Poverty: The Key To Power
As I endeavor to become closer to the Lord, patterning my life after those of the Apostles, I see a curious truth. The more we depend on the Lord to meet our every need, the closer we become to Him.
The more control we allow Him to take over our lives, the stronger it makes us. We become better servants of the Lord, our lives filled with more power than ever, when we let the Lord work in our lives.
The power that we see the early church filled with (casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, etc) can be ours, as well! The key is complete and total reliance on the Lord to meet our needs!
This would seem to be a common understanding among Christians, but I think that only a few truly do understand it. The church of today, when compared to that of the early church, is weak and ineffectual. Where are the miracles? Where are the signs? Where are the works? Where is the power?
It is absent in our lives, and it should not be that way. The early church turned the world upside-down with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (Acts 17:6) Can it be said that we are doing the same thing? No, it can't.
As a rule, the church of today is living in lukewarm, mediocre Christianity, which I would go so far as to say, is not Christianity at all! Jesus did not intend us to be pew-warmers. He did not intend for us to keep his Gospel to ourselves. He did not expect us to simply attend church and go home.
We are to be Ambassadors of Christ! (2nd Cor. 5:20 - We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.)
We are to be the light of the world! (Matt. 5:14-16 - "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.)
We are to be the salt of the earth! (Matt. 5:13 - "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.)
We are to have signs following us, and the power of God is supposed to be evident in our lives in a very real, very visible way! (Mark 16:17,18 - And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.)
The key to having this power, and the key to living an overcoming, conquering life for God, that is effective in bringing down the strongholds of the enemy, is in relying on God for our every need! This is the point I want to get across to you in this bible study.
First of all, as I mentioned before, my desire is to follow after the example of Jesus Christ and his Apostles as closely as possible. In the same way that Elisha made it known to Elijah, my desire is to have a "double portion" of the Spirit that they had.
This is a goal that is shared among the local group of Believers that I meet with, and it is why we call ourselves Acts 2:42 Christians.
Acts 2:42 - And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
As I look at the way the early church conducted itself, I am drawn to Acts 2:44-47: And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Here, we are given a picture of how the early church functioned. First of all, they all came together, had all things in common, sold their possessions and gave them away to those who were in need.
The first thing they did, was to sell all they had, and give to those in need! For their own needs, they banded together, shared, and depended on the Lord to provide!
How many times did Jesus tell us to do this very thing?
Matthew 19:21 - Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Luke 12:33 - Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
People take these words of Jesus as if he were suggesting that we do these things. In reality, isn't he telling us to do these things? Isn't he instructing us in the way of righteousness? Shouldn't we pay attention and obey him?
Sure, this is not a popular teaching. The young rich man who came to Jesus was very saddened by these words. People don't want to hear that they need to give up what they have and live like a pauper.
( Incidentally, the neat thing about giving away all you have and depending on the Lord to provide, is that He will provide!)
Matthew 6:25-34: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Mark 10:29, 30: "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
Malachi 3:10-12: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
This passage is speaking of tithing, but in a larger sense, can you not see how it is also speaking of simply giving to the Lord? Give as unto the Lord, and see if He does not throw open the floodgates of heaven and bless you so richly that you will not even be able to contain it!
So if you live with the attitude that says "I will be a pauper for the Lord", He will bless you and provide for you to the extent that people won't be able to call you anything but "blessed"!
Much better for you to have this type of attitude, than to try to collect all the toys you can before you die. The bible says three things about this type of attitude:
1) Mark 8:36 - For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
2) Luke 2:16-21 - And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
3) Haggai 1:5-9 - Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." 7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. 9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.
In the same manner, the Lord speaks of what will happen to those who not only try to save "things", but also save their own lives.
Mark 8:35 - For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Luke 14:8-11 - "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
The point of the last passage, is the final verse: Anyone who seeks to humble himself will be exalted, but anyone who tries to exalt himself will be shamed.
