Tag Archives: prosperity

Handfuls on purpose: God’s blessing on finances

God FinancesFinances are a dreary necessity that underpin the true joy of saving souls. I don’t believe that God’s main purpose is to bless His people. Yes, we are children of the King, but the Child of King didn’t have a home, much less a bank account.

Having disavowed the prosperity gospel heretics, I would wish to proceed with a balanced exposition on finances. I was struck by this reading Ruth: Let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glen them. (Ruth 2:16).

Boaz is a picture of Christ because he redeems her from deplorable poverty. Gleaning was a back-breaking job: 12 hours under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal. Boaz makes the decision to improve her lot significantly.

We can, therefore, ask God in prayer to drop “handfuls on purpose” for our ministries.

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A return to the beginning

image from darrellcreswell.wordpress.com

image from darrellcreswell.wordpress.com

In the beginning, this blog was very narrowly focused on a niche: encouraging pastors and leaders to pray for finances for their ministry. But as I interacted with the blogging community, I was drawn into reaching out with non-thematically related posts.

I believe I will be returning to the Mustard Seed Budget theme. I believe I will start pioneering a church again. So praying for finances to cover costs will start to figure large in my life again.

Everyone loves Psalm 23. But I was struck just now how it basically starts with finances: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. God will take economic care of his people.

Since returning four years ago from the mission field (where I was almost 16 years), my wife and I have done a lot to try to re-establish ourselves in the States. The transition has not been easy. We started with no money. Thank God for a nearby church that gave us food right when we had none.

Isn’t it interesting that this famous Psalm, which many recite for consolation, starts with finances? That shows how important is God’s care of us!

Actually, the Psalm also ends with a promise of financial blessing: Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all my days. The verb pursue is used everywhere else in the Old Testament to refer to an army in pursuit of a retreating enemy. David is saying that he WON’T be pursued by soldiers, debt, problems. He WILL be pursued by goodness and mercy.

Slavery success

Since when is slavery a path to riches?

God made the Israelites into slaves for 400 years — and this was His plan to make them rich! After enduring 10 successive plagues, the Egyptians were all to eager to be rid of their slaves and so they sent them off with loaded with gold and bedecked with jewels.

God prophesied to Abraham about this: After (the period of slavery) they will come out with great possessions — Gen. 15:14 NIV.

Well, ministry is not a six-digit career. But God can make the riches gush out of the unlikeliest places. He makes water come out of the rock, gold coins come out of fishes mouths — and wealth out of slavery! Ministry is NOT as bad a slavery, so don’t be afraid to fulfill your call for monetary fears.

And, when you pray for finances, it’s never a problem for God, though we fret needlessly. He can even make slaves into millionaires!

Heights of slavery

Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter your educational level, the economic level of your city, how supportive your spouse is, what side of the railroads tracks your on, or even what color of pajamas you wear at sleepy time. God can prosper you irregardless.

The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master — Gen. 39:2 NIV. Joseph prospered in SLAVERY. (I doubt your circumstances are so bad.) The key was God, not all the accouterments that we commonly attribute to success.

Since God is no respecter of persons, anyone can have Him. You just need knees. In other words, bend your knee to cry out to God in prayer. God can prosper you anywhere, anytime, anyhow, anyway, any whatever. If it hasn’t happened yet, just keep praying. It will.

If a slave could fly high, so can you! God can bring lushness to the most unlikely of places!

… or you can use your machete.

 

You can find an easier way of doing things…

When we moved into the big, colonial building just off Guatemala City‘s main square, we had to remove a 70+ year-old tree with a termite-hollowed trunk. If not, tons of branches would one day fall on the kids in the school.

City workers took down most but left the stump and roots. We didn’t even have a chain saw, so we got to work with machetes, an axe and a pick. It took us church members two months of 12-hour days to chop, dig, pry, whittle, pull and otherwise extract it. The patio now has a nice fountain and garden in its place.

