Philippians 4:18-20 (NLT)
At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had no idea how life changing this journey would be or how long it would last. I assumed that since God had given His Word to us that our son would “live and not die to declare His Works” that it would be a one and done situation. He would go through treatment, God would heal His Body, and we could all get back to living a “normal” life. Well, three years later, we discovered that this would not be the case at all. I have said it before and I will say it again, I would do anything for our son not to have had cancer or had to fight it all this time BUT I cannot thank God enough for the faith found in this journey. God uses everything in our life for His Glory. Nothing is wasted. Everything has value and worth. God is a God of exponential potential. The grace given to us by Jesus Christ allows us to experience God’s Glory in spite of our past sin. Washed away by the Blood of Jesus, believers can step back into righteousness or right-standing with God and live happily ever after. But what if there is a wilderness or battle along the way, what then? What happens if life does not turn out as we expected? What is our response? Do we abandon faith as folly and try to find a logical answer? Or do we press it determined to know God more and find His Way through it? That friend is entirely up to you and me according to the freedom found in Jesus Christ. We found faith through it. We discovered a God who countless times when our backs were against the wall came through even if it was in the midnight hour. His Glory shined bright through it all. Healing our son was the obvious miracle in this journey, but something else was happening inside of me that I was unaware of until the danger had passed. I no longer have the same goals and aspirations. I want to maintain the closeness to Jesus that I found all those long lonely nights beside our son’s hospital bed. I want to feel faith rising within me on a daily basis. I need the Lord moving and active in my life. I don’t want a normal life anymore. I want His Life that He wrote our His Way.
At this moment, I have all that I need. One of the things that God has laid on my heart is to come back home. I have a drive, desire and urgency to be at home with my girls as well as other things that the Lord has laid it on my heart to do. My job consumes many hours of my life paid and unpaid. I did not realize how much of my life it consumed until our son was diagnosed and I had to make a choice. It was the most heartbreaking realization in this journey. My job had literally become my priority. That ended in October 2011. I assumed that afterwards I would go back with the same vim and vigor as before, but I was wrong. My heart had changed for the better. However, our lifestyle had comfortably adjusted to our salaries. How will we ever adjust our budget and tighten our belts to allow me to come home? God has given me a vision to do some things that I have never done before which I keep reminding Him of. But He keeps telling me that I have all that I need and He has already provided. So I must dive into the Word to make my head as confident as my heart seems to be and this is what I have found.
Deuteronomy 8:1-5 (NLT)
“Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.
At this moment, I have all I need. I know that God has blessed us and has provided every single step of the way. First and foremost, we are tithers. I could write a book on the benefits of tithing but no one would read it. I am a budgeter. I am a couponer. I am a deal shark. We buy very little that is not on sale or clearance careful to get big bang for our buck. Now if I were to write a book on that alone, it would probably be a best seller. Sad, but true. I do believe that this is called stewardship. I know that God honors it. However, I think that when we become focused on tithing, sowing seed, and reaping harvests linked only to monetary contributions or financial gain that we limit our true potential as believers. Tithing can become religious. Budgeting, couponing and the like can be connected to “fear of lack”. We are called to live and multiply. Humanity typically associates wealth with money. I did, too. That is until I learned that our society puts a price on human life. When a ministry in Texas had their petty cash stolen from the church safe totally over $650,000 and I was fighting for our son’s transplant that was about $350,000 to $500,000 – I knew something was wrong… in my heart. I need God more than money. When it all came down to saving our son’s life, no one knows why the approval came through or even who approved it. All I know is that it happened the morning after I had given up fighting for it.
We do not live by bread alone. We live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. God is calling me home. He is teaching me a valuable lessen in stewardship and one that I missed along the way. It is called faith. Yes, faith. God has provided everything that I need not just to survive but to thrive. Is it hidden in my life by sin? Is it overlooked as I try to have my way? Has prosperity been here all along but I chose to settle for less? I think this may be the case. I intend to change my ways to have His Way. Finally, this is the revelation of today for my life – “all these forty years your clothes did not wear out and your feet didn’t blister or swell.” The Children of Israel were fed and housed throughout their journey – but they were going somewhere. They had a promise to find. Sin kept them wandering. Rebellion kept them from entering in. Short-sightedness and a lack of faith in God caused them to keep looking for a better way and an easier journey. Lord, don’t let that be me…anymore.
Exodus 36:3-7 (NLT)
Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the Lord has commanded us to do!” So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.
