Volume 13, Number 3, September-October 2009

Port Austin Bible Campus Update:
Faith in Our Fathers
Not in Man and His Money

Our Father has continued to provide for us here at PABC in a variety of ways. I believe that is a big part of the life lesson that he wants us to learn here at PABC—and for us to write for your benefit. Over the years, Ihave come to see that even though we put “In God We Trust” on our money, we often put “In Money We Trust” on our God. We want God to take care of us by giving us money so we can pay our bills and buy the things we want. But God sometimes wants to take care of us in His way, a way that will build our faith in Him.

The Old Testament certainly taught people to work hard and honestly use money.

The rich man's wealth is his strong city; The destruction of the poor is their poverty (Prov 10:15).

He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich (Prov 10:4).

The Bible even state that a man who is caught steeling, can remain a free man if he has money to make restitution. But if he has no money, he will become a slave:

"... He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft (Ex 22:3).

So with these verses and many other Old Testament verses emphasizing the private ownership of property, why do we find our Savior making the following statements?

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?...  30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt 6:24-35, 30-33).

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:21-23).

Where is the right balance? What is the difference between trusting God and physical irresponsibility? That topic has been often times discussed at our PABC Bible studies. The answer does not always come easy. We have certainly met many individuals who believed that they were serving God in some manner—letting poor people stay with them and/or spending most of their time on some kind of evangelism. Yet they were deep in debt, their property was in need of much repair and they were always asking for help from others.

There are also ministries like that. Several people maybe working together for a worthy Christian goal, but they do not always have money for “essentials” and just survive on a day to day basis. This ministry is like that!

Is God working through individuals like that? Is He working through Ministries like that? Or are these simply irresponsible people who don’t want to work and who are hiding behind religion?

The Difference Between Faith and Irresponsibility

A person of faith is one who serves God in a ministry and trusts God to take care of him. He either accepts the level of support which God provides for him, seeks God to receive more faith, or realizes that God may not want his ministry to continue.

An irresponsible person is one who does not support himself, but claims to do or actually does do ministry work. If he does not like the level of support he receives, he blames God or blames the people he thinks should support him rather than seeking to God to see if he should change or end his ministry.

In short, people who are neither supporting themselves nor doing God’s work should come upon difficult financial times. It is God’s way of correcting them. Even in the New Testament, the apostle Paul taught:

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies (2Th 3:10).

Paul expected that all Christians should be working, whether at some kind of physical work or spiritual work. Doing nothing and expecting God to take care of you is a mistake.

When God wants to build faith in a person, He sometimes makes it impossible for them to provide for themselves or commands them not to do it.

"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you” (Deut 8:3-5).

Then the word of the LORD came to him [Elijah], saying, "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there" (1Kngs 17:2).

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also,... Then He [Christ] said to them,... "Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.... And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house” (Luke 10:1,2,4,7).

In none of these cases does our father give them money—gold silver or other things of value—and let them spend it as they choose. He simply says that He will take care of His people, and he does it in a variety of ways. He has taken care of us this way at PABC, and all of us may need to learn to similarly trust him in the near future as our economy collapses and difficulties increase.

This year, our garden produced the most ever, and has continued to provide us food even late into the fall. God has sent people with the skills to repair essential facilities here at very little cost. We had a furnace fail that would have cost hundreds for a repairman to fix, but I found a bad connection on its circuit board and fixed it for a few cents of solder. An old friend gave us a new computer, as the eight-year old one I used to produce Servant’s News had hardware problems. Many others have given us things that we need. We have had some volunteer health help and no major medical expenses.

Even with all of these blessings, I still lose faith at times. I worried way too much this month when I had several hundred dollars worth of utility bills due and no way to pay them. Somebody unexpectedly sent $500 three days before it was due. We have been a lot closer than that in the past.

Faith for Everyone for the Difficult Times Ahead

The lessons we are learning here will be helpful to others. Most hard-working, frugal Americans are able to earn enough money to pay their bills, buy the things they want, and save a little for the future. That is commendable to a large degree, but frequently God’s work has to fit  in after all of the above. Sabbatarians are generally good at placing the Sabbath and Feast days above their jobs and personal desires. Other Christians may be better at placing evangelism and other ministry above their jobs and personal desires.

But in the not too distant future, it is likely that most Christians will need to develop faith to trust God for nearly all their needs. It is very likely that our economy and many of our governments will collapse. We can fear this, or we can look forward to the chance to build the faith we need to enter the Kingdom.

The future difficulties mentioned are not based on prophecy, but more on an analysis of the news of our time. The USA’s current economic troubles are totally unprecedented in the history of our nation. Many state and local governments are likely to be unable to function during the next couple of years. As this goes to press, the state of Michigan is up to two months behind on Medicaid payments to nursing homes. A front-page article covered a local nursing home that will not be able to pay its employees if they do not get at least some Medicaid payments before their next payroll is due.

We can expect this kind of thing to happen in many places as our economy collapses further. “Stable” periodic payments from the Federal and State governments as well as private pensions and other funds may no longer be stable. Even large corporations may be unable to pay their current operating bills. We live in a time of “just in time” payments and “just in time” inventories. Neither individuals nor businesses have much in reserve. When one entity cannot pay, it creates a chain of others who do not receive, and cannot pay. The result will be financial disaster for many, and probably civil unrest or martial law.

The believer needs to be ready to have faith in God to take care of us. He needs to be ready to reach that faith to unbelievers—who may be seeking God in large numbers.

We are planning future Servants’ News articles to help people be ready—both physically and spiritually—for the difficult times ahead. We thank our Father in Heaven for the lessons we have learned here: difficult lessons for a physical life, good lessons for eternity.    &

 

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