Pastor Ludving hams it up when the biggest piece of stump was removed. Thanks Tino, Mario and Banner for all the hard work!

As a gringo, I may not have the best machete technique, but it seemed like a fun, macho-man thing to do, at least at first. The sweat dripped after only minutes of whacking. Some of the men went through blistered into bloodied hands from the work. I was too much of a wimp to bloody my hands.

Boo-hoo! There has to be an easier, more efficient way!

There was. It’s called power tools. But as I said before, we didn’t have any power tools.

Now, if you are a Bible-believing Christian, you have at your disposal power tools. It’s called prayer. It’s a power tool because it’s God’s power at work for you. But some people like doing all the work themselves, so they don’t pray.

 

 

Solomon gets rich

Young King Solomon asked for wisdom — in order to benefit the people, not himself. This so pleased God that He granted Solomon riches and long life also — for himself.

Solomon made golden angels inside the temple

Here’s an outlandish key: pray for others more than for yourself. When God sees your heart, He’ll give even what you haven’t asked for.

So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for!… And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! — 1 Kings 3:11-13 (New Living Translation).

Solomon’s palace was a marvel of luxury

The whole nation prospered so much that silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days. — 1 Kings 10:21 NIV.

Anybody would like such prosperity! But not just anybody understands the Great Paradox! Solomon got what he didn’t seek. He sought the good for others, and God gave him good. Make sure your prayer life is sufficiently others-oriented. Cut down on “me, me, me” because it may be the reason why “you, you, you” are not receiving from God.

10,000 % increase

Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a HUNDREDFOLD, because the Lord blessed him. — Gen. 26:12 NIV (capitals mine). The prospect of this verse thrills the heart. You can a hundredfold increase, if and when, God moves.

Make no mistake with the math. That is NOT a 100% increase. A 100% increase is a “twofold” increase. No a “hundredfold” increase is 10,000% boon. TEN THOUSAND PERCENT.

Wow! That’s a lot. For every seed, Isaac planted, 100 grains grew. Normally more than one grain grows per seed — but not a hundredfold. This is the moment that Isaac got rich. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy Gen. 26:13.

Let me make the following observations. This multiplication didn’t happen every time Isaac planted. He spent many years planting and reaping a regular harvest. But he kept at it, kept believing, and one day without warning, God super-blessed him. It was a sovereign miracle of God.

Which leads us to the following conclusions: God can bless you sovereignly at any surprising moment. Maybe you have been slogging along, faithfully serving the Lord for years (like Isaac), and when you least expect, He’ll drop a blessing bomb — and you’ll be sleeping in the cash. You’ll be preaching to the multitudes.

So today pray for a hundredfold multiplication. Look for it expectantly. Persevere until you receive it. Never stop believing.

Apparent no

He was told to shut up. He clamored all the more. She was told she was dog. She asked for a crumb off the table.

What do you do when God appears to say no? Bartimaeus kept asking. In fact, he yelled all the louder (Mark 10:48). The Canaanite woman didn’t get mad. She said, “Yes, but…” Jesus tested her strongly. First he didn’t even talk to her. Then He mistreated her. She kept insisting. Even the “dogs” get crumbs off their masters’ tables.  This impressed Jesus. Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted,” he said (Mat 15:28).

It’s hard to know when “no” is truly and definitively “no” from God. So if what you are asking for doesn’t contradict the Word of God, keep asking and patiently believing. You could ask for something that God won’t give you. But the other extreme is worse: you could lose heart and faith and stop believing.

Three days of plundering

Certain defeat changed into the spoils of victory. SO MUCH TREASURE IT TOOK THREE DAYS TO GET IT ALL? SIGN ME UP!

Jehoshaphat feared the vast advancing army of allied nations. But God prophesied victory, so the Jewish King deployed the praise worshipers first for battle. When they came to the enemy camp, treachery had divided them, and they destroyed each other.

Jehoshaphat and his men didn’t even have to raise the sword. All they had to do was swoop on the spoils. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount … more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. — 2 Ch. 20:25 NIV.

