Chicken yakisoba I made one day just because I could, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God will provide

What do you need? I’m not talking about what you want, because what we want and we need are rarely the same. But what do you need? Do you need a job? Do you need a car? Do you need food to eat? Do you need clothing to wear? I’m going to make the assumption that you are reading this blog post on your computer or your tablet or your phone, which probably means you have your immediate physical needs met at the moment. That is an assumption, and I never know where these crazy posts end up, so if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

All of us have needs. Our needs vary greatly from person to person, and our needs today may be completely different than our needs tomorrow. So when you need something, who do you ask? When I was younger, I would ask my parents. If I needed something, I knew they were there to provide for me. But I’m not that young anymore, and while I still sometimes turn to my parents for help, most of the things I need are things that they really can’t give me. Most of the things I need are things they shouldn’t give me if I want to call myself an adult.

So who do you ask? Friends? Family? The government?

Chicken yakisoba I made one day just because I could, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Chicken yakisoba I made one day just because I could, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Philippians 4:19.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

This is one of the closing verses of the Book of Philippians, where Paul is saying his farewells to the people of the Church. This verse comes off a previous paragraph (Philippians 4:14-18) that thanks the Church of Philippi for their support and their gifts that helped sustain him when he was on one of his missionary journeys. He identifies the Church of Philippi as “the only ones who gave me financial help.” He also says no other church did this, at least at that time.

And at the end of this paragraph where he is thanking the Church of Philippi for providing for him, he writes down this verse that says God will provide. God will provide? Sounds to me like the Church of Philippi provided. Is Paul being facetious? Is he being sarcastic about this? How can he go from saying “thank you for all the money you sent me” to “God will take care of you too” in one breath?

I really believe that you have to understand how God works for this to make sense. This is what I’ve learned through many years of following Christ: Whether through miraculous circumstances or the generosity of fellow believers, God will always provide for your needs.

If you’re a Christ follower, you’ve experienced this. You’ve been sitting in church and listening and all of a sudden you feel an undeniable urge to give money. Or you’re walking down the street and you feel this sudden pull to give somebody some money or help somebody out. Do you really think that’s you? I mean, maybe you’re a good enough person to just randomly walk around giving people money and helping people out, and if you are, good for you. I’m not that good. But God is. And God lives in me. And He tells me sometimes that I need to help somebody or I need to give somebody some money.

When that happens, I hesitate sometimes because honestly I live paycheck to paycheck. You would think a single person living in a paid-for house and a paid-off car with a full-time career would be fine, but it’s the little everyday expenses that kill you. But every time God has told me to help someone else financially, those times when it was a financial burden for me, He has always provided for me. He’s always made up the difference, and usually He provides more than I need.

Sometimes those needs are met through circumstances and situations that nobody has control over. In those instances, I can only thank God. But other times, people provide for me–like my parents or like my friends or like strangers on the street, and in those instances, I can thank them but I also need to thank God because He moved them to do it.

Philippians is one of those books that I never get tired of reading. It’s all about how to be happy. It’s about how to be content and joyful in living and following Christ. And a big part of that is trusting that God will provide for you, no matter what you need.

And God does. Maybe he’ll use a miracle, maybe he’ll use your next door neighbor (and maybe that is a miracle), but He will provide. He might even use you to provide for someone else, but you can trust that if He asks you to do something, He will provide for the hole it leaves.

That’s who He is. He is our God who provides what He requires. We just have to trust that He will.

We Americans don’t think about it because we don’t usually sacrifice anything; we’re not used to it. But standing up what Paul was doing back then could have been a death sentence. In all honesty, in parts of our world today it still is, just not in the U.S. Not yet.

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Sunrise on Jamaica Beach - Galveston, TX

Borrowing trouble

English is kind of fun. Since I started working with people who aren’t American and for whom English is a second language, we’ve had a lot of really fascinating conversations about English idiom. Upsetting the apple cart. Pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. Things like that. Well, today’s verses made me think of the idiom, borrowing trouble. According to Dictionary.com, to borrow trouble means to “go out of one’s way to do something that may be harmful.”

The example Dictionary.com gave was a statement: “Just sign the will. Telling her about it ahead of time is just borrowing trouble.”

It means to expend emotional or physical resources to accomplish something that may be unnecessary in the long run, something that may turn out to be even more difficult to handle than the current situation.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach - Galveston, TX

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach – Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are Matthew 6:33-34.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Tomorrow is that strange, foreign land that we can’t see until we get there. Shakespeare called the future “the undiscovered country” in Hamlet (Act III, Scene 1). And like everything we can’t understand until we experience it, it’s easier to worry about it than to ignore it. But worrying doesn’t really accomplish anything. Have you noticed that?

