Charles Stanley - His Promise to Provide
One of the most popular themes in the Bible has to do with God answering prayer; meeting our needs. And when you think about that, you think about the fact that we all have needs. We have physical needs. We have emotional needs. We have spiritual needs. And people go about getting their needs met in different ways. And sometimes a person is very self-sufficient. They feel, and so they go about meeting their own needs or attempting to do that. Sometimes they want somebody else to meet them. And we're living in a day when a lot of people just want the government to meet them.
Well, you're in for a big disappointment because the government can't meet most of your needs, hardly if any. So, the truth is, how do you get your needs met? And as we say, some people go about it in different ways. They want somebody else to do it for them. And some people seem to be self-sufficient. When I think about meeting needs and think about so much of what God has said about it, there's some very important things to remember because a lot of people would say, Well, you know what, I've asked God to meet my needs and I still have them. I've prayed and prayed and prayed and God hasn't met my needs. So, if He's a need-meeter, why doesn't He meet my needs? What's going on? Is it something wrong with God or is it something wrong with us?
So, I want to talk about this whole issue of the fact that God assumes full responsibility for meeting our needs when we obey Him. So, I want you to turn to Philippians the fourth chapter. And the book of Philippians is a book all about positive things. It's joy and nothing negative in this entire book, four chapters. And when Paul comes to this fourth chapter, he ends up thanking the people in Philippi for what they've done for him. And it's from this chapter I want us to notice several things. He says beginning in verse ten, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity". And he says, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I'm in".
Don't you wish you could say that as as vividly as Paul said it? That is, "I've learned to be content in whatever circumstance I'm in. I know how to get along with humble means, I also know how to live in prosperity; in an every circumstance I've learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need". He says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone". He says now, "For even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs".
Now watch this next verse because it is a principle. "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account". Here's what Paul was saying, he says it's not what you do for me, but in your giving what happens is it increases to your account. That is, anytime that you give with the right spirit and the right heart he says it increases to your God's going to bless you. Because He says, Give and it shall be given to you. And so, the principle is this and I can say this absolutely honestly, anytime I ask people to give it's because deep down inside it's not that I need it, or the church needs or anybody else needs it.
God meets needs. I know what it does in the life of the person who gives. I know what happens when a selfish person learns to give; when a greedy person learns to give, their whole life changes. Everything changes when it comes to this issue of learning to give. So, he said now, I'm not seeking this for myself, "I'm seeking for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied". He says, "Having received from Epaphroditus what you sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God".
Now, watch this on the basis of what he just said, after he said, Here's what you've done for me. helping me get the gospel out there, he says, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus". Now, watch that, "My God shall supply all your needs," listen, "all your needs according to His riches in glory". Now, that's where people usually stop. That's where they stop. God will supply all your needs according, in other words, what we're interested in is that He will supply our needs and He has ample supply according to His riches in glory period.
And you know why sometimes it doesn't work? Because they leave out the last phrase. What's the last phrase? Look it, this is so important. That verse says, look, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory". What? In Christ Jesus. Wonder why you were so late at that when that is the most important phrase in the whole verse? Well, that leads me to why I'm preaching this message. Because a lot of people say, I have needs and they aren't being met. I talk to God about them and they're not being met.
So, I want to answer those questions. Why isn't God answering my prayers? Why isn't He meeting my needs? Well, let me ask you something, do you think the problem is with you or is it with God? And the question is, if it is with us what is it? What is the mistake we are making? Why is it that we have needs and this awesome God of ours says if we have needs that He will supply all of our needs? And He says, "He will supply them according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus". Well, let's look at something, the question is, what is the basis? What's the basis of our expectation for expecting God to answer our needs? First of all, He's promised to meet our needs. So, the basis of my asking Him to meet a particular need is simply this, He promised it.
Now, when you think about God promising it the value of any promise, think about this, the value of any promise, listen, goes back and is based on the ability of the person who promised it. That's one thing. Somebody makes a promise, the question is, do they have the ability to fulfill that promise. The second thing that's involved here is that person's integrity. Not only do they have the ability to do it, but do they have the integrity to keep their word and to follow through on what they promised to do? And with God on both accounts He passes. That is, He has the ability, He has the riches, He has inexhaustible supply to meet every single need of every single person anytime He chooses to do so.
