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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Full Throttle

I live in the middle of rich Pennsylvania farmland. There was a farmer in our area who constantly worked his equipment with the throttle wide open. He even drove from the barn to the field as fast as he could.  Another wise, prosperous farmer was heard saying this farmer would never be able to make any money because his equipment simply was not designed to run full throttle and would not last. A few years later, the first farmer had to sell his farm and take another job. One reason he could never get ahead was because his equipment kept wearing out.

Our bodies were not made to be running at full throttle eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. He created a Sabbath principle so we can refresh and renew. He forced the children of Israel to take a year off every seven years. A year to reflect and talk to their neighbors. It forced them to stop producing, detach and think about how they were producing  I wonder if they were better, more productive farmers and tradesmen after the Sabbath year of reflection? I think so.

God has a path of blessing for you to walk in. Let Him do it. Let the Word of God cause faith to rise in your heart to embrace El Shaddai and your expectation of God’s financial provision of more than enough. Expect Him to teach you to prosper. Allow Him to change your beliefs. If your patterns of thinking change, the words that you speak will begin to change. If your words change, your actions will change. And, if your actions change, the outcome will change.

God wants to change our thinking about what to expect. Remember the apostle John’s words to Gauis, “as your soul prospers, you will prosper.” If we perceive and embrace this truth in our hearts, nothing can stop it from flowing out. God wants us to advance, but to do so we must have courage. There are different kinds of courage. We need courage in the financial area. With God’s help we can obtain the financial courage and strategy that we need to walk in the prosperity that He has for us. More on financial courage next week.

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Believe in Yourself

It is essential that you believe in yourself. It’s the poverty mindset that says you can’t change. It is the poverty mindset that tells you that you are too old to go back to school and change jobs. If you believe you are worth more per hour, then others will start to believe it and usually over a period of time you will get paid more per hour.

Does this mean that everyone should change jobs? No, if you are in a low-paying employment situation, decide if that is where God wants you to be. Are you content there? If not, you will not prosper there. If the people you are working beside are not accumulating money, neither will you. Be prepared though—changing careers does take time and energy. Think what you would like to do….and think how much it pays.

One of the boards on which I serve is involved with micro-finance in developing countries of the world. Without going into a lot of detail, one of the reasons I love this concept is because it is helping people break out of a poverty mindset where there are no jobs available. Many developing nations have unemployment as high as 80%. There simply are no jobs. Micro-finance helps them to create their own jobs. They are required to write a business plan and learn how loans and interest work because they must pay the money back. The repayment rates run over 90%.  It is helping them to advance.

Is living paycheck to paycheck God’s will? We will take more time on that later, but for now, be convinced that God wants you to advance.    Sometimes when I teach on advancing, people will misunderstand and say, “Oh, I’ll have to get a second job to become more prosperous.” This is not it. God might have a better job for you, but it does not mean working twice or three times as hard. More on that next week.

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Some Jobs Pay More Than Others Do

A lot of times a spirit of poverty in our lives will make us feel like we are locked into the same job. It is important for us to notice that some jobs pay more than others do. This may seem obvious to some, but others can’t see it because of the blinding effects of the spirit of poverty.

Let’s take a blunt look at reality…people are not paid for how hard they work; it’s what type of work they do. For example, ditch diggers work physically harder than lawyers, but lawyers make significantly more money. Though this is a very simple concept I only received a revelation of this a few years ago. It changed my thinking and gave me some fresh insight that has helped many others.

I realized right away this was a principle I wanted to teach my children. My teenage son had a job cleaning up an upholstery shop on the week-ends. He also has another part-time job where he operated a television camera. He was paid $5 more per hour to operate the television camera and yet it is a much less strenuous job. More pay…less strenuous work. This was an easy lesson for him to see.

Sometimes Christians tell me they are considering a new job and ask for my advice about taking the new job. Unless I am directed otherwise by the Lord, my first question is always to inquire if the new job pays more than the one they now have. If so I often point out that it is likely God’s will for them to advance into this new position. This is usually a relief to them because a lot of times they feel guilty about getting paid more or are concerned about their co-workers to whom they have been witnessing. I generally assure them that God can still reach their co-workers even without them there.

It is now quite common for people to change careers four or five times in their lifetime and it is okay to do this. Consider going back to school and get some more training. Improve yourself and you will be a better employee or possibly qualify for a promotion. You are not locked into your current position.

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Poverty is Rooted in the Rejection of Christianity

Oil is an energy form that is limited, but we find we can develop new sources like the wind and the sun that are not limited. Somehow we are no longer limited to the use of telephone wires for communication. No…we found something better like fiber optics which is an improvement and then wireless technology which is a greater improvement.  New technologies speak to the creativity and glory of God. Dennis Peacocke has studied the Biblical worldview and has some profound thoughts in this area.

Poverty is rooted in the rejection of Christianity, its view of reality, and it discipline. Without the foundations of the biblical worldview, society’s attempts to alleviate poverty are doomed….Poverty is a spiritual problem more than an economic one. Paganism produces poverty; obedience to God’s covenant produces wealth.           

People who do not live in a covenant with their Creator will not invest in the future, because it is too unpredictable. Instead, they will live in constant fear of the future. That is why free enterprise systems flourish only where the biblical worldview flourishes. Prosperity comes to societies where people invest current resources in the future; and this best happens when people trust the faithfulness (predictability) of a covenant-keeping God who promises to reward your investment if you invest, work hard and obey Him.3

Is living paycheck to paycheck God’s will? We will take more time on this question in later blogs, but for now, be convinced that God wants you to advance.    Sometimes when I teach on advancing, people will misunderstand and say, “Oh, I’ll have to get a second job to become more prosperous.” This is not it. God might have a better job for you, but it does not mean working twice or three times as hard.

