MPGC42- OUT OF POVERTY
In God's original plan, man was meant to rule the earth in cooperation with Him. Dependence upon our Father in Heaven for everything was how we were meant to operate. Sadly man chose to operate independently from God. Poverty (both spiritual and physical) was one of the curses that resulted from sin.
Most of mankind lives in a cycle of poverty. A person may be rich but living in spiritual poverty, or he may be spiritually rich while living in physical poverty.
When the crown of thorns (the symbol of poverty) was put onto Christ's head, he was about to redeem us from this curse at the cross. He took our poverty (both spiritual and physical) to his death so that when he rose, we could also rise to a new life -- a life of sufficiency and abundance to do all the work we were meant to do here on earth.
In this last study about poverty we will look at giving, at working and at how to appropriate God's promises. Let's get started so we can get .....
Out of Poverty
WORK -- ITS PURPOSE
Day 1- In God's original plan work was the method of fulfilling God's original mandate to mankind.
Genesis 1:28-29 / Genesis 2:15
Day 2- It was to be through work that God would multiply his abundance to us.
Proverbs 10:4 / Proverbs 14:23 / Proverbs 28:19
Work was to be a blessing to us.
Day 3- And in EVERYTHING man put his hand to, it was so that the Lord and his purposes would be served.
With the blessings God gave us for working unto him we would live in abundance -- i.e. with enough to care for ourselves, our families and those in need around us.
Day 4- After Adam and Eve sinned, Adam had to pry out his provision from the ground. Instead of naturally bringing forth trees and fruit it now yielded thorns and thistles. Hard work, sweat and labor became the way of life.
Sadly, this is where most of us live. While the world functions by the law of poverty and the sweat of their brow, God's children are to function by the law of redemption and by the blood of His (Christ's) brow.
Day 5- Every one of us must work today for a very practical reason.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
Living by faith doesn't mean we don't work. But it means that we work and believe God that He will bless our labor.
Day 6- By our work we use our creativity and energy in the taming of this world to use for God. Once we live in wealth and abundance we have a choice to make. One side of that choice Jesus explained in this parable.
King Solomon called this hoarding of wealth a "grievous evil". Why?
Ecclesiastes 5: 13-15
As God's children we are not to make this choice.
Day 7- God's blessing to us should give us great satisfaction and joy so that we can be rich towards God.
The choice we must make is to remember that all wealth comes from God and we are to use it for His purposes. Let's continue looking at this in our next section.
Day 8- Giving has to begin by the giving of ourselves completely to God.
2 Corinthians 8:5
Like the apostle Paul we need to put everything in perspective.
Day 9- We belong to God. He owns us and all that we have. Therefore when we give freely and generously it is a proof of our love towards Him and He in turn showers His love upon us.
2 Corinthians 9: 6-11
Notice again verse 11 how the cycle of wealth works. God makes us rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion. This is true with money, with possessions, with time, and also with spiritual wealth. And when we give to others they complete the cycle by giving thanks to God and thus God is honored.
Day 10- While there are people who live in poverty, those who have what they need are asked to give. With this kindness, the poor have a window of opportunity to see more of God and to rise up into all that they have in Christ. Meanwhile those who give are promised:
A. Help - Psalm 41:1-3
B. Reward - Proverbs 19:17
C. No lack- Proverbs 28:27
D. Treasure in Heaven- Matthew 19:21
Day 11- King David observed that giving is like an insurance policy in evil times. When the righteous give, then God accepts full responsibility for all their needs. Here is what David saw:
First: Psalm 37:21b ---- Then: Psalm 37:25-26
We often quote Philippians 4:19 that God will meet all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus but neglect to read the verse just before it. Verse 19 is only promised to those who give.
GIVING BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
When man receives anything he tends to hang on tight to it because it might not come again. That is the normal tendency of the fallen nature. Therefore any giving or receiving we do is because of God's grace through faith. What does this mean?
As believers we are to live opposite to the way the world lives. They work by the sweat of their brow and what their own strength and ability can produce. We are also to work hard but as unto the Lord, looking to Him for all that we need. We reach for that provision with the hand of faith knowing that our God owns everything. If we know that we always have a supply for our needs, then we can be free to give it away. But if we aren't sure that God has our supply or that he will give it to us, then we'll revert back to the world's way of hoarding.
Day 12- If anyone should have known and lived by this truth (that all giving and receiving is by grace through faith) it should have been the Jewish nation. Psalm 78 is a record of all that God did and provided for Israel. Read just a few of the verses.
Psalm 78: 12-16, 23-29
Despite all God had done for them the Jews did not believe God or trust that He would deliver them the next time they got into trouble.
Instead of reaching out their hand of faith to receive from God's abundant storehouse for the next need that they had, they just kept on sinning -- usually by grumbling, complaining and unbelief.
This is NOT to be how we operate!
