The Good News - Home
Finding God’s Provision
By David A. DePra
God wants to give much to each person. Indeed, God wants to give ALL. He wants to give all of Himself, and parallel to that -- in fact, as a result of that -- God also wants to bless us with material provision. If you read the Bible, you cannot escape this. Continually, God tells us to trust Him for all things – spiritual and material -- and if we do, the promise is that He will provide.
I want to repeat that last statement because it is a great Truth: It is the will of God that we trust Him for all things – spiritual AND material -- and it is His will that He provide us with all things. Get that – it is THE WILL OF GOD. This is quite fundamental, and even elementary, but precisely why it is so important.
Provision is God’s Will
God’s purpose for each of us is CHRIST. God wants you to know Christ, and to become an expression of HIS LIFE. There is a lot in that – certainly there is a lot involved for God to accomplish that purpose. But in the end, God is building a NEW MAN; He is building a BODY. You are part of it. God wants you to come into the fullness of His will, to His glory – and He wants it NOW, in this life. HOW that is to come to pass may vary with each individual. But the goal is always the same – we are to become living epistles of God.
However, God does not accomplish this goal to the disregard of material provision. Rather, material provision is to come along side of God’s purpose in Christ. In fact, it is God’s will for all that we need materially to emerge from the spiritually relationship He wants to have with us in Christ.
This is exactly what Jesus said. He said, "Seek you FIRST the kingdom of God, and all these material needs will be added to you." (see Matt. 6:33) To seek first the kingdom of God is to seek first God’s rule, God’s purpose, indeed, it is to seek first God Himself. To seek first the kingdom of God means to seek first the relationship with God that He wants to have with us in Jesus Christ – Jesus being our personal LORD.
Note that if we seek first God’s purpose, that He will add to us all we need materially. Why is this true? Because it IS God’s purpose to be our provider. It IS God’s purpose for us to seek Him for material provision, and for God to provide for us. Thus, since that IS His will for us, if we are seeking first His will in all things, material provision will come along with the package. There is simply no way to come into the will and purpose of God without material provision being added to you.
However, we must also note the priority is to FIRST seek the Lordship of Christ over us personally. We must seek first the spiritual relationship of faith that God provides in Christ. If we do, we will enter into that relationship. But again – this will not be to the exclusion of material provision. Rather, God will provide for us materially UNDER the Lordship of Jesus. But if we are not under the Lordship of Jesus, God cannot provide much materially.
So what we see is that seeking first the SPIRITUAL will not deprive us of the material. No. In fact, it will INSURE IT – within God’s will. But conversely, if we seek first the MATERIAL, then we will do so at the expense of the SPIRITUAL.
It works this way because we are here talking about a RELATIONSHIP with God based on faith. If I seek first the kingdom of God – then I AM TRUSTING Him for provision, even though my focus is upon God Himself. God will then be able to provide my material needs. But if I seek first the material, then I am not really seeking first the kingdom – I am, by definition, seeking first the material. God won’t be able to provide much. In fact, He will have to work on adjusting my goals in life.
There is a reason it must work this way. You cannot separate your life into sections, with Christ governing the spiritual, but not the material. You cannot trust God for the spiritual, but not the material. This isn’t about getting religion. It is about a relationship of faith with Christ. Thus, if I am to seek first the kingdom, I am to seek it regarding EVERYTHING. And God tells me that it all beings with the spiritual. Seek first God’s will – focus on your relationship with Jesus Christ. And if you do, you will be under His Lordship – by under His Lordship will come material provision. It cannot fail to come.
So what we see is that God wants us to seek HIM FIRST – His will, His glory, and the full purpose that He has for us in Christ. But this will not deprive us materially. Rather, it will insure that we have all that God has for us materially. For if you seek God, you will find Him – and come into all of the blessings He has for you, both spiritually and materially.
One of the biggest errors today, and you see it clearly in The Word of Faith movement, is that people are teaching prosperity FROM God without relationship WITH God. They are teaching that it is always God's will to prosper you, indeed, make you wealthy, to the complete disregard of your relationship with Christ, or the condition of your heart. If you listen to many Word of Faith teachers, you will almost NEVER hear about the need to come under the work of the Cross, or the Lordship of Jesus -- instead they say we are ALREADY under His Lordship, and so we simply need to confess into existence all the material benefits of following Christ.
Forget it. You and I have no right to decide anything in this life. We must simply surrender into the hand of God and let HIM decide for us. And what He will decide IS material provision -- but not necessarily great wealth. Yet even then, God will want a relationship with you wherein you are living in the spiritual riches of Christ. And then out of that, because of that, parallel to that -- with Christ as your anchor -- the material provision will come. It will come just as surely as spring comes and clothes the lilies of the field. But Jesus will be Lord of ALL of it because He is Lord of YOU.
So again – it is God’s will that we trust Him for everything – spiritual and material. And it is likewise God’s will that He supply our need for both. Indeed, this is not simply a suggestion by God. It is GOD’S WILL for us.
A Governing Principle
I said that it is GOD’S WILL – not merely a suggestion – that we trust Him for everything, and that He provide everything. Many of us think of seeking God for provision only when we lack what we need. God becomes a last resort. Others of us have so much in our possession that we never even need to face the issue of God’s provision. We just coast along assuming that whatever we have must be God’s will. Well, it may be. But my point is this: A Christian is a person who is supposed to live in total dependence upon God. Spiritually and materially. Therefore, trusting God for both isn’t supposed to be optional. It is supposed to be business as usual in our walk with Christ.
Christianity is CHRIST IN US. But Christianity LIVED is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And fundamental to that relationship, indeed, the governing principle is that we walk by faith. We walk dependent upon God, yet in full provision. We walk leaning upon God for everything, but with God faithful TO provide. Note that this isn’t supposed to be an option, or something that applies to some, but not others. No. It is actually the very definition of the Christian walk – we are to depend upon God for everything, and He will provide.
