Hearing God for Financial Provision

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been speaking with a company about doing a project. It’s a fairly big project, and would require much of my time, so there’s been some hesitancy in taking it on. While I don’t mind the hard work, this is one of many projects that I have planned for the year.

While on vacation for Spring Break, I spent some time praying over the project. I needed to hear some clear direction. Lord, is this what you want me to work on? I asked a few weeks ago, and I sensed my Father saying that it was going to be hard work and that it was also great provision. But still, I wasn’t sure if it’s what he wanted me to work on.

While on vacation in Colorado one afternoon, I was praying for him to make it clear to me if I should work on this project. Again, there was hesitancy because it was a lot of work, and I wasn’t too excited about working hard.

As I was praying, I sensed a scripture come to mind: Proverbs 6:11, or was it 16:11. Not sure. Kept praying. Kept hearing 6:11 and then 16:11. So, I just said myself, Okay, I’ll read both.

First, Proverbs 6:11. I started back at verse 6, because it was the first part of a larger section ending at verse 11:

    Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and be wise! Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? I want you to learn this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. Proverbs 6:6-11, NLT.

Wow, you lazybones. That was me—I was being lazy. I didn’t want to do hard work.

Learn from their ways and be wise! I need to learn something here. They have no prince, no governor or ruler to make them work. Ouch, that’s me. I have no boss or manager to make me work. I work for myself. Busted.

They work hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. Again, that’s me. That’s my situation. It’ll physically be a summer project, wrapping up around Christmas. And, figuratively, this income should provide for us through a winter season of no additional work. The seasons are both physical and figurative.

And then, verse 11 that was spoken to me: “poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

If I don’t do this, lazybones, poverty will pounce on me and scaracity will attack me. It was obvious from this scripture that the Lord wants me to work hard during the summer to store of provision for the winter.

Then, I read Proverbs 16:11, The LORD demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standard.

Now, the Lord says, Do this project, but I demand fairness in this business deal. I will set the standard.

Again, very clearly, the Lord wants me to do this deal for provision for my family and he requires that I do it as a fair business deal. I am now convinced that the Lord wants me to do this project.

I wanted to share this journal entry with you to encourage you. I know there are many of you struggling through this difficult economical situation. The current financial crisis is creating a lot of unemployment, cut backs and lay offs. I want to encourage you in this time of recession that God can help you. If you will listen to him, and let him guide you, he will show you where to look for work, and what to do.

In Psalms 32:8, the Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

Update – Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I wanted to take a moment and share some interesting news about this post. As you may have read, I prayed and sought the Lord about the potential project, and I interpreted his giving me the two scriptures as, “You need to do this project.” Which, I know now, was interpreted incorrectly. After I made that decision and then met with the client, I had this overwhelming since of uneasiness. There was no peace about this project, only heaviness. I started to lose sleep over the project, knowing it conflict with many other God-given project this year.

After speaking with my wife and some friends, I realized that I had misinterpreted the giving of those two scriptures, and just assumed I was to take the project. I liked the provision aspect of the project, but it would have consumed my time and energy for the whole year, and all my other projects and clients would have taken the hit.

My wife and I decided to completely pass on the project. The decision alone gave me incredible peace. I knew it was what I was supposed to do.

That morning, in my quiet time, I was praying and getting ready to let this client know I couldn’t be a part of the project. I did not like the idea of telling them that, because they really needed a solution, and they were putting their hope in me to deliver this solution. But, I had to let it go. As I was praying over it, I sensed the Lord whisper to me, “There’s a middle ground solution.”  Hmm. Really?

I didn’t put much thought into.  I was honestly just thinking about how to gracefully pass on the project. But, I tucked that thought away in mind and prepared for the meeting. As I was driving to the meeting, I had that thought again, “There’s a middle ground solution.”  Okay. What is it? I didn’t hear anything, but I sensed that my Dad would reveal the solution at the right time.

During the meeting, I told the client that I would have to pass on the project, but that I would help them find someone to take it over. This was very difficult, because they had already built some trust with me, and they really wanted to work with me. But, I just couldn’t.

Then, “out of the blue”, the client asked, “Would you be willing to stay on board for a month or two as a consultant to help us get this project off the ground? We really trust you.” Immediately, when the question was asked, I knew that it was the middle ground solution. I immediately had the thought, “That’s it.

Sure enough, there was a great middle ground solution! I’m able to stay on track with my current clients and projects, help this new client with the launch of their project and make some money along the way.

I wanted to share this update because of wonderful it was to have God whisper to me this opportunity. When the client made that suggestion, I had no doubt it was God. He had prepared my heart for this meeting, and had given me a great solution for a very difficult situation.

Overcome or Be Overcome

This morning, I couldn’t sleep. I kept waking up throughout the night. 3am. 4am. 4:30am. 5am. 5:30am. Finally, the alarm went off at 6am.

