…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Had an an interesting week.
Two brethren called. Both were wondering about the teachings at their church, …. perhaps summed up by Rich Dad, Poor Dad gospel.
Rich Dad – Give until you are blessed !
Poor Dad – Give until it hurts !
Rich Dad – Real disciples are prosperous and healthy.
Poor Dad – Real disciples, deny themselves and sacrifice everything.
Rich Dad – You should be prosperous and healthy, Claim your right.
Poor Dad – You should downgrade, downsize, deny yourself and sacrifice. Give up your right, give up everything.
Rich Dad – Suffering ??!?
Poor Dad – Suffering is good for you … keeps you humble.
Rich Dad – God is happy with me, … He really loves me 🙂
Poor Dad – Is God happy with me ??? 😦
Rich Dad – Fill me, … more, and .. even more … blessings, amen.
Poor Dad – Empty me. … Have I surrendered and sacrificed enough ?
Rich Dad – Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it. The Lord be magnified, Who delights in the prosperity of His servant (3 John 2, Proverbs 10:22, Psalm 35:22)
Poor Dad – If anyone desires to come after Him, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. You cannot become His disciple without giving up everything you own. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Him (Luke 9:23, Luke 14:33, Luke 18:22, Deuteronomy 28:1-14)
The following is not meant as a generalization. However, … in the midst of good intentions … sometimes missionaries in their zealousness, unconsciously propagate a Poor Dad view, i.e. we should sacrifice as much as they have sacrificed to “save” the world, serve God.
On the other hand, sometimes highly successful marketplace brethren unconsciously propagate a Rich Dad view, i.e. we should experience prosperity by applying the principles of the Bible that they have applied.
Both groups are equally sincere, backed up by their personal experiences, … and desire their audience to move to another level in their walk..
to glorify God
… by being rich and successful ? … becoming a properous person to honor God?
… or by emptying oneself of everything ? … becoming an ascetic monk to honor God ?
Back to the phone chats, the questions my friends were asking:
Rich Dad – How about christians in the church who are struggling with their finances or their health, … when is their breakthrough?
Poor Dad – Do I have to give up everything, … sell everything like the rich young ruler in Luke 18, … before I can be a real disciple of Jesus ?
When the rubber hits the road, how then should we live ?
When we follow Jesus,
is it really about
how great my blessings and prosperity ?
Or, how great my sacrificial giving ?
Is it centered around me?
One Bible …. 2 very different views.
I believe, the problem is not in God’s word,
but whether we read the whole of God’s word or just our favorite verses/passages only.
Let’s also go beyond clever distilled rules and principles …. to a living dynamic relationship with the person, the Lord Jesus, dependent on His daily grace
I believe the balance lies in our attitude and focus.
Seeing the Bible from God’s perspective.
Grace Dad – I have learned how to be content with whatever I have whether I have plenty or little.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Content in every situation, whether plenty or little …. implies flexibility, adaptability to life’s circumstances. Not rigid, dogmatic …
and not whether having abundance or poverty is better.
In times of plenty, be content and thankful … & not feel guilty for having too much.
In times of little, be content and thankful … downsize … be practical.
Either situation, … trust God.
Contentment … helps us to have grateful and peaceful heart in the ups and downs of life, … focusing on what we have, what we have gained, … and not what we have lost, … and acknowledging that ultimately, it is the Lord who blesses us and will take care of us. He is our provider.
1 Corinthians 6:6-10 (NIV)
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
We can roughly tell how contented we are, … when we are around others wealthier, or smarter, or more acclaimed or more popular than us, … how comfortable do we feel, & what are our thoughts.
How is our life measured ?
What’s our motivation?
How secure are we in Christ ?
Luke 12:15 (NASB)
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out!
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;
life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
A generous giving lifestyle overcomes greed, envy, covetousness, hoarding, love of money,
… such that possessions and blessings don’t possess us.
Grace Dad – Give until you are cheerful ! Give to the Lord. Giving as a lifestyle.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.
“For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Grace Dad – God prospers and blesses His servants as we walk in His ways. In His sovereignty and wisdom He also sometimes leads us through situations where our faith is challenged.
David and Joseph’s life clearly shows smooth sailing periods of great prosperity and favor, as well as stormy periods of great challenges and deeply humbling situations (Genesis 37–50, 1 Samuel 16-1 Kings 2) . In either circumstances, God was still at work in their lives, i.e. the same God was with Joseph and blessed him with favor in Potiphar’s house as well as when Joseph was in prison.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus,
Lazarus, the beggar, is welcomed into the kingdom of God.
Luke 16:19-23 (NIV)
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day..20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
In Hebrew, Lazarus means “whom God helps”
God had mercy on Lazarus, who came to Him empty-handed — grace.
