174 The Gospel to the Poor Part Two
My Sermon today entitled THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR
is part two of a two part sermon on Prosperity. Last week we examined at length the Old Testament law on Prosperity from the book of Deuteronomy. We noted from that scripture in Deuteronomy Chapter 8, that Gods purpose in prospering his children is to produce the loving character of Jesus within them.
If we fail to walk in love, then we shall fail to walk in prosperity.
Today I want to consider WHY God wants us to prosper? Is it so that we can be more comfortable, buy bigger cars, and finer houses? For most of us it is difficult to imagine any other reason for that is how the world has trained or schooled our thinking. The world wants bigger, better and more because the world regularly deals in greed and in selfish ambition. This is often why the Christian feels they must avoid the subject of prosperity, and see it as some sort of evil, rather than as a blessing from God.
The Lord provides us with TWO entirely different purposes
for prosperity and I want to show you the both of them right now. First of all, turn with me if you will, to the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 8, and at verse 18: let us read:
“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 swore unto thy fathers,
as it is this day”.
The first reason why God wants you to prosper is that he might establish His Covenant on the earth. You prospering will enable and assist in the establishment of that covenant. As I said in my
closing remarks on last weeks sermon, Gods gifts to us are not essentially for our pleasure, but for His! Our pleasure should be in His presence, we should seek the giver and not the gifts. God does not grant you prosperity to “pleasure” you, rather it is to “pleasure” him. Nevertheless, You will get the Good, and He will get the Glory. Praise God!
Secondly, in Ephesians Chapter 4, verse 28 we read
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth”.
So the second reason for prosperity is that we might give to those in need. We find the typology for that in Genesis chapter 12, when God establishes that covenant with Abraham,
where he says:
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:” Gen 12: v2
Blessing is an instrument by which God can flow favour
through you to prevent misfortune in someone else’s life.
You are Blessed to be a Blessing… that’s Gods Purpose.
If you are not prospering, then it makes it very difficult to fulfil either one of those Divinely appointed purposes. Prosperity is really about having more than enough so that you can take care of your needs and someone else’s needs too. It is about being able to empower others. God does not anoint you for you, he anoints you for others. The Preaching anointing on my life is not for me, its for you. Same with those who have a healing anointing, its for others. Your prosperity is not for you, its for others! You will of course benefit, but the real blessing will be when that benefit flows through you
and not to you.
I’ve heard some say “Well I’m just a simple person with a simple lifestyle, and I don’t need much, so I just ask God for enough to meet my own needs”. Now that all sounds really noble, really humble and really christian? but it may be the most selfish sounding comment that you will ever hear.
Some would say that “this is real humility” …but it’s not!
It’s selfishness. Think about what I’ve just said:
“I’m just a simple person with a simple lifestyle, and I
don’t need much, so I just ask God for enough to
meet my own needs”
Let me show you just how selfish this way of thinking is. You see they could ask God for a MORE, and take what they need out. Take out just enough to meet their simple needs and then give the rest over to those in need. We have the power, and the right as Children of God to ask God for more than our needs, in fact as I said a few weeks ago in my sermon entitled ALL YOUR NEED, we don’t even have to ask for what we need, for God has already gotten those needs covered!
What you are in fact doing by this kind of asking, is saying “God I am only concerned about ME” Do you pray like that?
Yes you do! If you have never asked for more that you need, if you have never asked for plenty, then you have asked selfishly.
I have learned to ask for “much more” so that I can turn this
up-side-down world, right side up! Oh and let me say this:
I expect much more! Watch this space?
God wants to get you out of the place where you are only thinking about YOU, so that when you are praying for MORE you are not thinking about yourself. Yes you may take out what you think you might need, but you can begin to earmark the rest for all kinds of projects to help the Church, community and
neighbourhoods around you and further a-field. The world teaches us that if we have money we need to hold onto it, to keep it! Some People, and amongst them Christians, are so tight-fisted that God cannot bless them. Others show their selfish intentions by tying things up in their last wills, thus ensuring that selfish needs are well taken care of first. To receive benefit from someone’s will is good, but speaking for myself, I’d much rather receive from a “warm” hand and heart, than from a “cold” hand or heart, … wouldn’t you?
