When God Makes a Promise

His Promise to Provide

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Watch His Promise to Provide video.

Scripture: Philippians 4:19

I. Introduction: Throughout Scripture, God promises the faithful that He will provide for them. Story after story demonstrates the Father’s amazing ability to satisfy His children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. As Life Principle #11 says, God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him. If our requests seemingly go unanswered, we must carefully evaluate ourselves. Why? Without realizing it, we may be hindering the answer to our prayer.

II. What does the Word of God say?

A. Scriptural Promises:

1. Jesus told His disciples not to worry about food or clothing (Matt. 6:25-26). Since the Father watches over even the birds of the air, we can certainly count on Him to take care of us.

2. God doesn’t withhold any good thing from those who live righteously (Psalms 84:11).” When we place our trust fully in the Lord, He provides the very best for us (Psalms 81:10, 16).

B. Biblical Examples:

1. Abraham: The Lord allowed the patriarch and his wife to have a son in their old age.

2. Moses: God used Moses to free His people from Egyptian bondage.

III. Possible Causes of Unmet Needs

A. We confuse needs with wants. We should evaluate whether our request is a longing or a necessity. Ask the Father to help you discern between desires and essentials. Remember that He knows what we lack, even before we tell Him (Matt. 6:8).

B. We claim Scripture—but out of context. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added). This promise doesn’t apply to those who live in rebellion against Him. Sometimes the Lord will postpone answering our prayers until He can deal with an area of sin in our life.

C. We don’t ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). Do you go to the Lord with your requests? If not, you can’t expect to receive those things from Him. But be sure your motives are pure, because the Father will not reward selfishness (James 4:3).

D. We fail to do our part. God will not do what you are equipped to accomplish yourself. For example, you should work—unless a disability prevents you from holding a job (2 Thess. 3:7-10).

E. We neglect to wait on God’s timing. Don’t rush into something or try to pressure the Lord. People miss out on wonderful gifts because they refuse to follow God’s schedule.

F. We aren’t open to the Lord’s methods. Don’t tell Him how to meet your need. Sometimes God will provide through people you don’t know or in ways you least expect.

G. We lose focus. When you constantly think about your need, it becomes larger in your mind, and as a result, God seems smaller. Jesus told His followers to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). This means our primary goal should be to honor the Lord.

H. We don’t trust God. Our Savior promised, “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:24, emphasis added). If God has confirmed He’ll meet your need, then you can be confident that He will do it.

IV. Conclusion: If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a heavenly Father who is committed to meeting your needs. But what should you do when it seems God isn’t working on your behalf? Fall on your knees before Him and pray, “Lord, show me where I am going wrong, or give me the patience to wait on You if it’s not yet time.”

Even when the Father seems far away, He never stops working in your life. God will be faithful to meet your needs at just the right time and in His perfect way. He is able to do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). The Lord delights in giving you His very best. Simply obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.

Hard Times Can Make You or Break You

Adversity—Burden or Bridge?

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Watch Adversity—Burden or Bridge? video.

Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley

I. Introduction: Adversity touches everyone sooner or later. Some believers crumble under the pressure of difficult times. They become so bitter and resentful towards God that they walk away from His calling on their lives. They might even resort to addictive behaviors in an attempt to escape pain. Others face similar challenges but have a totally different reaction. Instead of weakening them, trials make them stronger because they learn to depend more fully on the power of the Holy Spirit. Adversity can be either an overwhelming burden or a bridge to deeper relationship with God.

II. A Burden or a Bridge?

A. We can see tough times as a burden or a bridge.

1. A burden, spiritually speaking, is a heaviness that weighs us. We may feel weary or discouraged, without joy and peace.

2. A bridge, in contrast, is a way to rise above the difficulty and develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.

B. Two verses are the foundation of this bridge to greater intimacy with the Lord.

1. Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

2. Romans 8:28: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

III. Adversity as a Bridge in the Life of Paul

The life of Paul is one of the best examples of how adversity can act as a bridge to a closer relationship with God. Without the supernatural revelations the Lord gave him, we would have far less insight into living the day-to-day Christian life. But his closeness to the Father came only as the result of severe personal loss and hardship (Phil. 3:8,10). Through difficulty, he learned:

A. Contentment is possible in the midst of adversity. The apostle explained: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).

