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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Give…and Give Your Best

As stated previously…the core of God’s economy is giving.  Give at every opportunity you get. Give! Give! Give to everything you can. I encourage people to go through their possessions on a regular basis and give things away that they are not using. Never let an offering go by that you don’t put something in: if you don’t have cash or your checkbook put your pen or pencil in the offering or tear a button off your shirt and put it in. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing and you are too. Be generous with your family, bless your kids, bless your waitress and bless your enemies. You will see the following scripture working for you.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11: 24-25).

Give your best

I glanced into the freezer in the garage as we were loading the car with our family to go to our small group meeting. My wife had just suggested that we take some ice cream along for after the meeting. There before me were two boxes of ice cream; one generic brand and one that was more expensive and richer tasting. In a split second I needed to decide which one to take. I realized that to give our best we should take the more expensive ice cream. It was less than a dollar difference, but it is a principle we want to live by. I grabbed the more expensive box.

Why should we give our best? God gave His best when he gave his Son. If you think about it, when he was deciding how to save the world and he could have sent an angel instead of his son. It meant more to us because he gave his best…we should do likewise when we give. Remember the terminology of John 3:16, “For God so love the world that he gave…” When we give our best, we are acting like him. This is how someone made in his image and filled with his Spirit should live. This is the very nature of God, and it will make us more prosperous when we give our best.

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Give to God

The pain in my friend’s face was obvious as he explained the dilemma he was facing. He and his wife were discipling another couple in their small group who had major issues in their finances. They felt like God had told them to financially help this struggling family and yet many of the couple’s financial decisions were ill-advised decisions that my friend could not agree with. They were now struggling with God asking them to give money to this couple who would spend it differently than they would.

My response was indicative of how we must see God’s economy. I told my friend that even though their check was physically going from them to this other family, their giving was to God. This gave them the freedom to obey God and give the money as an offering to the Lord. Those who received the finances were accountable to God for how it was used.

Picture this with me: the check, cash, direct deposit or whatever we are giving actually travels horizontally (into the offering plate or charity), but all our giving is vertical (to God). For example, my wife and I might be sending a check to a ministry that is providing food and education for a needy child in Central America (horizontal), however we consider the giving of this gift as to the Lord (vertical). We see all giving as giving to God.

Likewise, the money we receive from many sources is practically received horizontally into our hands; paycheck, dividends, gifts, rents etc, but we keep the perspective that it comes vertically from the Lord above. This picture of God’s economy has helped us keep our finances in a joy-filled perspective. We see all provision as coming from God.

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Outflow

This is the fun part. As the money passes through your hands, you have the opportunity to re-direct it to extend the kingdom of God. First, you must intentionally possess and own it. It is now under your authority. Remember, money will come to you from many sources, so you really don’t know the history of it and what it was used for before it came to you. It might have been used for ungodly purposes. The scriptures do say that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous so we can expect it might need some cleansing when it comes to us. It really doesn’t matter where it came from, because now it will be used for the kingdom. This is why it is important that you take authority over it and earmark it for the kingdom of God. By doing this it is like cleansing it or sanctifying it for kingdom use.

When I say this I am not talking about some kind of ceremony where we actually put all the money we receive in a physical pile and pray some kind of blessing or sprinkle holy water over it. No, I am talking about how you posture your heart and take dominion over the money you receive. It is a matter of faith and authority, this money has come under your authority. It will now be used for kingdom purposes. The following is my outflow prayer that I pray on a regular basis.

“I tithe to my church and give to missionaries, building funds, training schools, church planters, educating the poor, feeding the poor, translation projects, revolving loan funds for the jobless, orphanages, micro-finance funds and well drilling for the thirsty in Jesus’ name.”

Your outflow will be different than mine depending on what the Lord has placed upon your heart. Upcoming posts will focus in on the practical workings of God’s Economy.

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Inflow

Right now, let’s picture money flowing to you from many sources similar to how tributaries feed a river. A lot of people look only to paychecks as their source of income. Your salary is different from your income. Someone else, like your employer, might set your salary; however, you don’t have to be satisfied or limited to that level of income.

Our limited thinking can limit God’s ability to open new sources. He might open up (many) other sources if we let him. Raise your faith and break through that ceiling of your salary level. Begin to pray and expect more income. We must understand that all the money that comes to us comes from God. The following is what I pray on a regular basis for finances to flow to me from multiple sources.

“I am a money magnet. I receive salaries, raises, inheritances, dividends, discounts, bonuses, capital gains, royalties, book sales, honorariums, gifts, tax breaks, interests, rents, refunds, prizes, real estate appreciation, residuals, rebates, scholarships, firstfruits and offerings in Jesus’ name. Money comes to me like water flows downhill.”

A prayer like this might seem a bit audacious however I would point out that to date I have received money from all but one of these sources and I expect that one will eventually open up. There might be some that I am missing that you might want to pray for yourself.

However income does not create wealth. Wealth is created by what you keep, save and invest. Your wealth is determined by measuring your net worth. We will discuss net worth in forthcoming posts. For now let’s focus on income and giving, which is one of the best investments we can make.  However, as you have heard me say before. You can’t give what you don’t have.