What this means is that if you are presently living in great abundance, God still wants you to depend upon Him. If you are living in great need, God still wants you to depend upon Him. The journey of faith MUST come to that in the long run. Faith is dependence upon God for both the spiritual and material.
This principle may seem so elementary to you that you are wondering what is the big deal. You might say, "Of course that is true. Everyone knows that." But do we know it? Examine that statement again -- God wants us to trust Him for all provision. And if we do, God wants to provide all for us. Can we see that what we are talking about here is a RELATIONSHIP with God that will completely change our thinking about everything? Can we see, in this one statement, that we are talking about a true WALK IN FAITH? We are talking about serving God, rather than mammon. We are talking about living for God, rather than living for this life? If you really get at the root of this Truth, you will see that we are talking about what it means to be set free from the way natural man lives in this world – set free from the way many Christian people live – into a relationship that God desires.
I submit that if we would enter into this relationship with God, that nothing about us could remain the same – for we are talking about what governs us, and the motivation for our living. In order for God to get us into a relationship of faith whereby we both depend upon Him for everything, and receive all that we need from His hand, there must come a big change IN US. Thus, if God is able to establish such a relationship with us, pretty much everything else in our lives will be adjusted to the Truth, and line up with the will of God. For we are here talking about the MEANS of our provision – yes, for the spiritual, but also for the material. We are talking about the source of our survival – the source of our LIFE.
When we begin to talk about PROVISION – trusting God for daily provision, and actually being taken care of by God Himself -- all of a sudden, our Christianity has to be REAL, doesn’t it? No longer can my Christianity be merely a list of nice teachings, lofty thoughts, or impractical applications. No. Rather, because my very provision is dependent upon God – because it is the outcome of relationship with Him – everything begins to come under the government of the Holy Spirit.
Sure. That is why the entire Bible is governed by this theme – God wants to provide for us, and He wants us to depend upon Him. God desires this for EVERYTHING – from eternal life to our daily bread. For once you begin talking about such practical needs as provision, and see that God must govern even that, then Christianity becomes real, practical, and livable. You cannot put it on a shelf and whip it out only when there is a crisis. No. For even your daily provision is directly tied to your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus told us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread." Front and center in the Lord’s Prayer – which is the blueprint prayer – is the clear indication that we are to pray for God’s kingdom and will to come in our lives, and that right along side of it is that we must look to God for daily provision. Make no question about it – it is GOD’S WILL that we look to Him for provision, indeed, for everything. And it is GOD’S WILL, and His delight, to provide for us according to His will. This is not simply a suggestion by God. It is His WILL – and speaks of the RELATIONSHIP with Him that He desires to have with us.
Seasons of Want
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of passages in the Bible that tell us to trust God for provision. These passages promise that IF we do – and the key word here is IF – that God will provide. But if we are honest, we will face an important question: Why is it is a fact that God sometimes does NOT provide? Why is it possible to trust God and NOT receive the promise? At least not right away?
Despite the fact that it is GOD’S WILL that He provide for us, it is nevertheless true that sometimes He doesn’t provide – even if we are trusting Him. There ARE seasons of wants and lack in the Christian life. What is going on here? Obviously, it is not possible for God to fail to keep His promises. So if we get that settled, we will see that even if God doesn’t provide short term that He has good reasons – also found in scripture. But God will provide in the long term.
So WHY won’t God immediately provide for us – just because we are Christians? WHY does He sometimes take so long, and put us through trials on this matter of provision?
There is ONE reason: God must first deal with our hearts. He WILL provide for us. But not to the exclusion of a relationship with Him. Rather, God will build a relationship of faith in us, and then, OUT OF THAT, will provide for us materially.
God is quite capable of giving people THINGS – and often He does. But material things are all going to pass away. Thus, God wants to establish with us an eternal relationship. THAT is His priority – that we know Christ and be filled with Him. Then, out of that relationship, we can possess many THINGS.
If God gave us everything we wanted or needed, we would not KNOW to seek Him. We would never become dependent upon Him. There would be no work of the Cross. We would begin to take Him for granted. In fact, we would begin to boast that God has blessed us because of OUR faithfulness, and OUR righteousness. Not maybe. We would. Even the apostle Paul, who certainly had a heart that belonged to God, had to be given, "a thorn in the flesh," LEST he become proud over the abundance of revelation that God gave him. Who are we?
There is something else, too. One of the primary jobs of the Holy Spirit is to set us free from this world, and from serving mammon, and from walking according to the natural. This would be impossible if God always fed the natural and material. It would be at the expense of the spiritual. That is why, while God does not condemn those with possessions, He tells them to beware of a danger. Why would God say this? Not because it is wrong to have money! No. God says it because we are already so governed by the natural and the flesh. Having much money could feed that in some people – they have one more thing to protect.
There is something about having MUCH that keeps us from depending upon God. I’m not saying that it has to. Neither am I saying that if you have money, that God won’t do His work in you another way. I am simply stating that the reason why God doesn’t always provide materially for people right away is that this issue strikes at the heart and core of living in this world. God wants to establish us in HIM – and then we will be safer for material provision.
We know that sin and unbelief hurt our relationship with God. That goes without saying. But have we recognized that BLESSING might also hurt it? How so? Well, if God were to bless us materially before we were broken by the Cross, and brought into a relationship of real faith, we might never become dependent upon Him. As mentioned, we might even think the blessing was due to our own righteousness. Or we might get proud and arrogant. God has to get us to the place where He can trust us with blessing and with material abundance. Otherwise it can become a great hurt to our relationship with God.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that God won’t hear us, help us, or provide anything for us, until we spend years growing to know Him. Not at all. We are all different and God has different ways of working with us. But I am pointing out that what God wants is a relationship with us – and fundamental to that is that we might know Him, and be surrendered to Him by faith. For many of us, God cannot keep us pressed to Him by materially blessing us. The blessing would end up becoming a rival to God Himself.
