The Fundamentals of God's Economy Are Strong
The fundamentals of God's economy are sound! Isn't it wonderful to hear a statement like that in times of great economic and financial upheaval in the United States and around the World?
I wanted to take a few moments to share with you today concerning some of the events that have taken place over the past few weeks and months, as well as provide you with some encouragement from the Word of God.
When I hear someone make a statement that the "fundamentals" are sound, maybe you're like me, and have to ask yourself what exactly those fundamentals are!
My desire is not to convince you that the world economy is sound, because God is the only one that knows the direction we are going, yet I do believe that when we take a look at God's fundamentals, we will see that in fact, He's not worried while He sits on His awesome throne in Heaven.
I'm going to just briefly state a few things that I believe are equated with God's economy, and I trust you are encouraged.
I went to dictionary.com and typed in the word “economy” just to see if there was anything within the definition of the word that would assist me in sharing these thoughts with you today, and I found the following under the area that covers God’s Economy:
a. the divine plan for humanity, from creation through redemption to final beatitude.
I especially like the next one as it states:
b. the method of divine administration, as at a particular time or for a particular race.
I believe today that God has a plan, and this plan was implemented from the very beginning of creation, and continues to this day, and WILL continue even as eternity comes upon the horizon of this world.
So, with the idea that there are many, many aspects of God’s Economy, I want to look at just 3 of them today.
I. THE FUNDAMENTAL OF GRACE REMAINS AMAZINGLY FREE!
The Bible tells us in: Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
His grace is still amazing! Grace in it's essence means "unmerited favor". In other words, we receive the grace of God in our lives as a totally FREE gift that we cannot earn regardless of how hard we try.
Why is grace so amazing? One of the main reasons that come to mind is that in our own human reasoning, we determine that people who have done wrong are not in need of mercy, but often, in our legalistic and judgmental spirits, we feel they deserve justice and ultimate punishment instead of something that “gets them off the hook” so to speak.
I like this following illustration by Robert Capon:
You’re worried about permissiveness—about the way the preaching of grace seems to say it’s okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and take the free gift of God’s forgiveness ….
While you and I may be worried about seeming to give permission, Jesus apparently wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same objections you do. He’s angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering standards and ignoring virtue—that music, dancing, and a fattened calf are, in effect, just so many permissions to break the law. And to that, Jesus has the father say only one thing: “Cut that out! We’re not playing good boys and bad boys any more. Your brother was dead and he’s alive again. The name of the game from now on is resurrection, not bookkeeping.”
—Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 7.
The Lord allowed a story such as this to be in the Word of God not just so that we would see who HE is, and how HE would react to the prodigal coming home, but also as a challenge to us to have the same type of reaction of Grace and Mercy when we find ourselves in this challenging position.
As I have read this story, I realize that when we are confronted with the Prodigal coming home, or in other words, someone who in the mind of the world doesn’t deserve mercy, we have the option of reacting either as the Forgiving Father, or the Prideful Brother.
If ever there is a fundamental of God’s Economy or Plan, it is Forgiveness! Forgiveness is offered when it hurts a little bit, and I believe Forgiveness should be offered even when it hurts a lot.
God’s Economy would ultimately fail if this Fundamental were eliminated in our lives. First of all, we would have no opportunity to receive this FREE gift in our lives from him. We would be hopelessly lost in our sin. Secondly, our relationships with other people would simply dry up and blow away because relationships without forgiveness as a foundation will have NO hope of survival.
The Bible tells us that our BEING forgiven by God, is contingent on our forgiveness of those who have offended us. In other words, if WE want mercy in our lives, we need to have mercy go out of our lives!
Matthew 5:7 says: 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
The Bible tells us also that there is absolutely no way we could earn this free gift, even if it meant that our lives were filled with doing good things.
Titus 3:5 (NIV) 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
As I look at a scripture like this, I realize that just as His Grace was extended freely toward me, then in turn, I need to extend my Grace to others around me without expecting them to “earn it”.
No, it would be complete foolishness if someone were to come and ask our forgiveness, and we said, “well, I’ll forgive you halfway for $50, but if you want to be fully forgiven, then I’m going to have to get $100.00” then we can put it in the rearview and move on.
While the above may sound unreasonable to even think about, I believe this kind of spirit can carry over into our relationships with others though.