The merciless rich man, missed God’s mercy.
From the parable about another rich man (Luke 12:13-21 )
Luke 12:21 (NIV)
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves
but is not rich toward God.”
The apostle Paul confesses about his life experiences serving the Lord, …
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NIV)
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
The Lord said,
Jeremiah 18:6 (NASB)
“Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
He is the potter, … we are the clay.
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
In addition to trials, the Bible also talks about the blessings of obeying Him …
Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB)
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Joshua 1:7-8 (NASB)
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
The Bible also talks about storms and dark valleys.
Sometimes, God miraculously delivers us out of the raging storm,
sometimes He leads us through the storm,
… and, sometimes He stills the storm,
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Isaiah 43:2,3 (NIV)
“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 scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
3 “For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Whatever happens, let’s abide in Him and His words, and pray for His help to intervene, waiting patiently … and not succumb to helpless, passive fatalism of ‘carrying our cross‘.
John 15:7 (NKJV)
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Grace Dad – We have a responsibility to practically manage our resources well, and develop the habits of diligent work, thrift, responsible spending habits, and wise investment.
In a BBC documentary, the pastor of a Korean mega-church was asked this question about believers in his church:
“Does this mean that salvation will lead to worldly success?”
His answer was:
“When they are saying that they stop smoking,
they stopped drinking, they began to save money,
they stopped gambling, they don’t waste their money.
Naturally by doing that kind of life they are becoming wealthy.”
The Bible is filled with practical living advice on living right and righteously, eg.
Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)
Dishonest money dwindles away,
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
Proverbs 30:25 (NIV)
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
2 Peter 2:19, 22 (NIV)
… “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” …
… “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
As much as we believe in the power of prayer and financial miracles, … we also have to take responsibility to make practical lifestyle changes in our lives, and develop good, prudent financial habits … (besides just giving).
Prudent financial habits of providing for our family through diligent work, saving, investing, planning and giving are also in His Word, and are to be lived. With regards to finances, in addition to giving …. the Bible also talks about wisely managing what the Lord has blessed us with, … being a responsible steward.
This is how the virtuous woman is described in Proverbs 31,
Proverbs 31:15,16,20 (NIV)
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
Not about her devout prayers, bible study, ladies meeting, church meetings, etc, … but how she faithfully handles the people and things in her everyday daily life.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30, both the servants with 5 and 2 talents were blessed by the same multiplying increase. They put their talents to work and they doubled the original amount. Both also received the same commendation from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21,24 NKJV).
Hence, the servant with the 2 talents need not envy or compare himself with the servant who was given 5.
In putting their talents to work, both servants exercised faith or took some risk.
Putting their talents to work … i.e. they diligently worked at it.
When the owner gave the talents, it was measured – “to each according to his own ability” (Matthew 25:15 NKJV).
The third servant only received one talent, probably due to this reason.
To the servant with one talent, who did not do anything with his talent, the owner said, “… you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.” (Matthew 25:27 NKJV). (bankers … hence, this parable is about finances)
and “ Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. “ (Matthew 25:28, 29)
The Lord rewards faith, faithfulness and wise management of what He has blessed us with.
The focus is not on lack.
From another parable, Jesus said,
“Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth,
who will entrust the true riches to you?” (Luke 16:11 NASB)
Stewarding & mastering wealth,
without wealth mastering us.
Grace Dad – The Lord is faithful. He is our provider. He blesses our daily needs, and there are times He surprises us with extra-abundant blessings and favor. There are also times we face challenges and struggles. We pray for His daily provision and blessings, and depend on Him daily.
God is our source, our provider – Jehovah Jireh.
Matthew 6:11 (NIV)
Give us today our daily bread
Proverb 30:7-9 (NIV)
Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Grace Dad – If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. (Psalm 62:10 NASB)
Psalm 62:10 (NLT)
And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.
God can bless us with wealth. However, being blessed with wealth does not always imply God’s favor, …. neither does the absence of great blessings always indicate sin, God’s disapproval or judgement.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
God is not anti-rich.
Some of us are already wealthy when we come to Him. Some of us may get wealthier after coming to Jesus. The issue is not about riches but whether our heart is centered on Him.
For the rich young ruler, Jesus requested that he sell everything, his response was :
Matthew 19:22 (MSG)
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
the last thing … a question of priorities
Clearly, Jesus was dealing with his heart, his priorities … not his riches. We all have different vices, things we hold tightly in our hearts. For the rich young ruler, it was riches, …. for each one of us it could be something else.
Luke 12:34 (NIV)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Is Jesus our treasure ?
Acts 4:33-35 (NIV)
And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
The rich young ruler was informed to give his riches to the poor.