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A Financial Funnel

One time I was praying in my home, and God showed me a brief picture of myself as a funnel for finances. There were resources coming to me from a wide spectrum of sources and then as they came under the influence of my “kingdom of God” mentality I would redirect them to the place where they were needed to expand the kingdom. This was a very vivid picture that has stayed with me to this day. Picture yourself as a funnel with money coming in from many sources. As the money passes through your hands and comes under your authority, you have the opportunity to channel or direct it to extend the kingdom of God.

Our money literally represents our time and our talents. When we work and receive a paycheck, or invest our time and energy to increase the value of something to sell, it is the product of our efforts. It represents us. So when we give money away it is like giving something of ourselves away. Jesus literally sat by the money box in the Synagogue watching what people gave. I believe he is still watching today to see what people give.

Do you remember the one hundred dollar bill story? I realized that God would take me seriously in expecting to receive one hundred dollar bills from him if I would take him seriously in expecting me to give one hundred dollar bills away. God is not afraid to talk about money in his word and his desire to bless us; however he expects us to uphold our part of the bargain which is central to his economy.  He entrusts to us the opportunity to learn and understand his economy of giving.

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Giving is Central to God’s Economy

Unbelievably, a few years ago, on very short notice, the church we attend lost the lease on the property it was using. With only a few thousand dollars in the building fund, the church was looking at close to $100,000 that was needed to renovate the only property that was available on such short notice. I was an elder in the church at the time and remember distinctly the elders discussing what should be done. One elder, my wife, suggested we treat the few thousand we had as seed money and sow most of it into a mission agency’s building project. The silence was deafening.

After getting over the initial shock of this suggestion, everyone in the room swallowed hard and knew it was the right thing to do, and that was the decision that was made. The little bit of money in the building fund was given away. God honored that seed and a few months later we moved into the newly renovated building with almost all the costs paid for in cash. Giving is central to God’s economy.

Up until now you have heard me teaching about financial inflow because a person cannot give what they do not have. This and the upcoming blogs will focus on giving and the essential part it plays in releasing financial blessing in our lives.

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Put a Lightning Rod in the Ground

We work so that God can bless the work of our hand. Doing our part is like putting a lighting rod in the ground. When God sends lighting we are going to receive it. However if we never put a lighting rod in the ground, we will never receive the lighting we are looking for. Remember our study of Joseph, he did his part, but the hand of God was on him to promote him. How about Queen Esther interceding for the Children of Israel? Was it only God’s favor that put her in that position? No, her natural beauty and a time of preparation put her in the position to one day intercede and save her people. It was the natural and the supernatural.

If you want to be a deep sea fisherman…you can’t live in Iowa. What? For those of you reading outside of the USA, Iowa is landlocked in the middle of the country. If we want to catch fish we have to at least position ourselves on or around water. To be fair, Iowa does have some lakes and rivers where you can fish, however you get the point…God expects us to do our part. My wife and I own one business and are part owners of another business. God is blessing us financially through these businesses but we had to take the steps to get into them. Believe me they were steps of faith and practical tasks as well. It is faith and works. Here is Dr. Anderson’s view of our responsibility in this divine partnership.

There are no shortcuts to great wealth…When you try to find easy money, you actually rob yourself of many of the lessons that you need for success. You must learn discipline, passion, generosity and creativity…The world determines wealth and success by what you have. God determines wealth and success by what you give. Success is about what you become. You must develop the character to own you possessions or they will own you. (1)

God generally does not drop money out of heaven (as he did manna in the wilderness). He is not going to counterfeit it either. No…to enter abundance you have to make changes and take practical steps! We will discuss the practical aspects of this in upcoming blogs.

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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Financial Dominion

We will have to learn to take dominion over our finances and make financial decisions from a place of confidence. A king has dominion over his kingdom, so for us to have dominion over our finances means we have authority and rule over them. At the same time we cannot ignore the natural wisdom and talents that God has given us to use in accumulating data to make a good decision. As I have spent time with prosperous people, I have found they act according to a “gut” feeling they have developed as a result of their life experiences…risks taken and overcome.

We can’t rush financial decisions. Let emotional excitement pass (like after talking to a salesman) and wait until you have a sense of dominion (confidence) within. Wait until the next day. When someone presents me with an opportunity that I have to decide on immediately …the answer is a simple, “no.” I would rather miss an opportunity than be pushed into making a decision I am not comfortable with, especially if there is not time to consult with my discerning wife. God is big enough to provide other opportunities.

Financial dominion means you are not over-extending yourself. Don’t get in over your head. Start small. Jesus came to the earth as baby and it took 33 years to accomplish his purpose. Don’t be anxious. Ask for advice. Don’t make a decision in a vacuum. To do anything beyond what you have confidence to do is risky. Do what you have confidence to do, not in your emotions but in your gut. You might have confidence in your heart to take financial risks that others do not. Others might have confidence to take financial risks that you do not. Go with that confidence in your heart.

This does not mean you will be free of fear when it is time to pull the trigger. Fear is always there. It must be overcome if you are going to accomplish anything in life. Think about it. The vast majority of the things we fear never come to pass.

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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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