While it is possible for God’s generosity back to us, to come completely out of the blue in a truly miraculous way, it is much more common to see God bless the work of our hands. We’ve all heard the stories about someone who gave sacrificially and shortly thereafter received a check in the mail, an inheritance or some other miraculous provision they were not expecting, but that is not the norm. That’s why they are called miracles and I’ve certainly had my share of them!
What I see too often is Christians claiming their miracle provision while being neither generous nor industrious. In other words, they would rather check the mailbox daily looking for a miracle then to work or start a business that God can bless. God does not reward laziness. If you are giving $100 per week so you can stay at home and watch TV while expecting a $10,000 per week (100-fold) return in the mailbox, you are deluded.
The 100-fold return in the Bible is both a figure of speech and an actual event, depending on where you find it. The Bible says God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Really? Is that literal? Is it just a thousand hills? Or is it as one man said, God owns a thousand cattle on a hill? The truth is, God owns all the cattle and all the hills beneath them too.
Consider what Jesus said in Mark 10… “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much – homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.” Let me point out that the context for this verse is not about giving money, but rather how difficult it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.
It is self evident that He didn’t mean we could expect to go away on a mission trip, and come back to find out that instead of three siblings we would have three hundred! That instead of five children when we left, we could return and find a small town of five hundred kids that were ours! But somehow, there are those who want to single out the real estate mentioned in that verse and suggest that if you forsake your home, you will end up with one hundred homes. Hmmm. Makes me imagine giving away a boat and a plane and coming back to an Air Force and a Navy! The true meaning should be obvious.
The other familiar passage is where Jesus was ministering by the sea and told them what we now call the “parable of the sower”. Later, He revealed the true interpretation to His disciples. (By the way, He is still revealing truth to His disciples (disciplined learners) today. Are you one?) He explains to His disciples that what is being sown here, is the Word of God, not checks made out to His ministry. I don’t believe for a second, He was prepping the crowd for an offering.
The 100-fold return was about the effect the Word of God could have on the lives of those who prepared their heart to receive the Word, (as a Word specifically for them – see original Greek), kept it free from distractions and began to bear fruit. It’s not a mathematical calculation.
The 100-fold return in this context is really referring to what is possible when someone is fully surrendered to the Word and will of God. One of my heroes of the faith, D.L. Moody, said it this way; “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.” Moody wanted the Lord to get the maximum return (aka 100-fold return) on His life. That is what I believe is meant in the parable of the sower.
In tomorrow’s blog I will get to the literal fulfillment of the 100-fold return…
Looking forward to where you go with this tomorrow. Thank you for tackling a subject not discussed often in my circles.
It’s not an easy subject to tackle RaShell because people will often quickly categorize you one way or another. I originally wrote this as a single blog but it became too long for a blog post so I had to break it up. Even at that, I was unable to include all the caveats I wanted. Appreciate you passing the word along! Blessings…
Nice work Michael, thanks for wading into this subject.
Here are some additional thoughts that are related to the 100-fold return. First of all one of the things that your work continues to remind me of is the abundance of our loving Father. Your work in the rain forest is a great example. The abundance and prolific multiplication in the rain forest is beyond the ability of our human mind to comprehend. I don’t live in a forest but just looking out my window, I can’t number the leaves that are one tree which came from one seed. One of the things that I have come to believe is that Father’s creation of the earth (and for that matter the universe) is a work of mind-blowing abundance and prosperity. I also have come to believe that you and I (man) are His highest form of creativity. So the logic follows, for me at least, that He has great plans of joy and abundance for every one of us. Evidence of this was Adam & Eve in the garden.
Now fast forward to the John 15 … again a picture of abundance in the vine, the branches and the resulting fruit. The important lesson for me in John 15 is the need (read that desire on my part) to stay connected to the vine. In verse 5 Jesus says …. “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, HE WILL BEAR MUCH FRUIT; apart from me you can do nothing.” I believe this “fruit” has many manifestations, such as spreading the love of Jesus, sharing the Word and salvation, personal joy AND it can be financial. Jesus goes on to say in verse 7 & 8 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
I think the key to this is “If you remain in me and my words remain in you.” That is something that I must do … remain in my Savior Jesus and keep His Words in my heart. When I do that I will be within God’s will. When I am within God’s will I will certainly not think of God as a spiritual vending machine. I will want what He wants, I will say what He says and I will do what I see Him doing.
So going back to the 100-fold return and the law of seed time and harvest, let’s consider that for a moment.
Planting of the seed is something that I do.
The germination of the seeds and crop growth is something that God does.
Harvesting is something that I do.
The 100-fold happens in the germinations and growth step, but I have to know how to plant & harvest in order to be fruitful and multiply.
I believe there is something I don’t understand yet about the harvesting and that is what I would really like to know.
Great thoughts Steve!
Tomorrow I will be getting into the natural harvesting, but really even that will be much more explained in the blogs after that. It is not my intention to drag a message out. Quite the opposite… I would like to cover it all in a single post, but long posts are seldom read, thus, the breaking into pieces.
Your articulation of ‘The 100-Fold Return’ and how the LORD intended it to be communicated and understood.
That is, as we one-day at a time, ask Him to reveal to us how we are to be and what He would have us do with the resources he has already put at our disposal,
then all things quite frankly are possible.
The Apostle Paul stated this clearly in Ephesians 3:14-21, in his admonishment for us to pray, not only for revelation for our personal lives, but also to act on that unveiling one day at a time.
This has been amazingly acted out, for the last twenty years, with Heidi and Rolland Baker, who are missionaries (IRIS Global) in Mozambique in Northern Africa.
Her recent book “Birthing the Miraculous” and movie “Compelled to Love” speaks to what happens, when one is totally committed to “going deep” with the
LORD and prioritizing your day around going into the “SECRET PLACE’ of prayer
and asking to be filled with the love and power of the Holy Spirit.
Great post. I have heard about Heidi Baker’s book “Birthing the Miraculous” but I have yet to read it. Will do soon I hope. Sounds great!
Good stuff, honey!
The world has it back to front. Do, Have , Be!
The Ekklesia has been evangelised by this message. We need to push back with a Be, Do, Have! message.
So much focus on money and success in the institutional churches today.
What happened to “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness …”
I love how you frame up your messages Michael. Keep up the great work.