ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: KINGDOM ECONOMICS III
Well, let's see if we can get on with the day today. Hi, Y'all!
Have you ever heard, or heard about, Ed Silvoso and Market Place Ministries? Ed is an Argentinean businessman and evangelist to whom the Lord revealed a unique methodology for transforming communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the course of the past few years, Ed has been personally involved in the transformation of some 50 communities.
One of the quite extraordinary stories is that of Elk River, Minnesota -- a community that once suffered with the highest teenage suicide rate per capita in the nation. As Ed Silvoso shared with the business community, the churches, and the local political leaders, they took seriously the message of setting aside their differences, their religious doctrines and their political preferences in exchange for the Gospel and sharing it in very personal ways -- in the bank (praying with bank customers who were experiencing problems), in the restaurant (waitresses and waiters sharing with customers), in the public schools, at the car dealerships, the fast food places, the department stores, and you name it!
Over a period of months, Elk River was literally transformed by the Gospel. The suicide rate didn't just go down, it vanished entirely! Today, if you drive through the town, you will find a community scarcely resembling the town of a few short years ago. Pastors and church leaders discovered that their doctrinal differences didn't mean squat in God's economy! They learned how to set aside those differences in order to fast and pray over the town, over its leaders, over its businesspeople, over the schools and the educational system. People began to work together, pray together, play together and do business together as though the town was nothing more than one large family.
I share all this because since Herman TeVelde and Jerry Haak (both local businessmen and farmers) picked up the vision and began to share it with us last Spring, Sunnyside, Washington is a community undergoing change! Transformation Sunnyside -- Herm and Jerry's header for this effort -- has captured the attention of business and political leaders throughout the Yakima Valley, and pastors and church leaders, community and education leaders are working together in a unified effort to accomplish here exactly what Elk River, Minnesota has experienced.
On November 3rd and 4th, Ed Silvoso is coming to Sunnyside to share with the community, and he will be speaking on the 3rd at the Community Center, and on the evening of the 4th at the Sunnyside High School Auditorium. If you live anywhere in the Yakima Valley or the Tri-Cities area, I strongly recommend that you make plans to come.
Must be time for our first swig of coffee for the day. I've got two French Presses full to the brim, and the aroma is absolutely heavenly. Today's coffee is some very dark-roasted Sumatran. Pour yourself a cup and pull up a chair.
It was right at the end of June when I did a couple of Coffee Breaks to sort of whet your appetite on the topic of Economics: Kingdom Economics, that is.
As I noted back then, I'm not an economist and I've been away from my involvement in the world of banking for nearly 20 years. Nevertheless, I have always had an avid interest in economics, investments, currencies, stocks and bonds. One of my favorite times to watch television is the Saturday morning block of financial programs on Fox News. Added to that is the recent launch of Fox Business News (Channel 359, if you are a DirecTV subscriber) with Neil Cavuto.
When I first began this series, I commented on the stark
contrast between the economic systems of this world, and the
We all think of money as a medium of exchange -- and in this world's economy, it is THE medium or currency of exchange. In the Kingdom of God, money DOES get used, but it isn't the medium of exchange or the primary currency.
The kingdoms of this world focus on the getting of money, more money and even more money; and they trade on the maxim of the "Golden Rule": "Them that's got the gold makes the rules."
Funny thing, the Word of God even backs that up to a certain extent. Proverbs 22:7 tells us, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."
The issue here is how you define "rich." If you define "rich" as simply having lots of money, you're wrong! There are tens and hundreds of thousands -- millions, even -- of people who have hoards of money, millions of dollars in the bank, but they live in poverty.
Poverty, you see, is not defined by money, it is defined by the lack of the Blessing of Abraham, which is nothing more than the original blessing given by God in the Garden to Adam and Eve, lost to mankind through sin, and restored by love-filled faith and implicit trust in the Lord. We refer to it as the "Blessing of Abraham" because that's how the Holy Spirit categorizes it throughout Scripture.