So we need to be selling what we have and giving to those in need. We need to give up our lives for the sake of the Lord. We need to be humbling ourselves, and making less and less of ourselves. In the process, we will find that we are gaining treasure, eternal life, the pleasure of God, and the power that accompanies His Children.
The time is short, and the Lord is returning soon, even in our lifetime! How important it is, then, that we take 1st Cor. 7:29-31 to heart: What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
Consider also, these verses that deal with poverty:
1) 2nd Cor. 8:1-5: And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
Notice that they gave out of their extreme poverty! They gave even beyond their ability! How could they possible do this? Because the Lord was providing! These people were depending on the Lord for their every need.
2) 2nd Cor. 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
This is the principal that I have been trying to get across. We cannot become rich in the Lord, unless we first become poor.
3) Rev. 2:9,10 - I know your afflictions and your poverty-yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
This church in Smyrna was one of only two churches addressed in Revelation that were found to be without fault. What was their secret? They were afflicted and poor! Yet the bible says they were rich! These people had figured out the key to spiritual power and effectiveness! Notice that even Satan himself was going to come against them and throw them in prison and kill them. Why? Because they were being effective! They were making a difference in the realms of the spirit and causing strongholds of darkness to fall! This is what we want for our lives!
4) Mark 12:41-44 - Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."
Jesus said this widow gave more than even the rich people did. Why? Because she gave out of her poverty! Again, this is the key! We are to give out of our poverty, not out of our abundance! We are to give beyond what we are able to give. The Lord will provide for our needs, we don't need to worry about them.
This is the type of thing that catches the attention of the Lord, and I desperately want the attention of the Lord!
In order for these rich people to match the contribution of the widow, they would have had to give all that they owned, and then some. (Remember Jesus' words to the rich young ruler?)
I want you to recall that when Jesus sent out the Twelve, he told them to take nothing with them except the clothes they were wearing, and a staff.
Mark 6:7-13: Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
They had no food, no money, no extra change of clothes. They were required to depend on the Lord to provide. This attitude caused them to draw close to God, and look at the results! They were not afraid to witness to the people, they cast out demons, and they healed the sick!
This is the power that we are lacking today! Perhaps the reason is that we have not gone through a "wilderness" experience, where we have relied completely on the Lord to provide for our every need!
Fasting is part of this, but it is only a small part. We have too many things. We solve too many of our own problems. When we find ourselves sick, we head straight to the doctor or the pharmacy instead of the Lord. When we are in financial trouble, we head for the bank for a loan, or work overtime, or look for expenses that we can cut, instead of praying. When we have a dispute with our neighbor, we call the police and the judge instead of calling on the Lord.
Proverbs 30:8,9 explains this attitude clearly: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?'
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
We are to ask the Lord for our daily bread, as Jesus instructed us to do in the Lord's prayer. This passage in Proverbs explains the meaning of this more clearly.
We are not asking for poverty. We are not asking for riches. All we need to be asking for is that our daily needs are met.
Recall the Israelites on their way out of Egypt, when they were fed with the manna from heaven. They were instructed in this exact same principle: They were to gather only what they would need for the day. No more, no less. If they gathered more, it turned wormy. They were to gather only what they needed for that day.
Exodus 16:17-21 - The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. 19 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.
I have more scripture that I would like you to consider:
1st Tim. 6:6-10: But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1st Tim. 6:17-19: Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Nothing is important in this life except Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, and making sure that we have a part it in. We need to get our eyes off of this world and its things, and work toward a treasure that is in heaven.
Notice that John the Baptist had a "wilderness" experience. He spent time in the desert, away from the things of this world, in order that he might be prepared for the work that he had to do. He lived in the desert from the time of his youth until he began his ministry. (Luke 1:80 - And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.)
Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, and although he went into the wilderness full of the Spirit, he came out of it in the Power of the Spirit! (Luke 4:1,2; 14: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry…14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.)