How could we get trapped into making people “earn our Grace”? Well, one of the ways is when we demand that a person act a certain way before we extend our love and forgiveness to them, or if we see that they have done enough things “for” us to finally earn our favor toward them.
The Fundamental of Grace is Still Amazingly Free, and serves as a challenge for us to in turn, offer this same kind of Grace to others.
For some reason, it is so difficult for people to reach out and simply accept this gift, but this is what must happen for Christ to truly come into our lives. You may have heard the statement, "If it's free, it's for me!" Well, Salvation is free, yet it was not cheap by any means! Christ willingly laid down His life for us.
II. THE FUNDAMENTAL OF WAGES ARE STILL THE SAME!
On the other side of the point made previously, we must also remember that the wages are still the same for those who would reject His precious gift of mercy as we see in the Word of God:
Rom. 6:23a For the wages of sin is death...
Of course we know the second part of that verse speaks of the gift of God, but too many people overlook the important first part of this verse because we would much rather enjoy a "gift", than get this "wage".
The world we live in somehow believes that God is only about “gifts” and not “wages” – Now, when you use the word “wages” it almost seems like “work” is somehow involved, and indeed it seems that the word “wage” could only be equated with something positive.
Yet, as we read this scripture, it is clear that one day a person who has rejected the FREE gift of God and His grace will receive the ultimate WAGE, and it is Death. We are not talking about physical death, as we know that everyone is going to die, but we are talking about spiritual death in which a person is lost forever in Hell for eternity.
A WAGE speaks of work that preceded the wage being given.
I believe today that while it may seem like it’s an easy thing to be a sinner, we must recognize that Satan is a hard taskmaster, and will do his best to deceive you into working for him in a variety of ways, yet you soon will realize that you are bound beyond anything you ever imagined, and only the blood of Christ can set you free and provide the healing you need.
In one of our large industrial towns a plant was erected for the manufacture of artificial flowers. The work was enjoyable, and the wages paid to the employees were far better than they had been able to earn elsewhere. The establishment was looked upon as a godsend, and the proprietor as a benefactor to the community.
Very soon, however, the health of one of the brightest and most capable girls began to fail. She went listless and weary to her work, and when it was done was barely able to drag herself home. One day she was not able to leave her bed, and a week later the undertaker’s hearse stood at the door. She had been the support of a feeble mother and several small children. Suddenly other employees went home from the factory white and fainting, to go to work no more. Finally an investigation was made, and it was found that the workers had been all the while inhaling the most deadly chemicals, which were used in the coloring of the flowers. While they had been generously paid in money, a part of the real wages was—death.
Sin may pay you liberally in mirth or money, but that is not all. There is a part of the pay that can be deferred for a time, but it is sure to come. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” (Ezek. 18:20).
How often we hear of young lives highly popular in the entertainment industry whose lives have been cut short as a result of the harshness of the taskmaster they serve. Names such as:
Heath Ledger, OD Presc. Drugs - Kurt Cobain , John Belushi, Elvis Presley, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, Len Bias, Chris Farley, Ken Caminiti, Sigmund Freud, Billy Martin.
SHOW PICTURES AND GET NAMES IN SYNC
The Bible says in: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
David Wilkerson states the following: This scripture (Matthew 11:28) is the invitation of the cross: It is a call to every soul that is sick of sin! Jesus was calling out to all who were weary with binding chains, powerful habits, besetting sins -- all who were tired of the lying, the cheating, the adultery, the depression. He was saying, "I know you're weary from dragging your chains around, tired of the sleepless nights. Yes, sin is a hard taskmaster. Come to me now with all your heavy burdens. There is no other way but through my cross!" Jesus died on the cross not only to forgive sin, but to break its wearying power over us!
Why is this important in the discussion of God's economy? It is important because we must recognize as Christians that it is both our duty and privilege to share the Gospel with a world that still needs to hear an adequate presentation of the Gospel.
Take time to become acquainted with a simple way to share your faith, backed up by the Word of God.
Also, live your faith in front of people that will even lead them to a point of asking you how you can have so much peace in tumultuous times, and let them know about the rest and peace that God offers.
So, just has His Grace is still Amazingly FREE, and the Wages are Still the Same, we see lastly today that:
III. THE FUNDAMENTAL OF GIVING IS STILL VALID!
God GAVE His Son, and Jesus GAVE His life, and in those 2 acts of mercy showed the very essence of what God is all about. These are our examples of sacrificial giving.
