God is a Loving Abundant Provider

Can you imagine standing there when Jesus turned the water into wine? The scripture says in the book of John that six stone water jars used for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons, were filled to the brim. Filled to the brim? By my calculation that would be between 120 and 160 gallons of wine. We don’t know how many guests were at the wedding, but that is a lot of wine.

Abundance is part of his nature. He fed the 5000 men (not to mention women and children) and guess what?—there were baskets of food left over. I believe we must be totally convinced that God is an abundant provider—not just sometimes when he is in a good mood but as a part of his nature he provides “more than enough.” It is how he does things.

Jesus and his party were accused of living in celebration and luxury. Maybe it was true. Why was he welcome at parties with the gluttons and drunkards? This would have been the wealthy people of the community in Jesus day. Maybe they invited him because they were hoping he would turn more water into wine? I don’t know.

What does it mean when the scripture says he delights in the well-being (sometimes translated prosperity) of his servant? “…The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant” (Psalm 35: 27).

It means it makes him happy to bless you financially and otherwise! God wants to give you the desires of your heart. Let me qualify that by saying that as you get closer to Him the desires of your heart are the same as the desires of His heart and your plans are the same as His plans. He wants to give them to you: May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed (Psalm 20:4).

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God Rewards Initiative

God helps and rewards those who take initiative. Dr. Anderson gives the example of Solomon and how God gave him wisdom.

Solomon asked God for wisdom but to achieve it, he still had to read and study and learn….Solomon didn’t just sit down one day and start writing Proverbs. Many of the things in that book can be traced to older books of wisdom in other cultures, especially Egypt. Solomon studied them and compiled them adding his own insights as he went. Such study is an integral part of becoming wise. When you attain wisdom, the world will seek you out to ask advice. 1

Our tendency is to just read Proverbs and think that it was a download from God. This is probably not the way it happened. It was from God, but it also involved study, practice and the life experiences of Solomon. Do you think Solomon tried things that didn’t work? Of course he did, he made many mistakes. So, as we read the following proverbs related to this topic we know this was not just theory but the product of study and life experiences.

He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son (Proverbs 12:11; 13:4; 10:4-5).

It is as simple as this. We will not have a business unless we start one. We will not own stock unless we buy some. We will not own real estate unless we go through the process to purchase some. We will never know if our wild idea for a service or a product is a good one until we try it, first on ourselves and then on others. We can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it via our marketing no one can purchase it. We will never write a book unless we get a computer and start typing. Listen to this quote from Author Dennis Peacock:

Laziness is married to poverty. Wealth is produced by work. If people don’t work, they don’t create wealth. Those who don’t create wealth become dependent on others for survival. 2 

Close to the end of Paul’s first letter to the Christians at Thessalonica is this statement, “Warn those who are idle”. Apparently some of the believers there we so sure of the imminent return of Jesus that they gave up their jobs in order to prepare for it. Paul was not impressed with this approach. He felt they should work. To Paul, work was spiritual.

1   Dr. C. Thomas Anderson, Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way, (New York: New York, Faith Words, Hachette Book Group USA, 2006), p. 60

2   Dennis Peacocke, Newsletter 1995

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Milk and Honey

We should do things to put ourselves in a place for God to prosper us. We like to talk about the promised land as place flowing with milk and honey, but really…do we think it came from a faucet in the side of a rock? One faucet for milk and another one for honey?  Dr. Thomas Anderson describes how it worked for the children of Israel as they entered the Promised Land:

But with abundance comes a need to learn how to produce wealth. God blessed their work, but they had to work, and not just hard but also smart. They had to know some things. The Promised Land flowed with milk and honey, but to get milk from a cow, they had to know how to milk a cow and they had to have the self discipline to actually go out and milk it everyday. To get honey they had to learn something about bees. God’s people too often think that all they have to do is confess prosperity and wait for it to come. God said he would teach us how to produce wealth, and that he would bless our efforts, but we still have to do something to produce it (Deuteronomy 29:9; 30:9; James 2:17). 1

As we have previously examined the children of Israel had manna come from heaven while they were wondering in the wilderness, but later they were expected to work, sow and reap in the Promised Land. Is God going to drop money out of heaven like he did manna in the wilderness? Not usually, this would only cultivate a lazy spirit. God helps and rewards those who take initiative. There are times God tells us to wait, but most of the time he expects us to act.

