Greed and Fear

We are told that the two forces that drive most people in our world are Greed and Fear, or Desire for Gain and Fear of Loss. The Stock Market is said to be driven by Fear and Greed. Most people seem to be caught in the turbulence of these two competing streams.

It is to be expected, then, that the Bible would have something to say about these two overwhelming forces in our society and in people’s lives. And, Yes, It Does!

God’s Assurance to Abraham

Way back about 4,000 years ago God spoke to a man named Abram and told him that God would be to him two very important things. Those two things speak directly to the subjects of Fear and Greed, or Protection and Gain.

“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.” Genesis 15:1

While many people spend their life either “Defending” or “Gaining”, here God declares that He is our Defense and our Gain.

By being our “shield”, God is the one who protects us from all kinds of evil and attack – be it physical, spiritual, evil intentions, litigation, exploitation or whatever. We can sleep easy at night and feel safe during the day, because God is our “shield”.

By being our “reward”, God is the one who brings profit, gain, growth, provision and the like into our lives. So we don’t have to be anxious, competitive, aggressive, opportunistic, exploitative, deceptive or any other wrong motivation, in order to be blessed. In fact God is our “exceeding great reward” – so He brings us real abundance and great blessing.

It Must Be The Lord

While God’s revelation to Abraham is that God, Himself, is the embodiment of our protection and our profit, a further revelation, given to King David, shows that God is to be the only source of those things in our life.

In Psalm 127:1 David declares that unless the Lord is your protection all your preparations to keep yourself safe are a waste of time. And unless God is the one who blesses you, all your efforts to get rich will be fruitless.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.” Psalm 127:1

If God is not with your efforts to build your house, or make profit, or build up your assets, or get what you want, then all the work that is put is in vain. It doesn’t matter if you hire the best builders or the cheapest, you are wasting your time trying to get gain when God is not in it.

And if God is not protecting you, then having watchmen, an alarm system, security locks on your windows and doors or a loaded rifle under your pillow will not protect your assets.

Another way to put that is: “It must be the Lord who is involved in your plans to gain wealth, or you will end up with nothing. And it must be the Lord who is protecting you are you will be done in, despite your best efforts.”

God is All

But do you see the significance of what God said to Abraham and David? God is all you need. God is ALL. He is completely sufficient as your profit, gain, reward, blessing and achievement. He is also completely sufficient as your insurance policy, protection plan, security system and safeguard for your future.

You don’t need anything other than God. You don’t need God AND something else. You only need to have God in your life.

God is ALL to us, we can want for no more. To strive to get what God is not giving is to take on God Himself. Before God made any covenant with Abraham He established the fact that outside God there is nothing worth having, and in God there is every-thing we will ever need.

The Rule of Mammon

Jesus Christ advised that we are either under the power of God or Mammon. Since many people in our culture are not worshippers of God it is safe to assume that they worship Mammon. If many people in our culture worship Mammon then we can assume that many aspects of our culture are under the rule of Mammon.
If that is the case then we should see much evidence of the worship of money in our culture. Do we see that?

The Almighty Dollar

Sadly there is much evidence that many in our culture worship the almighty dollar. Money controls much of what people do. Much evil, exploitation and abuse of others is done in the name of profit, selfishness and greed for gain.

The evidence suggests that Mammon is living large in western culture. So let’s take a moment to observe just a few evidences of this reality.

The Rip Off Game

The rip-off morality rules many people’s hearts and controls their actions. They have no sense of guilt or shame about exploiting others and stealing their goods from them.

King Solomon warned his son against joining those who will even kill in order to get other people’s goods.

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down to the pit: We will find all precious substance, we will fill our houses with spoil: Cast in your lot with us; let us all have one purse: My son, do not walk in the way with them; refrain your foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.” Proverbs 1:10-16

That is the spirit of the rip-off merchants and the Mammonites. Their personal morality allows them to exploit others to the point of murder, in order to get more goods for themselves.

