God’s Provision in Answer to Prayer

How often have you quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 to someone who was struggling with a situation? Probably lots of times. But stop for a minute and think of what the verses say. First, we are to trust. Second, we are to acknowledge. Trusting and acknowledging God go hand in hand. The first involves believing that God knows what is best and will do what is best in every event of our lives. But the second is not something to be left alone. After trusting God, and seeing his provision, shouldn’t we acknowledge His hand in our lives?

As a young Christian, I was given a copy of George Mueller’s biography. If you have not read it yet, you are missing out on a treat. Mueller relates how God provided for his personal needs and the needs of his ministries throughout his life. He often would thank God for the need provided before the need was met. So, he was a man of faith. But he also shared with others what God did for him during these times. As he acknowledged God’s repeated provision for him, many people learned that God was able and willing to help.

Working with a fleet of vehicles has given me the opportunity to pray for our drivers, and also to ask God for wisdom when purchasing vehicles for the company. My most recent prayer request was for wisdom in finding a reliable SUV for the company to drive in difficult areas near the railroad. We needed an SUV large enough to hold grown men comfortably but also to handle unforgiving terrain in some places. Before leaving the house, I asked God for wisdom in choosing a good vehicle. Thankfully, God answered that prayer.

When I arrived at the car lot, the advertised vehicle wasn’t quite as good as it had seemed in the pictures. The middle seat was a bit cramped, the suspension made noises over bumps, and some of the interior knobs were missing. After returning from the test drive, I asked about the vehicle parked next to me. As it turned out, this vehicle was less expensive, better equipped, and a better fit for what we needed. It wasn’t the vehicle I had planned on purchasing, but in God’s perfect timing, it was the one that we needed.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Will revenge actually make you feel better?

Have you ever been really, really angry with someone—so angry that you loathed even thinking about that person? This was the situation with Peninnah. You can read about her troubled marriage in 1 Samuel 1. The situation was rather odd as she was the second wife of a man who loved the other one better than her. What a terrible situation! The whole thing was not God’s design for marriage, but was not unexpected for the times in which they were living (see Judges 21:25). So what happened? Peninnah hated the other woman because of her husband’s favoritism and decided to inflict grief on her to make herself feel better. But did it help her cope with the situation? Not hardly.

In his commentary on the subject (written in 1887), W. G. Blaikie points out the lack of fulfillment when an angry person tries to take matters into her own hands.

“Yes, my friends, if you accept the offices of sin, if you make passion the instrument of your purposes, if you make it your business to sting and to stab those who in some way cross your path, you may succeed for the moment, and you may experience whatever of satisfaction can be found in gloated revenge. But know this, that you have been cherishing a viper in your bosom that will not content itself with fulfilling your desire. It will make itself a habitual resident in your heart, and distill its poison over it. It will make it impossible for you to know anything of the sweetness of love, the serenity of a well-ordered heart, the joy of trust, the peace of heaven. You will be like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. You will find the truth of that solemn word, ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.'”

Blaikie, W. G., The First Book of Samuel, (Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978), 8.

Suffice it to say that revenge is best left in God’s hands (Rom. 12:19). Peninnah poured out her derision on the other woman and caused her great pain, but was she better off in the end? Not hardly. And what about the other woman. You may remember her name—it was Hannah. Under the constant ridicule of her adversary, she became depressed and despondent. But things changed drastically when she took her problems to the Lord. She poured out her heart to the Lord in prayer and was eventually blessed with happiness and fulfillment.

Two women in a difficult situation: The first woman poured out her anger on the other but never found the satisfaction she desired. The second woman poured out her heart to the Lord and found the blessing of the Lord. The lesson should be obvious. You will never resolve a problem by hurting others, so let God handle your problems. Turn them over to him and discover the peace and happiness found only in Him.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Distant Starlight and a Young Earth

The internet has changed a lot of things. One such change is the ability to watch online videos of Christians presenting information about Creation and evolution. The video posted below is not meant as an endorsement of the speaker or church. Instead, it is posted here to show you several interesting ideas about the “problem” of distant starlight when considering the young age of the earth based on the genealogies in the Bible.

I found his presentation to be thought-provoking. What are your thoughts?

Alexander Hamilton on the Law of Nature

While delving into the historical reasons for the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution, I came across a letter written by Alexander Hamilton in 1775. In this letter, he argued that unjust laws were not binding on man when they contradict the natural laws given by God.

“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. … When the first principles of civil society are violated, and the rights of a whole people are invaded, the common forms of municipal law are not to be regarded. Men may then betake themselves to the law of nature; and, if they but conform their actions, to that standard, all cavils [petty objections] against them, betray either ignorance or dishonesty. There are some events in society, to which human laws cannot extend; but when applied to them lose all their force and efficacy. In short, when human laws contradict or discountenance the means, which are necessary to preserve the essential rights of any society, they defeat the proper end of all laws, and so become null and void. ”

— Alexander Hamilton in The Farmer Refuted

Hamilton’s reasoning may sound familiar to Christian readers. In at least two biblical instances, people stood against unjust laws. The first case involves the Egyptian midwives who refused to throw newborn baby boys into the Nile River. The second case is that of the Apostle Peter when he was brought before the Sanhedrin for healing a lame man and speaking in the name of Jesus.

