Abundance, Prosperity & Daily Bread

This is a small group study I did on abundance. I hope you will enjoy it. I’ve added a few notes from the discussion. Feel free to use anything you want for your own study.

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21) 

People have different ideas about abundance and prosperity. Some will tell you that it is a sin to be poor, others will tell you that it is impossible to enter the kingdom if you are rich. The truth is, as with most things, in the perception. In that respect, the world’s view on poverty and wealth is almost identical in its sinfulness. Both rely upon money instead of God.  Discuss. (Proverbs 28:22)

1 Samuel 2:7-8 teaches that God sends both poverty and wealth. So, neither thing coming from God can be, in itself, sinful. It’s what we do with what we are given that either glorifies God or sins against him. We saw this in the parables, didn’t we? Remember the wicked servant?

  “I know why the Bible compares God’s people to sheep. Sheep are stupid, they smell bad, and they bite!”

 I thought that was a funny quote. I don’t know who said it but it was attributed to a “palestinian shepherd.” It’s insightful. The Bible repeatedly calls us sheep and refers to Jesus as our shepherd. Sheep cannot prosper alone. Without a shepherd, sheep will wander aimlessly. They might find food here and there but they have no plan, no purpose, no sense of direction. They get lost and are afraid. They are ruled by fear.

God provides.

Sheep are a good analogy for Christians because they can also represent the church, or the body of Christ. They are safe and strong together in the flock. They must rely on Jesus (the shepherd) rather than their own knowledge. They must trust in abundance even when they don’t see it coming.

Scripture says (Deuteronomy 15:4) there is no need for poor among us (believers) and that poverty brings destruction (Proverbs 10:15). What do you think that means? By the same token, the Bible also says that it is a sin to rely upon money (Psalm 52, 1 Timothy 6:17).

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

We’ve talked about this before, but many people misunderstand this “prosperity scripture” in the Bible. God DOES have a plan for you and he does plan to prosper you and give you a future. However, in context, God was speaking to the Jewish people who were IN EXILE at the time. He told them that they would be in exile for 70 years and it was because of their sin. However, he gave them other instructions. They were to prosper in captivity and bless their captors. They were to pray for them and their prosperity as well.

What do you think this means to us today? When we struggle, what does the world tell us is the problem? Bad luck? What does the Bible say causes poverty, lack, pain and suffering? Discuss the story of the blind man.

Jesus healed a blind man and the legalistic crowd asked if he was blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents. Neither. He was blind so that Jesus could use him for a better purpose. God always has a better purpose for you, even when you are blinded spiritually and cannot see the abundant path ahead of you.

 What is the key to abundance in life? Obviously, faith. But where does scripture say our faith dwells? See the passage at the top of the page. The things you have faith in are the things you hold IN YOUR HEART. Jesus used an example in Matthew 15 to say that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him. In Matthew 15:18-20 he says it is what comes out of a man that defiles him. Specifically, he says that what we speak from the mouth comes from the heart and that is what we really believe.

What goes into your mouth? Food and water. What comes out of your mouth? Words. If your words defile you, what does that mean? Defile means ruin. By definition, ruin means “to reduce to a state of decay, collapse, or disintegration.” Our negative words make us unfit. Whose purpose is served by negative words?

We live in a prosperous nation, even in our bad economy. As believers, we live in God’s economy! HE PROVIDES. However, God provides in his own sense of timing, not by our checklist. That is the lesson in Jeremiah 29. Prosper where you are and prosper those around you—even your enemies.

Did you know that the poverty line in the United States is above the average income in most of the world? Yet, how many of us have said “I can’t afford to give” or “I don’t have enough money” for something we need (not want, need). That is a lack mentality. You can always give. In fact, God requires it.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to be rich, nor do you have to be impoverished to be poor. Both are matters of perception and both are a reflection of faith. What do you have faith in? Money? Lack? Consider that they are the same thing!

Give. When you give, do so out of love and from your abundance. Do not give our of obligation because that creates resentment (see Cain). Do not be controlled by fear. Trust in God.

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