12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. – Joshua 5:12
I have done my best to understand the times, with a spiritual insight, rooted in the Bible. What does it mean to be blessed as a Christian and what is the proper approach to obtain wealth and fiscal stability? The infusion of secular humanist concepts into the mainstream Christian culture has many believers confused about favor, wealth accumulation, material gain, and prosperity. Within this article I would like to revisit what it means to be financially aligned with God’s desire that we “prosper and be of good health”. The secular emphasis on materialism within the Body of Christ has pulled many from the path of righteousness to the dismal market place of material accumulation. If we are not careful we will become like the children of Israel that could not make the transition from provision to promise. Their Egyptian “slave mentality” had them so content with provision that they lacked the faith to subdue Canaan.
The manna that God provided in the wilderness for Israel was God’s provision and Canaan was the place of promise. “Canaan” is where God wants us to be; a place with continuous “flow”. Many in the Body of Christ have become too accustomed to paycheck to paycheck. Too often we are being taught skewed Bible concept that promote a “name it and claim it” rhetoric that does not enlist fiscal stewardship and financial literacy. Some evangelists have employed emotional tactics of false promises to dull the anxiety of fiscal pain. Let me just say that every faithful Christian is not going to be a millionaire. We are not all going to build a 6,000 sq. ft. home with a tennis court and swimming pool. We are not all going to own our own private jet planes.
It is my experience that many have settled for a “wilderness economic structure” that promotes normative dependence on paycheck to paycheck living. God’s desire is to bring us to the place of economic abundance that “flows”. The flow comes only when the reproach of Egypt is removed. We must not continue to be slaves to the materialistic culture that allows us to spend our 90% without a budget, while depending on the increase of the 10% (tithe) to over take. We must become better stewards of our “disposable income”! Paying our tithes faithfully is not enough to merit God’s favor. There is no right way to seek cash before Christ or materialism beyond a manifestation of God’s presence!
The Body of Christ is being positioned for the end time revival. My concern is that we have lost the anticipation of His returning. Throughout my travels I have seen the great preoccupation with prosperity teaching. The shift and emphasis in many of the ministries that I have visited is around material gain, cloaked under the guise of God’s favor. Many have left the teachings of righteous living and replaced them with feel good sermons that “God is going to make you a millionaire”. Let me make it very clear that I believe that God wants us to be prosperous and without lack. I believe that it is essential that we teach our people how to walk in the path of favor and financial increase. Honestly, I am extremely concerned with how God has become some type of “Cosmic Santa Claus”.
This article presupposes that the reader of this article is an active and CONSISTENT tithe paying member of a congregation! As a church consultant, I realize that only approximately 37% of most congregants are consistent to their covenant to tithe! Let it be known, that you can manage, budget, save, and invest effectively all you want but if you are not tithing you are living under a curse and beneath God’s ordained plan for financial independence! Through tithing we begin to receive God breathed multiplicity and increase. What type of investor would not be pleased with a 30, 60, and 100 fold returns on your investment? I would encourage you to beware of any ministry, family member, or friend that does not believe in tithing and sowing seed! But let me say again, tithing alone is not enough!!! We must begin to learn about budgeting, 401-Ks, stocks, bonds, T-bills, mutual funds, rental property, trust funds, and estate planning and alike!
One of the secular tactics to keep believers from prospering is to make them think that giving to the church is wrong. I have heard people say that ‘all the church wants is your money’! This critique is directly from the pit of hell because the church is the only place that has a 30% to 100% return on funds invested (sown). I have never heard any of my secular critics say that all Cingular, Wal*Mart, Verizon, Gucci, Sallie Mae, Fannie Mae, Mercedes Benz, etc. wants is your money! These “Wealth Robbing Corporate Principalities” spend millions of dollars researching the many different ways, marketing schemes, and demand niche markets to find ways to take our money on a daily basis. They do so through one day sales, rebates, lay away plans, interest rates, delayed pay back promotional and ridiculous interest rates printed in small print in the legal credit card agreements that many ignore as they thumb through the form to find out there main concern…the Available Line of Credit.