The "Blessing" is nothing more and nothing less
than a divine impartation which empowers people of faith to prosper
spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally (is there such a
Prosperity is -- to borrow a description from Jesse Duplantis -- like a pie. If you only have a few pieces of the pie, you have some of the ingredients of prosperity, but not whole prosperity. Spiritual relationship and maturity in God is a slice of that pie. Physical Health is another slice. Money is a slice. Emotional Health is a slice. Good Relationships with family is a slice. Good Relationships with the people around you is another slice. Take away one or more of those slices, and you've lost the wholeness of true prosperity.
Prosperity is defined in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament as (yeshuÃ²â‚¬aÃ²h). We better think of it in our Anglicized "Jesus." That Hebrew word represents the totality of prosperity: salvation, deliverance, aid, assistance, victory, complete provision, personal and physical and material welfare -- hence, prosperity.
Both Hebrew and Aramaic texts of Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31 record, "Thou shalt call His name, Yeshuah."
Matthew's account adds, "For He shall save His people from their sins." We'll come back to a better description of this Greek word (ì²˜ì²¸ì±ˆì²«) (sodzo) a bit later in this series.
In Part II of this series, I told you about a man whom we referred to as "Jim" who had millions in the bank and real estate holdings who was spending his life in misery, not enjoying his material wealth and not having any clue to what living a prosperous life was all about.
Before we ran out of time in that Coffee Break, I said that I would tell you a story of two "Davids" whose lives epitomized Jesus' experience with the "rich young ruler" (see Matthew 19).
David Salzburg (his name has been changed in this story for obvious reasons) was in every respect the picture of the "rich young ruler." He was a young man who had inherited wealth from his family. Whatever he could imagine he could have.
At age eighteen, David joined the Army and thought to make the military a career. He quickly began to rise through the ranks. At age 23, he was sent to fight in Vietnam. As the months of conflict wore on, he saw the deliverance and protection of the Lord repeatedly.
A day came when he was caught in an ambush. His soldiers accidentally walked into an area between two separate squads of Viet Cong soldiers. The platoon he commanded was pinned down and his men were being killed one after another. They were caught in a crossfire from which there was no escape. Lying flat on the ground, David cried out to the Lord. "Lord, if you will get me out of this conflict alive and intact, I'll do whatever you want me to do. I'll be whatever you want me to be. I'll go wherever you want me to go."
It was -- as he later said -- one of those promises made in the heat of battle when death is imminent. He meant it when he said it, but when he thought about it later, he never really expected God to take him up on it.
As suddenly as the crossfire from the two Viet Cong squads had begun it ceased. The Viet Cong disappeared before David's remaining soldiers realized what had happened. They picked themselves up from their hiding places or foxholes and realized that not everyone had been killed. No one knew why the VC had suddenly stopped firing on them -- and to this day, none of them have any answers. They just knew that somehow, by some miracle of God, they lived to tell the tale and fight another day.
By the time David Salzburg came home from Vietnam, the memory of his promise to God had receded into the background, and there was no tap on his shoulder from the Holy Spirit reminding him of it. Understand, of course, that David had grown up in a nominally Christian home where the family had gone to church on Sunday, sang the hymns and gospel songs, paid their tithes and all that, but lacked in any evidence in their lives of the grace, mercy, love, power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nearly two decades passed after David's return from Vietnam. Both parents died, his father first, and then in 1989 or 1990 his mother. When she died, she left David a vast estate worth perhaps several hundred million dollars. Meanwhile, David in is own right, had developed his own talents for investing and trading in real estate and was on his way to making his own fortune independently of his inheritance.
A day came when he awoke early in the morning and the Holy Spirit was speaking quietly in his ear. "David, do you remember the promise you made to me in Vietnam? Remember when you were pinned down by enemy fire and facing death and you promised that if I delivered you and brought you safely home from Vietnam, you'd serve me, do whatever I asked and go wherever I sent you?"
