Dear Ones, let me give a big ‘howdy’ to all of our new friends from the Seattle and San Francisco outreaches. Welcome to the Living Waters from Lightbearers email teaching letter! Please enjoy these teachings and forward them to your friends. You can access almost five hundred letters at lightbearers.injesus.com.
Forgive me please, for not writing more consistently recently because of the travel schedule, and poor ‘wifi’ in certain motels.
I’m going to publish three articles this week, all dealing with money, and not a word about tithing. The first is called BE A RIVER, NOT A LAKE. This deals with the lie and deception of the prosperity gospel, and what is God’s balanced will. The second is called WHAT’S WRONG WITH GAMBLING? This article deals with the three moral uses of money. Do you realize that your money, and how you use it, represents your life? Can you take your life and invest it in an immoral activity? The third one is a new one, and it is called CURSED – THE ANCIENT REASON WHY PASTORS ARE POOR.
These articles are among some of the most thought provoking I have written. I hope you enjoy them, and that they cause you to glorify God our Father, and Jesus our Savior!
ENCORE PRESENTATION: Be a River, Not a Lake…
You knew it had to be wrong. The ‘prophesy over your checkbook, God wants you wealthy!’ prosperity message of the western Church just didn’t fit with the overall picture set forth in Scripture of the normal Christian lifestyle. But I had bought into the idea because I could see the Armani suits and the corporate jets of the big ‘prosperity teaching’ ministers. I thought I had the answer that would help so many in Africa. So, there I was, preaching a week long series of meetings during the ‘blessed hour’ in Kakamega Kenya…
Now the ‘blessed hour’ is lunchtime in Kenya. It is the custom of many churches across Kenya to hold lunchtime meetings during the week for the working brethren. And people come by the thousands to these meetings, which often extend longer than an hour, for praise, worship and encouragement from the Word. Preachers are expected to be full of Holy Ghost fire and enthusiasm.
It was Friday, and we had been having fun all week with deliverance, redemption, salvation, and the gifts of the Spirit. So I was going to close the week with a rip-roaring prosperity message. The praise band was finishing up their last number when the Holy Spirit sovereignly spoke to me…
“Why doesn’t the prosperity message work in Africa?” Huh! What? I was stunned. “Uh, you know, Lord!” was all I could answer. I learned a long time ago that God doesn’t ask questions because He doesn’t know something. He asks questions to show us that WE don’t know something. He said…
“The prosperity message doesn’t work in Africa because African culture is centered around the community, not the individual. By the way, so is biblical culture…” Ohhh…
Then I was introduced!
As you can imagine, I walked slowly up to the lectern, with just my Bible, having left my teaching notes in the seat I was in. I was in Holy Ghost land! As I recall, I said, “I must apologize to you (there were about three hundred present), because the Holy Spirit has showed me that the ‘spiritual food’ I was about to give you is really spiritual poison.”
I explained to them that the prosperity message of the western Church was centered on the unholy trinity of ‘me, myself and I’, and that it would tear apart the good aspects of African culture and the African Church. It was a subtle spiritual poison ready to wound and decimate a growing, flourishing Church…
Then I was led to take them to Acts chapter four where the Word details how the early Church operated.
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” Acts 4:32
The Word here is not teaching some sort of Christian brand of socialism. The Bible teaches ‘private ownership’ ( and personal responsibility ) from Genesis to Revelation. But when the private owner learns that he himself is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, his heart and perspectives change. The things he guarded so jealously start to lose their glisten and shine. He starts to see himself as part of a Body where the needs of the whole must be addressed as well as the individual parts. The unholy trinity ( me, myself and I ) becomes unseated by the Lordship of Jesus, the lordship of love.
” And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands and houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them at the apostles feet, and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need.” Acts 4:33-35
They never sold what they needed. Notice the plural in ‘lands and houses’. People don’t need more than one house, generally speaking. They got rid of the excess in their lives and used it to further the Gospel. I call this plurality giving and Body ( or corporate ) prosperity. They kept what they needed and blessed the Body with the rest. The only people who don’t like this message are the ones with ‘lands and houses’, and don’t want to give them up.
Then I took them to Philippians chapter two.
“If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, Make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, Doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:1-5
Do you see the tender concern we are to walk in, one towards another?
Now the Word of God teaches a strong work ethic, and that those who won’t work shouldn’t eat (1Thessalonians 3:10). Many times when a man says he needs money, what he really needs is some good ‘lessons in living.’ I withhold my money and try to give him the counsel and help that will have lasting effect (and if I buy him lunch while doing it, all the better!).
Many Christians, both in Africa and the rest of the world, are storing up material blessings, claiming all the while that God has blessed them with those things. And, they are absolutely right, but it is only half the truth. Material blessings come from God, but they are to be used the way God intends them to be used. God blesses us abundantly so that we can have our needs met, and then distribute abundantly as the Spirit directs. Some have said that we make Jesus Lord of the 10% ( the tithe ), when He wants to be Lord of the 100% ( everything you have ).
The contrast between a river and a lake offers an appropriate analogy. The beautiful North Santiam River borders the property where we live in northwest Oregon. The river is perhaps two hundred feet wide, stretching for many miles, and handles a huge volume of water. Now a river supplies groundwater and water for vegetation and animals on its banks. But beyond that which it needs to do its job, what flows into it, flows out of it. But a lake stores up what comes into it, getting bigger and bigger until it finally has to release a little bit because it just can’t handle any more.
Think of the human body. All the organs in the body are fed by the bloodstream. Does one organ store up all the blessings of the blood at the expense of the other organs? No, because they intuitively know that if one member suffers, all the organs suffer. Do you see why the materialistic philosophy of the prosperity message is poison in the bloodstream of the Body of Christ?
Christians should live frugally well ( abundant shoreline vegetation ), have savings accounts and retirement plans ( groundwater ), and use the rest to support and promote Christ’s Kingdom.
I encourage you to believe God for fabulous abundance to come into your life, to meet your needs and to further the cause of Christ worldwide! Live simply, get rid of the excess, use it for the Kingdom. Be a river, not a lake…
Remember, dear ones, we must be about our Father’s business…