A man of God looks to God to provide for his needs

Here is a brain teaser for you: what is the minimum number of families a church needs to support one full time pastor?

Perhaps you answered, "Ten." You figured that if 10 families tithe then the pastor makes as much as the tither with the lowest income, and that should be enough for the pastor to live on.

Perhaps you answered, "Twenty." You thought a little more deeply and figured that in addition to paying the pastor the church also needs to pay for the rent or mortgage of the meeting place, and the furniture and the consumables and legal fees and so on.

You may have even been a little conservative and said, "Thirty." After all, things are quite expensive nowadays.

Pastors can do the math too. They probably figure that if they can just get 30 families to come to their church and then keep them then they’ve got a good thing going.

In the church today, from what I’ve seen, most people (although not all) engaged in Christian ministry have not learned to depend on God for their needs. For their needs, their eyes are on the people they minister to. Therefore, they hesitate to say or do anything that will upset the people because they don’t want the people to stop giving to their ministry. And sadly, that disqualifies them from being men of God. You can’t love God and mammon.

Mt 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

If you are a believer in Jesus then this verse applies to you because Jesus said these words. I wonder how many believers believe what Jesus said here.

If you want to be a man of God i.e. one who desires to serve God, then this verse applies to you.

"No one," says Jesus. So if you think you can serve God and mammon then you are not ‘one’ but either schizophrenic or fractional. If you are schizophrenic then one of you can love God and the other can love money. If you are fractional i.e. your mind is partly there and partly not there (i.e. if you are insane) then you are excused.

What does it mean to love or hate someone or something? If something good / bad happens to someone you hate how does that make you feel?

If you gain / lose money how does that make you feel?

If you gain / lose God’s favor or anointing how does that make you feel?

If you hate money will you ever cheat on your income taxes or sell something fairly for more than what it is worth or spend lots of time accumulating money or get depressed when you lose money?

What does it mean to serve a master?

It means that when the master says something you do it. To serve God means to do what brings you more of God. To serve wealth means to do what brings you more wealth (i.e. money).

For example, God may tell you to live in a certain place because that is the best place for Him to train you to be a man of God. But that place may not be the best place to make a lot of money because there may be a few high paying jobs in your area of expertise, and so wealth may prompt you to live elsewhere. The reason why you choose the place you choose to live will tell you whom you serve.

Do we hate money in comparison to our love for God? How do you determine whether you love God more than money?

If your boss told you tomorrow that you were to get a promotion with an increase in pay, would you feel happier than if God used you to speak prophetically to someone?

Or if you parent died and left you a huge inheritance, would you feel happier than if God called you to be a part of the worship team?

If you sell something that is defective without telling the person buying it that it is defective are you serving God or mammon?

If you try to minimize your income taxes by taking advantage of legal loopholes are you serving God or mammon?

If you try to get people to contribute to your ministry by pretending to be a man of God when you aren’t are you serving God or mammon?

Most often, money draws you one way and God draws you the other way. You have to choose. If you choose money then you can’t have God, and if you choose God then you have to let go of money. Now here is the rub – you will not choose correctly if you haven’t learned to depend on God to provide for your needs.

Paul learned this lesson.

1 Tm 6:10-12 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

Why is the love of money the root of all kinds of evil? It is because it draws you away from God i.e. you wander away from the faith.

If you think that you can always get money and God then you are a man of depraved mind and devoid of the truth.

1 Tm 6:3-5 3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

To think that godliness is a means of gain is to think that you can make a lot of money by being a man of God.

The standard is this:

1 Tm 6:6-9 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

If you desire more than food or covering then it means that you want to get rich? Do you want to get rich? If so then you have gone beyond and will have trouble becoming a man of God.

What determines where you live? What determines the type of furniture in your home? What determines who you marry? What determines how you treat your aged but rich parents? What determines what career you choose? What determines what job you take? What determines the type of car you drive? What determines the type of clothes you wear? What is the level at which you want to live?

It is because one cannot serve God and wealth at the same time that a man of God must learn to depend on God for his needs. A man of God does not look to man to provide for him; he looks to God to provide for him. And the man of God must be satisfied with what God provides him and how God provides him.

This is what God wanted to teach Elijah, and He tells us about it in 1 Kings Chapter 17.

1 Ki 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."

God had just told Elijah to prophesy that there would be no rain for an indefinite amount of time. The classic battle of prophet versus evil king had begun, and Elijah had to make sure that he was well stocked during that battle.

Let me translate this to something we can understand. You see, the people in Elijah’s time got their livelihood through raising crops and animals. Water was vital to their livelihood. Without water the crops would fail and the livestock would die. So what Elijah was saying is that there is about to be a big financial recession. People’s net worth would diminish, they would lose their jobs, and their lives would be difficult – for an indeterminate period of time.

Now put yourself in Elijah’s place.If you were Elijah, what would your next thought be?

A question in Elijah’s mind could be, "What about me? How will I survive during this famine?"

God answers that question in the next few verses.

1 Ki 17:2-6 The word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3 "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.

One might, with some imagination, understand a raven carrying meat. But bread? Raven’s don’t make bread. And in a famine people guard their bread carefully, don’t they? So from where would the raven get the bread?

Further, you might imagine one raven doing this, but a bunch of them?

If Elijah were familiar with probability theory he would have realized that the odds of him starving were pretty good.

You can picture Elijah hiding by the brook keeping an eye out for ravens. He probably sees some pass by without stopping and wonders? Then suddenly a bunch of ravens comes and drop enough bread and meat! What’s happened to Elijah’s faith now? Does he need any validation that "The Lord lives"?