I didn’t need it. I was wide awake.

Each time I would awake from this trance-like state, I had this thought, “Overcome. Or, be overcome.” Hmm, that’s odd. Back to sleep.

Again, I’d awake. “Overcome. Or, be overcome.” I kept hearing it again and again this morning. I must have heard it a dozen times.

Immediately, I thought of Romans 6:16 which says, “Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master?”

Read the entire verse in context:

    “Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace. So since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness.” Romans 6:14-18, NLT.

Sin is no longer your master. You do not have to obey it anymore. I get this. I understand this. I do not have to obey sin anymore. I have the power of Christ in me to choose right. I used to be enslaved to sin, but now, I am enslaved to Christ. My new master is righteousness. I am righteous in Christ. It’s not anything I can do.

I remembered another scripture as well from 2 Peter 2:19 that says very simply, “You are a slave to whatever controls you.”

So, my heavenly challenge this morning was simply this instruction: Overcome or be overcome. This was obviously a warning from my Father. Either I overcome or I will be overcome. Either I will master my flesh, or my flesh will master me.

I think the key to overcoming anything in your life is found in Galatians 4:

    “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:16-23, NKJV.

The flesh and spirit are contrary. They don’t agree. They are always at opposite ends of the battle, “so that you do not do the things you wish”.

The answer is to be “led by the Spirit”. What does that mean? How do you do that?

I’m still not sure. I’m working this one out as I go. But, here’s where I’ve landed. Sin no longer is an issue for us as believers. Sin was dealt with on the cross. We are free from yesterday’s sins, today’s sins and tomorrow’s sins. We are free.

But, this war we wage against doing the things we know are wrong is a battle of our flesh, not our spirit. Our flesh, like a computer, is programmed and wired to respond a certain way. As a kid (and a non-believer), we were wired to process information incorrectly, through our flesh (our feelings, our emotions, our memories).

As believers we must “repent”, we must “meta-noeo”, or “change the way we think”. We must reprogram our flesh to respond to our spirit. Our spirit, upon rebirth, is new again. We have “new hearts” and new desires. But, our flesh fights against those spiritual desires.

Listen carefully to how Paul describes this battle between flesh and spirit in Romans 7:18-19, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.”

Later on in versus 23 and 24, Paul talks clearly about this war in our members (flesh) and then he cried out for deliverance from his “body of death” (flesh).

My steps from here on out are simple–walk in the Spirit. Try to make decisions based on the Spirit. I need to focus on the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.

I need to filter my decisions through those nine fruits. Do my decisions produce love? Joy? Peace? Longsuffering? Kindness? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self Control?

That’s where I’ll start this week–memorizing those 9 spirit fruits.

Does God really love me and accept me?

This question is so key to our walk with God. I believe it’s a question we ask ourselves constantly. But, it’s not a question we ask out loud or even think about directly. Rather, it’s a question that looms deep in our soul, deep in those sub-conscious regions of our mind. It’s the filter in which we perceive God.

Yesterday, I was having an interesting dialogue with my Father. And, it started with a question. While the question may sound condemning at first, it was not at all. But, it was very engaging.

    Son, why do you hold back and choose not to spend time with me in the morning?

    I guess many times I feel like you don’t have anything new to say to me. Or, I don’t trust that I’m hearing you or obeying you.

    I know you love me. I know that. I guess I just don’t feel worthy, because I make so many mistakes.

    Son, do you really think your performance, your ability to be good enough counts for anything?

    It’s got to count for something. The whole law of sowing and reaping.

    Son, there is nothing you can do that can sway my love for you. The reason I don’t like sin is that, in your mind, you think it pushes me away. Guilt, shame, condemnation—those never come from me, son. Never.

    I see you perfect. I see you as Christ.

I realized yesterday morning that I am way too hard on myself. I try to determine God’s feelings towards based on my feelings towards myself. If I’m mad at myself, then surely God is mad at me. But, he’s not.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).

In the mornings, when I start to feel condemned for making mistakes or discouraged for failing in some area of my life, I immediately think of Lamentations 3:23,

“The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day” (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

His mercies begin afresh each day, each morning. His love is unfailing. It never ends. His mercy keeps us from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness. Great!

I can’t even begin to describe what this means to me spiritually. His mercy is new every morning. Every morning, I am given the opportunity to succeed. Even if I fail the day before, his mercy is new every morning.

Finding faith in God during economic and financial crisis

It’s obvious from the news (and our poor performing 401k’s) that we are struggling through some difficult, financial times right now. Jobs are being cut, houses are being foreclosed on, and financial difficulties are high. Is there hope? What can we do during these difficult economic times? How should we respond?