Imagine how life would be if God dealt with you, as you deal with him? If He gave to you, as You gave to Him? Some of you “feed” week by week from your Church, you are spiritually nourished from Gods word by the faithful ministry of your Pastor or Priest, yet you never pay for that food. Instead, you regularly leave God a “tip” and some of you eat at McDonalds and pay the bill at Burger-King? (think about that) I myself know a few who enjoy the Spiritual food Gods Word provides, here at The Sanctuary Sunday by Sunday yet they never pay for a meal? Are you eating from Gods hand and not saying thanks?
Those who live for themselves usually are amongst the first to criticize the signs of Divine Prosperity in others.
They gasp and say “that Preacher has got an aeroplane”. It never occurred to them that He could reach more, thousands more for Jesus with the plane than without it. Some who think they are very smart will say “Jesus rode on a Donkey, yet our Preacher rides in a Mercedes” I can tell you if Jesus could have driven a car in his time, he would have had a Mercedes too. They didn’t have cars back then they hadn’t been invented. Back then they had Donkeys, so Jesus used a Donkey.
Then you’ve heard those who say “Jesus ministry was poor and he got along just fine” Have you heard that? What a ridiculous statement! It would have been impossible for Jesus to have been poor. Read your Bible! All the way through the Old Testament God Almighty promised material blessings to anyone who would walk “perfect and upright” before him. If God had failed to bless Jesus materially he would have been breaking his own word. His promise was for anybody that would walk perfectly and uprightly with him, and now you are saying that Jesus whose walk was always perfect and upright … was poor? Look at what happened when Jesus got involved in Simon Peters fishing expedition. Luke 5:7 Peter caught enough fish to sink two boats.
Some people, who don’t read their Bible live in ignorance, they have no idea of the Financial position of Jesus Christ, for it does not make any sense to say that Jesus was either poor or suffered any material hardship. If you start in the book of Genesis, where he made the Garden, there was no need of anything, until Satan showed up, and the first thing they lacked was clothes. Poverty is not a creation of God, but of Satan. Understand that God made a covenant with Abraham, to multiply him exceedingly; and in Genesis 13, we read that Abraham was rich in cattle, rich in silver, and rich in gold. Chapter 17 shows us that God extended this covenant to Abraham’s seed.
Paul in Galatians 3:16 tells us that, that Seed is Christ. When Jesus Christ on the cross bowed his head and said “IT IS FINISHED” he was not just talking about our redemption but about the Abrahamic Covenant. He was the fulfilment, the completion, of what Abraham was promised. This Covenant to
multiply and bless or favour was made to everyone of Abraham’s seed. We know that Isaac and Jacob were favoured and prospered, we know how Joseph, David and Solomon, Job … and all the rest prospered, then we get to Jesus and they say
“he was poor”? The very idea is absurd and impossible,
and an insult to the intelligence!
When Jesus shows up in the picture (and remember that HE was not a Servant but a Son) He was born in a Stable and laid in a Manger, not because Joseph was broke, but because by the time they arrived there was no room in the Inn. But as I pointed out in my Christmas Homily last year, God had him laid in a manger (a feeding trough) because He wanted Jesus to be able
to say that we could “eat of his flesh and drink of his blood”
He was The Bread of Life! So taste and see that the
Lord is Good.
Two years after that their family was led away so that crazy King Herod could not destroy the child, but we read that “Kings” or “Wise men” showed up. We usually assume that there were three, yet there could have been many more. Don’t base your understanding on the pictures of a Christmas Card; the Wise men did not appear at his birth, they did not visit Bethlehem, they came to his home in Nazareth, and offered their gifts to the young child and not to the baby! … and amongst their lavish gifts was a quantity of gold. What did a two year old boy need with Gold? These gifts were setting the child up for life! No one brought me gold when I was two, a three-penny bit or a shilling was all I could expect. But God was taking good care of His son, and he takes good care of me too. Praise God. Jesus never lacked for anything, even though there are those who insult the Creator by thinking and assuming that He was some kind of Gipsy Preacher who had a group of vagabond
followers, with neither in them or on them, and
“no where to lay his head”?
It is true that on ONE occasion He did say that “he had no where to lay his head” and I want to show you that story;
so turn if you will to
Luke Chapter 9 at verse 52. Lets read:
“… and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
So although they wanted to stay in this Samaritan village the locals would not allow it, he wasn’t welcome. look at verse 54
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said,
Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives,
but to save them. And they went to another village.
If you are not welcome it is best to move on!
Now look at verse 57
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way,
a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, (he meant …in this place or in this village) and birds of the air have nests; (in this place) but the Son of man hath no where to lay his head.
(in that place)
It was not that Jesus did not have a home, but in that village, there was no place of welcome for him, no where to lay his head. That’s why he was going to another village.
Lets read and tell the story right!
He wasn’t saying that he was homeless, John Chapter One shows us that he had his own house, do you want to see it? Turn to John 1, and verse 38
“Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi,
(which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? (or where do you live?)
He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour”.
Not only did he take them to see his house, he took them to stay with him; … and I’m not sure that you could easily have 12 disciples stay overnight in your small home, and I believe his house had ample guest accommodation?
Paul writing to the Corinthians reminds them:
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich”. 2 Cor 8:9
The Finest Luxuries of this planet would be mere bric-a-brac in heaven, if any of them were even allowed in? Jesus set aside the Glory and Splendour of His Regal Royal Home, to take up residence on this planet, so that we might someday understand, that “As He is, So are we, in this world” and that one day we will get to see what he gave up for us.
Now I don’t want you to “label” me “a prosperity preacher” for most of those, promise that God can give you bigger and better and more for Your Own Good? If you must label me, then call me a Bible Preacher, for I preach the word without fear or favour to anyone.
Everything I have said in these two sermons entitled “The Gospel to the Poor” you will find in your Bible. What I have discovered is that the Gospel teaches that “God does not want you poor”. Now some will still argue that the Gospel is not about being Healthy or Wealthy, but about being Holy. Yes, the Gospel is about our being Holy, and accepted in relationship with Jesus Christ. God is concerned about your Holiness, your Happiness and your Healthiness, for the Salvation that the Bible offers, and that I Preach, is a Gospel to the whole man.
Turn finally to the Book of Joshua, and in Chapter 1 verse 8
this is what we read:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Notice that it is not saying that God will make our way prosperous, rather it is saying that if we live by the Word of God, and walk the talk and talk the walk, then the Word in us will create the faith and love essential for prosperity.
Wisdom may make you wealthy, but the Word of God in your Spirit will make you prosperous. It’s God word that does it!
The writing of these two sermons has been a personal journey for me. After almost 34 years of ministry, and a lifetime of learning, I have discovered as I hope you have too, that it is
not wrong to Prosper, indeed God delights in my prosperity;
Remember Psalm 35:v27
“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the
LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant”.
However, God cannot give to me, nor to you the things for which we will not trust him. Today I am praying that I can learn to trust him for more than just MY needs, so that maybe
I can help with your needs.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
We need to be aware that there is a prosperity out there which is not from God, there are many healthy and wealthy folks around who never give God a second thought, and their prosperity has become their god. Such prosperity is only temporary, and as we have been seeing in more recent times, God can take all that away from them in a moment.
God can give you Bigger and Better and More, but if your focus is on that, then he will not. The Christians focus should always
be on God, the giver, and not the gift. With or without the gift,
you will still have the giver.
Money will buy a bed but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness; religion but not salvation; and a passport to everywhere but heaven.
The Hymn writer puts it this way:
“If you have Jesus, you’ve more wealth in your soul than acres of diamonds and mountains of gold!”
That’s the Gospel to the Poor! Amen