Dealing With The Spirit of Poverty, Part 5
May 25, 2018
We wrapped up last week with the statement that Jesus wasn’t poor. In fact, Jesus had to be among the wealthiest individuals of that era. Consider how he began his life. At age two, when the magi came to visit him and pay honor and tribute to the “King of Kings,” they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Contrary to popular belief, the gold wasn’t just a few coins.
These were Magi! They came representing the kings of the east. When you stop and think about the Queen of Sheba coming to visit Solomon with a camel train laden with gold, and you realize that the equivalent value of the gold she brought amounted to $119 Million, do you think for a moment that the Magi’s camel train carried any less for the King of Kings?
Getting back to what started all this last week, let me retrace some of what I said then.
What made what Jesus shared different than how many folks have interpreted his statements was the fact that He neither had the time nor the inclination to waste what few years He had on living in the lap of luxury, going home and sleeping in a nice bed, satisfying his creature comforts. He could have, you know.
Jesus wasn’t poor. He had enormous wealth at His disposal. He chose, instead, to take every available moment investing Himself in the eternal investment that would ultimately pay the dividends that would bring Him a yield of folks with whom he could fellowship as His co-equals.
Jesus was sacrificing the ease of His flesh for a spiritual return that would last for eternity. Thus, as He began his three and a half years of ministry, He said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Now I can hear the arguments coming! See! Jesus said you’re not supposed to try to get rich! That’s a poverty mindset!
Then folks argue, “…that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Jesus preaching against prosperity? No He didn’t! He’s talking about “where your treasure is.” He’s not preaching against prosperity, against wealth: He’s preaching against laying up wealth for yourself that disintegrates with time. It sounds like double talk, so let me explain.
Jesus spelled out a principle that literally affects every single thing we do in life, “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 ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.”
See where the focus is? On giving! Not on getting! That doesn’t equate to not having. What some folks forget is that if you don’t have, you don’t give. It gets wilder than that, too. If you give what you don’t have – not because you make some arbitrary decision to, but because the Lord asks it of you – the Lord multiplies it back to you so many times over you can’t even begin to count it. The poverty mindset says you need to get — and keep for yourself. Giving flies in the face of the poverty mindset.
A businessman Dad used to know was a fellow by the name of R.G. Letourneau. This was a guy responsible for the development and invention of much of the earth-moving equipment we see in the construction industry. I never got to know Letourneau — I was too young when Dad visited with him to remember anything — but he practiced a principle that lots of folks have come to understand.
Letourneau was a struggling designer, machinist, businessman – whatever label you want to apply to him – who began practicing the principle of tithing – then giving. Now before you all go screaming at me, shouting me down and saying that tithing is Old Testament only and not New Testament, just hang on for a second.
Remember what the Lord said to Moses about tithing? (Most folks don’t seem to realize the importance of this.) “And all the tithe …….is holy unto the LORD.” See that word, all? That means every bit of it – no matter what you are tithing on. Money, land, the fruit of your labors, the growth of your herds – everything!
So tell me something, folks! If the tithe was holy unto the Lord before Jesus came, where, pray tell me, did we get this screwed-up idea that Jesus made it less holy…or unholy?”
Nossiree, Bob! What Jesus demonstrated – with the widow’s mite – was that everything we have belongs to the Lord. His praise of the widow was that she gave more with her mite than those rich Scribes and Pharisees gave out of their wealth. The amount wasn’t important. It was the principle. She was giving all that she had, knowing that she couldn’t out-give the Lord.
Jesus never changed the principle of the tithe. He just expanded it. The tithe was still intended to promote and support those whom God calls into the ministry so that they can continue to give themselves to sharing the life that we need to grow in our maturing relationship. Jesus did criticize some tithers, but not for the tithe: for limiting themselves to the tithe.
What happens when you become legalistic about tithing and only give ten percent of your increase? It’s your attitude about it. You are giving what is absolutely demanded by Law. You are living according to the Law instead of incorporating the Grace and Liberty that comes in giving liberally and abundantly. If your giving is legalistic, you reap the curse of the Law. If your giving is free and abundant and cheerful, you soon find out that you can’t out-give the Lord.
This was the lesson R.G. Letourneau learned. He was tithing, and doing OK, but not really getting anywhere financially. So he set down one day and said to the Lord, “Lord, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll give you 20% of my increase if you’ll go into business with me.” That worked! Letourneau began to prosper.
So he increased his giving to 30%. Then 40%. Then 50%. Before it was over, he was giving the Lord 90% of his income and living better off the 10% than most folks would live off their 90 or 100%. He built his earth-moving equipment business into one of the world’s largest. He became one of the world’s richest men before his death.
See! Letourneau never forgot the 10% and where it belonged. But he added another 10%, and then another, and then another, etc. Letourneau spread his giving so that he supported missions and various ministries; and ultimately, he built what still operates today as a thriving and prosperous college in North Texas, LeTourneau Bible College. The folks that come out that school have those fundamentals taught to them. They are taught how to give.
