He supplies … through YOU ! (And a benediction)

It’s Sunday. If you’re off to church this morning, look around you. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. Remember, we’re His representatives, His priests, Christ’s partners, and that is not only as we go into the world but also as we live with our brothers and sisters in the family of God. The Spirit of Christ has connected all of His body for the good of each of us! He created this connection of His people so that we grow more and more like Him, together.

This connection is meant to give us strength and knowledge and to help us grow up in our faith and love and hope.

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:16)

Each one of us, given a part to play — in supplying what other followers of Christ need!

Genius, isn’t He ?

That’s not limited to the congregation you’ll sit in this morning. It’s in your relationship with coworkers who also follow Jesus; it’s in your online networks with other Christians; it’s in your closest friendships and in your casual encounters in everyday life. Each one of us is called to a special ministry to every other child of God.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another … Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. (from 1 Peter 4:10, 11)

I ask God to give me the strength and energy to use my gifts well to serve you. I look to you to help me grow in my faith and hope and love.

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The purpose of this week was to remind us, to encourage our faith to go forward over the safe and sure bridge of this hope — that God supplies all we need to live out the purpose and mission He has for us here.

Seven days is far too short a time to grasp this huge promise; and, really, living it out is the only way to even begin to understand it.

In the coming weeks, we’re going to look at specific ways God keeps this promise. And in the coming weeks, I hope we all are also awake to the countless ways the Father provides for His children.

For today, and tomorrow and tomorrow, blessings.

Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever!
Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21)

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.
(Psalm 119:90) 

More Scripture to remind and comfort you: Psalm 23; Psalm 25:15, 20; Psalm 37:23; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 41:13; John 6:35; John 15:5; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:8-9; Philippians 2:13; Philippians 4:13; Colossians 1:9-10; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Revelation 7:15-17

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

When you’re hungry and thirsty

The 8-foot putt runs swiftly toward the hole and then pauses for one brief, heart-stopping moment. Then it drops. Can you hear the sound of it in the cup? Or how about the sound of your daughter’s very first cries, in the delivery room, just after she entered this world? Can you taste Grandma’s homemade bread, slathered with butter and sprinkled with brown sugar? Can you feel the tug of a kite, or the clay between your fingers as you work at your wheel? Oh … let’s include this less-than-pleasant example, just for fun … can you hear your child throwing up in the middle of the night?

If any of those short sentences evoked strong sensory images for you, they probably also called forth some emotions too, because you’ve experienced that scene. You know what it is. A few brief words reach deep inside you.

How about these two statements:

Have you ever been hungry for more in life?
Does it seem that nothing really quenches your thirst?

Who doesn’t know the craving for food and water? And for many of us living in wealth and abundance, the hunger and thirst we know is not physical… it is emotional, mental, spiritual.

Yes, we all know hunger and thirst.

Jesus used all kinds of phrases, metaphors, and stories to explain truths. And in showing people who He was and what He could give us, He used these two words that everyone is familiar with:

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Hear the echoes of Psalm 23? In that song, David recognizes that his great Shepherd supplies all he needs, even in the most challenging, stressful times. Jesus promises it Himself, over and over. In the coming weeks, we’ll look at specific things that He supplies — strength, refreshment, resistance to temptation, guidance, wisdom, peace — but when it comes to giving and sustaining life (like an unshakeable foundation), our hope knows that Jesus is our food and water. All that satisfies.

He makes big promises — that He will slake your thirst and satisfy your hunger with good things. And those aren’t election promises meant only to lure you into His camp. He keeps His promises, even beyond what we can imagine or would think to ask for.

Hope knows He has set out the banquet table — everything needed to fill and sustain us.

 

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If you’re feeling empty and drained today, here’s a very practical post from Claire Pridgeon about how Christ fills our cups with His life-giving water: When you find yourself empty. The quote from Nancy Spiegelberg at the end of Claire’s post is one of my favorites

 

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Psalm Prayer:

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.
(Psalm 119:90) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Absolute bedrock

I had often driven by the old house. A few years ago, it was for sale and I even toyed with the idea of trying to buy it. Tiny, sitting alone on a piece of land jutting out toward the water, it looked like my dream cottage by the sea. Roses climbed a trellis against the weathered gray shingles and flowers spilled from window boxes. I thought it might be my perfect Maine cottage.

Last year, a friend and I had a chance to rent it. It turned out to be a memorable adventure.

As we explored the house when we first arrived, we were more than a little shocked. I heard my friend say softly to herself, “Well, it’s not quite what I expected.” It wasn’t quite what I expected, either.

