THIS SERIES: WHEN IT'S GOOD TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
My cup overflows
I grew up with the idea that the Lord was the God of ‘just enough’; a belief-system which was reinforced in my early years as a Christian by teaching that faith was about asking for, (and receiving), exactly what you needed, nothing more, nothing less. God, it seemed, was parsimonious; blessing was rationed—after all, too much ‘cake’ is bad for you.
But ‘just enough’ was a feature of the wilderness, not the land of promise; and the wilderness is a place to pass through, not a final destination. ‘Just enough’ was a discipline, a test of the heart [Deuteronomy 8] before Israel crossed over the Jordan; Canaan, in contrast, was to be a place of abundance, of blessing for the redeemed community. The Promised Land was to flow with milk and honey.
The Old Testament is replete with this imagery: the Garden of Eden was filled with good things; Abraham, our father in the faith, and his heirs, Isaac and Jacob were all blessed with more than enough. David received much more than a shepherd could dream of, and Solomon’s court overflowed with such abundance that foreign dignitaries and rulers came to gawp. And on the Lord’s instruction, the tabernacle and temple furnishings were lavish in the extreme, as were the quantities of animals required for sacrifice.
The Gospels add to this landscape: a rural wedding was supplied with an abundance of wine; numerous baskets of bread and fish were left over after mass impromptu picnics; fishermen caught so many fish that their nets started to break; and an ointment used in worship cost a year’s wages.
It is easy to dismiss material blessing in the Old Testament as ‘Old Covenant’, and not relevant, and to spiritualise the accounts in the New Testament so they have no practical outworking, but in doing so we miss something of the nature of God.
As AW Tozer said, ‘What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.’ (Knowledge of the Holy)
The Lord consistently reveals Himself in Scripture as ‘more than enough’. He abounds in love and is immeasurable in grace; He pours out the Holy Spirit; He richly provides for us…. Scripture is full of expansive language – well worth a word-study.
If we see God as the God of ‘just-enough’, it is both a slur on His character, and has a bearing on our faith and our expectation—and on what we receive from His hand. The Lord has said He wants to do more than we ask or think, but if our thoughts are puny and stunted, based on a wrong understanding of His nature, then our experience will follow suit, for He has committed Himself to work in partnership with us.
Consider these verses:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
[2 Corinthians 9:8]
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us
Put (Your) hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
[1 Timothy 6:17]
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.[Philippians 4:19]
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
It's important that our trust in the Lord extends to our material needs. If we believe that God’s will for us is ‘just enough to get by’, then that’s what we will live in, and the blessing which could flow from us to others is crippled. 'I will bless you... and you will be a blessing' was God's promise to Abraham, and that is part of our inheritance as his 'children' [Genesis 12:2].
Our trust in God for material provision is built out of relationship, and the foundation for any sound relationship is right-understanding. If we realise the Lord’s passion for us is abundant blessing, then we can develop our faith in His supply.
Of course, real wealth isn’t about material provision, we are called as Christians to live in the overflow of the life God has put in us; to trust in the Lord who showers us with blessing; and to see that God is more than enough for us in every situation.
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
[Philippians 4:12 NKJV]
Like David, Paul learned that his ‘cup’ was full to overflowing—and that it didn’t change according to his circumstances. Throughout his letters, he continually encouraged his readers to take the same view, and to respond excessively: to overflow with love, joy, thankfulness and praise—to spill over with the Spirit every respect.
Let's put aside old ideas of a stern disciplinarian who metes out hardship because it's good for us. We worship a God of 'more than enough', and He has invited us to a feast. There’s a table spread lavishly with good things. Let’s enjoy it.
To walk with this God of 'more than enough' our minds need renewing. Let's speak these truths over ourselves, (paying attention to the italics!):
And lastly, a song to bless...
NEXT WEEK: 9. PURSUED BY GRACE
It is so important that we develop the expectation of seeing the Lord’s goodness and love evidenced in our everyday lives...
PASS IT ON
[Photo credits: Nathan Dumlao (overflowing cups); Hoang Hi (lady with flowers); Allec Gomes (matches) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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