It is a waste to think small, sit still, do nothing, not invest, go nowhere and refuse to enjoy life. A prosperous soul acts, gives, blesses, goes, enjoys life and receives it all as from God! To live life just to pay your bills is to live a life of selfish underachieving.

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Be Fruitful

The spirit of poverty makes us feel trapped where we are. God does want us to advance. Take the promotion at your job. Start taking classes to get a better job. If we have an advancing mindset, our current financial situation doesn’t matter. Think of Joseph’s prosperous soul regardless of his circumstances. We can’t just wish we had a better job; we need to take steps to get one. We observe that Adam and Eve were quickly assigned the task of naming the animals. They were not to let things the way they were but to bring advancement.

Consider this…God is a loving Father who creates unfinished things so those he loves may have a meaningful existence, purpose and a sense of accomplishment in life. For example God created corn but he leaves it up to us to put it in rows and feed the world with it as stated in Psalm 104:14:

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate–bringing forth food from the earth.

He created everything to grow and reproduce. Again in Genesis we find that God created plants that produced after their own kind…plants with seeds in them and fruit with seeds. This is a part of his divine nature that he wants us to take part in. It is his will for us to advance. People without an advancing mindset will not innovate and improve their life. In certain parts of the world which lack a Christian worldview, villagers will carry buckets of water for miles each day. They will do this for many years without ever attempting to dig a well in the place where they live.

What was it that caused Wilbur and Orville Wright to want to fly and discover the laws of flight and the airplane? Were they just bored with the train, or was there something in the hearts of these two Christian men that caused them to want to advance? And look at what has happened since then. The entire first flight of the Kitty Hawk was a shorter distance than the wingspan of a modern 747 jet. Amazing.

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How Christianity Changed the World

In Alvin Schmidt’s profound book How Christianity Changed the World,  he documents the amazing advancement of society due to the influence of Christianity. Women were oppressed in cultures prior to the coming of Christianity. Slavery, which was quite common before Christianity, has been almost virtually eliminated from the civilized world. There was little interest in the poor, the sick and the dying until early Christians ministered to these needs. The first hospitals were started by Christians. Education came into maturity under the influence of Christianity. The commandment against stealing redefined the concept of private property and property rights. The rise of modern science has been directly linked with the biblical understanding of the world. Schmidt documents and gives hundreds of examples of how Christianity has caused society to advance.

A few years ago we moved into a house that had more room for our growing family. It was not a new house so most of the appliances had been there for a number of years. One day after church my wife came and told me the oven stopped working. We were having people over for lunch so we went to plan B and I cooked the meat on the grill. From that time on my wife and I resigned ourselves to not using the oven ever again. I guess it’s not God’s will for us to have an oven. Is that how we responded? No! What is our intuitive response when something like this happens? Get it fixed or get a new one. We got a new one…better than the old one and added a microwave too. In addition, we did a lot more improvements to the house to make it better. This is an example of an advancing mindset.

Understand that God wants you to advance

We only have to look at the beginning of the Bible to find out God’s heart on this. We discover that soon after Adam and Eve were put on the earth they were commissioned to advance and bear fruit.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28).

Be fruitful!

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The Christian Worldview is Better

Picture with me the invalid man beside the pool of Bethesda who had been there for 38 years. Healing was actually within his eyesight but he was never able to get into the pool to receive it. It is very likely he saw others healed but never had a chance to be healed himself until Jesus came along one day. This is a prophetic picture of how the spirit of poverty paralyzes many Christians. We think there should be more, but we just can’t get past where we are in our finances.

Having served as a youth pastor for a number of years, I found the study of world religions and a biblical worldview helped me to understand and answer the worldview questions of teenagers. If we look at world religions today, we find the idea of things never changing is more closely aligned to the Hindu worldview than the Christian worldview.

Darrow Miller in  Discipling Nations  states: “Hinduism has at its core the idea that a person is assigned a place in life. It sees perfection as a state of resignation and complacency. This causes people to withdraw from the world and not attack its evils. There is no hope or desire to change their present situation. There is no rationale for why people should be helped. The poor are poor because of what they did in their past lives, and the way out of poverty in the next life is to suffer in this one. The caste system in India is an example of a society in the grip of such Hindu fatalism. “Don’t interfere with the workings of karma,” we are told. “Leave the destitute in their state.” It is not a coincidence that few advances in science, innovations and cures for diseases are coming out of Hindu India.

According to Miller this same fatalism…feeling like things will never change…is found in other non-Christian world religions. In Thailand for example, the peasant is labeled “jaak-con” meaning “destined to poverty.” This attitude enslaves the poor in poverty. In some African languages there is not even a concept of “distant” future. This means there is not a category to define things getting better. In the heart of Buddhism is suffering and death. The goal of the Buddhist is not to combat suffering and death, but to escape from them into a spiritual state (Miller).

In contrast the Christian worldview is one of advancement. Poverty is rooted in the rejection of Christianity. The gospel is good news. It brings self respect and a self worth and causes people to desire to advance. Can we permanently settle in our minds that God wants us to advance? Although this thought is embedded in Western society, which has its origins in the Christian worldview, this is not an idea of Western society; it is a biblical, Christian idea!

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