B. God provides supernatural strength in our weakness. Paul’s limitations allowed the Holy Spirit’s power to work through his life (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  

C. The Lord is the source for all our needs. When we fully rely on the Father, we can count on His provision (Phil. 4:19).

D. We can trust in the Lord’s faithfulness. Paul had learned to depend on the Lord to carry him through any trial (1 Cor. 10:13).

E. The Father values service more than our desires. Instead of satisfying Paul’s natural inclination toward comfort and ease, God sent adversity to prepare him for greater service (2 Cor. 12:7). The Lord prioritizes character development over comfort.

F. In difficult times, God will give us strength to proclaim the truth. Because Paul was imprisoned, the entire Praetorian guard heard the gospel (Phil. 1:13-15). The more adversity we face, the more effective our message will be to others.

G. We can treat everything as if it comes from God. The Lord uses all we experience, even the wrongs of others, for His purposes in our lives. If we can embrace the circumstances that come our way as an opportunity to grow, it prevents our trials from making us resentful.

H. We learn more about the Lord through trials. Suffering often is the stimulus to greater closeness with God.

I. Adversity prepares us to comfort others more effectively. From God‘s viewpoint, suffering prepares us to minister to others (2 Cor. 1:3-8).

J. God has a specific purpose for allowing adversity. Paul’s thorn was designed to keep him humble and dependent on God, despite the astounding spiritual revelations he had been given (2 Cor. 12:7).

K. We are to know joy in the midst of adversity. In Philippians 4:4, the apostle wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”

IV. Conclusion:

Most likely, you are experiencing some degree of adversity today. You can try to handle it using your own resources, or you can choose to see it as a path to deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, the awesome power of the Holy Spirit is available to equip, transform, and carry you through any suffering. The bridge of adversity can take you to a place of indescribable closeness with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

ADDITIONAL SPIRITUAL HELP FROM DR. STANLEY:

God’s Purpose for Adversity

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Have you ever wondered why the Lord allows tragedy, sickness, and other suffering in our lives? Part of the answer lies in the fact that we inhabit a fallen world; the sin of Adam and Eve altered God’s original creation. However, the good news is that God uses adversity to show us our profound need for Him.

The Old Testament saint Jacob experienced something that forever changed how he related to God. The Lord weakened him physically to strengthen him spiritually. In a similar way, God wants to use adversity in our lives to draw us into a closer relationship with Him.

Jacob’s Journey

Read Genesis 32:1-32.

  •  As Jacob traveled to the land of his parents, what troublesome news came to him (Gen 32:6-8)?
  •  Why would Jacob expect the worst from his brother? (See Genesis 27:30-42 if necessary.)
  • On a practical level, how did Jacob prepare to meet his brother (Gen. 32:4-8, Gen. 32:13-20)?
  • Jacob also turned to the Lord in prayer. Summarize each section of his petition (vv. 9-12).

Example: v. 9—Jacob reminded God of His promise to prosper him.
v. 10
v. 11
v. 12

  • From Jacob’s prayer, what can you learn about how to approach God regarding your own problems?

After Jacob sent his family away (v. 23), he wrestled with a mysterious man. At first, he may have thought he was fighting one of Esau’s men, but later, he says he saw God (v. 30). In a similar way, we sometimes have a hard time recognizing how the Lord is at work in adversity. That can happen when we are busy blaming other people, ourselves, or the Devil.

  • What difficulty are you facing right now?
  • Who or what do you have a tendency to blame for your problems?
  • What purpose might God have for your hardship?

As the fight continued, the man touched Jacob’s hip and dislocated it. This may have alerted Jacob to the fact that he was wrestling with a supernatural being. He determined to hold on until he received a blessing (v. 26).
When we are facing adversity, we may need to wrestle with God—that is, stay at the throne of grace and mercy until we have what we need from Him (Heb. 4:14-16).

  • In your time alone with God, do you tend to wait until you hear from Him or sense His comforting presence?  Why or why not?

Many scholars believe the man Jacob wrestled was the pre-incarnate Christ (Jesus before He was born as a baby). Others think Jacob fought an angel. Either way, this supernatural being changed the patriarch’s name.  Jacob literally means “heel catcher,” an idiomatic expression that meant “trickster” or “supplanter.” Israel means “he struggles with God” or perhaps “a prince with God.”

  • Jacob became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Why do you think it was important for him to have a new name?

After this incident, Jacob walked with a limp (Gen. 32:31). With a dislocated hip, he would have found it almost impossible to defend himself against Esau. Jacob was forced to depend completely on God’s ability to protect him.

