April 6, 2008

UnGoogleable

Part 2: The riches of His provision

 

Opening:

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 

Let’s read that together.  God will meet how many of your needs?  All your needs.  How?  According to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  According to the unsearchable, ungoogleable riches of Jesus.  What’s that mean?

ILL: Let’s say your car breaks down; it’s a goner.  You need a new car, but you’re broke.  So you ask three people for help.  First you ask your brother; he’s currently unemployed and living with your parents and borrowing their car.  He promises to help as he can.  What does that mean?  Nothing.

          Then you ask your parents.  They’re both working (to support your brother), but they’ve got a little tucked away in savings.  They promise to help you as much as they can, and sure enough, they offer you $3000.  That helps-you can get a decent little high mileage unit.

          You also ask uncle.  You know who I mean: Uncle Scrooge!  He’s loaded!  And your filthy rich uncle buys you the new car of your choice-pays for the whole thing, taxes, license and all.  Because he can. 

          Each one gave according to his riches. 

And my God will meet all your needs according to his unsearchable riches in Christ!  Today, we’re going to talk about the riches of God’s provision.

 

Introduction: 

          Get it?  God provides. For the next several weeks, we’re exploring the unsearchable, ungoogleable riches of Jesus.  The first one is the riches of His provision.  And I want to read again our text from

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 

God will meet all your needs according to the unsearchable riches of Jesus.  What needs would those be?

 

1.  He provides for our physical needs.

          When we think of God meeting all our needs, the first thing most people think of is our physical needs: food, clothing, shelter, health, motorcycles-it’s a need! 

          Does God care about our physical needs?  Yes!  First, just look at the life of Jesus.  When people were hungry, He fed them.  We talked last Sunday about the time Jesus fed over 5000 people with a small boy’s sack lunch.  He did this more than once; on another occasion, He fed over 4000 people with a few loaves and fish.  Why did He do it? 

Mark 8:2-3 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

Why did He do it?  Because He cared; He had compassion for these people.  Does God care about out physical needs?  Yes.

          It wasn’t just food; Jesus also healed many people.  He made the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean and even raised the dead.  Why?

Matthew 14:14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

He had compassion on them and healed them.

Mark 1:41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man (a leper). “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

He was filled with compassion for the leper and touched him and healed him.  Then there was the widow whose only child, a son, had died.

Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

His heart went out to her, and He raised her son from the dead.

          Does God care about our physical needs?  Look at Jesus-I’d say so!  It’s not only what Jesus did, but what He taught.

          In Matthew 6, Jesus taught us to pray. 

Matthew 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Your Father knows what you need.  You don’t need to pile up words and phrases to convince God or inform Him.  He already knows what you need before you ask, so you can ask simply and directly. 

ILL:  When my kids wanted something to eat, what did they say?  Two words: “I’m hungry.” They didn’t give a long speech to inform or convince us.  “O great and wonderful father, it has been two hours since breakfast, and I have been playing hard with my friends.  I consumed 1000 calories at breakfast, and have burned all those, and now, if I don’t eat, I will begin burning body fat, which I can’t spare on these cold winter days.  I need more nourishment.”  Nope.  Just two words: “I’m hungry.” 

Jesus says here that your Father knows what you need and you don’t have to pile up words, just ask simply and directly.  And He gives us a model prayer.  Let’s say it together.  The Lord’s Prayer.

          Did you notice the prayer for provision for physical needs: give us today our daily bread?  A little later in Matthew 6, Jesus has more to say about our daily bread, our physical needs. 

Matthew 6:25-33 “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? 26 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? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Don’t worry.  Don’t worry about food or clothes, about daily necessities, about physical needs.  Why?  Because you have a Father who is looking out for you, who is providing. 

          So Jesus taught and demonstrated God’s care for our physical needs.  My God will meet all your needs according to His unsearchable riches in Christ.  Here’s a fun example of the unsearchable riches of Jesus’ provision.

ILL: Most of you are familiar with the African Children’s Choir.  One of the choirs we hosted about 10 years ago had a very difficult time getting out of Africa; they finally arrived here in the States two months late, which wreaked havoc with the scheduling. 

