Today we’re just one week away from Christmas. There are two types of people in this room. The first type just thought, “I can’t wait! Christmas can’t get here fast enough.” The other type of person just groaned at the thought of Christmas only being a week away. You’re my type. It’s not like I don’t know it’s coming, but I never seem to be quite ready for Christmas.
Today we’re going to talk about God’s promise to meet your needs. There are probably two types of people in this room when it comes to talking about God’s provision. The first type of person thinks about God providing their needs and says, “Of course! God always has. I don’t even have to think about it.” These people probably have the gift of faith, or at least have seen God come through in their lives over and over again. But there are others of us who often wonder, “How are my needs going to be met?” These people go to bed at night worried about the future. They feel financial pressure, and they’re not quite sure how God is going to provide for them.
You don’t have to be poor to worry about your needs being met. Do you ever drive by really nice houses? I used to think as I drove by, “These people have it made financially. They don’t have any financial worries.” The reality is that they do. Sometimes they’re more worried about their finances than I am. You may be well off; you may be just getting by. But God has made some very specific promises to take care of your needs. One of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” Philippians 4:19 says, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
You may have some great needs this morning. You may have emotional needs – for someone to support and understand you, for a friend. Some of you have physical needs. You have a medical problem. You’re facing a medical crisis and you need God to touch your body. You may be facing a financial crunch. You may be like the mother I talked to who couldn’t afford presents for her children. You may be a senior who is watching the retirement nest egg shrink while you wonder, “How long will it last?” God has promised to meet your needs.
You may be asking, “Why hasn’t God provided for all my needs yet? What’s going on? Can I really count on God’s promises?” God’s promises to take care of you are often based on premises. In other words, they’re not just blank, open-ended promises. God says, “If you do your part in following me, I’ll do my part in taking care of you.”
What’s our part? The Bible outlines four steps that you need to take to prepare for God meeting your needs:
1. ASK FOR GOD’S HELP
The first step that you’ve got to take is that you’ve got to ask for it. Kids are great at doing this. If you ever want to spend time in the nursery, you’ll discover that those little kids don’t talk very much, but they’re still great at asking for what they want. Do they want to be fed? They tell you. Do they want to be picked up and held? They’ll let you know. It’s only when you get older that you start to try to do it all yourself. Why doesn’t God provide for us? Because we don’t ask. If you want God to provide, it begins with praying and asking.
James 4:2 says, “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it.” That’s pretty clear. God is waiting until you ask. God wants to help us, but the problem is, we never ask him to. We think that we can handle it ourselves. We think that the matter’s too small for God. Or – even worse – we think that God won’t listen to our prayers. God says to ask.
Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks” (Matthew 7:7-8). Over twenty times in the Bible, God says, “Ask! I want you to ask!” One of the reasons we don’t see a lot of miracles is that we simply don’t ask. Would you like to see God work in your life more? Start asking.
Why does God want to ask? Because he’s a loving Father. I’m a loving father, and I love providing for my kids. It’s what fathers do. A family went to get a portrait taken. The photographer said, “Maybe the son could put his hand on dad’s shoulder, so that it will look more natural.” The father said, “If the son put his hand in my wallet, it would look more natural.” Good fathers provide for their children. Jesus said, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).
The first step that you’ve got to take is to ask. Don’t worry about asking too much. An old hymn says, “You are coming to a king; large petitions with thee bring.” Don’t worry about asking too much. Ask God to meet your needs.
Do you want God to provide for you? Here’s the second step to take in preparing for God’s provision:
2. BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR MONEY
The Bible is full of paradoxes. The Bible says that the first are last, that the greatest among us are servants, that if you cling to your life you’ll lose it, but if you give it up for Jesus you’ll find it. One of the greatest paradoxes has to do with your money. The Bible says that if you’re stingy with your money, you won’t have a lot of money. But if you really want to see God provide in your life – if you really want God to bless your finances – then you’ve got to be generous with your money. The more you give away, the more you’ll have.