BY OUR GIVING WE SHOW HONOR
Day 13- Who must be honored first by our giving and how?
This is called the tithe and it's the basis of Christian giving. It's what we owe to God. After this came the offerings. This is what we choose to give and it's over and above what we owe.
Day 14- Who must be honored second by our giving?
Matthew 15:4-6 / Ephesians 6:2-3
As children we are to give our parents respect and obedience. We offer them our services as they need to run the family and home. Later in life they may need our help financially. Notice in Ephesians 6:3 the promise to us for giving respect and honor to our parents.
Day 15- Thirdly we must honor the servants of the Lord who minister God's word to us and who minister to our needs.
Acts 28:10 / Galatians 6:6
Notice that both of these verses leave the giving open to include "all good things," but certainly it included their physical needs.
Day 16- Fourth we must honor the elders who govern the church.
1 Timothy 5: 17-18
Day 17- Our money is not ours. We are only managers of the resources that God has given us and only for a limited time. If we invest only in temporal things their will be no eternal reward for it. But if we invest in the eternal welfare of others they will be there in eternity to welcome us. This is illustrated in the parable of the shrewd manager.
Luke 16: 1-9
Even though this manager was about to lose his management position because he had been wasting his master's resources, yet he is commended in verse 8 and 9 because he had invested in people who later would be there to help him out.
HOW CAN WE INVEST IN PEOPLE?
Day 18- These verses give us some clear instruction about WHO we are to invest in. Make a list of them.
Deuteronomy 26:12 / Psalm 41:1 / Isaiah 1:17 / Jeremiah 22:3, 16 / James 1:27
We are to care for those who no one else cares for. All you need to do is open your eyes and ask God to direct you to someone. Your investing may be with money, time or other kinds of giving.
Day 19- We can invest in others by sharing the gospel. Since it is a universal gospel it will be true and relevant anywhere you share it, anywhere in the world. This was the mandate that Jesus gave to all his disciples down through the ages.
Matthew 24:14 / Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15
Day 20- While there are pastor's and teachers called to speak and teach to large groups, all hearts are won to Jesus one by one. We are called to present the truth and then what people do with the truth will be their responsibility. How do we get the courage and power to do this?
Zechariah 4:6 / Acts 1:8
It is only the Holy Spirit that has the power to change any man's heart. We are only his mouthpiece. Who does God give his Holy Spirit to?
Day 21- Another way that we can invest in people is to repay our debt to the Jewish people. This will surprise many but we owe them our spiritual inheritance.
The Lord Jesus was born a Jew and because "his own people received him not" (John 1:11) he opened up the good news for the Gentiles (all who were not Jewish). Therefore we should show the Jewish people love, mercy and kindness. What we do for the Jews we do for Jesus.
HOW ARE WE TO APPROPRIATE GOD'S PROMISES FOR PROVISION?
You'll notice if you have worked your way through the studies in this course that I usually end with this very practical question. How are we to appropriate God's promises for ourselves? It is never enough to just know that God has something for us. We are required to reach out our hands of faith and take it.
Day 22- How do we know what promises we can claim? While some say we are to "name it and claim it" I believe that we are safest to let the Holy Spirit guide you to the will of God for your situation. When the Holy Spirit directs you he will also give you the faith to claim it as your own. So let the Holy Spirit guide you into whatever truth you need. Without Him we are incapable of knowing exactly what we need.
You can say a simple prayer like this. "Holy Spirit I have this situation that I am facing. What truth from the Father should I be standing on and believing for? Would you reveal it to me? " Then you go your way in expectation and wait for his answer. It may come while you are reading the Bible, hearing a message or he may simply whisper it into your heart. When he speaks you will know.
Day 23- If the first step is to let God pick the promise, then the second step is to examine its conditions. God does give some promises that are unconditional, where he will do something when it suits him (for example, Acts 2:17). But, most of his promises are conditional. IF.....we do this ----- THEN.....God will do that. Here are three promises that God will send us blessings. Write down the conditions for each promise.
Exodus 23:25-26 / Malachi 3:10 / Matthew 6:33
Day 24- Once we know what God wants for us then the third step is for us to believe it and act on it. Both belief and action are important.
There often is a delay from when we receive God's promise and when we see the outcome. What does our faith need to be mixed with?
Hebrews 6:12 / Hebrews 10:36
RIGHT THINKING AND SPEAKING
While we wait patiently for God to fulfill his promises to us, we must think right to speak right so as to live right. So often we can negate what God wants to give us by our impatient words.
"I'm beginning to think this is never going to happen."
"I'm not sure I can wait much longer."
"I wonder if I heard God right in the first place?"
Most of us have been caught saying things like this that express unbelief and doubt. But how can we help it when days, months, even years have passed and we still are waiting for God to come through on his promise to us?
Day 25- I believe the answer lies in this verse stated in Joshua.
God is giving us the promises of being prosperous and successful. When taken together this covers every situation of our life. But the verse clearly states the requirements to receive these gifts and I believe it's the answer to how we live and what we do while we are waiting.
First -- we are to meditate on the law of the Lord (the words of scripture). This means we are thinking about God's word and mulling it over in our minds all throughout the day and night.
Psalm 119:147-148 / Psalm 143:5
Second -- We don't let the law of the Lord depart from our mouth. We are only to say with our mouth what God says in His word. If we are thinking right we will find ourselves speaking right with this result.
Third -- We are to obey what God says in His word. If God has revealed to you a promise to stand on, then you are to faithfully fulfill the condition of that promise while you wait for it. And -- you are to do so with a whole heart.
Day 26- What we think and say and do will determine what we experience. These verses also give us the same promise as in Joshua 1:8 -- i.e. that in whatever we do we'll prosper. But they clearly give us some direction in our living so as to be able to receive these promises. Write out three things we MUST NOT DO and then two things we MUST DO.
Psalm 1: 1-2
In fulfilling these conditions what three things are we promised?
We must make a distinction here between earning God's grace -- which is impossible -- and meeting God's conditions -- which are obligatory.
Day 27- We can't expect God's grace to work in the financial areas of our life if we are displaying any of these sins.
A. Irresponsibility - Proverbs 10:4
While some versions say lazy hands, the King James Version translates this verse, "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand." A "slack hand" is a false, slothful or idle hand. In other words an irresponsible person.
B. Laziness -- Proverbs 24:30-34
C. Dishonesty -- Ephesians 4:28
The curse of poverty has been broken by Christ's death for you. Let's review these last three studies.
1. In the beginning there was plenty. God's intention was to provide for his subjects. Work was part of his plan to use our creative energy to "fill the earth and subdue it". Through work God would multiply his abundance to us.
2. The curse of poverty came as a result of sin. In deciding to operate independent of God's will, man began to try and get all that they needed from each other and the world instead of from God.
3. Poverty is a curse -- never a blessing. It's not God's will for his children.
4. God's intention is for us to have enough for our own life, those we are responsible for, plus enough left over to give to others. That is living in abundance.
5. God's giving to us is all because of his grace (God's riches at Christ's expense). It's not what we deserve. We receive His abundance by faith.
6. Obedience to God brings blessings and disobedience brings curses.
7. Poverty is when we lack the things we need and have nothing left over to share with others.
8. The crown of thorns put onto Christ's head at the time of his crucifixion is a symbol of poverty. By the power of his blood the curse of poverty was broken at the cross and we are now anointed to prosper.
9. Christians have believed a lie and taken on a poverty mindset down through the centuries. The root cause is a religious spirit that gives us pride from the effort. This asceticism poses as spirituality and cheats the believer out of what Jesus died to give them.
10. We are called to humility but not to a servility that embraces poverty and depression. This practice has caused the church to be small-minded, poor and backward in its thinking.
11. We are meant to think BIG without limits because we have a God that is without limits.
12. Christ redeemed us from the curse of poverty so we could enjoy "all the blessings of Abraham."
13. To have the right attitude towards wealth means we are rich towards God first and are seeking to extend his kingdom as the priority of our life. If we take care of God's business, He'll take care of ours.
14. It's wrong to seek wealth by unethical means, to trust in it or to use it selfishly.
15. When we give to the poor it is really giving to the Lord.
16. God gives us abundance so that we can give freely.
17. God's blessing is not only what is out front of us but it's also what is NOT overtaking us from behind -- such as disappointment and disaster.
18. Our vows to God should not be one of poverty but one of priority. We are to live by God's priorities.
19. True success is when each of us succeed at what God has commissioned us to do. This means that God's provision will look different in different lives.
20. The Lord sends us out to give, not to get. This is operating in abundance. We can operate in abundance without being wealthy by the world's standards but it is not living in poverty.
21. The key to God's provisions are held in his promises. His promises are ours legally but we have to "set our feet" on them and claim them as our own.
22. Jesus is the one and only channel through which these promises are made available to us. Through our faith in Christ we can claim them now and receive his blessings.
23. In the life of faith we often receive the promise NOW while we wait for the outworking in the FUTURE.
24. Giving begins to break the log jam of poverty in our life. The first thing we must give is ourselves up completely to God.
25. The world's way is to hoard but God's children are to live opposite to the world. We are to receive all we need from God plus some so that we can give it away. This is true for money, the things we own, our time and our energy.
26. By giving we show honor to God, to our parents and to the Lord's servants in our life.
27. We are to invest in people -- specifically those who have no one to care for them. We can also invest in others by sharing the gospel.
28. Let the Holy Spirit give you the promises that you are to claim. Once you know that promise, study it so you can fulfill its conditions. Then believe it and act on it.
29. While we wait for God to fulfill his promises to us meditate on God's word so that our thinking, our speech and our actions stay in line with God's promise.
Next Study: MPGC#43