God’s Economy of Things

I am not one to throw around theological jargon, but there is one phrase that I think is important for us to learn. The phrase is “ God’s economy of things”. The general meaning of the phrase has to do with how God works in our lives. Just as each society and culture has its own “economy” that drives its business model, God has an “economy” that drives how he deals and relates to his children.

For example, the Scripture teaches and implies that this world is not our home. (1 Peter 2:11) Therefore, in “God’s economy of things” our way of relating to our problems is “other-worldly”. That means we deal with every challenge, every failure, every out-of-control situation, and every opportunity in light of God’s economy of things.

As committed followers of Christ we now live with an awareness that God is, to some degree or another, involved with everything that happens in our life. No, He is not behind our sinfulness, even though He is there to forgive and restore us when we fail, but He is in the middle of every event. Because the Spirit of the living Christ indwells us, wherever we are, Jesus is also. He is fully aware of our plight including our anxiousness and fear.

In God’s economy of things there is often a perspective that is opposite to the world’s thinking. We could even call it paradoxical. For instance, the phrase in 2 Corinthians 12, “when I am weak I am strong” is opposite to the average human mindset. In our culture the one who is weak is portrayed as a loser. To survive and win in this world you don’t display or admit your weakness. You have to be strong, and overcome your weaknesses in order to succeed in life.

But we know that in God’s economy, weakness is a spiritual virtue. We understand that in the context of weakness we let go of our own life and Christ becomes our strength. It’s no longer “God and me make a majority”, but it’s “Christ in me is my strength”. I like the rendering of this verse in the Message when Paul is speaking of his thorn in the flesh:

“At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (2 Corinthians 12, Message)

The above passage is our “other-worldly” perspective on our trouble. Because in God’s economy of things His intention for us is to allow the cares of this life to bring us to weakness. It is in our weakness that we will surrender control of our life and circumstances to Him. And in doing so, we can “cast all our anxiety on Him.” (I Peter 5:7)

Bottom Line

If you are a serious and committed follower of Christ, then seeing your life in light of God’s economy of things will allow you to live fully out of your new identity in Christ.

Just before Jesus went to the cross he prayed for us. He asked the Father to make us one with Him and one with the Father. (John 17:20-21) God desires that we live in our rightful position of oneness with Him. We can only do that if we are willing to change our thinking from a cultural perspective to a Christ-centered perspective that is driven by “God’s economy of things.”

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.“ (1 Peter 2:9 NAS)

Bringing Good From Bad

(Read Genesis 37-42)

When Joseph was relating his dream to his brothers little did he know that his life was about to take a dramatic turn. His brothers were burning with jealousy and anger and were plotting a way to destroy him.

Soon after Joseph’s brothers put him in the bottom of a dry well, intending on leaving him there until he died. This was just the beginning of Joseph’s difficulties. In the years that followed Joseph’s troubles continued. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and wrongly put in jail. To top it all off, while in prison, he correctly interpreted a dream for the baker, but the baker initially forgot about Joseph when his job was restored with the king.

Joseph couldn’t get a break. He went from receiving a prophetic dream from God to becoming a prisoner in a foreign country. Yet in the midst of all this trouble, Joseph remained faithful. He learned that God could bring good out of all his trials. Through years of rejection and betrayal God brought good out of all the disappointments that Joseph faced.

When Joseph was at his lowest, God began to fulfill his vision for Joseph. Like many other situations throughout Scripture, Joseph experienced the death of a vision. That seems to be the pattern through out Scripture. Before a vision is fulfilled, there must be the death of a vision. Through all his trouble Joseph remained faithful. He knew God would somehow fulfill his dream.

After Joseph was elevated to Governor over all of Egypt he continued to trust God’s faithfulness. When he revealed himself to his brothers Joseph’s love for God was shown by his treatment of his brothers. Instead of anger and bitterness, he displayed forgiveness, love and mercy.

Bottom Line
How could Joseph show such love and mercy to those who wanted to kill him? It’s because Joseph learned four important lessons.

1. In the beginning of his journey he made the decision to trust God rather than dwell on the past. The lesson for us is leave your hurt at Jesus feet and look for God to show you what’s next.

2. He had learned that in all his circumstances, God was in control, regardless of what happened to him. He had a deep hope that was rooted in his assurance that God loved him and knew what was best. The lesson for us is to trust God in the midst of our problem rather than worry.

3. He learned that forgiveness is a greater tool than revenge. He could have used his power to severely punish his brothers, but instead he chose to use his power to forgive and serve them. The lesson for us is to have a greater desire to love and serve than to get even and make them pay.

