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    "God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose."
    -- John Piper

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    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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Managing God’s Provision Graciously

 If you missed Part I, you can read it here

If you missed Part II, you can read it here

This posting (part 3 of a series) was going to be titled “QUIT YOUR WHINING!”   But, I thought better of it at the last minute. 

God’s provision is bigger than just food, clothes, shelter, cars…..you know….Stuff.  God’s provision is ALL encompassing.  It’s your life.  It’s everything he has done in the process of moving you from birth to today.  You may not have been aware of his presence and purpose.  You may have rejected his plan outright and done your own thing.  As I looked at certain stories from God’s word, it was impressed upon me that there are a number of reactions to God’s provision. 

Anyway, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, I started looking at the book of Exodus.  You know… “Let my people go; all of the plagues; parting the Red Sea; Pillar of cloud (or fire); wandering around in the desert for years on end?  You should read it.  There’s good stuff in there!  (At this point, I’m sure you are thinking: “Exodus?  This guy leads the most boring life ever,” but stay with me.  I should be able to bring this back around to some kind of point by the end).

I’m not going to re-tell the whole story here, but I will try to get you up to speed.  Let’s talk about the Israelites.  Back while Pharaoh had made them slaves, and is crushing their spirit under a significant ‘work-load’ each and every day, God had it planned that he was going to bring them to the Promised Land.  So, the time had come to pack up the tents, but first God had to get their attention.  Rather than just up and leave in the middle of the night, God sent Moses to have a little ‘sit-down’ with Pharaoh.  God (through Moses) said “Let my people go.”  In case you missed the movie, Pharaoh said no.  In fact, he said no ten times.  Thus, the ten plagues.  Now, I know what you’re thinking:  “Those plagues were designed to smack Pharaoh around a bit– a little Israelite revenge, God-style.  But in reality, The Israelites were supposed to see God’s Power.  Notice I said “supposed to”

 Hang with me here.  This will all get around to a point soon. In Exodus 7:3 God tells Moses “…I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.” Finally, after all the miraculous signs and wonders (who said God doesn’t have a sense of humor), Pharaoh tells Moses to hit the road.  Keep in mind they could have left at any time.  Pharaoh’s heart was never softened to God’s will.  He was broken but never really surrendered.  This is all part of the plan. All of the display of the plagues was for the benefit of the Israelites, not to crush Pharaoh. And what did the Israelites do?  They whined and complained.   They weren’t affected by the plagues, yet they whined continuously about how bad it was going to be.  Can’t you hear them now?   

“Moses, stop messing with Pharaoh, He’s gonna make it harder on us.”

“Moses, it’s a lot better here.  At least we have food occasionally.”    

“Moses, knock it off”   

If it’s me watching the frogs, and boils, and gnats and locusts, I’m thinking: “man, my God is awesome,” but not these knuckle-heads.  They don’t trust that God has it all planned out.  God is providing for their departure from Egypt, and has a new pad all picked out, but they don’t trust him.  

Now my favorite part (Exodus 14):  Remember, Pharaoh’s heart was never softened.   The Israelites leave with all of their stuff, but Pharaoh and his cronies realize that now they have to do all the heavy lifting (building pyramids is heavy work), so they go after the Israelites.  (See, if God had really broken the Egyptians they would have stayed home licking their wounds)  Israel is at the edge of the Red Sea.  The Egyptians are right at the back door.  They’re pinned in and everything looks hopeless.  This is the perfect time to expect God to do something great, right?  WRONG!  What happens?  Rather than EXPECT GOD TO WORK, they start whining again.  

Here are the verses that really get me:  (14:11-12) They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?  Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” I mean, does that just drip with sarcasm, or what?  What’s the matter, Moses?  Not enough land to bury us in back in Egypt?  You had to drag us out here so they can leave us to rot in the desert? 

Well, you know the rest of the story.  God parts the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army is crushed and the Israelites wander around in the desert for years trying to get their act together.  The point is this, all these things: The Pillar of Cloud; The Pillar of Fire; the never ending stream in the desert; the parting of the red sea; the manna and quail, each served to demonstrate God’s provision for the Israelites.  The Israelites continued to whine at every turn.  At times, they were so totally ignorant of God’s provision, I still don’t know why He didn’t just throw up his hands and start again.  Oh yeah, for the same reason that he doesn’t do it with you and me:  Love! 

God’s provision for you is about his love for you.  It may not be your plan.  In fact, it shouldn’t be your plan.  It should be God’s plan.  When you get to the place where you recognize that God’s plan for you is his provision, you stop whining and start being gracious.  When you live with that graciousness, you start to expect him to work in the way he has intended.  You fall in line with his will. 

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2 Responses

  1. This was such a good word and I’m glad I stopped by to read it. I read Truth or Tolerance? also and like the way you wrote it. It is a good comparison and may help others see the futility of attaching Christ like a lapel pin to their shirt collars instead of living Him – a stark difference.

    Anyway, again, thanks for the reminder of God’s provision. It really hits home when you say that the place God wants to get us to is when we recognize that part of His plan for us is provision! And I know He said that; why worry about what you will wear, eat, or drink? For Him… those are the easy things:) God’s blessings!

    ~Jen

  2. Thanks for stopping by Jen. Good words. Anymore thoughts about the May issue at WalkTwo? Let me know

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