He sat up straight in bed. "Sure, Lord! I remember. What do you want of me?"
"Sell all thou hast, and come and follow me."
Something was birthed in David Salzburg in that moment. It was the currency of the Kingdom of God. Know what that is?
Nope, it's not money. It's
something that will produce all the money, and everything else you have need of
if you understand how to use it according to the principles of the
Faith! That's what it is. Faith. Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. Without it, you simply have no means to operate within and from the economy of God's Kingdom.
The apostle Paul wrote, "Now the just shall live by faith." (Hebrews 10:38) Then he followed it up by saying, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
Get it? Faith has substance. Reality. In the natural world, faith is an invisible intangible. In the Kingdom of God faith is the visible substance, the currency, the means of exchange by which both the invisible and the visible work. Faith is the currency that brings the invisible (to the natural eye) to manifestation in the visible realm.
Consider Hebrews 11:6: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
That's a fact! It is absolutely impossible to please God -- no matter what you do -- without operational and functioning faith working in and through you. It matters not how many good deeds you do. It matters not how many people you help. It matters not how many times a week you go to church. It makes not one whit of difference how much money you put in the offering, how faithful you are in paying tithes, or whatever.
People do these things all the time, and they do them by rote -- NOT by faith -- and never realize that God gets no pleasure from them or their deeds. He couldn't be less impressed with all that they do because of the absence of faith.
In Romans 10:17, Paul writes, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."Â And that's exactly what happened to David Salzburg. He HEARD the Word of the Lord in his spirit. That Word produced faith. Suddenly David had something far more valuable than all the hundreds of millions of dollars credited to his name. He had a currency of inestimable and eternal value -- a currency that would produce everything he would ever need: the faith that comes by hearing the Word: the faith that produces manifested results.
David would later say, I stopped everything I was doing. I surrendered my life to the Lord at that moment in time. I started the process of liquidating all of my holdings. I sold off the huge estate, my fancy cars, my yacht everything. Then I asked the Lord to show me where He wanted me to put all that money. It took me almost two years to get rid of it all. In the meantime, I studied the Word. I spent time getting to know the Lord. I spent time listening to His Spirit. It all came down to the day where I disposed of my last possession, and gave away the very last dollar I had. I closed my bank accounts, my brokerage accounts, my investment accounts everything.
Having accomplished the first instruction of the Lord to him, David now said to the Lord, "OK, Lord. Now what?"
The Lord answered him and said, "I want you to begin to travel about. I’ll provide you with the rides, the places to stay, homes to spend time in, food to eat whatever your needs are for the moment but I want you to travel where I send you and speak to the people I put you with, and say to them, Sell all thou hast, and come and follow me."
And that's exactly what David Salzburg did. He became a modern-day itinerant prophet with a very direct and very specific message targeted to just those people to whom the Holy Spirit sent him. It was a message directed to modern-day "rich young rulers" whose lives were based in the economy of this world. For a number of years he traveled wherever and whenever the Lord ordered his steps.
If someone offered him a ride, he took the ride knowing that the individual offering the ride needed to hear the Word of the Lord in their life. He hitch-hiked from city to city, from state to state across the nation, sometimes being directed to stay put in someone's home for a time until the Lord indicated to him that he had delivered all the Word that needed to be delivered.
During the years that he traveled, he never lacked for food or money. Interestingly, David Salzburg refused to take money from those to whom he delivered the message God had given him. "The Word of the Lord is not for sale," he would say. "God is my source, and He provides all that I have need of."
There is a fascinating parallel -- and a fascinating difference -- in the lives of the rich young ruler of Matthew 19, and our modern "rich young ruler" in David Salzburg. We don't have time to explore it today, so let's stop here and pick up our narrative from Matthew 19 in our next Coffee Break.
Have a wonderful weekend. See you next week.
Kingdom Economics is a system under which we return to the priorities of life established by God in the Garden. Our assignment from God is our priority. Our provision is His priority.
The Blessing of the Lord be upon you.
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