The Bible tells us in: Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Yes, in the year 2008 this principle is still true!
You see, in all the financial turmoil that our nation and world can get into, there is one trap the enemy would love to get God’s people into, and that is the believe that somehow it is time to “tighten the purse strings” so to speak, while all the time, a principle is a principle regardless of whether things seem good or bad.
God’s principles are true and valid as much with the stock market hovering at 8,000 as they are when the market is up over 13,000.
I want to assure you that during the Savings and Loan crisis of the 80’s, and the present crisis we are in, that these things didn’t happen because people were overflowing with a giving spirit. These things happened because GREED got in the way of making sensible decisions with the money they were stewards of.
Those of you who have really discovered the dynamic and powerful aspect of giving according to faith realize that it may not mean that we are always giving from a vast surplus of wealth we have stored up, but there are times that we in fact put the needs of another person before our own wants and desires.
I realize that we are speaking today about the fact that God can meet our needs, no matter how large or small they may be, but God works in very mysterious ways, and if there is ever a principle that flies in the face of common sense and what the world believes, it is in the area of giving.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to be givers, and even before the area of giving comes, we are to be Tithers.
What does it mean to tithe? It means that when I have income in my life of any kind that the very first 10% of that money is God’s, and if I go ahead and use it, then in fact I am robbing God not only of the money that is rightfully His, but also I’m robbing Him of the opportunity to pour out a blessing in my life and family.
God doesn’t have a sliding scale either like the Government does where the more you make, the more you owe in taxes, and the less you make, the less you owe. Some, who make a considerable income end up being liable for taxes at about a 40% clip or even more!
As you know, I listen to Dave Ramsey usually when I’m in my vehicle, and many of the calls that come in go something like this: Dave, I’m trying to get out of debt, and I’m wondering if during this special time in my life when I really need to focus on this whole get out of debt issue, do I need to tithe?”
Very gently Dave begins to read them scripture from the Word of God that clearly indicates that the Tithe is the Lord’s, and it is sacred, and while the person certainly “can” use that 10% for their own purposes, why would they even “want” to when they love God, and are wanting to be obedient to His word.
The Bible says in: Malachi 3:10 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.
There aren’t too many times in the Bible that God says to go ahead and put Him to the test, but here is one: “Test me in this!” Bring the whole tithe, not just 5% or 2%, but since Tithe means 10th, then that means a 10th of your income.
This comes with a promise! 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 TO RECEIVE IT!
Here are some facts on Financial stewardship I thought I would share with you:
- Overall in America, only 3 to 5 percent of the people who donate money to the church actually “tithe” their income.
- Jesus talked about money in 16 of 38 parables.
- The average contribution by adults who attend Protestant churches is $17 per week. (Does this mean they are making $170 per week?)
- The Bible devotes 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 on faith, but 2,350 verses on money and possessions.
- Among adults that average attending church at least once per month, 37% did not give any money to the church in the past year.
When we give, there is something miraculous about it that in turn not only meets the need of the church or person we are giving to, but it also honors God with our obedience to His Word.
Giving is a sign that we recognize we are not the source of our blessings, and that without Him giving into our lives, we would have no hope on a number of levels.
Should you still give in difficult times? Absolutely! It's almost like asking if you should still breathe even when it's hard to catch your breath! I believe we need to be a giving people now more than ever.
If you see a need that you CAN meet with God's help, do what you can to meet that need and begin to experience the joy of giving. The Government can't do it all, and often times has substituted because the Church overall has not helped to meet the needs of the poor.
As we put God first, he will bless us beyond anything we could ever dream!
Matthew 6:30-32 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Matthew 6:33 - But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I still believe that regardless of whatever election we are facing, our first desire should be to advance God’s Economy at any cost. As you know though, His economy must come first, and THEN all these “things” shall be added to us.
So, it is still AMAZING Grace that is FREE, and the WAGES are still the SAME, and the FUNDAMENTAL of GIVING is still VALID.
These are just a few of the ways that the fundamentals of God's economy are still sound, and I would encourage you to search the Word for more encouragement and inspiration.
This is a time to ADVANCE on the enemy and not RETREAT!
Rest assured... The Fundamentals of God's Economy are Sound!