The God of water, and the God of wine

Christians seem to typically fall into two extremes when it comes to understanding God’s provision in our lives. Blessings, pleasure, and enjoyment are all sometimes difficult to fathom in their relation to God’s plan.

Many earlier Christians and several today seem to believe that God did not want us to enjoy ourselves. That pleasure is carnal and misery is spiritual. Monks that starve themselves, eat boring food, barely speak, and whip themselves come to mind. Self-denial with the purpose of enlightening the soul is a practice that Christians have embraced from time to time.

A few earlier Christians, and many today. Believe that God desires our pleasure almost above all else. That He will consistently provide blessings and pleasure and happiness without regard to the inconsistent obedience we may show in our lives.

Both of these are wrong. God provides for our needs because He knows our needs and He promises to fulfill them. God provides much for our pleasure because He wants to show His love for us in that way.

God provides for our needs. When Israel was in the desert, they needed water. So He provided water. He didn’t give them sparkling soda, or coconut water, or papaya juice. He didn’t give them every variety. Just what they needed. And that was okay. He didn’t have to provide anything else. His promises didn’t require anything else either. He promised a land with milk and honey, for now, they had water.

God gives us blessings and pleasures from His goodness and by his prerogative. At the wedding at Cana, they ran out of wine. Jesus Christ, God on earth, was there and noticed it. By Mary’s faith, she requested that he fulfill the need. Jesus answered by turning water into wine. The thing is, they could have drank water. Honestly. Nobody “needed” wine. God provided it anyway. God who made the beauty in the sky and the flowers of the field and the immense variety of foods to eat, wants us to enjoy ourselves – in the contest of putting Him first. He wants us to be content with water. But I would suggest that when we are, He is just waiting to give us “wine.”

God promised to provide our necessities. He is not obligated to provide our pleasures. He does both out of His loving and generous heart. And when God gives us blessings to enjoy, they are the better than anyone else could offer.

As in the wedding at Cana, not only did God provide wine to enjoy instead of water, He provided the best wine. Wine so good it impressed the ruler of the feast and he complimented the groom on saving the best wine for last.

 

God provides wonderful blessings to us when we obey Him. Let us praise Him for His goodness!

“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” – Psalm 104:14-15

God is the God of water. And He is the God of wine.

He is also the God of quail. Check back next time for a more complete understanding of how pleasures and necessities fit into God’s plan.

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God’s provision isn’t the number you file your taxes with

A pastor once told me of when he first began going to college. He didn’t have the money to pay for his education, but he knew God wanted him to go. He saved up faithfully, but last minute expenses destroyed his savings. He said he stood in line for registration, praying over and over again. “God, I need money!” Again and again. He pleaded. He had no money to pay his bill.

Much to his surprise, when he got to the end of the line, he found that someone had paid his bill in full. He told the story in humorous and grateful manner. Praising God for His provision.

But let us pause to examine this. He said, “I need money.” But what did he actually need? Entrance into the college.

I give you another example.

In John 6, Jesus and the disciples are ministering to a crowd of thousands. Eventually it was time for the people to eat, but they did not have food. Jesus asks the question: Where are we going to buy bread for all these people? Philip expounds on the hopelessness of their situation by pointing out how 200 pennies would not be enough. Jesus answers his own question by miraculously feeding thousands of people with a single person’s lunch.

God provides with or without money.

Isn’t it funny how we can usually think in terms of money? We say, “I need money to buy my kids some shoes.” But in reality, we need shoes. We say, “I need money to pay for my groceries.” But in reality, we need food.

In reality, we need God to provide.

I challenge you to realize, God’s provision is not always in the form of money. Sometimes it’s a clearance sale. Sometimes it’s your neighbor’s leftovers. Sometimes it’s the generosity of a stranger. Sometimes it’s finding stuff while cleaning your basement.

In the pastor that was mentioned, God provided someone to pay his bill. In John 6, God provided a miracle. In your own life, there is no limit to what He may provide.

I challenge you, next time you have a need, don’t say, “I need money for . . .” Instead say, “I need God.” “I need God to provide!”

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” – Matthew 6:30

A lesson from a chicken

I have a few chickens that I tend in my backyard. They are timid and fretful creatures that have given a new meaning to the childhood accusation of cowardice. On the playground, we would goad each other into dangerous situations and if you didn’t do ______ you were a chicken. I never knew the connection, but I do now.

You see, chickens easily disturbed and distressed, it would seem that any strange noise or situation has them frantic. I remember the first time I sneezed near the creatures. They all ran for cover like the world was ending. I’m truly not exaggerating. One action that would usually upset them is when I would take away their food container.

I take away the bin simply to fill it up and make sure they have enough. But every time they wound up clucking away in worry. The most recent time I went to give them food, they seemed contented. Suddenly, I thought of how God provides for us.

Sometimes he takes away one source, simply to provide from another.

Without exception, every one of our lives will be in upheaval for one or another reason. God will remove good things from our lives. It may be a good friendship, good job, good house, fill in the blank. God will take things from our lives. When that happens, we can reaction in faith, or in worry and fear.

I know that I have lived a good portion of my life like a stressed out chicken who sees his food bin disappearing, when it is about to come right back again overflowing.

I challenge you, like I challenge myself. Have faith in God provision. He says in His word,

“No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

God would not take from his children and watch them suffer without having a greater purpose in mind. Trust God’s love and all-mighty power to provide! He has a plan. We must have faith like the widow who gave the prophet Elijah her last meal in the middle of a drought. She had no means of supporting herself, but God provided.

God provided for her and he will provide for you no matter what he takes from your life.

Don’t be a chicken! 🙂

 

You’ll never want anything ever again!

