“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them” (Mt. 21:12-14).
The temple was first cleansed because it had become a “den of thieves”. In prayer recently the Spirit of the Lord revealed to my wife and I two foundations that are like underpinnings in the book of Acts: prayer (and fasting), and purity – especially concerning money. The second one was a surprise to me.
GREED AND MONEY IMPURITIES
Greed has corrupted many of today’s churches. Through ungodly counsel pastors have given birth to Ishmaels that God never ordered, and then use manipulative tactics and gimmicks to make the people pay for them. Men have built churches that have become machines that need to be kept running through gross abuses of money. One mega church pastor got some of his minister friends to ride motorcycles into the church and on to the platform. People went crazy with the noise of the engines and the glitter of it all. Then a popular larger-than-life television personality was flown in to take a huge offering to pay off the mountain size mortgage debt the church owed on their building. Of course, with the people already in a state of hysteria it was easy to extract money from them.
You may ask, “Is there anything wrong with raising money to pay off a church building?” Of course not. It’s the method and the way it was done that makes it questionable. Hype is not a part of God’s methodology. It is an impurity. It is almost equivalent to people throwing money at the preacher while he is preaching. Have you ever witnessed this and felt a disturbing unrest in your spirit? That is the grief of the Spirit of God within you.
I was in a meeting where I observed a nationally known evangelist take up an offering under the influence of a seducing spirit. He gave a personal testimony of sowing a financial seed and attributed that seed to large amounts of financial provision that he reaped afterwards. It sounded so good that he enticed many people to come to the altar and sow the largest seed they could. Many individuals gave $1000 in that one offering because the preacher highlighted that figure. That should’ve raised a red flag right there. A person ought to give as he purposes in his heart, not the amount the preacher says to give. This evangelist walked away from a medium sized church with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once again, he hyped up the people with a sales pitch that was hard to refuse. It was an impurity.
In prayer, the Lord showed us that this man’s ministry started off pure and right in his heart, but when his ministry got bigger and more organizational his heart began turning and became corrupted. This happens to so many. My prayer is, “Lord, please help me keep my own heart pure in ministry, especially when it involves pride and money.”
We need to be careful when it comes to money, without being stingy. A spirit of generosity must prevail in the Church, but let it be because God is moving on people’s hearts and not because of a seducing spirit. When a minister becomes money minded, watch him. He will eventually lose the anointing on his life. It’s fine to fund-raise for mission trips as we sometimes do, and now for our Arabic broadcast, but God help us when we use designated funds for personal use. It’s a form of lying as Ananias and Sapphira did. It’s another impurity.
I remember hearing a pastor tell me a story about some well known ministers who were conducting a conference. Since they were part of a motorcycle club, one man asked them if they wanted to participate in a motorcycle show next time they were in town. The minister loved the idea of combining a conference with participating in a motorcycle show. He could then combine a ministry trip with a pleasure seeking thrill while utilizing it all as a tax write off. That’s an impurity concerning money.
Some people might say, “That’s not that big a deal!” That’s what some people say about Ananias and Sapphira when they lied about the amount they gave from the proceeds of the sale of their land.
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:1-3)
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not in keeping back a part of the price of the land, but it was lying about it.
“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” (Acts 5:4).
This was an impurity trying to gain entrance into the local body in Jerusalem and dilute the glory in the early Church. If it had not come under judgment it would’ve contaminated the Church from that point on. Think about why anyone would do that, and how common it is today. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be esteemed in the eyes of man. Sounds like a pretty common thing, doesn’t it? Is it any wonder why most don’t consider it a big deal? We’ve been so conditioned to embracing low standards of financial integrity for so long that we just brush it off as, “well, everyone does it”. And then we wonder why there’s no power and glory in the Church. If the glory would manifest as it did in the early Church many of us would be dead. It was after Jesus cleansed the temple that the power of God moved to heal the blind and the lame.
“And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them” (Mt. 21:14).
I could go on and on and give examples of gross abuses of money in the Church today and the lack of financial integrity. The Spirit of God put His finger on these two elements in the book of Acts that will greatly help restore much of the glory of God the Church has lost. One was prayer and fasting; the other was cleansing the impurities toward money. In the coming restoration, purity is first, prayer (and fasting) follows, and then we will see the manifestation of the glory and power of God in greater fulness.
We better pay attention to this. I’m just telling you what the Spirit of God said as He highlighted the book of Acts to us. And yet there’s much more that needs to be said.
To be continued…
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