Ecclesiastes 1:7-9 (NLT)
Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.
It’s that time again! Tax season is upon us. Gathering together all the necessary documentation to provide to the Federal Government that represents the economic state of your family can be overwhelming as we examine our income and outflow to properly report our life according to the money we receive and spend for an entire year. For many, this will be the first time they look at this vital information. Some will not review it at all but leave it up to an accountant or tax preparer rather than taking on the overwhelming task. I am amazed when I look at what the Lord has done for us again in the past year. The W-2’s reveal the monetary worth of our contribution to our company. This can be very depressing for those who pour their life into a job for little in return. For those satisfied with their gross salary, many will be discontent when they reach the bottom line after taxes take their share off the top followed closely by “benefits” like insurance where coverage has decreased yet costs have sharply increased over the last two years. People are making more money but when all is said and done they are bringing home less. It can be quite depressing. I used to worry about money constantly. Excessively pouring over our monthly budget tightening strings here and making cuts there just to be sure we would have “more than enough” not only for what we needed today but for any “surprises” along the way. I candidly (and ashamedly) admit I have suffered from a fear of lack so profound that it has at times consumed me. I know that I am not alone. The last two painstaking years of our son’s battle with cancer has put some things into perspective for our family that I will always be thankful for. First thing was my job! When our son became ill and then was diagnosed with cancer requiring months of care out of town with me out of work, my job tumbled down the priority list in my life. It needed to. It took up not only the hours I spent in the office many times staying well past the appointed hour of my departure leaving my husband and children at home alone when I should have been there but also ignoring my own needs skipping lunch and carrying stressful burdens home each night throughout weekends and holidays. I literally poured my heart and soul into my job…unknowingly. When the word cancer came into our life, I was broken of this bad habit instantly. Over the last two years, our budget has been completely blown. With three recurrences, I have been in and out of town more than I can even remember. Most days, I don’t know if I am coming or going. The carefully structured plan for our future has been wiped out with the uncertainty that comes from a prolonged illness or disease. The future is not important if there is no hope. Hope comes by faith so faith becomes the primary focus when faced with an uncertain future. My perception of the power of money has changed. There are so many things that I desired for my children and our life that I had hoped money would provide. There was always some level of comfort found in the fact that we both had jobs with good insurance and benefit plans. But money cannot cure cancer. Despite billions of dollars that are poured into research, trials, studies and treatments, people are dying every single day from this horrible disease. Money no longer holds purpose or promise for me because it cannot deliver the hope, happiness, peace and joy that I long for in the healing of our son. Yet I still struggle not to worry about money, look for it, desire it, want it and hope for it in my life. “No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. Oh how I long to break this vicious circle in my life, the lives of others, the body called the Church of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 6:24-30 (NLT)
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”
Why do you have so little faith? When it comes to loving money, most people would say that they do not love money when in reality they really do. Those who do not have it will say that they do not “love” money but they need it. Those with money will also say they do not love it but have been worked hard for it. The love of money is a bitterroot in our heart. It is poisonous but in a beautiful way. There are some very beautiful flowers in this world that are toxic if eaten. Money is a tool like any other thing we must use in our life for ease or comfort. It gets the job done. However, like any other thing, we love it unknowingly making it a priority in our life without even thinking about it. Do you serve God? Or do you serve money? Who or what do you spend the most time thinking about? Who or what do you spend your most time pursuing? Those people who have a full-time job and honestly give their company its due work an 8-hour day at least. Do you give the Lord eight hours of your time as well? Maybe we should simply tithe our time respective to work? If you work eight hours a day for money and tithe a percentage of that time it would equal giving the Lord your full attention for just 48 minutes a day. Now that is not what the Lord requires of us as we will soon discover but for many Christians this is not representative of their time with the Lord each day. When was the last time that you gave the Lord just one-tenth of your workday? We worry about money. We worry about keeping our pantry stocked. We worry about our next meal sometimes before we finish enjoying the one set before us. We worry about what we wear. We worry about having enough clothes and shoes and accessories all purchased with money. If God cares so wonderfully for the flowers in the field then He must certainly care for me and you. We do not trust the Lord for His Provision because we do not have faith. The absence of faith always promotes a spirit of fear in any area of our life. We must learn to apply our faith to our provision and stop trying to use it for finances. When taxes were due, Jesus sent his disciple to catch a fish which produced a coin to render its due. (Matthew 17:27) The world’s economy is driven by money. God is fully aware of how many dollars it will take to pay our dues to the world. But you are not of this world just passing through it so your faith should be in the Lord for daily provision. Provision is not always money. But for those who desire money more than God – it will always be about monetary things. The love of money in its most basic form is demonstrated when we put our hope and expectancy in currency rather than the Lord!