The old, faded wallpaper was peeling. No, it was not just peeling. It was tearing, ripping, because the wall was obviously sinking! In the living room, we walked downhill from one side of the room to the other. Sometimes at night I lay in my bed—tilted sideways, and I could easily have rolled out if I got too close to the edge and let gravity have its way—I lay in bed and imagined that a stiff sea breeze might be all that was needed to cause the old house to give a deep sigh and just collapse in on itself.

I wonder if the cottage is still standing today. I wonder if the past winter wreaked further havoc with the foundation, causing it to crumble even more. I wonder if the cracks in the walls are widening or if, under the stress of the harsh elements, everything has finally fallen apart.

That house comes to mind when I read God’s promise that Jesus is “a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken (Isaiah 28:16).”

Oh, to have a foundation that will never be shaken! To be able to build my hope on that which is solid and sure and safe! I’ve tried to build on a few other foundations—but those things all tend to fall apart. The only safe and sure cornerstone is Jesus.

The Lord goes on to warn about building on anything other than Christ: “Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away.” (verse 17).

That’s the outcome when we build on unstable, transitory foundations, even when we have the best of intentions. Hailstorms knock down our refuge. Floods sweep away our hope. Even when there is no disaster, cracks will begin to appear in the walls of what we’ve built, and the sweetest of havens do eventually begin to crumble… if there is no solid foundation.

How is this related to our theme this week?

Simply this: If we want to build a life of unshakeable hope that does not disappoint, one thing we absolutely must have is a solid foundation that can be trusted. If we don’t have that bedrock on which to build, is there much point to anything else in this life?

The children of God have been given that most essential thing. Our hope knows that Christ is the sure and safe rock. Lives built on Him “need never be shaken.” 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.
(Psalm 119:90) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Prophetic words for your today

Today’s Scripture is pretty cool. Fascinating. Deep and full of hope. The thing is — it used to be one of those passages that pretty much flew right by me and never settled into my head, much less my bones and heart.

But listen up, all children of God. This prophecy, written 700 years before Jesus was born, not only looked toward a night in Bethlehem, it arcs forward to you and the tangles and turmoil of what you will live this very day. And at the same time, it stretches even further, looking on into the future of God’s final kingdom …

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

How does that all change my life today?

The government will rest on his shoulders. Our Lord holds all authority and power. He is the King. Our view of the world and our own lives is transformed when we step back and view it all in light of God’s sovereignty and Jesus Christ’s ultimate rule. Knowing that Jesus has authority — already, even now — over everything in heaven and earth changes everything! I need to know this; otherwise, all hope is lost.

He is Wonderful Counselor.  The mighty King who rules the universe has sought out and paid for a personal relationship with me. I have an intimate relationship with Him. He knows me, through and through. No one loves me better. He holds all wisdom and truth for me, and I trust Him for wise and loving counsel. I need a Wonderful Counselor.

He is Mighty God. I need a mighty God. I need to know that I’m trusting in something more than human effort and influence. I need to know that my God goes beyond all the natural, social, and political “laws” I see at work in this world. I need to worship Someone greater than our man-made idols.

He is Everlasting Father. Every time I come to this “everlasting” promise, I’m reminded of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book I read that left a lasting impression on me for two reasons. I was fascinated by the skill of the author; from a purely technical standpoint, the writing was an interesting study. Yet I finished the book feeling unsatisfied and flat. Why? Because the book held so little hope. There was not even a whisper of God. Characters grew old and some died. And what hope did they find in life? Only a greater “self-awareness.” Sorry, that’s not enough for me. I need eternal and everlasting. I need hope in a loving God who says “Come to me, and I’ll give you life. All of life, as I intended you to have when I birthed you.”

He is Prince of Peace. We all crave peace. Jesus said, “I give it to you.” But not as the world gives, thankfully. The world knows nothing about peace — how to create it, sustain it, give it. The One I follow is the Prince of Peace. He holds the key to the peace we all seek.

The prophetic words of Isaiah were not only for one night and one nation. They were for me, too. For today.

Jesus brings what I need.

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Here’s an earlier post on how Jesus supplies what we need: Every Big Thing we Need

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Psalm Prayer:

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.
(Psalm 119:90) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

I have all that I need.

Any time we’re thinking about God supplying what we need, these familiar lines will pop up. Read them as though you’ve never seen them before. Read aloud. Grab the line you need today, and hold on tightly. Because whether you’re desperate for rest and refreshment, renewed strength, a guiding hand, relief from fear, or assurance of the Lord’s loving arms around you, here’s His promise to you—

The LORD is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalm 23)

His goodness and love do surround us. He will supply what we need.

I rejoice and trust in that.

Amen. 

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Here’s an earlier related post: Every little thing we need

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Psalm Prayer:

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.
(Psalm 119:90) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)