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Day 4 – How He Teaches

You sent Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst.

—Nehemiah 9:20

The word that comes to me here is provision. Fathers are meant to provide for their children, and that is what our heavenly Father is doing through the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t withhold to punish. He doesn’t deny His children so that they will behave better. He doesn’t try and teach them a lesson through fear, wrath, sickness, or death. Love doesn’t punish. Love instructs.

This verse reminds us not only who God is, but how He operates. In context, Nehemiah is helping a broken people remember that their God is like no other. He is their heavenly Father and He has not abandoned His children. He doesn’t need to be coerced or manipulated into giving. He is good, so He gives what we need.

There are times when it seems like God is withholding for a reason. Perhaps there is a reason He knows that we can’t understand. Here, Nehemiah seeks to counsel the returned remnant that the same One who could do what he or she needed in the past is promising to do it again. He is faithful. Also, He isn’t doing the bare minimum—even when we can’t sense His presence, see Him act, or feel His touch.

Nehemiah was a man who’d risked a lucrative career in global politics to fulfill his call to rebuild Jerusalem. In the eyes of the world and culture, it seems like a pretty lousy trade-off. Yet, it feels to me like Nehemiah is daring us to trust that the Holy Spirit will do again what only He can do—provide for His children in the wasteland.

I’ve faced starvation of the soul, so I know how hard it is to keep reaching out for God’s provision. I’ve looked death in the face, and there have been times when I haven’t wanted to believe He will again fulfill His promises.

Even through these times, though, I couldn’t believe the good Spirit of my Father was keeping something from me to punish me. Nearly every time, I’ve found that He was keeping me from something I wasn’t ready for or wasn’t right for me. When I looked back, I could see there was still so much abundance around me. I might not have had what I thought I wanted, but His deeds, His actions, and His care for me taught me He provided what I needed’that’s how we learn His heart.

Even if we feel the lack of His presence or provision, that is not the truth. We can choose to keep our distance, but that is not what the Holy Spirit desires. Withholding is not His preferred teaching method.

What if He wants to ask for more than what we can imagine or think? He doesn’t want His children to settle for what we know or what we can expect because our perspective is so limited. His ways are greater and His thoughts are higher. Let’s trust the good Spirit of God today.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit. Show me how good You are. Expand my thoughts to reach higher for Yours. Show me Your provision that is beyond my understanding. Feed any starvation or thirst in me with Your presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thought

Have you faced a time when you couldn’t see what the Lord was doing, but looking back, you can see His hand of provision?

Band Discussion

  • Have you ever struggled with thinking that the Lord was using your circumstances to punish you?
  • Has the Lord proved Himself as a provider to you?
  • If you’ve ever felt the lack of God’s presence in your life, how did you get through that and maintain your faith?