Psalm 9:1-2

“I will thank the Lord with all my heart!  I will tell about all your amazing deeds! 2 I will be happy and rejoice in you!  I will sing praises to you, O sovereign One!”

John 4:24

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Hebrews 13:15

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

Hebrews 12:28

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”

Thank you for stopping by on this Worshipful Wednesday!  Worship is often misunderstood as a part of the church service alone, but it is a lifestyle of thanksgiving to the One Who has given us every blessing we have.  As a worship leader in churches for over twenty years now, I confess that contemplating God’s Holiness, goodness and character in song is one of my favorite things to do.  I say one of, because just reading and listening to His Word fills me with an inner joy that cannot be contained.  But I fear our worship is lackluster in comparison to what God deserves.

Worship is cultivating gratitude from a heart that recognizes our own dependence on God.  It is in the very act of worship that we draw nearer to God.  Affection in marriage or in the parent/child relationship is the most essential aspect of those relationships.  A child and a parent both want to know they are loved and adored.  We can become hardened in this world and begin to think that receiving adoration is our highest goal, though.  God knows we need affirmation and love, but our greatest joy is found in giving that highest worship to Him.

I remember as a new believer not understanding why God would require us to worship Him.  It seemed a little vain to me at the time, though I did not want to even think such a thought.  But if God had not commanded us to worship, we would worship far lesser things.  What our hearts are set on to worship affects greatly how we live on this earth.  Practically speaking, when we worship created things which cannot compare to the greatness of our God, our aspirations are lesser than what God could accomplish in us.

Until we grow deeper in our relationship with God and see that He is worthy of the highest praise and adoration, it does not make sense to us in our humanity.  Certainly contemplating all that God has done makes Him praiseworthy, but in our pride we can be deceived into thinking we deserve what God has done for us.

Our flesh can be overwhelmed with worshiping God for all eternity – it seems tiring and repetitive.  That is when we realize that we have not really gotten a glimpse of Who God is.  We need to worship Him to know Him more.  We can be fans of people on this earth, but they will ultimately all perish and their splendor will fade.  But God – the great I AM, is not like us. No, He is Holy, perfect in all He does, without beginning or end.

We need to worship someone greater than we are.  Worshiping the creation could never fulfill us like worshiping our Creator – the only One truly worthy of praise!  We need to be transformed and that happens in His presence.  Our hearts and minds easily falter and can be divided.  Worshiping God aligns our will with God’s, and helps us to focus on what really matters and to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives: knowing Him.

The irony in God’s command for us to worship Him is that He does not need our worship – it is we who need to worship.  It is in love, not selfishness, that He is requiring us to worship Him.  We are harassed and helpless sheep who need direction. Thank God that He has shown us Himself and our need to worship Him alone.  Worship Him now.  Contemplate all that He has done for you.  Set aside the barriers that hinder sincere worship.  He is worthy.

Lord, help us to worship You in humility and truth.  You are worthy of all our praise and adoration.

Wisdom is humble

Picture credits  blog.centresource.com

Picture credits
blog.centresource.com

1 Kings 3:5-14

“One night in Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream.  God said, ‘Tell me what I should give you.’  6 Solomon replied, ‘You demonstrated great loyalty to your servant, my father David, as he served you faithfully, properly, and sincerely.  You have maintained this great loyalty to this day by allowing his son to sit on his throne.  7 Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in my father David’s place, even though I am only a young man and am inexperienced.  8  Your servant stands among your chosen people; they are a great nation that is too numerous to count or number.  9 So give your servant a discerning mind so he can make judicial decisions for your people and distinguish right from wrong.  Otherwise no one is able to make judicial decisions for this great nation of yours.’ 10 The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.  God said to him, “Because you asked for the ability to make wise judicial decisions, and not for long life, or riches, or vengeance on your enemies, I grant your request, and give you a wise and discerning mind superior to that of anyone who has preceded or will succeed you.  13 Furthermore, I am giving you what you did not request – riches and honor so that you will be the greatest king of your generation.  14 If you follow my instructions by obeying my rules and regulations, just as your father David did, then I will grant you long life.’ 

Decisions.  Difficult to make, especially when the heat and pressure is on.  It was shortly after Solomon was endowed with wisdom that he had to choose between two women whose baby was whose.  Just today I had to make a tough decision – many, actually.  And the day has just begin.  Thank God that He promises wisdom to all who ask Him.  But what impresses me about this story of Solomon was his heart. 

We all marvel that Solomon was not greedy and made a selfless decision.  But upon further examination, I am amazed at the disposition of Solomon.  True humility cannot be faked.  On the spot, He is overwhelmed that God would ask him to choose at all.  His first response was to praise God for His past kindness shown to his father, David, then for God’s loyalty and godly character.  He then states how amazed he is that God would choose him at all and professes his own weakness.  I am blown away that he recognizes his lack of capacity to lead God’s people and blatantly states that he cannot do it without God’s help.  Solomon had the most important thing settled in his soul: his kingdom was not his, the people he governed were God’s.  He needed wisdom from God to be able to judge in a way that pleased God.  Wow.

