God and Abundance

Here’s some more proof that God is a God of Abundance. God is not stingy and He doesn’t run the world on a limited budget. And this world is not built on limited resources, where the more you get the less everyone else gets. God has created a win-win universe, filled with superfluous abundance.

In Jesus’ earthly ministry He personally displayed God’s love for abundance. So I’m pressing this truth onto you once more, to push you toward a larger faith horizon than might come naturally to you.

Are you ready?

Jesus and Abundance

On one occasion Jesus had His disciples perform an amazing miracle, feeding 5,000 people with a boy’s lunch. There were just a few fish and a few small bread rolls. When Jesus passed these pieces to His disciples they broke off pieces to feed the huge crowd, and the food multiplied in their hands.

Now that’s already a testimony of abundance. An entire crowd was fed to the full. No-one was asked to take less than they wanted, and no-one was sent home hungry. There was plenty. No rationing was needed. Yet surely those people would all have made it home with only half a meal.

Then, to top it off, they collected a super-abundant supply of left-overs and end up with twelve baskets of food! What a crazy abundance problem! If we could see one small lunch become 12 baskets full we’d be pretty impressed. But this was after 5,000 men and their families were fed.

Why didn’t Jesus measure the miracle to be just enough? Why this superlative supply? Isn’t that a bit wasteful? Would you organise a miracle that created such a huge pile of left-overs?

An Abundant God

It’s all about “abundance”! God is a God of abundance. God is not trying to stretch meagre resources. God already created an abundance of variety and an abundance of productivity in just about everything He made. We don’t need the diversity of colour, design, sound, shape and variety which God has given us. We appreciate it, but we’d all survive with less of it all. But God is a God of Abundance.

Jesus, as God’s Son, doing what He was directed to do by God, created abundance. That’s because abundance is in God’s nature.

Another Example from Jesus

On one occasion Jesus directed Peter and the others who were fishing with him to drop their nets down for a catch. The catch was immense. It was far more than they needed. They almost sank the boats trying to handle the sheer volume of the haul.

God doesn’t have to be sparing in His blessings to you. He generously gives us magnificent sunsets, a sky that stretches beyond our sight and superlative supply of all we could ever want. It’s in His DNA (in a manner of speaking). God has “abundance” built into His very nature.

An Old Testament Example

A widow once called on Elisha for help. She needed money. All she had was a small bottle of oil. The prophet told her to gather all the containers she could get her hands on and then fill them from the tiny bottle. The oil just kept pouring out of that small bottle until everything was full and they couldn’t find another container to put oil into.

If that widow had been able to get twice as many containers, she could have had twice as much oil. God was ready to give her as much as she could contain. The oil was then sold to pay the debt and to fund the rest of her life.

What About that Wine?

Remember the time Jesus turned water into wine. It was Jesus’ first miracle. He turned huge pots of water into pots of wine. And when the wine was tested it was found to be the very best wine!

Surely an average type of wine would have done the job. Surely a smaller quantity would have been sufficient. Surely they could have survived even if they ran out of wine. This isn’t a life or death issue.

Yet here we see Jesus providing an abundance of the best. No scrimping. No economising. Instead we have simple and wonderful abundance.

What About You?

What are your needs? What are you asking God for? Can you believe God for an abundance of good things for you?

I encourage you to stir your faith to believe God for more. Ask Him for more than you’ve asked Him for before. Don’t set your sights on survival. It is the father’s good pleasure to give you more than you could ask for.

Consider These Verses

Look at the notion of abundance and free gifts in these Bible verses.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3:20

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, will men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you measure out it will be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

“But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Corinthians 15:57

“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7

I pray that your faith be stirred to reach out for the Abundance that God has already prepared for you.

St Aidan Converts Northumbria

This is the day that … St Aidan (or Aidian) died in AD 651.

He is one of the 68 ‘saints’ mentioned in the Anglican Prayer Book.

It was he who left the Isle of Iona, off the north-west tip of Scotland, to take the gospel of Christ to the wild Saxon “savages” (as they were called) of Northumbria (the northern area of Britain). It was AD 635.

The King of Northumbria, Oswald, had already embraced Christianity, having heard the gospel from some Celtic missionaries, and he it was who requested the monks at Iona to send a teacher of the Christian faith to his people. So it was Bishop Aidan preached and the King acted as interpreter for him. Aidan could not speak the English language!

A church and monastery were built and young men trained as missionaries on the island of Lindisfarne. And from that centre the gospel penetrated the greater part of Britain.

Copying the Scriptures became an important part of the monastic duties and the famous “Lindisfarne Gospels” – dating from about AD 700 – may still be seen in the British Museum.