Proverbs 11:24-25 says, “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” God provides for generous people. The only reason God gives to you is so that you can be a conduit of generosity to other people. He gives so that you can give to others. When you start to hoard what God gives you, you end up getting in the way of God’s plan. You become the blockage that stops God’s generosity from showing up in your life.
What happens when you’re generous? When you’re generous, you end up on the receiving end of more generosity. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” You get to choose how generous you want God to be in your life. If you want God to be a little generous with you, then be a little generous with others. If you are lavish in giving to God and others, then God says he will be lavish in providing for you.
In fact, the two greatest verses about God providing are in the context of being generous with what we have. Philippians 4:19 says, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” We read that verse, but we forget to read the verses in front of it, which talk about an offering they were collecting. You can’t claim verse 19 unless you’re following verses 10-18. You can’t claim the blessings without living a life of generosity.
2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” Here, too, Paul was talking about taking an offering. The two greatest promises about God providing for our needs are based on the premise of us being generous in giving to God.
Unless I’m obeying God in the matter of giving, God doesn’t give any guarantee to meet my needs. God is not obligated to meet my needs if I’m not obeying what he’s told me to do. We can block the flow of blessing if we’re stingy.
We like to say, “Lord, when all my needs are met, then I’ll give away.” God says, “No, when you give away, then all your needs will be met.” God says you prime the pump. Why? It requires faith.
Give the first part of the income to the Lord and watch him bless it. It’s like when I give part of my day to the Lord in a quiet time, he makes the rest of the day expand so I can get more done. When I give the first part of my income to the Lord, somehow he makes that other 90% expand and I am able to pay more with that. Some of you think you can’t afford to tithe. But I honestly say, as your pastor, you can’t afford not to. You can’t afford not to if you really want God’s blessing in your life. Ask God for help, and then be generous with all that he gives you.
There’s a third step to preparing for God’s provision:
3. CONTENT YOURSELF WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Another reason God sometimes doesn’t provide for us is that we’re not content with what we already have. We think that we need to have more if we’re going to be happy. James 4:3 says, “Even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” God doesn’t give us more if our motive is to accumulate more for our own selfish pleasures. God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is watching your attitude to see if you’re content.
1 Timothy 6:6 says, “True religion with contentment is great wealth.” If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and you are content, then it doesn’t get any better. There’s no greater wealth than that. The passage goes on, “After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die” (1 Timothy 6:7). Babies aren’t born with an awful lot. They don’t come into this world with car keys and stereos and stuff. There’s just an umbilical cord that gets cut pretty fast. When you leave, you don’t take very much with you. So the things you have on earth are just for the eighty or so years that you’re here. They’re not that important. Be content with what you have.
We have a way of confusing need and greed. In 1890 a sociologist did a study and asked Americans what they thought were the basic needs of life: What are the absolute bare minimum necessities you felt you had to have in order to survive. In 1890 the study revealed that Americans thought there was 16 basic things every one needed in order to survive. The survey was taken a couple of years ago, less than 100 years later. Now Americans think they have to have 98 things in order to survive. Our wants have a way of being exaggerated into needs.
What is contentment? Contentment is not a lack of goals or ambition. Contentment means my happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Most people get caught into “when” thinking – “When I get such and such, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get to a certain level economically… When I get a certain job … When I can retire … then I’ll be happy. When I get the house paid off… When I get the bills paid off… then!” God says, “No, once you get there you’ll always want something else. You always want more.” Somebody asked Howard Hughes, “How much does it take to make a man happy?” He said, “Just a little more.”
It’s no easier to be content with $10 billion than it is with $10. Paul wrote, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Philippians 4:12).
This is the third requirement of having God provide in your life. Learn to be content. How can you be content? Learn what makes you discontent. Comparing causes discontent. It’s stupid to compare. There’s always someone smarter, richer, and better looking than you. So don’t compare. Ted Turner said, “If I sit down and say, ‘I’ve only got $10 billion, but Bill Gates has $100 billion,’ I’ll feel like I’m a complete failure in life.” So don’t compare. You will always find someone richer than you.
