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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Lost wedding ring?…Never Fear El Shaddai is Here

A couple of years ago I lost my wedding band. Our local church has a sports team on which I participated. As I was changing one day in the parking lot for a game I took off my wedding band and must have inadvertently dropped the ring as I was putting my clothes into an athletic bag. I soon discovered the wedding band was missing. This was disappointing to both my wife and me. It was not a very expensive ring, but it was more the idea that it represented the most important covenant in my life.

After a few months of hoping it would turn up somewhere my wife and I went to a jewelry store to replace it. We found the prices of rings had increased almost tenfold since we had initially purchased the ring 23 years earlier. We were preparing to buy an inexpensive ring, when the jeweler remembered getting a return of an expensive ring. He found it and was able to size it to fit my finger. This attractive ring was worth three times what we would have spent for the least expensive ring there, but the jeweler gave it to us for the price of the least expensive ring.

What a blessing for God to prove his lavishness to us again and affirm our marriage covenant with a special blessing. God is good. I enjoy teaching this revelation of El Shaddai so much because it seems to help people to fulfill their destiny. Of all the things I teach as a Bible teacher, this area of Biblical prosperity seems to help people the most in reaching their God-given dreams.

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More Than Enough for Our Family

My wife and I have always had a dream to have a large family.  However, many times when we shared our desire with friends, the response was always the same, even from some of our family. How will you be able to afford so many children? We did not really have a good answer at the time, usually we halfheartedly responded about God supplying somehow.

Other people told us and we just assumed it would take all that we have financially to raise our family. It even sounded rather spiritual, saying that we would put all that we had into our children. Sometimes, we continued by saying that we wouldn’t have natural riches, but that our children would be our riches.

As God was teaching us this new revelation of Himself as El Shaddai, one day my wife came to me and said we needed to stop believing and saying that it would take all we had financially to raise our family. She was right. We began to realize this was believing and expecting God to meet only our needs, but not believing that He would meet above and beyond our needs. Our faith and our words had to change if we wanted to see financial abundance. We specifically started to believe and say we would have all of our family’s financial needs met and that there would be finances left over for our family to support missionaries, give to others in need or to minister to those in our community.

God showed us we needed to change what we believed, what we said and what we expected. We have five children with the youngest in her last year of high school and are currently experiencing more than enough time and money for our family. We praise God because He is El Shaddai… the God of more than enough.

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The God of “More Than Enough”

Bear with me here while I do a little teaching…Many people are already familiar with the names used to describe God’s attributes in the Bible. We have heard names like Jehovah Rophe (our healer) and Jehovah Nissi (our banner). Another one of the early names for God was El Shaddai. Abraham was the one who was first introduced to El Shaddai. Before we discover how God introduced himself to Abraham as El Shaddai, let’s examine Abraham’s first revelation of God. It is found in Genesis 12:1-3.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Here in Abraham’s original promise of God’s blessing is found what I have come to call prosperity with a purpose. This verse states that God will bless Abraham, and Abraham will be a blessing to others. This is still what He is saying to us today, “I will bless you and make you a blessing.” This general declaration of blessing becomes a whole lot more specific in Genesis 17:1-5 when God introduces himself to Abraham as El Shaddai.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai); walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.”

This term, “God Almighty” in verse one is the English translation of the term El Shaddai.Wherever we find the term “God Almighty,” it is speaking of the revelation of God using the Hebrew name El Shaddai.

Who is El Shaddai? My favorite definition and the one we will use…El Shaddai is the God of “more than enough.” “Enough” is that which is required to meet our needs. “More than enough” is having extra left over to meet the needs of others. The revelation of El Shaddai brought with it a pronouncement of fruitfulness and prosperity. You are blessed to be a blessing!

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What do I do with the surplus?

Almost all of my life I had been thinking in terms of just getting enough to get by.

For example, in the area where we live it is common to cover the flower beds around the houses with bark mulch to keep the weeds from growing. When I purchased bark mulch to put on the flower beds at our house, I would carefully measure out how many square feet of beds we had and figure how deep it should be covered and then order just the right amount. My intention was to purchase just enough. I didn’t want any extra; because I was afraid it would go to waste. I almost always underestimated and many times did not have enough to complete the task and had to make another trip to get more.

When I began to understand that my God was a God of more than enough, I started to order more mulch than I needed, asking God what He wanted me to do with the extra. Hmm…maybe my neighbor needs some? My thinking was changing.

This revelation of El Shaddai would not go away. I felt stirred in my heart to change the focus of my faith and expectation to El Shaddai. So I did. I prayed and asked the Lord for more than enough. The most amazing things began to happen. Literally within months our personal finances began to change. We began to have surpluses. We started to experience more than just having our needs met.

We find that not only was Abraham blessed, but he also passed the revelation of El Shaddai on to his children. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and Joseph in a future blog).  In Genesis, we read the amazing story of Isaac prospering in Canaan during an extended season of drought and famine.

Now there was a famine in the land—besides the earlier famine of Abraham’s time…Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him (Genesis 26:1, 12-13).

After a year I could not keep this revelation to myself. I felt guilty for not telling people about what I had found in the scriptures and was experiencing in my personal life. I had to reveal God’s truth and revelation of His provision to others. To be very clear, the only thing we changed was our faith and expectation of how God was going to supply. I did not get an extra job. No one took an offering for us. We changed what we were expecting and what we were praying and our finances began to change. It was too good to keep to myself.

