How Much Provision?

When you pray for God to meet your financial needs and provide for you and your family, how much do you ask for? Do we follow the model of the prosperity preachers and claim the right to have a jet, sports car, and mansion? Do we follow the path of the ascetic, asking for only enough bread and water not to starve?

Proverbs 30:7-9

7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

In the proverb here, we see a simple wisdom regarding what we should desire from God when it comes to finance. There are two requests. The writer asks for God not to give him too much and for God not to give him too little.

The prayer for God not to give too little is an obvious one. We do not want to lack; none of us like that. I would think that everybody of the modern age who has prayed about provision has asked for God not to leave us without something we need.

But the other prayer is interesting. The writer also asks for God not to give him too much. That one is strange to our ears. Most folks do not say to God, “Be careful. Do not give me more wealth and comfort than I should have.”

What you need to see is the rationale behind why the writer prays both things. The same motivation is behind the proverb writer’s prayers not to have either too much or too little. The writer does not wish to dishonor the Lord. He wishes to properly show the value and the glory of God. And thus, the writer prays for God to give him just enough, neither too little nor too much.

Having too little could lead the writer to dishonor God. The man is honest. If he lacks food to feed his family, he might be reduced to stealing. He does not want to steal, as he knows that theft dishonors God. But he also knows that letting his own family starve would dishonor God. The man does not want temptation to do wrong to gain wealth, so he asks God to provide. But the prime motivation, please see it, is to be sure he properly honors the name of God.

Similarly, in the prayer that we find weird in our greed-saturated, comfort-focused culture, the proverb writer asks God not to give him too much. Why? He has the same motivation. He does not want to get so comfortable that he forgets that he still needs God. He does not wish to dishonor the Lord. He wants to live to the glory of God, and that includes being sure that he does not become so self-sufficient that it appears to him that he can make it on his own.

Friends, we can learn from these prayers. Our prayers need to be focused first and foremost on the honor of the name of the Lord. What will give God glory? What will show the world around us that God is great. What will prevent us from falling into sin and so dishonoring the Lord? These are the things that we should be asking God to give us. We should always ask God to answer our prayers in the ways that will most give him the glory he is so richly due.

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The Danger of Comfort

I live in a nation that worships comfort and recreation. I live in a city that makes its fortune off of the wealth of people who worship comfort, recreation, and indulgence. And if I am not careful, I’ll go with the flow and allow my own comfort to lull me to sleep.

That is why reading about God’s judgment in the book of Amos is a very helpful thing for modern folks. Whether you live here in Las Vegas or anywhere else where life is full of comforts, you need to remember that there is a danger to being at ease for too long in this world.

In Amos 6, we find a judgment from God coming to the people of Israel. We see a nation that, for years and years, has been strong and successful. Their success and their comfort has only served to highlight their lack of a heart for God. Their wealth has served to emphasize their rebellion. And the Lord is clear that this is not a good thing.

Amos 6:4-6

4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory

and stretch themselves out on their couches,

and eat lambs from the flock

and calves from the midst of the stall,

5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp

and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,

6 who drink wine in bowls

and anoint themselves with the finest oils,

but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

The woes in those verses are woes that could be pronounced on us. The people are lazy and comfortable. They love their music and their wine and their fancy perfumes. But they as a people do not care about the fact that the nation around them is in utter rebellion against the Lord. O, friends, does this not speak to you?

The great danger that comfort presents to us is the danger of numbing us to the reality of the evils in our land. We are in good shape. Our houses are air-conditioned. Our cars are not broken down. Our food supply is abundant. Our phones entertain us more today than our TVs ever could decades previously. And what do we ignore because all this is true? What are we willing to compromise or pretend is not there because we are at our ease in our land?

May we be a people who thank God for the graces and comforts he gives us. No, I do not want to push us toward a legalistic moralism that demands we never watch a movie or enjoy a nice meal. But may we not let that put us to sleep so that we forget about the evils of our land. Our nation is broken and rebellious in so many ways. And we must care. We must cry out for God’s mercy. We must walk toward repentance. We must battle against the kinds of immorality rampant in our land that will bring the judgment of God. We must care about our ruin before it overtakes us.