Some will protest that they are happy to rip people off, but would never kill them, but I assert that if you have Mammon as your god you are under the power of a murderous spirit, no matter how much you justify your own position.

Rip-Offs I Have Known

I met a man in Australia who openly shared about his involvement in various activities designed to take advantage of the unwary. He had no moral conscience about taking advantage of people. If they were silly enough to leave themselves vulnerable then he saw it as perfectly reasonable to take their money from them.

On one occasion he colluded with others to buy a large number of shares in an exploration company. Then they talked up the value of the company and sold their shares for a handsome profit to people who did not do their own due-diligence.

This was just a matter of doing business as far as he was concerned.

There was a twist to this story, however, when the exploration company actually found something of value and the shares were about to go up many more times in value. The rogue and his friends frantically scrambled to buy the shares back as cheaply as possible to ride the real increase in value that was about to happen.

I have lamented in other places about the USA attitude of Buyer Beware, where it seems a national sport to take down the unwary.

The Rip-Off Impulse

Some people so worship money that they cannot hold themselves back from taking advantage of others. My first experience of this came as a young lad. My mother sent me to the nearest shop where essential supplies could be bought. I was probably about seven years old at the time. The man who ran the shop, Harold Haddo (as I remember it) gave me the wrong change for my purchase.

My mother was most upset and grilled me to be sure I had not spent money on myself, which I had not. Then our neighbour advised us that Harold was famous for giving wrong change in his own favour. From that time on I had to be extremely careful when doing business with this smiling, friendly cheat.

Rather than make a completely honest living, this man tried to take just a little extra of all the vulnerable people who did business with him. It was an impulse that he could not resist. It made him a thief, liar and cheat. It robbed him of respect and made him an evil memory for all who knew him. He was happy to suffer all that for the sake of a few more dollars. Mammon ruled his life and his business.

Don’t Let The Cat Out of the Bag

Rip off practices are nothing new. The old saying “don’t let the cat out of the bag” dates back to the village practice of selling a piglet, but actually putting a cat into the bag instead. Letting the cat out of the bag meant the shopkeeper would be caught out.

Then, as far back as the time of Moses, laws were put in place about having honest weights, so customers were not ripped-off. A man who had different measures in his bag was to be condemned.

Would You Sell Your Children?

In Thailand my friend is working in the recovery of children sold into the sex trade. These village children are sold into this hideous degradation by their parents. I always assumed it was poverty and desperation that would motivate a parent to even consider such a thing. I am informed that parents will sell their children simply to have the money for something the parents would like to buy.

This is Mammon at work in the village culture. The desire for money and personal gain is motivating parents to condemn their children to abuse.

While many shudder at the thought of selling a child to slavery for any reward, they think little of people aborting a baby because it will be an inconvenience to them.

Many people have told me how they refused to have more than one or two children because they wanted to live better than they would be able to if they had more children. By that admission they are saying that money (Mammon) is more important to them than children.

While that is not the same as selling a child or killing a child, it is of the same spirit, the spirit of Mammon. Money is so important that anything which might reduce its availability, even children, is to be avoided.

A Mammon-free World

What would western culture look like if there were no love of money? What would life be like if people only worshipped God and nothing else?

Imagine a world where no one would make or sell a product unless they knew it provided excellent value. Imagine a world where everyone fully and accurately disclosed the condition of the goods they had on offer. Imagine a world where every saving made by the company was passed on to the customer.

Imagine a world where money was made by providing value, quality and service, and that any way to save the customer money was pursued and the benefit passed to the customer.

Imagine a world where any miscalculation was corrected and any advantage taken of someone was repaid to them as a matter of priority. Imagine a world where people created extra value for their customers and gave it to them free of charge.

That is the world that God created you to be a part of and that He created for you to enjoy. It is your worship of Mammon that has destroyed that world. So let’s repent of giving our world over to the destructive and evil influence of Mammon and money.

Let’s reclaim our world and let everyone enjoy its glory.