For example, if in my heart, I have a love for money, or if I really do serve mammon, is God going to bypass that condition and give me abundant material blessings? Nope. Rather, He must first deal with my problem with money. But really, my problem is more than a love for money – it is really with my relationship with God – which results in my serving mammon. Thus, before God can bless me as He would desire, He must deal with my heart through the work of the Cross – for that is the ONLY way for me to become rightly related to Him by faith.
God knows us. He knows His purpose for us. We usually do not. Thus, it is going to seem as if God isn’t keeping His promises at first, in many of these cases. But He is keeping them – more than we could imagine. He is not only going to bless us materially with what we need – in time – but He is first going to do a work in us that will make that possible.
I have already stated, and it is certainly backed up by scripture, that God wants us to trust Him for provision, and He wants to meet all of our need if we do. I have also stated that God may have to withhold material provision for a season in order to adjust our hearts to Him – SO THAT we can be trusted with provision. But now we are ready to add something even more fantastic: Since it is God’s will for us to trust Him, and for us to receive from Him, if we will hand ourselves over to God, He will do a work in us that will make it possible for Him to bless us. In other words, if there is any reason why God cannot presently bless me materially, I need only hand myself over to Him and ask Him to set me free from those issues. And if I will surrender to God in this way, He will answer.
I don’t know how that strikes you, but it really is good news. It means that God isn’t sitting in heaven waiting for you to figure out what ails you, fix it, and come to Him for provision. No. God is simply telling us to hand ourselves over to Him, and let Him fix any possible hindrance to blessing. And if we do, then it is a guarantee that God will get His will – it is a guarantee that we will eventually depend upon God for provision and receive it. God will see to it that we come into that relationship, for it IS HIS WILL.
Incidentally, when I speak of hindrances to provision, I am not necessarily talking about conscious sin or unbelief. It is entirely possible for you and I to be walking in the light, IN the will of God, and seeking God – as much as we know – but for God to see that we need more maturity before we can move on. His work is not punishment. It is really the beginnings of the very provision we seek. For the first step in any blessing of God is for Him to make us able to receive the blessing and live in it to His glory.
Note that. The first step in any blessing of God is for Him to make US able to live in the blessing to His glory. And what makes us able is a relationship of faith and dependence. What makes us able is the work of the Cross to wash out of us impure motives. THEN God can bless us – which is His will from the start.
God is able to bless anyone He wants at any time. But in order for us to reign with Christ, we must submit to Christ. In order for us to be faithful over much, we must be faithful over little. In order for us to receive material blessing, often we must first receive spiritual adjustment. God wants a relationship with us OUT OF WHICH blessing can flow to us.
The Bible says that if you trust God, He will provide. It is simply NOT possible for God to fail someone who puts their trust in Him. Jesus would not tell us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," if the will of God on this matter were not sealed, certain, and definite. God WANTS us to wholly look to Him for provision. And He WILL meet our need.
But the Bible also reveals that, in the short term, it IS possible to trust God for provision and get silence in return. It is possible to pass through seasons of want and lack. It is possible for it to seem as if all these promises of God are never going to come to pass. Why?
Well, let’s look at an example. God promised Israel provision in the wilderness – a wilderness into which HE LED THEM. And yet they suffered times of want. Why? Well, God tells them, and us, why. It is really the beginning of the answer to WHY, in the relatively short term, God may NOT provide:
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deut. 8:2-3)
God is here telling us that there are going to be times when He withholds provision. But it is not because He is unfaithful. Neither is it necessarily because WE are out of God’s will. No, in fact, even God’s lack of provision is IN THE WILL OF GOD – it is part of what is necessary for God to eventually bless us. Indeed, the lack of God’s provision is a tool He uses to press us unto Himself, and establish a RELATIONSHIP with us.
This is not difficult to see what God is getting at here. Probably every one of us, "trusts God," because of what we believe we will get from Him. We may even trust Him for provision simply because we know He has promised to provide. Now, that seems right, doesn’t it? And I suppose if you just read the letter of the Word, it would be right. But there is something wrong with that motivation for, "trusting God." Do you see it? I could actually say I trust God FOR provision, but not have much of a reverence or relationship with God Himself. My whole relationship with God could be based on what I am getting from Him.
God knows this – even if we don’t. So He may withhold the benefits of trusting Him – He may withhold His promise to provide. Why? Because it is only then that it can be proven whether we are devoted to HIM – or simply devoted to what we can GET FROM HIM. In effect, God wants a relationship of faith with us that will RESULT in provision. He does not want to settle for a provision that will abort the relationship of faith.
I know of some people who claim they trusted God for provision and He let them down. They are bitter towards God. But this is really the proof of their unbelief. When we give up on God, accuse Him of unfaithfulness, and become bitter towards Him, it is NEVER because we sincerely believed God and He failed us. No. It is because God didn’t do what we demanded of Him – even if we demanded He keep His own word. We probably had a sense of entitlement towards God. We were likely seeking Him only for the provision. And when God withheld provision, we forsook Him. Thus, it was never about God for us. It was about what we could get from Him.
If God withholds provision for a season, this is not a sign that He will not provide. It is a sign that He is working on a relationship with us that will make provision all the more possible and abundant. But we must continue seeking God, and refuse to settle for less than His highest will. If we will continue, God’s highest will is exactly what we will receive – a greater revelation of Himself, and the provision that comes from it.
Once we realize that it is God’s will to provide for us, and for us to trust Him, and that this is ALWAYS God’s will – we will not give up if God withholds provision. We will know that it is just a season. It is part of His overall goal. God is working on a relationship that is eternal. The provision will come OUT of that.
Blessed is the Man
From cover to cover in the Bible, God constantly tells us that we need to trust Him for EVERYTHING. Indeed, Ps. 34 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good. BLESSED IS THE MAN who puts his trust in Him." Is that a true statement? Am I BLESSED because I trust in the Lord? Well, if I am, then at some point trusting God has to MEAN something in the way of provision. This is so if you are talking about eternal life, and it is so if you are talking about day-to-day material needs. Otherwise, a relationship with God is nothing more than a nice, fuzzy feeling, but is not real, cannot be lived, and really, means very little as far as actual living.
