The Bible talks a lot about the dangers of money. Money isn’t a bad thing. The problem is that money can corrupt. Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:7 that, “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (NIV). Even so, many people are not content to have the food and clothing Paul mentions in the next verse. People want more. And that desire to always have more keeps man from being content with the blessings of God.
In verse 6, Paul says “godliness with contentment is great gain” (ESV). Great gain. To be content with godliness is great gain. Yet, there is a warning here. Paul notes that many people want to be rich. The desire causes them to fall into temptation. They want more. They desire more. This results in entrapment by “foolish and harmful desires.”
God knows our needs and He sees to it that we have whatever we need to continue forward with what He has called us to do in life. When we take our focus off of His plan for our life, and we try to be like the Jones family next door, we plunge into ruin and destruction. We spend our life trying to live like someone else and we miss what God wanted for us. We focus on getting more, on building an earthly kingdom, instead of fixing our eyes on the Kingdom. Don’t take the plunge. Thank God for His blessings!
“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.” – 1 Timothy 6:9 [NLT]
With our human eyes, we see what is there and we consider that to be our resources. When I look into my refrigerator and see a gallon of iced tea, I understand that is all I have. At the same time, I know I have the money to get more tea so it does not worry me. There are moments though when we do not have the resources in our hands or in our bank accounts. There is nothing there to bring about a certain something in our lives. We do not have enough we then say.
It could be the funds necessary to put down a security deposit and first month’s rent to move into a new place because you have to move. It could be money that is needed to evaluate your car after the “check engine” light shined bright. It could be new shoes for your children because they have outgrown yet another pair. Whatever it is, you find yourself saying, “There’s not nearly enough.”
This servant looked around at the people and then he looked at the available resources. There’s not enough. There’s not enough. The servant said there wasn’t enough. But Elisha responded, “God says there’s plenty.” God says there’s plenty. Do you think God forgot about you? Do you think that when you need something, it won’t be there? God says there’s plenty. When the need truly arises, the need is met. God says there’s plenty. Trust it will come and it will be enough.
“His servant said, ‘For a hundred men? There’s not nearly enough!’
Elisha said, ‘Just go ahead and do it. God says there’s plenty.’”
-2 Kings 4:43-44 [MSG]
The Israelites were in the desert hungry and God promised to rain down bread from heaven. The Lord provided for the Israelites and they called this manna. As time progressed, they were tired of the manna. It still was suitable for food. It still could satisfy their hunger needs. The problem was they wanted something else—the manna was no longer enough for them in their eyes.
The people went as far as to say “we hate this horrible manna.” The horrible manna fed them; Exodus 16 says the Israelites ate it for forty years. But the people wanted more and they were no longer so thankful for the provisions of the Lord. Perhaps God provided, but they had something different in mind.
We also receive provisions but do not always respond with a thankful heart. There are moments in life when we only have canned pasta to eat. We would rather have steak. Our expectations are different. Today be thankful for all of God’s provisions, not simply the ones that delight us the most.
“And they began to speak against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!’” – Numbers 21:5 [NLT]
The doctor’s office called to remind me of my daughter’s upcoming appointment and the office assistant left me a voice mail message. The message warned me that if my daughter did not make her appointment, there would be a fee accessed. I have considered this fee, and wondered how it is that when a person who is sick wishes to go to the doctor, they are charged whether they can make it, but also if they miss the appointment. The question is, do these people who don’t make it and have a viable reason, like they were too sick to even drive to the appointment, get charged? The doctors are to help the sick. Do they show mercy on the sick?
I am not trying to get into a long discussion about the doctors and the fees. We could go back and forth for hours about medical charges and the health care system. The point I am trying to make is our need to show others mercy. There are many situations each day where we have the option to act with mercy or to be hard like the world around us.
Jesus is the great Physician. He even tells us that He came to save the sick and needy. He understands when we don’t make an appointment and He forgives us and seeks to make us well. He addresses our needs and He mends and transforms us. We go from death to life. We go from condemned to forgiven. We go from sinner to saint. How wonderful is that?
