Archive for April, 2012

$50,000 = Happiness? Really?

April 23, 2012

An article posted on Time’s website on 4/19/2012 was entitled “Why $50,000 May Be the (New) Happiness Tipping Point”. The article, by Josh Sanburn, cites a new study by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion and says that the study “suggests that as little as $50,000 brings genuine happiness. According to the survey, those below $50K weren’t as personally satisfied with their lives as those above that mark in areas such as one’s housing situation, personal relationships and overall direction in life. The Marist poll didn’t gauge whether happiness drops off after $50,000, and therefore doesn’t directly contradict the earlier finding that $75K is a magic number of sorts. But it does suggest that $50,000 is a tipping point when it comes to overall satisfaction. In every category surveyed by Marist — which included respondents’ satisfaction with their neighborhood’s safety as well as their health, employment, spiritual life and community involvement — those earning $50K were more satisfied with their lot. Those earning less than that were less likely to call themselves very happy, more likely to say the best was behind them and less likely to say the best was yet to come. They were also much gloomier about retiring and were more worried about financing potential health problems.”

An earlier study identified $75,000 as the magic number for happiness. Interestingly, it noted that  the “researchers (including Nobelist Daniel Kahneman) found that up to about $75,000, annual income closely correlates with emotional well-being. Beyond that threshold, however, more income doesn’t translate into more happiness. On average, an American earning $575,000 isn’t likely to be any happier than one making $75,000.”

To read the whole article, go to http://moneyland.time.com/2012/04/19/why-50000-may-be-the-new-happiness-tipping-point/#ixzz1soJLAC9O. But be careful that you don’t buy into it as truth about what brings an abundant life or happiness. As described in the article, happiness seems to be a function of personal satisfaction with where one lives, the state of one’s health, one’s perception of safety, and interactions with other people. The researchers seem to start with the shaky premise that happiness or satisfaction in life is the product of some external factor rather than being our choice. They seem to buy into the same lie that those answering the questions did – that unhappiness is the result of lacking certain things and happiness is related to having those things.

But what if the truth is that we can have happiness – as defined by inner contentment, joy, and peace – without all the trappings of middle class or upper class America? What if the problem isn’t that we lack something, but that we lust for something we don’t have and believe the lie that we have to have it in order to be happy?

Happiness apart from a $50,000 income, good health, a nice middle class community is an anomaly in most third world countries. The idea that one can be happy apart from these things is a given for many Christians in those countries who have little or no possessions.  In a passage from “When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes (1997, Zondervan), Joni talks about her travels to third world countries and her astonishment at the beaming smiles of disabled and disfigured people who live in small huts and need someone to lift them out of the mud when it floods. They believed that God would meet their needs and were content and joyful. Joni recalled a statement from a boy who lived in a box by the trash heap. He said to her, “You westerners are the ones we can’t understand. God has given you so much, you have been so blessed…why are so many people in your country so unhappy?” (Perhaps he, too, believed that having more should result in more happiness. Or perhaps he understood that if happiness can be had with a little, why not with a lot?)

Why do we perceive ourselves as never having enough? Why is it we compare ourselves to those with more instead of seeing ourselves as blessed with so much more than over half of the world?

Possessions, health, relationships -all are things that can vanish in an instant as a result of illness, a lost job, or the whims of another individual. Not exactly a solid foundation on which to build one’s life – on earth or in eternity!

The inspired writers of Scripture make it clear that happiness, joy, contentment, and peace are not the result of having a certain income or amount in savings. Their hope was in Christ alone – not themselves, other people, their health or safety, their status, their possessions, or power. If you have any doubts, read Paul’s statement in II Corinthians 12:10 – “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” And in his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (I Timothy 6:8). Paul was content with having basic needs met, not the satisfaction of every craving or desire. Paul didn’t base his contentment on the amount of savings he had, his health, his possessions, his status or other people’s response to him. He didn’t crave wealth or possessions or esteem apart from who He was in Christ. He desired that God be glorified not himself. And yet, he had purpose and contentment and joy in abundance.

