God of abundance

The Holy Spirit provides all our needs and abundantly more that we could ever ask for or imagine.

The story we are focusing on is from 2 Kings and speaks of the time of the prophet Elisha.

2 Kings 4 Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.” Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.” He said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not just a few. Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.” So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” But he said to her, “There are no more.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest.”

The woman had the deck stacked against her.  A woman, a dead husband, a family to feed and no means to pay the family debt.  She was without resource.

She had great need, greater than she had the ability to dig herself out by herself. Because her breadwinner was dead, she had a debt which meant she and her children would be sold into slavery to fulfil the debt. She was totally helpless.

She had no resources except a jar of oil and what use was just one jar of oil? She said I have nothing.

But did she have nothing?

In my favourite movie of all time, the Princess Bride, the now alive after being mostly dead Westley was planning with his mates how to storm the castle and they were listing the assets they had:

 Westley: I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something.
Inigo Montoya: Where we did we put that wheelbarrow the albino had?
Fezzik: Over the albino, I think.
Westley: Well, why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?

It was only a wheelbarrow. The woman only had a jar of oil. Moses only had a shepherd’s staff, the boy only had loaves and fishes.

But God turned that staff into a snake and back again. Moses held up his staff in his hands and the waters of the Red Sea moved back and allowed his people to pass.

But God turned that little boy’s lunch into enough to feed the need of the masses.

What the woman did not realise that it was not just one jar of oil.  Oil in the OT was often used to describe the Holy Spirit presence and power, an infinite attribute of God himself. Anointing was often referred to as oil poured over someone.

God through his Spirit can make the meagre into abundance.

In Isaiah 44:3 God says “I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground”.  Not merely a few drops of rain, but abundant rain, the ample boundless overflow of the Holy Spirit.[1]

But there were conditions to the work of the Holy Spirit in creating abundance:

The first thing is we need to ask.  Elisha asked the woman, what can I do for you.  Identify your need and be specific to God about that issue.

We must be ready to act. She was told to gather up empty jars. We cannot expect abundance if we cannot get ourselves ready.  What is it that we have and what do we need?

She was told to gather up emptiness.  Gather up empty jars from your neighbours. Gather up empty jars, she was told: For what purpose she must have wondered, I only have one jar of oil, how far will that go?

We too need to gather up our emptiness, to make ourselves empty of our own perception that we can do anything; we need to get to the place of helplessness; we need to get to the place of emptiness of self, in order that we are ready for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need to rely on God and not on humanity.

We need to rely on God and not on the social welfare system or the government or our medical people, because ultimately they cannot save us, only God can. But whilst we trust in our money or our resources, we turn from the source that can truly heal and transform us.

In baptism we die to our old selves so that the new can come in. We need to be empty before we can be filled.

AB Simpson, way back in 1895, wrote:  the nothingness of self is the beginning of God’s all sufficiency, and as we are willing to rest in our nothingness and his all-sufficiency, we soon begin to know the sweetness and the power of his voice.[2]

God will ask us to do the unexplainable and the unthinkable and the irrational and if we do it, we will get the result. Elisha told the woman to fill the jars from her one jar and keep on pouring.  That surely was a pointless exercise – one jar surely could only fill one jar – maths tells us that, but not God’s maths.

The Holy Spirit was poured out in abundance for the woman, but only to the extent of her emptiness.  As long as she had empty jars, the Holy Spirit kept filling.

When the empty jars ran out, so did the pouring out from her one jar.

Let’s think of the ways we can limit God’s generosity.

We limit God is by not trusting him to help us. Do we trust him that he can solve our problems?  Do we trust him that he can deliver the impossible answer?

 

 

James 1:6-8 says:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.…

We limit him by not telling him our problem.  We tough it out, we try everything else but ask God as a last resort.  We think our problem is too small for God to be concerned about. Those are lies of the enemy.  God is concerned about the flowers in the field and the feathers on a bird, how much more would he be concerned about creatures made in his image – us?

We limit God by not being prepared.  We think that all we have to do is sit with our mouths open like a baby bird, waiting to be fed, but that is not the case. We need to be prepared. We need to look at ourselves, we need to identify those things that are not honouring to God, we need to read his word and fellowship with like-minded people.  We need to be prepared to receive God’s blessing.  We need to be prepared to share our testimony and speak a salvation message, for the times when God puts people in our path. Be prepared is not only the motto of the Boy Scouts, it should be ours as well.

 

We limit him by not doing what he has asked us (particularly if we do not understand why he asks us to do something).  If it seems too big or too hard, it probably is God asking. Instead we limit him by saying “God would never take me out of my comfort zone, God would not ask me to do anything scary”. That is rubbish. It God tells us to do something, no matter how out of it that request seems, we need to obey.

We limit God by not realising how much of abundance he can deliver.  We pray for revival in this city but have we made this church big enough or our ministries robust enough to receive the new people. We pray for this and that but we pray without having the faith that it will be done.  The woman did not get enough jars. If she had gone to the entire city and got all the jars she could, the oil would have kept pouring but when she limited God by only getting her neighbours jars that was all that got filled.

Last Sunday night at Central Baptist, as we invaded them, Dave McKenzie asked what God was doing in people’s lives.  I told the church of our lack of worship leaders and running out of our own resources and having to suck up my pride and ask Central for help for worship leaders.  But God has now blessed us with an abundance not only of worship leaders but musicians and singers.

I am reminded of Hori Reti.  Diagnosed with serious meningitis and was in ICU.  Family had gathered to farewell him but his wife Mandy, outside cried out to God for healing.  Doctors could do nothing for him. God healed him, but not only healed him of the disease, also restored his hearing which had been lacking before the illness.  God delivered an abundance of healing to Hori.

God answers our prayers, not with a meagre offering, but with abundance far and above what we ask for.

Malachi 3:10 says
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

We often recite this verse only in relation to tithing but it relates to the provision of the Holy Spirit, who wants to bless us with abundance when we surrender ourselves fully to God.

Ananias and Sapphira saw other disciples selling all their property and giving it to the church. They sold their bit of land but because they did not trust God enough to provide for them abundantly, they kept some of the proceeds back and lied about what they had done.  They were not only not blessed; they were cursed and dropped dead.

Trust in the Holy Spirit who provides for us abundantly more than we want, ask and you shall receive, look to the resources that you have and not bemoan the resources you do not have and expect God to deliver in answer to our prayers far more that we ask for or expect.

Ephesians 3:20-21

20Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.…

 



[1] AB Simpson Power from on High 214

[2] Simpson 157