Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 50 — Tomorrow's Guarantee of God's Provision
Psalm 78:20, "Behold, He smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can He give bread also? can He provide flesh for His people?"
In that great song, perhaps the most popular of them all, "Amazing Grace," there is a stanza that says, "Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
Psalm 78 tells of the Israelites recounting what God had done in the past and yet doubting what God could do in the future. In verse 12 they said, "Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers." In verse 13 they said, "He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and He made the waters to stand as an heap." In verse 14, they said, "In the daytime also He led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire." In verse 15 they said, "He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths." In verse 16 they said, "He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers," and yet in verse 19 they doubted that God could care for their needs. In verse 20 they looked to the past and said, "Behold, He smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed," but now they doubt when they say, "Can He give us bread also?" How sad! The miracles of the past stood by themselves. They offered no encouragement to the people of God concerning the future. They did not affect their faith. This is so often the case with God's people.
Here are two people who enjoy the same blessings. One rejoices about the blessing and frets for tomorrow. The other says, "He did it yesterday; He will do it again tomorrow!"
Here are two people. One says, "He did it once; I wonder if He will do it again?" The other says, "He did it once; I have learned what He is like, and I know He will do it again."
Here are two people. One gets a blessing. The other learns a principle.
Here are two pastors who look to the past and recount the great miracles of God upon their churches. One says, "He provided in the past; He will in the future." The other says, "He provided in the past; I wonder if He will in the future?"
The believer must always realize that God does not change; He always responds the same way under the same conditions. Not only can we say, " 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far," but thank God we can say, "And grace will lead me home."
Here is a young person who has just graduated from high school. He looks back and says, "God has been so good"; then he frets about college. Here is another young person who says, "God has been so good while I was in high school, and I know He can see me through college."
When I enrolled at East Texas Bible College I did not have one dime in my pocket, but I knew I was going through college. How did I know? God had seen me through high school! When the day for my high school graduation came, my mother asked to speak to me. She said, "Son, I'm sorry, but there is no way you can go to your graduation tonight because you must wear a suit to graduation." (In those days high school graduates did not wear caps and gowns). Young men wore suits and young ladies wore formal dresses.) She proceeded, "We just don't have any money. I have tried to find some. I have tried to borrow it; I have tried to earn it, but in a few hours the commencement service begins and there is no way that Mother can see that it will be possible for you to go to your graduation." I went to the back room and knelt beside my little bed and pleaded with God to provide a suit for me so I could go to my own high school graduation. I got off my knees and in just a few moments I heard a voice on the front porch. It was the postman. I went to the mailbox, and there was a letter from my uncle Harvey. I opened it and read something like this, "Dear Jack. I just found out that you are graduating. I didn't have time to buy you a present; I hope this $50 check will be satisfactory." (It was!) In those days $50 could buy a suit, a tie, a pair of shoes, a new shirt, new socks and the whole works. With tears of joy dropping from my 17-year old eyes, I went down to a men's store and bought a pair of shoes, a pair of socks, a new shirt, a tie and a suit. In a few hours I walked across the platform of the McFarland Auditorium at Southern Methodist University (an auditorium rented by the high school for our graduation exercises) dressed as nicely as anybody, but with a heart full of confidence that God cares for His own. I knew God would see me through college because He saw me through high school!
Here is a person who is graduating from college. He says, "Praise the Lord. He saw me through college, but I am worried about the future." Another graduates from college and says, "Praise the Lord, He saw me through college and I know He will take care of me in the future." When I graduated from college, I knew that God would care for me. Do you know why? He cared for me while I was in college, and I knew He would care for me in my ministry to follow.
I had arrived on the college campus without a dime. I had to find a job quickly. I took my Bible, went down to the courthouse square and knelt there on the square in Marshall, Texas, and opened my Bible to Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." I claimed this promise. I said, "Dear God, I beg You for a job." I looked up and saw the J.C. Penny store down the street, and I said, "Dear God, I ask You for a job at J.C. Penny store." With my Bible open to Jeremiah 33:3, I went down to the store and asked if I could see the manager. A heavy, whitehaired man named Mr. Croft came to me. He said, "May I help you, sir."
