October 24, 2014
After returning on Monday from a 4,800 mile (driving) business trip that took me to several places in Texas, and an opportunity to minister in James Matchett's fellowship in Fort Worth on Sunday, my physical body has been playing catch up with the missed rest and sleep but my spirit has been absolutely fired up! I saw and heard things in our various business meetings which have prompted me to take a different approach today in dealing with the Fear of Death.
Let me start with Psalm 55:4-7 today to lay a foundation, “My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah"
The spirit we know as the Fear of Death has many tentacles and its purpose is to drive people far from voice of God. When Holy Spirit speaks to us and prompts us to do something, or say something, or give something, or go to a certain place, the Fear of Death will often try to intervene and cause us to become extremely fearful of obeying that prompting.
As David notes in the Psalm, his reaction was to run away, to hide, to not be available. The instinct to hide is a natural one when a person is afflicted by any spirit of fear. Fear -- no matter what family it is in, whether the Fear of Evil, the Fear of Man or the Fear of Death -- always causes a reaction, and the first reaction is to draw back or to avoid moving forward.
Today I would like to deal with a specific attribute of the Fear of Death and how it causes Christians to react when they hear the Word of God. Because the financial realm is such a big part of our daily living, and because financial circumstances are so critical for most Americans today in this abominable, tax and spend economy which drains the pocketbooks of even the fairly well off, let me begin with describing a tentacle of the Fear of Death that most folks don't even recognize.
We call it the Spirit of Poverty. It affects people from all walks of life. I've met folks who have millions of dollars in the bank who've been tormented by this spirit, and they don't realize that their place of reaction is because it is driven by the Fear of Death. Let's describe some fundamentals of the Spirit of Poverty before we get into some nitty-gritty.
1. The Spirit of Poverty is totally self-centered. It only thinks of its own needs or desires.
2. The Spirit of Poverty is Avarice. It is the personification of greed. It is never satisfied with "enough."
3. Corollary to greed is hoarding. People driven by this spirit have the need to store up "for emergencies" -- but not just normal "storing up." They hoard, they gather to excess, they put away extra food, extra groceries, extra money, extra tools and supplies, extra anything, to the point that things spoil, they rot, they rust, they decay in storage. (More on this later.)
4. The Spirit of Poverty is totally driven by the Fear of Death. The Fear of Man works hand in hand with the Spirit of the Fear of Death to keep one from appearing to be in need or dire straits to those around. It forces people to "keep up with the Jones" in order to be thought as acceptable or on the same socio-economic level.
5. The Spirit of Poverty robs people financially. It is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. It deprives them of complete trust in God and in His Word.
6. The Spirit of Poverty causes Christians to short-change God at every hand. When they tithe, they tithe on the "net" rather than the "gross" paycheck, and then wonder why their money never increases or multiplies to more than supply every possible need. They only see the actual amount of what they get to deposit in the bank or receive in cash instead of recognizing that the money deducted for payroll taxes, insurance and social security is still part of their income. Thus, when they pay their tithe, they make God wait in line until the taxes are paid, their life insurance or health insurance is paid, and their social security retirement has been paid.
Because this isn't money they get to spend -- at least right now -- they treat it as though it isn't income. It is a relatively small portion of their total income, but it is still part of it. Hence, they cheat God of a portion of His money. It isn't any different than Adam taking one bite of one piece of fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He didn't take the whole tree: just one bite of one piece of fruit. The curse came nonetheless.
7. The Spirit of Poverty brings and promotes doubt and unbelief. It tricks you into doubting God's Word; and specifically Matthew 6:25-34. Take a quick look:
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
8. The Spirit of Poverty stands in direct opposition to the promises of God. It opposes the Blessing of Abraham. It opposes and exalts itself above the name, the authority, the power, the character, the personality and the very essence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
9. The Spirit of Poverty rejects the fact that Jesus' death on the Cross cancelled out its very existence and its right to torment God's people.
10. The Spirit of Poverty revels in want, in need, in doing without, in living an austere, sub-normal life on the bleeding edge of death. Working in conjunction with the Fear of Evil, it promotes the false idea based on a single scripture that "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" taking this scripture totally out of context to support a poverty-ridden life.
11. The Spirit of Poverty causes people to fear having any abundance. Abundance becomes a sin to Christians who are afflicted with this spirit. This spirit obliterates any reference to the fact that those whom God chose to demonstrate His Glory and His Power through became the richest people on earth of their day.
12. The Spirit of Poverty drives sickness, want and disease. It is one of the primary motivating factors behind stress and depression.
13. The Spirit of Poverty is the driving force behind slavery. Stop and consider the history of America for a minute. Slave-traders sold human beings into slavery in order to make more and more and more and more money. (see #2) Our nation's early forefathers -- as they began to realize the Blessing of God over America -- saw through the lie of slavery; and each of them in succession set their own slaves free.