Today I hope that you consider in each circumstance the mercy that has been shown to you, and that you share that mercy with others. People are tired. People are lonely. Everyone make mistakes. People are in great need. Some have hearts that ache with a great void that only Jesus can fill. Have compassion for people. Be merciful. Sadly, it may be the only mercy they see today.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
– Micah 6:8 [NIV]
Do you wash your hands? It is a strange question for me to ask. Most people would think that I was making a suggestion about your hygiene; however, I am not talking about washing your hands as part of a routine for good hygiene. In Matthew 27, when Jesus was standing before Pilate, there was a great push for His crucifixion. Pilate did not want anything to do with what was to come, and so he washed his hands before the crowd and claimed his innocence in the matter.
If we turn a few chapters back in Matthew, we read about judgment. We do not like to discuss judgment, but Jesus painted a clear picture. He gave us an important image, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matthew 25:42-43 NASB).
When I ask if you wash your hands, I am referring to helping your fellow brothers and sisters. Do you wash your hands and move along, ignoring reality, ignoring the needs of others? Or do you help to take care of the needs around you? Jesus said if we feed a person who is hungry, it is as if we are feeding Him. If we clothe someone who is without clothing, it is as if we are providing Him with clothing.
Helping others does not always take some overabundance of finances and belongings. People who have so little are like the widow who gave so much– providing for the needs around them without concern for letting go of something. I have seen people who do not have a large savings help to buy food and clothing for another family. I have seen families barely getting by invite others into their homes for dinner. I have seen people barely scraping by provide for the needs of others.
So I ask you today, do you wash your hands? Do you say that it’s not your problem and you won’t be bothered by it? Or do you pull up your sleeves and see what you can do for others? What you can do for Jesus?
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
– Acts 20:35 [ESV]
For exactly the last three months, I have lived a life with very little clutter. Three months ago, my family and I headed to the airport and we began our voyage to Australia. Our items were in storage. We stayed in Sydney for two and a half months, living out of suitcases. We really didn’t miss any of our belongings in the United States. When we returned back to the States, we ended up needing to wait for a home to rent. Therefore, we are staying with friends and still living out of suitcases.
This morning, I went to our storage center, a small 10 x 10 unit that stores all of our possessions. Most people could not store all of their things in such a small area; however, we barely fill half of the unit. As I passed a few other people with their doors open, I couldn’t help but notice their things pouring out of the unit. Some people are drowning in clutter.
The Bible tells us to not store up a bunch of possessions here on earth. The Apostle Paul was content with so little. Paul said,“ I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means” (Philippians 4:11b-12a NASB). Too often we tend to mix our wants and needs. We also fill the gaps in our lives with stuff in hope that we will feel better. The gap that needs filled can only be filled by our loving Father. This is why Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of heaven. If we truly do this with our entire heart, we wouldn’t feel such a void in our lives.
Clutter can cause stress. Clutter can cause a loss of focus in our lives. It can keep us from experiencing peace. It can require a lot of energy from us. Clutter can become such a burden, and yet sometimes even more clutter is added to cope with the stress of the burden. It’s okay to have things. It’s okay to like things. But it’s not okay to drown ourselves with things. God wants you to have peace. If you feel your environment is not peaceful, look around and see if you are drowning in clutter.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 [NASB]
When I went to church today, I had a dry throat. I am sure you have been in that type of situation, where your throat is so dry and you were not able to go get a drink. I asked my sister if she had any hard candy, but she did not have anything. Then I asked my mom, and she said what she had I did not like. She had licorice candy.
I cannot stand licorice candy. Even so, my throat was very dry and I needed something to soothe my throat. I took the piece of licorice candy and put it in my mouth. I ate the entire piece. I didn’t grumble about it after the taste set in a bit. The candy served its purpose. It wet my throat. It helped me.