Why is it that many of us still see money or possessions as the key to happiness? The media regularly publishes stories about celebrities, corporate executives, and politicians who make millions, but aren’t “happy” and want something more – often badly enough to sin against God and other people to get what they believe will make them happy. They buy bigger homes, fancier cars, abuse alcohol and drugs – all in the hopes of having happiness. There are salespeople who will lie to get a customer to buy their product. Other people cheat on their income taxes. Some lie to and cheat on their spouses – then lie to cover up assets when the divorce proceedings start. I struggle to weed out from my closets things that I haven’t worn or used in years, as if somehow life will be less enjoyable if I don’t know they’re hidden away in a closet!

Believing that a certain amount of money or things can bring happiness is believing a lie. It’s an example of misplaced hope or, in Biblical terms, idolatry. It’s believing the lie that money, power, or prestige can bring about one’s salvation or can bring about the abundant life that only Jesus offers.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record an encounter between Jesus and a “rich young ruler” who asks Jesus, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  (Matthew 19, Luke 18, Mark 10). Jesus initially tells him to keep the commandments, but the young man asserts that he already keeps the commandments. He seems to know that there is more to life than keeping the rules of religion. Jesus saw this and continued in his response, saying,  “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

What has Jesus done in saying this? He’s not demonizing money or possessions or social position. He’ IS pointing out where the young ruler’s hope was placed – and it wasn’t in the Law or in God, but in his riches and all that it bought him. Jesus saw his heart. The young ruler’s response?

But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.’”  

Peter seems to be thinking out loud about his own situation.  In Luke 18:28 Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.”  Jesus assured him that their sacrifice had not been in vain, saying, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Jesus knows how prone we are to put our hope in riches and the resulting power and prestige. And He knows that those who place their hope in their riches to save them or to give them the abundant life or make them happy – to give them joy, peace, and contentment- would be sorely disappointed. Jesus knew that our joy, peace, and contentment – in this life and in eternity – would be determined by where we placed our hope. And yet we cling to possessions and savings accounts as if our lives depended on them instead of on our sovereign and loving God. We believe the lie that we lack something instead of seeing that the problem is our idolatry.

Jesus was offering something far greater than earthly wealth and position. When we place our hope in Jesus, we immediately become part of the kingdom of God – a kingdom that offers much blessing and reward here, a foretaste of the blessings and rewards we are assured in heaven. And we can have contentment, joy, and peace no matter what our situation in life. He never changes and never forsakes us. He lives in us, empowers us, teaches us, comforts us, delights over us, loves us, and rejoices with us. No amount of money can give what He gives – now or in eternity.

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

 

The God Who Won’t Be Put in a Box

April 16, 2012

Every time I think I’m getting a handle on who God is, He shows me another facet of Himself.

I once told my Sunday school class how I struggled with submission in my marriage. And I shared that, at one point, I read the verses in I Peter 3 about how Sarah submitted to Abraham. And I thought, “Well, sure, if I was married to that great patriarch, that great man of faith, it would be easy to submit!”  But then I read about Abraham’s and Sarah’s long God-led journey through countries run by pagan kings. And how Abraham told Sarah that she should say she was his sister rather than his wife if anyone asked (especially the king). Why? Because Abraham knew she would be attractive to the pagan king and he figured the king might kill him to have Sarah! Notice Abraham wasn’t thinking about what would happen to Sarah in that situation, but about his own skin. And he did it not once, but twice! The good news is God intervened on Sarah’s behalf in both situations and Abraham was confronted with his lies. God protected Sarah, no thanks to Abraham! So over the years my impression of the relationship between Abraham and Sarah has changed greatly. And I have to tell you – it took great courage and great faith for Sarah to submit to Abraham when he clearly didn’t have her best interest at heart.  The I Peter 3:1-6 passage makes it clear, however, that Sarah’s hope wasn’t in Abraham, but in the Lord….and He didn’t let her down.

The story of Abraham and Sarah has been brought to my mind again recently. My understanding of Abraham now goes more like this –  he’s named in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 (verses 8-12), but, let’s face it, he started out well, but showed some cowardice and self-absorption along the way. He wasn’t perfect. (None of the Biblical figures were, except Jesus.) And yet, God chose Abraham, led him, disciplined him, taught him, blessed him, and grew him in his faith.

