By Chip Brogden of The School of Christ
The following article by Chip goes well with our articles about “Resting in the Spirit”. The New Covenant relationship is all about what Jesus has done and wants to do for us, yet we still try to do so much for ourselves. Enjoy this excellent article, rest in His Spirit and give God ground to perform a miracle.
“In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
These writings are meant to convey something of the depth of the Lord Jesus, that is, the Lord as INFINITE SUPPLY. Although material needs are important, what we have in mind here is not an earthly wealth or resource, but a spiritual treasury of blessings, all found in the Person of Christ.
Not too long ago I was ministering to the Lord and became conscious of how vast He is. It was then that I felt the Lord saying that in Him I have wealth and prosperity beyond imagination. He impressed me of my role as a steward, and in giving me the key to the Storehouse, indicated that every day I should take something of these riches and distribute them for the benefit of His Body. “But Lord,” I asked, “will there be Life in [yet another] daily list? Won’t people get tired of hearing from me everyday? And isn’t the message taken for granted when it is heard all the time?”
That is when the Lord showed me that HE IS INFINITE SUPPLY. There is never any lack of Life so long as we are abiding in Him. And who on earth would not like to have a daily deposit of money into their bank account? How much more should we long for the heavenly deposit of Christ in us, day by day? Indeed, he showed me that instead of holding back for fear of all the negatives, I ought to invest heavily into His Kingdom and into His Church and leave the results to Him. So I yielded to the Lord, and from there He opened the Scriptures to show me this principle over and over again.
I would like to make these deposits into your life as well, and to share with you what I am learning of the Heavenly Economy which centers around the Infinite Supply of the Lord Jesus.
The Bowl of Flour and the Jar of Oil
“…the bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty…” (I Kings 17:14ff).
In a time of severe famine and drought, the Lord sent Elijah the prophet to Zarephath, saying, “I have commanded a widow there to sustain you.” How wonderful it must have been for Elijah, thinking that now he would not have to be fed by the ravens in the desert. Now he could go back to a normal life and not have to live by faith.
What a disappointment it must have been for him to finally meet this widow and discover she is no wealthy lady. Indeed, she has enough oil and flour to cook one last bit of bread for herself and her son. They plan to eat this “and die”. This does not sound like the Lord’s provision at all. Perhaps Elijah has not heard from God. Perhaps he has the wrong person.
But Elijah says, “Make me something to eat first, then go and make something for yourself.” How arrogant this man is. How selfish! How dare he ask this poor woman to give him anything. It would be better for him to go back to the desert and die. This man must be a false prophet, because he compounds his sin by claiming that the Lord is telling him to do this. “For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’”
Whatever you and I may think of the audacity of this man Elijah, it came to pass just as he said. The bowl was always full of flour and the jar was always full of oil. This speaks of the Infinite Supply of the Lord. But what would have happened if Elijah had said, “I will not ask this widow for anything”? He would have died. What would have happened if the widow had said, “I cannot give this man anything”? She would have died. Elijah was obedient in asking, and the widow was obedient in giving him what he asked for. Thus, the Lord was given ground to work a miracle. Every miracle in the Bible follows this pattern: someone hears from the Lord and does what the Lord says to do. It is just that simple.
“…pour out the oil into all the empty vessels” (II Kings 3:4ff).
With the prophet Elisha we find a similar situation that illustrates the Infinite Supply of the Lord. The creditors were coming to take the two sons of a widow away as slaves in order to pay her debt. This seems to be a hopeless situation indeed. There is no money, nothing of any value in all the house - except for a single pot of oil.
Elisha tells her to borrow as many vessels as she can and to fill them with oil from the pot. The oil continued to flow until every borrowed vessel was full. Then, she sold the oil, paid her debt, and lived with her sons on the money that was left over.
There is no lack of supply with the Lord. There is only a lack of willing vessels. The oil kept flowing until there were no more vessels to fill. A willing vessel is both yielded and empty. A vessel which is unwilling to be used cannot receive of the Infinite Supply. And a vessel which is already full cannot receive. The Life of the Lord is always looking for expression through a willing vessel that is both yielded and empty.
It is never a question of how to get the Life to flow, or how to get the Lord to move. To tap into the Infinite Supply it is only a matter of being yielded to the Lord and emptied of ourselves. When this happens then the Life will flow of its own accord. On the negative side, this Life answers to every assault of the Adversary and stops his harassment against us. On the positive side, this Life supplies us with all the spiritual resources we need to maintain our abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus. With less of me, there will be more of the Lord: this is a spiritual law. Therefore, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Every disciple of the Lord Jesus is at a different level of growth and spiritual maturity. But may I say that no matter how long you have walked with the Lord - be it several years or only a day - you have at least one “pot of oil” in your house.