Matthew 15:32-36 (NLT)
Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.” But Jesus said, “You feed them.” But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there. Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.
Everyone is aware of the story of Jesus feeding five thousand (and possibly more) with two fish and five loaves of bread. The disciples were aware of the people’s need but did not think they were adequately prepared to meet that need so their logical conclusion was to send them to nearby villages to get food and shelter for the night. But Jesus did not hesitate to tell them, “You feed them.” Now I am not sure how these men felt in that moment, but I know this. Our oldest daughter is recently engaged. We are overjoyed as she is a godly girl who has found who I believe is the godly man created just for her. She fancies a wedding in the fall that her father and I assuredly would like to give her with all the bows, bells and whistles. She and her fiancé have begun to prepare their guest list and in one hour’s time are well around 200 people of their closest friends and families. My heart races at the thought of feeding all these people looking at our finances today. But I do not have to feed these people today… so I am not worried about it. Now if it was her wedding day and the caterer failed to show up or we ran out of sweet tea (the southern equivalent to wine in Jesus’ day), I would most certainly be worried about it. It is one thing to say, “God will provide” and another to really mean it. If you say that the God is going to do it and worry about it until that day arrives then you do not really believe and there is no faith because fear is your driving force. What did Jesus do? He took what they had, broke it and blessed it. At the end of the meal, there was more leftover then they began with. Love of money is when we trust it to provide for us more than God watching and waiting for it to come. Love of God looks for His Hand to open and provide what we need rather than the money to pay for it.
“Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” In John 6:1-13, there is a similar account of the same story. Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Now Jesus knew that they did not have enough money to feed all the people, but he was checking the heart condition of his disciple. Philip told the Lord that even months of wages would not be enough money to feed them. Philip knew that money would not meet their need. We have to come to the personal revelation that money will never satisfy our needs or give us contentment. When we seek the Kingdom of God above all things meaning we focus our energy and effort including time, talent and treasure on pursing righteousness then God will give us everything that we need. Money will never satisfy our soul because it is not eternal. It is losing its value every day as the earth deteriorates under the curse that sin has placed on it. I believe that the Lord is trying to get the message across to His People to stop looking to the world for your satisfaction and contentment but re-evaluate what you already have and how it can be used to promote God’s Plan and Purpose for your life. What is your perception of your personal problems today? If you are praying for anything other than more of Jesus and His Will, it reveals the contents of our heart. I refuse to pray for money. I will not ask the Lord for finances anymore. I live in Covenant with God and honor the tithe as being holy. I expect the Lord to provide for me. If my expectancy is real, then I will not worry about finances but look for the supernatural, miraculous multiplicity of God in my life. I want more of Jesus. He will supply everything I need from the Riches of my inheritance in Heaven. This is what it means to believe.
2 Corinthians 8:10-15 (NLT)
Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over and those who gathered only a little had enough.”
I recently read an article about two well-known ministers, if I told you who they were you would instantly know them. It talked about the flaws in the Gospel they are preaching concerning prosperity. Neither one of these two would I have ever considered to be preaching “blab-it-grab-it” messages, so I read the article. I did not cite the article here because I do not agree 100% with the author on some points, but the false teaching regarding prosperity became abundantly clear. I was shocked and disappointed by his remarks that were valid. It made me look into my own heart and dig deeper in the Word of God for answers to my own attitude and actions. I believe that we are living in the last days before Jesus Christ. It is plain to see that love has grown cold and sin is rampant infiltrating the church just as much as the world at this point. Mega churches have been torn down and home cell groups rising up. Remember what Jesus did to provide for the people, He took what they had, broke it and blessed it. I believe the Body of Christ is undergoing a re-consecration to God. He is making the Bride holy and dedicated to the Lord once more. To be rich is not defined in the Word of God by the things you have but the condition of one’s heart. The love of money has secretly snuck into the backdoor of people’s heart as an unwelcome guest who must be thrown out. Light and dark cannot exist in the same space. Life and death are opposite destinations. “Give in proportion to what you have…” God is looking at us all to use what we have been given, to break it and bless it then give it whether it is our time, talent and yes even our treasure to the Glory of God and promotion of His Kingdom. To have plenty is not the definition of meeting our own needs, we will not have enough to be satisfied until we are sharing with others who are in need. Godliness WITH contentment is great gain. We must share our life including our resources equally. The Word of God reminds us that “those who gathered a lot had nothing left over” which is in reference to those who gathered not just for today but tomorrow demonstrating that a lack of faith and belief God would not continue to meet their needs on a daily basis so they held some back. “Those who gathered only a little had enough” refers to those who gathered using God’s Provision for today without fear of tomorrow that they had enough. Enough means adequate for the want or need, sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy one’s desire. You are the determiner. You decide what enough in your life is and therefore it is up to you to find satisfaction and contentment. You will never find it in and of yourself or anything in this world simply because the world is insufficient hence the death sentence it lives under, it can only come through Jesus Christ and the prosperity of our soul.
