David Jeremiah - The Lord Will Provide
In the book of Genesis, there is a story that may be the high point of the Old Testament. One day God came to Abraham and he said, "I want you to take your son Isaac, your son whom you love, and I want you to take him to the mountain and there I want you to offer him to me as a sacrifice". Whenever I read that story, my heart kind of stops for a moment. I have two sons and I cannot imagine what I would think if God had told me to do something like that. And it was especially egregious for Abraham because, as you know, God had previously come to Abraham and said, "Abraham, in Isaac, your blessing will be found. Isaac's your legacy. I'm going to bless you through your son Isaac. In Isaac all of the promises I've made to you are gonna be realized".
So Abraham was truly on the horns of a dilemma. Over here, he had the clear instruction of God to take Isaac's life. And over here he had the promise of God that in Isaac he was going to be blessed. It isn't until we come all the way through the Old Testament and arrive at the book of Hebrews that we discover how Abraham was able to make the decision that he made. We learn in the book of Hebrews that Abraham finally deduced from this situation that if God had told him he was gonna bless him through Isaac and God had told him to take Isaac's life, the only way that could come out was that God was gonna resurrect Isaac from the dead. That's how he made the decision. But as you well know, it never got to that point. God wanted to see if Abraham was willing to do what he asked him to do.
But as you know, just before Abraham was to carry out God's instructions, the Lord intervened. And the words of the Lord in his intervention are recorded for us in Genesis chapter 22. And these are the words: "And the Lord said, 'Abraham, do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.' Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, 'In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.'"
The phrase, "The Lord will provide," in the Old Testament language is a name for God. It is the term Jehovah Jireh. Say that with me. Jehovah Jireh. Jehovah Jireh means the Lord will provide. And if you take it even into the nuance of the Old Testament language, it literally says the Lord will see to it. He will see to it. Every time I read that, I get encouraged in my heart. I'm not unlike all of you. I have my moments every week when I wonder what's going on and I need to remind myself that the Lord will see to it. The Lord will provide. Maybe you got a disappointment this week as a follower of Christ and I just want to encourage you, the Lord will see to it, he will provide. Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide. He will see to it.
And I wanna share with you today a New Testament commentary on God's words to Abraham. But before I do that, I'd like to take just a moment and answer this question: what is money? Because if we don't understand that, none of the rest of what I'm going to say is gonna really catch hold in your life. When you ask the question, "What is money"? you're not asking, "What does money look like"? We all know that. We're not asking the question about the paper and the print or the coin and the image. What we're asking is, "What is the meaning of money? What is the message of money"? And it's really important that we get it, so I wanna try to help you with this little illustration.
Someone has said that money is life converted into currency. And what that means is that when you go to work tomorrow, whether you work for a salary or you're on a clock, or however you are remunerated, you go there and you put in your 8 to 10 hours, or your 40 to 50 hours a week, or how many hours you work. Then your employer says, "Okay, because you have given me 40 or 50 hours of your life, I'm gonna give you this amount of money," and they give you your paycheck. Your paycheck literally represents your life. You gave 40 to 50 hours of your life that week and it now has been converted into this piece of paper you call your paycheck. Your life converted into currency. It's so easy for us to think when it comes to money that it's just paper and coins and what does that have to do with anything? And we need to understand that it is not just paper and coins. Money is your life converted into currency.
And that explains why in the Bible it becomes such a critical issue. That's why God says you cannot serve God and mammon. You can't serve them both. It doesn't say you can't love money. It says you can't let it become your love. It doesn't say you can't have money. It says you can't serve it and you can't serve money and serve God at the same time. So once you understand why money is so important, then you understand why it is critical for us to have these lessons and be reminded again that this core value is a value that we need to cherish and constantly be asking ourselves this question: "How am I doing with my life"? In the New Testament there is a verse of Scripture which is a great promise from God, sort of as a commentary on Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide.
The verse is found in 2 Corinthians 9 and verse 8, written by Paul to the Corinthian church and here are his words: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work". That promise is wedged in between other verses that talk about giving to the Lord. And right in the middle of that is this incredible word from the Father about his determination to provide for us when we're involved with him in giving. And I wanna unpack that verse very quickly today and help us all to understand the power of it and I hope we'll take it home as some new fuel for our fire as we walk with God.