It is the Venerable Bede (d. AD 735), the first historian of Christianity in Britain – who tells us what we know concerning this bishop – how King Oswin of Yorkshire gave him a horse, for example, for Aidan made all his missionary journeys on foot. But on his first ride Aidan met a beggar – and gave him the horse! (Book 3, chapter XIV).

And Bede tells of Aidan foretelling a coming storm and giving holy oil to the sailors that they might calm the troubled sea.

As with the other stores of these early saints, legends mingle with facts, making it difficult to discern what really eventuated. But there seems no doubt that St Aidan was “the true apostle of England” (as Bede calls him).

“He was free from all pride, avarice and anger, and was at once gentle and fearless, consoling the afflicted and sternly reproving sinners, however powerful they might be” (Dictionary of English Church History, page 11).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Of Lords and Monarchs

Who is ruling you impacts who you can become. So take a moment or two to audit your own allegiances and discover your limitations.

Christians are familiar with the confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That is a key element of personal salvation. Those who wish to be saved by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ must confess Him as Lord of their life. That brings them salvation.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Making that statement as a true confession can only be done with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

“….. no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” 1Corinthians 12:3b

The problem for people is that they are entangled with many different lords and monarchs, without realising it. The process of coming under Christ’s Lordship, then, is not as straight forward as one simple confession. It must be real and it usually involves a progressive revoking of other sovereignties along the way.

Many Lords

God’s people are frequently entangled with mixed allegiances and other lords who exercise some level of rule in or over their lives. The prophet Isaiah identified this in his prophecies.

“O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name.” Isaiah 26:13

Note Isaiah’s candid admission that God’s people have had other lords ruling over them. He also recognises that only God will be able to deliver them into a pure allegiance only to Him.

This is the predicament of most Christians. They are in practice polytheistic. My son, Stephen, goes so far as to speak of a Pantheon of idols which each culture gives allegiance to. Christians in western culture still hold most the west’s deities dear in their hearts. These other deities are lords which rule over the Christian, despite the confession of Christ as Lord.

Western Idolatry

The west idolises success, money, education, sex, materialism, fame, self-will and independence as just some of its cultural values. These are idols that are worshiped. Some people give their whole life to the pursuit of these things.

When people become Christians they will likely still continue to worship these cultural values. They will worship them as idols. And that brings them under dominion and lordship of those things.

How We Get Lords

When we worship something or give in to something outside of God’s moral order we become enslaved by it. It may be sin or an idol that we worship.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Don’t you know that whoever you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

God is Our Only King

Christians only have one king, The Lord God. Jesus and Almighty God are one God and so I could also rightly say that Jesus Christ is our only King.

Christians in the early church refused to bow to the Roman Caesar, saying that they had only one King and that was God. This put them at odds with the ruling power, since it proclaimed Caesar to be a god.

In the early days of the nation of Israel God ruled over the people through His agents the prophets and judges. God was their king. When the people demanded a human king God specifically noted that the people were rejecting Him from the place of their king.

“And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1Samuel 8:7

Replacing God as King

When we seek anything or anyone else to rule over us other than God, Himself, we are rejecting Him from the rightful place as King of our life. If we worship money or success, or chase relationships, fame or popularity, we are rejecting God. We are replacing Him as King, with another.

By that means we end up with many lords who have sovereignty over us. But we have not only offended and rejected God we have denied ourselves our own personal sovereignty.

Voiding Our Sovereignty

We have incredible personal sovereignty as subjects of the Living God. If the God who created all things is your King, and you have a direct line of succession from Him, then you are about as sovereign an entity as anything could be. You have pretty impressive personal privilege when you answer directly to God and Christ. That is exactly what we do as Christians.

We are not under the lordship of priests, pastors or church leaders. We are not under the lordship of temporal kings and government masters. Kings and governments serve our social existence, but we do not answer to them. Since the Roman days and back 1,500 years before then, to the days when Moses withstood the King of Egypt, we answer, as God’s servants, directly to God, Himself.

So when we choose to worship any intermediary sovereign, or come under the lordship of any other person or thing we are voiding our sovereignty. When you worship money you decimate your personal rights before God. You subordinate yourself to something lower than yourself. The same is true when you worship success, fame, political ambitions, career, relationships or people who you revere.

Worship anything but God at your peril!

George Frederick Root the Great Musician

This is the day that … George Frederick Root was born in Massachusetts, USA, in 1820.

Born on a farm he ended up running the property at age 18, while his father and brother were in South America. His love for music began with the flute taught to him by his dad. At age 13 he was delighted that he could play one instrument for each year of his life.