1   Dr. C. Thomas Anderson, Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way, (New York: New York, Faith Words, Hachette Book Group USA, 2006), p.xvi

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Pray and Do

This profound truth from has changed my life. Proverbs states that it is both the fruit of our lips (our prayers and declarations) and the work of our hands that reward us.

From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him (Proverbs 12:14).

Amazing. This scripture alone could revolutionize your life. Pray and do. We will look at this again from another angle in a later blog when we discuss the importance of our words.

In 2 Kings 3, we have the historical account of the kings of Israel and Judah marching out into the desert on the way to fight the King of Moab.  They ran out of water and inquired of Elisha the prophet about what they should do. He told them they should dig ditches and God would fill them with water. Let’s look at the story.

While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha and he said, “This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also hand Moab over to you…” The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water (2 Kings 3:15-19, 20).

We see again that the Lord expected some action from the Kings of Israel and Judah to match his efforts. We should do things to put ourselves in a place for God to prosper us.As we have previously examined the children of Israel had manna come from heaven while they were wondering in the wilderness, but later they were expected to work, sow and reap in the Promised Land. Is God going to drop money out of heaven like he did manna in the wilderness? Not usually, this would only cultivate a lazy spirit. God helps and rewards those who take initiative.

There are times God tells us to wait, but most of the time he expects us to act.

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He Expects us to Prepare and Take Action

Let me ask a question…Would you allow someone to manage your financial accounts and personal savings that is personally in debt, has never themselves saved money, accumulated wealth or managed property? I’m guessing you would not. Why then do we expect the Lord to just dump money in our laps without us ever learning the principles of finance and money management? He expects us to prepare and take action.

When Elisha encountered the widow woman who was in serious financial need he did not just write her a check…to use today’s terminology. She was a godly woman who was in desperate need, but he still asked her to participate with him in the financial blessings he was about to release. This is a picture of how God the Father asks us to participate in receiving from him today. It is interesting to note that Elisha required the widow woman to collect vessels to contain the oil that was to be poured out, and she was rewarded according to her level of participation. If she had gathered more containers she would have gotten more financial reward. Interesting. Can we be motivated to work and prepare for God’s blessing?

The Bible states the most amazing thing about Hezekiah. The simple truth of this Bible passage has revolutionized my life especially in the area of finances.

This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).

Hezekiah sought his God. He worked wholeheartedly and so he prospered. After stating what Hezekiah did was good and right and faithful, we are given his methodology that was so pleasing to God. Can we do the same? First seek the Lord earnestly in prayer, then apply all of our spirit, soul and body to the task at hand…be it financial or otherwise… and then expect God’s prosperity will follow. It is a simple, practical three-step process, and I have found that it works.

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Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

In the movie “Facing the Giants” there is a conversation about two farmers who were praying for rain for their crops. Both farmers were asking God for rain but one farmer was out digging irrigation ditches while the other was sitting in his house waiting for the rain to come. The question was asked, “Which farmer has more faith?” Without getting into a huge theological discussion here, I have come to realize that God does expect us to put some action to our faith. This is a change from the way I once thought, and I would now say it is a more prosperous way of thinking.

Many years ago when I first heard the statement, “God helps those who help themselves,” I reacted to it negatively. In my passionate spirituality I said categorically that this was just an excuse to rely on human effort instead of God. I told the individual that nowhere in the Bible does it say that God helps those that help themselves. I have changed my mind and had to eat these words that I thought were so spiritual. I humbly intend to show you in these next few blogs how God does help those who help themselves.

