May 11, 2013

God’s abundant provision…

A new course starts Monday so to get a head start, I began some of the required reading. One asked that I read the story of Joseph in one sitting, Genesis 37 to 50. Two times as I read, I wept uncontrollably, amazed all over again at the mercy and power of God as He used the injustices that happened to Joseph for good. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, and eventually saving their lives, he said,
Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones… (Genesis 50:18–21)

Today’s devotional is about the grace of God that satisfies His people far beyond our expectations and certainly beyond what we deserve. As the Israelites wandered through the wilderness (and as I wander through life), He supplies all that we need. I am in awe.

He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers. (Psalm 78:15–16)

At the beginning of the year, knowing I would be reading and studying theology, I abandoned my usual practice of reading the Bible through during the year. That was not a good idea. It is the source of God’s abundance, His answers and help for all issues and problems. Those who consider it an ancient and irrelevant book have no idea how intensely practical the Bible addresses the stress of modern life.

I belong to a Christian book club and we are reading excellent and edifying books, but nothing can touch and heal my heart like the Word of God. There is no problem, no challenge, no frustration, no sorrow that the Bible misses. It meets every need and never with just a small sip. Instead of shallow waters, God’s Word provides a big gulp, a drink as if from the ocean depths, water that flows like rivers, even water from the Rock, which is Christ.

Its pages are not filled with nice sounding platitudes, or pithy sayings about how to live. Instead, it greatly affirms God’s everlasting love and addresses the greatest needs in human life. There are no shallow or unhelpful guilt trips about my sin either, or do-it-yourself recommendations to fix it. Instead, God offers the amazing story of a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. After all my ideas and plans dry up and my sin remains, God gives me a drink from the Rock, a drink as abundant as the seas.

And He surprises me. I might go looking for answers, but His answer is never what I assume. I didn’t even know that I needed a strong reminder of His power to use tragedy for good until I read the story of Joseph and was so deeply touched and strengthened in my faith.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

God’s words are often simple, tender, full of love, but they are also deep and strong, searching my heart and exposing all that needs light and healing. There are people whose words sound good, but their lives do not match. There are people who have little to say and offer even less in their character. But Jesus was never like that. No matter how people  responded to His words, behind those words is the God-man, deeper and unfathomably more than any mind can grasp. He is the Living Word of God and His words will live even when heaven and earth have passed away.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

I can drink all of a cup or read all of a book, but I cannot drain dry a spring fed from the depths. Because the Word of God flows from the depths of this God who became a man, those words are powerful and eternal. They save and strengthen my heart and draw me back again and again for more of their life-lifting, soul-quenching power.

I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your Word. (Psalm 138:2)

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