January 20, 2017
We’ve come to a place in this discussion on the Paths of Righteousness that I believe we can wrap up today before moving on to talk about the next step in this adventure — that step being, “Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Death.” I’m going to run long today, so bear with me.
There’s a phrase used by psychologists which accurately describes a condition that has plagued the body of Christ for centuries. That phrase is: “cognitive dissonance.” Simply put, this phrase describes the following condition:
Sometimes, people hold a strong core belief that is very wrong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable. We call that “feeling” cognitive dissonance. Because it is so important to protect the core belief, people rationalize (they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), they ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit with their core belief.
One core belief widely held in the body of Christ is that God wants His people to be poor — that wealth and riches are evil. Jesus most certainly did NOT say that “money is the root of all evil.” We all have read how this is phrased in the KJV:
I Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Unfortunately, this has led to some serious cognitive dissonance in the body of Christ, and a series of related doctrines which are the polar opposite of everything that Jesus lived and taught. Take a look at how this actually reads in the Greek text.
For avarice and greed are the root and core of all that is worthless, injurious and depraved, and while some lust after and continually pursue the acquisition of possessions, they have been seduced and led astray from their faith — their ability to hear and be sensitive to the voice of Holy Spirit — and their reliance upon and total trust in the Word of the Lord; and as a result, they have been penetrated and transfixed by the consequential grief. (I Timothy 6:10, RAC Translation and Amplification)
Quite a different picture, isn’t it? It is the lust after things, the continual pursuit after personal gain to the shutting out of the voice of Holy Spirit that Paul is addressing. It is that which produces de-sensitivity of our spirits to the Spirit of God. It is the dissolution of our total trust and reliance in the total provision of the Lord for all of our needs.
The Greek word that gets translated “evil” by the KJV translators is not the word we associate with “The Fear of Evil,” or the kind of evil we think of when we hear Satan’s name. This is what Paul is addressing and why he says that this lust, avarice and greed produces that which is worthless, injurious and depraved.
Hence, this brings us to the last of the specific principles or purposes we are discussing in being led in the Paths of Righteousness for His name’s sake.
9. Jesus’ leading of us in these paths is to rid us of our dependence on the World System — Mammon, if you will — and to teach us the principles of Kingdom Economics.
Kingdom Economics, and the economics of the world system are about as diametrically opposite of each other as anything can be. Everything about Mammon is to “get all you can, and can all you get. That’s precisely what Paul is addressing in his letter to Timothy.
Take a look at some of the things that Jesus taught concerning economics. This will get a bit long, so bear with me.
Matthew 6:19-34: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 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 to day is, and to morrow 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.
This passage is probably among the most-quoted of Scriptures to justify the poverty mind set that has permeated the body of Christ. Unredeemed human nature seeks to acquire and acquire, and acquire, “stuff” – houses, lands, cars, clothes and lots of money. The reason for this need to “get” is rooted in the Fear of Death. The subconscious logic behind the constant need to acquire more and more things is that the day might come when a person “won’t have enough.” If they don’t have enough, they might starve, or they might be stuck without the provision of a home or clothing or the ability to go somewhere for help – the subconscious excuses really can go astray!
Hence, “cognitive dissonance.” Hence, the growth and development of a poverty mindset.
What gets lost in this maelstrom of subconscious human reasoning is the fact that you are NOT your source! GOD is your source – TOTALLY!
I have a bone to pick with a lot of “prosperity teachers” because they have lost a sense of balance in teaching the fact that God wants us to prosper. God DOES want His people to prosper and become “the head and not the tail.” In fact, the Scripture plainly tells us the following:
Deuteronomy 8:18: But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
You see it don’t you? It is He that gives you the power to get wealth. But this power to get wealth is not so we can use it however we like. God’s objective is to demonstrate His Covenant. The demonstration of His Covenant comes in our wise use of wealth. We use it to profit and expand the Kingdom of God. We use it in ways that assist other people without simply giving handouts lacking in responsibility – the way so many government programs do. (And I won’t go down that path today!) We use our wealth in ways that bring Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
THAT, folks, is how we lay up treasures for ourselves in Heaven “where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through and steal.”