Now what you do with that one pot of oil makes the difference between a victorious life and a defeated life. The single pot of oil is not much in and of itself. It is not sufficient to meet the demands of your creditors, nor is it sufficient to sustain your spiritual life. It is only sufficient when it is poured forth. The one who “saves” his life will lose his life, but the one who “pours out” his life will really have it in abundance.
Whenever Christians are gathered together there are two kinds of people represented. One kind is there to receive and to be fed, while the other kind is there to give away. It is a fact that the ones who are there to receive are always dissatisfied. They must return to the meeting week after week, sometimes several times a week, in order to receive something. For all their receiving, they never seem to have anything in abundance.
But the ones who are willing, yielded, and giving find that the Life is sufficient for the needs of those they come in contact with as well as their own needs. It is never a drain to be around a brother or a sister like this because something of the Lord is always pouring forth. The more they give away, the more abundant they become. It is as though they possess a strength which could keep them going forever. This Infinite Supply should be the normal experience of all disciples of the Lord.
The Cup That Overflows
“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need… He anoints my head with oil, and my cup overflows” (Psalms 23:1,5b).
The Hebrew word for “overflows” here has in mind a cup filled with liquid that spills over the sides and into the saucer. This again speaks of the Infinite Supply of the Lord.
I hope we will not translate this into some material, physical, or earthly benefit. Certainly we trust the Lord to supply our material needs of food, shelter, clothing, and so forth. But the Infinite Supply of the Lord is a spiritual reality, a spiritual Life. It is an infusion of Heaven into Earth, but not with the idea of making our natural lives better on the earth. Rather, it is to make us see that our real life is not on the earth at all, but is in Christ, in the heavenly places (Colossians 3:1-4).
An anointed head and an overflowing cup - this is the hallmark of the Christian. An anointed head exudes a heavenly fragrance that sets us apart from the world, even though we walk about in it daily. It is bearing the Testimony of Jesus that witnesses of a heavenly reality that is quite distinct from the earthly fact. The overflowing cup means we have an ample supply of the Life of the Lord. If we can contain ourselves then we have yet to touch the Lord. For once we have indeed touched the Lord we will overflow. We will not be able to contain Him.
All who walk with the Shepherd should experience Infinite Supply: a never-ending flow of the Life, Light, and Love of the Lord Jesus Himself. This is the normal Christian life, and it is God’s provision for every disciple.
A Net That Cannot Hold
“Master, we have toiled all night, and caught nothing: nevertheless, at Your word, we will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5).
If we were to interview several Christians I think we would find many of them are like Simon Peter. They work and they toil but seldom do they see any result. So they become frustrated and tired. It seems as though they are running in quicksand. All too often they give up, thinking the Christian life is too difficult. Or they become “burned out” and leave the work the Lord called them to do.
There is only one solution for “burn out”. If only we would see that the Christian life is “not I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20ff) we would see that God’s way is not for us to toil all night and catch nothing. We have our limits, and after a night of failure, we are ready to go home. So the key is to rely on Someone Who is limitless, and not make a move until we hear from Him. It is never a question of my own resources, but of His. I will always fail, but He cannot; therefore, I trust in His Life to do what I cannot do, and the Infinite Supply of the Lord is released.
Too often, when we toil all night and catch nothing, we look for something to blame: the weather is bad, the fish are not biting, the boat is too small, the water is too cold and so on. Or we travel from lake to lake, pond to pond, looking for the right “spot”. And sure enough, there is always someone willing to sell us a new boat, a special kind of bait or lure, or a manual for how to catch more fish. We work harder and harder, but are disappointed.
When we cease trying to do what we cannot do then the Lord will begin to do what only He can do anyway. The Lord is Infinite Supply. So it does not matter if we have much or little, if we are skilled or unskilled, if we are experienced or inexperienced. “And when they had done [what Jesus said to do] they caught a great multitude of fish, and the net broke” (Luke 5:6). Peter, James, and John can try as they might and do their best, but without the word of the Lord it is in vain. They might have saved themselves a lot of effort had they sought the word of the Lord to begin with. Which would you rather have: a whole night of wasted effort on your own, or five minutes of abundance with the Lord? Yes we should work, but first we must wait. And if we will wait for the Lord then we will have Infinite Supply for the work at hand.
Water Into Wine
“His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it’” (John 2:5).
The way to have Infinite Supply is to be thoroughly bankrupt of our own resources. Indeed, until we have reached the end of ourselves, we cannot accept what the Lord wishes to do. The problem is that we think we can still do something. We give it our best effort and only really trust the Lord after we have failed. The reality is that “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5b).