14. The Spirit of Poverty -- like all evil spirits -- is a lying spirit. It couldn't tell the truth to save its existence! Jesus said, "If ye continue in My Word, then are ye my disciples; And ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)
Jesus continued that same conversation with the Jews as He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (The Greek word here is doulos: slave -- see #13) of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:34-36) The Truth of God's promises frees people from the lies of the Spirit of Poverty -- if they are willing to believe the Truth.
Believing the Truth also means acting on the Truth, obeying the Truth, living the Truth! I've laid this rather lengthy preamble to a series of stories -- both scriptural and current -- to demonstrate what I'm getting at.
Throughout the years I've seen many, many believers deceived by the Fear of Death -- and specifically the lies of the Spirit of Poverty -- so that they disobey or draw back from obeying the prompting of Holy Spirit to give -- especially when they are in need themselves, and the obedience to Holy Spirit means that they give the last that they have.
Consider the widow (see I Kings 17) during Israel's famine when Elijah commanded her to FIRST bake him a cake before feeding herself and her son, despite the fact that to do so meant she wouldn't have enough to feed herself. She obeyed the Word of the Lord through Elijah, and -- during the entire time of famine -- we are told, "And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah."
Although we don't have the end of the story recorded in Scripture, Jesus sees (Mark 12:42) a widow give two mites into the treasury at the Synagogue, a paltry amount, to be sure, but the very last money that she had. She commends the widow and places her in higher esteem in God's eyes than those who came and gave of their abundance. I don't think it takes any rocket science to figure out that if Jesus noticed this lady give in such a sacrificial way, that she would ever again have need in her house. Knowing how God rewards sacrificial giving and treats it as worship, that lady never again would have been destitute.
Back in the 1980's I was teaching a university broadcast engineering course in Alaska. One of my students came to me one day and said that he needed to drop out of the class. He had lost his part-time job and couldn't afford to stay in class because his rent was past due and he was in danger of having his wife and child on the street with no place to live. We were only six weeks or so from the end of the engineering course and I hated to see him have to drop out.
Heading home that night after class, Holy Spirit prompted me to not only pay his past-due rent, but also the next month as well. I talked to Della about it and she agreed that we needed to do this. Here's the problem. We had our monthly lease due in about ten days, and we didn't even have enough in our bank account to take care of our own need. To pay this young man's rent would require draining our bank account. As I recall, we would have perhaps two dollars left in the bank.
Nevertheless, the prompting of Holy Spirit was clear in our spirits, and the following day Della went to the bank and got a cashier's check for the student's rent payments. We went to his apartment that night and gave it to him. To say that he was astonished doesn't do it justice.
"Why would you do that for me?" he asked. "Because the Lord loves you, and He instructed us to do this." He and his wife were overwhelmed by what the Lord did for them, and of course he finished the engineering class, graduating among our top students. He later went on to become one of Alaska's premier radio morning show hosts.
The following Monday or Tuesday, when I went into my office at the school, I was informed that my pay had been raised and was given a retroactive check for the past weeks to cover the pay raise. It more than covered our rent need! Obedience pays dividends!
Then there was the time when we were living in south Texas and Holy Spirit spoke to me about paying off a certain minister and his wife's mortgage. They were people we had known and fellowshipped with in previous years in another state, and hadn't had any real contact with for some years. There was no way I had the money to pay off that mortgage, and to obey the Lord meant I would have to borrow it. It was such a big move that I said to the Lord, "OK, Father, this isn't something I'm doing without Della's complete agreement. You need to put this in her spirit as well without my saying anything. When that happens, I'll know it's time to do it."
It couldn't have been more than a couple of days later when we were getting ready to sit down in the living room and relax after a hard day's work. Della spoke up and said, "Honey, before you turn on the TV, I need to share something with you." She named the couple and said, "The last few days, I've really been burdened for D & M and feel like we are supposed to pay off their mortgage." That was all it took!
The following day we contacted them and asked for the payoff amount on their mortgage, and where we needed to send the money. The response on the phone was stunned, of course, but we assured them it wasn't a joke; that this was what the Lord was instructing us to do. It took a few days to get the information and we borrowed the money to cover the payment, and sent a cashier's check to the mortgage company.
It might have been some six weeks or so that went by but we were advised that we were recipients of an inheritance from a relative. That inheritance was several multiples of the monies we had borrowed in obedience to the Lord.
Dad used to say it, and I absolutely believe it: "You can't outgive God! I've just scratched the surface of this picture. We'll continue this theme next week.
Again, if you are in need of healing -- especially if you have some terminal disease or prognosis of a very short time to live from the doctors -- please join our prayer conference calls on either Monday or Wednesday of each week at 7:00 PM Eastern. Once again, the number to call is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#. To get into the queue for prayer, when Randy opens the call up for everyone, hit *6-1 on your keypad. Let us minister to your need for healing!
Blessings on you!
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