I’d like to think we would all choose so wisely, but confess I can look over my life and see times where I saw God’s grace to judiciously choose and times where I did not.  What impeded walking in wisdom in those times?  Perhaps, if we take inventory of our lives, we might see where we strayed more clearly.  Were we leaning on God, or man’s understanding in those times?  I guess we could all say that Solomon also had moments like that, too.  He was not perfect.  (700 wives and 300 concubines, probably not so smart in this aspect of his life).  But his heart saw his true, sincere need for God, and at the most critical moment at the beginning of His kingdom, He knew his foundation had to be laid in God. 

Maybe some people reading this blog look over their lives and see wreckage.  Regrets over past decisions which have impacted your life leave you wondering if there is any hope for recovery at all.  The same invitation from God for Solomon is extended to you – ask God for wisdom, like Solomon did.  Consequences might still remain, but in Christ they will serve to purify us and glorify Him.  Maybe you are at a crossroads right now and need to make a decision which will potentially impact your life.  Maybe you do not recognize that it will impact your life and just “go with the flow”.  Hopefully not. 

Solomon lived a peaceful life.  God had promised this before he was even a king, but God also knew what Solomon would ask for.  Making wise decisions can bring peace, but sometimes unwise choices are made that affect your life, too, which you had no say in.  Either way, we daily feel the impact of walking in wisdom and numbering our days aright, or not.  Right now, we can choose to recognize our need of God and His wisdom.  Really recognize it – not just give mental assent to it because it is what we are supposed to say.  We can see our utter moral poverty before a Holy God and give Him our lives, which are His, after all.

In our quest to be wise, we can surround ourselves with people who are wise.  We may know many people we consider wise, but possessing true wisdom is vastly different than one who is puffed up with knowledge.  Who surrounds you in your daily life?  Walking with fools can wreck your life and impact you, too.  He who walks with the wise becomes wise

Lord, help us to choose wisdom and to walk in a manner that pleases You.  Help us to see our need of you and to have the humility to ask for Your wisdom and not rely or lean on our own understanding.

He is Enough

Exodus 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the LORD your God.‘  19  “Moses said to them, ‘no one is to keep any of it until morning.’  20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them.” 

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

Enough.  What is enough?  Who determines what is enough?  I can relate to the Israelites here – our tendency is to judge them for not trusting and trying to gather more – kind of gluttonous – but I daresay we all do the same thing.  With a miracle like bread coming from the sky and God promising to give them just what they need, one could rest secure, right?  Yet with similar provision from God that might appear less miraculous, we also can resist dependence on God and place our confidence in our own ability to make enough preparations. 

Don’t get me wrong – preparation is not a bad thing.  Boy Scouts everywhere boast of the necessity of being prepared.  (o:  In fact, lack of preparation is being slack and not a good character quality at all.  But what I am talking about is more a motive of the heart than diligence.  God permitted the Israelites to gather twice the amount before the Sabbath so they could rest – and the worms did not come, nor did the stench reminiscent of gathering too much on previous days.  God had them work to gather food, but He was the source of that food.  He wanted to be their Provider in relationship with His creation. 

Perhaps it is not about trusting whether or not God will provide, but whether or not His provision will line up with what we think we need.  Trusting His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty to see our need and meet it.  When my husband was laid off in 2012, we had no savings.  Poor planning, you might say, but difficult circumstances had acquired any extra income and now we were facing an uncertain time.  Would God provide?  Oh yes!  Just days later, we would receive income sufficient for the time God had placed on my heart – 8 months with no steady income.  Random checks in the mail, a booming garden, and miraculous gifts of food that were exactly what my heart desired, proved to me that God cared about the little details.  Friends could not have known that I missed feta cheese and coconut oil, for I had only told the LORD that – but I received those two items from several friends who felt “led” to give them to me.  We had so much in the garden that I was able to bless people back who had blessed us.

I look back at that time with gratitude and joy.  Uncertain times, but a peace and faith that God granted in the midst.  The Israelites had just experienced God’s amazing deliverance by His parting of the sea.  Now God was testing their hearts – He wanted them to know that He was the Lord their God.  If the trials and testings never came, we would not value the provision that God sends.  We would not be satisfied if we never knew want.  The element of trusting in God and His promises for provision is the core message.  We all do not like to be uncomfortable and our flesh can quickly accuse God when He allows in discomfort, until we recognize it is His loving hand and a heart that desires to have fellowship with us.

One last thing – when someone makes a promise to provide, one usually would want to know for certain that they have the ability to provide.  A borrower wants to be assured that the lender is able to supply his request.  To doubt the capability of the living God to provide – Creator of all and the owner of all on this planet – is lunacy.  He has more than enough and is able to do far beyond what we ever could imagine.  To doubt His goodness to provide is also insanity.  Goodness does not equal giving us everything we want.  We might not be able to go see a movie or go out to eat whenever we want, but that pales in comparison to true needs.  Don’t despise the moments of needing to lean on God more.  Recognizing our need of Him is the greatest gift of all.

Dear Lord, please grant us perspective to see Your purposes and not just the surface we are experiencing.  Thank You that You provided Your Son when we were yet Your enemies.  Thank You for Your steadfast love and care.