June 16th, 2011 by Eric Gilmour

POVERTY

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…

…for theirs is the Kingdom (Matt. 5.3).”

“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Turning in the core of my heart is a fire, not a fire for “power” or “passion,” but for the restoration of internal poverty in the Christian life.  I extend to you the case of internal poverty; without which a man is locked away in the cell of self.  He is chained in the irons of worth.  He is fixed progressing in the wrong direction.  As Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “if you board the wrong train, it makes no sense to sprint down the corridor in the right direction.” Internal poverty is the dethroning of self that clears the throne of our lives for the King to have His rightful place.  Have you wondered why the Kingdom is given to the poor? The rule of God, the King’s domain and the power of Kingdom life is ignited by poverty alone. The spiritual man is bound to internal poverty.  He has fastened himself to poverty by his own will, having learned its attractiveness to God. He is gripped by the total freedom of bondage to Jesus Christ. Without internal poverty a man rejects such binding, attractiveness and consequently forfeits true liberty.

Poverty is greater than power.  A man may posses miracles and healing, yet be disconnected from the disposition that draws God’s heart to Him; “I am poor and needy (Psalm 86.1;40.17;70.5;109.22).” The poor man understands that he doesn’t have what he most severely needs and without aid from the outside he will most definitely perish.  Are you as poor today, as that day you first called upon His name to save you from your sins?

Poverty is greater than prayer. A man may pray hours upon hours and yet posses not that quality that bestows Grace on his being. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4.6; 1 Peter 5.5).” Once, two men came to the same place to pray. Oh how two individuals can perform the same actions from widely different motives!  One man came to boast of his right living and the other to cry out for mercy (Luke 18.13).  Hearts are seen by the King (1 Samuel 16.7;Prov. 16.2).  Internal poverty is His delight.

Poverty is greater than passion. A man may impress many in the assembly with volume and fervor, yet be inwardly bankrupt, because he finds great value in himself.  He far removed from the riches of the Kingdom being bestowed in his soul through poverty alone.  For the Kingdom is the possession of the poor. Francis De Sales said, “Nothing can so effectually humble us as the consideration of what He has done for us and what we have done against Him.” Oh brothers, poverty is that for which their exists no substitute.

Poverty is that ingredient without which there exists no potential for rise in God.  Poverty is the daily and constant reaching for mercy by revelation of our inability and nothingness without His presence.  Poverty is united with dependency.  We are never exempt from poverty’s dependency. As David Ravenhill Said, “we never graduate from dependency.”

Lust we for GLORY? “That faculty of the soul that pants for glory is implanted of God (R. Govet).” Have you an inward burning attraction to be absorbed up into your God?  Poverty is the only route, dependency the only way and humility the only foundation.  For this trinity there exists no substitute.  Poverty is the recognition of our wicked state without God’s presence, which thrusts us into dependency on His presence and manifests itself in humble hearts and lives.  David Popovici said to me on the phone the other day, “the day we wake up without a casting of ourselves upon His mercy, we are finished.” I would add, the moment that we cease to cast ourselves upon His mercy we are finished.  Temptation is a reminder of what we are apart from His presence in our lives.  How many times have we all failed in some way and disappointed ourselves and God?  After 14 years of following JESUS, I see more than ever, that every failure in my life was first a failure to depend upon Him.

As the rain rests upon the ground after the storm, it yearns to return back to the high place from which it has fallen.  It can only long for such a return, till the sun shines down upon its humble state causing it to rise again through evaporation into its desired residence.  So we as men, have fallen from a height of glory.  “For all…fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).” We all, as redeemed men, long to live in the heights from which we have fallen.  Man is burning internally for Glory to be restored.  I submit to you today, that without internal poverty there is no identification with the positional restored glory now and no promise of its fullness in the age to come.  And most certainly, there is no connection with its transforming reality in our daily life. For His humble dying must be met by the sinner humbling himself to ever produce a humble life.

