These are notes on the sermon, Experience Abundance In Times Of Famine, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 3 May 2020, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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Pastor Prince begins the service by reminding the church that even though we are unable to gather physically, we are still together in spirit.
For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
— Colossians 2:5 NKJV
When we take time to hear God’s Word, we are like Mary who had “chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (see Luke 10:42). Jesus said Mary had chosen to sit at His feet and listen to His Word (that good part).
The greatest thing we can do for our week is to choose to sit, behold His glory, and listen to His Word on Sundays. When we set aside time on Sundays, we set the tone for the coming week.
We see this truth when Jesus rose from the dead (on a Sunday) and walked with His two disciples on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13). He took the time to walk with them, and revealed Himself to them in the Scriptures. This is a picture of what our Sundays should look like—seeing Jesus in the Word.
Jesus kept their eyes from seeing Him and instead revealed Himself in the Scriptures. This shows us that it is more important and profitable for us to see Jesus in God’s Word than it is to see Him in the flesh.
At the end of their journey, Jesus broke bread with them. This tells us He wants the preaching of the Word and the Lord’s Supper to be present on Sundays, the Lord’s Day.
Every Sunday is a special day where we set aside time for Jesus. Just like how we set aside the tithe, when we give time to Jesus on a Sunday to hear His Word and partake of the holy Communion, we are giving Him a portion of our week. And this sets the tone for the entire week.
God will always take care of His people and provide for His people—even in times of famine.
Throughout the Bible, God is always providing for His people during times of famine. We see His provision in Abraham’s, Issac’s, and Joseph’s lives.
God told Abraham to leave his father’s house (see Gen. 12). But Abraham brought along his father and so he was delayed. By the time Abraham reached the promised land (Canaan), the land was in famine and Abraham had to go down to Egypt (see Gen. 12:10).
Even though Abraham did not obey God completely, God still provided for him. By the time Abraham left Egypt, he “was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold” (see Gen. 13:2). This is not a spiritual blessing. The Bible says that the Lord blessed Abraham with livestock, silver, and gold in the time of famine. This is tangible and practical provision.
When Isaac dwelled in Gerah (see Gen. 26) the land was in famine. He sowed in the year of famine and he reaped a hundredfold in the same year (see Gen. 26:12).
God gave Joseph wisdom to gather food for the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. When the seven years of famine came and “the famine was over all the face of the earth” (Gen. 41:56), Joseph not only had enough for himself, but he could also provide for his family and other nations.
Just like God provided for Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph in times of famine, God will provide for you.
God always provides for His family. We need this assurance because the days of famine are imminent but when you know you are God’s beloved child, you will not feel discouraged.
Pastor Prince shares that God showed him that there would be an outbreak of locusts which would lead to food shortage and famine before we saw this happen in the world. Today, we have seen the outbreak of locusts first in Africa, then in Iran and Pakistan. Right now, China is getting ready for the locusts.
While the world might be shocked by the famine coming, God always prepares His people. Pastor Prince shares how months before the locusts and the financial crisis happened, God told him about the financial famine from these verses:
Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.
— Acts 11:28 NKJV
“Agabus” — means “locusts.”
“showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world” — The Spirit of God can show you what will happen. And He will also provide encouragement for His people.
The next verse says:
Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
— Acts 11:29-30 NKJV
“determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea”— God’s people, the disciples, had more than enough provision. They were even able to give to the poor brethren (fellow believers). God will always make sure we will have more than enough to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and then the world.
As God’s children, what can we expect in the face of imminent famine? Like the disciples in the book of Acts, we can expect to have the provision and ability to be a blessing to others.
In the natural, it can seem like the usual channels of provision are shutting down. But we do not operate in the natural because we are in this world, but not of this world (see John 17:16).
God promises that He will “supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). God supplies all our needs according to His riches, not according to how well the economy or the stock market does, but according to His riches.
Sometimes there is a shaking in the financial realm and in our lives because God wants us to put our trust on His unshakable promises.
God loves you and He wants to provide for you. Look at the areas where God wants to provide for you:
“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?
— Matthew 6:26–30 NKJV
“Look at the birds of the air . . . your heavenly Father feeds them” — This speaks of food and sustenance.
“Consider the lilies of the field . . . 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” — This “clothing” is not just about having clothes on your back, but about the health of your body.
These verses tell us that God not only wants to feed us and provide for us, but He also wants to keep us healthy and strong.
How do we receive His provision in every aspect of our lives?
“For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
— Matthew 6:32–33 NKJV
All we need to do is to seek first the kingdom of God and His gift of righteousness.
On the cross, Jesus bore our sins. He knew no sin, did no sin, in Him was no sin. He became sin so that we, who were not righteous could receive His righteousness.
