The President of the United States has recently said we are in a recession that is deeper and will last longer than expected. This reality has probably affected every American in one way or another. However, many years ago Jesus said this in Matthew 6:25-30:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
The message to us is clear. Have faith in God! He is going to take care of you. He knows your needs, and if you’ll stay in position, He will take care of you in good times and bad.
There are certain scriptural principles that work in any financial climate. In fact, I want to share with you some principles that have been tried and proven in times of recession.
1. Be where God wants you to be.
The grass may look greener elsewhere but if God put you where you are, don’t move. If God is telling you to move, don’t stay. In Genesis 26 we read of Isaac in verses 1-2:
There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you.
First of all, recession is not new. In this text, it’s called “famine.” It may have been more severe than what we’re facing today, but both Abraham and Isaac went through it. And God was well able to provide for them and fulfill His will in their lives during those lean times. Isaac must have been tempted to leave so God reaffirmed to Isaac His plan. It would have been a mistake to leave and go to Egypt. It was God’s will for Him to stay and live through the recession. It’s better to stay in faith than to run away in fear. Know God’s will for you and be sure you are where God wants you to be.
In 1 Kings 17 we see Elijah in a drought (another recession). God told him to leave where he was in verses 2-6:
Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.
Where God guides, He provides. In one instance God told Isaac to stay, and in another He told Elijah to move. When the brook dried up, God spoke again and told Elijah to go to the widow’s house where He continued to provide for Elijah. The important thing is to be where God wants you to be. It is vitally important to hear from heaven in this hour and obey the voice of God. Thank God we are His children and all of us can hear His voice. Spend time with Him and make sure you are where He wants you to be.
2. Do what God wants you to do.
In prosperous times many things are possible even if they are not God’s plan. In lean times there is very little margin for error. Some Christians are struggling because God is not in what they are doing and He never was. The change in the economy has revealed a flaw that was there all along. They may be in the right place but they’re not doing the right thing. There is a difference between a financial attack and the constant lack of finances and lack of grace that persists when God is not in a thing.
When I get a prayer request to pray for a Christian business or a ministry that is struggling financially, the first thing I pray for is for that person to know if they are in the will of God or not. Some businesses need to close. Some ministers need to get out of the ministry. If what you’re doing is not working, pray for more clear direction. Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do. If you’re not, then quit beating a dead horse and get on with what God has for your life.
I extended a church meeting one time and after about two days I realized it was not God’s doing. I announced to the church that night that I had missed it, closed the meeting and drove 16 hours home that night. I got back where I belonged as quickly as possible. Being in your place is where the grace and provision are. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that everyone who is having financial difficulties is out of the will of God. I’m just saying make sure you are where God wants you to be and are doing what God wants you to do, because if you’re not, you’ll never enjoy peace and prosperity as God intended.
Now that you have established that you are in the right place doing the right thing, do what you know to do. Make sure you are operating on all cylinders. Increase your level of excellence. You may think that nobody cares, but God cares. Do what you know to do. In Genesis 26, Isaac stayed in the land of promise and he sowed. He was a farmer so he did what he knew to do. He didn’t say, “We’re in the worst recession since the great depression so why try. Nothing will work in this economy.” He did what he was trained to do, and he did what he knew how to do. He sowed and Genesis 26:12-13 says,
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous.
He gave God something to work with and God prospered him in a famine.
3. Use what you have.
Under difficult circumstances, it’s easy to focus on what you don’t have. It may seem impossible to get what you need, and the tendency is to expect help from someone else, somewhere else. Most of the time, God will use what you have to bring about your breakthrough.
This principle is seen over and over in scripture. One of the most miraculous is in 2 Kings 4:1-2:
A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”
She wanted Elisha to do something; she felt helpless to change her situation. Elisha immediately turned her attention back to what she had. He didn’t ask her what she didn’t have. She replied that she had nothing but a jar of oil. It seemed insignificant, but God used it to deliver her (you know the rest of the story in 2 Kings 4:1-7). It didn’t matter if her resource was oil or something else; God would have used whatever she had.
In Judges 15, Samson used the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1000 Philistines. It worked for him, not because a jawbone is some kind of specially designed weapon. It was what he had and God used it.
In Genesis 26, Isaac sowed in famine. He had seed, he was a farmer, and he used what he had. When Moses talked to God at the burning bush, he asked God how he was going to convince Pharoah that he was sent from God. God asked him, “What is that in your hand?” Moses replied that it was a rod. When he threw the rod down it became a serpent, and when he picked it up it became a rod again. The reason the rod worked is not because it was a special rod, but because it was in Moses’ hand at the time.
Your answer is within your reach. God would not require something from you that you don’t have or cannot do. What do you have in your hand? It may be an idea or a contact. Maybe someone made a passing comment about an opportunity or a job opening. It may be a skill or talent that is not being used. Many times the answer is so obvious or so simple, you may not notice it at first.
When I began traveling, there were only three pastors that I knew who had mentioned that I should come preach for them sometime. It was a small beginning. There were thousands of churches out there that I didn’t have access to, but I had three. So I started with three, and 20 years later I’m still going.
Use your faith. You have that. You don’t have to get faith from someone else.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach).
Speak the Word over your situation. Believe and speak over your finances. We can all do that. Speaking your faith not only changes the situation, but it brings confidence and assurance to you in the process. As you do what you can, God will do what you can’t.
Spend some time with God and make sure you are where God wants you to be, doing what He wants you to do and then use what you have. Make the most of what’s within your reach. Give God something to work with and have faith in Him. He will never let you down.