Pulpit Reflections By Pastor Steve Ford
Grace Baptist Church A common fear rises to the surface during an economic downturn: the fear of loss. It could be your house, your job, your life savings, or just a level of comfort you've grown accustomed to, but there is a real threat of loss facing each of us in these times. Despite this very real threat, I've learned that there is gain to be had in loss. Just over 20 years ago, I entered seminary to prepare for a future in full-time ministry. My wife and I both left lucrative careers behind and our first child was due just four months later. We tried to prepare for the changes to our financial picture, but we did not envision the extent of the loss that was ahead. I had secured a job which would meet our needs while attending seminary, but it fell through after we moved and just days before classes started. By the time I was able to get enough work to meet our daily needs our first child had been born and our savings were completely gone. We reached a point where I had a few coins in my pocket and nothing in my wallet or bank account. I thought we were OK because we had enough groceries in our cupboards and gas in our car to last until the next paycheck. I hadn't thought about diapers. When I returned from classes one day I found my wife holding our child and weeping. She told me we were out of diapers and looked at me hoping I had a solution. I had no solution so we did the only thing we could. We prayed to our heavenly Father. As I finished the prayer there was a knock at the door. I opened the door and saw a young man I had never met standing on my doorstep holding a package of diapers. He handed the diapers to me, said they were a gift from him and his wife, then turned and walked away. The diapers were just the right size and the package was just big enough to last until my next paycheck. My wife and I didn't know the man who handed us the diapers, but we knew who gave them to us. God could have met our need in many different ways, but he chose to do it in a way designed to reveal the depth of his faithfulness and personal interest in us. Nearly 2000 years ago the apostle Paul wrote to a church in Philippi telling them he had learned the same thing we learned that day. He wrote, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV) The secret of contentment is figuring our where to put your trust. We can all see the value of prosperity. It takes the rough edges off of everyday living. But that doesn't make prosperity worthy of trust. Prosperity has no personal interest in you or anyone else. It comes and goes without concern for you and even delights to make you pay for mistakes. There is no real contentment to be had trusting in something as fickle and fleeting as wealth. God is worthy of our trust. He loves each of us intimately and unconditionally. He knows and wants what is best for each of us, and has the power to bring it about. He demonstrated this to all in His Son, Jesus on the cross. If you will give him your attention, he will be pleased to reveal himself to you very personally as well. Then you'll find that God isn't simply interested in enhancing your lifestyle. He wants to give you life – a life that is full and meaningful and undaunted by circumstances as you live each day in his strength.