To “seek His righteousness” means to follow and learn all you can about this gift of righteousness, and the result is that all these things (provision and health) will be added to us.
How do we sow seeds for a good harvest in times of famine?
One way is to be generous.
“Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
— 1 Timothy 6:18-19 NKJV
When you are ready to give and share, you are storing up for yourself a good foundation for the time to come. You are sowing seeds for your future harvests. You might be living off your past harvest but are you sowing for your future harvests?
As long as the earth remains, the principle of sowing and reaping will not change (see Gen. 8:22). Whatever you sow you will reap.
When you are under grace, you become a generous giver. We see this in the difference between the rich young ruler in Luke 18 and Zacchaeus the tax collector in Luke 19.
The rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–23)
When Jesus gave the law to the rich young ruler, the young man could hardly give a shekel.
The rich tax collector, Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–8)
When Jesus gave grace to Zacchaeus, he gave half his goods to the poor and restored four-fold to the people he cheated from.
Grace made Zacchaeus generous. We can become generous because of God’s grace in our lives.
The Temple of Solomon is a visual image of the temple of God. Today we are called living stones that “are being built up a spiritual house” (see 1 Pet. 2:5). We all make up the house of God. So the principles from the Temple of Solomon (and the three chambers) apply to us today.
Recap of the three chambers in the Temple of Solomon:
God doesn’t want us to be covetous, greedy, and have a love for money. The way to break the love of money is to learn the ways of God in the area of finances. And one of God’s ways is to be generous.
And God wants us to know that when we give, we won’t just be receiving a spiritual harvest but also a financial harvest.
If God wanted us to sow financially and not expect to reap anything, why would Jesus himself say, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38)?
God wants us to know that there will be a harvest when we give and we can expect an overflowing, “running over” abundant harvest.
Another example that shows us when we give, we will reap a financial harvest is:
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
— 2 Corinthians 9:6–7 NKJV
The context for this verse is about giving—giving finances to the poor saints in Jerusalem. This verse is not talking about reaping a spiritual harvest when we sow. It’s about expecting financial blessings.
Jesus became poor at the cross so that we through His poverty might be made rich (see 2 Cor. 8:9). This is not about being spiritually poor because Jesus was never spiritually poor. The whole context is about finances and giving.
Jesus died on the cross without a shred of clothing. He came under the curse, took our poverty, so that we might be abundantly supplied.
Every sin debt has been settled. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. Jesus took our place as the one liable for our sins, became our substitute, took our curse so that we could be blessed. He was rejected that we might be accepted. All these blessings came because of what He did at the cross. Even the supply for finances.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
— 2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV
You can choose to receive every part of the atoning work of Jesus or not. But know that provision and supply is part of His atoning work for us.
Another way for us to sow in times of famine is through the tithe.
Pastor Prince reveals the importance of tithing through the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the temple of God.
After 70 years of Babylonian captivity, a remnant of God’s people returned to Jerusalem. One of them was Nehemiah, who asked the king if he could rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem (see Neh. 2:5). Nehemiah later became the governor of Jerusalem.
“When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”
— Nehemiah 2:10 NKJV
“Tobiah” — his name means “God is good” even though he was an enemy of Israel. Both Sanballat and Tobiah were deeply disturbed and unhappy that someone was looking out for the children of Israel. They were both enemies of the children of God.
“Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”
— Nehemiah 4:3 NKJV
Sanballat and Tobiah were mocking the Israelites and trying to discourage them from what God had called them to do (rebuild the temple). When people do the same to you, just look to the Lord. Don’t curse and fight them, simply ascend higher. Nehemiah’s eye was on the Lord and that is always the right thing to do when you are facing challenges.
Nehemiah and the people were rebuilding the walls first because the walls were needed to protect the temple and defend the temple from enemies. Even though Tobiah’s name means “God is good,” he was an evil man who was against the children of Israel.
“Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah”
— Nehemiah 13:4 ESV
During that time, Eliashib was the high priest and unfortunately, he was in cahoots with Israel’s enemy, Tobiah.
Earlier this year, God revealed the truths of the three chambers because God intends to open up the three chambers for us this year, i.e. we are going to experience the blessings of each chamber in 2020.
At the beginning of the year, God opened up the truth in the first-story chamber (the power of the holy Communion) to overcome COVID-19.
As we are approaching the middle of the year (and ascending to the second-story), we are headed to a place of rest. Not just rest in the Lord Jesus (we always have that), but also physical rest as we see the virus dissipate more and more.
Pastor Prince reveals how we can experience abundance in times of famine from the teachings of the third-story chamber:
“prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.”
— Nehemiah 13:5 ESV
Eliashib gave Tobiah the large chamber (the third-floor chamber) where the tithes, gold, and silver were stored. These tithes were used to maintain the house of God, they were for the sustenance of the worship leaders, the priests, and for those in full-time work.
