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Handling Times of Financial Crisis - Rev. Funke Ewuosho
We could compare times of financial crisis to the times of famine in the Bible. Famine was caused at different times by different factors
[i] The natural (Gen 12:10; 26:1; Acts 11:27,28)
[ii] Man-made (2 Kings 6:24,25; Prov. 11:26; Amos 8:4-7)
[iii]Gods judgment (1 Kings 17:1; Jas. 5:17,18)
And we could relate to all of these in our times. The first thing we must settle in our heart is that no matter what the cause of the famine or financial crisis is, Gods will is for His people to be sustained in it. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. (Ps. 33:18, 19). Also in Psalm 55:22: Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. To sustain means: to maintain, nourish, provide food, to supply the means necessary for living, etc. It primarily suggests to measure out a provision of food i.e. to provide. Right after Elijah declared Gods judgment, the word of the LORD came to him announcing his own provision! (1 Kings 17:2,3). God sustained Elijah, the widow and her household throughout the famine - the bin of fl our was not used up nor did the jar of oil run dry UNTIL the famine was over! God sustained the Israelites all through the wilderness for forty years, their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. (Neh. 9:21)
In times of financial crisis like this, we are not meant to panic like the people of the world. Jesus said mens hearts will fail them from fear and expectation of those things which are coming on the earth. (Lk. 21:26). God does not want us to be moved by the things happening around us. He said He will shake the heavens and the earth, indicating the removal of things that can be shaken, so that the things which, cannot be shaken (i.e. the Kingdom of God) may remain (Heb. 12:26-29). Every man-made thing, helpful as it may be while it lasts, will be shaken. Our faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God! (1 Cor. 2:5). Those who will not be moved by the crisis are:
[i] those who have learnt the secret of putting their trust in God. (Ps. 125:1; 121:1-3; 46:5)
[ii] those who have learnt the secret of dwelling in His presence (Ps. 27:1-6; 23:4-6; 91; Is. 43:2) and,
[iii] those who have learnt the secret of enquiring in His temple, seeking His face for solutions. (Ps. 27:4, 8, 9; Ps 73:16, 19)
Elijah said to Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, (1 Kings 17:1). Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. We must keep our ears glued to the mouth of God, if we would live above these times of financial crisis. God has established certain principles by which His people would prosper inspite of any famine of financial crisis.
1. The Seed Principle or Giving
Right after the flood, when everything had been destroyed apart from Noah & his family and the animals saved in the ark, God said, while the earth remains seedtime and harvest shall not cease. (Gen. 8:22). No matter how bad things are, you dont stop sowing or else there would be no harvest. Isaac sowed in the time of famine and he reaped a hundredfold what if he didnt sow? He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap, (Eccles. 11:4) and in verse 6, in the morning sow your seed and in the evening do not withhold your hand (See also Eccles. 11:1-6; Ps. 112; Ps. 126:5, 6)
2. The Principle of Obedience
Jesus likens the man who comes to Him, hears and obeys His saying to a wise man who builds his house on the rock. The house remained standing even after the storms, winds and rains had come and gone (Luke 6), God told Isaac not to go to Egypt but to dwell in the land of the Philistines inspite of the famine. Isaac obeyed, he sowed in the same land and reaped a hundredfold in the same year! The widow of Zarephath obeyed the word of the LORD through Elijah and she was sustained throughout the famine (1 Kings 17). Isaiah 1:19 says if you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.
3. The Principle of Using what you Have
When the widow went to Elisha in distress because the creditors had threatened to take her children, Elisha asked her, what do you have in the house? (2 Kings 4:2) She said nothingbut a jar of oil. Note that, it is what you have in your house, in your possession and at your disposal; that God will use to turn your situation around! Contentment looks inward, covetousness looks outward. God will not use what you dont have. He will use the talent, the gifting, the resources physical, spiritual, mental, human, etc, within your reach, to bless you. You must reckon with what you have. Begin to value what you have. David used his stones and sling to kill Goliath. God used the staff in Moses hand to part the red sea. Elisha used the jar of oil the woman had to perform the miracle. He said to her, after all the vessels had been filled with oil, Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons live on the rest (vs. 7)
4. The Principle of Divine Revelation
In Genesis 41, Pharaoh had two dreams and Joseph was called upon to interpret the dreams. There was going to be seven years of abundance that would be followed by seven years of famine. God not only gave the interpretation of the dreams through Joseph but also the wisdom as to how to handle the years of abundance and the years of famine. In this one story, you could see: [i] the place of divine revelation the things revealed to us are for us and our children (Deut. 29:29), [ii] the place of using what Joseph had (i.e the gift of interpreting dreams) [iii] the place of divine wisdom. Note that divine revelation would always lead to divine instruction or else what is revealed would be of no benefit to us. When they acted on Josephs instructions they were sustained through the famine. Elisha told the widow to sell the oil, pay her debts and live off the remaining! Divine revelation also demands from us a lifestyle of hard work, diligence and discipline. A man who is diligent in his work or prompt in his business will stand before kings and not before unknown men (Prov. 22:29). Divine revelation also demands accountability from us. The widow, after she had filled all the vessels with oil, reported back to Elisha. When Joseph interpreted the dreams, Pharaoh did not take it on from there; he made himself accountable to Joseph in that area. A lot of times we cut off from God and the vessels He used to give us divine revelation, so we dry up soon. God would often give you divine ideas to get out of your predicament. (Gen. 30:31)
5. The Principle of Wealth Distribution
The church responded to the famine prophesied by prophet Agabus, by sending relief to the brethren living in Judea (Acts 11:29,36; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:13) The Bible tells us that if one member suffers all the other members suffer with it. (1 Cor. 12:26) In Acts 4:34,35, no one lacked in the church because those who had possessions sold them and the proceeds were distributed by the apostles to each one as anyone had need. When famine hit the world, and there was food in Egypt as a result of Josephs infl uence, Joseph pledged to his brothers that he would provide for them and their little ones (Gen 50:21) God arranged the Body of Christ in a way that there should be no lack in the Body! If we would follow that plan of wealth distribution, there wouldnt be any lack any where! If we understood this principle, we wouldnt indulge in wastage. After the miracle of feeding five thousand men, Jesus commanded His disciples to gather up the remaining food, so that nothing is lost. (John 6:12). In addition to all of these, in handling financial crisis, you must know who you are and whose you are! You must factor in the supernatural, the power of the blessing and the power of Gods favour upon His people (Ps. 5:12; Deut. 8:18; Prov. 10:22).