The Crash of 2008 part four

The financial crash of 2008 is the product of greed, boom and bust cycles and the manipulations by power players. But it is also the product of man’s sin, man’s mammon worship and God’s judgements.

Prophetic insights tell us that God wants to humble people and the nations and to have them rely only on Him, not on their money or their survival plans.

What Should You Do?

What are the things you should do to weather the storms we are facing and will face in the future? I suggest that you consider the following list of things that I have taught others to do in this situation.

Humble Yourself

If it is true that God is at work in this situation, seeking to humble the nations and bring them back to Himself, then the best thing you can do is be quick to humble yourself. It is time to repent of your materialism and to stop looking to money to be your saviour. Money is proving unstable and even toxic to some.

You also need to consider whether you have been worshipping Mammon. God wants you to worship only Him.

Cry Out To God

Call on the name of the Lord, cry out to God and trust Him to deliver you in this situation. God is ready to rescue those who trust in Him. So call upon Him. Put your trust in His ability to protect and save you.

God promises in His Word that we can be kept safe even when we go through the flood and the fire.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you.” Isaiah 43:2

Expect God’s Blessing

We are able to expect God’s blessing, even in a time of famine or trouble. God’s ability to bless us is not limited by physical circumstances.

Thousands of years ago Isaac, son of Abraham, experienced a 100 fold return during a time of famine.

“And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar ……. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year one hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.” Genesis 26:1,12

Whatever is happening in the global markets, God is able to protect you and to bless you. He is even able to bring you amazing provision when everyone else of struggling, just as Isaac had a one hundredfold return during a time of famine.

Avoid Slavery to Debt

Debt is not sin, but debt does make people servants or slaves to others. Those who are in debt are vulnerable to having their situation overturned by the lender.

“The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

I reiterate that it is not sin to have debt, but it is dangerous. In a season of financial upheaval it is possible to be penalised by the one who has lent you the money. If you have the opportunity to get out of debt, that would be to your advantage and an excellent strategy.

Let God Purify Your Heart

When our faith is tested then so too is our heart. God holds our faith to be of great value. He tests us to see how we cope under various pressures and to see what comes out of our heart.

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10

As your financial and material security is put at risk your heart will be exposed. You will either trust God or be angry with Him. You will either rest in God’s provision or you will strive more and more in your own strength and cunning.

I have personally been through protracted times of hardship and those seasons tested and purified my heart. In such seasons I have been able to sort out my attitudes toward material goods, worldly values and God’s call on my life.

So, let God purify your heart even in the challenging financial times you may be going through.

Stand On God’s Word

People of faith know how to stand secure on the Word of God. God makes many promises about His blessings and His protection in our lives. Rather than looking to the newspaper headlines, you are much better to look into God’s Word and stand firm on what He is saying.

God says the He will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19) and that His blessing meets your needs without bringing you sorrow (Proverbs 10:22).

Look To God

People seek to protect what they have and to build up a greater store of assets. This is the desire for gain and fear of loss which drive so much of our markets.

The Bible reveals that God is our greatest source of security and blessing. In fact, unless God supports your plans for protection and profit you are wasting your time.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders waste their time: unless the LORD protects the city, the watchman wakes in vain.” Psalm 127:1

Look to God, not your own cunning or resources. Your financial advancement and your security are found in him, not the markets or your clever ideas.

Help Us Turn Australia (and the Nations) back to God

God is challenging the pride and rebellion of the nations that try to survive without Him. Christians have the role of bringing the nations back to God. Rather than being eaten up in your own concerns, ask God how you can help to bring your nation to repentance and humility before God.

The Crash of 2008 part three

I have described in the two earlier posts on this topic that we are living in historic time as we undergo what could be one of the most dramatic crashes of history. Crashes aren’t new, but that doesn’t make them easy to endure.

I have also pointed out that human greed, Mammon worship, sin and the actions of high power players will bring problems to our lives and nations. God has His way, despite the activities of men. And that is what brings us to this posting. Here I want to discuss what God is doing.

What is God Doing?