So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:18-20 NKJV

Does this mean that any person should immediately disobey the American government when they disagree with a current law? Before going overboard with civil disobedience, we need to remember that government is also ordained by God (Rom. 13:1-7). While we would rightly disobey any law that mandated the killing of babies or the silencing of those who proclaim the gospel of Jesus, we are not granted carte blanche to disobey God-ordained government for any and all reasons.

In the case of the American Revolution, the founders went to great lengths to debate what the proper response was to British tyranny. They eventually agreed that their government had overstepped their bounds and were no longer acting lawfully toward the rights of the colonies. Because of that, they chose to rebel against the government for appropriate reasons. Honestly, this will take more study to completely understand, but Hamilton’s words highlight what the founders were thinking at the time.


P.S. If you click on the link to Hamilton’s 3 page letter, you may also want to have a dictionary ready to understand all that he says. I had to look up words such as eclaircissement, coeval, mediately, consanguinity, sagaciously, and cavils. Apparently, Hamilton’s 19-year-old vocabulary was well beyond mine.

Who was right?

During my weekly sermon preparation, I have gleaned much from John A. Broadus’ commentary on Matthew. Before recommending it to another pastor, I decided to look up information about the author. According to SBTS, Broadus (1889-1895) was a Baptist pastor who later served the soldiers of the Confederate army.

For some, his involvement with the southern army should be an instant disqualification of his opinions about anything. It is too easy for us to look back on the Civil War and to declare how we would have handled things differently. We recognize the evils of slavery and are glad for the war that ended it. However, things were not so clear in the 1860’s. Good men on both sides saw other issues—besides slavery—that necessitated fighting the Civil War. Broadus spoke about this in an address some 21 years after the war.

“It is useless now to raise the question who was right. Perhaps in some respects, each side would now acknowledge that the other was nearest right; perhaps in some respects both sides were wrong. … Of one thing I feel certain, neither side can claim any monopoly of good intentions, of patriotic aims, nor even of wisdom. … But this much is plain — the war had to come.”

Address at Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, May 22, 1886

Today, many take strong positions about the Civil War. Some have even pulled down statues of Confederate war heroes. I wonder, though, how many know enough about these soldiers and the Civil War to truly understand why good men chose to fight on one side or the other. Perhaps we ought to listen more to those who experienced the war and seek to learn from them. Perhaps, then, we will be able to understand the conflict and avoid similar problems in the future.

Matthew 22:30 – Like the Angels in Heaven

“Like them, we shall ever be in God’s presence. Like them, we shall ever delight to do His will. Like them, we shall give all glory to the Lamb. These are deep things. But they are all true.

Are we ready for this life? Should we enjoy it, if admitted to take part in it? Is the company of God, and the service of God pleasant to us now? Is the occupation of angels one in which we should delight? These are solemn questions.”

— J. C. Ryle in Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume One, Matthew – Mark

Guest Article: Three Important Questions! by Chuck Flesher

Chuck Flesher is a retired pastor (Greencastle Bible Church) and chaplain (US Army colonel). He was one of my favorite speakers in high school chapels and the one who spoke at my high school graduation. He currently serves as the National Field Representative for the Associated Gospel Churches, a chaplaincy endorser for the US military and various other service organizations. The following article is posted with his permission.

In Genesis 18, the Lord and two angels in the form of three men appear to Abraham as he sits at his tent’s door during his afternoon rest. He runs to meet them, and some very fascinating dialogue takes place as the Lord, the angelic messengers and Abraham spend time together. During the course of their visit three very important questions are raised. In vs. 14, Yahweh, replying to Sarah, asks, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” In vs.17, the Lord asks Himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m going to do?” In vs. 25, Abraham asks the Lord “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

These three important questions have to do with God’s Ability, God’s Strategy and God’s Integrity. Believers who want to deepen their relationship with the Lord need to be asking these three questions and coming up with some solid answers.

First, is there anything too hard for the Lord?

Yahweh had revealed to two elderly people that they were going to have the promised son. Both of them laughed at this news. Abraham, however, laughed out of joyful faith (17:17), but Sarah’s laughter was born of unbelief, even though she tried to deny it (18:12, 13). Humanly speaking, she saw the news as an impossibility. She was clearly questioning God’s veracity and His ability.

If we’re honest we must admit we have questioned God’s ability, and in circumstances which required far less faith than Sarah needed. Does God keep His promises, and does He have the power to do what He says He will do? Will He supply all our needs? Will He direct our paths? Will He give the wisdom needed to help us in a seemingly impossible situation?