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A Prosperous Soul

On a trip to the nation of Israel I found the principle of “more than enough” alive in Jewish culture. Every Friday night the Sabbath celebration in a practicing Jewish home contains the giving of thanks to God for the bread and the wine after the meal. This practice is not what Christians know as the Lord’s Supper. But by giving thanks for the bread, they are expressing appreciation for their basic needs of life being met. By giving thanks for the wine, they are expressing appreciation for the joys of life—the joys are the blessings of God that go beyond the meeting of their basic needs. Jews understand this very important concept about the nature of God.

We already mentioned in these blogs that Abraham passed on a revelation of El Shaddai to Isaac. Later Isaac personally introduced his son Jacob to El Shaddai in Genesis 28:1-3. Let’s read it.

So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram…Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban…May God Almighty (El Shaddai) bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.”

Here we see El Shaddai specifically mentioned in the same breath with “fruitfulness and increase” as Isaac seeks to pass on this revelation of God to his son. Later Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons, was next in line to receive the revelation of God Almighty (El Shaddai). The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was passed on to the next generation in Genesis 48:3-4.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty (El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’”

Joseph received the revelation. We find that Joseph had this sense of prosperity in his soul. He had it inside of him. Wherever he was, whatever the situation, no matter how difficult, he eventually would prosper. He seemed to rise to the top like cream rises to the top of milk.

When he was sold into slavery, he prospered there. When he was in Potiphar’s household, he flourished. Even in prison, he thrived. As the one in charge of the Egyptian government’s food supply program, he prospered there. He was the steward of more than enough to help others in their time of need during the seven years of famine. Prosperity was in his soul. He knew God wanted to bless him and prosper him no matter what his present circumstances looked like.

This is what we are looking for…prosperity flowing out of our hearts regardless of where we are and our current situation. If we have prosperity of soul, we will find a way to prosper, no matter what our circumstances or the opposition facing us. It will not matter the condition of our local economy or if we have a savings account or if we are a single parent, because our prosperous souls will cause us to prosper.

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When You Have Money…You Can Live on Less

When my son was learning to play the trumpet we needed to purchase a trumpet for him. If we bought the trumpet outright and paid for it in full, it would cost us $400. However, if we did not have the $400 and used the $20 per month payment plan the music store offered us we would end up paying $600 for the trumpet. The question is, “Do we want to pay $400 or $600 for the same trumpet?” Four hundred dollars of course!

When you have money you can live on less! This is an amazing truth to grasp. Simple but profound. Probably many of us could give similar examples of this financial principle.  This leaves more money for what we really want to do with it; like give and be a blessing! We have to cross-over from living in lack to experiencing God’s abundance; it will allow us to accomplish more.

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An Embarrassing Story

My wife and I have always supported missions as a regular part of our budget. This has been our life-style since the first year of our marriage. Even before we were married, as singles we supported missionaries because we had a desire to see the gospel go to the entire world.

Over the years, we have endeavored to find ways to increase our giving, I once had a “great idea” of how we could accomplish it. My brainstorm was for our family to eat rice and beans for a whole month and give the balance of the money we would save on groceries to missionaries. We had visited South America a number of times on mission trips and enjoyed eating rice and beans as the main food staple while there. I thought it would be a great project for us to do as a family and would model a giving life-style for our children. It seemed like a profoundly spiritual idea to me.

When I shared this deeply spiritual idea with my wife, she gave me an incredulous look and replied, “You can eat rice and beans for a month, but I am not, and I am not going to try and get our children to do it.” Quickly realizing that my great idea was not meeting my wife’s approval, I remember piously thinking how unspiritual she was and give  up on the idea. As I look back on this embarrassing incident, I would probably have made a good Pharisee that day.

It only hit me a couple of years later how much the spirit of poverty had affected my thinking. I literally wanted to take food away from my wife and children so that we could give a few extra dollars to missions. Just what was wrong with this idea? I discovered this to be a form of poverty thinking. Let me explain why.

I didn’t believe that God could supply more for us so that we could give more. In my thinking, we were limited to my paycheck. I looked at the income we had and saw that as a fixed ceiling rather than believing God for more money. So I wanted to take food from my children’s mouths and give it to missions. What picture of God (the Father) does that give to my children? It shows them He is a stingy Father, who gives us just enough or barely enough to survive. This is not a biblically accurate picture of God. I realized it was not right for me to show my children this tainted portrayal of God.

Thank God for my wife who could see this was not an appropriate course of action. Although it seemed so spiritual at the time, I should have been raising my faith to lift the ceiling and believe for more—lots more—not just a few dollars to give to missions. The truth is, I don’t want to give $5 more a month to missions. I want to give $50 more a month or $500 more a month. This revelation has helped us to increase our giving significantly.

To be clear the Christian life is one of self-sacrifice and surrender to His Lordship and our children need to see that modeled before anything else. How we spend our finances is part of that and obedience to His direction is essential. If God is directing you to save some money out of your budget by sacrificing something, then do it wholeheartedly. However, maybe you want to pray about increasing your inflow so you can give significantly more.

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