55. Communion

Analogies & Parables in Matthew: 55.  Communion

Mt 26:26   While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body

Of all the analogies we have looked at in Matthew, this one is possibly the most familiar if you are a regular church-goer, for it is probable that we may hear these words at Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, or whatever else we might call it, because Luke added the words, do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk 22:19) and the apostle Paul added, “whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:25,26) Thus we take this ‘sacrament’ (‘a ceremony regarded as imparting spiritual grace’) on a regular basis in most churches, for some weekly, others monthly. Possibly because the Synoptic Gospel writers had covered it adequately, John says nothing about what we refer to as Communion because it was obviously only one small part of all that went on at the Last Supper. John recounts Jesus’ amazing prayer then. (see Jn 17)

But at the heart of it there are two analogies. The first we have above, but then Jesus went on: “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (v.27,28) So we have two sets of analogies: bread and wine, body and blood, and indeed they are both analogies.

Now we have to recognize that in practice there are different understandings of what takes place. For Catholics what takes place is “the conversion of the substance of the Eucharist elements into the body and blood at consecration, only the appearance of bread and wine still remaining.” For most Protestants, it is merely a symbolic act, an act of obedience which wins the blessing of God and therefore a sense of grace imparted

But we will focus, as in the rest of this series, in trying as simply as possible to catch what Jesus was trying to convey when he originally spoke these words to his disciples and ask, what might these ordinary men have made of these words? It is probable, as the Gospels show with so many things, the disciples were simply out of their depth in the face of such picture language and it would probably be many years before the likes of the apostle Paul helped out with understanding. Yet even in his one piece of writing on this Last Supper, it wasn’t his intention to spell it out, merely correct the Corinthians for their bad behaviour. So let’s look at the wording before us.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Mt 26:26) Now for many years I thought that this was followed by the words, “which is broken for you” but actually Paul’s wording (and the Gospel writers don’t have this) is simply, “which is for you” (1 Cor 11;24) so any desire to impose a ‘theology of brokenness’ is unwarranted. So what did those words mean. In its very simplest understanding Jesus must have been saying, “As you eat this bread, imagine you are eating me, or if that is too much to cope with, imagine you are taking my very life into your life, so I become a living part of you, we being utterly united.”  i.e. this is what this whole thing is about, my coming to the earth, my living in human form; it is that ultimately we may become one, God in you.

Now there is nothing outrageous about that when you see the wider teaching of the New Testament, that we becomes ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’, vessels that contain the glory of God, humans indwelt by God, by Jesus, by his Holy Spirit. Was this a simple piece of imagery to remind us what his ultimate goal is for us?

But then the blood: “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (v.27,28) Now the concept of the Passover covenant was probably more familiar to many of them, that to avoid the judgment of God in Egypt, a lamb had to be slain and its blood put on the doorposts of the home so that the destroying angel would see it and “pass over”. The tricky bit here is “my blood” and in that Jesus is ratifying John the Baptist’s words which the Synoptics had not picked up but John did, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29 and also 35,36). It is also the picture conveyed in the vision John received in Revelation: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne.” (Rev 5:6) The analogy is simple: a lamb was previously sacrificed to save the people; that Lamb was now Jesus. By his death a new covenant is inaugurated.

The talk of body and bread being eaten, signifying a oneness, might cause the sensitive spirit to ask, how can such a thing be? The answer is, because a lamb has been slain on your behalf so that judgment is averted and all the blessing of God is released to your life. That is why we can stand secure before the Lord and in the face of all that the world brings. We are one with him and he made that possible for dying for us. Hallelujah!

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33. Bread and Dogs

Analogies & Parables in Matthew: 33.  Bread and Dogs

Mt 15:26,27    He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

We are, you will remember, examining the picture language that Jesus used in his teaching. The more we do it, the more I realise just how much he did it – all the time! Wherever we turn in the Gospels we find this word-picture language. It is like Jesus does it, a) to make it more memorable and b) to make us think more – whatever is he getting at here? So often in preaching we try and make everything so simple and straight forward, but Jesus didn’t teach like that.  He taught in such a way that those whose hearts were all for him would understand, while those with a lesser commitment would perhaps say, “Nice story,” and go away untouched.

So what is the context of our two verses above? Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.” (v.21) He has left his usual area of ministry around the Sea of Galilee and gone north to the area to the far north of Galilee, in the area of the towns of Tyre and Sidon. An area outside Israel, a land of the Gentiles. We don’t know why but we do know that he did what he sensed his Father was doing, what the Holy Spirit led him to. Now he may have ministered to other people in this area but we are only told about this particular woman, for immediately after his conversation with her, we read, “Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee.” (v.29) i.e. he went back to his usual ministry area.

