Thursday, July 17, 2014

IS GREAT WEALTH A SIGN THAT ONE IS SERVING GOD, OR SATAN?


Like it or not, there is ample evidence that Satan is the temporary ruler of this world, and he gives enormous wealth, pleasure, fame and power to those who serve him! With this in mind, it makes me wonder why there is so little difference between the way a Pop Music Star might live, and many Leaders in the Church today. Despite protestations otherwise, many Preachers seem to live in great luxury, and to care little for the poor and needy that adore and bless them for giving them FALSE pleasure and empty hope. For these wicked people, this Maxim holds true: 
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10 
One biblical test of whether or not a wealthy person is a servant of God or Satan can be found in how they acquire and handle their wealth. Satan’s minions are those who acquire their wealth by making false promises to people, or that offer them fleeting pleasure like most Politicians, Pop Stars and Prosperity Teachers! Satan’s minions are also those who do not sell all that they do not need and give the proceeds to the poor and distressed people who love them, but hold onto the majority of their wealth. As Yahshua said in Luke 18:18-23: 
“Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ “

And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.” ~ Luke 18:18-23 
Based on this Scripture, a wealthy person who is proud, stingy and selfish is likely NOT serving God, but Satan! Despite all the lip service that they may pay to God, this includes many Church Leaders, who live in great luxury while many of those they minister to are suffering without all the basic necessities of life. By wealthy I do NOT mean someone who may own a nice house and a nice car, can afford a nice vacation every now and then, and has enough money saved for emergencies and their retirement. I am talking about people who have thousands, millions or even billions of dollars in assets that they simply do not need to be happy, or to be looked after. 

As alluded to in the Gospel of Luke 18:18-23, the Word of God tells us that those who are blessed with wealth within the Church should be generous with others. Those blessed with great wealth should not be stingy with their excess, but should be ready to give out of their excess to all within their community of believers that might have need. This is also echoed in the Book of Acts: 
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” ~ Acts 2:44-45 
In my opinion, this is the greatest and most overlooked teaching in the New Testament! As laid forth in Acts, believers shared everything with one another as there was need, so that no one went without! Yet its message seems to be completely overlooked by the majority of today’s Churches. Indeed, many professing believers within the Church don’t really know or care about the people that they might sit next to every Saturday or Sunday in Church. 

There are, of course, exceptions to this. Even when Church leaders may be deaf to the cries of their needy parishioners, many fellow parishioners are not! They often hear and respond accordingly. In fact, before I had a ministry of my own, other believers extended this sort of generosity to me on several occasions. One time this happened was in 1990, when my husband and I were given several hundred dollars in cash by our church friends when we did not have enough money to pay for rent or to buy food. Another time this happened was in 1994, when we needed to move and could not afford to pay movers or even rent a truck, and many in our Church family gladly helped us without charge. How blessed I felt at these times when our friends in the Church truly exemplified the teachings of Yahshua toward us!

This has also happened very recently when I have suffered from a lack of funds that were needed to pay for the basic necessities of live that help me to retain a home base in order to keep my ministry alive. Several of my brethren in Yahshua have come forward with financial gifts repeatedly to help me when I have asked for it, and I am truly grateful for their continual help, prayers and love! These people have shown me that there truly are believers in the Church today who have embraced all of Yahshua’s teachings, and do their best to live by them.

Sadly though, in almost every case where I have had need and found help among my brethren, Church Leaders have NOT responded, but only my friends. But even friends within a congregation can fail to minister to the needs of those around them at times. Another example from my past illustrates this point:

For a time when I was younger and a new believer, I found myself trying to reconcile my new found faith in God with the pain of my past. I was trying to deal with my negative emotions and personality traits that were a result of being raised in a completely codependent environment by cruel alcoholic parents and siblings, and I found myself reaching out to my new church family at home-group meetings. But many of my new friends in the Church had no idea how to deal with the huge amount of pain that I had experienced. 

As a result, many of them brushed it off with platitudes like “That’s all in the past now, and you shouldn’t dwell on it.” or “You are a new creation in Christ, and the past can no longer affect you, so why are you letting it?” Some of them also referred me to the Church counseling office, and told me not to share these hurtful experiences or ask for prayer at my home group because it was “disrupting” the meetings. There were no offers to intercede with prayer or private counseling and mentoring, and no sermons about how to deal with loss or shame - just ostracism and more pain.