Regarding material provision, God makes promise after promise to the effect that if we trust Him in that area He will provide. Not maybe. But for certain. I have looked all through the Bible, and I cannot find one verse that suggests that if we trust the Lord the result is going to be NOTHING. I cannot find one verse that suggests that God will ignore faith. But I can find hundreds that promise that it is impossible to trust God and LOSE OUT. It is impossible to trust God and end up ashamed that you did, desolate because of it, or lacking in what you need for life.
We can continue with Psalm 34 to prove this:
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.
O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
The LORD redeems the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
If God truly inspired these words, then it is NOT POSSIBLE for them to fail. And clearly, what we see here is that trusting the Lord always results in provision – and a whole lot more. And I could quote tons of verses that also say that if we don’t trust the Lord, that He is not going to provide for us – at least not in the same way as He will if we DO trust Him.
The bottom line is: Faith matters. Why? Not because God is sitting in heaven demanding that we trust Him, and refusing to help us until we do. No. Faith does nothing for God. It is all for us. Faith is a RELATIONSHIP word. It embodies everything having to do with God, from the fact that we don’t belong to ourselves, to the fact that we believe God will work out His purpose in our lives. In short, when we trust God we are entering into the very foundation of a relationship with Him. If we don’t, we have yet to enter.
Now, of course, we do have to realize that faith is NOT merely intellectual assent to Truth. No. Rather, faith is surrender to God – specifically IN a situation. In the end, it comes down to that. I must surrender to God FOR HIS WILL. That is faith. And there really isn’t any other kind of faith.
Contrast this over and against the idea that faith is believing God for something that YOU want. Faith is really NEVER that. It isn’t wrong to want God to help you, or wrong to want something from God. But faith isn’t a matter of me trying to get God to do something. Rather, it is a matter of me having surrendered to God, and then of coming to see what HE WILLS. Then I can easily believe because I know His will. If this happens to be what I wanted to begin with, then fine. But if it is not what I originally wanted, my surrender to God will make it possible for Him to change my will and desires.
Now, if you see what I am saying, you will see that true faith in God is absolutely impossible for ANYTHING expect God’s will. That is something you can bank on. Or, to put it another way, you cannot have, "the faith of Jesus," for ANYTHING except what Jesus has faith for – and that would be ONLY the WILL OF GOD.
This ought to be GOOD news, not bad news. Really, it means that the focus of faith ought not to be upon what I want. Rather, the focus ought to be upon God Himself, and in finding HIS WILL. If I get that proper focus, then God can deal with me and bring my will into line with His. And the faith of Jesus will be there -- every time, all the time.
It seems almost so self-evident that we need not mention it, but so often it is something we forget: God always wants to do His will. Sure. That is why it IS His will. But despite the fact that God could do His will without our involvement, this is usually not the way He works. Instead, God wants to do His will IN US and THROUGH US – and then FOR US.
The best news possible is that God wants to do His will, and that if He can get us to the place where He can do His will in us, and through us, and for us, that NOTHING CAN STOP the will of God in our lives. Nothing.
So the question becomes: What is holding up the will of God for me? Well, I am. In the end, it comes down to that. But don’t think that what I mean is that we are deliberately sinning, or that we are living in conscious unbelief. No. I am simply pointing out that most Christians are not yet ready for the will of God.
Does that shock you? Well, let me put it this way: The will of God for you is a RELATIONSHIP based in faith. It is that YOU and I become expressions of God’s glory. It is that you and I live in this world, not for ourselves, but for God. Thus, the will of God for you and I is not a THING, or THINGS. It is a relationship with a PERSON. And once that is solid and established, then THINGS can safely come into the picture.
So many Christians pray and pray to God for help, for THINGS, and even for provision. Well, God WANTS us to pray for these. He wants us to come to Him for provision; to depend upon Him; to seek Him. He says that over and over again. And He does promise to answer, doesn’t He? Yep. Well, what is the problem? The problem is RELATIONSHIP. God wants to give us THINGS as the outgrowth of our relationship of faith with Him. But too often, we are blind to the relationship and simply want the THINGS.
Now, you do not have to plan to be blind to what God really wants in the way of a relationship. At least to begin with, you ARE blind. How could you be otherwise? And being blind to what God wants is not necessarily the result of sin, or of conscious unbelief. No. You can be walking in the light you have, and you have be right with God as far as you know. But you can still NOT KNOW – because you aren’t mature enough to know. The fact that you don’t yet have the relationship of faith God wants to have with you may not be your fault at all.
Here again we see the Truth about why God doesn’t always provide – even though He promises to provide and help. God is holding back His provision in order to draw you INTO the relationship. He knows that if He just gave you everything all at once, that you would remain blind to the relationship, because your need would be satisfied. So He is silent, and seems indifferent. It might even seem as if none of the promises of the Bible are true for you. But they are true – all of them. And if you hang in with God, you will find out that they ARE true because GOD IS TRUE.
But you see, what I am describing here is, in large part, a trial of faith. When your life contradicts the promises of God, that is a trial, isn’t it? Especially when the stakes are high, and you have much riding on the faithfulness of God. And the fact is, if you want a relationship with God, there are going to be situations in your life which absolutely call God a liar. The question, however, will come down to this: Will YOU call Him a liar?
If God promises to provide for us, and yet despite our faith, His provision is not coming, this is a trial of faith. And we have to CHOOSE. Will we believe what our circumstances – the, "facts," if you will – seem to prove? Will we give up and conclude that God is not faithful, or that somewhere along the way we missed the boat with God, and that there isn’t really any use trying? Or will we recognize that no matter what obstacles there are – whether they are in circumstances or IN US personally – that God’s word cannot fail? Will we open ourselves to God and invite Him to do WHATEVER IS NECESSARY to bring to pass His will in our lives? To make it more practically, will we say to God, "Lord, I don’t know why Your promise is not coming to pass for me. But if the problem is me, then do whatever is necessary IN ME to make it possible for You to get your will in my life, and to keep Your promises."