She is “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity.” (v.22a) Matthew calls her a Canaanite woman, one associated with the old enemies of Israel, those pagans who had previously occupied the land, many of whom would have left the land and settled elsewhere (when others remained and fought Israel). Mark, perhaps more graciously describes her differently: “The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia.” (Mk 7:26) However we may look at it, she is not a Jew. Now all of this background is very pertinent to understanding the power and significance of what follows.

She comes to Jesus, “crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” (v.22b) Now what is interesting is that Matthew has a variety of supplicants coming to Jesus and addressing him as ‘Lord’ – e.g. the leper (Mt 8:2), the centurion (Mt 8:6,8), a would-be disciple (Mt 8:21), Peter (Mt 14:28,30, 16:22, 17:4, 18:21), now this woman (Mt 15:22,25,27), a father with a demoniac son (Mt 17:15), and two blind men (Mt 20:30,31,33), but in Mark’s Gospel, the only time someone directly addresses Jesus as ‘Lord’ is in this instance, this gentile woman! No doubt both sets of accounts are true but it is as if Matthew goes to lengths to show Jesus’ Lordship and the recognition of that by many people, while Mark, directed by Peter, only uses it in this one exceptional case, to make a point – a Gentile acknowledges Jesus’ Lordship, and that is outstanding!

This story is truly fascinating from a number of angles. She addresses Jesus as ‘Son of David’, she is emphasizing his Jewishness but also perhaps subconsciously acknowledging his role as ruler in the order of King David, possibly the Messiah. Then she openly acknowledges her problem – her daughter is demon possessed. Now this presents a particular problem. A person only gets possessed (as against ‘oppressed’) when an individual opens up their life to Satan in a big way, usually through the occult – or when someone close to them in authority over them, if they are a child, is seriously involved in the occult. So how did this child become possessed? What had the mother (or father perhaps?) been up to? We are not told. Amazingly Jesus does not appear concerned to apportion blame and point fingers!

Now Jesus’ response to her is strange to say the least: “Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” (v.23) Now perhaps he is remaining silent because he wants to see how all the other players in this scene are going to react. I do believe that the Lord sometimes remains silent because He is testing us and wants to see how we will react to such silence.  The disciples react negatively towards her, and Jesus’ only comment seems at first sight to support their negativity: “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (v.24) Again, is he wanting to see how she will react?

He is rewarded as she draws closer: “The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.” (v.25) She has sought Jesus out and now she persists. Jesus prods the conversation on again, again possibly to see how she will respond: “He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” (v.26)

Ah! At last we have arrived at the picture language, but what we find is almost abusive. His analogy is of a parent who snatches away the food given to their child and gives it to the dogs. ‘Bread’ is fairly obvious as meaning something that is good and nourishing, but ‘dogs’ is something different. Dogs, as we’ve seen before, tended to be unclean street scavengers or, at the best, guard animals tethered outside the family home. The term was used negatively of others – ‘Gentile dogs’, ‘infidel dogs’ and even later ‘Christian dogs’. What we don’t know is how Jesus said it. It could have been with a wry smile, as if inviting a repost – and this he gets: “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (v.27)

Excellent! Perseverance with wisdom! “Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” (v.28) He clearly is pleased with her response and sees faith in her. He responds and the daughter is healed. Job done, now he can return to Galilee.

There is something in what we’ve just said that is quite significant and needs to be considered when we read these accounts. I suggested that the look on Jesus’ face would be telling and would be all important. The words at face value are provocative but the face might have been – and probably was – encouraging. If we wanted to expand what happened we might suggest the conversation went something like this: the woman came to Jesus’ house crying out from outside the front door, “Jesus, please come out and help us for my young daughter is horribly possessed by a demon.” Jesus came to the door but said nothing while his disciples in the background whispered, ‘Send her away Lord.’ So she persisted and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, please help us.’ Jesus smiled and said, “But I’ve been sent to our people, to Israel, should I use what I have for foreigners?” She smiles back through her tears, and shoots back, “Fair enough but can’t we have some leftovers of what you have – you are here after all.” Done!

A simple lesson, but a powerful one. If God either doesn’t answer or appears to give a strange answer, remember two things. First, He still loves you. Second, He longs for your growth and development and is watching to see how you will respond. The ball, as they say, is in your court!

(Addendum: if you want to see more of how God provokes, check out Ex 32:9,10 and Num 11:10-15 and Num 14:10-20)

7. The Father’s Provision

Analogies & Parables in Matthew: 7.  The Father’s Provision

Mt 7:9-11 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Again we need to see the context to catch the full import of these three verses. Immediately before Jesus has encouraged his followers:Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7,8) Immediately before that, as we saw in the previous study, he had spoken of us not dropping what we had that was sacred, or our ‘pearls’, before dogs or pigs, and that might lead some to think, “Hold on, what have I got that is sacred, what have I got that are the equivalent of precious pearls?” That leads us to realise that there is more in the Christian life to be appropriated than we have at the moment – and this is always true, there is always more to come from the Lord.

But how do you get this ‘more’? By asking, by seeking, by knocking on God’s door, so to speak. The tense of those verbs is ongoing so it means keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Now many people don’t realise this and they settle for what they have and settle into a state of inactivity and immobility, but the truth is that we are called to be seekers. Why doesn’t the Father just give it without us asking? Well asking is a sign of spiritual health and it also brings about a closeness in relationship with the Father so, yes, as we mature there is always this balance, there is always this tension between being contented with what God has made us but a yearning for more of Him, more of the expression of His kingdom, more of the experience of His Holy Spirit.

But there is a problem. Now in this year of writing (2017) there has arisen a new term used in the media – false news, or fake news. It means things that are said publicly as if they were true but in reality they are false. Now in spiritual warfare this is nothing new for the Bible tells us that Satan is a deceiver; he deceived Eve at the start and he seeks to deceive whoever will listen to him. Now many of us have listened to him unwittingly and so we have heard such ‘fake news’ as “God is a harsh, judgmental God. God doesn’t love you, you are a nobody, you are a failure in life, nobody loves you.” And all of that is untrue! But people believe it, which is why Jesus spoke out the words in our verses above.

He has just encouraged us to be seekers of more, to keep on asking and keep on knocking at God’s door but the problem is that we are reticent to ask because we’ve listened to the enemy’s ‘fake news’ and we need to get over that. So Jesus asks us to think about any normal family: “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?”

Imagine the picture. A little child comes in tired and hungry from school, say, and says, can I have something to eat please?  The father goes outside, picks up a rock and brings it in and places it on a plate and puts it in front of him on the table. Oh, come on, Jesus’ listeners would have protested, no dad would do that! OK, replies Jesus, let’s change the picture then, let’s make it a living thing. The child asks for a fish and so dad goes out and finds a snake and puts it on a plate before him. Oh, come on!!! A loving dad wouldn’t do that!

OK, says Jesus, think about this. There’s nothing special about this dad, he’s the same as any other human being, a sinner, basically evil when it comes to it. Now you are telling me that this dad wouldn’t ever do something so unkind to his son, so why do you think your Father in heaven is less than this dad? Why is Father going to hold back on giving good gifts to His children when an earthly father doesn’t do that? We might add, think of all the evidence of the whole Bible that tells us that God has blessed and blessed and blessed His people. Think of all the good He has done for you. Think of the salvation He has granted you – earned by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, imparting sonship, forgiveness, cleansing, righteousness, and power, teaching and direction of the Holy Spirit. All this was free, you didn’t do anything to earn it. You didn’t go looking for it, He came looking for you, He initiated everything.

This is a serious argument. Why do so many of us think, I’m nobody, I’m nothing, I’m a failure? Answer: because it is true – but it is only half the story. The other half is the things we listed near the end of the previous paragraph. Jesus has got so much more he wants you and me to enter into but we don’t get it because we don’t keep on asking, seeking and knocking for it, because we listen to the likes of the crusading atheists with their ignorant rantings and believe the fake news. No, we are NOT unloved, No, God is NOT a harsh God. He is a loving heavenly Father and if He holds back, it is because He wants to strengthen your heart, strengthen your resolve and draw you closer to Him.

Go back to that Old Testament ‘equation’: “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psa 37: 4) When we delight in Him, when we make Him the focus of our lives, then He starts putting desires on our hearts and as we start recognising those desires and asking and asking for them, so He grants them. There is so much more just waiting for you, but it starts with this ‘equation’.

12. Jesus’ Testimony (3)

Short Meditations in John 3:  12. Jesus’ Testimony (3)

Jn 3:13   No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man

Because we are only taking one verse at a time in these meditations, we have had to only hint at what we knew was coming in later verses but here, now, we find Jesus alluding to something that doesn’t come out in any of the three Synoptic Gospels – that he has come down from heaven. If some of his other claims aren’t always very clear, this one really is; there is no mistaking it. In later chapters when he speaks of himself as the bread coming down from heaven it is even more clear, but here there can be little mistake in understanding what he is saying in this conversation with Nicodemus.