God won’t give you more until you’re content with what you have. If you’re not content with what you have, then it shows that your priorities are wrong; that you’re focusing too much attention on your possessions. God says, “I won’t give you more because you won’t be able to handle what I want to give you.” If you aren’t content, you’ll never be happy.
Ask God for help. Be generous. Content yourself with what you have. There’s one more step to preparing for God to provide for your needs:
4. DEEPEN YOUR COMMITMENT TO GOD
Listen to Matthew 6:32-33: “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”
Do you want God to provide for you? It starts here. It starts with putting God first in your life. That’s the bottom line. The Bible says that if you put your trust in God – if you make his kingdom your primary concern – that God will provide for you. He will meet your needs. But you’ve got to put God first in your life. Psalm 34:10 says, “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will never lack any good thing.”
Does this work? Listen to this story of a single mother from within our church:
I want to give God the glory for the miraculous way He has provided for our family over the years. As a single mother of four young children, not receiving any support, we were at risk of losing our home through foreclosure. Selling it was not an option, as we had nowhere to go. My meager salary was barely sufficient to put food on the table.
The worry, and lack of sleep, put me in hospital for two weeks, which made things even more difficult. I had a very loving, caring, extended family, with very limited financial means. They helped as much as they possibly could, but their help only began to meet the desperate financial situation I found myself in.
During this time, I never missed paying my tithes. There was no question that this was God’s money. I had been raised in a Christian home, and was taught this at a very young age.
God’s grace was new every morning, He provided in such miraculous ways. When there were bills to pay, and no money to pay them, we received money anonymously, through the mail, or dropped in the mailbox. When we didn’t have food for the next meal, we would find a big box of groceries at the door. This happened again and again.
Although God supplied our daily needs, the threat of losing the house still loomed over my head. Someone suggested that I call the mortgage company to tell them of my plight, and to try to work out a payment plan. I did this, and much to my delight, they were very understanding, and agreed to cancel the foreclosure proceedings, and allow me to pay what I could.
I could go on and on, but time does not permit. As our pastor mentioned last Sunday, we are commanded to tithe even when we can’t afford it, and God will supply our every need. He also suggested that we call our creditors to try to work things out, when we don’t have the money to pay. I have proved that this really does work.
I thank God for allowing us to go through that, so that we could experience the daily miracles, he supplied ALL our needs, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and materially.
What impossible situation are you facing? What needs seem insurmountable? The Bible says, “God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
In a week we open our Christmas presents. But the greatest Christmas present ever given was not a thing. The greatest Christmas present ever given was a person – Jesus Christ. He came as the greatest provision that God could ever give us – a provision to deal with our sins. The Bible says, “When the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he c ould adopt us as his very own children” (Galatians 4:4-5). The greatest Christmas present you could ever receive is the gift of freedom from sins, and that’s the reason that Jesus came to earth. You can receive that gift today.
The Bible says, “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32) God gave you the greatest gift he could ever give – the gift of his Son. God will provide for all of your needs.
Would you pray with me?
You need to receive this gift. You need to receive the forgiveness from sin that Jesus Christ offers. Would you pray this prayer in your heart? “Dear God, thank you for not sparing your Son. Thank you for sending him to buy my freedom. Today I seek your kingdom, and I make your kingdom my primary concern. I turn away from my sins to follow you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer, congratulations! The Bible says, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) God has started a new work in you today! You are a new person.
If you have needs you would like God to meet, would you pray this prayer, “Father, thank you that you are a heavenly Father and you’ve promised to meet all our needs. Today I ask you for help. I have needs that I need you to meet. Lord, help me to be generous and content with what I have. I pray that as I put you first in my life that you will provide for my needs, so that I will have everything I need and plenty left over to share with others. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”