I was travelling for work recently, and on a quiet evening, in a hotel with free cable TV, I surfed the channels to find something interesting. One show had a television preacher asking people to send him money. Apparently, if we send money to him, God would send even more money to us. We couldn’t lose.
You might know the song by Janice Joplin, where she makes a joke about people who send money and believe in the ‘Prosperity Gospel.’
It’s an old joke, but some television preachers are still serious about it, and many people still believe. So, what is the truth? Will God give us money?
On my travels, I learned some lessons about free stuff from God, either money or things we could buy with money. 1) We are asking God to do something twice, and 2) we need to patch the holes in the bucket.
The Bible tells us about “purses with holes.”
Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but 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. (Haggai 1: 5 and 6)
I was in a small town, and I needed to find lunch, so I walked down main street to a small sandwich shop. I got my small meal, and from my table, I could see a thin grey-haired lady sitting near a window, and I was shocked by what I saw. In that humble place, with sandwiches in a bag, she sat with a big happy smile on her face. Soon, a thin grey-haired man joined her, and they walked out the door, with their sandwiches, and happy smiles. They were obviously very pleased.
If money could buy happiness, what did their smiles cost? About ten dollars.
How much would lunch cost most of us, in a restaurant, to make us that happy?
Also, on my travels, I stayed with my son, and his wife, and their two little girls. One evening, I said I was going out for a walk, and then I sat on the steps to tie my shoes. My three-year-old granddaughter Ivy came and sat near me and put on her shoes. She got them on the wrong feet, but she was able to close the Velcro straps. We explained to her that it was almost her bed time, and she couldn’t go outside. She told us, in clear language, that she was going outside, so we asked her why. Her answer was, “Grandpa is going for a walk, and I don’t want him to be lonely.”
The end of that story is, I walked around the block with a three-year-old girl, and we talked about things like stepping over mud on the pavement, and bugs, and clouds; and the neighbors smiled. Probably you smiled when you read about it.
If I went to a resort or spa, and tried to buy that much happiness, I don’t know if I would have enough money; but my only investment with Ivy was a few minutes of my time, and I was not lonely.
We are all guilty of compensating for our dysfunction with money. If we feel sad, or lonely, or stressed, or something similar, we can always buy things or experiences, to make us feel better. Did you know, the cost of filling the void is ruining our economy? We can’t afford our unhappiness.
People everywhere use chemicals to dull their brains; everything from nicotine in tobacco, to alcohol, and drugs and also pornography. Yesterday, my work was in a place known for drug problems and petty crime, and I saw a young man, in ragged clothes, with a shaggy haircut, staring blankly across the street. I drove by later, and he was still there, still staring; probably a brain-damaged addict, with no future.
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And I believe that is important information when we ask God for money. He already gave it to us, and we let it leak out. We need to plug those leaks. We shouldn’t hold up a leaking bucket and ask God to fill it with water, again.
In the Bible story about leaking purses, the people were worshiping God in a demolition site. The temple had been destroyed, and worship services were outdoors, where the temple used to be. Imagine if your church spiritual home was a vacant lot with broken bricks and weeds, and a street preacher. If you wanted to sit down, you could bring a lawn chair.
In that level of dysfunction, the people were told to give, and to work, to rebuild the temple. This would make a place where God could work in anyone’s life, and restore order in their spiritual lives.
Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored. (Haggai 1: 7 and 8)
So, in translation, God invests in good investments. I don’t recommend sending money to a television preacher, if your home church is not supplied. For us, and our families, and our neighbors, there is great need for peace and purpose from God, and that translates directly into money saved, or money wasted.
“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 your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” (Haggai 1: 9 to 11)
If you have a financial need, I hope that God will provide for you, and I hope we all see the wasteful leaks that need to be plugged.
This is actual money in the bank:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of a Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126: 1, 2, 3)