Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dude, Where's My Sustenance?

In times when so many people are struggling financially, the field is ripe for the prosperity preachers to bank upon the hope of the kingdom. It's not that they are misquoting scriptures. On the contrary, they are talking about the prosperity that God wants all of us to have. Remember that God delights in the prosperity of his servants. (Psalm 35:27) So when it doesn't work, what's the scoop? The Bible is filled with lean times where people had far too much week left over at the end of their money. Some of it was to test their faith. Some of it was because they were lazy or stupid. But the overwhelming majority of the times of famine and leanness were because the very people who were created to walk, talk, and fellowship with God had broken their connection. Many of the people were just plain “far from God”. And God decided to withhold His blessing from them in order to get their full attention. Hey, I've been homeless before. I know what it's like to look up to the heavens and yell “OK, God...you have my full attention!” Every time I have been financially lean in my life it was because I FIRST became spiritually lean.

Love the story of Gideon? Here is how that amazing saga begins:

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” Judges 6:1-10.

I love it how the New King James uses the word “sustenance” for their vanished stuff. That Hebrew word is also translated in other places to mean “life”, “food”, “revival”, etc.; all the things we need most now in this nation.

So before we cling to “hope and change” from media crackpots and phoneys; maybe we need to see if there is any sin and/or rebellion in our life. This story ends in an amazing way: Gideon delivers and restores God's people. Until another Gideon comes, this is an excellent time for us to take inventory of our lives. David asked God to do something that is a very scary request for most Christians:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (New Living Translation)

The good news over and over in the Bible is the fact that when God's people repented, they were restored to times of peace and prosperity. First comes the fellowship. Then comes the bank account. See how it works. If more people really understood that principal, the prosperity vultures who sell your deliverance for a $29 DVD would suddenly find themselves in the same boat. And God is no respecter of persons.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (New Living Translation)

It's our move! Move the King of Kings back into your life if you find him off the board these days. And if He is alive and well in your game, march forth and go take the enemy.

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