When God doesn’t seem to be keeping His promise to us of provision, it is His call upon us to find out WHY. And often the reason WHY is that God wants to bring us into a relationship that will not only make His promise possible, but will fulfill us in every other way.
Again – this is about relationship. If we open to God as I just described, we are already in a relationship with God. And the best is yet to come. There is nothing God wants to do more than His will in our lives. Thus, if we will NOT SETTLE for anything less, it is certain that God will not settle for anything less. But also again – this is not about THINGS. It is about God doing what is necessary to relate me to Himself in such a way to make this possible. It is about God changing ME over to where I can walk with Him and be blessed by Him the way He wants to bless me.
Now, before everyone gets in line for this, realize what it really includes. It includes being willing for the Holy Spirit to convict me of unbelief, ignorance, and even sin. It includes being exposed for what I am. If I am to become rightly related to God in a way that will free Him to bless me, then I must see, repent of, and discard, everything that speaks of my being WRONGLY related to God. I must not only change may conduct, but also my thinking. IN effect, there must come a complete surrender to God that will change much about my relationship to Him.
If you believe that right now you are as surrendered to God as you can be, then that is great. It may be true. But you and I do not know what is in our heart. That is why we must open to God.
Let me give an example. There are many of us who say we love God, believe God, and are surrendered to God. This may be quite sincere and true as far as it goes. But perhaps little of this has ever been proved or tested in the sense of making it real. Much of it might be religious. Will we love God, believe God, and be surrendered to God, for example, if we find that it doesn’t PAY us? What if God removes, or withholds, blessing from us – for no apparent reason? This is the kind of thing that will expose our real faith and expose the real core of our relationship with God. Were we walking in faith only because we were getting the results we expected? Are these, "results," the essence of our faith and relationship with God? How about God Himself? See what I mean? Well, if we find ourselves in this kind of trial, the choice is the same as before – we must open our lives to God. If we do, then our faith will become more real and solid. And this is the relationship that God is after, and the reason for which He allowed the trial.
Christian people do MUCH in the way of obeying God, and believing Him – sort of – because of what we expect to get out of it. This is an easy trap because as I have stated, if we trust God, He promises that we are GOING TO GET MUCH OUT OF IT! That is a fact. Everything from eternal life to provision is promised IF we trust God. But it is right here that we absolutely MUST see the Truth – it is a Truth that is one of the most important of all. And that Truth is this: God wants to bring us into a relationship with Himself that will greatly bless us in every way. But He wants us to be in this relationship because WE LOVE HIM, and want Him for HIMSELF. Not because of the blessings we get from Him.
Get that: God wants a relationship with us that is based on LOVE for God. Not based on love for THINGS we can get from God. We are supposed to believe God and obey Him and walk with Him because we know Him and love Him. We want God Himself, and we want God’s will in our lives. But not simply because it is the best deal. No. We want it because we have been SET FREE by the Truth – and know God. And if God is able to get us to this place, then He will be free to bless us with anything that pleases Him, because that blessing will NOT COMPETE with God Himself.
This, I believe, is often the reason why God often doesn’t bless Christian people in an outward way that we can identify. God is drawing us into a relationship with Himself. Thus, He really IS blessing us – He IS blessing us with the greatest blessing of all. He is setting us free. And then, all those other things can be safely added to us.
Substitutes For Relationship
Jesus said that our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask Him. He said, "Ask and you shall receive." Jesus stated, "Seek you first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) These are promises that are in the Bible, and therefore, promises that God expects us to COUNT ON. But once again, if we are honest, we must face the facts: There are many times we so ask and don’t receive. There are many times we do lack, and do need, and God doesn’t seem to provide. There are Christians who, as much as they know, are seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness, but who are not having added to them, "all these things." Why?
Well, we are beginning to see why. The answer is not that God has failed His promise. It isn’t even that WE are out of God’s will. Rather, it is that God is KEEPING His promise – but bringing to pass something even greater than we might have known: A relationship with Himself. And the provision will follow.
Now, incidentally, don’t try to explain away some of these questions by saying that God only blesses us spiritually. Yes, it is clear that the spiritual blessings He has in Christ are the more important blessings. This is really in line with what I’m saying. But read Matthew 6, which is a section of the Sermon on the Mount. Read the words of Christ leading up to His promise that if we seek first the kingdom, that God will add to us all that we need. (see Matthew 6:33) Jesus is promising to meet our physical needs. He is saying that if we focus on the spiritual, He will take care of our physical needs. That conclusion is inescapable – it is the whole point of the passage, and of what I’m getting at.
I don’t know about you, but I have never been one to be able to settle for contradictions between what the Bible says, and what happens in real life. To me, if God says something in His Word, gives promises, and reveals His will, this MUST – one way or another – be realized in our lives. It MUST, at some point, be seen in the lives of those who are in Christ. I cannot subscribe, and will not subscribe, to a Christianity that is merely a list of nice ideas about life in Christ, but which cannot be lived, experienced, and manifested. Indeed, the Bible itself tells me that I should not subscribe to such a Christianity – for God does not subscribe to it.
Christianity is either the Truth, or it is NOT. And the Truth that is revealed in the Bible about God’s purpose for us in Christ is not merely a bunch of nice doctrines and ideas that we hold, but which, when it comes down to it, are never experienced. For example, we are told that, in Christ, we are new creations. But there are thousands of Christians, despite believing that they are new creations in Christ, never give it another thought. They believe they are new creations – they give assent to that statement -- but there is no consciousness or experience of being a new creation. And the greater problem is, they don’t think there OUGHT TO BE. To many thousands of professing Christians, life in Christ is nothing more than adopting a list of doctrines, rules, principles, and teachings. But this is not Biblical Christianity.
