Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus.
This verse quickly became one of my top 10 favorite verses. Who wouldn’t want a reminder of the certainty of his provision for his children? My journey with Jesus began with my father’s illness and eventual demise. As a 12 year old with no dad, I absolutely welcomed God’s protection and provision. And he did prove himself faithful, as he showered me with generosity beyond what I deserved and imagined. I’m not saying I got everything I prayed for. In fact many times, I didn’t. And it wasn’t necessarily because God had something “bigger and better” for me. I don’t think Paul meant for this passage to be used as a magic wand to make our wishes come true. Just a few verses before this, Paul laid out a wonderful teaching on a big heart issue – contentment (verses 11-12), in that he has learned to face both abundance and need. The specific circumstances didn’t matter anymore to Paul. Why? Because of Christ. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (v. 13). He then proceeds by expressing gratitude to the Philippian church (v. 14-16) and describing the beauty of their sacrificial giving; that this is a fragrant offering pleasing to God (v 18), then reassures them that God cannot be outdone in generosity, as he supplies their every need (v. 19). While on this side of eternity, it may seem like God is only supplying some of our needs but not ALL our needs. It may be hard to believe this promise when there are huge, urgent, serious needs that God seems to ignore. I do not have a great answer for why some of our prayers go unanswered. But we do have a great Father who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all; how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
After my high school graduation, I began to understand our financial situation, and that studying to become a doctor was beyond our means. Yet through miraculous ways, God faithfully led me through medical school. His provision came and was enough from one tuition cycle to the next. Scholarships, financial aid, and the generosity of fellow believers worked together to see me through each semester.
Throughout this time, I learned not only that God provides for his people. More importantly, I realized in my heart that Christ himself is both my greatest need and my greatest gift from the Father. In him, I am content. Through him, I have all things.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.
On a hot mid-day in Samaria, Jesus sat by the well of Jacob and brought salvation to a woman and her village. The woman at the well could be any one of us. We try to carry on with our daily tasks, even when burdened with guilt, pain and shame. Presumably avoiding the town’s peak hours for drawing water, she had no idea who was waiting for her by the well that day. Just like our personal encounter with Christ, this one did not happen by chance. Jesus initiated the conversation with “Give me a drink,” (John 4:7), and that was enough to bridge the social and cultural divide that existed between them. Her reply “how is it that you a Jew ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (v.9) revealed her skepticism. But as Jesus went on with the promise of living waters that would quench her thirst once and for all, she became interested and confessed her need. “Sir, give me this water...” (v.15). Then the unexpected came when Jesus said “Go, call your husband” (v.16). As the story unfolds we get a clearer picture of her past and current state of sin. She has had five husbands and is living with a man she is not married to (v.18). While the bible does not specifically say how she reacted when Jesus brought up her adulterous relationship, we know that it didn’t make her turn away and leave. Instead, we glean from her response “Sir, I see you are a prophet” (v.19) a growing perception on her part that this stranger by the well is no ordinary person. There’s something about him that makes her want to stay. She wants more conversation. She asks another question (v.20). What follows is a loving and prophetic declaration – the hour is coming (v.23-24) – when both Jews and Gentiles will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Embedded in Jesus’ discourse is a call to actively put her faith in him “Woman, believe me...” (v.21). Finally, he concludes with the glorious revelation that he is the Messiah (v.26) the one she had been waiting for (v.25). Now see what she does next. She leaves her water jar, runs to her village and tells everybody about Christ (v.28). All of a sudden, even something as essential as water is not so important, facing other people is no longer awkward, and she seems to be thrilled that a man she has never met before pointed out her sin. “Come see a man who told me everything I did. Could he be the Christ (v.29)?” Such is the outcome when one comes to know the Lord Jesus -priorities change, relationships are healed, the bondage of sin is broken. Joy in Jesus cannot be contained. It’s an overflowing stream that blesses those around us. Here’s the proof.”Many Samaritans from that town believed in him, because of the woman’s testimony” (v.39). Isn’t that beautiful? And this is why I will always love the woman at the well.
