God’s provision isn’t the number you file your taxes with

A pastor once told me of when he first began going to college. He didn’t have the money to pay for his education, but he knew God wanted him to go. He saved up faithfully, but last minute expenses destroyed his savings. He said he stood in line for registration, praying over and over again. “God, I need money!” Again and again. He pleaded. He had no money to pay his bill.

Much to his surprise, when he got to the end of the line, he found that someone had paid his bill in full. He told the story in humorous and grateful manner. Praising God for His provision.

But let us pause to examine this. He said, “I need money.” But what did he actually need? Entrance into the college.

I give you another example.

In John 6, Jesus and the disciples are ministering to a crowd of thousands. Eventually it was time for the people to eat, but they did not have food. Jesus asks the question: Where are we going to buy bread for all these people? Philip expounds on the hopelessness of their situation by pointing out how 200 pennies would not be enough. Jesus answers his own question by miraculously feeding thousands of people with a single person’s lunch.

God provides with or without money.

Isn’t it funny how we can usually think in terms of money? We say, “I need money to buy my kids some shoes.” But in reality, we need shoes. We say, “I need money to pay for my groceries.” But in reality, we need food.

In reality, we need God to provide.

I challenge you to realize, God’s provision is not always in the form of money. Sometimes it’s a clearance sale. Sometimes it’s your neighbor’s leftovers. Sometimes it’s the generosity of a stranger. Sometimes it’s finding stuff while cleaning your basement.

In the pastor that was mentioned, God provided someone to pay his bill. In John 6, God provided a miracle. In your own life, there is no limit to what He may provide.

I challenge you, next time you have a need, don’t say, “I need money for . . .” Instead say, “I need God.” “I need God to provide!”

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” – Matthew 6:30

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What did you not receive?

Have you ever gotten a compliment on your looks. Perhaps someone said, “You have nice eyes.” Or something like, “Your hair is pretty.” Or something of that nature. Most of the time, when someone is complimented on their looks, they feel good inside. It makes them happy. But let’s pause for a moment. Who was really getting complimented? I mean really? Did they spend years designing their eyes or something? Not really. God’s the one who gets the credit, so there is no reason to take pride in our appearance.

If you think about it, everything is God’s. He made everything and created this entire universe. Our looks were given to us. Our abilities were given to us. The opportunities we have, and the ability to take them, were given to us. Everything was a gift.

In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul warns the church not to be prideful. In the next verse he says, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” Basically he says, how are you any different from any other person. What do you have that wasn’t given to you?

Obviously, all of us in this world have received our life, our being, and our entire existence from God. Look around you. There is nothing that you have or ever will have that is not by the grace of God. He provided all for you. So here’s the question, “What makes you different from another?” Why should you ever be puffed up with pride?

I challenge you, no matter how high or low your station may be, do not take evaluate yourself against another, or pride yourself on meaningless things. Realize that all you have has been given to you. You are no better or worse because of station, wealth, or physical appearance. God made you, and He gets the credit for it all.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” – 1 Timothy 6:7

It’s all God’s, He made it out of nothing- He could make it all disappear. Let us give all glory to Him!

Riches are not forever . . .

When God says something about the uncertainty of riches, He usually is reminding us of the eternality of spiritual things. This trend is repeated many times in His Word. But in Proverbs 27, God says something a little different.

In verse 23, God says, “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” The first word, “for” tips us off that this truth is a reason to do something. So, we have the reason for action- What’s the action? When we look to the previous verse- it says, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.”

Here in this verse, God does not seem to feel the need to remind us of spiritual things. He’s giving some simple advice on life. Since flocks and herds were the general measure of a man’s wealth in that day, we could say that God is saying: be diligent with your money. He repeats Himself by telling us to “look well” to our wealth. Those words “look well” literally mean: “put your heart into it.”

And why should we do this? Because money doesn’t last. And authority and ruler-ship does not always pass to the “rightful” person. God’s telling us that we have to be diligent with what we’re given or we could easily lose it.

But He’s not telling us to go out there and focus our life on money, either. We must use some discretion. God has said in other places, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” – Prov 23:5

“Riches make themselves wings” – truly.

