"Resting in God's Comprehensive Benevolence" - Thursday, September 1st

"Resting in God's Comprehensive Benevolence" - Thursday, September 1st

By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea …. You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; the stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth. You water its furrows abundantly, You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth. You have crowned the year with Your bounty, and Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, and the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are clothed with flocks and the valleys are covered with grain; they shout for joy, yes, they sing. Psalm 65:5, 9-13

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

God created the world and all its inhabitants. God is wonderfully devoted to sustaining his entire creation. He cares deeply about the overall welfare of his creation and is intimately involved in tending to the extensive needs of his creation on every level. Today’s Scripture is a great reminder of the “comprehensive benevolence” of God. The following quote is borrowed from J. Gresham Machen who was a great theologian from the past.

“Benevolence is God’s non-discriminatory welfare lavished upon His creatures, both animal and human, even though none deserve this sustenance. It is kindly provision for the creature from the Creator. So, “the Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works …. You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145:9, 15-16).”

While God created the universe with high regard and affection, He also designated it as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31-2:3). Consequently, He sustains the work of His hands with continuous care and devotion, even “the birds of the air” (Mathew 6:26). So He “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Furthermore, such maintenance is unending, without respite (John 5:17). Thus God invests close loving scrutiny and enriching influence in His creation. 

God’s maintenance of His creation is referred to as His providence, His provision or benevolence or goodwill, that is also generous. It is righteous providence, administered through His sovereignty, that employs omniscience which makes Him to be aware of needs throughout the universe. So God is “glad in His works” (Psalm 104:31). Hence this loving concern includes fondness for the inanimate, animate as well as the human works of His own hands.” J. Gresham Machen 

In looking at the subject of “stress” this week we have sought help for handling it by considering something each day that is true of God and comes to us from him. What can we learn from this brief look at God’s “comprehensive benevolence” in this regard? First, we must guard ourselves from any sense of entitlement by having and maintaining a true spirit of thankfulness to God for his “bounty” in our lives no matter how “meager” or “lavish” it seems to us.

Second, we must recognize and hold on to the perspective that if God’s “bounty” in our lives seems insufficient to us, it is always, without fail, because He is at work accomplishing a “greater good” in our lives. While God cares deeply for your welfare on a physical level, He cares even more deeply for your welfare on a spiritual level. In other words, our need for “spiritual transformation” always trumps our need for “physical provision.” This is because often the “greater good” of our “spiritual transformation” will only come about with the “wake-up call” of diminished “physical provision.”

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, I recognize that “physical provision” has been a huge source of stress in my life. I choose to trust you today in a more comprehensive way. I do hear the gentle prompting of your voice. I do want to rest in you. I really do see that all the things that are true of you come from you to me in our relationship. At this very moment I fall back into your arms and rest fully in your ‘unfailing love,’ your ‘complete forgiveness,’ your ‘absolute sovereignty,’ and your ‘comprehensive benevolence.’ Lord, I love you, I trust you, and I rest in you. Amen!

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