Have you ever tried to trust God for utterly everything for yourself or your ministry? You might well tell me that you fall to that as a last resort, whenever you find no other method of putting food on the table.
That sounds like crying out whenever you feel like you are drowning. I wonder if God has decided to let you get to that nth degree enough times so that gradually, you may learn that You can trust Him to provide even your daily meat and bread.
For about two years, in the early 1980s, I resisted God's gentle call to go home to care for my parents in their old age - partly because I resisted the idea that I would have to depend on God for all my personal and daily needs. My parents could not, and would not pay me. I would be able to eat at their table, provided for by their meager old age security checks, and there was a spare bedroom in the basement, but any other need that might come up, I would have to ask and trust God to provide. I didn't think I could muster that much faith - not to trust God for utterly everything!
Eventually though, the Lord won me around to making that commitment.
Our Bible example today, in this series on how to fund your ministry, comes from Exodus 15:13-17 and it ends in Joshua 5:12. God had brought His people, the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the desert. Now all their food in their knapsacks was gone. The sand dunes didn't have volunteer gardens or orchards that they could raid. True to human nature, the Israelites panicked and grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
God gave Moses His plan for providing for the people, and asked him to explain it to them. He would rain down bread in the mornings, but they would have to gather it, and at twilight they would have meat - enough to get sick of it.
Six days a week, God provided for them on this daily basis. (They called that dew-like bread, Manna, meaning, "what's this?") On the sixth day they were to collect extra for the Sabbath, so they would be able to rest that day and not have to gather their daily food. The first evening they got a flock of quail dropping from the skies, and they had a fowl supper - until they were throwing up! (I don't see that God bothered them with quail after that).
They did this for some 40 years. They learned to trust God for utterly everything.
But when they came into the promised land, they were done with that dry, barren period in their lives, and just like that these miraculous provisions halted. The Israelites now had to hunt and gather their daily food in the land they were claiming for their own.
Like myself in the early 1980s, many Christians squirm and try to avoid getting into a situation where they will have to trust God for their daily food. Which basically mean, all their needs. Yes, trust God for utterly everything. Period. If we have not had any living examples in our lives of people who trusted God like that, we just cannot imagine that an invisible God will be so faithful to us.
I'm afraid I grumbled considerably too, in the beginning, though I tried to be very noble and spiritual about my great sacrifice of my life of ministry in the far province. More and more I had to give things up; I'd reach the place where I could pray, "Okay, Lord, I won't die if I don't have this, or that, on a regular basis. I could get by with very little.
Food was not a problem as my parents had always had a garden. As Mom got weaker, I spent more time working in the garden, and I got to plan what vegetables to grow. As I took charge of the kitchen, I was the one who did most of the grocery shopping for all three of us (though Dad always liked to come along and push the cart). With time, like Joseph in Potiphar's house, I managed everything for my parents, and they had nothing to worry about.
Clothes were not a problem for me either, after God convicted me that I should be grateful and use up what I had before I needed a whole new wardrobe. Then I got a penal, a godly older woman with a taste for fine-quality clothing, and she would send me a parcel from time to time with suits and dress shoes and things I would never have thought I could afford. Mom bought a new coat for me out of her Old Age Security money. Other pen pals sent gifts of money from time to time. In fact, I realized after a while that those money gifts usually arrived just about the time I needed something.
I became more relaxed about trusting God. He seemed to have better taste and timing than I'd ever realized before. Mostly He was concerned about my attitude. The more I worked on that, the better were the practical gifts He sent me. What's more, my faith and delight in the Lord increased proportionately too! it became quite comfortable to trust God for utterly everything.
So now, when I get emails from ministry leaders who are in a panic because they are out of money I sometimes marvel at their lack of faith in God to provide.
One man from Tanzania wrote that his people regularly prayed for healing and even raised people from the dead. Yet, when his church needed funds, he would appeal to me in a panic. Do some fund-raising for us!
My thinking would go like this; I don't have the faith to raise anyone from the dead, but if you can do that, why not just trust God to provide your financial needs too? That would come much easier to me!
Do financial problems plague you, or your ministry? Why not make a decision to trust God for utterly everything, and then cooperate with Him as He allows you to come into situations where you must practice that faith in Him. Over time your faith will increase, so that it not nearly so hard to trust the Father to provide all your needs.
When you have learned to have such faith, God may graduate you to other lessons, and the provisions will come easily. (I don't know, perhaps He will teach you to raise the dead after that. I haven't got to that point yet).
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