Cerebral arguments and superstar – superhero preaching all stem from a lack of poverty. Poverty alone ensures the Glory to God. A value in ourselves robs Him.  He takes the beggar from the dunghill. Not the prince from the palace or the theologian from the seminary.  All we see as holy acts and ways in men are empty without poverty as its heart beat.

I am well aware of the fact that I as one man do not posses a full picture of God and my heart is longing for the church to take her fullness again.  And though there are many camps that have different emphasis in God, in receiving as much as I can from each camp, I believe that arrogance is heightened when a man claims now that which God has set for the future.  There is no fullness now.  There exists no sinless perfection now.  There is no full seeing now. Just as much as there exists no reigning King JESUS in Jerusalem now.  And anyone who wishes to preach “fullness now” or boasts in their intellectualism  is missing the heart of a risen life, namely, poverty.  Anyone finding the slightest satisfaction or interest in the failures and judgment of others knows nothing of poverty.  For the value of themselves has blinded them to nakedness of their own soul.

We do not posses independently anything of value and that which we do posses in Him is a deposit of a fullness to come.   And that which is possessed is penetrated into us by humility alone. “Beloved, if you have ever seen yourself, you will know that you are never going to be anything other than what you were (Paris R.).” Paul the apostle, who was closer than anyone alive today to a fullness of the image of Christ released in a human life said, “…as for me and my flesh there is no good thing (Romans 7).” He understood His nothingness as God’s power.  Seeing strength perfected in weakness.  Seeing a treasure in an earthen vessel, so that, the greatness of God’s power would be of Himself and not from us (2 Cor 4).  This is in no way an advocating of sin, but rather, the way to true holiness of heart.  Poverty blesses man with the riches of God’s grace that makes men truly holy from the inside out. For in the poor soul alone does the Holy Spirit find a resting place.  The otherwise man is occupying the whole of the throne himself.

Listen, I fear that educated Christians in America like us will educate ourselves out of poverty and into a delusion of “fullness now,” intellectual know-it-all-ness and deceive ourselves into a mindset that is far from the current divine situation concerning God, man, mercy, power and redemption. Our power is not found in the cerebral realm.  It is found in death.  It is not found in a new vision of ourselves or in a puffed up identity that changes the way we carry ourselves.  It is found in His mercy.  It is His mercy that works everyday in us; His mercy that quickens us back to life from the death of truly understanding that we cannot ever in own ourselves please Him or move toward Him.  If we know anything, let it be our continual sins forgiven and our personal poverty coming face to face with His boundless love and His timeless mercy, restoring and keeping us in the power of His presence.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, Paul is thanking God for the Church’s  “labor of love, works of faith and steadfastness of hope…in the presence of God.” The presence of God is the ground for faith that works, love that labors and hope that is steadfast.  I can’t help but see it as a scene from an old UFO movie where the powerful UFO activates and charges all the power tools, lights, cars and everything electric as it flies over the old Farmer’s house in the middle of Nebraska fields.  That is the activation of the presence of God.  As He draws near, our love, which was otherwise frozen, comes alive.  Our faith, which was otherwise dead, is working and our hope, which was otherwise forgotten, is realized.  Internal poverty is the landing pad for the kingdom, which is to say the King.  Dependency sustains the kingdoms rule in which a humble character is the inevitable product.  And such a way to such a presence is the activation of a Christ like life. Poverty gives the kingdom, humility receives exaltation and dependency bears forth fruit which glorifies the Father.

Finally, I encourage a meditation upon Luke chapter 21 vs 1-4.  This simple, yet moving, short story  reveals the severity of poverty like none other.  Without poverty there is no totality.  Without poverty there is only partiality.  The reason that most Christians in the West do not give all that they are over to God is due to the missing element of poverty of soul.  The reason why most Christians in the West give partially to God is because they give out of their surplus.  God return us to the poverty that brings totality and save us from giving to you partially!
 

Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com

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