A is for Abundance

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance,” Isaiah 55:2 NKJV

Most of us are always in the pursuit of abundance. We are often looking for ways to have an abundance of something or another. For many people it is money or opportunities to earn money. Some people may be in pursuit of peace. And for others it may be joy. It may even be a combination of things, yet most of us at some point have pursued abundance in every way but God’s way.

The preceding verse reflects our society as it stands today. Apparently, not that much has changed since Biblical times. They were spending money on things that failed to satisfy them as well.

Our society spends billions of dollars yearly seeking “abundance” yet still those dollars don’t satisfy. A new toy or gadget may be entertaining for the short-term, but it only takes the next electronic device or innovation to leave many longing for a “feeling” that quickly fades. Unfortunately, many are unaware what they truly crave can’t be purchased.

Many of the most affluent nations also suffer from the highest rates of depression. People are working themselves to death. Many have an abundance of “stuff” but fail to delight themselves in Who really provides peace, joy, and contentment. There is often a continual search for some “thing”, experience, feeling, or promise that guarantees joy, happiness, success, or status. When one “thing” fails to provide the “high” people are looking for they are on to the next, placing more faith in false advertisements and sales pitches than in the very Words that offer an abundant life.

A lot of us have not enjoyed God’s abundance as we could because we failed to listen to God. We believe we have it figured out, know what is best for ourselves and want to control our own destiny. That approach has left most people still searching, hungry and frustrated by their own failed efforts.

When we listen to God as instructed above, we can eat that which is good and delight ourselves in God’s promises. To listen requires that we hear and obey.

Some of us are struggling in distinct areas in our lives due to our own disobedience. We even know what God says about certain strongholds or areas yet we continue to suffer or lack because we refuse to yield those areas over to Him. We often know what to do but fail to do it for an array of reasons. Pride, fear, and the opinions of others are just a few reasons that leave people still searching for what only God can offer.

“Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart,” Psalms 37:4. NKJV

We are instructed to delight ourselves in the Lord, not the latest gadget, fashion, music, career opportunity or whatever else people are often hustling to obtain. The things people delight themselves in often fail to satisfy for any real length of time. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, He then gives us what we really want.

Sadly, many people don’t even know what they want. The concepts of peace, joy, and true love are foreign concepts to many. Money can’t buy happiness but millions continue to try time and time again.

“But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace,” Psalms 37:11. NKJV

That restless feeling many people suffer from is actually due to a lack of peace. People pursue money trying to buy the “things” they think will provide peace and joy. A lot of people go into debt trying to buy happiness and love and are instead left restless and distraught in their attempts to buy “a good life.” Their costly pursuits often have devastating consequences that people spend years trying to dig themselves out from under.

The “good life,” is actually free for all of us. Jesus paid the price so that we could have a good life, one that involves a relationship with Him!

“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly,” John 10:10. NKJV

Jesus did not die for us that we may accumulate more “stuff.” That was hardly the abundance He had in mind. Jesus Christ died that we would have peace, joy, and a relationship with Him to fill our voids and satisfy our thirst. That is what we truly desire whether we realize it or not.

Have you been looking for love, hope, truth, grace or whatever you are yearning for…in all the wrong places?

“For You, Lord [are] good and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You,” Psalms 86:5 NKJV

“But You, O Lord, [are] a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth,” Psalms 86:15 NKJV

“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3

Droughts and Downpours

Last year, here in the southeast, we experienced record high temperatures. Native southerners are not often deterred by the heat. We who were raised in the south and are used to extreme temperatures. However, when the thermostat read over 106 degrees, in the shade, what we thought was hot was nothing compared to the sweltering temperatures that made it into the record books. Just as the extremes in temperature caught us off guard, so too can certain situations threaten to leave us scorched and drained when they erupt in our own lives.

Oftentimes we feel that we think can deal with the stress or are so accustomed to being under duress only to find ourselves in a situation that eventually proves too hot to handle. God often allows us to go through trials that may seem hot as hell itself to prove and perfect us. We will never realize what we can handle until we are forced to do so.

During the extreme heat, I didn’t realize my marigolds and lantana were so heat-resistant until they were forced to endure such unimaginable temperatures. Like my plants, we often don’t know what we are capable of enduring until we too are forced to face the heat, and not only face it but keep striving and thriving in spite of it.

When you feel the heat of hell itself stretching its reach toward you, it is vital to remember that Jesus sacrificed Himself to pluck you from the heat and flames that would overcome you. God is the ultimate firefighter. He can quench the flames and heat of any circumstance that threatens you. The important thing to remember is that the heat is only temporary.

The heat or hot circumstances in your life only serve to temper you and purify you so that your patience may perfect you. Often people fail to reach their potential because they fail to remember the heat in their lives won’t last forever.

