When I speak about all the great things and miracles of God happening in India, Eastern Europe, Africa and other developing nations, people sometimes ask: “Why don’t these things seem to happen here in Australia?” I am sure people are asking the same questions in America and Western Europe also. Every now and then pentecostal preachers from the west should visit some developing nations just to be encouraged at what God can do, even through them, and witness the great faith of people who cannot trust in the world’s goods, because they don’t have access to them.
The Bible says that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Going after money can damage your faith and cause you to suffer. Money is the power to harness the resources of the world, including people and their services, to get what you want. It has been described as “the anointing of the flesh”. The more money you have, the easier it is to feel that you are not desperately in need of God’s provision and care. Hungry? Go to the shops, take money from the ATM and buy food! Sick? Go to the doctor and get a pill to mask the symptoms. Unhappy? Put on some pop music or see a psychiatrist. Or maybe buy a boat. Its amazing what money can do. For many, it is empowering for INDEPENDENCE from God. But DEPENDENCE on God is what Jesus constantly modeled and it was the secret of the power of His earthly ministry.
Money can make you comfortable. And the high value put on personal comfort in the West is the enemy of the move of the Spirit of God. Why discipline your flesh if you can feel good just indulging all your desires?
We could evangelize the entire world cheaply enough if we as Christians wanted to, but most of the time we’d rather have a better house, a better car, a better sofa, a better flat screen TV. We could reach the world through television and the internet with a very credible witness if we were so inclined, but we can’t hear God leading us to do that, so we go for comfort instead. I have met Christians who when I try to confront them with the opportunities available, they say, “Tell someone who cares”.
Miracles happen when people pay attention to God’s word and cry to God with all their heart. But when we feel secure in our natural gifts and resources we tend not to cry out to God as much, or focus on God’s Word as much. We CAN choose to focus on God even if rich, but few do, and we would have to be willing to give up those riches or a part of them on a regular basis if we really want to be obedient to God. After all, we are responsible to feed the hungry with both natural and spiritual bread, and this costs money. See Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats, which deals with God’s final judgment.
The success of materialism in the western world has dulled the hearts and minds to God. When we are drowning in worldly pleasure, its hard to hear what the eternal God is saying.
Be that as it may, we may actually now be on the verge of a terrible financial crisis in the western world. The American stock market dropped about 4.5% in 2 days on July 26 and 27, 2007 (the last two days at the time of writing). Other markets in the world followed. It seems that a lot of credit is drying up, as more and more lenders default on their loans. The stock market in America has been bought up on margin loans, artificial credit creation by banks and even by the government at times, by borrowed money from Japan issued at close to zero percent interest. It has created a bubble. Now a variety of factors is threatening this whole arrangement, and the consequences could be REALLY UGLY for many. Americans are faced with a deflationary scenario in which their homes could dramatically drop in value and prevent the taking out of lines of credit which have been financing the lifestyles of many until now. I predict this could even spread to Australia, which is enjoying (?) an unprecedented real estate and resources boom, and where most everyone is still very bullish on real estate and the stock market at the time of writing, though we are in the midst of a drought.
Even if the next few days give a reprieve, the warning bell has been sounded and the writing is on the wall. Years of easy credit and inflated asset prices could be coming to an end. Families could be forced to share accommodation with more people and food prices could go through the roof.
My family and I have not been immune from suffering ourselves. In the last year, even as we have watched our ministry touch many thousands through the television channels we founded, we have gone from being fairly well-to-do or even rich to “struggling” – perhaps through my own mistakes more than anything. It is causing me for one to return to the Word of God and prayer. We have to humble ourselves when we face adversity, or we could be hardened.
Now, as our materialistic dreams threaten to crumble and fall into the dust, it is a good time for us to earnestly seek God once again. This life is NOT all about building assets. Our life was given that we might return to God, and come to know Him and faithfully serve Him so that others too would come to know the love of God. For this to happen, it may be that God is bringing some discipline into our lives, so that we seek first the Kingdom of God again.