In this instance we are again presented with Man’s impossibility. With Man there is limitation, but there is no such limitation with the Lord. With Man there is always “I cannot”, but with the Lord there is always, “I can”. Therefore, the answer is never with Man - Man’s thinking, Man’s ability, Man’s wisdom, Man’s support, Man’s help. The real solution is this: “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
If we would only heed this advice from Mary. To be sure she has learned this in years gone by. Through many experiences she has at last learned where to go. Her automatic reflex now is to go to Jesus and lay the problem at His feet: “They have no wine.” That is all. In this relationship she makes no demands, she does not even ask Him outright to do something. He knows what she means. It is an understanding that is borne out of relationship.
And so the water was turned into wine. This Scripture says that in this way He “showed forth His glory” (John 2:11). “Showing forth His glory” is another way of saying He revealed something of Himself. This, brothers and sisters, is the whole purpose for the trial you find yourself in. It may be that you have no oil, no bread, no fish, or no wine. Whatever the situation, bring your problem to the Lord of Infinite Supply, and do whatever He says to do. He wishes to reveal His glory in you. He longs to see His Power displayed through your weakness. The very thing you see as a problem is really an opportunity to see Jesus in a depth you cannot otherwise see.
Bread and Fish are Multiplied
“Jesus looked and saw a large crowd of people beginning to gather around Him. So He asked Philip, ‘Where can we buy bread to feed these people?’ He said this only to test Philip’s reaction. Jesus already knew what He was about to do” (John 6:5,6).
Jesus desires to show forth His glory, to reveal Himself to us in the midst of our weakness. When we see a need we grow frustrated. But when Jesus sees a need He already knows what He wants to do. Not only will He meet the need, but He will reveal Himself in the process. Sometimes He will leave the need unmet, at least for a season, and just reveal Himself to us as All that we need (II Corinthians 12:8,9).
This explains why it sometimes appears that the Lord delays in answering us. He already knows what He is going to do, but we do not know. He waits for us to see if we will trust Him as Infinite Supply. Is Jesus “Lord” only after He answers us? Or is Jesus “Lord” whether He answers us or not? The Lord’s “proving ground” is just there, in between the Need and the Answer. And sometimes it is, indeed, quite a stretching, and a thorough test.
Now the Lord does not tempt us with the intent of making us stumble. That is the way the adversary works. No, the Lord indeed tests us and proves us, but His Way is to strengthen us in the testing, whereas the devil wants to weaken us in the testing. It has been said that our circumstances will either leave us better or they will leave us bitter. Ultimately, the decision is ours. We should steadfastly resist the temptation of satan, but we should also learn to distinguish between the assault of the enemy and the proving of the Lord.
Jesus already knows what He is going to do. In His mind it is as good as done. But He waits, and He proves us. Not because He does not know us, but because we do not know ourselves.
“Jesus took the five loaves, blessed them, and gave them to the disciples to pass out to the people who were sitting. He did the same with the two fish. And everyone ate until they were filled… and they gathered twelve baskets of loaves that were left over” (John 6:11,13ff).
There is much to be learned from this miracle of the loaves and fishes. In the way the food is distributed we learn something of Infinite Supply. First, Jesus gave instructions through His disciples for everyone to sit down. We see that only the ones who were seated were fed (v.11). So Infinite Supply only comes to those who are at rest, not those who are standing or walking about.
Next, we see that the distribution begins with Jesus, goes through His disciples, and finally reaches the people who are seated. This indicates that the disciples of the Lord Jesus, while possessing nothing of themselves, are the channel through which the Lord desires to bring Life to the world. He will do nothing apart from His Church. This explains why the more Life we give away the more Life we receive. The Lord moves through open vessels, not closed vessels.
But most importantly, we see that the only thing that matters in our work for the Lord is the Lord’s Blessing. We are always looking at the need when we should instead look to the Lord. Whether we have much, or whether we have little, is of no concern at all. Here is a need. The Lord has compassion on the multitude and wants us to feed them. So we take inventory of what we have and find only a few loaves and fishes. Let us bring that to the Lord and lay it at His feet. Since what the Lord is asking is beyond what we can do, we can and should expect a miracle. Indeed, that is why He puts us in impossible situations.