When Jesus talks about the light of the body being the eye, He is talking about what we focus our attention on. Are we focusing on getting rich for the sake of getting rich, (and that’s the essence of Mammon) or are we focusing on the Kingdom of God? This is why Jesus says that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve the Beast system with all of its “get, get, get” mentality and at the same time serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His purposes and destiny for us, along with His desires. Jesus “gave, gave, gave,” and that’s a foreign way of living to the world around us. There’s no issue with getting, so long as we are giving proportionately as Holy Spirit directs. Now Jesus takes it the next step.
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?
Get it? What happens when you have lots of clothes, or lots of food, or many homes, and the Lord instructs you to give it all away? Are you going to fret and stew over not having enough? Are you going to start worrying about how you are going to live if He commands you to give everything you’ve got? Let me share a couple of quick stories as illustrations to wrap up this discussion. This first one is personal.
When I was teaching broadcast engineering in the mid-1980’s, Della and I were doing OK financially, but really “just making it” with raising the younger of our children who by now were either in junior high or high school – and any of you parents know that when your kids are in their teen years, money flows out the door like water. (Della and I have been re-living that fact again, having the task of raising four young grandchildren!) Unless you have a lot of money or very high incomes, there’s just not a lot left over at the end of each month.
One of my engineering students came to me one day and told me he was going to have to drop out of the class. He was only about six weeks away from graduating and had been a star pupil. He was married and had a one- or two-year old baby. When I asked him the reason, he told me that they couldn’t make it financially and that he needed to find work. Their rent was due and he didn’t have the money for the rent plus the extra to cover the other expenses they had. His rent was about a thousand dollars. I told him not to drop out but to sit tight – that the Lord would come through on his behalf.
[This might have been a secular school, and I was teaching under the auspices of the University of Alaska, but made no bones about sharing the Lord and spiritual principles as part of my engineering courses.]
When I got home that night, Della and I were sharing this young couple’s plight with each other. We both had a quickening in our spirits to get a cashier’s check for the young man’s rent and take it to him. The catch was that our rent was due within the next week. We didn’t have enough money at the time to pay our rent, and if we took a thousand dollars from our account, it would leave us nearly broke. Nevertheless, we had learned that when Holy Spirit quickens you to do something, and that “something” leaves you in a state of immediate want or need, you still do it. This is an exercise in believing and knowing in the core of your being that, as my Dad used to say, “what God orders, He pays for!”
When the Lord gives you specific instruction to give, and – in the natural – that giving leaves you in a precarious financial position, you still do it! We took the cashier’s check over to the young couple. It was a testimony to them, and it was an experience in watching God meet our needs as well. That event caused the young couple to make their own commitment to the Lord. Less than 48 hours after that act of obedience, I received an unexpected financial bonus from my teaching endeavors that enabled us to meet our needs as well. The end of that story was that the young man graduated at the top of the class. He had a job in broadcasting waiting for him when he graduated and went on to become one of Alaska’s premier morning talk and DJ radio hosts.
My second example comes in the form of a soldier who was caught in the midst of enemy crossfire in Vietnam. For the sake of this story, I will simply refer to him as Kevin. Caught in a situation where his buddies were dropping all around him, he prayed, “Lord, if you get me out of this alive and out of this war alive, I will do whatever you ask of me, I’ll go wherever you tell me to go, and I will serve you with everything I have.”
We’ve all heard of “foxhole stories” before where people in crisis make promises to God, and then when the time comes, forget all about their commitments to God. For reasons no one could explain at the time, the crossfire suddenly stopped and everything became quiet. Kevin waited for a bit before he and his remaining buddies were able to get out of there alive. Eventually, he returned home from Vietnam, alive and in good health. Here’s where things get interesting. Not long after returning from Vietnam, Kevin learned that he had inherited great wealth from an aunt who had passed away while he was in Vietnam. He found himself the possessor of millions of dollars, several multi-million dollar homes, a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, yachts – you get the picture. Two years into enjoying his life of luxury, he Lord tapped him on the shoulder and reminded him of the promise he made in Vietnam. Up to this time, Kevin had pretty much forgotten his promise to the Lord, and was simply in cruise mode.