So, He can do it. And secondly, He has the integrity that if He makes a promise, He's going to keep it. So, if we have needs and those needs are not being met it's not because He's not capable, not because He doesn't keep His word. God keeps His word. That's who He is. He desires to meet our needs. If somebody says, Well, what kind of God do you serve? He is a God who is interested in our needs, He is a God who has the ability to meet our needs and He's a God who fulfills His promise. That's who He is. And so, with that in mind I can rest assured that if I have a need I know where to go and I go where the One is who can meet that need.
Now, there are some mistakes we make. And when I think about it, and look at this line here, failing to distinguish between needs and desires. This is one of the problems. For example, a person says, Well, here's my need. Well, sometime it's a need, sometime it's a desire. So, let's answer the question, is having a desire a sin? No, He says if you and I, "Delight ourselves in Him, He'll give us the desires of our heart". He's not just interested in meeting needs, He's interested in the desires of our heart, listen, that contribute to making us the kind of persons He wants us to be.
Now, if what I'm interested in, most of all, is getting this need met and I think it's my need but it's not my need. Well, somebody says, Well, how are we going to distinguish? Well, in the sixth chapter of Matthew in the eight verse here's what he says, he says, The heavenly Father knows our needs even before we ask Him. So, therefore, will God show us what the need is? Yes, He will. Will He just show us how to distinguish between what I need and what I desire? And here's what I pray myself, I pray, Father this is if I have some question, this is what I believe I need. If that's not a need in my life and You don't want to, and You don't want to give me that, just let me forget it. Just just take that out of my mind. Just take that out of my desires. I don't want to want something that You don't want me to have.
So, sometime, it's not always easy to distinguish between a need and a want. But all you have to do is to ask Him, Lord show me is this a need or is this a want? First of all, He wants to grant us the needs of our life. He also wants us to understand what the need is and what the desire is. Now, watch this, can something be a need and a desire? Yes, because for example, when you want God to meet the needs of your life that contribute for example to you being a godly person, that's a desire you have and a need you have. So, it can be a need and a desire. What gets us in trouble is when we have desires that are not needs and they're desires. And then we want to say, Well, God why aren't You meeting this need in my life? When it's not a need at all.
So, one of the mistakes we make is, we mix up in our thinking desires and needs. A second mistake we make is this isolating a Scripture of promise from its context. Now, what do I mean by that? I mean taking a verse of Scripture out of the context of what it says and pulling it out, and just interpreting it to meet something for myself. And there are a lot of people who will take a verse and just pull it out of context, and say, Well, here's what this says. No. Listen to this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He'll direct your path".
Somebody says, Well, the Bible says He'll direct my path. Is that what he says? No, he says, "Trust in Him with your whole heart, don't lean to your own understanding". I'm trying to figure it out. "In all your ways acknowledge Him". Look to Him, trust Him, obey Him, then He'll direct your path. So, if you take a passage of Scripture out of context then what happens is it doesn't mean the same thing. So, did you get that? Say amen. That is a big mistake many people make. And so, I certainly don't want you to make that. And when you read this verse and people just quote it all the time, "My God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory". And they'll trail off, In Christ Jesus. Because at the first service I asked people to say that and they didn't even get to that part. I said, What about that last part? I had to ask about three times, What about that last part? It's what it's all about.
Now somebody says, Okay, I have needs in my life and I believe what Paul says. Why am I not getting them met? Why why am I not getting my needs met? We agree that God is capable of meeting the needs. We agree that He's a God of integrity. That He has He not only has the power to do it but He fulfills what He promises. And all through the Scripture we see His fulfilled promises then why has He not met my needs? Well, I just answered one of them, it's because of our relationship. You cannot live in sin and disobedience to Almighty God and expect Him to meet your needs.