My insight and exposure to the many financial woes of the saints has convicted me to action. I have written a book entitled, I Paid My Tithes Now What! Within this book I begin to discuss some of the essential tools needed to have what I call “God-wealth”. I have seen how too much emphasis is being placed on the tithe and little or no teaching is about the 90%. Most persons that tithe do not have written budgets. They believe that God has promised them so much because of the stewardship to tithing that they have no need to take actions to position themselves for success and financial stability!
Within my concept of God-wealth is my conviction that everyone is not going to be a millionaire! That does not mean you cannot live in a perpetual state of financial stability, debt free living, and peace of mind. For many, it is the lack of good stewardship of the remaining 90% that leaves them in the bondage of debt; the snare of trying to “fake it til you make it”; poor fiscal investments; and what I call “television millionaire-mania” (this is the large portion of the Christian community that is up late at night, because of financial depression, that order all the get rich and become a millionaire propaganda being sold by the “Get Rich Pimps”!)
It is my belief that much of our financial unease is due to a lack of commitment. Many believers are not committed to the process of becoming financially sound! They do not want to become responsible for their fiscal mismanagement so sow seeds, during offing, hoping to offset their dismal spending frenzies. Much of our giving has been couched in our inability to just become better stewards of our 90%. We try to “give ourselves into prosperity” but you cannot bless a cursed thing. “God will not put on you more than you can bear”, so if you will not take time to manage your budget and balance your check book making $27,000 a year why would He encumber you with a million dollars!
We must become committed to go through the process of becoming fiscally independent. The Bible teaches us that we should owe no man, but love” and we should become “lenders and not borrowers”. If this is what God desires can anyone please tell me why does the church have so much debt and so little capital? Why do so many parishioners and clergy have mortgages, car loans, delinquent student loans, credit card debt with high-interest bearing rates, and department store credit cards?
Financial literacy is so desperately needed throughout the Body of Christ! Our church membership is perishing financially because of the lack of knowledge. Most of us have never been taught much about budgets, balancing a check book, creating an investment portfolio or creating generation wealth through Trust Fund planning and proper life insurance. Because we have refused to educate ourselves we have become sick! The church has become filled with financially sick members!
We are sick from the disease of Not Enough. Not Enough present income to pay off old debt. Not Enough discipline to suffer without for today to secure our tomorrow. Not Enough time to budget our way into financial stability and fiscal wellness. When was the last time you heard a sermon that debt was a form of spiritual bondage! Tell me this, when was the last time you attended a church sponsored seminar on how to pay off your mortgage or student loan? I have a better question, who sat down with your check and taught you the need to budget in order to consistently tithe! I believe that most congregants are not rebellious or lack belief in tithing! I am personally convinced that most do not tithe because they just do not know how to manage or budget their current bills properly enough with their limited income sources. Most feel that they cannot pay their delinquent bills, current bills and credit cards with high interest rates with 10% of their money given to God. You would be surprised to see the number of bad checks written to churches throughout the country! If not paying your tithes leaves you cursed with a curse what are you when you write a bad check for your tithes? What are the processing fees attached to bad checks written for tithes and “faith offerings”?
Consider this if we spend 7 to 10 years of our lives in riotous financial life it is not fair to let believers think it will be better with a tithe alone! Many have been spending what we do not have, writing bad checks, owing bill collectors, applying for credit cards to see if our credit has gotten better, and refusing to send for an annual credit report. My concern is that we have placed style over substance and salary before salvation. It is my belief that this shift in pastoral and evangelical fiscal emphasis has arisen from the demand for financial amnesia. Some believers do not want to remember how bad off they are doing and prosperity teaching is the perfect new drug for those that want to feel better before they are actually doing better! We must not believe the hype of name it an claim theologians! Righteousness is still the first step to financial stability and fiscal increase! Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL things will be added. NOW THAT’S SOME GOOD PROSPERITY PREACHING!
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