Since God has claim upon our lives and the right to direct and interfere with the affairs of human existence it is to be expected that He will step in and deal with nations as He has done in the past.

The global flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of the lush and sought after region of Sodom and Gomorrah are two of the more striking examples of God dealing with mankind on a large scale. Add to that the total destruction of various nations, such as Moab or prosperous cities, such a Nineveh and Babylon, and you get the idea that God has a track record of dealing with mankind.

Prophetic Messages

There have been prophetic messages which have been passed around. Some well known and many unknown people have sensed that God is at work and has a plan in all that is going on.

Various prophecies indicate that God knew all about this financial upheaval before it happened and that He is willing to care for and protect His people in through it.

Sharon Stone Prophecy of Mid 2008

I cannot vouch for the quality of some information passed to me. I pass on the prophecy from Sharon Stone because it seems to come with solid endorsement.

Dr. Sharon Stone gave a prophecy in Glasgow, Scotland in the summer of 2008. In it she said, “September is a turning point and a sign of the times. A USA world bank’s shares are in trouble.” Note that Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy, September 15, 2008. “I see government in the USA bailing out mortgage giants.” There was a Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, September 7, 2008.

“I see a European airline failing with no notice.” British owned XL Airlines filed bankruptcy, September 12, 2008.

“I see the eyes of the world looking to see, ‘Who is this coming out of Alaska?’” Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate, August 29, 2008, and she had centre stage during September 2008.

“And I see smoke coming from the Chunnel.” (the tunnel under the English Channel) Fire in a freight train started on September 11, 2008.

So far so good. After an impressive start like that one tends to pay attention. She goes on, “As I see these things, I hear the encouragement of God to His Isaacs in the earth who sow in the times of famine and reap 100 fold in the year. September will convince you that you must connect to His economic system.”

“Your storehouse is not an earthly bank. Hold on and I will bail you out of your mortgage issues. Am I not better to you than any government? I will not leave you stranded on foreign soil, and I will carry you above the circumstances better than any plane or jet. And your hope is not an Alaskan saviour, but Me.”

Cindy Jacobs

Cindy Jacobs is relied upon as someone who hears from God. She had her own sense of financial issues needing to be dealt with. She explains, “During a January (2008) worship service, the Lord spoke to me, ‘Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington D.C.—the strongman lives in New York City! Call together my people to pray for the economy.’

This emphasis on New York points to Wall Street as having more authority in the nation than the elected governments.

Australian Perspective

I have spoken to several people who have received dreams or impressions about what is happening. Two different people have now told me of seeing dreams of a terrible storm or whirlwind devastating Australia while they were perfectly safe in the eye of the storm.

Back in August 2007 I was told of a prophetic word that “A Storm is Coming”. Since then I have heard of multiple extensions on that theme.

What is important in the things being heard by Australians is the emphasis being put on God’s jealousy for the nation and His wish that Australia would acknowledge Him. It seems that God is allowing devastation to humble the Australians who are living as if they can make their own rules.

The warnings go to the effect that if the leaders and people of Australia try to find a solution that ignores God then God will hit them with yet another wave, overturning the plans. If they continue to resist Him then He will continue to humble the nation until there is nothing left.

What to Do

I have some suggestions about what people can do to brace themselves for what might be a protracted and difficult season. There is plenty of hope for God’s people, so I am not recommending dire steps. In the next and probably final post on this topic I’ll pass on my recommendations to you.

The Crash of 2008 part 2

We are experiencing an historic time which will be referred to in future years. What we don’t know yet is just how deep this crash is and the extent of the fallout which will come from it. What we do know is that markets are reeling and multiplied millions of people have already been affected.

Banks have been nationalised. Millions of people have lost their homes. Billions of dollars of stock value has disappeared in days. Fortunes have been lost and won. International summits have been called. Moments of hope have been established, only to be demolished by the next wave of bad news.

You’ll be able to tell your grandchildren you went through the Crash of 2008!

The Big Question

The big question that people want answered is, “What is really going on?” Is this the end of the world or just a bump along the road to progress? Will everything right itself or will the carnage continue?