He was invited to learn from Boston choirmaster, A.N. Johnson, and within seven weeks he had so mastered the piano that he played for church services. He advanced as a musician, teacher and composer. His particular love was to teach and he not only studied the leading methods of instruction but passed them on to the music teachers he prepared. By this he made a lasting contribution to the promotion of musical skill within America.

Fanny Crosby became one of his pupils and she contributed the lyrics to a cantata, The Flower Queen, which he wrote as a tool for teaching his students. That work was the first secular cantata composed in America.

He became a hymn and melody writer of much note, arguably one of the most successful musicians of his age. Under the pseudonym of G. Friedrich Wurzel he wrote a number of minstrel songs that achieved much popularity in the secular world.

One of the melodies he wrote was called The Little Octroon. The composer sent it to William O. Cushing, who wrote the gospel words:
Ring the bells of Heaven,
There is joy today …

His great invitation hymn, for which he wrote both words and music, is still in many hymnals today:
Come to the Saviour,
Make no delay …

George F. Root also wrote the melody for the well-loved children’s hymn:
When He cometh, when He cometh,
To make up His jewels …

Before his death in 1895, Root helped edit 75 musical collections and was partner in a music publishing firm which was ruined in the great Chicago fire. He is noted as a man of spotless integrity.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

The Marriage University

I spoke recently with a husband who was struggling to come to terms with his own responsibility in his home. To help him grasp one of the concepts I came up with a new analogy which I had not used before. I share it here to give you additional focus on the journey couples make in graduating into glory.

Different Roles in the Marriage

Husbands and wives have unique roles in the marriage. There are specific things husbands must do, that their wives are not asked to do. There are specific things wives are asked to do, that their husbands are not asked to do. Both husband and wife must make personal progress in their own assignment, irrespective of how the spouse is getting on with their challenges.

Different Places of Responsibility

According to the Bible, God has established human society by way of a hierarchy of responsibility. That hierarchy starts with God. Almighty God has the ultimate authority and the greatest responsibility, overseeing all else. Directly under God’s authority, and next in the hierarchy of responsibility is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Then, directly under Jesus Christ is the husband. In the marriage and family, the husband carries the next level of authority and responsibility. The wife, is then under the husband’s authority, just as the husband is under Christ’s authority and Christ is under God.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1Corinthians 11:3

Different Lessons to Learn

Many specific responsibilities spring from this hierarchical structure. The Husband must shoulder responsibility for the wife, children and home. He is directly answerable to God for his management and handling of the relationships, standards, training and spiritual blessing of the home. This includes morality, godliness, the fear of God, holiness, discipline, direction, spiritual and natural protection, and more.

The Wife must bring herself under the headship of the husband. This will be hard for her if she looks only at her husband. She must recognise and place her trust in God and Christ, as the husband’s heads. If she fails to do that she will end up taking matters into her own hands, making demands of her husband, manipulating, contending and otherwise failing to submit to his headship.

The husband must be able to nurture his wife and children, while being sure that he is answerable to Jesus and God, not others who will seek to direct his life. He must ensure that he does not abdicate to his wife, and allow her to replace Christ as the head of the home. If he allows her to do that he brings spiritual problems into the whole family.

Marriage University

Both husband and wife are attending the same university of life. They attend classes together, but both must learn different lessons from the life situations which they confront. It is as if they are both sitting side by side in the lecture hall, listening to the lessons. Yet the husband is enrolled in a different course to his wife. He will be set different assignments and tested on different questions to his wife, even from the same professor.

The husband is studying headship of his wife and submission to Christ. The wife is studying submission to her husband and faith in Christ and God.

The Curriculum

The Marriage University is an open book, mastery learning, life-experience oriented environment. The curriculum covers the same scope for all who attend, but the individual differences of each student are taken into account by the teachers. Some will study longer and be challenged with more difficult lab tests. Some will find that the open learning environment continues with extension courses for the rest of their lives.

Honours Courses

Each couple should make it their determination to graduate with Honours. High Distinctions are the best objective for each elective and every test. When a person graduates with that standard they are guaranteed many graces and much blessing from their diligent and faithful application.

The fruit of the course begins to be enjoyed long before graduation. Each lesson learned opens the couple to new joys and new privileges in their relationship. In time they will be expected to tutor other students and may well become emeritus professors themselves, as they make the grade and master the curriculum.

Here’s to Your Studies

I wish you every success in your studies. Please don’t drop out of the course. There’s nowhere to go if you can’t stay in the lessons.

And may the Living Lord God bless your relationship as you study and master the material together.