  • What does Esau’s greeting show about his feelings toward Jacob (Gen. 33:4)?

Jacob learned that he could rely on God more completely when he was weak. This is the same lesson Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” taught him (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The apostle wrote, “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

  • Give an example of a time when your weakness provided an opportunity to rely successfully on The Lord’s power.
  • How could your present adversity help you lean more fully on God?

As we depend on the Lord, we learn more about who He is. After God spoke to Job, revealing His character and incredible power, Job said, “I have heard of You . . . but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).

  • What new insight has hardship given to you about God or the Christian life?
  • Adversity shows us how much we lack spiritually. Give an example of a time when difficulty revealed your weaknesses and need for God.

Apart from the Father’s help, we can never handle all our problems, consistently resist temptation, or avoid bitterness. In fact, when we attempt to wage spiritual battles on our own, not only do we wander away from God, but we ultimately fail.

  • Jude 1:24 says that God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” According to this study, what is a believer’s role in handling problems, temptations, and suffering?

Prayer: Father, thank You for being willing to carry me through the challenges of life. Teach me to rely more on Your power rather than on my own strategies and coping abilities. Show me how You want to use the difficulties I face to draw me into a more intimate relationship with You. Amen.

Related Resources

SHALL NEVER PERISH: A BOOK REVIEW

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Here is a book review written by Dr. Robert L. Sumner, editor of The Biblical Evangelist.  Dr. Sumner is a skilled and gifted writer on spiritual matters and no where is his writing more pungent and helpful than when he is writing his review of a book.  After reading this review I thought it good to share with my readers and I especially wanted to call your attention to the discussion on REPENTANCE.  While brief, it is a wonderful study on that important Bible doctrine.  I doubt you would be able to find this material in such succinct and well stated and true to the Bible teaching anywhere else.  But here it is.  Dr. Sumner offers his paper free to those who wish to subscribe.  Go to: www.biblicalevangelism.org for more info.  You will find you can read the entire issue online and many of his back issues.  Always a wealth of spiritual resources, free.

Dr. Robert L. Sumner PixSHALL NEVER PERISH by Dennis M. Rokser; Grace Gospel Press, Duluth, MN; 5 Parts, 32 Chapters, 335 Pages; $19.95, Paper

This volume has the same title, Shall Never Perish, as a book by John Frederick Strombeck that helped this reviewer so tremendously as a young minister well over a half-century ago. As I recall now, Strombeck was a layman/businessman who financed it and two other books he had written – one was Grace and Truth: The True Relationship Between Law and Grace; and the other one, while I’ve forgotten the title, was, I believe, on prophecy – sending them free to ministers of the gospel. While I didn’t have a problem with security at that time, the good biblical study in Never helped strengthen my faith in the teaching. I believe Kregel later republished it.

This book will do the same for you!

If you weren’t sharp enough to know by the title that this deals with the believer’s eternal security in Christ, the subtitle will enlighten you, Is Salvation Forever or Can It be Lost? Rokser’s five major sections are Part I, “Identifying the Issue of Eternal Security”; Part II, “The Scriptural Support for Eternal Security”; Part III, “The Absolute Assurance of Eternal security”; Part IV, “The Consequences of Carnality”; and Part V, “Probing the Perplexing Passages.”

Up front the author defines what he means by eternal security: “Eternal security means that those who have been genuinely saved by God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone shall never be in danger of God’s condemnation or loss of their salvation, but God’s grace and power keep them forever saved and secure.”

We agree totally with that evaluation.

Eternal security does not mean that every person who ever made a profession of faith in Christ, or got baptized, or joined a church is sure of Heaven. Of course not! It is only for those who have been truly born again.

Probably the main part of Rokser’s book is in the dozen chapters of Part II, where he evaluates in some detail the biblical statements guaranteeing to the child of God he ‘shall never perish.’ The Bible, of course, is the key. Most ‘losers’ (teaching you can lose salvation) base their main arguments on experience – they will tell you by the hour of people they’ve known who were “the greatest Christians this side of Heaven,” but who backslid and lost it all. But experience is not the criterion; the Bible is!

Critics of the biblical teaching of security invariably say, “If what you say is true, everyone would go out and live like the devil,” confident they would go to Heaven anyway. In the first place, real Christians don’t want to ‘live like the devil.’ In the second place, it is very unhealthy for a Christian to ‘live like the devil’ or anything close to it. It has to do with what the Bible calls chastening and Rokser has two chapters dealing with this (it is Part IV, “The Consequences of Carnality”).