To help you understand what is going on I have pulled together a list of factors that have contributed to our current situation.

Greed

Greed or the Love of Money gives people a willingness to put all at risk in order to get a profit. And greed is a big part of the operation of modern markets, whatever people are dealing with.

Back in the days of the South Sea Bubble the Poet Alexander Pope pointed to greed as a key factor in the huge losses of his day. He said of the South Sea debacle – “See Britain sunk in Lucre’s sordid charms”. By this he saw that it was the lust for “lucre” (money) that had dragged Britain into the quagmire of terrible losses.

The Apostle Paul taught that the “love of money” is the root of all evil – 1Timothy 6:10. Christians must be free from the desire for “greedy gain” (filthy lucre) 1Timothy 3:3,8, Titus 1:7,11, 1Peter 5:2.

I have often heard it noted that our present financial systems are dominated by Greed and Fear. These emotions dominate our markets and most financial decisions.

So greed is clearly one of the culprits in our present situation. If the world’s finances were to move to a better footing they would be based on the use of money for noble purposes, not to indulge people’s greedy ambitions.

International Power Brokers

There are people with sufficient financial power to control what happens to the rest of us. A number of the financial busts that have happened over the centuries have been created by financial manipulators.

It is claimed that one crash in the USA was planned four years in advance, so the bankers could buy farming land from bankrupted farmers. For those who want to get some idea of the history of international financiers acting as power brokers check out the Money Masters videos on YouTube.

Orchestrated Financial Machinations can enable those in control to gain the wealth and assets of others. For example, one strategy could be to allow people to make money and start new industries, then create a bust so you can buy the proven winners cheaply, then allow another boom, so you get the profit from other people’s innovation and hard work.

If people have borrowed money then they can be trapped into having to sell their asset to pay their debts. Thus their assets get taken off them.

In the present situation we will probably never know the extent to which the problems have been orchestrated by high-level power players. It is safe to say, however, that it is likely that people of power and influence have been active in the markets, steering things to their advantage when they can.

Divine Intervention

God is bigger than all the banks and governments in the world. When God brings judgement on a people or nation those being judged will suffer all kinds of negative things.

The Bible reveals how God brought enemies, famine, diseases and trouble upon the nation of Israel and other nations. God even prophesied in advance that those things were going to happen.

God also promises that if His people humble themselves and pray He will “heal their land”. “If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

I am confident that God is at work in this present situation. I also believe that if God’s people will humble themselves and get right with God then further upheaval can be averted. I rather suspect, however, that we are heading down a rough road and people will persist in their rebellion for a while longer.

Sin has a Part to Play

The Bible says that sin is a reproach to a nation.

“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

God promises to curse people who reject Him, with famine and financial loss. See Deuteronomy 28 for the extensive discussion of blessings and curses on those who respond differently to God’s Word.

When nations give themselves over to selfishness and sin they bring problems and calamity onto themselves. The selfish determination to live as we please is sin, and God has every right to judge us for such defiance of His claim upon our lives.

Mammon is Ruling the Nations

Jesus said we either worship God or Mammon. Mammon is the desire for gain and the elevation of material wellbeing and self-interest over our willingness to worship God.

I have pointed out in other places that western culture is given over to the worship of Mammon. Instead of living for God and glorifying Him whole nations are living for self and glorifying themselves.

God says “Love Your Neighbour”, and Mammon says “Exploit Your Neighbour”. God says “Trust Me and I Will Bless You”, but Mammon says “Serve Me and I Will Bless You”.

Western Culture and much of the world are ruled by the desire for gain, not the willingness to bless others.

What is Going On?

What is going on is that we are reaping what we have sown. Greed, Power Games, Sin and Mammon worship have set us up for God’s response. God is intent on having us worship Him, as is our responsibility, since He gave us life and everything in it.

So the next concern we have to think about is, “What is God doing in all of this?” That is what I will take up with you when we come to the third instalment in this discussion.