I am not a camper. There is nothing about sleeping in a tent outside with all manner of critters that interests me. I have friends who love to camp. When they go they pack everything except the kitchen sink so they have all the comforts of home evening driving two cars when necessary. Several years ago, my dad indicated that he would like to “camp”. I couldn’t believe it until he bought his RV. It is equipped with all the features and comforts of home on wheels. It is massive. It has a full kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. It is equipped with cable and internet with multiple televisions. It even has the sliders that move out to give you more square footage. Now even I would camp like that. Well, neither one of these campers resemble the Children of Israel. When they were given the opportunity to leave Egypt it was not with travel trailers and moving vans. They had to move quickly in case Pharaoh changed his mind. They loaded what they could on their backs or pack animals and small carts. When God called them to build the Tabernacle in the wilderness to house His Presence, God knew what they would find. Moses issued the order for them to bring their time, talents and treasure to do so. They amassed so many materials that the builders had to tell them to stop that they had more than enough. Now if the Children of Israel had everything that they needed what about us. Could it be that as we call out to God for more that He has already given us more than enough to do His Will and Prosper? I am becoming increasingly convinced that this is true. We have the time, talent and treasure to prosper and enter our promise but lack only one thing – faith.
Genesis 22:6-8 (NLT)
So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
There were many, many times along this journey with our son that I pictured Abraham walking up the mountain of sacrifice with Isaac. I imagined his gait. I wondered what he was thinking. How could he do it? Would I have made the same choice if not forced to? Abraham was able to choose whether or not to trust the Lord. Jesus was our only hope. Yet again, this mighty man of God is teaching me something new. When the angel instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son, he answered the call. He gathered everything that he had to offer in the sacrifice and headed out. (Genesis 22:1-7) He brought what was freely given and even that which he did not want to give. He brought his whole life to that altar. He brought his hopes and dreams. He brought his future. This is called radical obedience. He was probably thought to be a madman by some. I believe that this man of faith was truly a friend of God with complete and absolute confidence in His Love for Him. Why else would a father take such a risk other than to believe that His Father was good? Abraham told his son that God would provide the offering. He did. But God did not provide until everything was on the altar and the knife of commitment thrust high in the air, then the ram was found in the thicket. (Genesis 22:13-14) Now let’s think about this for a minute – you cannot just use any animal for a sacrifice. There were strict rules concerning what was offered to the Lord. How did the ram get caught in the thicket? Was it a fluke? Do you really think that Abraham was concerned with his surroundings the moment that he hoisted the knife in the air? Or do you not think that he had completely surveyed the area to find anything to give other than his own son? When Abraham passed the test of true faith in God, he discovered God’s Provision. Total trust in God means obedience to the point of sacrifice. God has already provided. I know it. I can see it. I believe it. I am living in that place called “Yahweh-Yireh” or the Lord will provide. Am I willing to sacrifice my way for God’s Best? Faith requires obedience. There will be a sacrifice. The ram was not found in Abraham’s back yard but where God told him to go. The blessing came through his complete obedience. (Genesis 22:13-14) The Lord is asking me today – “How far will you go? Are you willing to go all the way?” He keeps telling me “I have already provided.”
Psalm 104:27-28 (NLT)
They all depend on you to give them food as they need it. When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied.
This January I have committed to fasting a new kind of fast. I am not buying anything new for the entire month. I think my girls are already showing signs of withdrawal. God supplies what we need, all we have to do is gather it. At first, I thought come on God what about the Daniel fast. I am good at that. No one will get mad at me for that, but I knew in my spirit that is not what God is calling me to do. God has already shown up. I got a camera for Christmas but did not have a memory card for it. Cleaning out our much overdue closet, I found three. God has given me a vision for some income producing opportunities from home, and already provided a surplus of things to do them including an office. Finally, the one that just happened this morning as the enemy keeps trying to convince me how dumb this fast really is. I keep daily journals. I jot down my notes from Bible study, blogging, church notes, dreams, visions, God-ideas just about anything that I think comes from the Lord. When I turned the page this morning, I got the sinking feeling that the pages would run out before the end of the month. Then it caught my eye, a journal I had bought on clearance months ago buried on my desk. I laughed out loud. God has already provided everything we need as far as time, talent and yes, even treasure to do what He has called us to do. What is that? Only He can tell you – what I can tell you is this: He has already provided more than enough and we must muster the faith to go and gather it. His Hand opens to our faith and total trust that is obvious in obedience. It is not a money thing. It is a faith objective. It is a hope initiative. What I have discovered in the wilderness of the last three years is that joy and peace are the most valuable assets that we can ever have and they are only attainable in Christ alone. It doesn’t mean that I have to give up everything but when I am willing to – I enter His Promise of Rest. The blessing of the Lord adds no sorrow with it. I have all that I need. He has already provided. I just have the faith to go get it – it’s in His Word and His Way. It is God’s Will to bless me and He has truly given me all that I need because with faith all things are possible.
Proverbs 10:22 (NLT)
The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.