Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

An Inexhaustible Supply

Field of corn

by Dennis Pollock

One of the great frustrations for humans inhabiting this earth is that we tend to move from more to less. In short, we run down, run out, wear down, wear out, and give out. We lose patience, lose hope, run out of money, run out of time, run out of ideas, and run out of steam. Our strength fails, our courage wanes, our joy dissolves, and our bodies grow flabby, weak, and slow. John Paxson is a former pro basketball player who once famously won a key game in the NBA finals for the Chicago Bulls with a clutch three-pointer. But in his final year his skills and ability were clearly deserting him, and he lamented, "My shot's gone flat; I can't jump – I'm done." Most of us can identify with John in one way or another. And if you cannot yet identify with him, just wait a few years – sooner or later you will!

As believers in Christ, however, we serve a God who never runs out or runs down. Isaiah writes:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. (Isaiah 40:28)

From our earliest days of spiritual infancy we learn to come to our great God and Father when our strength begins to fail or our needs grow more and more desperate. We discover that God is very much in the renewal business. To renew means pretty much what it says: to make things in our life, (or to make us) new all over again – especially after having become exhausted, drained, and brought to the point of total weakness and despair. Again, Isaiah writes: "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

Nearly every Christian knows these verses, or has heard them preached about, and would give assent to the idea that God is able to renew and refresh His people. Where we waver is in the idea of continual and repetitive renewals in all the various areas of life in which we need renewing. Sure God has refreshed, encouraged, and strengthened us before, but will He do it this time? Does He not get tired of me coming to Him again and again, asking for fresh strength, additional grace, new ideas, more money, more wisdom, and yet another deliverance from a snare of the evil one? Is there a chance that He'll eventually get tired of my continual requests and needs, and just leave me on my own to get by the best I can? We get emotionally drained and put off when people demand too much of us; could it be that God feels the same about us?

River of Grace

The good news is that there are no limitations either to God's ability or willingness to renew and refresh His people. Unlike us, His supply of grace is infinite. He never runs out of grace for those who call upon Him in the name of Jesus Christ – He never has and never will. John writes of Jesus: "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). It is an interesting expression: "grace for grace." I once heard a Bible teacher compare it to a river. When you stare at a river for a long period of time, you are not seeing the same water the entire time. Because of its current, the water in one spot is continually being replaced by fresh water, which in turn is being replaced by fresh water, and so forth. While it looks like one body of water, it is in fact water being replaced by water being replaced by water, or as John might put it: "water for water." So it is with the grace of Jesus given to those who believe. The grace we receive for today will be swallowed up by grace for tomorrow, which will be replaced by yet more grace. And just as the river never runs out of water, neither does the grace of Jesus for the children of God.

Empty Vessels

Clay pots

There is a fascinating story in the book of 2 Kings which beautifully illustrates God's inexhaustible supply for His people. In the fourth chapter a widow of one of Elisha's former students came to him with a severe need. Now that her husband was dead she had no means of income and was in such debt that her creditors were coming to take away her sons to sell them as slaves. Elisha asked her what she had in the house of any value, and she told him that all she had was a jar of olive oil. He instructed the distraught woman to go to her neighbors and friends and borrow from them as many jars, bottles, and vessels as she could get. She was to bring all the vessels into her house, shut the door, and from her one jar of oil start pouring oil into all the vessels she had borrowed. She could then make the money to pay off her creditors by selling the oil.

It was a pretty bizarre thing to do, but to her credit the widow believed the prophet, and did as he said. She enlisted her sons to help her and they started handing her one jar after another, while she poured the olive oil into the jars until they were full. To her amazement the original jar never ran out of oil, even as jar after jar was filled.  Finally, when she called for another vessel, one of her sons told her, "There is not another vessel." At this point the Bible gives us a short little sentence of tremendous magnitude, and packed with theological implications. The Scriptures declare, "So the oil ceased."

The clear inference is that the oil ceased, not because God had no more capacity to produce it and had entirely drained Himself in filling those particular jars. No, the oil ceased because there were no more jars to fill. There was no purpose for God to keep multiplying olive oil when there were no more containers to hold it. On the other hand, had the woman been more ambitious and collected more vessels, the oil would surely have continued to flow freely. The limitation was with the woman, not with God's miraculous ability or willingness to provide.

