Historic inflation rates, impending recession warnings, volatile stock market, ongoing Covid financial repercussions, and the negative economic effects of the predicted long war in the Ukraine are all an opportunity for God’s people to deepen our foundations in His unshakeable economy.
Are you acquainted with His unshakeable economy? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse you of the world’s way of seeing and feeling about money and material things? Do you know Him as the Gracious, Faithful, Generous, Wise and Attentive Provider and Father that He is?
When the apostle Paul says in Romans 12:2 that we disciples of Jesus Christ are to “..not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds…” there are few areas of life where we are more conformed to the world than in the way we see money and material things. As Martin Luther – the great church reformer – once said, “…Each one of us needs a three fold conversion; that of our hearts, our head and our pocketbook.”
Allow me to share a few truths that have been so helpful to me over the years as He has faithfully and patiently sought to teach me to live and operate in His glorious and abundant kingdom and economy.
First God owns it all. Everything in the known and unknown universe belongs to God and is at His disposal.
When God was preparing the Hebrews or Israelites to become His chosen people among all the nations or peoples of the earth, among other things He wanted them to know this important truth, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.” Exodus 19:5 When God calls His people to Himself and begins to reveal His purposes and plans to them, it becomes very obvious that resources are going to be needed to pull this off. God wants His people then and today to know – in His economy or in His kingdom – there will never be a shortage or recession. There will never be a supply chain problem!
David, the King and Psalmist, put it this way, “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains The world and those who dwell in it.” Psalm 24:1 Everything belongs to Him and He can and will do with it whatever He chooses. So while it may seem that government leaders and “the Feds” have control over the economy in the U.S. for instance, they can do nothing unless God allows it. And His plans and purposes for His people can in no way be deterred by decisions they make.
In Psalm 50, written by Asaph, God in vs. 10-12 says this of Himself, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.” Every animal, person, commodity, speck of gold, silver, etc., on the planet belongs to God. He does with it what He wills. There is no lack or shortage with God. He knows of resources that no one else knows. And He knows how to get them where they need to be.
God says in Haggai 2:8, “The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts.” Every ounce of silver, gold and other precious metals is known by God, seen by God, and it is at His disposal. All the billions of dollars belonging to billionaires belongs to God and is merely on loan to these men/women.
The second important principle about God’s kingdom or God’s economy is that He alone gives and disburses riches. Let’s look at some scriptures that proclaim this important truth:
King David led a great move of God of giving in preparation for the future building of the temple, which his son Solomon would perform. As he and the Israelites gathered and gave their offerings, he addressed them and led them in a prayer of praise to God, “Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.” I Chronicles 29:10-12
In America at least, we tend to gawk over millionaries and billionaires and how they acquired their millions or billions. But the word of God says all their riches came from God.
An example of this is King Hezekiah: “Now Hezekiah had immense riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuable articles, storehouses also for the produce of grain, wine and oil, pens for all kinds of cattle and sheepfolds for the flocks. He made cities for himself and acquired flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great wealth.” II Chronicles 32:27-29
Job was surely one of the wealthiest men alive in his day and the godliest. And thus when his wealth was all taken away from him, he wisely replied, “….The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 He knew where his wealth came from, even though I’m sure he worked hard and efficiently, and God used His skills to some extent to provide for him.
King Solomon, one of the wisest and wealthiest men who has ever lived, learned a lot about the limitations and acquisition of wealth in his day. For instance, he said re: money’s limitations, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10 Later in that chapter he spoke to the acquisition of wealth, “Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19 (see also Eccl. 6:2). God ultimately is the source of our riches and wealth. Not parents. Not our jobs or businesses. Certainly not the government.
The last thing I want to say about God and money in this post is this: God provides for His people (and even those who are not His people). He not only owns it all, He faithfully and graciously disburses it to those who need it.
Every person in scripture that God brought into relationship with Himself is an example of this. But I have especially appreciated the example of how He provided for Elijah and the poor widow of Zarephath in a time of extreme drought and famine as seen in I Kings 17:1-16. God said to His servant Elijah, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook of Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there. So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.” Vs. 3-6 Later in the chapter in vs. 9-16 we are told about how God miraculously provided for both Elijah and this widow and her son through multiplying what scant resources she had left in her possession.
God’s miraculous and faithful provision for His people as He brought them out of Egypt and led them in the wilderness is often recounted in scripture as an example to us. For instance, Nehemiah speaks of it in a prayer as an example of God’s faithfulness and sadly their hard heartedness (if you read on), “You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger, You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst, And You told them to enter in order to possess the land which You swore to give them.” Nehemiah 9:15 Asaph speaks similarly in Psalm 78:15-33 about God’s faithful provision for His people despite their unbelief and ungratefulness and idolatry.
King David often in the Psalms spoke of God’s provision, such as in this passage re: both provision for creatures/animals and the poor, “You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched. Your creatures settled in it; You provided in Your goodness for the poor, O God.” Psalm 68:9,10 (see also Psalm 147:9 re: His provision for non human creatures on the earth). God has a myriad of ways to provide for the poor. He is very mindful of them and tender towards them. He provided for them in the days of the scriptures and He provides for them today.
God’s hand behind the production of all of the vegetation on the earth flies in the face of secular humanism, which we’ve all been affected by to some degree. “He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart. The trees of the Lord drink their fill, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted.” Psalm 104:13-16 (see also Psalm 147:8 re: God’s provision of rain for the needs of the earth and the people on it).
Well that’s a little bit of the Old Testament re: God’s provision. Let’s now take a look at a few N.T. scriptures starting with Jesus's sermon on the mount. Speaking of His Father’s goodness and mercy to all He declared, “…He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45 While I suppose we can’t expect the lost and unregenerate to acknowledge this, surely we who have come to know Him will declare it and bless Him for it at every opportunity.
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus seeks to deliver His disciples from the worrying and fretting so prevalent among the lost (“Gentiles”) re: the basic needs of life. While we must treasure His word in our hearts and stand on His promises in our pursuit of knowing Him as our provider, He also encourages us to learn from His dealings with nature. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (vs. 26). “…Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” (vs. 28,29). So thankful for how Jesus points us time and time again to our heavenly Father who loves us deeply and knows our every need and esteems us highly (far above any animal or plant on the earth). “…for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (vs. 32).
The apostle Paul proclaims that our God will not only provide for our needs, but will also provide an abundance for all the good deeds He wants us to accomplish on the earth (being His instrument to meet the needs of others). “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” II Corinthians 9:8 “you will be enriched in everything for all liberality,…” II Corinthians 9:11.
Many of Jesus’s disciples through the ages have found great comfort from this promise, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Later in Paul’s first letter to his spiritual son and disciple Timothy, Paul commands him to give some instruction to those who are rich (which many of us in the U.S.A. are compared to most of the people in the world), “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” I Timothy 6:17
Why don’t we end our time today with James’s anti secular humanist declaration, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17
May the Holy Spirit ever more reveal our God as our personal, gracious, faithful, generous, and most attentive provider and may He deliver you and I from worrying and fretting about provision ever again!
Next time I want to speak to what we disciples of Jesus ought to expect and pursue regarding biblical terms and concepts like “wealth”, “abundance”, “riches”, “flourish”, “prosperity”, etc.
P.S. Two personal notes: 1. My brother Danny is still fighting cancer, and it is a fight! Your prayers for his healing are greatly appreciated. 2. My wife’s mother passed away May 25th after 14 plus years in our home. Prayers appreciated as we try to navigate His path for us in this new season.