Saturday, June 13, 2009

Real Economic Stimulus

This blog was primarily designed to help people in practical ways put into practice scriptural principles. I had envisioned practical articles helping you to get a budget started that would free you up to be able to pay down debt and save for your future. As I was doing my devotions this morning, I came across a scriptural principle that applies across our economy and may be the key to our continued blessing from God.

I was reading in Nehemiah chapter 9. The people of Israel under Nehemiah's leadership had just completed rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah had gathered everyone together for a dedication ceremony, but when Ezra began to read the Book of the Law to the people, they were convicted of how they had abandoned God's direction. After the time of dedication and celebration of the Festival of Booths the people were gathered together in fasting, sackcloth and dust on their heads to confess their sins.

They spent 1/4 of their day just reading the Book of the Law and another 1/4 of their day confessing sins and worshipping God. The prayer starting in verse 5 going through 37 documents how God deserves the loyalty of the people. They outline his role as creator and how he chose Abraham and made a covenant with him. The recanting of their history continues with how God heard their pleas for deliverance from the suffering in Egypt and the miraculous signs and wonders he displayed. They tell of how God spoke at Mt. Sinai and gave commands for the people to follow and promises of blessing if they would be faithful. God had provided for their every need and yet the people rebelled.

Time after time, God took back his people after they had committed wicked deeds choosing to forgive and extend mercy to them not because of their goodness, but because of his. At the time of this prayer, the people acknowledge that the hardships that they are enduring were foretold by the prophets, but they wouldn't hear their warnings. They continued their own way until it led them into slavery and oppression. Even then they were an occupied territory and subject to the commands of the Babylonian king.

Proverbs 22:7 tells us that "just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender". Everyone these days is talking about what got us into our condition as a nation and whether the actions that are being taken by government are sufficient to restore our economy. More often than not, when I listen to people offer commentary on what caused the problem, I hear greedy wall street bankers, lenders who extended bad credit, car manufacturers who did not see warnings when they were not profitable and did not adjust to the market conditions. Virtually no one is saying that they had a role to play in this big picture.

When I hear about the solutions being offered, the government is saying that they had no choice but to become involved, people in communities around the nation are accepting stimulus payments, corporations and states are taking stimulus dollars from the federal government without regard for our long term future. The greed and affluence that created the debt that is now drowning the global economy is extending more debt to address the issue. This government bailout is not sound practice and will never be able to restore our nation, it will enslave us just as surely as the Israelites were enslaved to Babylon.

The Israelites were guilty of short term thinking only wanting what seemed attractive at the time without regard for the scriptural principles they had to violate to get it. God allowed them to see where that kind of thinking would take them. God didn't enslave them, they enslaved themselves by choosing their own way and not honoring God. God intended for them to live free from slavery and to show the world that a life that honors God is blessed.

We are guilty of the same crimes. We can't blame Wall St., the Corporations or our government. It was our own unwillingness to choose to be content with God's provision and to live a lifestyle that honored God rather than feeding our short term desires that has created this house of cards. We cannot possibly correct the problem by issuing more debt. The people on Wall St. and the people who operate the corporations are you and me, they are our neighbors next door. They aren't some distant disconnected peoples who don't have a clue what our lifestyle is like. The elected officials are the people we elected to office; they reflect our values.

The only solution that will have any real impact is for us - each of us - individually and corporately to acknowledge our greed and affluence got us here. The Israelites saw the pattern of their behavior. They were faithless and then encountered trouble; they looked to God for deliverance and found rest. Nehemiah 9:28 confesses "But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight".

We as a nation and individually have sinned before God choosing our own way over his whether in our finances or in other lifestyle choices. Our only hope is to confess our sins and redirect our lives. I don't think that we can do this apart from some serious study of scripture like the Israelites did. Not just a casual verse or two to inspire us each day but a true investigation of God's ways, God's character, our perpetual sinfulness, and our need for a Savior to deliver us.

The economic stimulus the government offers today is just a ticket to long term slavery. We can't sustain the flow of money that is being tossed about. We need to get back to basics which means a change of lifestyle that puts God first.

Let's take the first step. Start personally to study scripture and acknowledge our sins before God and worship him for his faithfulness and provision for us. Extend the back to basics philosophy to our homes and then to our extended family. We can all make a difference; we need to choose to be bold and stand for the Lord. If we do this for ourselves, we will be able to reach to our neighbor and offer a helping hand to encourage him through this hardship.

I believe that if God's people will humble themselves, confess their sins and ask for forgiveness that God will hear from heaven and respond in a mighty way. I don't know if the rapture is today, tomorrow or next week, but when I consider the economic devastation that would lead our world to a one world currency and a league of nations that opposes Israel told in Revelation, it just doesn't seem that far away to me. If the rapture is to occur before this happens, it could very well be today. Be ready and stand boldly for the Lord.

May God richly bless you as you seek him and as you serve him.

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