Living in God’s Abundance

Here’s part two of my small group study on abundance. I had not intended to teach on abundance at all and certainly didn’t plan to do it two weeks in a row. What can I say? I was on a roll.

* * * 

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (Matthew 7:9)
Last week, we talked about the meaning of abundance and a bit about how to use it. It’s easy to fall into a “lack mentality” though. How do we stay focused on God and live the abundant life he has promised us?

Persistence
Not everything in life is easy, even for a believer. In fact, the world waits for you to stumble and give up. Don not demonstrate a lack of faith but saying “there is no hope.”  James 1:4 says “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Comments: In this discussion, I used the Salvador Dalí painting “The Persistence of Memory” as an example. The melting watches in the painting show the relativity of time and space. In other words, they show that time really doesn’t mean much.

I used this to show that God does not work on our schedule or go by our clock. The dreamer image in the painting can be looked at from the point of view of dreams fading away or, better yet, the persistence of dreams in the face of time.

Be persistent in your dreams and in your prayers.

Believe
My favorite Bible verse, for now, is a simple one. Mark 11:22. Depending on the translation, it reads “Jesus said, ‘have faith in God.” Some versions say believe. Either way, the message is a simple and direct as anything in scripture. James 1:7 says that a person who doubts “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

Comments: Do you pray without believing? We all have, at times. God’s abundance requires action and it requires faith.

 Let’s go back and revisit last week’s discussion. Is abundance (or prosperity) a matter of rich and poor? What is abundance?

Comments: Abundance is God’s provision. It can be money but is not simply wealth. It can be health, love, friendship, or anything that blesses your life and makes it better. That’s not what the world tells us though, is it?

In John 9, Jesus is discussing a man who was blind from birth. The Pharisees, always the legalists, asked him if he was blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents. Read John 9:3 and see what Jesus said.

 
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Is there purpose in struggle or suffering? The world and The word don’t always agree in their approach, do they? How does the world tell you to deal with struggle? Here’s a few examples to discuss:

Unplanned pregnancy:
World and Word solutions. The world and the Word certainly approach this topic from different angles.
Illness: World and Word solutions. Some people get sick and wish for death. Jesus defeated death and the grave. If you are still here, you have a purpose.

By the world’s standard, was that blind man living an abundant life? Why or why not?

Do Not Limit God
We’ve talked about forgiveness before and how we can limit our own salvation by the way we refuse to forgive. Just as God will not forgive you if you do not forgive others, he will not bless you in your prayers without faith. How many times have you heard people describe  their own sins as too great or so great that they didn’t think God could love them? That negative belief system did not come from God. It is Satan’s way of making you roll around in your problems and accept them.

Repent of sins
Sin is the reason we struggle. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent convinced Adam and Eve that they would not surely die if they ate of the fruit. He was right, in perspective. It was not poison. They did not drop over dead after taking a bite. Their sin was disobedience and it brought death into the world. Scripture tells us that the ground was cursed and they had to work hard to grow food after that.

Prior to sin, there was only abundance. Because of sin, the earth was allowed the possibility of failure. Think of that. In obedience, there is no failure!

If you could do anything in the world, or have anything, and you knew you could not fail (you had faith), what would you do? Where would you go? How would your life be different?

Someone asked what the point would be if we could not fail. How could we learn, grow, experience, etc. Great point. However, it is not the result that I am saying is a success or failure, it is the faith that causes the action. Suppose you wanted to go on a mission trip to feed the hungry in Africa. You may never make it to Africa, but the desire in your heart to feed the hungry might open your eyes to a starving person in your own town.

It’s about perception. When you walk boldly with the attitude that there is no failure in obedience, God may change your path, but your heart will be transformed in the process.

 That last question in a big one. If you think about the things you would have if not for sin, it gives you a different perspective on your life. How many times did your sin (or fear) cause you to miss a blessing? Your life might be different today for sure. We cannot roll around in the past. Your future can absolutely be different with faith and that begins every morning with every decision you make to serve God and serve other people. What are you going to do this afternoon? This week? This year? Time is relative. Don’t procrastinate, work for a better tomorrow by acting now. 
Do not have fear.

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