What brought Abraham back into my thinking is a book I’ve been reading lately. It’s called “Fixing Abraham” – written by one of my favorite Christian authors, Chris Tiegreen. [Chris Tiegreen is the editor of the InDeed devotional published by Walk Thru the Bible and has authored some awesome devotional books and other Christian non-fiction.] Tiegreen uses the account of Abraham and Sarah – as well as other Biblical accounts of God interacting with His saints – to make the reader do some serious thinking about what it means to follow God. It made me realize how small of a box many Christians have put God in. And it’s made me aware of how I often do the same.

Chris Tiegreen puts in modern day language and context a number of Biblical accounts of how God led those He called to do some seemingly outlandish and dangerous things that put their reputations and their lives at risk. How many of you would believe God called a Christian friend of yours to prophecy in the streets – naked? (More to the point, would you believe He called YOU to prophecy in the streets naked? Never crossed MY mind, I can assure you!) How many of you would believe God called a Christian man you knew to marry a known prostitute? (Verses about darkness and light and being unequally yoked immediately began running through my head at the idea!) How many of you would want your sister or daughter to risk her reputation and her life because she believed God had told her she was going to get pregnant before she got married – oh, but not to worry, she would be impregnated by God?  You’d probably think she was having a break with reality! What would you think if a Christian guy you knew said he was going to go out and live in the desert and eat locusts and honey? What if you knew it would end with him telling a king he was acting immorally and being beheaded?

Let’s make it more personal.  If God asked you to do something that would result in others laughing at you, making fun of you, shunning you or questioning your sanity – would you do it? What if what you believed God was telling you ran contrary to the wisdom of your friends, your family, and some of your fellow Christians? Would you say to yourself (or listen to friends who said), “God would never ask you to do something that weird”.  Or maybe even, “I don’t think that’s consistent with Scripture?” I know I’ve said those things to others before – I’d like to think I was right, but what if my fear of man or an incomplete or narrow image of God was at the root of my response? What if pride in my so-called knowledge about God led me to think I really knew God intimately? What if I was wrong? Is it possible to know about God, but not know Him? To follow His Law, but not follow Him? Have I put God in a box that’s way too small and constructed of my pride, my fear of man, what others have taught me, or my own mistaken theology? Do I believe that the God who led His followers to do some bizarre and crazy-seeming things is the same God I worship today?  In similar circumstances would I follow God or the wisdom of man? What role does discernment and wisdom play in responding to God’s call?

What about you? How do you see your God? Do you think that the God who called the saints of the Bible to do these things is the same God you worship?

If you want something that will make you think, check out “Fixing Abraham”(published by Tyndale, 2009).  Ask yourself –“Is the God described in this book the God that I worship? The God I’ve committed to follow?”

I’ll be interested in your thoughts on it!

IT IS FINISHED!

April 9, 2012

When Jesus, hanging on the cross, said “It is finished!”, what did He mean? What was finished?

Maybe it would help to look at what His purpose for coming to this earth was. In Matthew 1:20-21, the angel spoke to Joseph, saying “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  And in Luke 1: 30-33, an angel said to Mary regarding the child she would bear, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

The gospels describe how Jesus taught, healed, cast out demons, prayed, exercised dominion over nature and death, and – in all things – brought glory to God.  He established the truth of the Old Testament scriptures. Many consider him a “good man”, or a “good teacher” as a result of these works. But the words of the angel(s) tell us that He had a two-fold ultimate purpose – to save His people from their sins and to launch an eternal kingdom to the glory of God.

You see, a Holy God had created mankind to be in fellowship with Him, but those first humans listened to the lies of a serpent. They desired to be like God and, rather than submitting to His right to be God, they sought instead to be His equal, to be god of their own lives. Their rebellion against the created order led to physical death entering the world and created a chasm – caused a break in the fellowship they’d had with God. A Holy God cannot tolerate sin in any form. Their desire to be like God also resulted in a sin nature being passed down to all mankind. But even as God proclaimed consequences for their sin, He promised that one day the seed of woman would crush the offspring of the serpent – the first prophecy of the Messiah and Savior to come (Genesis 3)

God later gave to Moses hundreds of commandments to teach His people what He, God, considered to be sin. The list covered sins of the heart (e.g., idolatry, coveting), as well as sinful words (e.g. giving false testimony), and sinful deeds (fornication, adultery, stealing, murder, etc). He also gave them commandments/laws detailing how to atone for their sins as they awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah/Savior.