It reminds me how we are told that God will supply all of our needs. It says so in Philippians 4:19. People hear that and they believe they will get everything they need. The thing is sometimes we are handed a piece of licorice candy. We don’t like licorice candy. We are still able to have the licorice candy, to eat it, and to have our needs fulfilled. Simply put, we have become spoiled. We think we deserve more. We think that our wants and our needs are the same thing. But, we think wrong so many times.
When we take a step back and look at the piece of licorice candy, we should thank God for supplying all of our needs rather than opening up our hands and saying, “Is that it? Are you going to give me what I want? That’s not really what I wanted.”
Never lose faith. He does supply all of your needs. It’s just a matter of focusing on Him and understanding what really are your needs in life.
Today I decided to venture out to the shops with my children. Whenever one embarks on the road, there is always the possibility that one will get hungry and feel the need to stop somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat. For me, I can stop almost anywhere and find something that will take care of my hunger pains. I have never been picky when it comes to food. My children are not like me; however, and if a certain item is placed before them, there could be some hesitation.
Whenever we go to a restaurant or a fast food establishment, we are at the mercy of the facility. There are occasions when we can order it “our way,” but the reality of the situation is that we are not preparing the food and we are therefore out of control. We do not know what brand of food was used in the dish. We are not able to set the cooking temperature. We are not so sure if the green stuff is oregano or parsley until we taste the food. Maybe there is too much ice in the drinks when they are presented. Perhaps the napkins fall apart when used.
In my case today, I took my children to McDonald’s; it is something we rarely do because I’m not too fond of fast food. As we were driving down the road, I noticed we were not given napkins. I could not believe it. No napkins! That’s not how I do things. I always have a napkin for each person who is eating because it’s “what you are supposed to do when presenting a meal.” Then my pondering mind remembered the last time we stopped somewhere for something to eat. The bag I was given was loaded with napkins and I kept some just in case a situation like this would arise.
Those napkins were just what I needed today. God gives us just what we need. Even when we are handed a bag with no napkins, it is not the end of the world. In my case, I found some napkins I was given earlier. At times when we are in need, we are led to the solution like in my situation with the napkins. Sometimes what we need is right in front of our eyes hidden, and then there are occasions when we must be a bit creative. There are also scenarios when the napkins will come to us via an outside source. At the end of the day, we have the napkins. God makes sure we have what we need.
The big issue is to acknowledge that God is in control and that He will provide all that we need. Philippians 4:19 states that He will supply us with all we need, but many people have a problem understanding that verse. There is an issue with recognizing a need in comparison to a want. I need food and water. I want a piece of chocolate and some coffee. It is like wanting to buy only Nike brand shoes though any pair of shoes will do.
Having a preference in a brand is not a sin. The panicking and the inability to be flexible can be an issue. When we become anxious over a situation and firmly plant our feet in fear of losing ground, we do not allow God to move. We act selfish. We stand like a statue trying to keep ourselves upright. Our foundation becomes like sand, and as hard as we try to stand firm in our position, whatever it may be, we begin to tip. We slip. We fall.
When there comes a time that you feel an unrecognized need in your life, do not get worried. Do not firmly plant your feet so that you cannot budge further. As with anything, first take it to God. Also, try to understand if it is truly a need or if it is simply a want. When God created man, it was not with a label, “Must have every cable channel available.” It is not that we cannot have every cable channel available, but that we should not have our focus on that alone.
It is important that we have our eyes focused on God and that we listen to Him for direction. He can lead us to the napkin. When an issue arises, we also need to not panic. It is important to take time to think and use our experiences and knowledge to our benefit. God made us as creative beings so that we could use our minds for the better. A step back to reevaluate a situation can bring great results. Perhaps we are supposed to use what is around us to construct a napkin. Finally, there is the possibility that someone else could cross our path with a napkin. Some situations are for the glory of God. In the end, the napkin is always there. God always provides the napkin if it is truly needed– like with everything, we just need to remember to say thank you and to use it wisely!
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 [NASB]