I said, "Yes, sir, I think I'm going to work here."
He said, "How do you know? Why do you think that?"
I showed him Jeremiah 33:3 and told him that I had just prayed on the courthouse square and asked God for a job. He looked at me and said, "Young man, I just fired four men from the men's department, but you are hired!" He later told me why. He said he knew that I would either be the best salesman that J.C. Penny store had ever had or the biggest flop in the history of the country, and he had to find out which one it would be! The next day I went to work at J.C. Penny Company.
This is just one of many instances where God provided for this preacher during college years. At the end of my college training as I looked back to see how God had provided, would not I be able to know that God would provide in the future? Grace has led me safe thus far, could not grace lead me home?
Here is a person that says, "God has been good to me in my young adulthood, but I'm worried sick about middle age." Another person says, "God has been good to me in my young adulthood, and that proves He will provide in my middle age." I love the story about the little boy who went with his mother to the grocery store. There was a big container of candy right beside the cash register. The little boy looked longingly at the candy. The groceryman saw him and kindly said, "Son, go ahead and get a handful. It's free to you." The little boy kept looking, but didn't move a hand. The groceryman said again, "Go ahead, son, get a handful. I won't charge you a penny for it. You are a good boy. I want you to have it free." The boy did not move his hand; he just kept looking longingly at the candy. The mother said, "Go ahead, son! The groceryman has told you it's all right, and it's all right with mother too. Get a handful." The boy didn't move a hand, but kept looking longingly at the candy. Finally the groceryman looked at him and said, "well, son, if you are too timid, I'll get it for you. So the groceryman got a handful of candy and placed it in the lad's pocket. A big smile came across the boy's face. As they walked home, the mother looked at the boy and said, "Son, why didn't you get the candy yourself when the groceryman told you you could?"
A smile came across the boy's face and he said, "Mama, 'cause his hand is bigger than mine!" Yes, and God's hand is bigger than mine, too. His grace has led me safe thus far, and His grace will lead me home.
Here is a person whose family is grown and middle aged, and he is coming to the closing years of his life. He looks back and says, "God has been good to me in helping me rear my family, but I am so worried about old age." Here is a person who looks back at middle age years and says, "God has been good to me in helping me rear my family, and I have learned a great truth that God will care for me in my old age." One says only, " 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far." The other says, "And grace will lead me home!"
Here is a person facing the sunset of life. He looks back over his life and he says, "I have had a wonderful life and God has provided, but I am afraid to die." Another looks back over life and says, "I had a wonderful life, and God has been so good to provide, but now that death is coming, He must have something so wonderful and so much better for me after death."
Listen, beloved, His mighty arms can hold the infant like a mother, build a wall around one in life's noonday, and lay a bridge of sunset over which the old man's feet may walk serenely into eternal day.
One of the main reasons we Christians should not fear death is that it will give us a chance to see our Heavenly Father in action. A boy whose dad is a sailor would love to see his dad at sea. A child whose dad is a statesman would love to see his dad in the Senate. A child whose dad is a judge would love to see his dad on the bench doing his works. A child whose dad is a doctor would love to see him in his office as he is used as an instrument of healing. A child whose dad is an athlete would love to see his dad perform on the athletic field A child whose dad is a lawyer would love to see his dad perform in court. How much more would a child whose Dad is God anticipate going to work with God and getting to see Him at work in the glory place!
Oh, yes, I sometimes wander into worry. I sometimes ask myself, "How will I live when I get older?" I have laid nothing away for a rainy day, and then I look up to God and say, "Shall not He Who sent angels to our door, shall not He Who kept the cruse from going empty, shall not He Who dropped manna from the sky, shall not He Who fed Mother and me when I was a boy, shall not He Who sent me a graduation suit six hours before I was to walk across the platform, shall not He Who sent me through college, shall not He Who gave me a job at J.C. Penny Company, shall not He Who provided for our needs when my salary was $7.50, shall not He Who has provided for me thus far also provide for me in my old age? Oh, yes, He will! I know He will! He will! He will! He will! Praise God, I know He will!
