Wednesday, July 19, 2017

He Will Meet All of Our Needs

In Paul's closing words to the Philippian church, he writes some challenging words:
"And my God will meet all your need according to the glorious riches of His glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19, emphasis mine)
These words are a powerful declaration of truth. But they're also sometimes hard words to live by.

There are two small, but incredibly powerful words in this verse:



Paul doesn't say that God might meet some of our needs. He says that God WILL meet ALL or our needs.

I think we sometimes struggle with this because we don't see God giving us what we want in the moment, or providing for us in the way we think He should. In those times, it can be hard to believe that God is doing what this verse says.

God will meet our needs, but maybe not the way we expect or the way we want Him to. We may see something as a need, when God sees it as a want and know it's better for us if He doesn't supply it.

These words challenge me: Do I believe them? Even when it doesn't look like I expect?

We can be sure that God will never leave us without something we need to live the life He has for us.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Promises from God

Philippians 4:4-9 has long been a favourite passage of Scripture of mine. It's also a fairly well known passage to many:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned from me, or seen in me - put into practice. And the peace of God will be with you.

I've heard sermons and read thoughts on lots of different things in this passage before. As I was reading and reflecting on these verses recently, I noticed something I don't remember noticing before. I love how God highlights things we've seen often in His Word before at the time we're in a place for that truth. It was there all along, but now is when we notice it.

These verses contain two promises. One is said only once, but the second is repeated twice:

  • The Lord is near (vs. 5)
  • The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds (vs. 7)
  • The peace of God will be with you (vs. 9)

We're told that God is near and that we can experience His peace. We don't have to go looking for God because He is near. We just have to look up from our circumstances and look at Him. We don't have to search for an elusive peace, when we realize God is near because we've shifted our gaze, we will experience God's peace.

As I saw this, I realized it changed my perspective on everything else in this passage. All the words about not being anxious about anything and thinking about things are no longer a means to trying to find God and an elusive peace. They become a way to live because I'm living with a God Who is near and has given me His peace.

We can rejoice because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.

We can let our gentleness be evident to all because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.

We have no need to be anxious about anything because God is near and He gives us His peace to guard our hearts and minds.

We can bring our requests to God and trust His answers because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.

We can live with thanksgiving because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.

We can think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Redemption in Abundance

          "Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
                    for with the Lord is unfailing love
                    and with Him is full redemption."
                                                       -Psalm 130:7

Psalm 130 is a psalm about God' forgiveness of sin. It is a cry to God for mercy and a declaration of hope in the truth of God's Word.

As I read it recently, I was struck by the thought that God offers "full redemption." Another translation I read said it this way: "redemption in abundance." (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

They all convey that it's something complete. God doesn't just sort of redeem our past our sin when we turn to Him. He redeems it completely and He does it abundantly.

I've been working through Beth Moore's Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent recently and she said something about God's work of redemption that really stuck with me in part of the study for this psalm.

"Allowed to do so through our confession, invitation, and cooperation, God can restore our identity, our purity, our ability, and our sanity! He not only diffuses our past of all power to harm and haunt us but He infuses it with power to help others." (Stepping Up, page 129)

God's work of redemption in our lives is so much more than just forgiving our sins. He also takes our pasts and uses them for His glory and His purposes.

This is where I think the translation that used the phrase "redemption in abundance"  really challenged my thinking on this. God doesn't just redeem our pasts, He does so abundantly! As we allow Him to do His work, He creates something beyond what had been stolen by sin. He is generous with us in His redemption. He doesn't just barely redeem us; He redeems abundantly.

The lyrics to the chorus of a song I've been listening to lately have made me continue to think about what this looks like in my life.

The song is called "You Redeem" (by Aaron Shust)

You redeem, You redeem
You restore what's been stolen from me
You reclaim, You release
You rebuild with the words that You breathe
You redeem

You can listen to the whole song here:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Who's Got Your Back?

Who are the people in your life you've allowed to see your weak places? Who you've trusted to get close in the places where you're most vulnerable?

Who had permission to ask you the tough questions? To help you see what you're not seeing?

Who will stand for you when you're under attack and can't stand? Who will help you stand when you can't alone?

Who will guard you weak or vulnerable places from attack?

Those are challenging questions. They've been running through my mind for the last few weeks. I've been wrestling with my answer to them.

The answers may not come easily, but I'm starting to think that the answers do need to come. We need these people in our lives. And we need to be these people for others.

Really, these questions can be summed up in a couple:

Who's got your back?
Who's back have you got?

We have an enemy who is looking for the places he can attack to destroy us. He's looking for the places where we're unprotected, because he knows he has a good chance of getting in those places to defeat and destroy us.

This means we need each other. We all have places we can't see our vulnerability to attack, where we need someone else to com alongside us. We all ahve places where we know our vulnerability, but don't yet know how to protect ourselves, where we need someone to come alongside us.

Who's got your back?

Who's back have you got?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Unique Stories of Faith

"The Bible makes it clear that every time there is a story of faith, it is completely original. God's creative genius is endless. He never, fatigued and unable to maintain the rigors of creativity, resorts to mass-producing copies. Each life is a fresh canvas on which He uses lines and colors, shades and lights, textures and proportions that He has never used before."
                                         (Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best)

I've spent a lot of time pondering this quote recently. It really stuck with me when I first heard it and I haven't been able to leave it behind since.

Stories of faith . . .
                    . . . in the Bible.
                    . . . in the history of the church.
                    . . . in the lives of those around us today.
                    . . . in our own lives.

We read some stories of faith. We listen to some. We live our own. And we may play a role in the stories of others.

They're the same only in that we are writing them with God by the choices we make.

But, our stories will never be the same as someone else's story of faith. Our story of faith is uniquely ours. Even our experiences of the same event or struggle as another person will be different.

And that's how God intended it to be. He has a different story of faith He wants to write for each one of us. And He's not going to run our of material or ideas for any one of us.