Skimming over verses of the Bible without stopping to think about them is easy. Especially when we have a favorite verse coming up later in the chapter. I’ve been guilty of it countless times, and I’m sure you have been too. Just today, the Lord reminded me of a verse I’ve been skipping over for a while.

Psalm 23 is a favorite of many. It is very common to memorize this psalm in Sunday school or elsewhere. It is a very picturesque psalm with deep meaning. The ultimate truth in the Psalm is that God takes care of us. The first verse of the psalm says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

I’d just like to stop there and expound on that.

God is the one that shepherds, guides, and protects us. No one else. Even when we are under the protection of a government, organization, or even our parents, they are not the ones that look after us. God looks after us. He alone is our shepherd. He alone takes care of us, and always will.

Secondly, we will not want. This isn’t like the fleshly childish desire of wanting something, but it is the state of needing something. We will not lack any thing. You, as a Christian, will never be in desperate need of anything. Nothing at all. God takes care of you. That means in war- He takes care of you. In sickness- He takes care of you. In drought- He provides for you. In whatever state you are- He is providing for you.

This is a timeless truth that endures no matter what. God takes care of His own. You shall not want.

You may be thinking, “But I remember that time when I needed ______.” In all honesty, no matter what you think you needed, you probably didn’t need it at all. Paul went through many hardships, but in Philippians 4 he says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul learned that his needs weren’t that great after all. He always had what he needed. In all that he experienced, God took care of Him.

So I challenge you, whatever situation you may be in, or whatever crisis may seem imminent, put your faith in God. He takes care of us. He took care of David. He took care of Paul. He took care of thousands of His children throughout the ages. And He will take care of you.

As you walk in this life, seek the Lord first, and you will find that you will never want for anything.

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” – Psalm 34:10

What if God made your bed for you?

When you take care of the poor, God takes care of you. Verse after verse in the Bible reiterates this same truth. A person may say that it’s a bad thing to be redundant, but when it comes to important truth, it’s not all that damaging. So, just for good measure, let me say that When you take care of the poor, God takes care of you.

Psalm 41 begins by saying, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” Pretty amazing truth right? But it goes on. The next verse says, “The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.”

Wow, so far you have protection, life, blessings, and deliverance from your enemies! What else could you ask for? Well, the next verse gives you healthcare.

“The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” Incredible! God says that those who care for the poor will be strengthened when they are sick! The second part of the verse is a little harder to understand. God will “make his bed” when he’s sick?

I used a concordance on this part and the word for “make” basically means “to change,” so in essence, God will figuratively change the sheets. So in essence, God will make his bed. I’m guessing this has some significance in saying that the period of sickness is over. But let’s not think too much about this, God is obviously saying that the man who gives to the poor will be healthy, and that’s an amazing promise!

Let’s take advantage of that promise today.

I challenge you, consider those who are less fortunate than you are. Ask God to give you the inclination to help others and send people across your path that need help. Obey God, and watch His blessing flow on your life. Give Him the glory no matter what, and let others see His power.

Honor him with the first

Who do you think of first when you need help? Who is first on your list of friends? Who do you shop for first when you’re going to buy gifts? We as humans put an emphasis on being first. It has the idea of being primary, or most important. With this same mentality, God asks us to give Him the first of what we receive.

Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:” Back when farming was the commonplace occupation of most people, it was common for a person to refer to their initial harvest as firstfruits. Imagine, a farmer working hard to plow, plant, and possibly water his crop. All summer he watches it grow. When it finaly comes time for the first harvest, he treasures the produce of labor. He wants to enjoy his labor. If you have a farm, or you’ve ever gardened, I’m sure you understand. That first of what he receives is what God asks to be given of.

God wants to be honored with the very best, the first! I don’t know how you are provided for, whether by farming or paycheck or otherwise, but however God blesses you, God wants you to honor Him with the first or best of it. He doesn’t want to be put off, forgotten, and given the leftovers. He most certainly is deserving of far more. God deserves the best, and that is what He requires.

So I challenge you, next time you receive a profit, think of God first. Think of what you will give Him, and make provision for your gift. Let’s honor the Lord with the first!

If we do, He promises to reward us greatly!

“So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” – Proverbs 3:10

Would you be ashamed?

While we walk through this world, we are being watched. And our actions speak. As believers, we must learn to be consistent and live by the standards we claim. We bear the name of God, and what we do glorifies Him, or gives the heathen a reason to blaspheme.

In the book of Ezra, the king (Artaxerxes of Persia) commissions Ezra to rebuild the house of God. The king gives Ezra authority, permissions, and a lot of gold. As Ezra goes about to rebuild the temple, he realizes that he needs some Levites to come with him to do the temple work. Ezra sends out messengers to get some Levites, and when the need is fulfilled, he gives God the glory for the provision.

A short time later, Ezra was faced with a greater need. He’s traveling through enemy filled territory with provisions, children, and probably a huge amount of gold. He needs protection. Many people in this situation, would go and ask the king for help, but Ezra didn’t.

He decided to fast and pray instead. He said, “For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.” – Ezra 8:22

He wanted to show consistency, and he was ashamed to ask the king for help because that would almost be like telling the king that his God wasn’t what He had claimed. Ezra and those with Him, fasted and prayed, and God showed them a safe path.

I challenge you to be consistent like Ezra. God is glorified through us when we decide to act in faith. If you find yourself with a need, go to God first. Many times we claim that our God is great and provides for our needs, but then we worry and fret, and spend time stress-fully scheming instead of seeking Him. In every area of our lives, let us strive to live consistently. Let’s not quote the Bible and then fail to live by it.

Ezra took a stand to seek God for his provision, and I hope you will too. Let’s live consistent lives.