Here we see one substitute for the Truth coming alive in our lives – one substitute for the relationship God wants with us: Apathy about spiritual things. Some just don’t care, aren’t needy enough, and have never really had to face these issues. That is why God will often disturb them with a crisis. When all is well financially, and with family, and with health, it is easy to go to church, sing in the choir, and praise the Lord, isn’t it? So what if most of what the Bible promises isn’t happening in my life? Why should I make things complicated by seeking the Lord for the reason why? I am being sarcastic, but condemning no one. This is a real problem today in the Body of Christ – we just don’t need God enough.
Now, there are many other Christians who do realize that if the Word of God says that God will provide for them, that God must provide for them – for God always keeps His promises. Fair enough. But then some of these folks create systems and doctrines that are supposed to bring to pass what God has promised. Thus, we find such teachings as Word of Faith, prosperity teaching, and, "seed faith theology." We also find less dramatic teaching suggesting that the NT demands tithing. Do this, or say that -- it is suggested -- and God will respond to your faith. Give – give especially to THEM, these teachers state – and God will give to you.
We need to get it settled: There is absolutely nothing you and I can do to get God moving. There is nothing we can do to make Him keep His promises. Some teach that God responds to faith – but while that is true – faith is surrender to God. Surrender certainly doesn’t mean I get God moving. It means He got me moving into HIS HANDS for HIS WILL.
Faith means that I trust that God is honest, true, and faithful, and that because He is, He will move in His time, according to His will. Do we have a God who is smart enough to figure out when to do His will, and to initiate it? Or is He waiting for us to inform Him and get Him going?
Anyone who is honest about these false teachings – many of them have to do with getting God to keep His promise to provide for us -- is going to find out that THEY DON’T WORK. There is a reason for this: They are NOT the Truth. They are not so much about a relationship with God as they are about a system created to substitute for it.
The illusion is given on Christian television that these teachings do work, and that millions are benefiting from such teaching. Often you and I will be shown testimonies by Christians who gave money to a ministry, and got a miracle in return. And certainly those who TEACH such error are benefiting! I submit that many who are getting rich by teaching such error are not only teaching it to get rich, but in many cases, they teach what they teach to justify the fact they are getting rich. In other words, they tell you that they are simply following the faith principles of the Bible, and that you, too, can do the same, and become wealthy.
But again -- the reality is that the average Christian person isn’t getting rich. In fact, there are many who are having trouble making ends meet. There are Christians who tithe, give offerings, help the poor, follow financial teachings, and who are, as far as they know, right with God – but who don’t seem to be able to enter into God’s continual provision. And yet the Bible promises it. Now we are beginning to see WHY: They are following a system. But they need a relationship with God.
Only One Option
PROVISION is a big thing, isn’t it? I mean, when we talk about PROVISION, we are really talking about the basis for our physical and material living. You must eat, you must have clothes, and you must have shelter. And really, you must have much more. HOW you obtain these, and the AMOUNT you obtain, determines so much about our material lives. Consequently, this is not a small issue. It is a big issue, and one that each Christian MUST get settled and adjusted with God if we are going to walk with Christ.
Jesus Christ made it a BIG ISSUE. In fact, if we were to turn to Matthew 6, we would find ourselves faced with teaching that we cannot escape:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon….Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:19-33)
Jesus is here contrasting TWO ways of life. His teaching is just that important. There is a way of FAITH IN GOD – leading to serving God with your life. But there is the way of this world – which is equal to serving mammon. Note that the issue here is not primarily one of DOING – to serve mammon does not need to mean I steal, or cheat, or be consciously in love with money. No – although such sins ARE the outcome of serving mammon. But serving mammon has to do with where by faith is – I serve whatever I trust. Neither is Jesus saying it is wrong to have money, earn a good living, or that the only way of righteousness is to live in poverty. Absolutely not. Rather, if you read this passage, it becomes clear that Jesus is describing more than DOING. Again – He is describing RELATIONSHIP with God.
According to Jesus Christ, the relationship that God wants with us is going to have results. We will serve HIM with our lives, and not mammon. We will store up treasures in heaven, and not on earth. We will be so secure in His faithfulness that we will not take anxious thought for our material provision. We will seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. And yes, in the end, God will provide for us everything we need, as it suits His purpose in our lives.
So there isn’t any confusion about this at all. God wants to provide for us. And He wants us to trust Him FOR that provision. This is a promise. But at this point, I want to ask another question: Have we realized that trusting God for provision, and then coming into that provision, isn’t really an OPTION? It isn’t an option. It is God’s will. It is His ONLY will.
It is God’s will to provide for you. And it is God’s will that you believe Him for provision. This is to be part of, and the outcome, of our relationship with God through Christ. But it isn’t one of many options – trusting God for provision isn’t one of many options for the Christian, doing it on our own, being another. No. If you want to be in the will of God, you MUST trust Him for provision. And He will provide. There is simply no other way to be in His will.
This is, in large part, what Jesus is saying in the above passage. There are two ways: To serve mammon, or to serve God. Thus, you can be sure that God is, right now, trying to get each of us living for, and serving Him. God wants to bring us into the place of His provision by establishing us in the relationship that makes this possible.
Jesus continually describes a relationship between us and God of faith and trust. We trust God, and God provides for us. This is the basis for salvation itself. But it is also supposed to be the basis for EVERYTHING – including our material needs. God wants us to look to Him for everything, and He wants to respond to us by giving us what we need. This is not supposed to be optional. It is not supposed to be MAYBE. It is not supposed to be merely an aspect of our relationship with God that, "kicks in," only when we are in need. No. Rather, Jesus is describing the very foundation of our living in this material world. Our faith in Christ needs to govern the means of our living, and our material provision. And unless faith governs this, we are not where we need to be in Christ.
