A few weeks ago I wrote on some notes of Dad's where he challenged us to believe God. Sounds pretty simple until you read the Bible. Believe not only that God can do what He says He can do but believe that He wants to do it for (or through) me. Really? He'll move a mountain through little ol' me?
My daughter e-mailed me after I wrote that and explained that she had a problem really believing that God would work through her prayers. After all, she prayed for her Dad for years and he still ended up dead of a drug overdose. How do we know what to pray for and once we identify a need, how do we pray with conviction that God will really do it?
Tough questions. Questions I grapple with as well. Dad has written more on the subject and I will get back to his notes in future blogs but it dawned on me that we need to ground ourselves more in the Word and look at the context in which it was written. A verse many people like to quote when they have needs is Philippians 4:19. I'm sure it's a verse you've heard many times in your life.
Philippians 4:19 (New International Version)
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Sounds great and easy enough. God is rich and He will meet all my needs. It doesn't say He can. It says He will. But what's the context? If you read the passage leading up to it, Paul is talking to the church in Philippi. They had just sent gifts of support to Paul. It wasn't the first time they had done this. Paul says he had received their gifts. I don't know what all it included but Paul indicates it was generous. A lot of "wealth" preachers use this (and other) passages to say if you give them money, God will supply all of your needs.
Paul had true needs as he spread the Gospel to other nations. Paul did not ask them to supply his needs. Paul left that up to God. God then laid it on the hearts of these church members to help Paul out. There is no formula we can use to manipulate God to get what we want. We just have to be in tune with God's heart and then follow in obedience when He reveals the next step to us.
Read what it says just a few verses before this one.
Philippians 4:11-13 (The Message)
Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've
learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just
as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found
the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands
empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in
the One who makes me who I am.
Have I learned to be content no matter what my circumstances are? Would I be content if I were imprisoned for sharing the Gospel? Paul wrote this letter from prison as he was awaiting trial for preaching the Gospel.
Trust is the key. No matter what things may look like to our limited, physical minds, trust God to supply your needs as you obediently rest contented in Him. Take a moment to read this entire chapter. Paul speaks about the importance of praise and rejoicing in God and in praying instead of worrying.
Philippians 4:4-6 (The Message)
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and
praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming
together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what
happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.