Christians are fond of quoting and praying the scriptures about the wealth of the wicked being stored up for the righteous as stated in Proverbs 13:22. I believe these scriptures are absolutely true; however, I am not sure that God will automatically transfer wealth to his children in the last days. This expectation appears to be based on faith, but it sounds a lot like lottery thinking.  As we will see when we look at Elisha’s interaction with a widow, faith without works is dead. The Lord expects us to be active participants in receiving the wealth of the wicked. It is a joint venture.

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Learn from Prosperous People

Let me encourage you to try an experiment. At your next extended family dinner ask a relative who is prosperous what was the best financial decision they have ever made. This will do two things. It will help you break out of the fear of talking about money and likely you will find out some financial information that will help you. If we ask and observe who is around us, it is likely that the Lord will provide some financial mentors for us. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but you will develop confidence and find who is willing to help you. Most financially prosperous people will take it as a compliment that you want to learn from the wisdom they have. Proverbs connects “not learning” with poverty. We must be willing to learn:

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance (Proverbs 13:18, 1:5).

Wealth is not evil, so lose your attitude toward wealthy people! This attitude is rooted in envy and jealousy. Envy and jealousy are sin. In his book Breaking the Power of Evil, Rick Joyner says,

One of the biggest open doors that the spirit of poverty has into our lives is through our own unrighteous judgments…I once visited a state that was under one of the most powerful spirits of poverty that I have witnessed in this country. It was remarkable because it is a state of great beauty and natural resources. It had talented and resourceful people, but a spirit of poverty was on almost everyone. Another characteristic that stood out was that almost everyone I met there seemed to uncontrollably scorn and criticize anyone who was prosperous or powerful.

With every pastor of a small church whom I met (and almost all of the churches in this state were very small), the conversation would inevitable turn to criticizing “mega-churches” and “mega-ministries,” which these people obviously thought were the reason for many of their own problems…Many pastors yoke themselves and their congregations to financial poverty by criticizing how other churches or ministries take up offerings or solicit donations. Because of their judgment of others, they then cannot even take up a biblical offering without feeling guilty. They have yoked themselves by their unrighteous judgment.3

Most wealthy people have some financial wisdom we could use. Our judgments against them erect a wall that will keep us from becoming like them. Remember in the U.S., most millionaires still work 50 hours a week and did not inherit their money. They have financial wisdom. Ask prosperous people for advice. Find someone who has victory in a financial area that you are lacking and humbly ask them for help. Jesus said you would be like your teachers, so ask someone to help you with a budget or to go to see the bank manager. It is wise to ask for help.

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The Millionaire Next Door

I want to tell you about a book I believe God directed me to read a few years ago. It really helped me develop a more healthy attitude about money.The title of the book is The Millionaire Next Door. This book basically studied the wealthy in America and examined their life-styles. The main point of the book is that most wealthy people look like (and probably are) the people who are your neighbors. Its research showed that most of the wealthy were married with kids and did not inherit vast sums of money. They still work 50 hours per week, live below their means and wear inexpensive suits.

Their wealth came by working and saving and investing 20% of their income.  In most cases they worked most of their lives to become wealthy and do not drive exotic foreign cars. In fact, the book revealed that most of the people who drive exotic foreign cars are not wealthy at all. In essence, as described by the title of the book, most of the wealthy look and act like our neighbor next door. 1

The statistics from the book helped me because in my mind I had this fixation that to be wealthy meant you had to be showy and vain like many movie stars and professional athletes. I changed my wrong perception of what it “looked like” to be wealthy.  This truth helps us know how to have a healthy attitude toward money. Let’s be free to talk openly and honestly about money.

       On the other hand some Christians have accumulated wealth and yet act as if they have nothing. I don’t believe this is a biblical and healthy approach to money either. Proverbs 13:7 says: One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.  God has a better way. The Bible teaches something different about God’s blessing. We should be neither boastful nor ashamed of the financial blessings from Him.

Let’s just be honest. Money helps us do what we are called to do to expand the kingdom of God. Money is not evil unless we fall in love with it. It is a tool. We can and should learn from others who have financial courage so we can develop it in our lives.

1                    Stanley, Thomas J. The Millionaire Next Door. New York: Pocket, 1996.

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