Hebrews 9:22 tells us “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

The Law required the shedding of blood – not just any blood, but the blood of a lamb or goat – in order to appease the righteous wrath of a holy God against sin. This concept is also spelled out on the night celebrated for centuries as Passover, where God directed the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb without blemish and to put His blood over their doorways so that God’s wrath would pass over them (Exodus 12:5). The sacrifice of a lamb was the well-established method of atoning for sin.  John the Baptist, upon seeing Jesus, proclaimed Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John affirmed Jesus’ purpose to save people from their sin.

To fulfill His purpose of satisfying the wrath of God against sin, Jesus had to be a lamb without blemish – achieved through the virgin birth and living a sinless life – and He had to shed His blood as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of all mankind. This was achieved by His voluntary death on the cross.

When Jesus said, “It is finished”, He meant that all of the requirements of God for forgiveness of sin had been met. There was no work left to be done by us except to believe in Him as the Son of God and to receive the gift of His death in our place by faith.

So, why is it that we continue to think we have to be good enough? Why do we live by these rules in our heads? Why do we think we have to do more? Why do we act like Jesus left something unfinished? We are saved by grace. Grace, by definition, means “unmerited favor”.  We can never earn salvation. We can never earn forgiveness or make up for our sinful heart attitudes, thoughts, and deeds.

The good news is that we don’t have to! Paul, a renowned scholar of the Old Testament scriptures, repeatedly asserted that we are declared just and righteous by God as a result of the accomplished work of Christ on the cross – and that we could never be good enough to be declared just or righteous through our own efforts.  Take a look at some of the writings of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit (And, whenever you see “works”, think “good deeds” or “keeping the commandments” or “doing the right things” or “being good”.)

Romans 3:19-28 – “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.  But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Romans 5: 8-9 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him”.

I Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

Ephesians 2:8-9For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And how many of our sins did Christ die for? All of them! For which people did He die? All of us!

Romans 6: 10-11 tells us “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

So, what did Jesus mean? What was finished? The debt we owed God as a result of our sin. Jesus paid it in full.

What was finished? Sin’s hold on our minds and bodies and spirits.  We were slaves to sin, but Jesus paid the ransom to redeem us from sin. (I Timothy 2:6, Hebrews 9:12, Matthew 20:28)

What was finished? Fear of God’s wrath. It has been satisfied at the cross.

So, as you continue this week begun with the celebration of His resurrection, believe Him when He says “It is finished”.  His death on the cross accomplished all that God required for the forgiveness of all of the sins of each and every one of us.

Don’t do good works thinking you have to earn your salvation and heavenly rewards – they are already yours in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Instead, let your gratitude to God and your love for God result in doing good works. Let gratitude and love motivate you, not fear or self-interest.  God’s “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18) – His perfect love was clearly seen on the cross. Those who believe in Jesus are no longer dead in their sins, but are “alive to God in Christ” (supra). We have God’s Word that, as a result of Jesus’ death on the cross, we are restored to fellowship with God and that fellowship will continue for all eternity. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). His is an eternal kingdom where sin, pain, punishment, and death have no place (Revelation 21:4).

Picture all of your sins being nailed to the cross with Jesus – all of them! Our faith needs to be in His finished work, not our own efforts.  He has done what He purposed to do.

IT IS FINISHED!

The God Who Is Always Enough

April 2, 2012

I have to admit that there are times when I limit God. I trust Him to provide my basic needs – like food, water and protection from the elements. But I lack faith that He can satisfy me on other levels – on the level of my emotions, my desires, my heart’s deepest longings. Maybe I think that those emotions and desires and longings aren’t to be focused on…after all, it’s not about me, right?

And yet, there’s something in me that tells me there’s more…more fulfillment, more joy, more comfort, more peace…You get the picture.  In the past I’ve turned to people and things to provide comfort, escape, pleasure, a sense of control or accomplishment, positive feedback – whatever I thought I needed or thought would bring me happiness. If I’m honest, when I felt overwhelmed or down, reading was my escape for years…until Spider solitaire and Super Text Twist came along! They not only offered escape, but a sense of accomplishment – well, when I won…at least, in the beginning.  Needless to say, wasting time reading or playing computer games did nothing to alleviate my situation but only added stress to it!  Thankfully, God loved me too much to allow those to satisfy or divert for long. He allowed me glimpses of the “more” that He alone could offer and drew me deeper into Himself.

