Philippians 4:19 “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
What do the following Biblical accounts have in common?
The Feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21).
The Trip from the Red Sea to Sinai (Exodus 15:22-19:2).
Gideon’s Defeat of the Midianites (Judges 6-7).
Israel’s Defeat of Moab (2 Kings 3).
Peter Walking on Water (Matthew 14:22-32).
The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul (Acts 13ff).
The Conquest of the Promised Land (The book of Joshua).
In each case, the Lord gave an assignment to one or more of his people. In each case the Lord did not reveal up front how he was going to provide the tools necessary for them to carry out what he asked. In each case these people began their tasks with nothing more than God’s commands and God’s promises. In each case the Lord made it possible for his people to do what he asked of them.
These were not merely special cases from the distant past. To some degree all of life works this way. Who of us would have ventured to have children if we had waited until we could guarantee we had all the resources necessary to raise them? Who of us would venture to buy a home, or a car for that matter, if we had to wait until we knew we had all the money up front?
We cannot guarantee that we will have the resources necessary to carry out the most basic responsibilities of life tomorrow. In an instant the Lord could snatch away business, home, wealth, or health. Just ask Job.
Nor does Jesus expect us to have the future all worked for years in advance. “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them….Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” There is a reason that Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He wants us to trust him to provide for us each day. His way of providing for our needs may change tomorrow.
In all of this our Savior is teaching us trust. He is teaching us not to rely upon our own resources. He wants us to depend on him instead. Ultimately, he is the one responsible for taking care of us enabling us to serve him. He taught Israel the same lesson in the wilderness: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3).
These lessons also have application to our church life. When Jesus commissioned 12 apostles, and about 500 other followers, to go out and preach the gospel to all creation, they weren’t much more than a single congregation of believers with the whole world as their mission field. They weren’t spectacularly wealthy. They weren’t the world’s most naturally gifted people.
But they had the Lord’s command. “Make disciples of all nations.” And they had his promises. “I am with you always.” “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles.”
We are the heirs of those commands and promises. Our congregations enjoy many opportunities to share the message of salvation–so many that our resources seem overtaxed. Manpower and money are perennially in short supply. We find it difficult to keep up the ministry that we have already made our concern.
However, our greatest resource is not to be found in our own money or manpower. It is in the Savior who promised to be with us always and empower us with the Holy Spirit. It is his mission we carry on. He will not let his work fail.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20).