God Knows

We were made to run on the fuel of God Himself, and He releases His divine life in us through Jesus Christ. As children of the most High God, we are promised that we will have all we need throughout all our days. "As your days, so shall your strength be," God proclaimed to Asher and says to all who are in Christ Jesus. When we receive adoption into the family of God, we are given the promise of provision for a lifetime. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" writes Paul (Philippians 4:19). Jesus tells us, "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things (all our material needs) shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

Imagine having someone come up to you who gives you a pre-paid credit card and tells you that you may buy all the gasoline you will need for the rest of your life on this card – and that the money prepaid into the account is more than you will ever be able to spend. What a thrill it would be to know that every time your car starts running low on gas you can take out your little card and fill up your tank at no expense to you. You will never have to worry about whether gas prices are rising or falling. It makes no difference to you. Your gasoline costs are covered as long as you live. How precious would that card seem to you!

But suppose he tells you, "There is something else this card will do for you. You may also use it to purchase groceries as well. Your food and drink is entirely covered by this card. Shop at any grocery store you want, and they will honor it. For the rest of your days, your food bill is entirely covered." We would bless the day we met this beneficent stranger, and consider ourselves "set for life." Whether the price of beef is rising or falling, whether eggs are on sale or their price has gone through the roof, whether fish is significantly higher than chicken or they both cost about the same, we have no worries.

When we make our entrance into the family of God through Jesus, we become essentially "set for life." Our needs will be provided today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives. Jesus provides "grace for grace," He is the "Nourisher" of the church (Ephesians 5:29), and He becomes your personal Nourisher. He not only provides our spiritual needs, but also nourishes us with joy, peace, encouragement, fulfillment, purposeful living, and emotional strength. By His Holy Spirit within us, we are given all sorts of resources: physical, emotional, and spiritual that we could never have attained on our own. And His mercies never run out; they are "new every morning." Just as Israel experienced manna which sustained them continually until the day they crossed over the Jordan and entered their promised land, so we will receive material needs, grace, encouragement, strength, financial resources, wisdom, joy, and all that men and women need to navigate this life in righteousness, peace, and joy, until we cross over our Jordan at our death, and live in His presence.

The One Problem

This is wonderful to contemplate, but there is one small factor that keeps us from becoming too smug or self-confident. God has truly promised grace and provision for His children, but He has not said that there would never be times of lack and scarcity. The truth is that even Christians can and do "run out." God is not surprised when we run out of strength, run out of energy, run out of money, run out of wisdom, or any other area in which we find ourselves empty and drained. We were made that way. The process of having abundance and then seeing it run low, even to the point of desperate need, is actually pretty normal and healthy for us, at least from time to time. Like Paul we must learn "how to be abased, and how to abound… to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:12). Many never recognize that this passage about abounding and suffering need is found in the same chapter as the famous declaration that "God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

We must have our seasons of need and drought to keep us continually going back to the inexhaustible Source of all supply, that we may be replenished, re-filled, and renewed. In those desperate, needy, dark seasons of our lives, we who are Christ's come to the Father in the name of His Son with fasting and prayer. We do not have to try to make our prayers fervent; prayers filled with fervency and passion are as natural to us as breathing. We confess God's promises, we plead, we lay out our situation to the Father, we spend lengthy periods of time in His presence. This is who we are and this is what we do. Hunters hunt, fishermen fish, athletes play games, farmers plow fields, and Christians seek the face of their Father when the rains have ceased in their lives.

Lo and behold, God graciously hears us and sends us showers of blessings once again. New life, fresh grace, and a renewed and increased faith abound as the rains of heaven fall sweetly on our lives. Perhaps when we began to seek the Lord, we feared that this time it wouldn't work. God might tire of hearing our cries and listening to us lay out our needs and wants again and again. Perhaps there will be a limit to the measure of divine rain He designates to fall upon us in a lifetime. But when those first dark clouds begin to gather and those first raindrops begin to fall, we experience incredible joy and renewed faith. He has done it one more time. Once again God has shown that in Jesus Christ there is an inexhaustible supply of grace. Our God is rich unto all who call upon Him (Romans 10:12) and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). For it is written of Jesus: "of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16).

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