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).
What if you win the lottery, so what…you still will have no wisdom to manage money. If you gain something without growing into it, you will find it slipping through your fingers.
Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom? (Proverbs 17:16).
To see this, consider what happens to people who actually have won a lottery and received the amount in one large lump sum. Studies which follow their lives reveal that within ten years they typically are financially broke, have had extramarital affairs, gotten divorced; many have become addicted to drugs and have destroyed most of their relationships with family and friends. Sadly a significant number of them will commit suicide.
I know a businessman who once said, “We will not win the lottery. If you see money falling out of the sky, it is counterfeit; don’t pick it up!” Pastors and church leaders can fall into lottery thinking with their churches. They will set their eye on the “big fish” to build their churches. They become event oriented; thinking that if they can just have the right speaker or music group it will cause the church to grow. Events don’t grow churches, consistent, diligent work and prayer does. An event will draw a crowd for a week-end but without day-to-day nurture and outreach the crowds will quickly disappear. If you build systematically, God will bring the growth. The answer is not out there somewhere; it is right in front of you with the step forward God wants you to take today.
Other pastors may think if someone in a wheelchair is healed, it will cause their church to grow. This fixation on a spectacular event can immobilize them from doing the things that will make the church grow and maybe eventually see a person in the wheelchair healed. God’s normal way is the way of gradual, sure, systematic growth and maturity.
God’s normal way of growth is the way of gradual, sure, systematic growth and maturity. God’s nature is seed time and harvest. According to Hebrews 6, it is through faith and patience that we receive from God.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised (Hebrews 6:12).
Job’s patience was what helped him overcome the hardships he faced when he was attacked by the enemy. Patience is way more than just the ability to not become angry in a difficult situation. Patience is the power that will carry you through the obstacles of life into the seasons of blessing. It is notable that sometimes a wealthy person will lose all of their money, but somehow they seem to earn it all back and more. Amazingly enough this was actually Job’s experience. Let’s examine some more scriptures:
Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow…All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty…The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day…An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end (Proverbs 13:11; 14:23, 4:18, 20:21).
Can you pick up the pattern here? Gather money little by little…hard work brings profit…shining ever brighter until the full light of day…inheritance gained quickly will not be blessed. Advancement comes to those who diligently apply God’s principles on a consistent, long-term basis. Look for steady progress through diligent, consistent work. God generally advances us gradually so we can concurrently grow the maturity to hold on to what he gives us.
Listen to Russell Conwell’s analysis of getting a large inheritance written many years ago. He considered it to be a curse.
The moment a young man or woman gets more money than he or she has grown to by practical experience, that moment he has gotten a curse. It is no help to a young man or woman to inherit money. Oh, young man, if you have inherited money, don’t regard it as a help. There is no class of people to be pitied so much as the inexperienced sons and daughters of the rich. I pity the rich man’s son.
One of the best things in our life is when a young man has earned his own living, and when he becomes engaged to some lovely young woman, and makes up his mind to have a home of his own. Then with that same love comes also that divine inspiration toward better things, and he begins to save his money. He begins to leave off his bad habits and put money in the bank1.
If we are sitting around waiting for an inheritance or hoping for an insurance settlement we will not prosper. If our eyes are set on the chance that may come it will keep us from taking today’s step forward. Listen to how the Living Bible translates Habakkuk 2:3:
Slowly, steadily surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled, do not despair for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient, they will not be overdue a single day.
A prosperous soul will begin wherever it is and work toward advancement. Progress, God’s blessing, raises, promotions and favor are expected, but faithfulness and steady progress are the path to get there.
Do not look for the big break, the miraculous provision, the chance deal, an inheritance or the lottery to get rich quick. In a few words…the desire to get rich quick is really an ungodly lust for financial success without learning how to manage money. If we can get this concept into our minds, we will be far closer actually to learning how God wants to advance us.
Advancement comes to those who diligently apply God’s principles on a consistent, long-term basis. Look for steady progress through diligent, consistent work. God generally advances us gradually so we can concurrently grow the maturity to hold on to what he gives us. It is like a plane taking off—there is a correct trajectory of climbing that won’t stall the plane’s motor and yet gets you in the air before the end of the runway. Eyes set on the “chance that may come” will keep you from taking today’s step forward. Proverbs speaks to the trap of sitting around and waiting for your ship to come in.
He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:19-20).
A minister friend of mine calls this get rich quick mentality “lottery thinking.” I have to agree with him, lottery thinking is poverty thinking. The people who spend the most money on lottery tickets are at the bottom of the income scale. When politicians start a lottery to fund a government project, they generally consider it a tax on the poor. The help you need is not a big sum of money dumped in your lap, but rather a kick in the pants to start moving so God can bless your steps of faith.
Recently, I was privileged to hear a wealthy man speaking with some service men and women who were wounded in combat. His subject was possessing courage to take risks. Interestingly, He spoke about financial courage as being different than other kinds of courage. When stating that he had the confidence to take financial risks, he qualified that statement by saying it would be difficult for him to risk his life on a battlefield. He said he did not possess that” kind” of courage. I learned something that day. There are different types of courage.
It is interesting to me that you could have so much courage in one area but not in another. But this is really true. A construction worker can have the courage to balance himself on a six inch I-beam, hundreds of feet above the ground, but at the same time not have the courage to stand up in front of a group of 40 people and give a speech or walk into the bank to meet with the bank manager to talk about financing a project. Likewise, a salesman who has the courage to knock on a dozen doors a day making sales calls might not have the financial courage to buy a single share of stock.
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. There are specific things we can do to help us become more comfortable in the financial world. We must learn to overcome the misconceptions we have about the financial world and how it functions.
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.
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.