Now here's the reason why, the reason is this, if you're living in sin, if you're... now, I don't mean you have to be a wicked person but you're just living disobediently before God. You know that you are. And so, if God said, Alright, I see your sin, I see your need, I'm going to answer your prayer anyway. What would what would that mean? Here's what it would mean, it would mean by His answering your petition that you, listen, that God is affirming this error, that you can live in sin, ask God, He'll ignore that and meet your needs anyway. He's not going to do it.
You say, Well, I know a lot of people living in sin and God's getting He's meeting their needs. No, He's not. They can manipulate. They can do all kind of things to get their needs met and it doesn't mean that they don't get their needs met. But here's what it does mean, they're not going to be happy about it. They're not going to have any peace in their life. They're not going to have any real joy and they don't have any security. And besides that, most of them are going to lose it. And so, the truth is, when he says, "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus". It has to do with a relationship. And if that were not true, then He'd be affirming that you can live in sin and just ask God and He'll do it anyway. You can't do that.
I want you to be sure to get this verse. If we walk up uprightly, this is the thing that matters. If I walk uprightly, "No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly". Well, what does uprightly mean? Uprightly, if something's upright it's standing straight. If I'm walking uprightly, I'm walking in a manner that's pleasing to God. It doesn't mean that I'm perfect, doesn't mean that I never sin but my heart's bent toward Him. I want to please Him. I want to make my life such that it's obedient to Him, that He can use me in some fashion. That is, your heart's right. You're walking uprightly. You're honest. You're a person of integrity. You want to be obedient to God.
He says one of the reasons people don't get their needs met is because they walk in blame, in sin and disobedience to God and therefore He doesn't do it. Those who walk blameless, uprightly He will not withhold. He says, He will not withhold any good thing from us. Whatever that might be. There's a second reason and that is, I must be willing to ask Him to meet my needs. And in Mark the eleventh chapter and the twenty-fourth verse which is an awesome verse. He says, "Therefore I say to you," watch this, "all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you". All things that you ask.
Now, he also says for example, if you ask not, you have not. If I should ask you this morning, if I should ask you to think about what is the one thing you would like for God, the one need you would like for God to meet in your life right now what would it be? If you know what it is raise your hand? See, most of you don't know what it would be. So, when you pray, that was a little tricky wasn't it? For example, if you just say, God I just need You to bless me. Well, does God know what you mean by that? Yes, but you know what He's waiting for you to tell Him. You have not because you ask not. Ask, listen, He doesn't say ask and something will happen. He says, Ask and it will be given you. Seek it and you will find it. Knock and it will be opened to you. That is, I have to be specific about what I'm asking Him about.
Well, then the whole, the last point I would say that's so important and the reason people don't get their needs met is because they don't trust Him. It's just that simple. Now, what does it mean to trust Him? I ask Him, I believe that He heard me, I believe that He's confirmed in my heart He's going to do it and then I walk. I walk with assurance and the confirmation in my heart He's going to meet my need. Then I can walk in assurance that I have it that between God and myself it's a done deal. He said ask, I've asked. Focus is on Him, not the thing. I'm trusting Him.
You say, Well, you still don't have it. It's His timing. And what gets us in trouble is this, we don't get it when we want it we stop believing it. Well, I'll tell you what I did, I trusted God, I believed Him, I waited on Him two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, a month, I still don't have it. So, I well you still praying? No, I forgot it must not be His will. That's not the way He operates. He says, You trust Me, you ask according to My will. You ask Me something that I want to do for you, that I desire to do for you. You ask Me, believe that I have heard you, listen, believe that I've heard you then walk in the assurance that it's a done deal. There's no other way to interpret that verse of Scripture.
Now, He says in Matthew also, Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. That's right. But there comes a time in our asking, in our faith level when our faith level gets now the lowest level is, I know He could. That's where most people are. That's where they live. I believe He will. But the faith we're talking about is it's a done deal. I've asked Him, He said yes, I'm living in it. So, then what do we do? We, listen, we obey Him and watch Him work. We're going to watch Him work. Let Him do the choosing of the channel. Let Him do the choosing of the time but it's a done deal. In other words, if I have it, I don't argue with God anymore about it. I can live in perfect peace that the God who promised it because He keeps His promise. I can walk in perfect peace that when my heavenly Father knows it's the best time for me to have it will show up.