4. Joseph learned that during the death of a vision God is at work preparing us for the fulfillment of the vision. The lesson for us is if God has given you a dream or vision, savor the moments while you are waiting, because this is time when God is doing his greatest work in building your character.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. “ (Romans 8:28 NLT)

Learning to Trust God

It was a glorious day when I made a decision to trust Jesus as my Savior. After the decision I had a deep settled peace. I knew that my eternal destiny was settled and that I was truly a child of God.

However, I soon realized the decision to follow Christ was creating a whole new paradigm for living. Before, my life was all about me, my needs and what I wanted. Now I was being called to let go of my life and trust God with all of my dreams, plans and goals.

Letting go of a self-centered life is not an easy thing. To be completely honest, I still struggle with giving God complete control. There is something about the flesh that wants to control and be in charge.

It’s an issue of trust. I think most believers struggle with this. We may give verbal agreement that we trust God, but when it comes down to crunch time, we had rather worry or take matters into our own hands than give God control.

Why do I choose at times not to trust God? He has never failed me nor allowed anything to come in my life that was eventually for my benefit. As I have pondered this question, I discovered a recurring pattern that keeps me from relinquishing control and fully trusting Him. It is called spiritual indifference.

Spiritual Indifference
Spiritual indifference is a gradual thing that happens, but left unattended it quickly becomes drifting. We wake up one day and realize that we have drifted away from God. One of the problems with spiritual drifting is you never drift upward, always downward. Spiritual indifference creates a downward spiral that sends you away from intimacy with the Father.
Spiritual indifference is a result of several factors, but I think its root cause can be traced to neglecting personal fellowship and worship.

Early in my Christian life I did the daily devotional thing because I was told it was something I ought to do. My goal was to get it done so I could check it off my list.
That was a big mistake. My indifference kept me from getting the spiritual nourishment I needed. I thought the Sunday sermon would be enough to carry me through the week. The only problem with that is I hardly ever remembered what the sermon was about on Monday. I found myself spiritually enemic.

Trust is only developed by spending quality time with someone. If that is true in building human trust, then its reasonable to assume it’s also true with getting to know and trust God.

When your devotional time becomes a priority rather than an obligation, you develop a longing to know God and develop spiritual intimacy. As you expectantly read through the scripture, you get to know the character of God. The more you know and understood His character the more you realize you can trust Him with your life. Surrender becomes a positive word in your life rather than something negative. Surrender no longer means you are going to lose or give up something, but it becomes the door to knowing and trusting God. Your spiritual indifference turns into a new level of trust.

Bottom Line
Spiritual indifference is the doorway to drifting away from God. Left unattended it can lead to indecision, doubt, worry and fear. But it’s an easy fix; it just takes courage and deciding to be intentional about regular fellowship with God. It’s making a decision to pursue God.

Remember, God loves you as His child. He accepts you and He desires to pour His love and His very life into you so that you will manifest the “sweet aroma of Him in every place..” ( 2 Cor. 2:14).

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

God Is At Work


“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

What a marvelous passage of Scripture. Believers the world over read and quote this verse in every season of life. Knowing and relying on the principle of this verse creates a spiritual sigh of relief. What believer hasn’t quoted or at least thought of this verse in difficult times? The overriding draw of this passage has to do with our confidence that God is at work in our life, all the time.

The text is not teaching that all the suffering, sickness, persecution, sorrow, injustice or any other bad thing in itself is good. On the contrary, these things are evil. Life is full of evil things that happen to good people. But the text teaches that God uses these things to produce His own good. He is able to bring good out of evil.

In the phrase …all things work together, the Greek word used is sunergeo. This is the word from which we get the word synergy. Dr. David Jeremiah in his book “What are you afraid of?” defines synergism “as the working together of various elements to produce an effect greater than, and often completely different from, the sum of each element acting separately”.

Only God is able to take something bad and turn it into something good. What we think to be a disaster or a major setback, God can take and synergize it to create a better and greater outcome. Nothing can defeat God or derail His plans that He has for us.

Bottom Line
The real issue here is one of trust. God has given us a promise that if we will opt to trust Him and love Him, He will take all our situations and turn them into something that allows us to accomplish His will. Nothing can touch us unless it passes through the will of God. Because God has a plan and an eternal purpose for our life, He will not allow anything in our life that He cannot use to accomplish His destiny for us. That’s because the One who controls nature holds us in His hand.

Now the connecting passage…

” For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that we might be the first-born among many brothers; and who He predestined, these He also called, and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What shall we say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us? (Romans 8: 29-31)

Give Thanks for Every Circumstance

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17)

The above scripture is one of those passages that we learn early on in our Christian life. Most of us apply the “thankful thing” when we get a little disappointed when our vacation doesn’t work out. We say something like, “well God knows best and all things work together”. I must admit, that’s not a bad thing.

