Summary: Is "Providence" more than a city in Rhode Island?
“Provide.” “Provision.” “Providence.” Even in English the ancient roots of those words can be seen. “Pro” in Latin meant “ahead.” And “video,” meant “to see.” Someone who is a provider “looks ahead” and “sees” what will be needed. The implication then of course is that the person makes plans to meet those needs.
In our service this morning we are considering the fact that God provides for all of our needs because of his great love for us. In the Old Testament lesson we were reminded that the LORD feeds our souls with his Word. We heard in those verses that the treasure of salvation that he brings to us through His Word is free for the taking. The Second Scripture lesson from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans gave us the assurance that God provides protection for us. Nothing can separate us from His love in Christ. In the Gospel lesson we heard Matthew’s account of Jesus feeding a crowd of over five thousand. Jesus also fed the souls of the people in that group with his teaching before he fed their bodies.
Obviously it is a great blessing to have the assurance that God will provide for our physical and spiritual needs. Although God does this even without our asking He does ask us to put our trust in Him. He doesn’t want us to trust the strength of our nation’s agricultural resources or our own ability to make money. God doesn’t want us to trust what’s in our freezer or in our pantry. When it comes to our spiritual needs He asks us to trust Him for all that we need as well.
For an example of someone trusting that the LORD will provide all that we need for life, and for a powerful reminder of how God provides for us we turn to 1 Kings 17:1-16. Those verses are printed on the back of the worship folder if you would like to follow along as I read them. (Read text.) Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts and minds and to use this account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath to enable us to:
“TRUST THE LORD TO PROVIDE”
I. Through the creation that He rules
II. According to the Word He has spoken
You may know some of the events that led up to these verses from 1 Kings. Under the leadership of King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel God’s people were worshipping idols in ever increasing numbers. The majority of the people were also living immoral lives contrary to God’s Commandments. Because of this, Elijah, a prophet for the LORD, pronounced a curse on the land of Israel saying that there wouldn’t be any rain or dew for several years. Of course this immediately made Elijah a hated and hunted enemy of King Ahab. So the LORD sent Elijah into hiding. The events that followed certainly led Elijah to have greater trust in the LORD. They also brought salvation for body and soul to a widow in Zarephath and her son. And finally they are recorded in the Bible to lead us to a stronger trust in the LORD who provides. He provides for us through the creation that he rules. And he does this according to the Word He has spoken.
In the first verse of 1 Kings 17 we receive a reminder of both the power the LORD has over creation and the power of His Word. “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” Since God is just he often makes the punishment that he dishes out fit the sin that has been committed. The people of Israel were worshipping pagan god’s that they believed controlled the weather and especially the rain that made the land fruitful. To make the point that there are no other gods and to call his people to repentance the LORD exercised His power over creation and shut off the rain and dew.
Before we look at how the LORD provides all that we need it would be good for us to realize that He would have every right to withhold those things from us as well. Like the Israelites of Elijah’s time we have been unfaithful to Him and worshipped other gods. We have taken God for granted and failed to give thanks for all that He gives us day after day. But through Christ we find forgiveness and mercy. And because of His undeserved love alone God still provides for us in spite of our sinfulness. May we always be led by the Holy Spirit to trust the LORD to provide what we need.