Pray for God to turn your crisis into celebration, your lack into luster, your shortage into glut, because this is what He does. Pray and praise — and watch God bring the turnaround.

What Jesus rebuked most

We Christians rebuke “sinners.” But Jesus didn’t hardly do that.

He rebuked the religious leaders aplenty, BUT his strongest and most frequent rebuke TO THE CHURCH was for its lack of faith. Over and over again, Jesus is reprimanding, not the disciples’ fleshliness or lack of spirituality, but their lack of faith.

There is a different focus here! While we denounce lukewarmness, Jesus is losing patience for shortness of faith. Re-read the Gospels and decide for yourself if our message coincides with Jesus’ — if we give the same amount of time and space to what was of interest to our Lord and Savior.

Now I’m certainly not saying we can’t rebuke sin. But what I am saying is that probably we don’t give enough emphasis to having faith. What percentage of the Gospels (stuff directed at the disciples, not the Pharisees, Sadducees and other bad dudes) is eliciting greater faith? It almost looks like the greatest sin (for Jesus) is to come up short in the area of faith.

In truth, there is a profound lesson here. We need to have more faith. Focus on increasing your faith. When you pray, don’t whimper. Proclaim with faith, ask with boldness.

Unseen resources

Are we blinded by despair? The resource was there all along. Hagar cast her son under a bush in the desert and wandered off howling. She refused to see her son die. God responded with mercy. He didn’t CREATE water — say, out of a rock. He simply SHOWED her the water that was right under her nose, so to speak.

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. — Gen. 21:19 NIV

Is the resource you’re desperately crying out to God for, right under your nose? It may very well be. You are driven to despair and can’t see any way out of your problem. The compounded frustration blinds you to the solution. You have the resource — God has provided. But you can’t see it.

Don’t pray today for resources. Pray that God opens your eyes to see the resource you already have and are not using.

Hagar’s son, Ishmael, was saved. He went on to become a great nation. And contrary to condemnations from all sides, he was blessed by God. Somehow, he formed part of God’s plan. His descendants, the Arabs, need salvation just like every other sinner in the world.

End of the drought

Droughts can´t last forever.

Droughts are painful. Droughts can bring death. Nobody likes those times when finances are short, attendance is down and trials outnumber blessings. We can whine, complain, blame God and even quit ministry.

During the times of drought, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: Droughts DON’T and CAN’T last forever. Just pray for the end of the drought and hang on.

Joseph oversaw seven years of grain distribution in Egypt during a drought. Those seven years came to an end. Elijah prayed for three-and-a-half years of drought. They came to an end. The early church’s persecution came to an end.

The devil tries to get you to quit in a season of drought. He reminds of a time when your wallet was flush with cash, when you weren’t doing ministry. He wants to get you to sell out on the Almighty God in search of the Almighty Dollar. Don’t quit. Hang on until the end of the drought. Rain will come. God will prosper you again.

Risk with heart

from the movie "Secretariat"

Even her brothers and husband turned against Penny Chenery Tweedy. Confronted with a $6 million debt to the IRS, the family saw selling their racehorse stable as the only option.

But Penny had other ideas. She banked on a young thoroughbred named Secretariat, who though untested possessed promise. Her brothers tried to talk “sense” to her. It was a risk that would send the whole family into financial ruins if the horse didn’t deliver against incredible odds.

Penny was willing to take the risk. She prefered to face the consequences of failure over regretting not even trying. She decided to follow her instinct and gamble on Secretariat. It was her passion, her dream, her calling, and she wouldn’t go to the grave with a “safe and secure” life that left her wondering what could have been.

The real Penny Chenery

Secretariat became a racehorse legend, winning in 1973 the Triple Crown for the first time in 25 years. Some race records set by Secretariat stand unbeaten today. Profits flowed to Meadow Farm. Her doubters — those who told her to cash in and drop out of the risky venture of horseracing — were flabbergasted by her success.