In his final section the author looks at the ‘perplexing passages’ that some seem to think teach that one can lose his salvation. While we think this section will be very helpful to readers, we are frank to say the author understands the Hebrews passages (6:4-6; 10:26-30) differently than we do in our Hebrews commentary.

Our problem with this book is the same as others we have reviewed in this group: putting down Lordship Salvation (due to a misunderstanding of its teaching, in our judgment) and a false view of repentance (see our review of Freely By His Grace), all of whom dismiss it as merely “a change of mind.”

Regarding repentance, there is more than one word translated “repent” and/or “repentance” in the New Testament. The first one is in Matthew 3:2 regarding the cry of John the Baptist, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The word for repent here is metanoeite and the great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson, after discussing its mistranslations, says, “The tragedy of it is that we have no one English word that reproduces exactly the meaning and atmosphere of the Greek word.” Then he adds, “The Greek has a word meaning to be sorry (metamelomai) which is exactly our English word repent and it is used of Judas (Matt. 27:3).”

The Dallas Seminary commentary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, calls it a change of heart as well as a change of mind. That is, of course, more than changing your mind about what you want for breakfast. Later, in Mark 1:14, 15, it says, “To ‘repent’ (metanoeō; cf. Mark 1:4) is to turn away from an existing object of trust (e.g., oneself). To call it merely a change of mind does not do it justice. You see, real repentance has “fruits” (Matthew 3:8, in same context as above).

In a message published in this magazine (May 1, 1987), Evangelist Harold Vaughan quoted Dr. Alan Redpath, “Faith that is not grounded in repentance and followed by obedience is not saving faith” (italic in original; boldface added). Vaughan went on to say, “In false repentance there is sorrow for sins, but it is not a ‘godly sorrow.’”

Probably no finer English dictionary of Greek words is available than W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. When he took up ‘Repent, Repentance’ he looked at verb, adjective and noun forms. In conclusion, he noted how repentance was used in the Old Testament and then summed up its New Testament use, starting the latter by saying, “In the N.T. the subject chiefly has reference to repentance from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God. The parable of the prodigal son is an outstanding illustration of this. Christ began His ministry with a call to repentance, Matt. 4:17, but the call is addressed, not as in the O.T. to the nation, but to the individual. In the Gospel of John, as distinct from the synoptic Gospels, referred to above, repentance is not mentioned, even in connection with John the Baptist’s preaching; in John’s Gospel and 1st Epistle the effects are stressed, e.g., in the new birth, and generally in the active turning from sin to God by the exercise of faith (John 3:3; 9:38; I John 1:9), as in the N.T. in general” (emphasis added).

The ‘Great Charlie,’ as C. H. Spurgeon was called, wrote this on the subject:

“No remission of sin can be given without repentance; the two things are so joined together by God, as they are in our text, that they cannot be separated. Many mistakes are made as to what true evangelical repentance really is. Just now, some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learnt at our mother’s knee,

 ‘Repentance is to leave

 The sin we loved before,

 And show that we in earnest grieve

 By doing it no more.’

I am always afraid of a dry-eyed repentance; and mark you, if forgiveness could be granted to those who were not sorry for their sin, such forgiveness would tend to aid and abet sin, and would be no better than the Romish heresy that, when you have sinned, all you have to do is confess it to a priest, pay a certain sum of money according to the regular Roman tariff, and start again on your career of evil.

God forbid that we should ever fall into that snare of the Devil! If I could keep on living in sin, and loving it ever as much as I did, and yet have remission of it, the accusation of the blasphemer that Christ is the minister of sin would be a just one; but it is not so. On the contrary, we must loathe sin, and leave sin, and have an agonizing desire to be clean delivered from it; otherwise we can never expect the righteous God to say to us, ‘Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven.’”

Spurgeon called an alleged repentance that didn’t turn from sin ‘heresy.’ Alas, in our day – just as 100 years ago in his – some religious leaders are insisting that repentance is “only a change of mind.” How Spurgeon would be grieved. Even more, how the dear Lord is grieved with such teaching and preaching!

But we have already said more about repentance than a book review deserves, especially when the book is basically sound.

Summed up: a good book with helpful material, but don’t choke on the chaff!