When he heard the voice and quickening of Holy Spirit, he woke up with a start and said, “Lord, I made a promise to you, and I’ll keep it. Whatever you ask of me, I’ll do.” The response he heard in his spirit was, “Sell all thou hast and come and follow me.” He shared his story with our friends about three years later and told us that it took him two years to liquidate everything. He sold off the houses, the cars, the yachts, gave away the tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars he had, gave away all of his personal possessions down to the clothes on his back and a couple of extra changes of clothes which he carried, along with his Bible, in a backpack. He began hitchhiking all over the nation as the Lord directed him, knowing that he was on a specific mission.
In the two years it took Kevin to dispose of all of his possessions, the perfect obedience he exhibited before the Lord opened up a well of the Spirit within him. His complete responsiveness to the voice of Holy Spirit led to his being given prophetic insight into those with whom he came into contact. It enabled him to know by the Spirit exactly what God wanted to say to each person who picked him up at the side of the road.
Our friend, Dave, was working with Hitachi at the time and traveling all over the nation, selling and designing large computer systems and servers for major corporations. One day, driving between Spokane and Yakima, he saw Kevin standing by the side of the freeway with his thumb out in the universal hitchhiking sign. Dave had this penchant for picking up hitchhikers with the idea that he would share the Gospel with them. He stopped to pick up Kevin. Kevin said to Dave, “This is a meeting that God has ordained. He knew that you were going to come this way today and he positioned me in such a way that you would stop and pick me up.”
If I said that Dave was astonished, it would be an understatement! Kevin continued, “The Lord sent me to you with a message that you’ve been pondering over, and you need a confirmation of that message.” By now, Kevin really had Dave’s attention. “OK, I’m listening,” he said. “Sell all thou hast and come and follow me.”
Dave was frustrated to the nth degree. “Whaddaya mean, ‘sell all thou hast? Everything I have is God’s to begin with. I don’t have anything left to sell.” The answer was simple, and it was one I had shared on several occasions with Dave in the weeks leading up to this event. “You still haven’t given me YOU. You haven’t sold your reasoning, your human logic, your trying to figure out things and trying to walk with me according to your reasoning. I want you – NOT your logic, and not your reasoning!”
When they got to Yakima, Kevin said to Dave, “You can drop me off at the jail. I’ll sleep there tonight, and tomorrow the Lord will place me in someone else’s path to share with them.”
This story has some many ramifications that I don’t even begin to be able to explore today, but the end of it was that after several years of traveling like this and being obedient to the Lord, everything he thought he’d sold off or given away came back to him multiplied many times over.
Kevin had grasped the principle of pure obedience. He realized that all of his wealth and belongings were nothing more than “stuff!” To walk in union with the Lord was far more important than trying to hang onto material goods, and because of his obedience in seeking the Lord and His will as his priority in life, the Lord rewarded him ion the years to come with more than he could possibly imagine. Meanwhile, God was his ONLY source of supply, his ONLY source of provision, his food, his water, his clothes, his having a roof over his head each night. Kevin had learned and walked Matthew 6:33 as literally as anyone I’ve ever known.
You all recall the story ion Luke 18 of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked Him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus reminded him of God’s command to “love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy mind and with all thy soul, and thy neighbor as thyself.” The rich young ruler told Jesus that he had kept all of these things his entire life. Jesus’ response then, was, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”
Verse 23 tells us, “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.”
Sad to say, but our friend, Dave, had pretty much the same reaction and response to the Word of the Lord that had been delivered to him on no less than three occasions. He was too proud of his IQ and ability to reason things out and unwilling to “sell” that to the Lord. In the end, Dave died at a relatively young age, having lost his position and esteem in the world, along with what possessions he had, and his family estranged from him.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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