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Andy Jenkins


Dec 11, 2017

It’s easy to “spiritualize” the promises of God- and relegate them to another time and place where they have little bearing on our physical lives today. One area we do this is “abundance.” 

We say things like, “God gives us true riches…” 

Of course, we do this to explain WHY we don’t see the provision- the radical increase- they saw back in the Bible. 

Here’s the rub. The New Testament tells us repeatedly that the new covenant is superior to the old (i.e., see Hebrews 8:7-13).

So, since our redemption is “better” and based on stronger promises, though, shouldn’t we expect to see this abundance, as well? Shouldn’t we prosper? I think we should…

That said, understanding WHY prosperity happens actually helps us comprehend how to step into it…

 

Abundance is more than just our own best efforts- it connects the Kingdom’s storehouses to our hands

We are redeemed to prosper for three important reasons- and that’s the topic of this talk. Understanding these reasons awakens us to the purposes of the blessings we receive. 

First, God’s blessing is often strange and paradoxical, such that it continues growing our faith and fostering our relationship with Him. This happens because the blessing often comes in ways that money cannot buy. It comes through relationship…

(What we often confuse for “blessing” is simply our best financial efforts and debt-leveraging put forward.)

God’s kind of prosperity is the absurd abundance that He takes five loaves and two fish and then multiplies them exponentially to feed over 5,000 men- plus the women and children (John 6:1f.). Notice that He didn’t spontaneously create enough food to feed 25,000 people (the estimated number of people that were there- they generally only counted the men, so we need to add the women and kids to the 5,000) in order to hoard the food and store it. It was multiplied to be a blessing. It was given in order to be given away. 

It still required faith in action, though. That’s the paradox. 

Some commentators suggest the food only multiplied as the disciples distributed it, meaning they always had "just enough” to keep going. To “collect the scraps,” as Jesus asked them to do in the end, and to return with merely 12 baskets at the end of feeding 25,000 people meant that the entire ordeal required faith throughout the duration of the feeding. Twelve baskets seems like a lot- but it’s not much compared to 25,000 meals. Their faith was stretched until the very end.

Throughout the Scripture we see the absurd nature of God’s abundance and prosperity- 

  • God’s prosperity is the kind of blessing that causes shoes not to wear out after 40 years of walking through rough desert terrain (Deuteronomy 29:5). No, the clothes didn’t wear out; but, they were in a desert… 
  • God’s prosperity causes men to sow seeds during the year of a famine and then to reap one hundred fold- presumably  while no one else does, even in the same environmental conditions (see Genesis 26:1,12). Yes, there’s more than enough; but they endured a famine… 
  • God’s prosperity is the kind that sends ravens to bring you food in the middle of the desert (1 Kings 17:6). Yes, birds bring meat to a human- rather than taking the food as they usually do; yet, at the same time, they’re, well… birds :-)
  • God’s prosperity causes oil and flour not to run dry in a simple bin until a drought is over 3.5 years later (see 1 Kings 17:8-16, especially verses 14-16). Even so, there’s a finite-sized container that holds the infinite abundance. 
  • God’s prosperity is the kind where trained fisherman can toil all evening and catch nothing. Then, in an instant, they can toss the nets on the other side of the boat, presumably in the same place they've been for hours, emerging with so many fish that the nets break and the boats begin to sink (Luke 5:7, John 21:6). 

 

Notice- even amidst abundance there was a great level of faith / trust

We often think of abundance as having SO MUCH that we don’t have any worries. That we’re completely self-sufficient. That we (get this) don’t even need a miracle from the hand of God…

Do you see what’s happening in the examples above, though? Abundance still requires faith relational trust. It still comes as daily bread (Matthew 6:11), yet- paradoxically- sometimes it’s often astounding in its sheer volume and size. And we experience it the best when we walk in relationship with our Father.  

Second, people see the blessing that God gives us and realize that it is from the Lord. When God’s abundance comes, people take notice. They realize that we are close to God; that He is close to us. They can’t help but make the correlation that the bounty comes not from the simple ingenuity of smart men but from the storehouses of the Kingdom. 

God promised to provide so much that others know that He is the source (Malachi 3:11-12). For instance- 

  • Abimelech begged Isaac to make a treaty with him, as he could "see plainly that the Lord has been with you” (Genesis 26:7 ESV).
  • Laban realized he was blessed because of Jacob, who was worshiping the Lord (Genesis 30:27).
  • Potiphar sensed that the blessing on his domain was because of the God-fearing Joseph (Genesis 39:3).

In each of these stories the refrain is the same: “The Lord is with you…”

God’s provision is always astounding in such a way that people realize it comes from God- not from the wisdom of clever men. Abundance is not contingent on the external conditions but on the eternal creator.

 

There’s always an overflow, when the abundance is from the Kingdom

Third, other people are blessed by the prosperity that God gives us- as it comes from God through you to them (and vice versa).

God told Abraham that he would be extravagantly blessed in order to be a blessing to other people (Genesis 12:1-2). 

In the same way, Paul declared that we will always have enough Kingdom supply to do whatever the Lord has called us to do. He will use us as the means whereby He blesses this world (2 Corinthians 9:8). We are the conduits of Heaven.

Put the three points together… 

First, God’s abundance comes in strange ways, most often through a relational connection with Him.

Second, others see that abundance and realize it’s the Lord- not us.

Third, we become a connecting to the Kingdom of our Father when we bless them with the abundance we’ve been given.

This doesn’t mean that we will always have an over-abundance. It does mean, though, that we will always have enough to do everything God has called us to perform.  

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Links mentioned in this talk: 

Download the free Redemption eBook at  https://www.overflowfaith.com/p/redemption-e-book 

For more on reaping & sowing, listen to episode 34 at https://www.OverflowFaith.com/blog/34