This is why I eventually turned to some leaders in my Church to find the emotional help and support I needed. Fortuitously, the Church that I attended at the time ran a professional counseling therapy clinic. However, I initially could not utilize it, as a one hour session cost $65 to $85 an hour even back then (this was between 1993 and 1994), and my husband and I were living below the poverty level at the time. But because I wasn’t able to find emotional healing or intercessory prayer in the home groups I attended, I finally went into their office in an act of desperation and asked if there was some way they could help me anyway. To my surprise, they did not turn me away as I had expected, but gave me some forms to fill out, and said I could submit them to see if they would give me therapy sessions for less. 

They did finally agree to see me for $35 a session, which was still beyond what we could pay. I was happy about this, but soon learned that the counseling sessions themselves left much to be desired. They consisted of me talking about my past hurts, and the counselor psychoanalyzing the underlying causes of my pain without offering me much via prayers to say or Scriptural teachings to think about. In fact, they failed miserably by not feeding me spiritually with wisdom from the Bible or with prayer. As a result, they did not nurture me to grow, or give me practical solutions to my problems that I could have found through intercessory prayer, and in a working knowledge of Scripture. 

So after almost a year of me crying in pain and them patting me on the back and taking my money, I had had enough and canceled my sessions, saying that I could no longer afford to go there. As an interesting side note, absolutely none of the people in the counseling center, who were all members of the same parish, showed me any sympathy or concern after that, or tried to help or comfort me in any way outside of the counseling office.

Since then, God has laid it on my heart that these sorts of deplorable situations happen constantly in Churches all over the world, especially historically in the Catholic and Protestant Churches in the wealthy Western nations that were once considered to be Christian nations. There is very little love and charity being taught or shown, and many people within the Church are suffering needlessly because they are not being taught how to preach and teach from God’s Word about how to love, pray and give! This is especially true of Mega-Churches and Pastors, where the amount that they take in everyday is completely disproportionate to the amount that they give in return on a daily basis.  

As an example, there was a recent story about how Joel Osteen’s church safe was robbed of the offerings earned just on that weekend, which were in excess of $600,000! How much of that huge amount of money do you think goes back into taking care of the poor and needy within their church? I’d wager that very little of it does, despite whatever charity programs or missions they may have.

My message here today is extremely unpopular, and I know that in many cases, it will fall on deaf ears and cause people’s hearts to harden toward me even more. But this is the truth of the Church today, and God will not be mocked by Pastors who are wolves fleecing their sheep, or by sheep that are blind, deaf and dumb to the truth of the Gospel because they refuse to study the Bible or pray on their own, or to seek wisdom directly from God!  

Let’s face it! The message that I needed to hear back then in counseling, but which was never preached to me by any Pastor or Counselor that I have listened to, is the reason why we suffer! Despite the great evidence to the contrary, most people suffer enormously due to their own sins committed in ignorance, and the sins of those that have been entrusted to care for them. In addition, Yahshua made it clear that those who truly love and follow Him will suffer unjust persecution in this life. Furthermore, there are many hints in Scripture that believers need to continually pray to God in repentance, and for protection against the attacks of the enemy.

Sadly, however, not one of the Pastors or Counselors I knew in the past ever told me that, or showed me how to protect myself by utilizing the Intercessory Prayers that are found throughout the Psalms, and which I only learned about very recently from several concerned and loving brethren. These are called Imprecatory Psalms, and I wrote two blog articles about protecting ourselves with these psalms, as well as another blog article about not casting Spiritual Pearls before Swine that every believer ought to read. Here are the Titles and Links to them:

BELIEVERS CAN BE CURSED,
SO LEARN TO PROTECT YOURSELF!

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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE
CAST OUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE - PSALM 91, PSALM 140,
AND TWO SAMPLE DELIVERANCE PRAYERS

As an example of this in the Bible, unrepentant sin was behind the sufferings and great losses that the children of Israel experienced as they fell further and further away from serving the One True God, and committed spiritual fornication with other gods. This truly began on a national scale with King Solomon, who - in his later years - had a weakness for pretty women. As a result, he sinned greatly against God because of allowing the foreign women in his harem to worship whichever god they chose and to teach others to do so - a sin that he apparently never repented of. 