The RELATIONSHIP that God wants is that we depend upon Him for all that we need. Now, obviously, this would be stupid if God did not intend to PROVIDE, wouldn’t it? Sure. But He does promise to provide. And so we are faced with a foundational Truth, and therefore, need to come to understand how all of this is supposed to be lived. Obviously, if I am not trusting God for provision, I am not in His will. That is more than evident. But also, if I am not actually receiving God’s provision, I can be sure that I need to continue on – for even if I am trusting God and in His will, God promises that He will provide for me. My faith in God is clearly His will. But SO IS GOD’S PROVISION. Jesus said so.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Mat 7:7-11)
We are seeing that most of what Jesus taught about God’s provision for us is based upon a RELATIONSHIP with God. The trouble with many Christians is that we focus on the promise of provision, but neglect the necessity of relationship. We remember that Jesus promised that God would, "add to us all these things," but forget that this promise is predicated upon, "seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness." And it is here that we can begin to see why these very clear promises of God sometimes don’t seem to work.
Most of what God promises in the Bible is supposed to be the outcome of relationship with Him. Salvation is certainly that. You cannot be saved unless you surrender your life to Christ. And that is only the beginning. Provision works that way. God is certainly able to rain His blessings on the just and unjust alike. And He is more than generous to even sinners. But in the final analysis, God says that His provision is the outcome of trusting Him. The one leads to the other – not as a religious formula – but as the result of relationship.
So what we see here is really simple: To enter into God’s provision, we have to enter into His relationship. If we try to enter into provision without relationship – even if unconsciously – God probably isn’t going to provide right away. But relationship with God will always result in provision. Always – even if it means we must first pass through seasons of lack in order to make that relationship of faith possible.
An Inward Faith
So far we have seen that God wants us to trust Him for everything, and that if we do, God will provide everything. I have also stated that God wants to anchor us in a relationship of faith with Him OUT OF WHICH will flow the material provision – and in order to accomplish this, God may put us through a season where He does not provide. And thirdly, I have stated that if we hand ourselves over to God, that God Himself will do the work in our hearts that will make it possible for Him to bless us as much as it suits Him. He will make us faithful and He will make us able to live in blessing to His glory. But now there is a fourth thing we need to see: God wants us to be governed by the INWARD – He wants us to be governed by our relationship with HIM. Not by material possessions.
God wants a relationship with us that cannot be moved, indeed, which cannot be adversely affected by the OUTWARD. And certainly, central to the outward, are matters of provision. In other words, God wants a relationship with us that will be solid no matter what might happen in the outward. This cannot be achieved if our whole relationship with God, to begin with, is based on the outward. If my faith in God is based on whether He provides for me, then my faith in God IS based on the outward. But if my faith in God is based in HIMSELF – then can we see that God is more than free to provide?
This is no small Truth and we MUST see it, or nothing else is going to make any sense. Faith in Christ is not a DEAL we make with God. If your faith is determined by WHETHER God does this or that, then your faith really isn’t IN GOD. In that case, it is in the, "this or that." But if your relationship with God is truly of faith, then you won’t be affect by circumstances. And that will mean that God is free to do whatever He wants. He can provide because He knows that your faith, rather than DEPEND on His provision, is really the BASIS for it.
This is a subtle Truth. For millions of Christians, once they read that God promises to provide, won’t trust Him UNTIL He provides. But God says to FIRST trust Him – enter into a relationship of FAITH -- and THEN He will provide.
Note that this isn’t about meeting requirements, or about jumping through religious hoops, or about God having demands. No. This is about the very fundament of living in this world -- but of not being OF this world. It is about the kingdom of God WITHIN, and the life of Christ WITHIN – based on nothing else but relationship with God. And then God is completely free to bless, or test, and work. We are then not governed by provision, but are governed by God. And yet because we are governed by God, provision is the outcome.
Everything that God has for us in this life is to be the outcome of a relationship with Him. This doesn’t mean that we have to have a mature relationship with God for twenty years before He will provide for us, and it doesn’t mean that we need to quit our jobs so that we can first get right with God. Indeed, as our relationship with God unfolds, God may add to us many things. Or He might not – He alone knows what we need. But the bottom line is that God doesn’t usually give many THINGS to us, to the disregard of our relationship with Him. He wants the relationship with us to be so real and solid that He can bless us with whatever THINGS suit His purpose.
Signs and Wonders
What governs us? -- I mean, really? Forget about your doctrines and teachings for just a minute – if these are Biblical, then they will tell you what you OUGHT to be governed by. But the question will remain: What ARE you really governed by? Faith in Christ? – because you know Him and are in a relationship with Him? Or are you governed by whether God gives you outward signs of His faithfulness?
If I am governed by the outward, then every time God proves to me He is faithful, I will obviously believe Him. But if I doubt God every time I lack such proof, my relationship with God is GOVERNED by what? Signs, wonders, and the outward – even if these are of God.
If I always need signs and wonders from God that He is with me, my faith is not at all where God wants it. Think about it – if you continually need God to prove to you that He is faithful, then do you really believe that He is faithful? No, actually you don’t. You still think that He might not be. I realize that this sort of unbelief is usually based on circumstances that seem to contradict God, and upon our feelings and fears. But we need to come to terms with whether God is faithful – despite all of those things. Is He, or isn’t He?
Of course, quite often we don’t doubt God’s faithfulness to us. But we doubt our faithfulness to God. And so we reason that God may have forsaken us because of some unconscious sin or point of unbelief. But the Bible reveals that this is impossible – Jesus promised to NEVER leave or forsake us. If you are a Christian, Christ is IN YOU. Thus, the only KIND of Christian possible is a person in whom Christ dwells, and with whom Christ is always present.
But what if we have problems that are hindering God from providing for us? Not IF. But WHEN. We do have those problems. But the fact that Christ is in us, and that God is faithful, means that God will be continually seeking to convict us of those possible issues, and set us free from them. God is not sitting in heaven waiting for us to figure out what ails us! The Holy Spirit will lead us into all Truth.
