All You Need
Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie were middle-aged Christian women in Holland when World War II erupted. They resolved to conceal fleeing Jews from the Nazis. They rescued many. But they were eventually arrested and taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Betsie died there. Corrie miraculously survived to bear witness to the way in which God can save, heal and forgive.
When asked how to prepare for persecution, she used to tell this story about her childhood:
‘When I was a little girl, I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I was afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “And so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need just in time.”’
1. Continual guidance
Psalm 78:9-16God will give you all the guidance you need. As the psalmist continues to recount the history of the people of God, he recalls how, ‘He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night’ (v.14). In other words, he guided them continually.
You, who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, should expect no less. You are ‘led by the Spirit of God’ (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit will provide you with all the guidance you need.
God will also satisfy your spiritual thirst: ‘He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers’ (Psalm 78:15–16). Jesus promises you that through the Holy Spirit, streams of living water will flow from within you (John 7:38).
Lord, I really need your Holy Spirit and your guidance. Please fill me today with your Holy Spirit and may streams of living water flow from within me.
2. Good news
Acts 17:1-21In a world that desperately needs good news, God has provided us with a message of good news. The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’. The good news is ‘about Jesus and the resurrection’ (v.18). All you need is in Jesus. It is all about Jesus.
Every time you give your testimony or speak about your faith in other ways, ask yourself, ‘Is it good news?’ Every time we preach it should be good news, otherwise it is not the gospel. Your message should always be good news because it is about Jesus, his death and resurrection.
God will provide you with the appropriate words for every occasion. Your words are powerful and life changing. The good news of Jesus is dynamically relevant to all generations, cultures and situations. People’s needs are always the same. The message of the gospel is always the same. The passage shows three ways in which you can engage with the good news:
- Explain the good news
When Paul went into the synagogue in Thessalonica, he ‘reasoned with them from Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said’ (vv.2–3). As we read on, we discover that his careful explanation of the gospel resulted in a number of people being ‘persuaded’ (v.4).
The fact that your message comes from God does not stop you receiving unfounded criticism. Paul’s success led to jealousy (v.5). Interestingly, he was perceived already as having a global impact: ‘These men who have caused trouble all over the world[the whole ‘known world’] have now come here’ (v.6b).
- Study the good news
God gave Paul and Silas the appropriate words for the Bereans. They responded well to what they heard. They received the message with ‘great eagerness’ and then ‘examinedthe Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true’ (v.11). Once again, the message bore fruit and a number ‘believed’ (v.12).
Not only did they listen to the preaching and teaching with enthusiasm, but they also studied the Scriptures for themselves every day. I would encourage you too to set aside a regular time to study the Scriptures every day.
Once again, Paul and Silas’ success led to opposition. Some began ‘agitating the crowds and stirring them up’ (v.13). Do not be surprised if you find agitators and stirrers today.
- Reason the good news
Paul moved on to Athens. The Athenians ‘spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas’ (v.21). They were more interested in what was new than what was true.
Again, God provided Paul with the appropriate message for the Athenians. He ‘reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the market-place day by day’ (v.17). These were two entirely different audiences.
Speaking to the first audience would have been like preaching in a church. Speaking in a market place would have been more like speaking in the workplace. But, at its heart, Paul’s message seems to have been the same – ‘preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection’ (v.18).
Lord, would you give me the words I need for the conversations that are ahead of me today. Please supply the message. I ask for life changing words in all my daily conversations. May I be led by the Spirit.
3. Material needs
1 Kings 16:8-18:15Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). Look to God to provide for your daily needs. He will not necessarily give you all you want, but pray that he will provide you with all you need.
In a society that continued to sin and split into factions (1 Kings 16:8–34), God raised up a prophet who spoke with authority and power.
The New Testament tells us that Elijah was a human being ‘just as we are’ (James 5:17a). And yet, ‘He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops’ (vv.17b–18).
Elijah’s prayer resulted in problems for Elijah himself. However, God provided for all his material needs. Initially, ‘The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook’ (1 Kings 17:6). God can be very creative in providing for you. Your part is to obey him and then trust that he will provide for all your needs.
When the brook dried up (v.7), the Lord said to him, ‘Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food’ (v.9). When one door closes (the brook dried up), it is usually because God is about to open another door in your life. He was relocating Elijah so that he could be the answer to someone else’s prayer and need for provision.
The widow was put to the test. Elijah asks for food. She tells him that she and her son were about to eat their last meal and then die. Elijah promises that if she is generous with what she has, God will provide for all her needs. He says to her, ‘The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty before God sends rain on the land and ends this drought’ (v.14, MSG).
The widow did exactly as Elijah asked. And it turned out exactly as he said (vv.15–16). The woman showed great faith. She was prepared to give all she had. She risked everything. And God supplied all her needs. They had enough, but never a surplus. They remained utterly dependent upon God to provide their daily needs. If you obey God and give generously, you will discover that you cannot out-give God. God will do amazing things for you and through you.
This does not mean life will be easy. In spite of her faith she faced further battles. Her son became ill and finally stopped breathing (v.17). Elijah exercised huge faith when he cried out to the Lord for the boy who had died (v.20). ‘The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him’ (v.22).
How amazing for Elijah to be able to pick him up, carry him down from the room into the house and give him to his mother saying, ‘Look, your son is alive!’ (v.23).
Lord, thank you for your amazing love, power and provision. Thank you that you have supplied our daily needs over the years.
Yet Lord, as we look at the world today, we see many whose needs are not supplied. You have provided enough food for the entire world. Forgive us when we fail to distribute what you have provided. Give us your guidance, your words and your provision to do all we can in our generation to change this terrible injustice. Lead us by your Spirit to change our world.