          Their first concert was on a Sunday morning in Stockton, Cal.  That evening, they were scheduled to sing in Fresno, 121 miles away.  Usually, they try to keep the drive time between Sunday concerts below 30 minutes, but with all the delays, the long drive on this opening day couldn’t be helped.  After the morning concert, the Stockton church provided a hot lunch and choir quickly left for Fresno. 

          They hadn’t gone far before the bus developed problems.  The kids and adults on the bus began to pray that their bus could limp into Fresno.  But the bus continued to fade and soon sputtered to a stop on I-99 just south of Merced. 

          Darren, the bus driver, got out of the bus with cars zooming by him at 70 mph.  He didn’t notice that someone had pulled over to the side of the road behind their enormous bus.  The man walked the length of the bus and began asking Darren knowledgeable questions about the bus.  They determined that the problems were major; there wasn’t going to be a quick fix; they would need to be towed.  Darren asked if he would go to the next exit and call a tow truck for them.  The man looked puzzled.  Darren thought, “What’s so hard about calling a tow truck?”  Then the man said, “I’m here to take you to your next concert.”  Darren hadn’t noticed, but the man was driving a brand new, luxury-style Greyhound bus which the children gladly boarded.  They arrived on time, and in style, for the evening concert! 

          God provided-a bus! 

God not only provides for our physical needs, but also for our spiritual needs.

 

2.  He provides for our spiritual needs.

          Mark 2:1-12 tells the story of four men who brought a friend to Jesus.  Their friend was paralyzed, and so the four men carried him on a stretcher.  They wanted Jesus to touch and heal him.  But when they got to the house where Jesus was, it was so crowded they couldn’t get in; they couldn’t even get near the door!  These guys were determined, so they came up with a creative solution.  They took the stairs on the side of the house up to the flat roof, and began digging a hole in the roof over the spot where Jesus was sitting, and then lowered their friend on the stretcher through the hole.  Can you see the guy on the stretcher as he’s being lowered down smiling and saying, “Hi.  Excuse me.”  And four smiling faces peering down through the hole in the roof, watching expectantly.  Would Jesus heal their friend?  How do you think they felt when Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven”? 

          “Wait a minute!  We brought him here and dug up the roof so you’d heal him. He can’t walk, for Pete’s sake. Can’t you see what he needs?”

          Yes, Jesus saw what he needed, and provided it.  He needed forgiveness.  Even more than he needed physical healing, he needed spiritual healing.  So Jesus provided first what he needed most: forgiveness.  Then He healed the man.

          Here’s some wonderful news about the unsearchable riches of Jesus.  He is equally able to provide physical or spiritual needs.  Out of His riches, God can meet whatever need you are facing, inside or outside.  Too many people have a one-dimensional god.  They believe God can provide their daily food, but don’t believe He can forgive them.  Or they believe God can forgive them, but won’t heal them.  God can do it all.   “My God will meet all your needs,” Paul wrote-physical or spiritual.

          Genesis 22 tells the story of Abraham and Isaac.  God tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, the son of promise.  God had made promises to Abraham: promises to give him the land of Palestine, to give him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and through those descendants to bless the whole world.  And all of those promises were to be fulfilled through Isaac, the son of promise.  Imagine taking every promise God has given you, everything you understand about God’s purpose for your life and plan for your future, and sacrificing it, giving it all up.  What a test! 

          So Abraham headed for Mt. Moriah with his son, Isaac, who was about 12.  Jewish rabbis guess that he was about 12-he couldn’t have been a teenager, they say, or it wouldn’t have been a sacrifice!  Just kidding!  As Abraham and Isaac walked up the hill together, Isaac asked his father, “Here are the fire and wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Can you imagine how that question pierced his father’s heart?  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb.”  God will provide!

          When they got to the place, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it.  Then he bound his son Isaac and laid him on top of the wood on the altar.  Isaac’s eyes must have been filled with fear and Abraham’s with tears, as he raised the knife to kill his son.   Suddenly, the voice of an angel called his name and told him not to hurt the boy.  He had passed the test.  It was obvious that God himself was more important to Abraham than his son or even all God’s promises.

          Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket.  So Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it instead of his son.  And Abraham called that place “The Lord will Provide.”  And the story concludes, “To this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'”

          God provided.  You might be thinking that it was a physical provision.  It was.  But here’s the rest of the story.  Almost two thousand years later, God’s son, Jesus walked up that same hill.  He was carrying wood, too-the wood of the cross.  And there on that same hill, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed on the cross.  There on that hill that Abraham named “The Lord will Provide”, God provided-God provided a lamb once again.  And just as the ram God provided died in Isaac’s place, the Lamb God provided died in my place and in your place. Abraham had no idea when he named that hill “The Lord will Provide” that God Himself would come there and lay Himself on the wood as a sacrifice.

          On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.  And it was.  By dying there, Jesus provided forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, the hope of heaven, and the joy of a second chance and a new life.  He provided all that we need spiritually.  He met all our spiritual needs according to His unsearchable riches in Christ.

 

3.  He provides for our unrealized needs.

          God not only provides our physical and spiritual needs, which may be obvious to us, but He provides for our unrealized needs, those things that we really need, but we don’t know it. 

          One of my favorite Jesus-stories is in John 13.  It’s the last night of Jesus’ life; He and the 12 have gathered in a private home to have a meal together.  Usually, a servant would have been there to wash their feet as they came in, but on this night, there was no servant-just the basin of water and the towel.  The 12 disciples began arguing about who was the greatest and the least, because foot-washing was a job for someone on the bottom of the totem pole.  While they argued, Jesus quietly got the water and towel and knelt before one of them and began washing his feet.  The room got real quiet…until Jesus came to Peter.  Peter objected!

          “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?”

          Jesus said, “You don’t realize now what I’m doing, but later you’ll understand.”  Notice that.  Jesus tells Peter that he doesn’t understand now, but he will later, so let Me wash.  And Peter still protests. 

          “No.  You will never wash my feet.”

          Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

          “Then Lord,” Peter said, “not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well.”  Wash all of me, Lord.

          What was Peter’s obvious physical need?  His feet were dirty; he needed to have his feet washed.  Is that the primary need Jesus is meeting here?  No-obviously not.  When Jesus said, “You don’t understand now, but you will later,” He’s talking about something other than clean or dirty feet.  What did Peter really need?   What was Peter’s unrealized need that Jesus was meeting?

          Peter needed to be humble.  He needed to learn to be a servant.  He saw himself as a leader, the leader of the 12.  But he misunderstood what it means to be a leader, and he was too proud to wash his brothers’ feet.  He needed to become a humble servant.  This was Peter’s (and all the others’) unrealized need.  And this is why Jesus washed their feet.  It wasn’t primarily about dirty feet, but a proud heart.

John 13:12-17 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

The obvious need: dirty feet.  The unrealized need: a proud heart.

          Has something like this ever happened to you?  Let me tell you about a time it happened to me.

ILL: 1995 was the first year we did Easter in the Arena.  It was a big deal because the new Arena had just opened, and this was the first free, open to public event.  Three local network TV stations were there to cover it, and it was the lead story on the evening news Sunday night.  On Monday morning, it was the banner headline across the top of the front page of the Spokesman Review, with a big picture and article.  We made a splash, and more importantly, lots of people heard about Jesus.  I have to admit, I was feeling pretty good about it.

          So a couple days later, when our receptionist buzzed me and said someone from our denominational headquarters was on the phone for me, I smiled and thought, “Hey, they heard about our Easter all the way down in LA and they’re calling to congratulate us.” 

          I answered the phone, “This is Joe.”

          “Pastor, this is the Foursquare insurance department.  Your car insurance payment is overdue.”  It gets worse.

          I explained that I didn’t insure my car with them.  She asked me, “Aren’t you pastor so-and-so of such-and-such church?”  Nope.  She had the wrong church and the wrong pastor.  They not only hadn’t heard about our great Easter, they didn’t even know who I was!  Pop!   

          I don’t think that call was a mistake-they have never mistakenly called me before or since!  I think God knew exactly what He was doing.  I hung up the phone, had a big laugh, and apologized to the Lord for letting my head get big, and thanked Him for keeping me humble. 

God meets all our needs out of His unsearchable riches in Christ…even the needs we don’t know we have!

 

4.  He provides for our enjoyment.

1 Timothy 6:17  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Great phrase: God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  He not only meets all our needs, but goes beyond our needs and provides for our enjoyment.

