The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Grace Baptist Church, Malanda, Queensland, firstname.lastname@example.org:
Elijah ministered while Mammon melted down.
He sprang onto the pages of Scripture without introduction, a man of great discernment and perception. He saw clearly not only the wickedness of his king, he saw also the desperate spiritual condition of his people. Israel had stagnated into a state of indecision. They, the redeemed slaves of Egypt, could not even decide which god to worship, Baal or Jehovah. He saw the idolatry of their king's covetousness and he saw the bondage of Mammon. He discerned the mind of God regarding his nation and prayed accordingly. James 5:17, 18 describes his prayer that it might not rain, “...he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” What an example he is to the men of God in this generation! Here is a man who was so bold as to pray for the meltdown of Mammon so that his people might have a spiritual awakening. He prayed for the loss of the material wealth of his people so that they might obtain true riches.
Elijah discerned and declared the mind of God to the nation. He prayed for drought and saw the heavens stripped bare of clouds and watched as the dew burned off the grass of the field. He learned to wait on the Lord and be content with what God provided. What unusual waiters God chose to wait upon Elijah as he dwelt by the brook Cherith. Ravens, which are renowned for allowing their own hatchlings to perish in times of want, brought to Elijah bread and flesh twice a day. Elijah learned the secret of living by faith, and waiting on God for daily bread. When the brook dried up, God taught him another lesson in the school of faith. He taught him not to take the blessings of God for granted, and he taught him that he could provide for him through others, even if they themselves had very little to give. He taught him that God blesses those who meet the needs of others. He taught him to listen to the voice of God and to know the times and seasons of waiting and walking and warning. He taught him to be on guard against the Obadiahs of Ahab's court. Elijah was tempered on the anvil of God so that his steel did bend or break when he crossed swords with Ahab or with the prophets of Baal. He drew the Sword of the Lord on Mt. Carmel, prayed down fire out of a cloudless sky upon his sacrifice, and called the people to slay the false prophets before he pleaded with God to break the drought.
Elijah ministered while Mammon melted down.
At this point, early in 2009, it seems that we are in the early stages of another meltdown for Mammon. It happens again and again in history. All the gods of wordlings have feet of clay. Sooner or later all the Dagons are broken in pieces on the thresholds of their temples. For millennia men have worshipped greed and covetousness and pretended that satisfaction for the soul could be secured on the stock market. Even the churches today are drawn into the idolatry of covetousness, supposing that they are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, including the presence of God. Now we see a downturn and wonder how far it will go. Some are suggesting that we will see the collapse of the entire global economy. Some are even saying that we will see the Rapture and the one world economy of the Antichrist. We simply do not know. All we know is that Mammon melts down again and again. And we know that we are to minister the Word of God to others when it happens.
My wife and I are missionaries in Australia. We are human enough to wonder what will happen if the meltdown of Mammon results in churches being unable to continue in their support of missionaries? How will we be able to stay on the field? What will the churches around the world do for pastors if the missionaries have no income? These are good questions for missionaries to ask.
Elijah set a good example for all who are in the ministry when God causes Mammon to melt down. He stood strong for God. He prayed. He waited. He prepared for the day of reckoning with the worshippers of idols. He whetted the Sword of the Spirit and strengthened himself in the Lord. He learned how to trust God for his daily needs to be met.
As we observe the destruction of Mammon in our generation, I cannot help wondering if there is somewhere an Elijah, a dear brother in Christ whose vision is clear enough to see, whose heart is soft enough to care, and whose commitment to God is such that he is willing to lose all he has for the souls of lost men. It could be, you know, that the entire world economy is teetering on the brink of collapse and Mammon is crumbling because of one man's prayers. We may never know who he is, but we can and should add our prayers to his. Mammon ought to be melted down. All his worshippers will suffer the torments of Hell unless they forsake him and turn to Christ. We ought to pray for his destruction.
There is one word of encouragement for those who are committed to ministering to others while Mammon is melting down. God will meet your needs if you will trust him. This is no time for hirelings who flee when the wolf is at the door. Let me share a word of testimony in closing. I remember one month many years ago when our support hit rock bottom. It was a month when there was a conference on we had hoped to attend. It looked like it would be absolutely impossible for us to go. In fact, we didn't know how we were going to eat that month. We had been teaching our children to pray about the hardships of the ministry so we told them we needed to pray about the shortfall in our support. The kids took it on as a real matter of prayer in our devotions before they went off to school. Somebody in the family had the idea of writing in large letters the words, "Praise the Lord!" on one side of a sheet of paper and then listing all the blessings God sent that month on the other side of the paper. We stuck it on the fridge with a magnet with the “Praise the Lord” side visible so that nobody but our family knew what was on the other side. Well, you can guess what a blessing it was to see the Lord meet our needs day by day. We wrote down loaves of bread, dozens of eggs, and anonymous gifts and heads of cabbage, and a hundred other blessings on that piece of paper. Possibly the biggest blessing of all was our kids' excitement at what they saw the Lord doing in answer to their prayers. When they came home from school they ran up the back steps, jerked the back door open, ran to the fridge and turned the paper over to see what the Lord had done while they were at school. No hugs for dad or mum, no rush to the toilet, no snack. First things first! It was a time of spiritual growth for our family. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we did go to the conference. A strange thing happened at the end of the conference. There was a pastor there from Western Australia that we had never met before. When all the folks form our church climbed in the van to start off for home, he reached in and handed me an envelope with $100 in and told me it was for food for all of us on our long trip home. He never knew that our kids had been praying. And, come to think of it, most of the folks in the van never knew either. Fed by the prayers of children! Such are the ways of God!
For twenty centuries missionaries have been fed by God. Before ever the first missionaries went out to a lost world with the blessed gospel of Christ, the prophets of the Old Testament were waiting on the Lord for their daily bread.
God never called us to be wealthy.
He called us to minister to others while Mammon melted down.
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