Sadly, Israel paid dearly for those sins when they followed after Bathsheba’s Hittite gods and the strange gods of Solomon’s foreign harem women, which the people of Israel never fully repented of. That is why both the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah eventually fell to foreign powers, and the Israelites lost EVERYTHING, including their wealth, their freedom, their power, and their land. Their folly is a testament to all future generations that God’s mercy, love and forgiveness do NOT cancel the debts we owe when we sin, and there will always be consequences that need to be paid for our sins unless we repent.

There are also many passages in the books that David and Solomon wrote where the wealth and enjoyment of the enemies of Israel are mentioned in relation to the SUFFERING of God’s servants, including themselves. They talk of how the wicked prosper and have every good thing, while the children of God go without and are cursed. 

Part of the reason for this that was sometimes acknowledged by the writers of the Psalms and Proverbs is that there are curses attached to sin by God, and since no one in Israel could keep the Law perfectly, they suffered for it. They all sinned, and were eventually cursed by God with sorrows - both within their families, and nationally as foreign powers began to antagonize and then attack Israel. As God firmly announced to the Israelites:

“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” ~ Deuteronomy 11:26-28

What most believers do NOT realize, however, is that the same curses that God listed later in the Book of Deuteronomy (See Deuteronomy Chapter 27) hold true for sinners today, even if they claim the Blood of Christ for redemption. Unless we repent and plead for mercy after we have sinned, and make amends to those we have sinned against, there are dire consequences that must be paid for all sin that include the loss of property and relationships, and can even cost us our health and our lives. 

In fact, despite many false teachings to the contrary, even belief in Christ does not erase the curses that these sins bring upon a person or their world. Furthermore, it does not matter if a professing believer has previously repented of their sins, accepted Christ, been baptized, or even if they currently serve within the Church! For proof of this, read the story of the married couple called Ananias and Sapphira in Acts, Chapter 5! These supposed servants of Christ were both baptized believers within the Church, but they paid dearly for lying to their Church leaders. They also were not given a “fair trial” or a “second chance”! Instead, they died without mercy: 
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 
 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 
 7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” 
 She said, “Yes, for so much.” 
 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” ~ Acts 5:1-11 
This story is in the Bible for a very important reason. It is there to convict people of the seriousness of their sins even under Grace, and their need to learn that the whole Gospel of God never promises riches, wealth, happiness or freedom from hurt or want for anyone in this life, even the most upright and sterling in character among them. We live in a world full of sorrows and tribulations, and the only real comfort we will find in this world either comes directly from God Himself, or from those who truly serve Him and His people out of love. As Yahshua said: 
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” ~ John 15:17-19
 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 
Yet despite the fact that the world hates those who love Yahshua, our Father God Yahweh is an ever-present help in trouble for those who have faith in Him. As for how this plays out in the lives of believers, it depends on their level of faith and ability to call out to God for help and direction before things get impossibly out of hand. Most often, help comes in answer to our prayers, which have the power to change things on our behalf.

The late Corrie Ten Boom shared her perspective about God’s help while suffering in a German concentration camp by saying that we are always in tribulation when we are true believers because the world hates us. But we find grace and peace to endure it through Yahshua, who is our strength and help in trouble. So even if we are to be martyred, He will be there with us if we ask Him to be, and He will give us the courage and strength we need to the end, when we go to be with Yahshua in Heaven.

In fact, suffering tribulation is one way God uses to develop our character to be more Christ-like. As Paul taught in his letters: 
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” ~ Romans 5:1-4 
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 
So, as we strive to be worthy of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, we all need to learn to bear one another up in love, and to serve each other as best we are able until Yahshua comes for us, whether by death or in the Rapture. 
~ * ~ Bear One Another In Love! ~ Ephesians 4:1-6 ~ * ~“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” 
Your Sister in Yahshua, 
Helena Lehman of the
Pillar of Enoch Ministry
Ministry Web Site: http://pillar-of-enoch.com

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This article was published simultaneously on Facebook here: