Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Marvelous Grace of God: Lean Times for His People

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 16 "You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man live by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord."
 Vs. 16 "In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end."

These are verses that I have been meditating and thinking about for the last couple of months. The Lord directed me to this passage last November when Valerie and I were in the midst of some very tough circumstances in terms of our funding, finances, and the ministry. He wanted to answer my questions about why He was allowing us to be in such need. He wanted to show me what He was doing in the midst of our lives! To me it seemed that I was in a wilderness place, and that all I strove to do somehow failed or never bore any fruit. It was indeed a very humbling season for me, but one that I am, even now, beginning to look back on and see the fruit that is being born out in my life and walk with Jesus. Here are some thoughts about this passage which stood out to me as I have been meditating on it:

"You shall remember..." The Lord greatly desires His people to remember. Everything. Especially how He led, how He provided, how He protected, and how He took a people who were not a people, and made them His people! To remember how the Lord has acted in our lives is to give God the glory for the past and to renew our hope for the future!

"...all the way which the Lord has led you these forty years in the wilderness..." The Lord is the one who led into the wilderness, and who led while in the wilderness. He is the one who took me into a very dry and humbling time, but He is also the one who kept me there and taught me during that time. I can look back during that time and see how the Lord led me, even in the wilderness!

"...that He might humble you, testing you..."The Lord has a plan for why He brings us into places of difficulty and hardship; even if that plan is to humble and test us. But this is also the grace of God because the scriptures say "God opposes the proud, but give grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5). He also says this is Isaiah 66:2 "For My hands made all these things, thus all these things came into being. But to this one I will look, to him who is humble, contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word."  The Lord looks to the humble and hears their cries, and give them grace. We are such a naturally prideful people, that it is actually a gracious thing to have the Lord humble us, and to help us have a sweeter and more dependent relationship with Him.

"...He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know..." Sometimes the Lord lets us be hungry, that we might be fed by Him. In order to see the miraculous ways of His provision, He will cause us to be needy. What an awesome thing to be fed by the Lord and to have Him meet our needs, for He is perfect, and will perfectly meet all our needs! Nothing satisfies like the Lord does.

"...to do good for you in the end." Moses reminds the people that God led them into the wilderness,  caused them to be hungry, fed them, humbled them, and tested them so that He might do good for them in the end! All of God's works in our lives, both good and bad, helpful and seemingly harmful, are all designed by a good God to do good for us in the end! We may not understand why the Lord does something or allows something to happen to us, but we can, and should, trust that it is good. If the Lords harms it is because we are in need of pruning and refining, if the Lord blesses it is so that He may be glorified by the lips of stubborn and unrepentant people and exalted above all else!

Obviously there is so much more that can be said about these 3 verses, but that is all I will write for now. The reason why I wrote that it is the marvelous grace of God is because it is often in the lean times that we can clearly see His grace toward His people. The more that I see His grace in my life, the more I fall to my knees in adoration and praise of this most marvelous, awesome God, who would give me, a depraved sinner, the gift of faith in Christ! May I become less, and He become greater!

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