Did you know that God longs for you to have fruitfulness in every area of your life? In fact, He has already provided everything you need – plus more!
Our God is a God of abundance. But in these hard times, with the cost of living spiralling out of control, it is very important to understand the meaning of God’s provision. Does God’s provision mean great material wealth? Does it mean enough to get by? What exactly does God’s provision include?
This article provides some answers to these questions – taken from Derek Prince’s book, The Promise of Provision.
Let me begin by examining some of the basic words or concepts that I use in connection with the meaning of God’s provision. They are all interrelated, but not all synonymous, having different shades of meaning. There are four main words on the positive side of provision: riches, wealth, prosperity, abundance.
One important distinction within these positive concepts is that when we use the words riches or wealth, we are speaking about considerable financial or material assets.
These words imply that a person has large sums of money, owns large properties and other valuables. But when we speak about prosperity and abundance, the implication is not necessarily that a person has a lot of money in the bank or owns great material possessions.
God’s promise is primarily that we have prosperity and abundance rather than riches and wealth.
In short, when we think in terms of God’s provision, when we look at the concept of living in abundance and prosperity, we are not necessarily talking about people whom the world would classify as being very wealthy or rich. Rather, we are thinking in terms of succeeding in what each individual is commissioned to do.
A prosperous life
Let me show you what I mean from two Scriptures. In his third epistle, John says, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2). What a beautiful statement of the will of God for the committed believer!
Gaius, to whom the epistle was written, was a model believer. If you study the epistle, you will find that he was walking in all the truth that God had made available; and the apostle John, writing as the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit, said to him, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." This covers all areas of life – including the material. In every one of them the will of God is good!
The word translated "prosper" here means literally "to have a prosperous or successful journey or accomplish what you intend to do successfully". In Romans 1:10, Paul is praying that he may "have a prosperous journey by the will of God" (KJV) to visit the Christians at Rome. It is the same word. Scripture reveals that God answered Paul’s prayer. His journey to Rome is described in Acts 27-28.
You will notice from the description of that "prosperous journey", however, that Paul did not travel first class but as a prisoner in chains. He went through a tremendous storm, which lasted about two weeks without ceasing, and it seemed as if the whole ship and all who were on it would be lost.
But – through God’s intervention – they survived the storm and no one on the ship was lost. They were thrown onto an island as castaways, and when Paul was gathering sticks to make a fire, a viper bit him and hung onto his hand. But the supernatural power of God kept him from any harm.
And after that, there was a tremendous move of the Spirit of God on that island (which proved to be Malta). When they left, the islanders loaded them down with all they needed for the rest of their journey. And so, ultimately, Paul arrived at Rome. He had a prosperous journey, but it was not a comfortable or luxurious journey.
It was prosperous because he accomplished God’s purpose, which was much higher than human purpose would have been.
Essentially, abundance means you have all you need, plus you have something to spare.
Abundance suggests that you are lifted above the level of your own needs and thus are able to reach out to the needs of others. Let me give you just a little, simple example from daily life. Suppose a woman goes to the grocery store and she needs fifty dollars’ worth of groceries. If she only has forty dollars with her, she is shopping out of insufficiency. If she has precisely fifty dollars with her, she is shopping out of sufficiency. But suppose she has sixty dollars with her and she needs fifty dollars’ worth of groceries. Then she is shopping out of abundance. She has all that she needs and something left over. Even though it may not be a large amount left over, that is abundance.
When we look again at the four different concepts of provision, we see that the words riches and wealth are basically synonymous, but they are very different from prosperity, which relates to doing something successfully. We see further that abundance means that you are not living in poverty – in want or lack or frustration – even though you may not have a great surplus nor even have anything in your bank account.
I always say about Jesus during the period of His earthly ministry that He did not have a big bank account (although He and His disciples did have a bag into which they deposited offerings). Rather He simply relied upon His Father’s 'credit', and it was always honoured.
Actually, very wealthy people really do not require a lot of cash. I was with a wealthy man once in a restaurant and he provided a beautiful meal for me. At the end, he never even produced a card. He just signed his name on the bill. That was enough, because they knew it would be taken care of.
Was Jesus poor?
Jesus, in His earthly ministry, exemplified abundance. Many people fail to see this. They picture Jesus as being poor throughout His life, but in the truest sense He was not poor. He had abundance. He did not have large amounts of cash or material possessions, but He had abundance. He had nowhere to lay His head, but He had abundance. He depended on others to provide Him with a sleeping place, yet He was never without one. He was able to feed about twelve thousand people – men, women and children – with five loaves and two fishes. That is not poverty. Actually, Jesus had much more left over after feeding those twelve thousand persons than He had when He started (see Matthew 14:15-21). What a beautiful picture of abundance!
Another time when the question arose about His need to pay tax, instead of sending Peter to the bank with a cheque, He sent Peter to the Sea of Galilee with a fishhook and said, "Just cast in your fishhook – don’t put bait on it, just cast the hook in – and take up the first fish that comes. Open its mouth and you’ll find the tax money." That is an unorthodox way to pay your taxes, but Jesus used this method to meet the need.
Remarkably enough, Jesus imparted His same attitude to His disciples. When He sent them out, He said, "Freely you have received; freely give" (Matthew 10:8). He did not send them out to get; He sent them out to give. That is the essence of abundance. Its ultimate expression is giving. Afterward, right near the end of His ministry, Jesus checked on what the disciples had experienced when He had sent them out. The record says: "[Jesus] said to them, 'When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?' So they said, 'Nothing'" (Luke 22:35).
That is abundance. They did not have a lot of equipment or spare clothes. They did not carry a bag with money in it, yet they did not lack anything. And they gave freely out of what Jesus had imparted to them. It is important to see that you can have abundance without being wealthy by this world’s standards.