In Acts, from time to time believers sold their possessions and gave to anyone who had need,
… (not to line the pockets of the apostles or building fund)
Furthermore, the church in Acts met in people’s homes (which had not been sold, .. not everyone sold their homes to follow Jesus).
However when persecution struck, the believers chose Jesus above all else,
Hebrews 10:32-36 (NASB)
32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Their hearts were ready to give up everything,
knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
In Ephesians and Colossians, Paul taught masters who had slaves to treat them fairly and in the right manner. He did not share that they should immediately set all their slaves free. Similarly, in Philemon, Paul acknowledged that Onesimus was still officially Philemon’s property.
In another account of Jesus,
Luke 19:2, 8-10 (NASB)
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Zaccheus gave half his possessions (50%).
He also made maximum restitution to those he cheated previously (before he met Jesus). (Exodus 22:1)
Did Jesus remind Zaccheus … what about his remaining 50%?
or what he kept behind after giving?
… sell everything and give to the poor, like the rich young ruler ?
Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham …”
Zaccheus changed his attitude towards riches and dishonesty, and demonstrated it. He also made costly restitution for his past. Truly in Jesus, a changed man with a changed heart. From earthly riches to true riches.
The crowd unanimously disapproved of Zaccheus, but Jesus accepted and welcomed Zaccheus, in spite of his notorious dishonest reputation and selfish past. Jesus one vote of confidence was all that mattered, … silencing the popular majority. Praise God, truly Jesus has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
1 Sam 16:7 (NLT)
…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart
Let’s not set our eyes on the outward appearance of success or failure … rather, humbly examine our hearts.
Also, … Jesus only spoke to Zaccheus briefly that he was coming to his home to stay; … no long sermon on what a bad sinner Zaccheus was. Instead … by His Spirit, Jesus’ acceptance and love for Zaccheus touched him to change.
As for the rich young ruler, Mark’s gospel adds one precious detail, Jesus looked at him and loved him. The same “look of love” he gave Zaccheus.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Although at that very moment, the rich young ruler was not able to respond to Jesus’ request … the Lord still loved him.
So it is with us, He is patient … He loves us.
Grace Dad – Do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:14)
Its been said … we can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.
We can easily be zealous in what we do… and yet, … not have love or an attitude of love towards God and others in our giving. We also should be careful that in the midst of ‘carrying our cross’, we do not become legalistic, pious, joyless and religious … judgmental & critical of others.
(see parable of the Pharisee and tax collector Luke 18:9-14)
1 Corinthians 13:3 (MSG)
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Yes, it is true that we cannot out-give God. He blesses us in various ways.
However, what is our motivation in giving to the Lord?
Is it love for God?
Is it in love and service to others?
Is it irrespective of whether He blesses us or the response of others, or how others administer our gift … i.e. without conditions, no strings attached giving, … agape ?
Are we judgmental of others?
Are we more concerned of the shortcomings of others, … than our very own?
Have I blessed someone else today?
Grace Dad – Listen to the Lord, led by the Spirit.
Let God direct us, stir our hearts, and speak to us directly in our giving.
21 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. 22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to the Lord.
Haggai 1:14 (NASB)
14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God
Give willingly, cheerfully … out of conviction …
not out of guilt, shame, obligation, pity, persuasion, or compulsion.
1 Corinthians 9:7
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, … sometimes the Lord may direct us not to give … He’ll creatively provide through other ways and in His time.
Also, be careful of long offering messages,
… or messages peppered with “God spoke to me to share …”,
not under compulsion …
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
Grace Dad – God blesses us, so that we can be a blessing to others with His blessings. Our blessings come from the Lord, for us to wisely steward and to use to bless others. The focus of blessings is on serving others, not ourselves.
Luke 12:21, 48 (NASB)
So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God
… From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
Being blessed by the Lord, carries a responsibility of wise stewardship and generosity to others.
The Lord spoke to Abraham,
Genesis 12: 2 (NASB)
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
I will bless you .. and so you shall be a blessing
Abraham was blessed to be a blessing to others.
34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said,
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When we give, …
the focus is not to bless oneself,
neither is the focus on self-sacrifice
or something we do for church.
But the focus is on giving to the Lord,
& blessing others in love – a lifestyle.
Paul, writing about the Macedonian believers in responding to the needs brethren in Jerusalem,
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NIV)
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.
Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Please kindly note – They gave themselves first of all to the Lord …
To help other believers, the Macedonian believers gave
** voluntarily … entirely on their own
** compassionate … they urgently pleaded with us
** in faith … as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.
** by God’s grace … the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches, the grace of giving
They saw giving as a privilege to bless others financially, … not a duty.
since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you
—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Continuing to the next chapter,
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (NIV)
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
(See also the parable and the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.)