And when I ask and think, Well, God it's not there yet. And how many people have I listened to who've said, Well, you know, I prayed and prayed and prayed? Well, what happened? Well, nothing happened. Oh yes, something was happening; God was trying to get your attention, straighten up something in your life. You thought nothing was happening because your focus was on the thing that wasn't there instead of being on God.
Now think about this, when you are committed to being obedient to Him here's what He says, He will not withhold anything that is His will from your life. So, why don't we have our needs met? Can't look at Him. We have to look on the inside and say, God just straighten me out. Just show me what's going on inside of me because here is a need in my life and I want it met. Okay, I have to admit, Lord, I'm impatient. I want it now. And so, listen, go ahead and tell Him, I'm impatient. God, I want it now. I don't understand it. I'm frustrated about it. I'm anxious about it. I don't like it when somebody asks me, Well, where is it you've been praying? God hasn't answered your prayer. Then I feel embarrassed. God, I just want to lay it down. I just want to lay it down and say, Lord, I'm trusting You. I'm not trusting me. I'm trusting You to be who You said You would be. Now I'm going to watch You work. That's why He says, Don't worry about tomorrow. Why? He's got that under control.
Let me ask you this, at what point in your life is He not working? At what point in your life has He just gone to sleep and He's not working? He's working continuously. We don't listen to Him as we should. We don't see His work. We don't obey Him. In other words, God is at work every single moment in your life and my life. And you know what He's got His mind on? Not if you're going to get this or that. What He's got His mind on is making you like His Son. He says, He predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. And all these, listen, we're over here worried about this and that, and getting this, and fulfilling this, and meeting this need. And God, listen, what's He thinking about? He's thinking about making you like His Son. God has the best for His children but we have to do it His way.
So, Paul said, "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory". On the basis of your relationship to Him. Not only as being a believer but walking uprightly, obediently before Him. That's how simple it is. Now you say, Well, that doesn't sound very simple to me. Well, if you'll stop and think how simple each one of those points was. You have needs. If you're a follower of Jesus you have a heavenly Father who is committed to meeting your needs. And He's going to do it in His timing and His way. It's going to be done in such a fashion that it best contributes to His ultimate goal for your life and that is to conform you to His likeness.
You say, You mean to tell me if God were to give me a new car that's conforming me to His likeness? Yes. Because what happens? You fall down in worship and praise and thanksgiving, and you're telling Him how undeserving you are to surprise. Listen, you remember being a parent and what you wanted at Christmas time when you finally let your kids out of bed after you'd built the fire and got everything just right? They come flying down the steps or down the hall and what happens? They are so excited they can't. And you give them exactly what they want. And they'll hug your neck and, Oh, I'm so glad you thought about that. And then forget that. Well, let's put that in the terms of deity. Does God get happy? Yes, is He delighted when you and I are surprised and delighted? Yes, He is. Otherwise you've got some kind of impersonal God that you can't trust about anything. He's an awesome God who desires the best for you if you'll just accept it.
Father, how grateful we are that You are so patient with us. And I pray that you'll sink this message very deeply in hearts here and around the world because there are so many who are so needy for so many things. Thank You for being who You are. You have never failed once. You're always capable in every single, solitary situation to grant the needs of our life whether it's something material or something emotional, something physical. You're always prepared. Thank You, for that is our prayer in Jesus' name, amen.
Now, you may not be a believer and you say, Well, how does that fit me? It doesn't, until you're willing to ask the Lord Jesus Christ into your life to save you from your sins based on what He did at the cross, you don't have a relationship. So, you can't expect the heavenly Father. For example, that would be like expecting somebody who lives fifty miles away from you, doesn't even know you, to meet some need in your life. You don't have any relationship. Once you become a believer everything changes. And you can do that by asking Him to forgive you of your sins and telling Him that you're receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You want Him to be your heavenly Father. You're surrendering your life to Him. Everything changes.
And that is my prayer for you. Whoever you are, wherever you might be. You say, Well, what does? Do I have any promise? Listen to this promise, "For God so loved the world," including you, "whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life". Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, cleanse us from all unrighteousness". He's willing if you're willing.