Three Options: Pretense, Captivity or Building the Temple of the Lord?

By Evan Bartholomew, Lead Minister. 

“There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is used up.’” Genesis 47:13-15 NIV.

“Crisis” is what some have called it. A country on the verge of facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The value of the American Dollar has significantly gone down, and so has the confidence of American consumerism. Small businesses face bankruptcy, home owners face foreclosure, and individuals face heaps of debt in which the interest alone is more than they can afford. Yet, with a great “crisis” at hand, it is important that we understand the spiritual significance and opportunity that God, in His sovereignty, has presented us!

Maverick gets baptized! Congratulating him are Evan, Robbie and Jordan. (photos by Kelly Bartholomew)

Here in Egypt, during a time of economic recession, we find that God has raised up Joseph – a son of Jacob (or Israel) – to be “in charge of the whole land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:41 NIV). Ironically, the means that God used to establish Joseph in this esteemed position was that He had Joseph interpret a dream that God had given to Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s dream was a warning from God about the future. There was going to be seven years of great abundance, and then seven years of famine in the land! Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing up food in the time of great abundance, and then distributing it in the time of famine. Years later, after the time of great abundance had ceased, and the time of famine had gone on for two years, Joseph told his brothers, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. ‘So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God’” (Genesis 45:5-8 NIV).

In short, Joseph collected the “abundance” for use during a time of need for God’s people. Specifically, the Bible says that the resources collected were intended for “the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20 NIV). During this time of economic challenge in the United States, there have been many warnings given to the average individual to “save” up. Certainly, having wisdom in our finances is a warning worth listening to. Yet, on the other hand, the scriptures clearly show us that the saving of “lives” is far more important, and it is the ultimate purpose of God rather than the saving of “money”! Is recession, the time of economic “crisis”, a time to save? Yes – it’s a time to use our abundance to save lives!

Kyle Bartholomew flies in to be our guest speaker today! Last year, our entire Special Missions Contribution of $11,100 was sent to help Kyle plant the Honolulu church!

On May 3rd this year, we will be collecting our Special Missions Contribution! The goal for our total collection is ten times (10x) our regular weekly contribution, or roughly $11,000. Since the goal for our weekly contribution is normally at least a tithe (10%), each individual should have the goal of sacrificing at least one week’s worth of pay for the Special Missions Contribution. Last year, with the goal of $10,000, the church collected $11,100. All of the money collected was used for the planting of the Honolulu International Christian Church on Oahu! $4,000 was sent to help finance the training of Kyle Bartholomew (the lead Evangelist of the HICC), and the other $7,100 was sent over to the HICC at their inaugural service in June to help the mission team settle in after flying over from Los Angeles. Since their planting on June 8, 2008, the Honolulu International Christian Church has baptized 13 people, and restored 7 to the Lord! Surely, “God sent [them] ahead…to save lives by a great deliverance!”

Differently than last year, this year’s Special Missions Contribution collected in the Hilo church is going to be used locally for missions in our own city! Through the sacrifice of the membership, the church has been fortunate enough to have been able to aid the special needs of Honolulu, as well as the churches of India! Prayerfully, with continued sacrifice and growth in the Hilo church, we will be able to provide support for the forceful advancement of the Kingdom throughout the rest of the world. However, as needs arise in our own “field God has assigned to us,” (2 Corinthians 10:13 NIV) we must use the Special Missions Contribution to build up God’s church in Hilo! Just as God worked through Pharaoh’s dream over seven years in advance so that Egypt would be adequately prepared for the famine ahead, each member of the Hilo church should be wise in storing up their “abundance” now, and not waiting until it is too late!

It is interesting that God used a recession not only to give Joseph a place among a great civilization in Egypt, but also Joseph’s family – the twelve tribes of Israel! It was in Egypt that the Israelites “were fruitful and increased greatly in number” (Genesis 47:27 NIV). In fact, the Israelites began to multiply so fast that the Pharaoh of the future would create a law that would order the deaths of all Israelite children. One child managed to escape through clutches of the Pharaoh’s decree, and was named Moses – the future leader of the Israelite nation. Eventually, Moses would lead the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the edge of the Promised Land! Who would have imagined that God would initiate a new nation, or a movement of His people in the midst of a famine – a recession?

Tina, Ronald and Karyss are baptized this past month! (photos by Evan and Kelly Bartholomew)