So we see that there is absolutely no reason why you and I cannot come into the full purpose and provision of God. For to do so is GOD’S WILL. It is not MAYBE God’s will. It IS God’s will. He wants us dependent upon Him, and He wants to respond by providing. Thus, if there is any reason at all why this is not presently possible, God is working on it to make it possible. Sure, we DO have to yield to Him – and if we don’t yield, then we are NOT going to come into His full provision. But his isn’t a guessing game. We will know if there is a hindrance. God not only promises to provide for us, but along the way He will remove all hindrances to His provision.
This is the faithfulness of God. But if I don’t really believe that unless I first see provision, can we see that I have already gotten OUT of a relationship with God by faith? Therefore, God is going to have to deal with THAT unbelief. But He isn’t going to deal with it by giving us a sign, wonder, or what we want. He will deal with it by dealing with the point of unbelief. In the end, we are going to have to believe – and then God will provide.
If I am governed by God –which is the kingdom of God in me – then my relationship with God is not dependent upon anything that GOD does in the outward. No. I will be governed by the relationship I have within. But precisely because of this, God may do much in the outward. For He will know that it won’t become something that I rely upon. It won’t hurt me. Thus, those who don’t seek after signs and wonders are actually the best candidates for them.
Jesus said, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." What do we think He meant by that? He was simply telling us that it is possible to profess faith in Christ, and yet for that faith to wane unless God continually props it up with signs and wonders. His regret over such a condition tells us that there is something better for us that God desires. Indeed, His statement wouldn’t make much sense unless there was a better ANSWER to this – the answer being that we will believe even if we DON’T see signs and wonders! The only answer is that we have a relationship of faith with God that is NOT dependent upon signs and wonders, and as a result, we DO believe without them.
But this doesn’t mean that we are supposed to believe and NEVER SEE! Get that. Nope. Jesus makes it clear that we need to believe without needing signs that God is there. And yet if we believe, we will see the hand of God all the more – not less.
Thus, despite the fact that we should not demand God provide for us BEFORE we believe, it is nevertheless a fact that IF we believe, God will eventually provide. The issue here is faith in God – we should not base our faith in signs and wonder that EVEN GOD might do.
In truth, if we won’t believe God UNTIL He does what He promises, we really won’t believe Him once He does what He promises. Sure, we might have an initial surge of confidence in God – but there will be no relationship. There will be no real faith. Faith does not believe IN EVIDENCE and SUBSTANCE. Rather, faith IS the evidence and the substance of what is not yet seen.
Gather up all this teaching about God’s provision, and you will see that the key to achieving financial freedom has little to do with giving money, keeping money, or really, anything we DO. The key to financial freedom is really the same as the key to ANY freedom – we must know the Truth and walk in it. In short, we must have a true relationship with God. That is freedom. Freedom means nothing can hurt my relationship with God – nothing positive or negative. Thus, God can do His will; I can be trusted with a trial or with blessing.
You cannot become right with God by having money, or by not having money. You can become right with God only by surrendering into God’s hands. If you do, you are immediately right with Him. But practically, you will still need to have your mind and heart renewed by the Truth. You will still need growth in faith. And so how do I become more rightly related to God by faith? Well, the answer gets back to what Jesus said, "Seek you first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness."
The kingdom of God is the rule of God over YOU and I – it is really the Lordship of Jesus Christ in and through us. We must SEEK FIRST HIS RULE OVER US. In other words, surrender unconditionally to God everything about yourself – including everything you own. He won’t necessarily take it all away – He just wants it surrendered. But once you do surrender, God may prove and test your surrender. This is always possible.
Sometimes God takes away everything people have – so that He might give them everything He wants them to have. He did this with Job in the OT, and He did it with Paul in the NT. But that is not usually the norm. More often God simply requires that everything you own change hands, from YOURS, to HIS. Indeed, if you own little, or nothing, God wants you to surrender your LACK over to Him. Instead of us sitting on the throne over what we own, Jesus wants to sit on the throne. That is the bottom line, and how God gets us there is up to Him – our responsibility is to surrender.
A Christian is someone who belongs to God. Get that. WE belong to God. How then can anything belong to US, but not to God? It just cannot be so. It is a great freedom to come into the Truth of this – but we will never get there simply by giving assent to the teaching. We have to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If we will seek first the rule of Christ over us, then God is going to begin to bring it to pass. This will mean, as mentioned earlier, the necessity of freedom from all that hinders the rule of Christ over us. But it will mean that God is going to begin to establish a relationship of faith – based upon the Lordship of Christ over us – that will make it possible for God to have His full will in our lives.
The will of God, including His provision, comes as the result of our surrender to Christ as our personal Lord. This is the relationship of faith that God desires. God can’t give us much if we continue to be on the throne of our own lives. He cannot affirm that, or fund it. No. For it would lead us astray. Thus, God must bring it down. But if we surrender to Christ as Lord, and stand in faith when our faith on this matter is tested, there is no possible way that God can fail to have His full will in our lives. When Jesus is Lord of us, He is free to bless us, and He will, because He is a good God. David wrote, "Blessed is the man who puts his trust in Him," for a reason. He knew that even before God does a thing for us, we are blessed by the sole fact that we trust Him.
Christians are to continue to look to God for ALL provision – spiritual and material – and God will provide. This is GOD’S WILL – and the purpose He is working on for each of us. God also wants to anchor us in a relationship of faith with Him OUT OF WHICH will flow the material provision – and in order to accomplish this, God may put us through a season where He does not provide. And if we hand ourselves over to God, God Himself will do the work in our hearts that will make it possible for Him to bless us as much as it suits Him. He will make us faithful and He will make us able to live in blessing to His glory. And lastly, God wants us to be governed by the INWARD – He wants us to be governed by our relationship with HIM. Not by material possessions. This all adds up to true freedom – to a life that serves God, and not mammon.
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