Even as the world gets darker and darker, especially with the ongoing global recession, we can take heart in knowing that the Lord has set us apart—we are in the world and not of the world (John 17:16). We have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us. If He cares for even the sparrows, surely He cares for us even more (Matt. 6:26)!
Times of famine and lack are not new to God. The Bible records many past famines that have happened. When we take time to study these events, we can find encouragement and wisdom for the times we are living in.
Whenever a famine is mentioned in the Bible, we see that God’s people rose to prominence and prospered. As children of God, we shine brightest in the midst of darkness and are meant to prosper in times of famine. This prosperity that we experience demonstrates to the world God’s ability and power to supply and provide for us in times of famine. It testifies of what God is doing in our lives!
When we study the famines mentioned in the Bible, we also see how God always supplies wisdom to handle the famines. We see this in Genesis 41:28–36, where God gave Joseph the wisdom to advise Pharoah on how to prepare for the impending famine. Another example is found in Genesis 26:1–13, where God’s specific wisdom to Isaac was to sow during the time of famine, and this led to Isaac reaping a hundredfold.
This is an example of how the ground would have looked like during a famine:
If Isaac went by what he saw in the natural, it would not have made sense for him to sow seeds into ground like this, which is very unlikely to yield any harvest. But this is where faith is required.
Likewise, when God prompts us to sow into the gospel, it might not look like an investment that will reap returns. Yet, God wants us to sow into it!
Why does God want us to sow into the gospel?
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
—Matthew 6:21 KJV
Where our money goes, our hearts will follow. God’s desire for us is that we do not get caught up with things of the world but for our hearts to be grounded in the gospel. If we do not yet have a revelation of the importance or life-transforming power of the gospel, we can still experience the power it brings into our lives when we choose to sow into it!
The gift of righteousness brings every other blessing
“Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.”
—Genesis 26:12–14 NKJV
These verses show us the measure that God prospered Isaac when he chose to sow in the land during the famine! Likewise, we can expect a bountiful harvest when we choose to sow in the areas that God leads us to (e.g. the gospel).
“So the Philistines envied him.” — Isaac was so prosperous that the Philistines (non-believers) envied him. Today, this envy can take the form of disdain towards Christians who believe God for prosperity. But God intentionally put these verses in the Bible to show us His heart to bless us and to encourage us to trust Him for provision as we sow into the places He leads us to.
Some might argue that it’s wrong to expect returns when we give. But this is what our Lord Jesus says:
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.”
—Luke 6:38a KJV
He encourages us to give, knowing that we will be rewarded with a great harvest!
While it is true that God is not for avarice or materialism, there are some Christians who swing to the extreme teaching that poverty is holy. This is unbiblical. In fact, the patriarchs in the Bible were all prosperous when they walked with the Lord. An example is King Uzziah, who sought the Lord during his kingship.
“. . . and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.”
—2 Chronicles 26:5b KJV
This verse shows us that seeking the Lord and prosperity are tied together! While there are extreme teachings on “prosperity” that cultivate greed and selfishness, this is not God’s idea of prosperity. When God prospers us, He first prospers us in our walk with Him. God has made us righteous through Jesus’ finished work at the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). This gift of righteousness is the greatest prosperity of all. And with this righteousness comes all the blessings of the righteous (Prov. 10:6). Blessings not only for us, but also for our children (Prov. 11:21). These promises of God are ours to claim!
“But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”
—Proverbs 13:22b NKJV
What this verse is saying is that the sinner gathers the wealth for the righteous and that there will be a transfer of wealth from the world to God’s people. This is also mentioned in the verse below.
“For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.”
—Ecclesiastes 2:26 NKJV
“to him who is who is good before God” — This refers to us, those who have been made righteous by faith in Jesus’ blood!
Sometimes we can get envious and discouraged when we compare ourselves with non-believers who are successful in the world. But we can take heart in God’s Word that says they are actually gathering for us!
God’s heart is for you to enjoy prosperity with a divine purpose
“Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”
—Exodus 12:35–36 NKJV
The transfer of wealth from Egypt to Israel took place on the night of the Passover. God had given the Israelites favor with the Egyptians as they asked the Egyptians for silver, gold, and clothing. And the Israelites came out of Egypt with an abundance.
This was done justly. The Israelites were owed all this as payment for their labor in Egypt during their captivity. Just like He did for the Israelites, God will always ensure that there will be a restoration for the losses in our lives.
This transfer of wealth was the fulfillment of a prophecy God gave to Abraham even before the Israelites went into captivity.
“Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”
—Genesis 15:13–14 NKJV
“Afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” — God prophesied that the transfer of wealth would happen after 400 years, after the last plague. This is a picture of the transfer of wealth that will take place during the end times we are living in. Even if we can’t see the manifestation of God’s blessings in our lives yet, just like the Israelites, there will be an “afterward”—a blessing that will surely come to us in due time.
“Come out with great possessions” — This shows us God’s heart to prosper us. For those of us who have been greatly affected by this time of recession and are facing lack or even struggling with debt, be assured and encouraged in God’s plan to provide for you.
Yes, there are erroneous, extreme teachings about prosperity for greed, covetousness, and self-gratification. But that is not God’s definition of prosperity. When God prospers us, He also gives us a divine purpose for that prosperity.
“. . . I will bless you . . . And you shall be a blessing.”
—Genesis 12:2 NKJV
God blesses us so that we can be a channel of His love and generosity to others and so that we can support the spreading of the gospel that saves lives. When God prospered the Israelites with gold, silver, and clothing, it was for the purpose of building His house (Exod. 3:12, 35:20–29). Today, God’s house is the Church of Jesus Christ. When we tithe and give offerings to our local church, we are sowing into the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some might feel that the gospel is a “dry land” not worth sowing into and would rather invest in the latest innovations to make money. While it’s possible to gain riches from these investments, they often come at a cost (e.g. sleepless and stressful nights, time with your loved ones, etc.). Instead, God’s ways of blessing us are without painful toil (Prov. 10:22). More importantly, God’s prosperity is more than just money.
We are beginning to see more signs of the end times—wars, rumors of wars, and pestilences. We can draw wisdom from the Word of God to help us understand what God is doing in the end times. What has happened in the past will happen again in the future (Ecc.1:9) and all the events recorded in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, are ‘tupos’ (types) for us to learn from today (1 Cor. 10:11). Some might view the Bible as a mere history book. But the Word of God is living and relevant for us right now. When the Holy Spirit speaks to you through the Word, He gives you a rhema or “now word,” a specific word of wisdom, for your present season.
“And of the children of Issachar . . . had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do . . . ”
—1 Chronicles 12:32 KJV
In this generation, God is raising people with the same wisdom as the children of Issachar to interpret the times we are in and to impart faith for us to believe God’s promises for us.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
—Romans 10:17 NKJV
We can only receive faith to trust God for provision when we continually listen to teachings that show us God’s heart to prosper us.
Experience success when you rely on God’s favor
The favor of God is a valid and central teaching of the Bible. Grace is defined as undeserved and unmerited favor, and to be full of grace is to be full of such favor.
When God gives us favor, we will experience supernatural success and promotion apart from our capabilities or achievements. God’s grace, His favor, is something He gives us freely. We cannot earn it.
The Bible records that God gave Joseph favor in the sight of Potiphar and Pharoah (Gen. 39:4; 21), and Joseph was promoted. In fact, God’s favor led to Joseph prospering so abundantly that even Potiphar who was not a believer could see God’s goodness in Joseph’s life (Gen. 39:3)! Likewise, when God prospers us, the blessings will be evident and testify to the world of God’s goodness in our lives.
There are many non-believers who have the misconception that God is angry at them and judging them for their wrongdoings, but that is far from the truth! God has sworn that He is no longer angry with us (Isa. 54:9) and all His anger has been exhausted at the cross when our Lord Jesus bore all of our sins! The goodness of God is the very thing that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and when the people around us see the goodness of God in our lives, they will be saved!
God will bless you as you sow into His house
God gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17) but His purpose is for us to be a blessing to others (Gen 12:2). God blessed the Israelites with great possessions as they came out of Egypt so that they would be good stewards of their wealth and build His house (Exod. 35:5). The Israelites were so generous with their giving that Moses had to tell them to stop bringing their resources because they had brought too much!
“So Moses gave the command . . . We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings.”
—Exodus 36:6 NLT
This demonstrates the spirit of generosity in the hearts of God’s people when it comes to sowing in His house. In fact, the Bible says that wisdom and generosity go hand-in-hand.
“Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work . . . ”
—Exodus 35:35 KJV
“And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands . . . ”
—Exodus 35:25 KJV
People who have received wisdom will utilize the gifts and resources that God has given them to build His house and be a blessing to others.
Notice how the Lord had a divine purpose for the great possessions that the Israelites left Egypt with. It was all to fulfill His prophecy to Abraham and to build the tabernacle. Prosperity with a divine purpose means utilizing the gifts that God has blessed us with to build His house, support the gospel, and serve the local church.
Even the Egyptians could see God’s blessing upon the Israelites. Some of them even converted and decided to leave Egypt and follow the Israelites! The Bible records that “a mixed multitude went up with them also . . . ” (Exod. 12:38 NKJV). These Egyptians chose to align their lives with the true God because they saw Him working powerfully on Israel’s behalf.
The gospel of grace has the power to bring provision, health, peace, and rest
“then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
—Deuteronomy 8:17–18 NKJV
“for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” — For many of us, we often see our wealth coming to us via our salaries. But let’s always remember that our wealth did not come by our own works, but it is God who gives us the power to get wealth and be successful.
“that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers” — God blesses us with wealth so that He can fulfill His promise to Abraham. Some may argue that this covenant refers to the law. But based on the timeline, God made this promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before the law existed. This promise was totally unconditional and solely based on God’s faithfulness. Today, under the new covenant of grace, we are also recipients of this promise!
