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2. The God of Abundance in the Life of Jesus

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In Your Bible Read This Out Loud Luke 4:14-21

Memorise This Verse John 2.5 ‘His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Afterwards Talk About This What would you say is an acceptable lifestyle for a believer in your culture, that would allow you to have some extra to give to others?

Something To Do Before Next Time You may not feed the 5,000 but put on a simple meal for a poorer family you have never eaten together with. Invite them to your home,cell or church or go and take it to them and eat together with them.

Written Diploma Work Write one page listing as many different occasions as you can, when Jesus provided something for people in need.

Meditate Word By Word On This Verse Luke 19.26

As we turn to Matthew, we can confirm the statement that God does not change – particularly in the area of finances, as there are ample scriptures in the New Testament that point us toward this conclusion. Primarily, we can see this Lord who does not change clearest of all when he came to this earth in the form of Jesus – his life and ministry shows how all who obeyed him, received from him – and often the provision was of a spectacular nature.

In Luke 4:16, Jesus prepares to start his earthly ministry and he enters the synagogue and applies a portion of the Old Testament to himself and what his ministry would achieve, ‘The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor’.

Consequently, it would appear that the very first thing Jesus spoke about concerning his Messiahship and his ministry was that he wanted to meet the needs of the poor. Later the followers of John the Baptist come and ask Jesus if he really is the Messiah and Jesus confirms that he is, however  he doesn’t say it straight out but as proof that he is the Messiah he starts to list what he has accomplished. In Matthew 11:5 one of the signs that Jesus lists to the followers of John the Baptist, to show that he is the Messiah is, ‘The good news is preached to the poor’.

At the outset of his ministry, his first miraculous sign was to turn water into wine at they wedding in Cana (John 2:11) – this provision and abundance showed his glory and drew the disciples to put their faith in him – it would appear that his disciples knew that if he was the Messiah, he would be characterised by provision and prosperity. Is it not the same today that men and women will put their faith in the real Jesus of goodness and provision – but too often he is portrayed as a pauper who requires his followers to be poor as well?. Perhaps the false image that in order to be a Christian you have to be poor has done a lot to hinder people from coming to Jesus and spending their lives following him.

It would appear that this method was widely used by Jesus – he first of all reveals his goodness and willingness to people this leads people to recognise his glory and majesty and as a result they can’t resist following him – Luke 5:1-11 shows this exact pattern being employed again by Jesus. After a hard night’s toil the weary disciples hear the voice of the master and the provision of Jesus is seen in a net-breaking catch of fish (Luke 5:7). As a result, Simon Peter  (and James and John), have a revelation of his majesty and glory (Luke 5:8-10) and consequently what had been an acquaintance now turns into total surrender and a devotion to Jesus. In both the turning of water into wine and the catch of fish, Jesus attracted people to put their faith in him by a display of his willingness and ability to abundantly provide for them.

Indeed, just as Jesus used this method at the outset of his ministry in order to reveal his true self to the disciples and attract them to himself near to the close of his earthly ministry, he does the same again to strengthen, encourage and re-affirm the faith of the disciples. After the resurrection (and three years of walking with Jesus), the faith of the disciples weakens and they go back to their old way of life of fishing (John 21:1-30). A word from the master is spoken and obeyed and John 21:6 shows Jesus revealing his goodness towards the disciples John 21:7 shows that this act of provision meant that the disciples who were previously unaware that it was Jesus instantly perceived it was the Lord of glory himself. Finally, these two steps had the same effect as before – the disciples now can’t help but follow him, having been attracted by his goodness towards them.

Of all the miracles of Jesus, the only one that is recorded in all of the 4 gospels is the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. Again the principle holds true that those who follow Jesus are supplied by Jesus and we see in Matthew 14:21 that whilst there were 5000 men, there was as also women and children as well making the total number of people feed probably in excess of 10,000. The same situation applies to the feeding of the 4000 Matthew 15:38 reveals that there were 4000 men but also women and children as well so it is not unreasonable to suggest that twice that number actually were fed.

The provision of Jesus to all who followed him is seen in even more spectacular fashion when Peter is instructed that he will find the money necessary to pay taxes in the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27) even in the most bizarre and unlikely of circumstances, the ability of God to provide for his people simply cannot be contained.

Finally, when looking into the life of Jesus we can see his lifestyle most vividly regarding money in the fact that he provided for his disciples, and he even had a money bag and a treasurer, namely Judas Iscariot. In fact, John 12:29 shows that when Judas went to betray Jesus, some of the disciples thought that he had gone to give something to the poor -it would appear then that it was a regular occurrence for Jesus to instruct Judas to give to the poor.

Moreover it has been calculated that nearly half of the parables that Jesus taught are regarding money – it would appear that money is such an important area that the Son of God had a large amount to say about it. In particular the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the parable of the minas (Luke 19:12-27) provide stark reading as to the attitude of Jesus towards wealth and wealth creation and poverty. In both parables, it was the person who had been a good and prudent steward of money and had sought to use wisely the money that had been entrusted to him that received the praise and affirmation of the master.

Conversely, the person who did not make any effort to multiply the money given to him and seek to prosper himself for the sake of the master that in both parables receives a very strong rebuke. Clearly, Jesus is expecting us to be active in putting to work the money he has entrusted to us that we may gain even more in order that we can invest it in his Kingdom. So finally can we not relax in the goodness of Jesus and say that if he can provide money in fishes mouth to pay taxes to the pagans, how much more much can he provide money to see us blessed with an acceptable lifestyle and have extra to give to see men and women saved from hell?

A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations

Pray for Albania

3,113,434 people, Christians slightly outnumber Muslims

Crippled by Communism, atheism and corruption Church is young but growing.

This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.

The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.

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