Money is a reflection of our heart–how we spend it, how we trust in it, how we hope in it. “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be” (Matthew 6:21). Your heart follows your money and possessions.

What do you really hope for? What is most important to you? I think in all honesty, most of those questions are answered with some form of money or possessions. Jesus talked a lot about money and possessions, even more than hell, prayer and faith. Why? Why would the Son of God talk so much about money? Because it is a reflection of our heart, what we trust in.

Last October, I posted a blog about Financial Anxiety in these economic times, and after re-reading it, I think about the verses of scripture that surround Jesus’ comment about how our hearts follow our treasure:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:19-24).

Mammon is not a common word we use today. In Biblical times, it referred to a demon or personification of riches, wealth and possessions. It’s interesting how Jesus concludes that we cannot serve both God of Heaven and God of Mammon. We can only serve one God.

So, what do we do? How do we respond?

The next few verses Matthew 6 are the answer. It’s one thing to read them—it’s another thing to believe them. So, I challenge you to read these words of truth. Read them and let them sink deep in your soul, because they are words that can bring you incredible peace during difficult financial times:

I tell you not to worry about everyday life–—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:25-34).

I encourage you to seek God first, put him first in your life. He cares for you. He knows your needs. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all those things will be added to your life. Trust him.

Galatians 4:7 sums it up well, “You are no longer a slave, but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.”

Think about life as a kid. Did you ever worry about your parent’s providing for you, taking care of you, feeding you, clothing you? If that’s true for imperfect, earthly parents, how much more will your perfect, Godly Father provide for your needs?

How the devil speaks thoughts into your mind

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I am becoming more attune to the schemes and tactics of the devil and his angels.

Most people believe that the devil has great power to inflict harm and physical danger into peoples lives, that he’s extremely powerful and should be feared. But, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe satan and his angels are to be feared–maybe recognized, revealed and better discerned, but not feared.

Satan once had great power and authority over all the earth. Adam surrendered his God-oradined authority and power to satan back in the Garden of Eden. It was lost for years, but then Jesus came to earth, died on the cross and restored our position of authority and released great power into our lives. Out first Adam lost it all, but our second Adam got it back for us (1 Corinthians 15:47).

To those who live their lives surrendered to Christ, you have great power and authority over the devil. Incredible power and authority! But, that doesn’t change the fact that devil will try to convince you otherwise. He will yell and scream (1 Peter 5:8) and lie to you (John 8:44) and find subtle ways to steal, kill and destroy you (John 10:10). His greatest weapon against humanity is the ability to speak into our thought life. He’s referred to as the Accuser (Revelation 12:10). He spews lies and accusations constantly into our thoughts and minds.

His primary strategy is simply this–to get you to agree with his accusations and lies. Maybe they are lies about God, our Father. Maybe they are lies about yourself, maybe how God sees you and loves you. Maybe they are lies about your spouse, your family, your friends–whatever. The devil will constantly, relentlessly, viciously spew accusations into your thoughts to get you to agree with him, because that’s where his greatest power lies–the power of agreement.

If he can get you to agree with him, then he’s got you. This was his key tactic against Jesus when he was being tempted in the wilderness. The Bible says that the devil came to him in the wilderness and tempted Jesus. I don’t believe there was any physical snake or apparition or evil voice. I believe Jesus had these thoughts, “If I’m really the son of God, I can turn these stones into bread.” It was a thought in his mind that the devil spoke. He was trying to get Jesus to agree with him. But, Jesus overcame the enemy by quoting scripture, by speaking a God thought, and rejecting a “me thought”.

It is absolutely imperative that we learn to police our thoughts, take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). And, we must change the way we think and perceive things (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23).

The other day, my wife and I got into an argument about something, and as we went to bed, my mind was spinning with thoughts. She doesn’t understand me. I thought we were happy. Maybe I just need to move out for awhile.

In the moment, it was feeding my anger and frustration. It was hard to take those thoughts captive because they were so prevalent in my mind. But I realized where they were coming from. They were not my thoughts. She does understand me, more than anyone on this earth. I love my wife. I have a great future ahead with her. It’s obvious now that the enemy was lying to me, speaking confusion and deception. He was trying to get me to agree with him. And, if I had, it would have taken me one step closer to marital problems.

When it comes to physical sickness, I’ve heard it said that more than 80% of the documented illnesses don’t have a known physical cause, implying that the majority of sicknesses start in our mind and thoughts. I believe if the enemy can get you to agree with him about some physical sickness or symptom you’re experiencing, then you will let your mental, emotional and spiritual guard down. And WAM, you’re sick.

Learn to fight the good fight of faith (believing). Learn to police your thoughts and not just accept what comes into your mind. Guard your mind. As it says in Proverbs, “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life!” (Proverbs 4:23)

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