September 28, “Providing”

Providing

Jehovah Jireh
At one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Old Testament history God revealed one of the most heart-building covenant names—Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Who Will Provide.

At the summit of the mountain of testing, Mt. Moriah, Abraham was resigned to the demand of God.  Perhaps he had sharpened the blade of his knife to reduce the pain he would inflict on his only son, Isaac, to bring about a quick and merciful death.  Just as Abraham raised his strong arm to plunge the knife into his long awaited promise, the voice of an angel stopped him and spoke for God—

“Do not lay a hand on the boy!”

Abraham had passed the most demanding test imaginable. 
Another voice split the wind at the summit of Moriah: the bleating of a lamb caught in a thicket.  Jehovah had indeed provided a lamb, fulfilling the promise Abraham had made to Isaac as they climbed the mountain trail.  Abraham learned something more about this God who met with him and spoke with him—He was the God who provides.

Today so many of us will go off to work like we do every weekday. 
In this we are following the image of God in us—we are those who provide.  This provision goes far beyond paychecks and retirement accounts.  Those who work outside the home provide resources needed inside the home.  Those whose work keeps them in the home provide resources needed outside the home as they send out their family members rested, clothed, and fed—ready to meet the world.  As we work, we are providers.

However, our provision to the needs of others does not flow from our own capacity—we are sharing with others what God has shared with us.  Abraham brought the wood, fire, and Isaac, but God put the lamb in the thicket.  We provide what we can because God has already provided what we need.

The Psalmist said that God-Who-Provides does so for all of creation.

Psalm 145:13-16
The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.   The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

It is said that the one who provides for the family “brings home the bacon.”  True enough, but God made the pig, the pig farmer, the pig processor, the pan and the gas or electric to cook it on, or the microwave to nuke it in.

There is a flow to all of this, a flow of grace and provision.  And the whole thing makes the Father smile.

Scriptures:
Luke 12:32NKJV
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom…”
Genesis 22:9-14
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”  “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Matthew 6:11
Give us today our daily bread.
1 Timothy 5:7-8
Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the Holy Scriptures tell the story of Abraham and Isaac—You lived it. Somehow, Your Father restrained His mighty hand as cruel men abused You and nailed You to the cross. A multitude of angels held their weapons in check as Satan had his day. Though each angel wanted to, none cried out to stop this murder. The knife that Isaac was spared became the rusty Roman nails that pierced Your hands and feet, the bits of iron in the whip cut Your back and the poison spear that tore Your side. All the while, You, Father God, were providing: love for a world that hated You; forgiveness for a humanity soaked in sin, and life for those living in a culture of death. I rest amazed in Your provision. All I will ever need is found in You! Thank You, Lord. Amen

Song:
Doxology
Traditional

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above you heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 23, 2017 “Peace”

Peace

Peace is not passive. Peace needs to be made, kept, and embraced.
We obtain peace from God through action on our part by active faith—choosing to act on the promises of God.

Jesus is our peace, Paul said, for He has broken down the walls life builds between us and others, between us and life. But walls don’t come down for us until we obey the commands of the Lord.

The first two are simple and lead to success in all the others:

  1. Love God with the sum total of our humanity, and,
  2. Love others as we do ourselves.

Jesus said success in all the other requirements of living with God flow from these two. Peace and faith are integrally related to each other.

There is a spiritual progression from no peace to much peace:

  • Our confidence in God’s faithfulness to His promises gives us peace when He seems to be paying no attention to us at all.
  • Faith is ours according to the depth of our knowledge of the Word of God.
  • The more we know of the Word of God the more of His peace we enjoy.
  • The greater our availability to the Holy Spirit, the more we will know about Jesus, the church, worship, service, humility, and the Kingdom of God.

We make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit through regular prayer and Bible reading and through an unbreakable commitment to the local church in worship, fellowship, and service. Faithfulness to God provides peace that passes all understanding.

Peace is not accidental; sometimes it must be made.
Jesus said those who made peace would be called the children of God. The most obvious meaning of this is to help peace come to others through the ministry of reconciliation. Those who foment conflicts among people are not doing the work of the Kingdom. Believers are called to help bring an end to conflicts by fairness, truth-telling, and by being a friend and good listener.  Peace is not passive; sometimes we need to go get it.

Perfect Peace
Isaiah said that those who fill their minds with the things of God will have not just peace, but perfect peace. When peace has flown from our lives we should deliberately go to the Book or to the place of prayer and pour truth about who God is and what He has promised into our minds. With that rehearsal of eternal truth, the peace we need will flood our souls.

Peace is not passive; sometimes we have to keep it.
One of the most ancient of Christian ministries was called “the passing of the peace.” At a special time in worship services believers turned to embrace each other with the words, “The Peace of Christ be with you.” The one who was embraced responded with, “And also with you.” In the early church this part the worship service was considered so important and so powerful it was reserved for only those who had been baptized into full fellowship with the church. Perhaps it is time to return to this ancient spirituality. The personal touch, the kind prayer, the good will in this moment of sharing would surely promote peace within the church. Church strife could be avoided and the proper focus of each believer could be maintained—loving God and loving people.

On this day, don’t wait for wait passively for peace. If you don’t have it,

  • Embrace it (go get it.)
  • Make it (speak peace to others.)
  • Keep it (do the work of the Kingdom.)

And watch Jesus tear down some walls.

Scriptures:
Ephesians 2:14-18
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Isaiah 26:3 NKJV
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Romans 14:17-19
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to be a peace maker. Help me know when to speak and what to say. Help me know when to be silent and what to pray. Let Your peace that is beyond all understanding emanate from my heart, through my face and hands to be seen and felt by those I contact. When gossip comes my way let it end with me. When strife rise up before me, let the defend the right and defuse the wrong thus ending the strife. There is so little peace in this world. Let me be a peacemaker. Then I will truly be a child of God. Amen.

Song:
Prayer of Saint Francis
Music by Sarah McLachlan

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved