Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get Your Thoughts In Order--The Deceitfulness of Riches

"Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly." 
Zephaniah 1:13-14

Quite by chance I found a small book on the bookshelf in my office that I had never read before about a week ago.  I am not even sure where the book came from to be honest.  It was a little prayer book published in 1955 called Teenagers Pray*.  When I found it, I opened and read a  paragraph from the first page and put it down.  (I have never been much for these type of books filled with scripted prayers.)  This morning I passed by that book, picked it up again, and read one of the prayers entitled "For A Thankful Heart".  A part of the first paragraph--one entire sentence--said, "Dear Father in heaven, every time I open my eyes I see the things that you have given me--home and clothes, friends and school, a free country, luxuries from science and industry..."  It was thought provoking and I did find myself blessing the Lord for all He has done for me.  Yet, the "luxuries" statement, while true, also caused me to begin a cautious prayer for protection.  "Lord keep me from any snare that this world has to offer.  While your blessings are many, let me not be so captivated by the gifts of your gracious hand that I forget to seek the greater blessing of seeing your face in a personal relationship." 

Zephaniah addresses many things in this short letter.  In chapter one he addresses business leaders, political leaders, and religious leaders.  Chapter 1:10-13 was geared towards the business sector.  It appears that he spoke of the fish gate since it was to the north of Jerusalem.  It is feasible that he is mentioning this area because a future invasion on the city would likely come from the north.  However, this was also a market district.  So were the other areas mentioned.  Verse 11 agrees with this assessment, "Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off."  He may very well be pointing to an economic collapse near the coming of the Lord's Day.  It makes sense.  Were it true and a political leader joined the world together to combat poverty and stabilize the new one world government.....I think you know where this is going.  The anti-Christ may very well rise to power on the heels of such an event.    

Jesus addressed a church that said, "...I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17)  This church (Laodicea--which means the peoples justice or the peoples church) was so captivated by their wealth that they assumed temporal resources were a sign of divine blessing, sanction, and authority.  Jesus, who is longing to get in to this godless organization bearing His name, is seen outside knocking on the door.  The Faithful and True witness then says that He will spit them out for their worldliness.  

Do you know that it is estimated that the church just in America spent 500 billion dollars in the last fifteen years on buildings and programs?  How many were saved with such a great expenditure?  The church has flat lined and it is actually losing members.  Several denominations which were once filled with evangelistic fire could be out of existence in a decade without renewal. Yet, they have vast holdings of land and possessions.  In countries where prayer is their main source of power, the church is blossoming.  Such is the vanity and deception of wealth.  What we need is to let Jesus in.  He needs to be the Lord of the church.  The Holy Ghost needs to baptize us afresh with power to be a witness.  God must be God!  If all we seek Him for each Sunday is His blessings, who is being served?  If all we are doing is shouting His praises in a half hearted, placating attempt to get Him to pour more of this world on us--who is being served?      

Could God be warning the church that there might come some sort of economic collapse that will dislodge our faith in the things of a decaying world that are fleeting at best and focus us on eternal purposes?  Could God allow us to see that His power and witness are the greatest blessings?  Would He send an economic tsunami so that we focus on the mission of winning the lost without the might and power of this world but by the power of His Holy Spirit?  The message of Zephaniah is clear.  God would strip anything from Judah that they attached their affections to.  He was sending judgement with mercy and redemption attached.  He is trying to get them--and maybe His modern church too, soon--to see the He is all we really need. 

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land. 
Zephaniah 1:18

*William Kramer, Editor;  Teenagers Pray
St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House
1955  Page 4

An Economic Tsunami

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