Oh, yes, I sometimes wander into worry about the church. How will the church keep going? The burden is getting heavier all the time, the responsibility is greater, but I stop and say, "Shall not He Who has seen us through these years see us in the years to come? Shall not He Who has taken an annual budget of $60,000 and made it in 23 years an annual budget over $12 million care for us in the future too? Shall not He Who has led in building two grade schools, a junior high school, two high schools and a college lead us in the future also?
A little girl was in the hospital. The nurse came in one morning to visit the little girl who was very ill. The nurse was in an unusually crabby mood that morning. The little girl said, "Good morning, nurse."
The nurse very abruptly said, "Good morning."
The little girl said, "Nurse, you don't seem very happy. You must not have heard the good news."
The nurse said, "What good news?"
The girl said, "Didn't you hear the good news that Jesus got born?"
May this simple servant of God ask you the question, "Did you hear the good news?" Did you hear the good news in Matthew 6:33? "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Did you hear the good news in Philippians 4:19? "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Did you hear the good news in Romans 8:28? "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 37:4? "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 37:19? "They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied." Did you hear the good news in John 15:7? "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 91:1? "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 23:1? "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."
Did you hear the good news in Psalm 37:25? "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread." Did you hear the good news in Hebrews 13:5? "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 37:3? "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Did you hear the good news in Jeremiah 33:3? "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Did you hear the good news in Malachi 3:10? "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 34:22? "The LORD redeemeth the soul of His servants: and none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate." Did you hear the good news in Psalm 37:9? "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."
Did you hear the good news in Psalm 34:7? "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." Did you hear the good news? Did you hear the good news? Did you hear the good news?
I believe that God has all of your suits ordered for the rest of your life. I believe that God has all of your food ordered for the rest of your life. His banks do not fail; His cargo bearing ships do not sink. He feeds the ravens and clothes the lilies of the field. Psalm 50:10 still says, "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." Did you hear the good news that He fed three million Jews for 40 years? Did you hear the good news that He gave water from the rock? Did you hear the good news that the Jew's shoes never wore out? Did you hear the good news that He sent ravens to feed Elijah in I Kings 17:4? "And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there."
Did you hear the good news in Matthew 6:30? "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Did you hear the good news that He fed the quail to His people for thirty days? Did you hear the good news? Did you hear the good news? Did you hear the good news?
Did you hear the good news that God answers prayer? Hope for answered prayer is midnight's noontime; it is sunset's sunrise; it is the song of the dumb; it is the parent of faith; it is the rainbow of the storm; it is the shadow of a dream; it is the sister of charity; it is the cemetery of doubt; it is the discouragement's pallbearer; it is the dying man's tomorrow. Did you hear the good news?
When you cannot trace God, you can reach Him through prayer. When your wooded walk leads you to the place you began, and you are walking in circles, you can find Him through prayer. When the last helper has fainted, the last cure has failed, faith's last leaf has withered and your last friend has faltered, there is a God in Heaven Who answers prayer Who will care for you and provide for your needs.
Oh, yes, I sometimes wander into worry when I ask myself, "How can I carry the load with over 65,000 members, with over $12 million a year to raise, with over three sermons a day to preach, with over 150 counseling sessions a week, with over 200,000 miles a year to travel, with a college to keep going, with two high schools to oversee, with a junior high to help operate, with two grade schools to finance and care for, and with over tens of thousands of people across America who seek my counsel, how can I carry the load? Then I am reminded, "Shall not He Who has given wisdom to a little Texas introvert continue to give strength to bear the load? Shall not He Who has led me safe thus far lead me Home?" I simply look to the past and say, " 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far," and look to the future and say, "And grace will lead me Home!"
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