Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. Acts 4:32
That's a scary statement to many because to live like the first church you have to die to selfishness and greed. Having all things in common doesn't compute in this age of "Get all you can, and can all you get!" We've been taught to store up wealth for ourselves and make sure we are taken care of and everyone else is simply on their own.
Because of selfishness the church has suffered greatly in that they have neglected their own congregations and have rejected the poor. False prophets and teachers have fleeced the flock with their demonic doctrines of prosperity padding their pockets with the offerings of the naive and unsuspecting sheep.
Billions are spent in America for useless buildings and family life centers that are totally worthless in regards to true ministry. Most sit empty during the week because they are designed for one purpose: for spectators to come and hear a nice warm fuzzy message, sing songs to themselves, pay their tithe and go home and take a nap. The money that has been wasted on such frivolity is an abomination and is about to be turned to ashes.
And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles feet; and they were distributed to each as anyone had need. Acts 4:33,34
The church in Acts was a pattern for the future church to follow in that it took care of its own and ministered to the poor as well, not only with material things, but they met their spiritual needs by preaching and living out the "Gospel of Jesus Christ." The dead were raised, the blind were healed, the lame walked and the poor had the gospel preached to them. America is broke because it has taken on the church's job of social services, health care and benevolence.
FREEDOM FROM SELFISHNESS
"Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist of the things he possesses." Luke 12:15
In the early eighties I had a bible study and was teaching in Luke 10:27, the subject being: "Love your neighbor as yourself." I had been involved in street ministry, had given to the poor and really thought I had it all together when it came to loving my neighbor, that is until on the way home I spotted the dirtiest guy in the world lying in the bushes.
I was at a stop sign and the man was off to the right laying there, sunburned, filthy and had obviously been in the streets a long time. At first I tried to ignore him and pulled out on to the highway and the Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear,"What about the man in the weeds?" I had just finished teaching on loving my neighbor when this man appeared and I had to practice what I preached.
It was in the middle of rush hour and I had to go all the way around to pick this guy up, frustrated, I asked the man to get in and continued on my twenty mile journey home. While driving I questioned him about his plight and why he was in the streets and he told me he had lost everything and had given up on life. I then began to think about what I was going to do with him and how I could help him.
We lived on a small twenty acre farm in the country and as I turned on to the final stretch of road leading to the house I made the decision to take him in and give him whatever he needed to get back into the mainstream of life. My clothes, my food, my shower and virtually anything he needed, I was going the extra mile with this guy! The very second that I purposed in my heart to help, the man said, "Take me back to the highway." I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but he told me he was scared and had been on the streets a very long time.
Reluctantly I took him back down to the highway and told him to go to a small Baptist men's shelter up the street and I would be back in a little while to talk with him. He got out and started to walk toward it and I raced home, went to my closet and pulled out my best leather jacket and some other nice clothes to give him and went back down to the little mission. I went in and asked where the big man was that had just arrived and everyone said, "What man?" I said, you know the big guy that just walked in from the highway, and they all said "We haven't seen anyone."
Bewildered, I searched the highway for my new found ministry of helps first customer, but alas to no avail and then it came to me, I had been tested to see what I was going to do with him. It wasn't for him, it was for me and whether he was an angel or not I don't know, but I never found him and from that time forward I was involved in residential ministry for over twenty years.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Hebrews 13:2
LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:7
Most of western civilization is wealthy compared to the third world countries, impoverished, malnourished and without clean water they maintain a meager, at best lifestyle of poverty and lack. America on the other hand is rich beyond measure in comparison and even her poor are wealthy. If a man were to starve to death in America he would have to be deaf, dumb and blind because almost every city has a shelter or mission offering some kind of help.
Recently a ministry was giving out donuts to the poor in an area in California that was experiencing great poverty. As they approached one man and offered him a donut, he quickly stated that he was on a diet and wouldn't eat such fattening food. Even the poor in America are wealthy and well fed and many maintain a consistent lifestyle living in the streets. In our city in the summer the missions empty and its residents hit the streets for what they call camping out.
The point is this, the poor and needy of the world are starving to death in other lands and the church of Jesus Christ has the power to meet their need. In order for Kingdom Finances to be released, the poor must be reached with the gospel and with food and the necessities of life. This is the true mission of God for His church to meet the world's great need for salvation and provision. If celebrities and rock stars can raise money for world hunger, just think what the church could do if she would unite together with one heart and give freely of her great wealth.
If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought. Isaiah 58:10,11
SPIRIT LED GIVING
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38
The "Sons of God" are led by the Spirit of God to give and in the body of Christ God desires equality. In other words everyone in the church should be ministered to and helped to prosper financially so that an abundance of "Kingdom Finances" will be available to be released into the harvest. Just paying the preacher's salary and the electric bill is not what "New Testament" giving is all about.
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance also may supply your lack that there may be equality. As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack." II Corinthians 8:13-15
God has so designed the church to be totally self sufficient by supplying the needs of the saints and then meeting the needs of the poor thus providing a great harvest of souls. Paul explains in II Corinthians chapter 9 the "Administration of Service" that not only meets the needs of the saints but also supplies great abundance to be given out into ministry.
Paul begins his discourse by saying that it is superfluous for him to write concerning the ministry to the saints. In other words it is necessary to discuss the need to prepare a generous offering for the saints that will multiply into a great abundance of seed for further ministry. For the church to reach its God given destiny it must learn to give outside the realm of just the tithe and begin to meet the needs of the saints that are struggling and then begin to look outside the building to a poor and starving world.
Releasing the power of Kingdom Finances will involve great sacrifice and death to all selfish ambition, religious agendas, and worthless programs. One such act of supernatural giving would be to provide free daycare for single mothers, whether members or not. Another would be providing lunch money and school supplies for needy children, another would be for each member to bring a can of food every Sunday for a food pantry, and the possibilities are endless.
Sadly the world looks upon the Western church as a stingy selfish miser that hoards up money for buildings but not for the true needs of humanity. After twenty five years of ministry it didn't take long to learn that the church is the last place to get help. Why we've got to be better stewards of God's money! The only way to be a good steward of God's money is to find a valid need and meet it.
In the book of I Kings 17:9-16 Elijah was sent to a poor widow for her to provide for him. When he arrived he found her gathering sticks for a fire to prepare the last of the food she had and then she and her son would starve to death. Elijah, a type of Jesus told her, a type of the church to prepare him something first and then there would be a great miracle of provision. She obeyed and the Word says that her bin of flour and her jar of oil did not run out.
It would behoove us to take a hard look at the life of Christ and adopt His pattern of Supernatural giving so that we could be prepared for the coming drought of worldly finances so that when people in great need come for our help we can freely give from our great abundance of "Kingdom Wealth." Thus releasing the "Power of Kingdom Finances."
For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God. II Corinthians 9:12