Basically he is saying that he is a unique witness and he is that because he alone can speak of spiritual things originating in heaven because he alone has come down from heaven to earth. Now anyone wanting to be picky might say, well angels had come down but, yes, they had but only briefly as short-term messengers. This is something completely different; this is God in human form who has come to live in a unique human life for the length of a human life (admittedly terminated early!) But that is what Jesus is saying and if Nicodemus struggled with the earlier concepts, this is really going to blow his mind away!

Now of course Jesus is actually answering the unspoken question that Nicodemus had come with. You remember his starting place was, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Now there is a sense that there he was making a statement: “You ARE a teacher – and that’s all (isn’t it?)” That, it seems, was what was implied in his opening remarks – yes, I’m willing to credit you with being a teacher and a pretty special one at that because clearly the power of God is with you, but is that all you are? Are you something more?

So now Jesus is giving him his answer: yes, I am, I am the one who has come down from heaven. In the context of what we have been saying, I am the only one who can speak with authority about spiritual matters because I alone have come from the spiritual dimension that sometimes is called heaven. Now it is only John’s Gospel that makes this claim in this form but of course the truth of it comes out in other scriptures, e.g. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9), “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Col 1:15) These all say the same thing: this is God that you have seen on earth, God who came down from heaven.

2. Life has come

Meditations in 1 John : 2 :  The Life has come!

1 John  1:2   The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

John’s language in this verse is remarkable, and each part requires careful attention. Look at the way he starts: “The life appeared.” He finished verses 1 with, “this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” From his Gospel we saw that when he speaks of the Word, he means Jesus, God’s perfect communication with mankind. This communication – Jesus – IS life.  In the beginning of his Gospel he wrote of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (Jn 1:4). What John is trying to tell us is that Jesus is the source of all life – God is the source of all life.

Oh how we take Scripture for granted! “The life appeared.” How dramatic is that. The source of all life suddenly appeared to us. The implication is that previously he had been hidden from us – but he still existed. In the back part of the verse John expands on this: “the eternal life, which was with the Father … has appeared to us.” He is not only THE source of all life, he IS eternal life. Wow! That is an incredible claim. Jesus must be God for only He can claim to be life with no beginning and no ending. Yes, that is what John is saying. And again he makes this point that that which had been previously hidden from mankind was now appeared to us and made ‘himself’ known to us in human form.

When you read John’s Gospel you see that John, writing many years later than the others, had had time to reflect on and think back on the things that he had witnessed in those three incredible years with Jesus, and in so doing had realized that there were many significant things that Jesus had said which the earlier Gospels had not picked up. One such passage was Jesus’ conversation  with the Jews about being the bread which came down from heaven: “it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (Jn 6:32,33) Look at that language. He, Jesus, has come down from heaven where, by implication, he has already existed.  In case we missed it the first time, he repeats it: I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6:38) and then again, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (Jn 6:51) This is the message that John brings us that Jesus, being eternal, had existed in heaven with God the Father before he came to earth.

This is what separates Jesus out from any holy men in history. It is the claim that he IS God. This claim is picked up throughout the New Testament. Listen how Paul puts it: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:15-17) That is an incredible description of Jesus. He is the visible expression of God, and just in case you’re not sure, that means he is the creator and is the one who holds all of existence together!

The writer to the Hebrews tried to express it similarly: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Heb 1:3) There isn’t that eternal dimension expressly stated, but it is clearly implied – Jesus is God’s expression of Himself to us and he is truly God who has always existed and always will exist, the One who existed in heaven but who has now ‘appeared’ to us in human form, the form of Jesus of Nazareth. Don’t be under any illusions: Jesus did not start as a baby conceived in Mary. That was merely the ‘doorway’ through which the eternal Son in heaven was manifested or made visible on earth.

But again John wants to emphasize to us why we can believe what he is saying: “we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you.”  This ‘life’ came in a form that was recognizable to us – a human form, a real, genuine human being, in every way like us – yet God! In verse 1 he had said, “we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched,” and just in case we hadn’t fully taken it in, he emphasizes it – we’ve seen it!!!  This life has come in a form that was visible to us. This was no weird experience, this was as down to earth as you can get – we saw, talked to and touched this human being – but he was God!  That is the incredible message that these New Testament writers bring to us – a unique message, found nowhere else in creation! Hallelujah!

When you read the Gospels, watch what Jesus says and does. It is like he pours out life wherever he goes. His words have transforming power. Lives are started anew when they have heard him speaking. Sometimes those words released a power that brought healing, physical changes to physical lives. These words from the mouth of the One who was life, literally brought physical life that transformed bodies. Of course the ultimate expression of it was when he spoke and dead bodies came to life. The Gospels show us several instances of Jesus speaking and literal life flowed forth and what which had been dead came to life again. Oh yes, ask for this revelation, to see that when John referred to Jesus as life, he really meant it. Life literally flowed from him as he travelled the countryside and lives were utterly changed – literally, spiritually, physically, socially, psychologically, emotionally, i.e. in every way possible. ‘Life’ does that!

Unusual Provision

WALKING WITH GOD. No.37

1 Kings 17:6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

The subject of the provision of God is both varied and exciting, and it takes us away from the gloom of the kings as we look in these next four days at the walk with God as it comes to us through incidents in Elijah’s life. Elijah was a prophet who had dealings with the very ungodly and unrighteous king, Ahab (1 Kings 17:1). He has just pronounced a three year drought for Israel and the Lord has told him to leave the area and go to a place east of the Jordan. This was not a day of social security and so the question of food or drink was a very real one, especially when you are in desert areas.

Now the first thing to note is that Elijah had clearly had a word from the Lord about the drought, and he had now clearly had a word from the Lord about where he should go. He is clearly, therefore, serving the Lord and being obedient to the Lord. He is in a good place with the Lord and so, even though the geographical location and climate are inhospitable, he can still trust the Lord to look after him. In this he is quite different from a number of other Biblical examples who ‘ran for the hills’ of a foreign country when a famine came, instead of seeking the Lord (e.g. Abram – Gen 12:10, Isaac – Gen 26:1, and Elimelech – Ruth 1:1,2).

The fact that he goes to this ravine, miles from anywhere in a time of famine, would appear humanly at least to be simply foolish. It will be the last place to get food, but it is the place where the Lord has said to go and therefore he trusts the Lord to provide for him there, especially as he has been told by the Lord that He will provide for him in that place. In our walk with the Lord we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) and so there will be times when the word of the Lord will come to us to lead us into circumstances that leave us wondering about how we will cope. Don’t worry, He will.

The second thing to consider is the way of God’s provision. There have been some who have suggested that ‘ravens’ is a nickname for a certain group of nomadic Arabs, but whether it is that or literally the birds of that name, it is still a strange and most unusual form of provision that you could not have planned or guaranteed beforehand. In that these scavenging birds dropped him food morning and evening on a regular basis, sufficient to keep him alive, is a small miracle. However we normally tend to use the word ‘miracle’ to apply to something that is completely contrary to nature. Ravens doing this is fairly common to them and so we would prefer here to refer to this as a remarkably unusual provision of food for Elijah, rather than a miracle that we will see tomorrow. Why are we making this distinction? Because God does use natural but unusual means of providing for His people. Let’s consider this question of provision more widely.

Why should we need God’s provision? Well usually it is when all other provision has run out. There is a sense that ALL our food and drink is God’s provision, but having accepted that normal daily life provision is part of God’s design, there are times when that provision seems lacking, for example when there is a famine. Now a famine, in Israel’s case (and possibly in a wider world sense), is an indication of the blessing of God being withheld because of the sin of the nation (see Deut 28:15-19), but although the nation will be suffering this story tells us that God can still provide for His faithful people even in the midst of a famine.

So famines come and God will provide for His faithful people, but if you try and think how that provision will come, you won’t be able to do it, because the Lord does it through a means that you will probably have never thought of. It happens in a variety of ways. One of the famous stories of provision is the story of the Schaeffer family who established L’Abri in Switzerland . They trusted the Lord and again and again and again, He prompted people to send them money, sufficient to meet the needs of the hour. The Lord obviously doesn’t do this for everyone, simply those He has called into a position where they will need such provision. Many Christians through the years have been able testify that as they came to the end of their resources as they served the Lord, suddenly there was unusual provision, provision that came through a natural source, but a very unusual and completely unexpected source. Miracles? Yes, in as far as they are things prompted by God so that where there were no resources there are now resources, but these are ways of provision that come through natural means.

This is a story and a concept that appears to be only for certain special people, but in our walk with God, I wonder if, in respect of our money, we have an attitude that means we are open to the Lord leading us to give money away to bless others? Are we open to be the ‘unusual resource’ that the Lord will use to provide for another person? This is as much a faith action as being on the end as the receiver of the unusual gift. Some of us might then worry, but I haven’t much money so what would happen if the Lord asked me to give to another? You suddenly move from the role of giver to receiver, you become an Elijah where you trust that if the Lord has prompted you to give, He will provide for you afterwards. Fun isn’t it, this life of faith!