March 1st, 2007
I used to love that song when I was in junior high as a baby Christian. There have been few things more enjoyable for me over my life than watching God continually follow through on that wonderful name - “The God who Provides”. He is the God who promised to fund the prayer movement with a billion dollars; thus the financial miracles that have happened at IHOP-KC over the past seven years and the past few months will not be able to compare with the ones to come.
I have made it a fifteen year pursuit to build a history in God in both giving extravagantly and receiving financial blessing in really powerful ways. I want to continue and even stretch to increase what I have done in taking Jesus at His word in the coming days. I suspect that an aspect of the coming revival that we do not speak of much will be the corporate (which we kind of expect) and individual (which we kind of forget) ways in which the Leader of the prayer movement will stun us with incredible financial miracles and staggering amounts of provision and resource for the work of “keeping charge of the sanctuary”. Even in the last few weeks, I feel as if the Lord has been giving me some subtle and not-so-subtle hints that this will be the case in the form of a few fun encounters.
I’ll get to those in a minute. They really are fun.
I have never given much to “get” much, but I have labored to give much to have the means to give more. In that I have always considered the new believers of the Jerusalem community after Pentecost as a critical model, early in the book of Acts. Some have read about the extraordinary manner in which they had a “commonality” of goods and provisions as some kind of sanctified version of communal living; a kind of forerunner of the more corrupt communist expression of the early to mid 1900’s. I have never seen that expression of generosity in that manner - I have always viewed it as a vibrant expression of the generosity of God flowing through authentic apostolic community.
In other words, having “all things in common” is another way of expressing the reality of a people alive in God and exuberantly joyful in giving to one another. I imagine the sheer thrill of receiving something from God only to immediately turn around and give it to another. Goods, services, finances, and all kinds of provision would have seemingly flowed richly from heaven as men and women gave extravagantly to the apostles, or the government of the new movement. As these finances flowed then to those in need, nothing was withheld from God to His people, and in turn they withheld nothing from one another when needs arose. We do not see any hint of financial hardship or difficulty in those early days of the church.
It was not until some not-so-subtle discrimination manifest itself through unfair distribution of the food that things began to shift in the Jerusalem church. It wouldn’t be for some years that the effects would be felt in full, but in a relatively short time that young movement would go from exceedingly prosperous to struggling mightily for provision. The apostle Paul spent a surprising amount of time in his ministry fund-raising for the church in Jerusalem. For a season, however, in the midst of one of the most powerful moves of the Holy Spirit in the midst of a people in history, one of the most overlooked but dynamic expressions was an awesome display of generosity among the believers.
This is noteworthy to me. It’s an aspect of revival history that you don’t hear much about, except in the negative sense. In particular, the healing revival that took place in the 1950’s found much wealth flow to the anointed men of God that were used in that time in mighty ways through the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and the infirmed. That wealth had a mostly negative affect on those men who got lost in, as one eyewitness of those days put it, “the gold, girls, and glory” that followed the power of God. Those pitfalls are ahead for us as well, for if it is true that the healing lines will be without end, finances and extravagant giving will surely follow. In what spirit, in what heart, will we receive what will be given?
I believe that it is imperative that we build a history in God related to extravagant giving now. We must cultivate a free heart that is not knit to the desire for more or bigger or better. We must embrace a simple lifestyle - a fasted lifestyle - that is content with what we need and not constantly pursuing what we want. If we cultivate this now, with much work and much prayer, we will be ready for the “much” that is coming; in the receiving of finances from Jesus I want to touch that part of His heart that loves to give extravagantly. I want to know the thrill of partnering with Jesus to fund the prayer movement. I am convinced that this will be our portion from the Holy Spirit in the midst of a revival that is not mostly for us; but for the peoples of this city and the thousands that will come through here.
It is my fervent hope that our portion, in part, will be a heart struck with joy to give ridiculously to the poor and to one another. Imagine personally receiving a $10,000 gift, only to be able to turn around immediately and give the full $10,000 to the African prayer movement. Imagine receiving a million dollar offering (again, personally - not corporately) and again turning around the next day and sending it to fiery church planters in China and India who are committed to prayer and fasting. I am sure that these kinds of things can and will happen; I am also sure that they do not “just happen” in that moment. It will be, for many, the culmination of years of growing in God as a flowing stream of finances that was able to become a mighty river by grace where many would become a stagnant pool.
Over the past few weeks an months, God has opened a steady stream of finances from unusual “tributaries” that have been really fun to watch. One of our supporters sent us the full amount of money we needed to fix our broken sewer pipe and redo our driveway afterwards. An anonymous giver sent someone to give me $100 (which was fun to turn around and give to my friends). Tracey’s step-father, out of the blue, sent us a tithe check last week. He’s not a Christian - but he realized that in the days that he was, years ago, he was a committed tither. He let us know that he intends to return to his roots in that regard. Wow!
Just today, my family was shopping for a few things in CVS. We never shop there - but Tracey had a coupon and decided that we should stop there today. While we were in there, a woman who was on the way to the airport to pick up her husband heard from the Lord to stop at CVS. Jesus had put it in her heart a few months ago to bless my wife and I in some way, so when she walked into the store and saw us, she felt that she was supposed to buy our groceries for us. She did, and then some. With the rest of the money she slipped us, we bought the rest of our groceries at Hy-Vee afterwards. Wow!
I’ve been thinking about it all day. Jesus went out of His way to bless my family today, but I also feel like there was a message for me behind the fun of receiving His blessing. I have a new zeal after these stories and many more over the years to give extravagantly. I have a new resolve to do this, in preparation for the days that are coming (no - I don’t want your support letter). Again, with some of the more “overt” supernatural things that are happening in our spiritual family at the moment, this area is too easily overlooked. As the Holy Spirit increases His activity in our midst, I want a heart that flows with tenderness and life - which includes finances that “flow” as easily as they come to me. Where my heart is, there will my treasure be also. I say my heart is in building the prayer movement - thus my checkbook had better back up my words. If not, then I will rend my heart again and press into this.
I am convinced that it is one of the most enjoyable ways to live, and it’s one of the most critical external evidences of a truly free heart. If I trust that He will care for me, than I am free to give to you. Often, the reciprocity of that reality is stunning. I can’t wait to find out.