First of all, I want you to know the power of God's promise. Listen to what Paul writes in his first phrase: "God is able". Say that with me. "God is able". And we read that in the text, not just here but we read it often in the New Testament, "God is able". If we didn't have anything else in the verse but that, we would have enough, wouldn't we? Our God is enough. Our God is able. The question that often comes to us when we're dealing with this subject and we're trying to get off the ground and start doing the right thing, it's like this. If I follow God's instructions and I begin to give a tithe to his work, can he take care of me and my family, and Paul says, "He is able". He can do it. God is able.
Generous giving can be frightening. Because we understand our own limits, our own boundaries, we also know that naturally speaking, when we give something away, we end up with less than what we had before. But Paul reminds us in this text that generosity doesn't originate with our ability; it originates with God's. We are not able but God is able. We may not be able to figure this out, but God is able. We will only give without fear and with confidence when our hearts and minds are convinced that God is able to keep his promise to us and provide for us. And he is able to do that. Listen to the words of Job from the Old Testament. He wrote: "I know that you can do everything, God, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you". In other words, "Lord God, I trust you". Matthew 19 says: "With God all things are possible".
You say, "Dr. Jeremiah, you don't know what our finances are like. They're impossible". But God can do anything. I want you to know that. Even as messed up as your finances might be, God is able to help you straighten it out when you put him first. Over and over in the New Testament, we read this little phrase, "God is able". God is able to keep that which I've committed unto him. God is able to aid those who are tempted. God is able to save to the uttermost. God is able to keep you from stumbling. Over and over. We have a God of great ability, amen? When we put our trust in him, there's nothing that we need that he does not have. And he doesn't just have a little of it. He has an abundance of it.
So we began our understanding of the Jehovah Jireh God that we serve with this truth: Our God is able. He is able. The power of God's promise. Notice secondly, the potential of it. When we think about the ability of God, we might ask this question: with all the people that he has to care for, why would I think he would care for me or that he would have enough for me when he has all these other people to take care of? But please notice the next word: God is able to make all grace. God has all grace. He has everything. Grace is a word that comes from a term which means gift. It is the word "charis". Charis is the Greek word for grace. In the time when the Bible was written, rich people in the ancient world would often give what they called charises or gifts to their community. They might give a statue to be in the center or a fountain to be in the center of their village. That charis was a testimony to the wealth and abundance of the donor. They would give the charis so that the whole community would know they had the wherewithal to provide such a wonderful gift to the community.
How many of you know that our God has enough grace for all that we need? He's given us the greatest illustration of that in his own Son. God makes it happen. God graces us with his presence and his provision. You say, "Dr. Jeremiah, how do you know that"? I know it because God has done it for me. I'm not talking here about just having started doing this a little while ago. Ladies and gentlemen, I have been doing this for 50 years. I know I don't look that old but I have been doing this for 50 years. You say, "In 50 years, has God ever not cared for you"? Not ever, once. There have been times when I've wondered where he was and if he was gonna be on time. But I give you this testimony with absolute clarity in mind and heart, that I have trusted God, and God has never let me down.
Now, I'm no special person with God. Why would he do that for me and not for any, because God has all grace for all those who put their trust in him. He is able. He is able because he's the God of all grace. And he proved that to us so that we would never forget it when he sent Jesus Christ. Listen to these words from 2 Corinthians 8:9: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich". God has so much grace that he even allowed his own Son to come here in our behalf. If you can trust him with your soul, the God of all grace who gave you Jesus, how would he ever withhold anything that you would need if he would already give you Jesus Christ, his own Son? So the power of God's promise, God is able, and the potential of it, all grace.
Now notice the proportion of it: "God is able to give you all grace so that you can abound". Notice that little word "abound". This word appears twice in this verse that we have read. "God is able to make all grace abound towards you, so that you may have an abundance for every good work". I have studied 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 over the years many times and I'm always amazed at how many times in those two chapters the word "abound," "abundance," "abounding," and you can go home sometime and just underline it in your own Bible. It's quite amazing. We have a God who's the God of abundance. You know, sometimes, we don't think that and sometimes we don't think we should be allowed to believe that. Do you know the Bible says that the Lord Jesus came into this world that we might have life and that we might have it how? More abundantly. God wants us to receive his abundance.
