Moderator's Comments - Posted 31 December 2016

What can we be sure of for 2017?

I can send you a New Year’s card with the most sincere expression of goodwill: wishing you the happiest year, seeking better outcomes for you and hoping for improved health. But can we, in any way, be sure of such things? Can we be sure that this year will be any better than last? Can we be sure of anything?

It’s the uncertainties of life that are certain. What remains true is that in terms of happiness, better outcomes and good health: 2017 is a complete unknown. BUT, what we can be sure of is that the Apostle Paul is right when he says: “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” What remains absolutely true is Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4:19.

Please receive this as my New Year’s greeting card for you … your diary entry for 1 Jan 2017. This is worthy of being the Presbyterian Church of Australia’s motto of the year. Inscribe this one thing on your hearts today:

“God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Spurgeon had these words inscribed in stone. He ordered his stonemason to etch this text on the columns at the entrance to his Orphanage. Such was his confidence in the goodness of God that through the rich mercy of Christ Jesus all needs will be met.

Spurgeon’s Stockwell Orphange for boys was built in 1867 – a work founded as a compassionate response to Christ to relieve the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children in London. Motivated by faith, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and his associates sought to provide shelter, education and a loving environment for the city's most vulnerable children. Ten years later, when girls were welcomed to the orphanage, there were 500 children living there.

When I think of that promise of Scripture from Philippians, I can see in my mind walking up the steps to the Orphanage from Clapham Road, through the archway to enter this building of faith. I picture reading on the entrance columns that this mission of the church operated by trust in the goodness of God’s provision.

If the Lord returned today, and we in the PCA are called to account, would he find such faith? Pastor … elder … would he find your church operating by such trust in the goodness of God’s provision?

As we enter 2017, let’s etch above the porchway of the year:

“God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

What are our needs?

Dear Christian, our needs are many.

We’re in need of perpetual pardon because we’re always sinning. But then we remember that Jesus blood is always pleading for us and he can cleanse us from every sin (1 John 1:9).

We need daily strength to stand firm against temptation and all the devil’s schemes. And we know that we have the full armour of God available and in that armour he gives us strength, sufficient to make our stand (Ephesians 6:13).

For many, the need of the hour is for renewal of spirit because we’re downcast and nearly overcome with anxiety and worry … but then we remember that if we approach him in humility God’s mighty hand will lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).

For the hurting Christian, bruised, battered and let down by people, we need healing and soothing comfort. And we remember that Jesus’ ministry provides the exact remedy of protecting the bruised reed and enlivening the smouldering wick (Matthew 12:20).

We need fresh thinking … for our minds to think clearer and make better decisions. We are then reminded that God provides generous portions of wisdom if only we ask for it (James 1:5).

We need patience when going through hard times and under trial; we need to understand the love of God when it’s hard. Then we are reminded how God allows hardship because he loves us (Hebrews 12:7); and in that love he wants to bring a harvest of righteousness and peace in our lives (Hebrews 12:11).

For some, the need of the day is assurance of faith, a plea to stop the nagging doubts. And then God draws near and provides the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit whispering words of sonship and assurance (Romans 8:16).

I could continue and list another seven needs, and then another set. But, I don’t need to list them all (and I can’t). But I am assured that ALL your needs are met in Christ Jesus.

How are needs met?

God can meet your needs. His supply is infinite in capacity. His power is boundless. His readiness to help is continuous. God stands more ready to provide than we are to ask. We tire in our asking, but God neither slumbers nor sleeps. We only need to look where the Psalmist looked – “my help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth … he who watches over you will not slumber” (Psalm 121).

For every need there’s a matching provision. It’s not that God doesn’t supply our needs, rather I believe that we’re blind at times to how God works. God supplies, but we miss the delivery.

The provision of God appears in surprising places, not always arriving with bells and whistles … not always speaking through the thunderclap and lightning. Many are the ways in which needs are met. God works in many different ways to deliver his power.

The 18th century English hymnwriter/poet William Cowper speaks of God’s “surprising light”:

Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
it is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings.
When comforts are declining, he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

C H Spurgeon reminds us: “Omnipotence has servants everywhere”. Meaning, there are many servants delivering God’s provisions every day: your pastor’s preaching, your friend’s gentle conversation, your home group’s prayer, your friend’s smile, your church member’s letter, your neighbour’s meal. Don’t miss the delivery.

2017 – the year where we testify to the Lord’s omnipotence delivered to us parcel by parcel, via surprising light. “Omnipotence has servants everywhere”. Look out for the delivery … and, under God’s wisdom, you may then be the delivery agent of God’s power for your fellow Christian.

“God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

John P Wilson