But what about those times when our life falls apart? It might be that we lose our job, or experience a debilitating illness, or even worse, what if we lose a loved one in death? Do we really have a thankful heart in those situations?

This scripture is not suggesting that we jump up and down with thanks because we have a life-changing loss, but the passage is teaching us to apply the supernatural element of giving thanks to our loss. God wants us to see Him in the midst of our circumstances.

There are least four reasons we should give thanks in all our situations.

Giving thanks in all situations is what we do as committed followers of Jesus.
Part of our spiritual DNA is to trust God in all things. Even when we can’t understand or comprehend why this is happening to us, our duty is to give thanks to God because He can see the big picture. Our God is sovereign and in control, and He is up to something when things happen to us that we cannot control. Note the following verse:

“For our light affliction and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen (our current situation), but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Giving thanks in all situations is an act of faith.
Our faith is measured by our level of trust. It is trust that enacts the supernatural element of God’s grace. He wants us to be so dependent upon Him that whatever happens we immediately run to Him and draw on His grace to help us through the crisis. Jesus wants to be our rest, our peace, and our “present help in the time of trouble”.

Giving thanks in all things causes us to focus on our blessings rather than our loss.
I think one of the reasons we take loss so hard is that we are so centered on what has been taken away from us, that we miss the joy of our present blessings. Each of us has been blessed in immeasurable ways. By reflecting on God’s goodness we are able to see clearly that we are a recipient of God grace, mercy and blessing. We then move from a sense of loss to a sense of God’s overwhelming love. It’s then that we can cast our burden on Him.

Giving thanks in all things causes us to live with Heaven in mind.
When it comes down to it, this life is preparation for eternity. As a committed follower of Jesus, we are not of this world. Matter of fact, the scripture teaches us that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. A stranger is not familiar with the territory; he has no desire to get attached to this world. A pilgrim is one who is just passing through to another destination.

I have often heard the phrase, “He is so heavenly minded he is no earthly good”. This is usually a reference to someone who is serious about his walk with God, most of the time it’s not a compliment. I think the opposite is true; when “you are so earthly minded you are no heavenly good”. The more we learn to trust God in all things, the greater the upward pull toward heaven.

Bottom Line
When things are falling apart it is difficult to stay focused and calm. The pain is real, and sometimes the suffering seems unfair. But as committed followers of Christ our response in every situation is to “give thanks in all things”. It’s what we do because we trust God not only for our salvation but we also trust Him for every situation that life throws at us. Rest assured that our trials and disappointments is our cue to give thanks in all things.

“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace that passes all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Seeing Things From God’s Point of View

“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus had just shared with the Disciples that he was going to be arrested and crucified. Peter immediately rebuked him and said, “This shall never happen to you.” As the above verse indicates, Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him that he is seeing things from a human point of view not from God’s perspective.

Seeing things from God’s point of view is a key component to a successful Christian life. Matter of fact, I think it may be the greatest struggle most believers encounter. If our main purpose for existence is to glorify God, then it stands to reason that one important element of daily living is being able to see life’s circumstances from God’s point of view. In other words, we are to develop a God consciousness.

How do we develop this “God consciousness” toward life? We develop a God consciousness by getting to know God. As you get to know God you begin to know His character. When you know His character you begin to learn His ways, how He thinks and views certain aspects of life.

For example, by learning the many names of God you get a picture of His character and His ability. Here are a few of the names of God found throughout Scripture.

1. Elohim – Indicates His strength, the strongest of strong (Ps 19:1)
2. Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will provide (Gen. 22:13-14)
3. Jehovah Shalom – The Lord of peace (Judges 6:24)
4. Jehovah Rapha – The Lord is my healer (Exodus 15:26)
5. Jehovah Rohi – The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 21)

These are just a few of the names of God that indicate His power, strength and superiority. From these few names we can understand that God will provide, take care and watch over us and He is able to overcome any power in the universe.

That’s the reason it’s important to read, study and memorize the Scriptures. For in the Scriptures we get to know the character and ways of God. It helps us recognize when we may see things from a human perspective rather than from God’s perspective.

It is important to be able to relate to our culture. The Scripture tells us that we are to be salt and light in the world. However, our perspective of life and our worldview is to come from God’s Word, not from our culture.

Bottom Line

God gives us two supernatural elements to guide us through life, the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. The Scripture gives us a Biblical worldview and the Holy Spirit brings illumination and guidance for everyday living. As we look to the Scripture to learn of God’s character, we develop a trust that He will take care of every need and He is watching over us 24/7.