And all who thirst will thirst no more, And all who search will find what their souls long for, The world will try, but it can never fill, So leave it all behind, and come to the well (from The Well by Casting Crowns)
At age 22, hymn writer Robert Robinson penned the words of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Written in old English, I didn’t at first understand every word (like what’s an Ebenezer?). At some point, I had to look up the meaning of fetter, because the song goes “let thy goodness like a fetter.” The noun fetter turns out to be synonymous with shackles, chains, or restraints. Now handcuffs usually don’t mean good news. They paint a picture of confinement, imprisonment or lack of freedom.
Ironically, the truth is I have found no greater freedom than that which I have received when God chose to bind my heart to Him through His Son Jesus. 1 John 4:19 says “He first loved us”. Psalm 139 speaks of how God has worked in us from the very beginning. Yes, he pursued us first and He continues to pursue our hearts that are prone to wander. No matter how many years we have been following Christ or where we have gone to serve Him, while we live in this broken world we remain prone to leave the God we love. When gifts outweigh the Giver or pain becomes prolonged, we search for a different savior. When God stays silent through our questions, or when He removes something or someone precious from our lives, our gaze drifts away in quiet resentment. I’m so glad He knows what we are made of, and that He rescues us from our selfish and stubborn ways. Thus it is a blessing and a true expression of His goodness when His grace takes the form of much needed shackles to bind our wandering hearts to Him.
Many Christians love Romans 8:38-39 where Paul declares that nothing and no one can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus! And there’s a reason we love it! It reassures us of the permanence and security of our union with Him. There’s absolutely nothing that can break that bond. (Now we can feel good about the shackles). Let us thank Him for lovingly binding us to Himself. Let us pray with the psalmist, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8
“Oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. Let thy goodness, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” (from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson)
Recently, I spent a weekend with a dear friend to meditate on and pray through one of our favorite passages in the New Testament – John 15:1-16. In verse 4 of this passage, Jesus says “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” I love the union that is described here. What a privilege to hear Jesus Himself saying “Come and rest in me; lose yourself in me; let go of everything and cling to me.” When Christ gave us new life in Him, it was as though we were branches that were grafted into Him, the Vine. But wonderful as that may be, the even greater news is the “I in you” – that He himself now dwells in us. At that point, He does it all, we need only to remain in Him. Like the sap that comes from the vine and nourishes the branch, He Himself sustains us through His Word and His Spirit. This sustenance flows in one direction – from the vine to the branch. The branch does not and cannot nourish the vine. In his book The True Vine, Andrew Murray writes: “The believer is called to, and it is his highest blessedness to enter upon, a life of entire and unceasing dependence upon Christ… what a life would come to us if we only consented to being branches!” And why does the Vine nourish the branch? Why does the Father, the Vinedresser, care to prune us? It is but for one reason – that the branch would bear fruit, much fruit, and more fruit. The branch is not meant to fatten itself or boast of its foliage. Its purpose is to bear fruit for the owner of the vineyard; a task it can never fulfill, apart from the vine. This is a marvelous design that tells us God is not only wise but that He is also gracious. He desires our fruitfulness but not before providing the means, the Vine, Christ Himself. This is why we can believe that “his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3b), and be grateful that his yoke is easy (Matt11:30a). This is why Paul said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). I pray for a heart that yields and rejoices in the arms of Jesus; a heart that never wants to be apart from Him. He did it all and He does it all. We need only to abide.
Thanks for joining me! Through this blog, I would like to share my journey with Jesus. Yes, I am a follower of Christ and would like to encourage my fellow women to sink our roots of faith deeper in our Savior and Lord and rejoice in Him in our daily lives. My goal is not to make you readers feel connected with me, but to draw your eyes to the Author and Perfecter of our faith. This is not about me. This is about Him who knows me intimately yet loves me nonetheless. This is about Him who is the joy of my heart.