March 14, 2016

Genesis 32:9-10 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups.”

In spite of his track record of being devious, it seems Jacob had really learned some things. Here he starts his prayer by acknowledging the grace of God, which by definition means that he was unworthy to receive it. We get much further with God when we realize how dependent on Him we really are! The success story of Jacob really is pretty remarkable, going from one walking stick to enough livestock to be able to send considerable quantities as gifts. I think this prayer itself gave Jacob the courage to send so much to Esau, because it reminded him that if God could take him from one stick to that much wealth, He could easily multiply however much Jacob had left. I think he had been fully liberated from a poverty mentality. Many people are trapped by such a mentality, unable to believe that God can multiply what they have and change their circumstances. It’s not that God wants everyone to be wealthy, as the world counts wealth, but that God has an abundant supply for His children. Seeking wealth for its own sake is certainly a trap, as the Bible says in many places. However, a poverty mentality is simply a different face on that same trap. Many poor people love money as much or more than most wealthy people! The whole point is to get our focus off of the material and onto the God who created us for His pleasure and our benefit, knowing that He will provide all we need. (Philippians 4:19)

Having just filed my US income taxes, I was actually surprised at how small the numbers were, because I feel abundantly blessed. As I have told many people over the years, the Lord has taught us that we don’t need money, we need what we would buy with the money, and He has supplied that in abundance. Some people assume that we have pretty good income from the way we live, but a lot of what we have has come to us with no cash involved. The point for me is not what we have so much as it is what God wants me to to do with what is in our hands. If I am doing His will, then I need have no anxiety about His supply. It’s not in the Bible as such, but the thought on the refrigerator magnet is certainly Biblical: “Where God guides, He provides.” As a pastor I frequently deal with people who are trapped in a poverty mentality, some of whom have more income than I do! I am not to look down on them, but rather speak the truth to them in love, seeking to turn their hearts to the Source, rather than to the material things that consume their attention. I need to teach them that stewardship begins with however much, or little, we have. It is only when we show ourselves faithful with a little that God releases much.

Father, I hesitate to preach on this sort of thing because of all the abuses of the “prosperity gospel.” I ask for wisdom and clear guidance so that I won’t encourage deception, but will also not fail to speak all of Your truth. May I be a good steward of Your truth, as well as of Your other blessings, so that Your purposes for every bit of it may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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