If God has called us to do something and has given us the promise of His Word, we can say with Jeremiah: “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, thou hast made heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”

Second, shall I hide from Abraham what I’m going to do?

After a meal with the three visitors, Abraham (following the Eastern custom), walks with his guests a little way. As they look across the Southern ridge of the Jordan Valley far below sea level, they spy the fertile Southern cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then the Lord asks this question. “In light of my special relationship with Abraham, shall I tell him what my plans are?”

And what is the Lord planning to do? Judge Sodom! He heard and saw (vs. 20, 21) the perversion and violence in Sodom and He is determined to do something about it. So, because of the Lord’s special relationship with Abraham as a friend (see James 2:23), He tells Abraham what He will do. God can’t hide from the Patriarch who He really is. God is not only merciful and gracious, but He is a God of pure righteousness and total justice. So, Abraham must tell his children what was behind the devastation of these wicked cities (vs. 19). This is a stewardship for the “friend of God.”

Believers today have a stewardship to reach the lost and dying. In the New Testament, Paul calls Christians “ambassadors for Christ” The Christian has a stewardship to beseech the lost to “be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). When we come to know Christ, each of us has committed to Him “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Third, shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Abraham, the friend of God, becomes an intercessor for the wicked sinners of the five cities of the plain, and especially for backslidden Lot. Lot is a picture of a worldly, carnal believer. Peter (2 Peter 2:6-9) calls him “just Lot” although his words and attitudes are inconsistent with a believer. Vss. 24-32 indicate these are friends talking. The Hebrew word for “draw near” has the idea of coming to court to argue a case. The Patriarch’s appeal is to the Justice of God. “Lord, Lot is there. It is incumbent on you to do the right thing. Your Justice will not allow you to destroy the righteous with the wicked.”

Can we always trust God to do right? Yes, our very concept of what is right comes from Him. What is right? This incident shows us that God is committed to judging the wicked. That’s right! And He is totally committed to delivering His own. God is totally committed to delivering His own—first through Christ, and then through His righteous dealings with them (Phil 1:6).

If only Lot had won his family, five cities would have been spared God’s Judgment. We can never underestimate what just a small number of Believers can do for city, a state, or a nation.

Hymn: On Zion’s Glorious Summit

I grew up in a church that had a good music program. On Sunday evenings, Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell played the piano and organ to accompany our hymn singing. I learned to sing bass by listening to the organ’s low notes and to this day can pick out the bass part with little trouble. (Sadly, what I can sing and what can be heard are two separate entities.)

This beautiful hymn was written many years ago by an English shipwright by the name of John Kent (1766-1843). Hymnary.org says that, “as a working shipwright his opportunities for acquiring the education and polish necessary for the production of refined verse were naturally limited. His hymns are strongly worded, very earnest and simple, and intensely Calvinistic.” Despite his limited education, he published more than 200 hymns during his lifetime.

When you read the words to this song, replace the word Zion with heaven and it will make the song come alive for you. For those who know the Lord, this song expresses the emotions stirred up by Scripture passages such as Revelation 5:11-12 and 7:9-10. What a great reunion that will be when Christians from different times, cultures, and languages join together to sing the praises of Jesus!

On Zion’s glorious summit stood
A numerous host redeemed by blood
They hymned their King in strains divine
I heard the song and strove to join
I heard the song and strove to join

Here all who suffered sword or flame
For truth, or Jesus’ lovely name
Shout victory now and hail the Lamb
And bow before the great I AM
And bow before the great I AM

O what a sweet exalted song
When every tribe and every tongue
Redeemed by blood with Christ appear
And join in one full chorus there
And join in one full chorus there

(after last verse)

Holy, holy, holy Lord
God of hosts, on high adored
Who like me Thy praise should sing
O Almighty King

Holy, holy, holy Lord
God of hosts, on high adored
Holy, holy, holy

Is Esther a godly example for believers?

One of the difficulties for a Christian when studying the Book of Esther is figuring out why the book seems to condone the moral choices made by the main character. An honest look at the book reveals that Esther was chosen to be part of the king’s harem, spent a night in his bedroom, and later became his queen. (To be fair, she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.) But coupled with the lack of any mention of God, prayer, or obedience to the Mosaic Law, we are left scratching our heads. How does this fit with 2 Timothy 3:16-17?

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

While this verse is true, we have to remember that “everything found in the Bible is not to be emulated. Sometimes the biblical narratives show us how we should not act. ‘In all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Rom. 8;28), but that does not mean that all things that happen are in themselves good (e.g., a small child killed by a drunken driver). The disturbing ethical practices of Esther and Mordecai resulted in the deliverance of the Jewish people from a terrible pogrom, but their success does not prove that the means used were good or pleasing to God” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank Gaebelein).

Perhaps the best way to look at Esther (as with other imperfect Bible characters) is that she was used by God, despite her moral failings, to accomplish the deliverance of God’s people. We do not look to her as an example of purity or as a godly believer. Instead, we focus on what God did despite the moral issues in her history.