Hot situations can readily overcome and immobilize those who don’t lean on God and rely on His redemption to turn the situation around. Just like my hydrangeas, the extreme heat burns and crisps their leaves and those that remain fall flat and limp. What is left is not the small pretty plant I placed in the ground months ago but instead something that looks…dead.

Funny thing though, after three days of extreme heat an amazing thing happened. It rained. Not only did it rain, the skies opened up and water fell buckets full at a time from the sky. The roar of the rain was so startling and severe it made people stop and take notice.

Rain drops hit hard like pellets of hail. The ground was dumped on with so much water, so quickly, it couldn’t absorb it all. Puddles and streams stood amazingly on ground that had been baked dry just hours before. What happened wasn’t just rain, but a reflection of God’s abundance.

In Biblical times, rain was analogous to abundance. Rain is commonly associated with God’s pouring out of His blessings. “Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit,” Leviticus 26:4 KJV.  “That I will give the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou may gather in the corn, and thy wine, and thine oil,” Deuteronomy 11:14 KVJ. Get the picture?

Rain is the precursor for and a necessary element for the eventual Harvest. Without rain there is no reaping, the seed will merely wither away.

After such brutal heat, we received a downpour that in minutes negated the heat that hung stagnant in the air for days. In mere minutes, the temperature dropped twenty degrees!

The point is just as God gave us relief from the record-setting temperatures, our God will do the very same for you in whatever drought or “hot” situations that you may be forced to handle.

My “at death’s door” hydrangeas in one day sprouted new leaves! Those leaves that had been wilted before stood out firm and flat. That is what God wants to do for each of us. He wants to refresh and restore each of us, not allowing us to succumb to the pressures and stresses of this life. Sure some experiences may seem overwhelming but they only appear to be deadly.

The hydrangeas only appeared dead when subjected to the extreme heat. Your situation may only appear dead, but God can bring cooling rains to dry situations in your own life when you allow him access to your personal garden. In a moment’s notice God has the power to turn any situation around.  You may come out of a situation a bit charred like the leaves on my plant but the heat doesn’t just test you but it strengthens you.

The extreme heat tried and stressed my plants. During those days what was once lush and lovely looked dead and dismal. However, during the same period of time, the roots on the hydrangea plants were forced to work harder, dig deeper and subsequently made the plant hardier. That hydrangea will now be more able to handle future stresses without dying.

Our hot situations do the same for us. What we don’t allow to kill us, with God, will make us stronger. But we must have faith in God’s restorative power and that He is in control.

The interesting thing about our relieving downpours was that they were rather unexpected. The record heat had been the talk of the news for days but the relief we received from the pouring rain was a welcome surprise. The meteorologists were not anticipating the stormy and violent rains that fell so forcefully and so immediately. The sudden storms blew in and out ever so quickly but were more than effective enough to get the job done. Thankfully, that is exactly how God often works on our behalf.

When we are in a trying time we must have faith that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God has the power to extinguish the fires that threaten to get out of control and overtake us. He will allow enough heat to temper us but not burn us. Just as suddenly and unexpectedly as our downpours, God’s grace, mercy and abundance can overflow over us and totally restore what before looked barren and dead and transform a dead situation instead into something lush and thriving.

Your financial situation can be washed and transformed from indebtedness to prosperity. A body that is ill and ravaged with sickness can become healthy and whole. Depression can give way to joy once again. Quickly and suddenly it only takes one touch from God and the opening up and pouring out of His abundance to completely change a situation.

Expect to get through whatever drought you may be facing. Remember that God will give you relief from the heat. Meditate on God’s promises and move forward, dragging yourself if you must, until you are once again under God’s provision, abundance and “downpour” of His goodness in your life. God knows what you are going through, through being the operative word. The heat doesn’t last forever; God will make the rains come.

The key is to remember and expect that the rain will come. Abundance and prosperity will find you. God’s favor will fall on you. It is impossible to please God without faith for the future; your faith is the difference between going through the heat and remaining in a situation where you become baked and lifeless. You may be alive but not truly living the life God intended for you when you “give up” and don’t allow yourself the opportunity for God’s best.

When you feel as if you can’t take the heat any longer, if you are facing a financial drought or if you simply are at crossroads and are in need of direction, always remember the rain will come. Often suddenly and unexpectedly, it makes the miracle all the more marvelous.

God’s timing doesn’t align itself with our desires but it does promise to allow us to endure our own personal “fires.”

Sudden thunderstorms are on the horizon. You may not hear the thunder or see the lightning. There may not be a cloud in sight but God promises His “rains” will come.

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain,” James 5:7 NKJV

Thank you, Father for the promise of rain. May I continually remember that You are in control no matter how hot it seems. May patience through the heat perfect Your work in me. May I stand firm on the promise that I can get through, with You, no matter my circumstance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.