Do we really know what “provision” truly is? Or do we have it confused with excess? Recently, I read a book entitled Lord Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late by James MacDonald. In the chapter about contentment, he states that we should be content with food, shelter and clothes on our backs. He used I Timothy 6:8-9 as an example: And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (NKJV) I know this is a hard piece of candy to eat, especially for me! Lord knows, I’m still in the process of changing my mindset about the difference between provision and excess.
The biblical definition of rich is “more than enough.” That’s right, more than enough. So if your cabinets and refrigerators continually have food in them, then you are rich. If your closet has more than one outfit, then you are rich. If you have plenty of space where you dwell, then you are rich. This is a hard pill to swallow because those of us here in the United States of America have an entirely different standard of living. We usually don’t think about how the rest of the world is living. We are filthy rich compared to rest of the world, but we are unaware. Media bombards us with images of what standard of living is considered acceptable or normal, when in reality the overwhelming majority of people in this country are rich. In many countries, it is rare for someone to even have more than one or two pairs of shoes. That’s unheard of here. You would be considered to be living in poverty
if you didn’t have five pairs of shoes! This is because we have confused provision with excess. Or even sadder, most people would actually prefer the world’s excess over God’s provision. We truly don’t seem to know exactly what enough is.
Let me break this down further. If you are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ramen noodles every day; that is still provision because that food is nourishing your body and satisfying your hunger pangs. You may not be eating some perfectly-balanced meal or steak and lobster, but you’re still being fed. You might be shopping at the Salvation Army for clothes and may not be up on the latest fashion, but does God care? We know the answer to that one. The fact is that you have clothes on your back to keep your body covered. Whether you are in an apartment in a low-income area of town or staying with someone; it is still shelter that has been provided. Even people in homeless shelters still have provision. Understand that provision is NOT based upon your personal preferences.
Trust me. As much as I’m writing this to you, it’s ministering to me because I have not arrived when it comes to this topic. It has come up in my spirit a number of times that we don’t want God to show us Himself. We want to be in control and think that we’re at Burger King where we can “have it our way.” Just like the children of Israel, they were only temporarily satisfied with the manna that fell from heaven. They preferred the meats, grains and whatever else they had when they were enslaved in Egypt. God was simply showing them that He will provide for them because they are His children. He was removing “Egypt” from them so they could better receive all that the Promised Land had for them. But they would not be satisfied and stopped believing in the same God who had just parted the Red Sea for them. I believe that we are the same way. God longs for us to depend on Him, but we would rather have excess so that we can be in control. Or should I say enslaved like the children of Israel to our own lusts? Most of us don’t want the faith walk where we literally depend on God for provision. I can’t honestly say that I’ve even grown to this level yet. How sad! God only wants to demonstrate to us that He is our source over and over again. Instead, we would rather just have millions of dollars in the bank and call it a day. I believe this is one of the main differences between those of us who are professed believers in this country from those around the world. They are usually in positions where they have no choice but to depend on God, and as a result, they enjoy much deeper relationships with Him and have a far greater reverence for Adonai than we do. They also experience miracles, signs and wonders way more frequently than we do in this country. In our nation, we seem to believe that we are entitled to any and everything. Many of us would reject His love in this fashion and opt for riches of the world.
Now I am not saying that God doesn’t provide abundantly. He does in ways in which we are unaware. But when abundance manifests in the natural, it’s ALWAYS so that you can bless others and not just yourself. It saddens me when I hear of multi-millionaires donating five or ten thousand dollars to a charity. They seem to believe that those millions all belong to them when it really all belongs to Him. It will be hard for them to see God because the riches are in the way. So now I have another angle as to why Jesus said “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” after He told the young rich man to sell all of his possessions so he could follow Him. (See Matthew 19:16-28) God may not be telling you to do something radical like this, but He has told some folks. He will provide! His Word says that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Do we really believe this? I hope that I continue to grow and yearn for Him that I want to see His glory. That I would yearn for Him to provide because He knows exactly what we need. When we have excess, we are likely to fulfill selfish desires and use it ungratefully and unnecessarily. When He provides, it is at the right time and it is what we need. So let’s get out of the Lord’s way and allow Him to provide for us as He sees fit. Again, I’m not saying it is a crime to be rich. I’m just saying allow God to be God and not desire or worship the excess of the world.
July 14, 2011 at 9:11 am
Ha Ha…..someone once said we are so rich that we build houses to put CARS in them, (Garages). We are so rich we pay for someone to COOK for us…(Resturants) Many may not get this and it’s not meant to be offensive but we buy food for Dogs. Go figure! I love having MONEY and THINGS but even more having a humble Beverly Hillsbilly Mentality.
July 14, 2011 at 10:09 am
Well said my friend!! I once complained that I didn’t have enough clothing until I met a man from Africa who praised God for his one pair of shoes,(I own more shoes than I can count 2 closets with shoes and clothes) He marveled over my “MOBILE Phone” he had no phone and I complained when I have 4 phones and an automibile. We here in America are spoiled rotten and are used to grumbling. Thank you for bringing light!
July 14, 2011 at 10:57 am
i may wish for things, but i and so bless for what the Lord has given me. i have shelter, clothes on my back, food on the table, a job. whatmore could i ask. i thank God for all i have and more. thanks nathan i love your works.
July 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm
That’s why Psalm 16:8 is worth writing across the tablets of your heart….”I have set the Lord ALWAYS before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken”! (emphasis mine.) Unfortunately, growing up in what has always been the richest country in the world, has proven to be a disadvantage – even curse – in many ways. We’ve allowed the greed and the lust of this world to so shape our mores and belief system, that it’s a challenge, if not downright impossible, for us to wrap our hearts and minds around spiritual truth. We’ve taken the truth of the Word and watered it down to an absolute lie. We’ve comfortably made wrong right and are trying to reverse God’s entire order. We’re a materially and sexually preoccupied society. And we’re about as disciplined as one walking on a sidewalk filled with banana peels. Ghandi put it best when he said, “I like your Christ, I just don’t like your Christians….they’re so unlike their leader”.
We’re so connected to “stuff/things”, that right about now when this shifting and shaking is taking place, we’re attributing it to the devil/the enemy……as if he gives a “flyin flip” about our stuff/things. However, he is smart enough to know that we’re so connected to our stuff/things, that if we lose any of it (homes, cars, clothing, money, etc….) we lose our minds and all of who we are and who we say we stand for. Which just translates into….we’re more concerned about God’s “presents” than His “presence”.
What we are in desperate need of is to get Holy Ghost intoxicated and launch a “rice crispy revival”. Perhaps then we’ll get our snap/crackle/pop back and TRULY make God’s presence our priority!
August 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm
great message nathan! i read this days ago and it has stayed in my mind ever since… provision… shelter, food, clothing. having JUST these three makes us rich. that is a great perspective to focus on & yet we struggle with that.
i do also think that our internal struggle has to do with the issue of contentment and philipians 4:11b-12 niv comes to mind — for i have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. i know what it is to be in need, and i know what it is to have plenty. i have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
our perspective has to be adjusted and because we are so conditioned to think differently than our brothers & sisters from third world countries, this conditioning is a weekly, monthly, oftentimes daily process. you are definitely not alone…