Now tell me something? Would Elijah ever want to ask people to support him after seeing God support him like this?

Does God take you through things like this? If He does, do you stick to the plan, or do you say, "Hey, this doesn’t sound like God; I’m heading for Egypt where there is plenty, not the brook Cherith."

The raven is a picture of those who grab things for themselves. Have you ever seen a raven share anything with another bird (except for its own children)? Yet God caused the raven to bring food for Elijah.

What God was teaching Elijah was that if you are a man of God, God can make even those who never gave anything to anyone to give it to you. So you don’t need to worry about how God will provide for you.

So the lesson a man of God must learn is that God will provide for him. Notice that Elijah did not have to make his needs known to anyone else.

George Mueller proved this too. He never made his needs known to anyone except God and God provided for him.

There are very few powerful men and women of God today because very few have learned this lesson. What I see across the land is people engaged in ministry making their needs known to people and depending on people for their needs. They have not learned to let God provide for them. And as a result, they cannot speak prophetically to the people.

Consider 2 Tm 4:1-4.

2 Tm 4:1-4 1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

This time has come. This prophecy is fulfilled. People today cannot endure sound doctrine. Instead, they want their ears tickled. They want jokes, humorous messages, and entertainment, not truth. And the ministers who want money from them give them want they want. And why is that so? It is because the ministers have not learned to depend on God for their needs. So they dare not reprove, rebuke and exhort. This is because they are afraid that the people will get offended and leave and not support their ministry. So what do they do? They try to determine what the people are looking for; if they sense that the people want strong messages they will give them strong messages; on the other hand, if they sense that the congregation wants weak messages then they will give them weak messages.

Consider Jesus in Lk 13.

Lk 13:37 Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table.

Lk 13:53-54 53 When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, 54 plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say.

What happened between verses 33 and 54? Jesus spoke to the Pharisees the word God wanted them to hear. It was a strong rebuke and instead of listening to the truth and thanking Jesus the scribes and Pharisees turned against Jesus.

Do you think Jesus finished His lunch there? I doubt it. If Jesus was depending on the Pharisee for lunch He would have probably tempered His message and not done exactly as God wanted Him to do.

To summarize, as long as a man of God looks to man for his needs he cannot fully speak God’s word to them for he will fear that if he offends them they will no longer provide for his needs.

But that is not all we can learn from 1 Kings Chapter 17. The second lesson we can learn is that God can provide for others too through us.

You can read the entire chapter to see how God further provides for the man of God. It is very interesting.

If God had continued to provide for Elijah via the ravens then the widow and her son would have died. Even though she wasn’t a Jew, God still cared for her because He saw that her sins troubled her (verse 18). So God sent Elijah to the widow to save her life too.

Notice that God did not send Elijah to a rich man’s home but to a poor widow’s home. That was because God was going to use Elijah to help the widow, not to get something from the widow. But before the widow could be helped she too had to exhibit faith.

God did not send Elijah to a widow in Israel because a prophet is not recognized in his own hometown. The church in general often does not recognize true men of God. Therefore, God has to use those who are outside the church to bless and be blessed by the man of God.

Lk 4:24-26 24 And He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. 25 But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.

The widow with son is a picture of a person who is helpless and yet has to care for not just for herself but others too.

As we read through the chapter we see that God provided for the widow and her son through Elijah. All was going well until the widow’s son gets sick and dies.

Why did God allow the widow’s son die while Elijah was there?

Even after Elijah provided food for her she did not acknowledge God and His servant for saving her life. Notice in v12 she says "Lord your God lives" not "Lord my God lives". Her guilt for her sins troubled her even more because of the presence of the man of God reminded her of her sinfulness. And she couldn’t handle that. But she was stuck with Elijah. Then finally God broke her by taking away from her the thing she cherished the most – her son. And the man of God solved her problem. And then she believed (v 24) and acknowledged God and his servant.

1 Ki 17:24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

So God accomplished several things. He provided for Elijah and saved the life of the widow and her son, and brought the sinful widow to repentance.

If you want to be a man of God this is how you must live – with the understanding that God will provide for you and will use you to bless others too.

As a man of God, before you can fully help others you must be secure and confident that God will meet your needs.

When you read about how God provided for Elijah you see what is possible. Then, you’ve got to believe that what God did for Elijah He will also do for you if He has called you to live like that. And then, when you learn through experience how God provides for you then you become secure and confident and you will no longer get concerned about how your needs will be met.

I’ve seen people record their messages and then sell them on their web site for as much as $10.00 a message. They make a name and reputation for themselves as men of God by putting testimonies on their web site of how God used them to accurately predict some event. After one prediction they announce that they are true prophets. And therefore they are now expensive – if you want to hear what they have to say you have to pay for it.

Can you imagine Elijah doing that? Or Jesus?

Yet so many people foolishly believe them and support them. If I have ten pregnant woman and I tell each of them that they will have a boy aren’t my chances of being correct with at least one of them are quite high.

Am I a true prophet because I got one prediction correct? What about the other nine that I did not get correct?

What did Jesus say about requiring payment from people who benefit from our spiritual gifts?

Mt 10:7-9 7 "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support."

People who disobey God in this area haven’t learned that God can and will provide for their needs.

So coming back to my brain teaser at the beginning of this section, let me ask again: what is the minimum number of families a church needs to support one full time pastor?

I hope you’ve figured out the correct answer by now.

The correct answer is, "Zero." A pastor is supported by God, not by the families in the church. God may use the families in the church to support the pastor, just as He used a raven to provide for Elijah, but a true man of God understands that his support comes from God and not from man.

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