Today, God loves it when we minister to Him in worship and praise. We worship God by reminding Him of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us.
When Jesus laid down his life, He did so to bring glory to His Father. Jesus’ desire is to always fulfill God’s will (see John 4:34, John 6:38) and that is the reason God loves His Son (see John 10:17).
So, no matter what offering you bring God, be it the burnt offering, grain offering, or the peace offering, it must remind the Father of Jesus.
In Numbers 18, the heave offering is actually the tithe. The tithe is a picture of Christ, our first fruit.
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
— Hebrews 13:15–16 NKJV
We are already accepted in Christ because of what Jesus has done but when we do certain things that are in line with God’s will, like when we praise God and tithe, God is well pleased.
“such sacrifices” — These are the levitical sacrifices: the peace offering, the burnt offering and the gift offering (grain offering). They were voluntary. The people gave these offerings out of love for God and the desire to show Him their appreciation.
But the last two offerings, the sin and trespass offerings, were compulsory for the people to bring to God. They were not sweet-smelling because they reminded God of their sins.
But the peace, burnt, and gift offerings were sweet-smelling because they reminded God of His Son, Jesus. When we tithe our first fruit, we remind God of Jesus.
Eliashib had given Tobiah the chamber when Nehemiah was away.
“While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.”
— Nehemiah 13:6–7 ESV
This passage is speaking of our times. We are living in the days when we are about to be ushered into the largest chamber (a picture of God’s provision and supply), but instead of finding the tithes there, we find Tobiah there.
What this means is this: people today are saying “God is good” and therefore we do not need to tithe. People believe that “God is good” and therefore we no longer need to worship God.
But we saw earlier in Hebrews 13:15–16 that this is not true. In fact, when the people gave to Paul, he said, “I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (see Phil. 4:18).
Today, our worship and praise, our giving and our tithes, are a sweet-smelling fragrance because it reminds God of Jesus.
Don’t give grace a bad name by saying “God is good” so we do not need to read the Bible, we do not have to give and participate in church life.
Is it true that being under grace, not the law, means we don’t need to tithe? No.
Jesus (grace) is the heavenly standard and we conform to it by the Spirit of God and not by our efforts. Under grace, our relationship with God is dynamic—there is interaction, there is worship, there is praise, there is giving and sharing. And the tithe is prominent.
The first time tithing was mentioned in the Bible was before the law was given. It was when Melchizedek brought Abraham the grain and wine (see Gen. 14:18) and in response, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek (even though there was no instruction telling Abraham to do so). All this took place before the law was instituted.
“Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.”
— Hebrews 7:4 NKJV
The Bible calls Jesus Christ our “High Priest after the order of Melchizedek” (see Heb. 7:21).
If today, Jesus brings us the bread and wine like Melchizedek did with Abraham, we should respond with the tithe just like Abraham did.
You don’t have to tithe, you get to tithe. Tithing is a revelation.
Tithing is a way to please God. When we give God a tenth, we are actually acknowledging and declaring that God is our source of my supply and wealth.
“And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.
— Genesis 14:20 NKJV
“Tithe” — The Hebrew word for tithe is “maaser.” Within this word, we find the word “aser,” which means “rich, wealth.” This tells us that the “rich” is found in the tithe.
Tithing is a revelation. But you cannot say that tithing is not for people who are under grace just because “God is good.” Don’t allow the saying “God is good” to replace the truths about tithing. God is good. And it should not cover up God’s truths.
To prepare for the evil day (financial famine) to come, God wants us to tithe because if God can trust you with money, God can trust you with true riches, which are people (see Luke 16:11).
And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses.
— Nehemiah 13:8–12 ESV
“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them” — You need to tithe to your own local church to support the ministry and what God is doing there. Pastor Prince can say this freely because he does not draw a salary from the church.
God still loves you even if you don’t tithe. Know this:
“Why is the house of God forsaken?” — When you forsake the tithe and cease to support your local church, you forsake the house of God.
Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
— Hebrews 7:8-10 NKJV
“Receives” — this word is in the present passive participle. The tithe is a witness that Jesus lives.
Because Abraham tithed, the generations after him (including Levi, his great-grandson) were blessed. When you tithe, your generations are blessed.
Pastor Prince closes the sermon by assuring us that God will provide and as His children, let’s not worry about money. Instead, let’s learn the ways of God, follow His ways and expect an abundant harvest in our lives.
“The Lord bless you this coming week. the Lord bless you with the blessings of Abraham, the blessings of Deuteronomy 28, and the Lord keep you and your families from the COVID-19 virus throughout this entire week. The Lord keep you from harm, danger, accidents and even from the financial famine that is coming. It will not affect you and your house. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and your families and grant to all of you His shalom peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2020
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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