The Best in the Midst of Famine

Genesis 45:20b (ESV) – The best of all the land of Egypt is yours.

The whole land was in the middle of a terrible famine. It was going to continue for a handful more of years. While the land was starving, God’s children were living in the best of all the land of Egypt.

It was a seven-year famine. This just serves as a reminder that a seven-year period of severe troubles on the whole land, doesn’t at all mean that God’s children suffer. God can provide for His children in the midst of famine. God knows how to separate out His own. We suffer as is needful for our own good and God’s glory, but we don’t have to suffer just because the world around us is suffering. We can live in the light when the world around us is in darkness.

Here’s another verse that could make a similar point. Psalm 68:8a (ESV) The earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain. The whole earth may be quaking, but it can send the rain on God’s people. The next verse is: Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished. Others may be experiencing a major shaking, what they need to fear God and turn to Him, but for you it can be a time of abundance, refreshing, restoring.

God’s out for our good, in every way.

A famine can look like many things. There is a famine in the land right now when it comes to teaching and the word of God. People have multiplied for themselves teachers who say what they want to hear instead of teachers who preach the word of God. But we don’t have to languish in the famine. He Himself is our teacher and can feed us richly right our of His hand. He will provide for us if we seek from Him. He loves to bless His children. He loves to give Himself to those who seek Him and ask. There’s an abundance for the child of God. There’s a table for feasting in the wilderness, in the valley, in the shadow. He’s prepared the table for you, offering you the best of the land. Join Him at the table!

God’s Unchanging Will

There are verses about how no one can change God’s purposes.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:2

For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Isaiah 14:27

Except people can change God’s plans. God’s people pray and God’s plans change. God says, “I am going to destroy them.” Moses says, “Don’t do it.” God says, “Okay, I won’t.” Those plans changed. God says that His people Israel will stay in the land and be blessed. They get kicked out. The plans changed because of their sin. God’s plans change. That can’t be the same as His will.

God is not fickle. He is who He is. He’s consistent and trustworthy. God is single-minded. He doesn’t have a handful of wills. The Lord is God; the Lord is one. He is of one mind.

So what is His will? His will is His heart, what He desires. His will is mercy, compassion, love, justice, righteousness. His unchanging character shows us His unchanging will. His will is to show us mercy and He will whenever He can, but His will is also righteousness and justice. He can’t do the wrong thing; He can only do the right thing.

The things like healing, the “sozo”-salvation, are all a result of God acting according to His will. He acts in compassion and goodness towards us. He has spoken blessings and curses. He will carry them out. Jesus was perfect but was killed by His enemies. We have to always remember that God’s ways look different than ours. But Jesus triumphed over His enemies. He knew His enemies were not flesh and blood but principalities and powers and He triumphed over them (Col. 2:15).

God’s unchanging will is that He desires all to be saved and all to come to repentance. That’s His will. That’s His heart that will never change. And it’s His unchanging will that He be truthful. He cannot lie. His word is true. He’s given promises, and He will fulfill them. God is true and faithful. That’s another aspect of His character, His unchanging character that we can call His unchanging will. His will has many facets. He’s a big God, an infinite God! His will encompasses all He is. He will never act outside of His will, but He will hold it all in perfect balance, the love, compassion, mercy, and grace and the holiness, justice, wrath, and righteousness.

We see in nature how all things hold in balance. It’s called homeostasis. We see it in everything. God knows how to hold on and release, say yes and no, speak and be silent. He can do all things perfectly at all times.

God acts for the good of His children and for His glory. We can be sure of these things because God’s will is unchanging. He is loving, faithful, and true. We can trust Him and how He will act toward us and in the world. The fear of the Lord is a real thing, but for a child of God, it leads us to revel in His magnificence and the glory of one who does ALL things well.

The Battle

Christians live in the midst of a battle. There is a war of the ages raging in the heavenlies. There are periods of intense battle. There are periods of rest on all sides. There is always a tension though of good and evil in battle, of Satan working to steal, kill, and destroy, and Jesus working to redeem, restore, and give abundant life.