When I read scripture I know I’m not alone in that heart’s longing for more.  I read David’s words in Psalm 42:1-2 – “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” and I hear the echo of that longing in my own heart.  Have you ever felt empty, dissatisfied with your life and your relationships and said to yourself, “There’s got to be more to life and love than this!”? I know I have. The good news is there is more.

God has been teaching me that He is the more that I seek. He is the source of all I could ever need or want. He’s teaching me that He can satisfy my deepest longings in every situation.

Do you believe that God is enough? Or do you think you need “God + SOMETHING” to have a fulfilling life? To have joy and gladness? To have comfort? Fulfillment? Peace?

God has been showing me that He is unlimited in His capacity for delighting, fulfilling, satisfying, comforting, leading. So why do I waste my time on that which doesn’t satisfy? Why do you? Well, we’re not alone in that either.

In Psalm 81:8-16, the psalmist wrote God’s words to His people, expressing His desire to meet their needs and His dismay that they sought to have their needs met by other gods. They’d placed their hope in themselves, their own wisdom, and in the gods of the culture around them – all things which will not satisfy. God tells of His longing to bless them and meet their needs and His grief that they are willing to settle for less than His best:

Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, if you would listen to Me!
Let there be no strange god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
I, the LORD, am your God,
Who brought you up from the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

But My people did not listen to My voice,
And Israel did not obey Me.
So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,
To walk in their own devices.
Oh that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would quickly subdue their enemies
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
Those who hate the LORD would pretend obedience to Him,
And their time of punishment would be forever.
But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

And in Jeremiah 2:11-13, God asks His people –

“Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods?
But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD.
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

God desires to meet not just our basic needs but our heart’s desires – but we repeatedly seek our satisfaction elsewhere. In His love, God doesn’t allow our idols – our leaky cisterns – to satisfy us. He knows that only He Himself can fully satisfy the longings of our hearts. He reminds His people of this again through Jeremiah (in chapter 31:25) – “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes”.

Isaiah assured God’s people “And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

Why do I choose to drink from a leaky cistern instead of from “the fountain of living water”? Why don’t I turn to the one who can make me like a spring “whose waters do not fail”?

Why do I rely on my own imperfect wisdom rather than the wisdom of God when James 1:5 assures us – “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  I have only to ask in faith and His wisdom is mine.

Why do I seek comfort or escape through reading, computer games, food, wine or busyness rather than seek “the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction”? (II Corinthians 1:3)

Why do I turn to performance and good deeds to try to appease a Holy God, when He has provided a Savior in His mercy? In Isaiah 55:1-3, He speaks to a people who could never earn or pay enough to have right standing before a Holy God and freely offers His mercy and grace:

Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.
Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen,that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.”

We know that He fulfilled that covenant in the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins and in His resurrection from the dead. God doesn’t make idle promises or covenants that He doesn’t keep. He doesn’t offer what He can’t provide. And He has demonstrated His willingness and ability to provide for His people – at all levels.

Why do we put other people up on pedestals and seek to please them rather than God? Why do we look to other people to meet our deepest needs instead of looking to God to meet them? When the people of Lystra wanted to honor Paul as a god, Paul humbly and wisely re-directed their worship to God, reminding them of how God had satisfied His people throughout the ages. In Acts 14:16-17, Paul spoke these words:

“In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;  and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Wow! That last phrase jumps out at me! God not only satisfied them physically, but satisfied them with gladness – He satisfied them emotionally, at heart level. He can do the same for me and for you.

Read Psalm 147 – look at the many ways God meets the needs of the city of Jerusalem and His people:

Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds
.
He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.
Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite.
The LORD supports the afflicted;
He brings down the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
 He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens which cry.
He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness
.

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your sons within you.
He makes peace in your borders;
He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat.
He sends forth His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the LORD!

These verses speak of God’s provision for physical needs, but also for safety, for peace, for instruction and guidance, for healing for the broken-hearted, for understanding, and support for the afflicted.

I need to remember that He desires to do those things for me, His child, as well. I need to remember that He is my source of delight, joy, peace, comfort, support, gladness, healing, and fulfillment. I need to live each day in the confidence that He is enough in all ways.

May I say with the psalmist:

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
(Psalm 36:7-9)