It’s a special week for me. My family and I have been celebrating and talking on the phone frequently. I waited 25 years and then for the longest game in baseball history. The Phillies are World Champs. People say that excitement lasts only for a moment, but so far for me it’s lasted more than 5 days. There’s an excitement and pride about it. There really is!
I’ve also been thinking of my roots
in the last week because I’ve been fighting a cold with this weather change. My dad always told me the solution for healing a sickness was to get a bag of Doritos and a 2L bottle of Pepsi and watch a game or a movie and you’d be better before you know it! Something about the chemicals killing your germs or something . . . So you don’t mind if I get healed while I share with you this morning, do you?
Let’s turn to Romans 7. This morning I want to talk about God the provider. I hope you realize how God is continually showing Himelf to us and providing for us . . . Even more than what we need!
I am a materialist. Some might say a materiaholic. Buying makes me feel good at the time when I buy. I confess. If I’m having a rough day, buying (even if it’s for a filter for the air vent in my house) makes me feel better. It’s as if I’m getting somewhere or moving forward or something. But typically I then have a letdown and feel guilty about it if the buying was a poor purchase. I mean I rationalize it well, don’t get me wrong. And I rarely confess that I made a poor choice. But internally I deal with this. I do what I don’t want to do. Only sometimes, of course, but I do what I don’t want to do. And it bugs me. Check out Romans 7.
Read text here.
I want more, but it’s not what I need! Romans 7. I do what I don’t want to do, I spend what I don’t want to spend on things I don’t need sometimes even with money I don’t have trying to impress people I really don’t care for. I get what I don’t need, and sometimes forego things I do need for it.
And I spend what I get on my pleasures – James 4.7. No wonder I don’t get what I want. I mean, I ask, but what’s my real motive for asking?
I know, this kinda makes you feel guilty, but it is truth. And I’m just talking about my life, not even yours! Stand up comedians make us laugh about these things, but God’s Word pierces us with things like this. Topics like this. I mean, we are Americans, no matter what the economy looks like.
When we became pregnant with our twins I had just graduated from Seminary and had a good job, but knew when I got out I wanted to serve people through the Word of God. The public school district, where I worked, was not the place for me to do that. Crazy, I know. The state got my family through Seminary, biblical training!
So I did what any late 20s guy would do when expecting his 2nd & 3rd child . . . I took a $10K pay cut. Many would say this was pretty dumb. And it probably was, because I don’t think I totally understood the ramifications; I was just kinda walking where I sensed God was calling. We knew having two kids at once was daunting, but saw God’s hand providing the whole time. Did we have Doritos? Certainly not. It was a rarity we could afford something like that. But we did have bread. And so many loaves it seemed; it just kept coming. And when we finally realized our naiveté and discovered that we needed to make a change, God continued to provide. God is a provider. We are so blessed as a people and I can speak personally as the family I am in, but it’s not always with Doritos.
When we went to name the girls, I was driving between two campuses one day and after teaching students the story of Abraham and the near sacrifice of his son Isaac in Genesis 22, I called Sherry and told her I had Kenzie’s middle name. We weren’t convinced on her name like we were Kate’s, but with all the provisions God had given us, I though for sure it had to be “Jireh.” J-i-r-e-h. It was amazing! God had clearly spoken. Kenzie Jireh Ehrhart. God provided Abraham with this ram in the thicket while his son was all tied up, and after Abraham sacrifices the ram, he calls the place, “Jehovah Jireh.” Brilliant! God was providing for us and of course would continue to for our family, so thus Kenzie had a name spoken by God from Scripture. Kenzie, the Lord will Provide. Kenzie Jireh. Awesome.
Sherry hated the idea. Her middle name is Joy. Jireh wasn’t even a thought. But during that season we got to experience the hand of God providing to our family. Many of you were used by God in that time. Many continue to be a hand of God for our family and it’s rich when we get to be a picture of Jireh to others.
You know recently Adam and Sue have been battling life. Both of them are remarkable people. I’m honored to know them. I’ve gotten to spend some time with Adam over the last two years just about weekly. It’s been so exciting to see his perspective on life. So often I call and ask him how he is and he simply responds, “Blessed.” When I ask why he typically goes into this story that work is lame, his car broke down, his wife’s sick . . . It almost makes me think some evil country music singer has his life written out at times and is singing it. And Adam shares upbeatly, “but man, I am so blessed.” And he sincerely means it, unlike others who try and force themselves to do so. We have family here, look around, who are sources of God’s light in this world and people who aren’t afraid to share it with you so you can testify to God’s hand at work!
10 days ago Sue got out of the hospital after having meningitis and discovering a blood clot in her brain. On the way home Adam went to get medicine only to discover that one of the meds would be over $1000 after insurance. So as not to overwhelm Sue any more than she already was, he took her home and on the way back prayed to God that he would provide. He tallied the money he had in his wallet and what he could access from the bank and he just didn’t have that much money at the time. It was not possible. As he re-told the story to me I could tell his heart was sincerely broken and he was filled with a sense of hopelessness and desperation, yet understanding that God could will it if He wanted. Adam simply laid it at the feet of Jesus.
When he got the meds at the counter and went to pay for it, the total wasn’t even at $1000. It was way less. And the medication that was over $1000 had a sticker on it that said the insurance had covered over $1000 of the cost of the med. God provided. The Lord will Provide. Jehovah Jireh.
We are in a tough time economically. We are in a scary time politically and socially. But you know what? The Lord will provide. Did you notice that the text in Genesis 22:14 doesn’t say “provided,” or “may provide,” or “provides,” but that he will provide. He always will provide. It’s a reality. My brother got a new job on Monday this week and took a risk in doing so. He found out Wednesday that 30 out of 60 people from his company just three weeks ago were let go. I think he’s still numb from that knowledge. The Lord will provide. He provided for my brother. He will provide for the 30 who lost their job there and for others all over the world, but we need to use what he provides to his glory.
