Why the Economic Crisis is the Greatest Opportunity in 150 Years
- Thursday, February 18, 2010
The hearts of people were thoroughly weaned from speculation and uncertain gain, while hunger and despair stared them in the face. On 1st July, 1857, a quiet and zealous business man named Jeremiah Lanphier took up an appointment as a City Missionary in downtown New York.
This Wall Street businessman began to invite others to join him in a noonday prayer-meeting, to be held on Wednesdays once a week. At twelve noon, on September 23rd, 1857 the door was opened and the faithful Lanphier took his seat to await the response to his invitation. Five minutes went by. No one appeared. The businessman paced the room in a conflict of fear and faith. Ten minutes elapsed. Still no one came. Fifteen minutes passed. Lanphier was yet alone. Twenty minutes; twenty-five; thirty; and then at 12.30 p.m., a step was heard on the stairs, and the first person appeared, then another, and another, and another, until six people were present and the prayer meeting began. On the following Wednesday, October 7th, there were forty! In the first week of October 1857, it was decided to hold a meeting daily instead of weekly.
Within six months, 10,000 business people were gathering daily for prayer in New York, and within two years, 1 million converts were added to the American churches.
Could this current economic crisis be the greatest opportunity for the church in the last 150 years? Let me encourage you to be ever more sensitive to those people around you. Just yesterday I met with a man who told me about a business leader who had committed suicide because he was experiencing financial problems and simply could not face it. He left a wife and two children behind. I met with another man who was in the midst of his own "Joseph Pit". I counseled him and sent him along with several resources to help him navigate his situation.
When times are bad, people are more open to spiritual answers.
The darker the times, the more opportunity there is to see the light. When things die, new things often birth. I think of what my crisis led to in the 1990s. It led to the birthing of my current ministry and the writing of TGIF Today God Is First daily devotional that impacts men and women around the world. Crisis times become times for the birthing of new Kingdom initiatives. What might God want to birth through you at this time? Who might God want you to encourage during this time? What answers might you provide to others who need them right now? Joseph was a man thrust into his own pit experience for 13 years. God placed him in a place of slavery and later in prison. He had every right to be mad at God. But Joseph was faithful. And through his faithfulness, God used him to save an entire nation and become the second most powerful man in the entire world. He gave him supernatural solutions to a world problem of famine.
God is placing His "Josephs" in position to be problem solvers in this day. It is a time for God's marketplace leaders to shine and prove to the world that we are different because we have a relationship with the living God. You ARE different. You have the Holy Spirit inside of you. You have solutions to problems. You have solutions to your own problems. Isaiah 48:17-18 says "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!" The key right now is to heed His commandments.
What do you have in your hand?
In the Old Testament there is a story about a widow who was on her last meal. She was at her wit's end. She had enough for one more meal for herself and her son. The prophet Elisha was a friend of her family. He asked the widow and important question that each of us should ask: What do you have in your hand? In other words, what has God given to you that He might generate provision through for you? She told the prophet that all she had was a few oil lamps in her house. He told her to go to her neighbors and ask for any unused oils lamps she could have. God did a miracle by filling each oil lamp which allowed her to sell the oil and get the money she needed to live.
I want you to notice a few things in this story. First, she had something that God could work through—her oil lamps. Second, God multiplied provision supernaturally through what she already had in her possession. Third, she was required to participate in the process. She had to go to her neighbors to ask for something. She had to engage her faith in the prophet's words.
What has God placed in your hands? Perhaps you have a skill not used in the marketplace yet. Perhaps you can work at a grocery story. Perhaps you can do some odd-jobs in your community. Now is the time to think creatively to allow God to work through "what you have in your hand."
God is Birthing a Joseph Season
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