Another of God’s businessmen was J.C. Penney. Operating a five and dime store and struggling to make ends meet, Penney decided he was going to begin tithing from the proceeds of his dime store. He began to prosper as few people have, growing his little store into a nationwide department store chain that nearly every single American buys from at some time or another.
The question isn’t tithing? The question isn’t even giving. The question is whether you have giving incorporated into your spirit. Giving becomes your mindset. Giving becomes the way you live.
For many years, Della and I have given. There have been times when the Lord asked us to give our last red cent – even with bills unpaid and house payment coming due. We have never failed to obey.
Della and I were talking about an experience we had several years back when I was teaching broadcast engineering as an adjunct to the University of Alaska. I was making pretty good money, but we also had some pretty steep living expenses at the time. One of my students came to me one day and told me about another student in the class that was about to be evicted from his apartment. That student had missed several days of classes, and I wondered out loud in class where he had been.
Checking into the student’s circumstances, we found out that his wife was pregnant, that she had complications, and their medical coverage was falling way short to cover their expenses. He couldn’t afford to keep up with the medical expenses and make his rent payment at the same time.
Della and I felt specifically prompted by the Holy Spirit to pay all of this student’s back rent so that he wouldn’t be evicted, and so that he could complete the engineering course and get a job I knew was waiting for him. In order to help that young man, however, it took every bit of money we had in our bank account. I got a cashier’s check made payable to the student’s landlord in the total amount of his past due and current rent, and it left us with something like seventeen cents in the bank.
More ironic was the fact that our house payment was due in five days. We both had peace about it and knew that the Lord would make good on our needs. He did. I received an unexpected legal settlement over an all-but-forgotten issue a couple days later that more than covered our needs.
It wasn’t the first time we gave everything we had, and it certainly wasn’t the last time. The student? Oh, yes. He finished the course and almost immediately went to work for a local network radio station making more money than he’d ever made in his life.
We were doing more than just taking care of a financial need, however. We were investing ourselves – sowing seed, if you will – into that young man and his wife. We saw the return on our investment in him in the years that followed as he became a recognized radio personality, using his position to influence his listeners for good – and more specifically, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Della and I don’t just give money. We don’t just tithe. Giving is our occupation. I used to tell folks that I was a minister of the gospel and a broadcaster (among other things). Now, when folks ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I’m a giver. You ought to see the looks on their faces.
“You do what for a living? Give? What kind of occupation is that?”
It may seem unorthodox, but the principles incorporated into tithing and giving and sowing all yield prosperity when we do it in obedience to God’s word. We don’t just give. We sow. It literally flies in the face of the Spirit of Poverty.
Remember the sharing I did some weeks back on sowing? This is what I was talking about. Everything we do has a “seed sowing and harvest” component to it. We give because it is the heart of the Lord. We give because we can sow into people’s lives and expect a harvest. We give because it is the way to receive. We give because it is the principal road to prosperity. God has prospered us in ways that transcend description.
As you have seen from my Sunday sharing, as well as the weekly Coffee Break articles, Della and I have enjoyed the presence of the Lord and adventures in and with Him in a way that no words can possible describe. We prosper continuously – not because we are trying to get rich, and not because we are trying to make as much money as we can. We prosper because we continue to sow seed. We plant, and we harvest. We plant some more, and we harvest some more.
This sharing is a kind of planting and sowing. In the nearly 14 years that I’ve been writing these coffee break articles, we have received emails and phone calls from people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior as a direct result of reading them. We have heard from others who have rededicated their lives to the Lord.
Still others have called us on the phone to report miraculous healings as a result of having faith sparked in their spirits and responding to the Spirit of the Lord.
Della and I also sow into other ministries, looking to participate in the harvest that comes forth in those ministries. We give to several missions abroad. We participate as partners with Neville Johnson, Paul Keith Davis, and other prophetic ministries. I’m not saying all this to toot our horns. If the Lord didn’t provide the seed for us to sow, we’d be just as dead in the water as anyone else.
We’ve come to understand – with complete revelation – just exactly what Paul meant when he wrote, “Now He that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness…”
Make sense to you? How about it, folks? Want to do a little experiment? Want to try and out-give God?
Now you know why I always start with or end my conversations with folks with the phrase, ‘Blessings on you!’ If I bless others, I get blessed. If I get blessed, I have more to bless with.
It’s the Law of Sowing and Reaping. More to the point, it’s the Law of Prosperity — the absolute antithesis of the Spirit of Poverty.
I need to shift gears at this point and talk about the intricacies of the poverty mindset, so let’s call a time out for this week and pick it up here next week.
For those of you who’ve participated during the past three years in our Monday night Healing Prayer Conference Call, this is just a reminder that the calls have resumed on a once-a-month basis, the first Monday of each month. If you have a need for healing, or you have friends in need of healing, here is the number to call: (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available by Skype. If you wish to participate by video on Skype, my Skype ID is regner.capener. If you miss the live voice call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
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