Now, that doesn't mean he wants us all to be multi-millionaires. What it means is God has enough and he wants us to live in the overflow abundance of his grace so that we're not paupers, we're not beggars. We're men and women who honor the Lord with our lives and he continues to shower his abundance upon us. I don't know if you ever do this but once in a while you should just take a moment and have a moment of reality about your life. You have your health and you have your kids and you have your family and you have your friends. You've got a house to live in. You might not have a lot, but you are an abundant creature in God's hands.
Let me just say that this is a good time for me to remind you that God is not opposed to abundance. There are two views of money that usually fall into the churches that you know about. Over here is one where somebody says, "God wants you to be rich and have everything you want, the biggest yacht in the harbor, the biggest car in the lot. That's what God wants for you if you trust God. That's what he wants to give you". That's not true. And there are others that say, "God wants you not to have anything. He wants you to be poor. He wants you to be a pauper. He wants you to take everything you have and denounce it". Neither one of them are true. God wants you to be blessed. He wants you to have abundance. He's not opposed to you doing well and he gifts some people, doesn't he, with the gift of giving and he gives that gift to them because they've been able to earn a lot of resources.
And there's a sense in which, in our churches, we almost make someone like that feel guilty, and they should never be made to feel guilty. That's God's provision for them. That's God's abundance for them. God loves for his children to have an abundance. And God has enough for all of us if we put our trust in him. Someone has said that the grace of God is not something mere, M-E-R-E. It's something more, M-O-R-E. God is not interested in just you having merely enough. He wants you to have more than enough. He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. That means a lot of other things except financial resources, but it means that too. The power of God's promises, he's able, and the potential of it is that he's got all grace, and the proportion of it is he wants you to abound. And the provision of it is that "you, always having all sufficiency in all things".
Now stop for a moment and let me tell you what I've learned about this verse. This is the most positive statement in the entire New Testament. Here's the question: will God give back to you when you trust him and give? The answer is five times yes. Notice, "all grace," "always," "all sufficiency," "in all things," to "every good work". "All," "always," "all," "all," and "every". God says, "I want you to have everything you need. I want you to have all the grace that is necessary". Paul piles these superlatives, one on top of another. This isn't fantastic, it's not foolish, it's factual. God wants to bless you. And it teaches us that the right attitude plus the right action equals the blessing of God. All grace, always, all sufficiency, for all things so that you can do every good work. Now whatever it is you think you don't have, if you know the Lord, it's found in that promise.
In the 4th chapter of the book of Philippians, this same apostle is writing a letter to, I think, his favorite church. I've always thought Philippi was Paul's favorite church, especially because all of the words of endearment in the 1st chapter where he speaks about his love for them. But in the 4th chapter, in the latter part of the book, Paul is reminding the Philippians that he's so thankful for them because, when nobody else was supporting him in his ministry, the Philippians stepped up and they took on some support so that Paul could continue to serve the Lord. And he pauses at the end of his letter to give them thanks and he tells them how blessed he is because they have given to him and how blessed God is and how blessed the people are to whom he has ministered. And then he makes this promise to them. He wants them to know that the same God who has blessed him through their gifts is the God who wants to bless them themselves. And he gives them this promise: "And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus".
Notice, he did not say, "God will supply all your greed". He said, "He'll supply all your need". He isn't gonna promise to give you all your wants. God will give you what you need. And I'm so grateful for these promises because they remind us that when we go out on faith and put our trust in God we're not out there by ourself. The resources that stand behind the promise of God is the abundant grace of God himself. The power of God's promise is that he is able. The potential of it is to give you all grace. The proportion of it is that he will abound your grace. And the provision of it is that you always having all sufficiency in all things. And now here maybe is the most important thing for us because we're all sort of somewhat taught about this.
And this is not one of the more taught principles of stewardship. But listen up. The purpose of God's promise is, watch this. Here's the purpose. This is why God blesses us. Watch. So that we "may have an abundance for every good work". God doesn't given us an abundance so that we can put it in the bank and notice how much we have. We need to put some of it in the bank and provide for the future, an inheritance for our children, and all of that. But God wants to give us an abundance so that we will be able to have enough for every good work that he puts in front of us. He wants us to have an abundance so that we can take what he gives to us and channel it into the kingdom for every good work.