          A qualifier: Paul is not saying that everything exists just for our enjoyment, that we are free to plunder the planet for our pleasure.  This verse is not a license to exploit and abuse other people or our world for our own selfish ends.  That’s not what He is saying.  In fact, the Bible is clear that we are here to tend and care for the earth, and help our fellow man. 

          But Paul is saying that God is generous with us, and that He meets our needs, and then goes far beyond our needs, providing even for our enjoyment. 

  • Think about a rose. A rose is beautiful and fragrant; it delights both the eye and the nose. And when I bring a dozen home, it brings joy to my wife. Why did God make roses? To give husbands something to give their wives! What is the purpose of a rose, other than for our enjoyment?
  • Think about a sunset. Have you ever seen a sunset that just makes you stop in your tracks? Why did God make sunsets? What is the purpose of a sunset, other than our enjoyment?

I could go on, but you get the idea.  God goes far beyond our needs and provides for our enjoyment.  God is no kill-joy.  I think God loves to make you happy.  I have to add that your happiness is not God’s highest goal; there are other things that are more important to Him, like your character, and your relationships with Him and others.  He will sacrifice your happiness for those higher goals.  But He is not a kill-joy.  He is a Father who loves to make you happy, and often provides above and beyond our needs for our enjoyment. 

ILL:  Moms and dads, do you just meet your kid’s basic survival needs, or do you provide for their enjoyment-beyond necessities?  I love to meet my kids’ needs, but I also love to make them happy.  I love to see them enjoying life, and I love to provide for their enjoyment and happiness. For Christmas, we bought Andy and Nicole a video camera.  Is a video camera a necessity?  It is when you have my first granddaughter!  I bought it for their enjoyment, and mine!  Moms and dads, you all know what I’m talking about, don’t you.  You love to provide for your kids.  So don’t shortchange God, and think that our Heavenly Father is less generous or caring than you are!

Our Heavenly Father’s highest goal for us is not happiness; but I think He loves to make us happy.  He loves to see us enjoying life.  That’s why He richly provides us everything for our enjoyment.  

Can you think of some blessings in your life, some provision from God that goes beyond your needs?  Name a couple to the person next to you.  God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

 

5.  He provides for the generous.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” 

          This week, if you will read Philippians 4, you will see that verse 19 comes at the end of a long thank you.  Paul is thanking the Philippians for their generous financial support.  They were the only church that had supported him in the early days, and had sent him aid again and again when he was in need.  To these generous people, he writes, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Paul wants these generous givers to know that they can’t out-give God, that their generosity will be matched and exceeded by the richness of God’s provision. 

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Give and it will be given to you.  God provides for the generous.

          I told you last week that when we receive the unsearchable riches of Christ, what are we to do with all the wealth?  Share it. 

Matthew 10:8 Freely you have received, freely give.

God gives so you can share it, not keep it all for yourself.

2 Corinthians 9:11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

God gives so you can share it, not spend it all on yourself.

I promised you that each week, as we unwrap the unsearchable riches of Christ, I’d be reminding you to share it.  So as we receive God’s provision, we share it.  And as we share it, we receive more, because God provides for the generous.

ILL: For many years, money was very scarce at our house.  One day, we had a bill due for around $100, and no money to pay it.   So I prayed, and God answered my prayer and someone gave us a gift, a check for $100.  Naturally, I thought, “God answered my prayer so I can pay the bill.”  But I had a little nudge in my heart that said, “Don’t assume; ask God.”  So I prayed again and a young couple who was poorer than us came to mind, and I felt like we were supposed to give the $100 to them.  So I talked with Laina, we agreed, and gave the money away, and said, “Ok God, about that bill…” 

          A couple days later, Rick and Janine came up to visit us from Eugene.  We were standing in the kitchen talking, when Rick said, “Oh, I almost forgot.  Just as we were leaving my dad gave me this for you.”  And he pulled a check out of his wallet for $300.  This time, we prayed, gave some away, paid the bill and had some left over!”

God loves to provide for us, and I think he especially loves to provide for the generous.  So when some blessing rolls in, don’t assume it’s just for you.  Maybe God wants to bless you and someone else too.  Share the wealth!  And remember, you’ll never outgive God.  “And my God will meet all your needs according to His unsearchable riches in Christ.”