We are in a time where the luxuries of the world, the provisions, what so many of us are used to, are not going to be. Doritos won’t be an option, if you will. And this may be a good thing. Remember Romans 7 – we eat them even though we don’t want them! And especially don’t need them (and for me when I was sick that was the case). The world provides Doritos and says that’s what we need. We this tension like Romans 7 that causes this battle to rage within us. We want Doritos, but God is giving us bread. God didn’t always provide with rams in thorns, but many times he did provide with bread!
We know it’s healthier for us, but it’s just not as good. Some even tell us that it’s bad for us (remember that fad a few years back!) Whatever! Bread is a simple staple, a provision, if you will, that’s been around since the beginning of time!
You’re in one of four places right now. Each of us are. Either we’re exploring the idea that God really is the provider I’m saying He is and will be, we’ve begun to trust Him in that, but practically don’t totally. I mean, we make money, but it’s not God who’s given us stuff, we have the perspective that somehow we’ve earned it. And as a result we become the caretakers of our money instead of submitting to what God wants us to DO with our finances. Maybe we’ve begun to give faithfully to organizations, including the church, but aren’t necessarily at the step of tithing, the mandate of Scripture. Or maybe we’re tithing, but in our heart it’s still our money and we need to shift our perspective that we’re giving ten% to the fact that all of it is God’s and he entrusts us to keeping 90%. And how we use money is a way to glorify God. We’re in one of these four. Each of us.
Begin Bread distribution.
In Genesis, bread was a gift of hospitality – Melchizedek, the high priest, brings Abram bread. A sign of blessing. It was giving something one had for the benefit and survival of the other. An amazing act of generosity. Genesis 14
Lot gives the angles bread in Ex. 19.3 right before Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed also as a sign of hospitality. It’s what they ate! It’s what they needed!
Joseph provided it to those coming to Egypt in the famine the last 10 chapters of Genesis. Gen. 41-50
Remember when the Israelites escape Egypt and are wandering in the desert? For FORTY YEARS God provides with bread (manna) – and only enough for the day . . . No more, no less – and you couldn’t save other than on the Sabbath or else it would go bad (Exodus).
When the time came for the Israelites to build an Ark of the Covenant, a place to house the Book of the Law and the place where God was said to dwell, they had a special area called the Holy of Holies. Do you know what was to be outside of it? Bread. Bread was the sacrifice. (Nehemiah 10.33; Hebrews 9.2).
Elijah – many thought Jesus was him.
Read some of his story . . .
In 1 Kings 17.7-24 he encounters a woman with nothing and is told to stay with her. It’s a time of drought and thus a famine. He asks her for water and bread and she responds that she doesn’t have any!
Elijah duals with sorcerers and other magicians only to have the Godof Israel has this cake-like bread substance provided for him after & in fasting. Fasting for 40 days. 1 kings 18-19:8
The last passage in OT to look at concerning bread is in another prophet. Bethlehem wasn’t just prophesied in Micah 5.2 nor just the home of Joseph so that he could be there for the Census that was to be taken . . . The city’s name was significant. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love experienced its namesake this week with all its joy. Bethlehem on that first Christmas night experienced its namesake as the Bread of Life was born. See Bethlehem means House of Bread. For so long it had been called this City that was to house bread but until Jesus arrives it isn’t that.
Jesus is tempted by Satan and told to turn the rocks into bread. He was fasting 40 days. Matthew 4.4. He says that man does not live on Bread alone but by every Word that precedes from the mouth of God. John of course references Jesus as both the Word AND the Bread of Life.
When asked how to pray Jesus urges the disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6.11
John 6.11 ff He gives thanks for bread. He breaks the bread. Then he feeds thousands with just a few small loaves. And has more leftover than when he started.
Then ironically they have the audacity to ask for a miraculous sign. He recalls the bread of the OT. – John 6.30-35.
So are you like the disciples? Do you see God’s blessings in your life but then ask for more evidence that it’s God? I know I do. Guilty. It’s like I want to be TOTALLY sure things are God before stepping out in faith – I want it written in the sky before I do things that might be uncomfortable or faith-like!
What does your life say? Do you live a life that others would see and say that you trust the provider? What does your money say? He will provide. With bread, not Doritos. The world is offering Doritos and it’s oh so tempting. Will you consider taking the next step in this bread area of your life?
Maybe you haven’t received the Bread of Life before and you want to trust the Provider. You’re tired of eating from the junk of life. This decision includes every area of your life. Maybe you might receive this bread today as a symbol of receiving Christ into your life. Accepting his brokenness for your sin – that tendency you have as mentioned in Romans 7.
Maybe you’ve accepted Christ, but in the area of finances you haven’t realized that God is the provider, that He is the one behind your blessings, not your hard work. Maybe today’s next step for you is to begin giving back to God, as it were.
Or possibly you’ve been giving and you see everything as God’s, but you’re not at the Biblical mandate of tithing, giving 10% of your money to God’s work.
Maybe you’re a tither, but you still view it as your money and you’re tithing out of obligation instead of joy. Possibly today is a day in which you really release truth that God will always provide.
We all can grow in this area. We all want to be more giving. With God’s help we can. He is the provider. He is the one to be praised and He is the Bread of life.
The night before Jesus dies he gathers with his disciples, gives thanks, breaks bread and says to take it as it is his body. They didn’t know his death was to be the next day! And as he broke the bread he told them that whenever they eat of bread they are to remember him.