Here we are reminded of God's purpose to bless you. God doesn't bless you for yourself. He doesn't bless you so you become a hoarder. He blesses you so that you can be a part of every good work, so that you can be a channel, and God can use you as a channel. He blesses us all in the same measure so that we can take what he gives to us and make it available for the good work of God. And when we do that and we're faithful in doing it, guess what? He keeps giving us more. He keeps blessing us. When he sees that we understand the purpose of it, he continues to supply the essence of it.
Someone put it this way: "If you lend your boat for a whole afternoon to Jesus Christ, it'll end up being his pulpit and he'll send it back to you at the end of the day full of fish. You can count on it. If you place your upper room at his disposal for a single night, he'll fill it up with the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. If you place in his hands your barley loaves and fish, he will not only satisfy your hunger, but he will add 12 baskets full of fragments so you can have them to take home with you at night". Here's God's promise, that he wants you to be involved with him in his work.
To me, that's the most exciting thing about stewardship. I get to partner with God and see what God and his people together can do to put a dent in the darkness of the devil's world. God is enabling us to have an abundance for every good work. I praise his name for that. I give him glory. Give him a hand clap today, would you please? And in the process of being used by God, we are changed. In his book, "Experiencing God as Your Provider," Brian Kluth writes these words. Listen carefully. He said, "When you learn to trust God as your provider and then generously and faithfully share whatever he entrusts to you, everything changes. Your life changes. Your future changes. Your attitude changes. Your buying changes. Your giving changes.
Instead of being gripped by fear, your hearts are filled with faith in the God who has promised to provide. You will no longer fear what you used to fear or crave what the world craves. You will stop grasping for things that don't last and open your hand so that God can take what you have when he needs it. Awaiting your treasure in heaven, you will enjoy God's provisions now. You will have the best of both worlds: God now and God forever. That's what happens when you trust him with your provision". I look back over my shoulder over these 5 decades of doing this. I have my own stories but I won't bore you with them. You have yours. In ways I can't explain, at times, I never could comprehend, God has intervened and stepped forward and done things that are just amazing to me. And he will do that for any. That's his purpose. He is our provider.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great British preacher, was traveling back to London after having held some meetings out in the country. And he was coming back home by train. When he got on the train, he ended up in a compartment with just one other person and as he boarded the train, he realized that he did not have his ticket. So as he got on the train, he began to fumble with his pockets and had turned them inside out, trying to see if he could find his ticket. And his compartment companion said to him, "Have you lost something"? And he said, "Oh, yeah, I don't have my ticket". And he said, "Truth be told, I don't know where my watch is and I don't have one dollar, one cent, one pound, on me. I don't have any money". But he said, "I need you to know something. It's not the first time I've been in a situation like this. I've been on my Lord's business for many years and he's intervened so many times to overcome my difficulty. So I don't know what I'm gonna do but I'm gonna enjoy the journey," and he sat down in the car.
Short while later, the conductor came through, collecting the tickets. He touched his hat to Mr. Spurgeon's companion. They had a few words together, and the conductor passed right on through. "Well, that's strange," said Spurgeon. "He didn't even ask for my ticket". And his companion said, "Well, that's just another illustration of what you told me earlier about God's provision and his watching over you. You see, I'm the general manager of this entire railway company and no doubt God had you in my compartment for just as moment as this, just when I could be of service to you".
And here's what I wanna tell you guys. Listen up. Almighty God is our general manager and we're in relationship with him. And when we have a need and we don't know where it's gonna come from, in our compartment is the one person in the universe, the God-Man, the God himself who can provide. When we give to him, what we're saying in the most powerful way is this: "Lord God, I am trusting you to be my provider". Don't try to think about how you're gonna do this yourself 'cause you will be discouraged. Many will tell you that you cannot do it yourself but in God you have your provision. He's your general manager, he's in your car. You're gonna be just fine. Whatever you need, God never fails to meet every need of his trusting child. He is, say it with me, Jehovah Jireh. One more time. Jehovah Jireh, amen.-