So my friends, be diligent to protect what God has given you. Whether it be riches, authority, or anything else. Don’t work only to be rich. Don’t spend your life chasing after the wind. Remember: God gives you to ability to get wealth. (Deut 8:17-18) When we are diligent with our money, we are for His sake- not our own. When we are diligent, God can give us more, and we can be used greater for Him. He doesn’t need servants that chase after riches. And he doesn’t need diligent servants in order for Him to get money.

He wants us simply to be obedient. And that means here and now, with whatever we’ve been allotted.

Let’s be diligent stewards with what we’ve been given!

Cease from thine own wisdom

We humans think we are so smart. We view our surroundings as if they are so important. Most of us spend our lives looking at the things of this world as if they hold some great importance. It so happens that usually the things that are unseen are vastly more important than what we see.

Proverbs 23:4 says, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.” The world ‘labour’ is the kind of work that makes you truly weary. God tells us that we shouldn’t tire ourselves out trying to be rich. He tells us instead to abandon our own wisdom. The reason is in the next verse, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”

Let’s rephrase that into our everyday language, “Will you spend your life focused on nothing?” That’s right, God refers to money as something that doesn’t exist. In the context of eternity, money is nothing. Riches fall from our grasp like water falls through sieve. To quote the Bible, they “make themselves wings” and “fly away as an eagle.”

God tells us to cease from our own wisdom. Riches are not worth becoming weary for. Yes, God expects us to be good stewards and save our money, but He doesn’t want us to spend the majority of our energies on making money. Money is not what lasts. It doesn’t even last long in this life.

So I challenge you, if you are wearing yourself out trying to make money, stop. God wants you to live an abundant life seeking after what is truly important. You cannot succeed following your own wisdom and devices. Cease from your own wisdom. God tells us very clearly,

“It is he[God] that giveth thee power to get wealth,” – Deuteronomy 8:18

God doesn’t want you to be too weary and exhausted to live a full life. Seek the Lord on how to obtain the money you need. He promises he will always provide for you. Sometimes the harder way is not the best way.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29

“The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.” Proverbs 28:11

When’s the last time you doubled your money?

Say your boss gave you a large amount of money, and went on an extended vacation of an indefinite time. He asked you to keep it safe for him. Other than questioning his respectability, what would you do? Keep it safe right? Imagine that at the end of his time away, he asked what you did with the money. You pull it out from your mattress and give it to him, and he responds angrily. “What! You irresponsible employee! Why didn’t you at least put it in the bank so I could get some interest?”

This is, I confess, and extraordinary example, but it is almost exactly like the one found in Matthew 25 and in Luke 19. In those accounts, Jesus was describing the kingdom of heaven. He was, in essence, describing the Christian life and what God expects of us. In the parable, two servants doubled their money and were rewarded, but one servant simply kept it and was judged.

So I pose the above question to you again, “When was the last time you doubled your money?”

The servant in the parable was not expected to simply keep the Lord’s property safe. He was intended to increase it. He was to invest and get gain. This is a parable, and the focus is largely on spiritual things, but I believe it applies to all that God has given to us.

What has God given you?

A good education, a good job, a healthy body. Perhaps he gave you none of those things. Maybe you are uneducated, unemployed, and sick.

What has God given you?

Wherever you are, and whatever your state, God has given you something. You have abilities. You have talents. You can use what you have to glorify Him. Or you can simply hold on to His property and do nothing.

Someday, God will return. He will expect to see that you used His gifts for His gain. What will He find?

In Luke 19:26, Jesus says, “unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.” This verse declares that God will give to those who have produced something with their resources, and God will take from those who do nothing.

I challenge you, don’t use God’s gifts for their minimum value. Invest them. Invest them in His kingdom. Invest them in people. Use your talents for His glory. Take every opportunity. Invest your money wisely for His gain. If we neglect what He has given, we will be guilty, but if we work for God, He will reward us for it.

Let’s prosper for His glory. Let us be as the servants that gained from what they had been given. Then we can hear, as they did,

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” – Matthew 25:21