Moses spent time in the desert, before being called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. (Ex. 3:1,2 - Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.)
Elijah was ordered by God to hide in a ravine, where the Lord met his needs. (1st Kings 17:2-6 - Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.)
Elijah also returned to the desert during the lowest time of his life, and the Lord ministered to him there, strengthening him in such a powerful manner, that Elijah left there so fortified by the food the Lord had provided for him, that he went 40 days before needing further nourishment! Can you see the powerful significance of the "desert experience"? (1st Kings 19:3-8: Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.)
Joseph went through terrible times, Job went through terrible times, but these are the heroes of the bible!
Hebrews 12:1-13 could have been written specifically to us today: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
We need to throw off everything that hinders us, (all our possessions and the things that lay claim to our time) and run with perseverance (this means that it will not be easy, we must struggle to do this) the race marked out for us.
We have not yet resisted against sin to the point of shedding our own blood. We need to!
Sure, discipline is hard, and it is never pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, though, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace and power for those who have been trained by it.
Keep in mind that the Lord disciplines us as Sons, because He loves us. What son is not disciplined by his father? What is more, we respect our fathers for disciplining us. How much more, then, should we understand what the Lord is doing when He disciplines us, and respect and thank Him for it!
Romans 13:11-14 - And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow the Lord! When I look at the early church, another characteristic I see of them is that they met together on a daily basis.
They met in the temple courts, they met in their homes. And what was the result of the way that they lived? The people favored them, and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved!
The bible says in Hebrews 10:25 - Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The early church not only met together, they met daily! Remember Acts 2:46 (Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,).
We are told by churches that the spiritual high we receive from service is not to get us through the week. We are told that it won't last (and it's true, it won't). We are told that we need to have a spiritual life outside that of church. We are to be creating our own spiritual high.
Number one, we are the church! How can we have a life outside of it? We can't! So this is wrong thinking, to begin with.
Secondly, while it is true that we need to be serving the Lord every day of our lives, not just when the Body meets together, the church is denying itself the encouraging power of the Lord when it says "We will only meet on these days and at these times".
The early church met together every day! They were continuously refreshed! The church of today is denying Believers the right to come together and be refreshed on a daily basis! They acknowledge the good that meeting together does, but then says that it is not supposed to last us. Why not? Why not come together every single day, and refresh the spirit that is within us?
The Body is supposed to meet to encourage each other in the faith. Where is the encouragement in saying "Fend for yourself throughout the week until you can make it back to the nourishment of the Body"?
If we can't meet in a church building every day, then we need to meet in homes, or through phone calls, or correspond through the use of the Internet, email, message boards, and Christian Chat Rooms. Write letters, drop by Believer's homes to visit, have a cook-out and spend some time encouraging each other in the faith! Have a gathering of just your own immediate household, and talk, encourage, and pray for each other!
Look around! You can find ways to meet with Believers on a daily basis. It is necessary! It is important! It is crucial to your daily walk with the Lord!
The early church met daily, and they are the ones we want to pattern ourselves after.
What's wrong, don't have the time to spend with Believers every day? Then you have too many things laying claim to your time! We need to get rid of some things in our lives! We need to get our eyes off of this world, and onto Christ!
We need to cast aside all of the things that so easily beset us, and run the race with perseverance! We need to experience the desert. We need to depend on the Lord for our every need. We need to give to the Lord out of our poverty, not our abundance!
The life of a Christian is not easy and it never will be. There is an enemy that seeks to destroy us. If we are not under attack, then something is wrong with our spiritual walk.
We need to fast, pray, meet daily with the Believers, sell what we have, give out of our poverty, gain the power of the Lord, grab His attention, and rattle some spiritual strongholds of darkness!
The Grace and the Peace of God be with you, and may He richly bless you out of the abundance of His heavenly storerooms!
Chad J. McCoy
Dark Savant Ministries
Back To Dark Savant Ministries