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law . . . That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles . . . that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
—Galatians 3:13–14 KJV
The power to get wealth is established in the covenant of grace and the finished work of the cross. The blessings of Abraham will come upon us when we accept God’s grace to us through faith in Jesus’ finished work.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
—3 John 1:2 KJV
Some people come against teachings on health and provision, calling it the “Health and Wealth Gospel.” But there is no such thing. There is only one gospel, and it is the gospel of grace and peace. The result of the gospel of grace is righteousness, provision, health, peace, and rest.
Some may say that the Lord only supplies all your needs. But that is not what the Bible says!
“The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.”
—Psalm 23:1 NKJV
“for there is no want to them that fear him.”
—Psalm 34:9b KJV
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.”
—Luke 6:38a KJV
Can you see that it is in God’s heart to bless you? He wants you overflowing with His blessing so that you can be a channel of His love to others. You don’t have to be afraid when you take the step of faith to sow through your giving. As you avail yourself to give and be a blessing, His supply comes to you and through you, and you will be blessed in the process.
When you sow into God’s house, you are making a direct impact on advancing the gospel
One of the ways the transfer of wealth from unbelievers to believers can happen is when non-believers get saved.
“The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
—Psalm 1:4–5 NKJV
Some may interpret this to mean that unbelievers will perish in the last days. But what God is saying in this verse is that there will be no sinners because they would have been saved and made righteous.
And one of the main ways that people get saved is through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“. . . how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent . . .”
—Romans 10:14–15 KJV
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), and God’s ordained way for us to hear Him is through anointed preachers.
Preachers can only go out to share the Good News when they are sent. For them to be sent, they need financial support. Without finances, preachers cannot be sent anywhere to preach the gospel. Even the resources you are using now to read and listen to God’s Word require money.
The devil does not want us to use our wealth to build God’s house or sponsor the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants to divert our resources elsewhere, just like how he distracted the children of Israel by instigating them to build a golden calf as Moses was receiving God’s instructions to build the tabernacle (Exod. 32:1–4).
Instead, God wants us to sow our money into good ground—gospel ground. The ground that God wants us to sow into during times of famine might not look like good ground in the natural, but we need to go by faith and not by sight. Practically, we can do this by tithing to our local church for the advancement of the gospel. When we align ourselves with God’s plans in these end times, we position ourselves to experience the transfer of wealth.
When you tithe, you break your love for money. And God promises that when you tithe, you will be blessed with such an abundance that you won’t have enough room to store it (Mal. 3:10)! It is important that we tithe with a revelation. Our tithes should be out of worship to God, knowing that He is the source of our wealth and the One who supplies everything in our lives.
In addition to tithing ten percent of your income, ask God where else you can sow your money. We must always be planting seeds for a harvest. Just like how a farmer sows because he desires to receive a bountiful harvest, we can believe God for great returns when we choose to sow into the areas He leads us to. Even if you can’t see the results immediately, know that there will always be a harvest greater than what you have sown.
Your Good Shepherd will provide and take care of all your needs
As you sow, God can bless you financially through different areas, e.g. your job, investments, etc. But do not look to these things as your source of blessings. They are simply channels that God uses to bless you! Our provision comes from God. The Bible does not tell us to work to get money but to work unto the Lord, knowing we will receive the reward of our inheritance from Him (Col. 3:23–24).
There may be critics who come against this teaching about God’s provision, but we need to stand firm and believe from Scripture that it is God’s heart to provide for us. As we step days of greater economic instability in the world, we can feel tempted to turn to worldly methods to get quick monetary returns. But God wants us to see Him as the source of our supply. This is why God wants us to tithe and give to others generously—so that we not only break the love of money, but also position our hearts to expect His provisions in our lives.
OWN THE WORD (life application)
“There was a famine in the land . . . Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous.”
—Genesis 26: 1, 12–13 NKJV
Is there an area of lack in your life? Has the news about the economy been worrying you? Beloved, fear not. Your heavenly Father’s heart is to provide you with more than enough—so much that you can be a blessing to others!
Perhaps there are overwhelming financial demands in your life and you find it difficult to believe God for a breakthrough. Will you take time this week to read the story of Isaac in Genesis 26? Let this story encourage you as you see God’s heart to provide for you in times of lack.
Also, allow your heart to be open to where the Lord is leading you to sow your money into so that you reap a bountiful harvest. Before Isaac prospered, he sowed into a land that seemed to be dry and barren, yet he reaped a hundredfold.
Perhaps you sense the Lord leading you to tithe to your local church, or He has stirred a desire in your heart to sow into advancing the gospel or giving generously to someone. While in the natural, you may feel like you don’t even have enough for yourself or sowing into other things like investments is more likely to yield a return, will you consider listening to the Lord’s prompting? Take that step of faith and trust in God’s ways, not the world’s ways. He is setting you up to reap a great harvest—a good measure of His blessings overflowing in your life (Luke 6:38)!
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These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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