We have to be ready for battle. God trains our hands for war. Training happens during times of peace. Periods of rest aren’t for the ease and comfort of our flesh. Ease and comfort are enemies! They make us fat and lazy, spiritually and physically. That’s what I would always say about America; it makes you fat and lazy, spiritually and physically. We need to be prepared for battle. We need to submit to the training.

What does training for battle look like? What does training for war look like? It looks like a lot of discipline. It looks like early mornings and late nights. It looks like being prepared in and out of season to share God’s word. It looks like changing direction when the wind blows a new way. It looks like devouring God’s word and praying at all times.

The battle also looks a lot like that. Ephesians 6 is where we find the famous armor of God portion of Scripture. After it lists all those pieces of armor, it tells us what to do with them. It says to pray at all times for all the saints. That’s the battle.

It looks a lot like training because that’s the point of training, to simulate the battle, to practice and drill what you will be doing in battle so that when the time comes, you know what to do. The training needs to be thorough so the reflex in battle is the correct response to the situation.

Our correct response in battle is prayer; it’s turning to God first. It’s calling on Jesus to be Savior. It’s being still and knowing He is God and deliverer and help in times of trouble.

There are two points of trouble. We run into trouble if God gives us rest on all sides and instead of training for battle, we take our ease. Look at Solomon as someone who didn’t train for war when given rest and how he fell to the enemy’s trap of worshiping foreign gods.

We can also run into trouble if there is a battle and we decided we need rest. Look at David who stayed home when the other kings went out to war and instead of winning a victory in the name of the Lord, he fell into sin that would mar the rest of his life.

There is rest for a believer, but it doesn’t look like the world’s rest. It’s not kicking back the feet and getting some “deserved relaxation.” It’s certainly not consuming entertainment or satisfying the lusts of the flesh. Rest for the believer is a constant state. It comes from within, not from without. Without looks like war, fighting or training. It’s a constant process. There is no rest from the battle.

There is a rest for the believer, though. It’s knowing that the battle is won, that there is no weight on your shoulders, that you just have to look to Jesus and you have the salvation, the deliverance. It’s knowing the work is finished; it has been accomplished; you just have to be still and know He is God, and you will see His salvation.

Our stillness is internal. We are called to action. We get up and pray. We study the Bible. We help the poor. We share the gospel. We pray for others and meet needs. We serve the Body with our gifts. We work, but we work from a place of rest, knowing we have nothing of ourselves to offer anyone. We know that it’s all His work, that we can accomplish nothing. And we are free from the burden of trying to do for God and others and instead are freed to just love God and others and let Him take it from there.

We Resist the Devil with Humility

1 Peter 5:6-10

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Peter is writing to Christians who are suffering. They are being persecuted.

Peter tells them how to face their suffering, with humility.

They aren’t to fight what’s happening to them. They are to trust in the mighty hand of God.

Is God not powerful enough to stop what was happening? Of course, He is.

Does God not know what’s happening to them? Of course, He does.

Does God not care? Of course, He cares.

Does God not have the authority to intervene? Of course, He does.

God rules supreme and is all-knowing and all-powerful, not to mention is love itself. They are to trust the God of grace.

When we are suffering, we are under the mighty hand of God.

We’re not to wrestle out from under it.

The command to be alert and resist the devil does not mean that we are to fight him off in order to get out of our suffering.

James 4:7 complements these verses in affirming its message. We resist the devil by submitting to God.

The devil isn’t after us so much as he’s after our faith.

When we fight against our suffering, we’re working with the devil, not resisting him.

Submitting to and trusting the God of grace is how we resist the devil’s attempts to knock us off our firm foundation of faith in the Word, in the goodness and love and perfection of Christ.

We are told in God’s word, which is as good as any unbreakable promise, that our deliverance date is marked on the calendar.

It will come at the proper time.

God won’t leave us in suffering for a moment longer than needed.

He will HIMSELF perfect us, confirm us as His own, strengthen us for His work, and establish us as saints in His kingdom.

A temporary time of suffering in exchange for God Himself perfecting us. How could we not see that as worth it?