2 Corinthians 9, contains one of my favorite verses on cheerful giving
… I call it the “abundant, all, all, all, abound, every” verse :-).
1 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV, NASB)
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
as demonstrated through the generous Macedonian believers
In the midst of a very severe trial … they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability … entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing
Its also interesting that right after the rich young ruler left (as he was not able to give up his riches), Jesus assured His followers,
Luke 18:29,30 (NKJV)
So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Hebrews 6:10 (NASB)
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.
We are not able to out-give God.
God is gracious and generous.
Grace Dad – Christ is our Righteousness, we are saved by grace not by our sacrifices or prosperity. By His grace, He blesses.
Ephesians 2:8,9 (NASB)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
The focus is … Jesus, His sacrifice, He has done it all.
No amount of sacrifice on our part is worthy, … He has made us worthy by His once-and-for-all sacrifice.
Not what we have done …. but what He has done.
John 19:30, Matthew 27:50-54 (NIV)
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
We have to be careful, and not unconsciously become confident in our righteousness
** of our sacrifices & piety to the Lord,
** or justifying our righteousness through outward signs of prosperity, blessings/favor in our lives;
A lack of these things may not be an indication of sin or judgement.
Matthew 5:45 (NASB)
… He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Similarly, in the Old Testament, God blessed Israel not because of their righteousness.
4 After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6 Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
Its good to balance God’s blessings and the way of the cross.
When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness with
all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus demonstrated that …
obtaining the kingdoms of the world,
without dying on the cross was not His way to ultimate victory,
and receiving the kingdom of God.
Matthew 4:8-10 (NIV)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
John 18:36 (NIV)
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world …
Hence, what is our true inheritance, possession, riches?
Giving .. in order to receive blessings, favor, anointing ?
Its not a transaction with God.
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.
We can’t buy, trade, barter or transact God’s favor/blessings, anointing through giving,
neither can we hasten His answers & the work of God,
… everything is unearned, undeserved,
by His mercy & grace we receive,
He is Lord,
& we are not.
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Has anyone given away everything, all that they had?
Amongst this unique group,
there are 2 women who gave everything to the Lord.
Both were nameless, anonymous poor widows who lived out their faith in the faithful Lord:
one in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament.
The Gentile widow at Zarephath who fed Elijah during the famine (1 Kings 17)
She obeyed the Lord, even though she had only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug, just enough for her and her son for their final last meal, after which there was no more food.
1 Kings 17:8-16 ((NIV)
8 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah
The Lord honored her faith, and faithfully supplied their needs during the famine.
Even Jesus commended her.
Luke 4:24,25 (NIV)
25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
The other widow gave her last 2 small copper coins at the temple.
Luke 21:1-4 (NIV)
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth;
but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
In the temple, this widow quickly slipped her two small coins inconspicuously …. and quietly disappeared into the temple crowd.
Unknown, un-announced, anonymous.
Jesus spotted her!
Jesus saw her heart!
Jesus commended her love & sacrifice!
The widow’s quiet split-second action,
was captured permanently in an unforgettable commendation by Jesus forever.
For more sharing on the widow’s mite (click here)
One day in heaven, we’ll know their names,
along with countless magnanimous, anonymous, cheerful givers in history,
whom Jesus will personally commend, “Well done, good and faithful servant!“
Amongst followers of Jesus, some of us are prospering greatly,
while some of us are undergoing great suffering, persecution, troubles.
The issue is not about moving the prosperous ones through sacrifice into a state of lack, or moving the suffering ones immediately into a state of prospering through applying Bible principles and promises.
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
Consider the parable of the Sower and the seed.
Mark 4:14 (NIV)
The farmer sows the word.
Mark 4:18,19 (NIV)
18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
For those of us who are living in comfort, relatively free from trouble/persecution, … through His Word, we have to be on guard that we are not choked by the worries of this life, deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for things.
Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
For those of us who are undergoing trouble, persecution … where following Jesus can cost us our lives … we have to stand firm on His Word, … not succumb, and not be eroded.
For some, the tribulation has not come yet,
while for others the tribulation is very real and life-threatening.
Jesus followers in two very different circumstances,
facing two very different kinds of challenges, entrapment, perspectives
…. but one choice …
Trust God only,
not be distracted, or overwhelmed,
but to overcome and be fruitful by His word.
Grace Dad – Whether in abundance or facing challenges, … trust God only.
Mark 4:20 (NIV)
20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
Luke 8:15 (NIV)
15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
by persevering produce a crop
in persevering over various challenges and snares,
… produces a fruitful, successful, prosperous, multiplying crop.
…. hence, its a matter of our heart.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
October 20, 2014
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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