When we depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance He will help us navigate life’s tough decisions. He is our divine “checker” giving us promptings when something isn’t right. He will always lead us in the right direction, helping us to see every challenge from God’s point of view.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NAS)

God Has a Plan

 

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9

What a marvelous promise. Many times I have used that verse to give a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, yet it is still unimaginable to our finite minds.

Even though it’s a wonderful thing to imagine all God has prepared for us in Heaven, the proper context of the verse has to do with what He reveals to us today. Paul was describing to the Corinth believers how God has chosen to reveal Himself to the common man, instead of the socially and politically well connected influencers of society.

“For consider your calling brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despise, God has chosen the things that are not so that He might nullify the things that are, that not man may boast before God.”(1 Cor. 1:26-29)

This is good news for two reasons:

First, we are assured that God’s power, and His calling is for everyone regardless of our social, cultural or educational background.

It’s always been that way. A walk through scripture will reveal that God has always chosen shepherds, fishermen, carpenters, poor widows, and even harlots to be His most effective servants. He reveals why He chooses ordinary people in the above verse: “so no man can take credit for what only God can do.”

Many who are gifted, talented and successful are so “self-made” that it’s sometimes difficult for them to possess the humility to give God the credit. That’s the reason the scriptures say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved.

One of the most vivid pictures of this principle is the Dalit people of India. As you may know, India is a culture that uses a caste system. This is a system that socially classifies its citizens from the most socially acceptable to the least acceptable. The Dalit are the least acceptable. They are the street sweepers, beggars and possess the least desirable jobs in society. They have virtually no possibility of higher education, home ownership or wealth. Their destiny is set and controlled by their social status. Low class does not mean ignorant, many are very intelligent; they just don’t have the same opportunity for education and equal access to the job market.

However, God in His mercy and infinite wisdom has visited the Dalit and there are hundreds of thousands of them coming to Christ. There are many churches being planted among this rejected and neglected people group. I have had the wonderful privilege of being around these believers in India.

Status and ranking in society mean nothing to God. The late Dr. J Vernon McGhee would say, referring to Balaam’s donkey that stopped in the path and talked to Balaam, “That just proves that God can use any ole jackass.” That’s a crude way to put it but he nails the point.

God uses me through my natural/spiritual giftedness

I am sure you will agree that God is a god of order. He is predictable and unpredictable at the same time. He is unpredictable because He can use unusual methods to accomplish supernatural results. In other words, God often surprises us by accomplishing His purposes in ways we could not even imagine.

But mostly He is predictable. He is predictable by observing how He has worked throughout history. He is predictable because of the cause and effect of the promises of His Word. He is predictable when we know and observe his character.

God chooses to use common, ordinary men and women whom He has given natural and spiritual gifts. If God leads you to do a certain things it means that in a natural and supernatural way he gifted and equipped you to do those things. When I sensed a calling to vocational ministry I felt incredibly inadequate but as I began to do the work of the ministry I discovered that God had given me a natural gifting to communicate.

A close observation of the Bible characters will reveal that even though they were common ordinary people they possessed a natural giftedness that God worked through. Take Joseph and David for example. They were lowly shepherds. But what we fail to observe is that proper management of a herd of sheep required certain natural giftedness such as patience, livestock management, compassion, and the ability to protect and lead.

God almost always uses us through our natural/spiritual giftedness. For example, if you do not enjoy teaching He is not going to call you to be a minister or school teacher. If you can’t sing or find it difficult to understand music He is not going to call you to be a choral director or solo singer. If you find it difficult to balance your checkbook it doesn’t make sense that you would go to college to train to be an accountant.

Just because someone is trained to do something does not mean that they have the natural giftedness to do that kind of job. Matter of fact Marcus Buckingham wrote a book based on that very premise. In his book Strengthfinder he tells of a multi-year survey that reveals that millions of people were working in jobs that were outside of their natural giftedness. The result was over 80% of workers were unhappy, unfulfilled or downright miserable with their job. Why were they unfulfilled? Because even though they were trained to do a certain job, it was outside of their natural giftedness.

The Bottom Line
God created you for a purpose. (2 Timothy 1:9) Your gifting and talents are always connected to God’s overall intentions for you. He gave you natural and spiritual gifting just for that purpose… to be used by Him. God’s overall purpose is for you to be a conduit for the life of Christ. Your gifting is not your signal to “go it on your own,” but your gifting is for the sole purpose of equipping you so that the life of Christ will flow effortlessly through your life. That’s the reason this old saying is a true statement, “God always equips those He calls.”

God wants to reveal Himself to the world and He has chosen and gifted you to be His unique example and mouthpiece to a hurting world. You can rest assured that whatever situation you find yourself in, God is at work in you reveling Himself to someone within your little world.