What is it about worrying that makes us feel like we are more in control than not? I don’t know what it is. If I did, I would find out and fix it. Because worrying has turned more of my hair silver than anything else (and, yes, I do have gray hair). But no matter how much worrying I do, I still can’t solve a problem before it happens. I can sit and speculate about what might happen until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t do anything about it until what’s going to happen actually happens.

What good does worrying about it do?

There is a difference between worrying and planning. You do want to plan. You do want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. But that’s where it needs to stop.

Tomorrow is the future. Tomorrow is Shakespeare’s undiscovered country. And worrying about what happens tomorrow will rob us of what is going on in our lives today.

The whole chapter of Matthew 6 is part of a lengthy but revolutionary sermon that Jesus preached called The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It was unlike anything people had ever heard before because previous teachers couldn’t speak with real authority. The teachers of religious law that the people had always listened to previously couldn’t speak like Jesus could. And a good deal of Matthew 6 talks about worrying.

We’re all good at worrying. We worry about food. We worry about clothes. We worry about finances. And it’s amazing to me that Jesus spoke on this in the First Century because they’re still issues we worry about today. Apparently it’s something people are just prone to worrying about.

But Jesus says not to worry (Matthew 6:25-32):

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Instead of worrying about tomorrow — instead of borrowing trouble — we need to seek God first today. Don’t regret yesterday; don’t worry about tomorrow; run after God today. God knows what you need, and He’ll take care of it.

Simple needs make life really complicated

Today’s verse is Matthew 6:33.

 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s probably supposed to be simple, but we make it complicated. I know when I look at my life, there’s a part of me that thinks there’s really just too much that God has to provide for me and I shouldn’t be asking for that much. So I think I need to do it for myself.

I need money to pay my bills. I need clothes to wear to work so I can make money to pay for my bills. I need food to eat, specifically good, healthy food so I will be able to continue wearing the clothes I bought. I need gasoline for my car. Ha. And in 5,000 more miles I’m going to need a new set of brakes and four new tires too. I need allergy meds so I don’t get sick, which means I need insurance. My daily needs are no different from anyone else’s, so just like I sometimes feel like I can’t provide all these things for myself, I’m sure other people must feel the same way.

So why don’t we think that God can provide all these things for us? I know why I hesitate. I’m stubborn. I want to do things myself, provide for myself, not have to rely on anyone ever — even God.

And I guess the real question is whether or not I actually need the things I think I need. Obviously, some of the needs I listed up there are definite, but when you get right down to it, what’s more important — eating a salad or seeking God? Having gasoline to go somewhere or knowing God? Wearing a brand new shirt or having a conversation with God?

And see, I’m foolish enough somedays to think there’s a choice between those things. And there doesn’t have to be. Because I can seek God while I eat a salad and I can know God while I’m driving somewhere and I can wear a brand new shirt while I have a conversation with God. But the point is, those things shouldn’t be what I’m seeking first.

God needs to be the priority in my life. Not things. Not stuff. Not food. Not position or rank or authority.

I need God. Nothing else.

And if I can wrap my head around that and actually live like that, He will take care of everything else. He’ll provide me with money. He’ll provide me with clothes. He’ll provide me with food and gasoline for my car. He’ll provide me with the things I need to live . . . . and many times He’ll give me too much. And I know He even gives me things I want too and not just the things I need.

I love the Amplified Version’s spin on this verse too.

33But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

Here’s the thing. This verse is part of a larger sermon Christ delivered in the Book of Matthew. This verse comes along right after Christ was telling people not to worry.

Those of us who follow Christ don’t need to be controlled by thoughts of the material possessions we need. In this same set of verses, Christ tells people to look at the birds and the flowers. Birds have enough to eat, and flowers are beautiful in their design without having to work to clothe themselves. And in the same way, God will provide for us. Because if God takes care of creations so insignificant as birds and flowers, He’ll definitely take care of us — creations designed just like Him.

God is all I need. And the only thing my life needs is to reflect His goodness, a life that both knows and does the right thing all the time. And everything extraneous will be given to me.

And I know all that. The hard part is living it.

The hard part is looking at the stack of bills on my table, wondering how I’m going to budget for it. The hard part is shopping at a grocery store where all the food prices have gone through the roof. The hard part is trying to make ends meet when I’ve done all I can and the ends still aren’t meeting. The hard part is taking God at His Word and not working myself to death to provide things for myself and others that He would have given us anyway if I had just asked.

Need God.

Do the right thing.

God’s got us covered.