When confronted with such a circumstance we should remember that if we have the Blessing of the Lord then He can multiply what little we have and will even give us “twelve baskets” remaining. But without the Blessing of the Lord, “two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them to even taste a little” (John 6:7). So the issue is never what we have or what we are doing, but rather, do we have the Lord’s blessing? With the Lord’s Blessing we have Infinite Supply. Practically speaking, it means instead of trying to convince the Lord to bless what I want to do or what I think needs to be done, I should find out first what the Lord wants to BLESS and do THAT instead. Remember, “Jesus already knew what He was going to do” (John 6:6b). Thus, we pray, “Not my will, but Your Will be done; not my kingdom, but Your Kingdom come.” And then we enjoy the Lord’s Blessing on our work.
Daily Bread For Those Who Seek First the Kingdom
“Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
I just wrote that instead of trying to convince the Lord to bless what I want to do, or what I think needs to be done, I should find out first what the Lord wants to BLESS and do THAT instead. We should not try to get the Lord involved in what we are doing. That is to bring Him down to our level of understanding. Instead, we should discern and perceive what the Lord is doing, and align ourselves with His Will and His Kingdom: “Not my will, not my need, not my plan, not my purpose, but Your Will, Your Need, Your Plan, Your Purpose be done”. That will bring us up and onto the Lord’s ground, which is in heavenly places. That ensures the Blessing of the Lord. We must stop bringing the Lord down to our level. We must go up to His level. Otherwise we remain shackled to the earth, when our True Life is in heaven (Colossians 3:2,3).
All who seek first the Kingdom of God will find their needs are met (Matthew 6:33). A word of caution is in order, however, because most of the time we do not even know what we need, or what we think we need we really do not need at all. In fact, for us to always get what we think we need would be a curse, and not a blessing.
So the principle here is not to seek for “needs” but to seek the Kingdom - to find out what God “needs”, and give it to Him (cf. Luke 17:7-10). When we have met His Need then our needs will be supplied, be they spiritual or material. When we are aligned with God’s Will and God’s Kingdom then we have a powerful Ally, for He is working “ALL THINGS together…according to His Purpose” (Romans 8:28). This tremendous energy of God is working in all things, past, present and future, and bringing them into perfect alignment beneath Christ as All in All. When we are cooperating with this, instead of resisting it, we have the authority of heaven and the Infinite Supply of the Lord backing us up.
So when we pray, “Father in heaven! May Your Name be sanctified, may Your Kingdom come, may Your Will be done: as in heaven, so in earth!” it is quite natural to pray for daily bread (Infinite Supply). For anyone who rises up to pray in this manner will find satan comes immediately to dissuade them from this kind of prayer, to cut off their heavenly supply lines and bring them back down to earth. For when we pray after this manner we are not asking for ourselves. We are asking God to supply, strengthen, support, and protect His Remnant who stand for His Will on the earth. We are asking for Infinite Supply, that the Name, the Kingdom, and the Will would have the preeminence. Every day the adversary comes to steal, kill, and destroy; and every day the Lord gives us Infinite Supply in response to our prayers. Thus, the dragon is defeated daily, and the preeminence of Jesus Christ is demonstrated daily - but only if we pray after this manner.
The Source of Infinite Supply
“Of His fullness have we all received, blessing upon blessing” (John 1:16).
We have all received the fullness of the Lord Jesus, and every spiritual blessing is in Him (Ephesians 1:3). Hence, every disciple of the Lord has Infinite Supply. It is not that some are full, and some are half full, and some have little, and some have nothing, for “we have ALL received”. It is not really that we need more from the Lord, because we have already received of His fullness. It is not receiving something new, it is releasing what is already there. Thus, the Living Waters do not fall upon us from without, but spring up from within (cf. John 7:37-39).
“You are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10a). The truth is that you are no more complete in Him today than you were when you first received Him, however long ago that may have been. And you will never be any more complete in Him than you are right now. You are complete in Him - of course, in yourself, you are far from complete, but that is not the issue. “In me” I am growing, learning, struggling, maturing. But the issue is not “me”. The issue is, “not I, but Christ”.
With less of me, there is more of Him. That is why we say that true spiritual growth is not more knowledge or increase of years. It is simply more of Christ and less of me. In time we will learn not to be discouraged or depressed should we run low on oil, bread, fish, or wine - or even the spiritual graces these earthly things are meant to represent. This is only the decreasing of Self which makes way for the increasing of Christ (John 3:30). Eventually we will view every weakness of ours as an opportunity to see Christ revealed as Strength. Every momentary “lack” is an opportunity to see Christ as Infinite Supply. For this is the Will and Purpose of God: that Christ may be All in All.
Father: we trust in You, we wait for You, our hope is in You. We thank you for the Infinite Supply of the Lord. Supply and strengthen the Remnant of Your people this day, that Your Kingdom would suffer no loss. May Your Will be accomplished, and Your Name be glorified in heaven and in earth. Amen.