Don’t be afraid to follow you call, your passion, your heartbeat. God will grant the resources. Detractors will arise; remain firm in your conviction. Serving God may be “risky,” but the payoff at the end will astound your doubters.

The few, the proud, the Christians

Prayer changes things

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. — Gen. 14:14

With a measly 318 soldiers, Abram vanquished a vast army comprised of five separate armies. Abram was Hercules before the Greeks wrote. He was Rambo before Hollywood invented him. He was a superhero, a true warrior. He confronted impossible odds and triumphed.

This story has got to leave you tingling with faith. Whatever the size of your ministry, you can make unthinkable impact!

Don´t measure yourself as the world does — stats, dollars, attendance, hits. The ONLY measure that counts is the faith in your heart. And you can always INCREASE your faith when you bend your knees. The war is not won with superior numbers, it is won with superior prayers.

So I guess what I said about Abram — the invincible — was simply not true. It was not his fierceness nor his dexterity in battle that won the day. It was his relationship with God. And whatever Abram did, we can do, because we have the same God.

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Anxiety is good

When all is comfortable, we find a zillion reasons to NOT pray. When bills pile up, desperation spurs on prayers that gallop into Heaven and demand a response.

Praising God at church

Not an overload, but a healthy measure of anxiety sharpens your prayer life. Thus, Moses pleads, Elijah cries, Job complains, the Psalmists breaks his heart before God. Even Jesus: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with LOUD CRIES AND TEARS to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” — Heb. 5:7 NIV.

“You must pray with all your might,” said Gen. William Booth. “That does not mean saying your prayers, or sitting gazing about in church or chapel with eyes wide open while someone else says them for you. It means fervent, effectual, untiring wrestling with God…This kind of prayer be sure the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame.”

And C. H. Spurgeon declared: “Let us agonize in prayer.”

Angst-powered prayers, driven by need are far more effective than feeble mumblings from the half-asleep. Do you want revival fires from prayer? Do you want finances to flow? Then, let anxiety into your prayer closet.

Rubble rousers

Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace! — Neh. 2:17 New Living Translation

Maybe you can relate to Nehemiah. He had the insurmountable challenge of rebuilding Jerusalem´s wall — with no money.

No cranes. No engineers. No bulldozers. No blueprints. No workers. NO RESOURCES.

All he had was a bunch of rocks, stones strewn everywhere, the tragic remains of Nebachadnezzar´s siege nearly 100 years earlier.The graceful wall of defense, once a wonder of ancient architecture, lay broken, a demolition job that embarrassed Jerusalemites.  Not only did it remind them of past failures, it was present day eyesore and heartsore for the once proud inhabitants. Thieves and enemies could penetrate and wreak havoc in the city at will.

All Nehemiah had was will power.

So he prayed. And God did the impossible in response. Jerusalems´s men let their hearts be stirred and their hands set to action. They erected the wall in record time and restored dignity to the city.

The project before you is impossibly big. You yearn to extend the kingdom of God, but “financial realiteis” tell you to scale back your dreams. Instead, ramp up those dreams in prayer. If Nehemiah´s task was daunting, his testimony should encourage you. Let God do the same in your life that He did in Nehemiah´s. Be a rubble raiser!

The grateful dead

This is my family.

And so a whole nation came from this one man who was AS GOOD AS DEAD —a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. — Heb. 11:12 Living Version.

Hey, I figure that if God can prosper a dead man, He can prosper you.

Maybe your ministry doesn’t have much to offer in the way of variety. But it probably is not as bad as Abraham’s. Think about it — the guy was WAY PAST the age of hope. His wife had already passed child-bearing years. Just as barren as a desert. Then, whamo! God does the miracle, and a nation results.

When you pray for finances for your ministry, pray for something big. Don’t settle for anything smaller than a nation. And whatever you do, don’t get dragged down by current circumstances. Your situation may seem “dead,” but God has a history of using the “dead.”