Prosperity of our soul begins by giving eagerly which means to be impatient and desirous to give always looking for someone else to pour into. Those who have faith that God will provide their needs and wants do not continue to look for fulfillment but those who need to be refilled. It is an anxious and avid state of giving characterized by expectancy that comes from believing that not only is God able to provide for us but willing and eager to do so as well. We prosper when we give proportionately. Your life does not have to be impoverished to be a prosperous giver but it should be equal. This is the nail in the coffin of prosperity gospel including huge churches with name-brand pastors, living in mansions, driving expensive foreign cars, flying around on private jets and living the life of the rich and famous. This would not be a problem if the Body of Christ was flourishing as well around the world and the needs of every widow and orphan was met, if people had shelter and enough food to eat. ”Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2)
Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 (NLT)
Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
The desire and longing of my heart is to be satisfied and content in the Will of God. I am not always successful as I get sucked back into the world and its way of thinking that money is security. It’s not. To properly evaluate one’s perspective of money and its priority in our life requires complete and total honesty within our self. We will determine whether or not we will be content by what we discover. Do I love money? I don’t think so. Do I think about money or lack thereof more than God’s Promises? Yeah, sometimes. Do I worry about it? Yes, many times. Does it cause me to lose sleep at night? It has in the past. Do I pray for it? Used to until I discovered that it meant I desired something other than You, Lord! Wealth is no good to you if it is tangible and not eternal. The Body of Jesus Christ must evaluate the authenticity of faith in God through Jesus Christ which is measured by our dependency on the Lord alone for everything we need, want and desire. Many people who believe they are Christians even observing obedience in tithing lack prosperity because the motive of their heart is to prosper on the outside without considering the inside of their heart. (Micah 6:9-12) I do not believe that any of us will ever prosper in the natural until it is all about Jesus inside our heart and mind. We will work hard but no harvest will come unless it is the product of a prospering soul! Life is meaningless without satisfaction. (Ecclesiastes 6:1-7) Contentment comes with godliness then there is great gain in our life. (I Timothy 6:6-10) God gives seed to the sower. What are you sowing in the Kingdom of God to His Glory alone and not for a financial blessing? Would your relationship with God be rich if you were given the world’s wealth? (Luke 12:15-21) “O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.” (Proverbs 30:7-9) Would you feel the same about God and His Riches if His Will kept you right here?
Matthew 5:6 (AMP)
Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!
I believe that God has given each of His Children the same opportunity to prosper. It begins in our soul and spills over in our life. If we become concentrated in our effort to live a godly life than we will never go without and never be disgraced which means to be put out of the Favor of God. (Psalm 37:16-19) It says even in famine when money cannot buy food because there is none that we will have more than enough. You will never seek the Lord’s Provision for your life if you remain dependent on money to satisfy your needs. Money cannot satisfy you or me for that matter because it cannot even satisfy itself. It’s worth is fluctuating and currently on a steady decline. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. I want to be blessed. I want to be fortunate. I want to be happy. I want to be spiritually prosperous enjoying God’s Favor and Salvation now and forever. To do so I must hunger and thirst for righteousness which is right standing and uprightness before God. The deeper I go into the Presence of God the less I will worry about fear of lack because I will have a satisfied heart that will reap many harvests in my life. I will be completely content and satisfied with my life! It is not wrong to want certain things but they must never be the priority of fulfillment in your life. Jesus Christ will prosper your heart and soul from this place you will experience the overflow as He opens the Windows of Heaven and floods your life with every good thing that He has promised!
As I work to prepare our income tax return this year, I have poured over the money we have earned in comparison with the life we have lived and have discovered that God really does do more than we think or ask. So I will not limit the Lord anymore by telling Him what I need when I need it as He seems to have it completely under control. Instead, I will strive hard to remember this when I become anxious about finances or leap ahead worrying about the future rather than living today for Jesus Christ. He is my Provider. He satisfies my life with good things even when it does not come as a check in the mail or monetary increase. In fact, I am beginning to see that His Provision is better than anything the world has ever given me and a prospering soul is worth more than silver and gold!
Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT)
Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?