I was thinking today on how some Christians do not have much, nor own a lot in the way of worldly wealth, and yet many Christians in America have more than enough; But they still think somehow, that they are still suppose to have much more wealth in “their hands” than the world has, but for “us” to have anything it must be seen as a principle in the bible, and also “seen” as an example in the lives of those who were walking in it, and teaching it in the scriptures of the bible …. Uummm. (1Cor 10:9-11 and Romans 15:4, Romans 12:3 )
I was also thinking on how Jesus said in this world we will have trouble. (John 16:33 ) And yet the stress of life and hardships we face, many times are from financial difficulties! And actually make some Christians in America feel like they just want to quit…. Only they say this… “I wish Jesus would come back today!” Then I read this by a great preacher…
“Christians often want to die when they have any trouble. Ask them why, and they tell you, “Because we would be with the Lord.” We fear it is not so much because they are longing to be with the Lord, as because they desire to get rid of their troubles; else they would feel the same wish to die at other times when not under the pressure of trial. They want to go home, not so much for the Saviour’s company, as to be at rest.
Now it is quite right to desire to depart if we can do it in the same spirit that Paul did, because to be with Christ is far better, but the wish to escape from trouble is a selfish one. Rather let your care and wish be to glorify God by your life here as long as he pleases, even though it be in the midst of toil, and conflict, and suffering, and leave him to say when “it is enough.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
I find it interesting that in America we have had many teachers say that “Christians” should never be in lack…that they should be rich in wealth because it takes money to do ministry, and also that we should “look” better cared for, and have more than the world has, because “we” are “Kings kids”, or somehow you must be lacking in faith …because they say “Christ became poor that we might be rich” (2Cor 8:9 )… Ummm. But EVERY word in the bible must balance. and NOT conflict with ANY other word…or “principle” in the bible. Or it is not…”Truth”. But the Truth of GOD, ALWAYS WORKS, and ALWAYS WORKS THE SAME EVERYWHERE, AT ALL TIMES THE SAME… WHY? Because the word always performs what “it”the word is sent to do, and does not return void. (Isa 55;11) The power is IN the word by God making it perform…NOT me. That is a promise to me by God. And Jesus also said apart from me you can do no thing. ( John 15:5)
And so I realized “if” that teaching of financial “worldly” wealth for everybody who is a Christian, is for today (in the here and now) and was actually Truth of God… I would have at least 11 examples in the bible to see in the New Testament to look at… called the “Apostles”; Who by the way after I looked for it, did NOT have it to see. But ALL still lived completely for God…and did not go”very much” without clothes, or food… at least not for long. And when they walked with Jesus …Jesus made sure they were taken care of, because He called them to himself, although I see they all occasionally did go fishing; Once they went fishing “as instructed” by God, to provide a way for GOD to give him and Jesus enough money to cover a tax! (Mat 17:24-27 ) .. Notice it was for God’s purpose and plan . And do you really think after that happened, they did not “keep asking, and knocking ” for more fish with money in the mouth!… Does not appear to be in God’s plan ever again for them.
From what I see they were not rich even by the standard of their day, I can not “see” in the bible, they were wealthy financially…. But God said through Peter who knew this story of the fish, that God gave everything for life and Godliness by His divine power and ( 2Peter 1:3 ).through the knowledge of Him…. We have knowledge of him by the Word! And Spirit!
And yet most of the Apostles died for Christ as martyrs… seems like a good thing in God’s eyes. (Mat 5:8-11 ) And Paul said to live is Christ,and die is gain.( Philp 1:21) But all loved God until the end, and did His will as best they could, with what ever they had, living ACCORDING to God’s word and Spirit. ( John 6:63 )
Now on the other hand Paul, who became an Apostle after Jesus Christ’s ascension to heaven; And by the way Paul is the only one I see who actually had to keep working a job, and at same time ALSO accomplish “full time” ministry planting churches! But the bible says Paul also provided for those “with him” (Acts 20:34-35 ) who were also doing full time ministry with him….read those scriptures ( just point your cursor over them.)
And when Paul started a church and left to start another one, he appointed a pastor in charge, and instructed the church to pay him for his service to them. (1Tim 5:17-18 ) So that the pastors would not be distracted, but just like a soldier could stay focused on the job appointed too. Not being entangled again in things of the world. (2Tim 2:4 ) Not trying to run several other businesses. And like a farmer could be first to be paid from any of the crop harvest. ( 2Tim 2:6 ) Through the church congregation.
Now if Paul saw a diffrence between himself, and those working under him, or those that Paul appointed as Pastors in the church he started, it is because God does too! Remember the word said Paul took care of those who he brought to work planting a church with him! And it relates to God making an “individual” plan for everyone of us to walk in… and God appointing each of us a place in the body. And those plans NEVER change. (Rom 11:29) ) God does not change ( Mal 3:6 ). There is no plan “b”. God knows the beginning from the end, He does not need a plan “b” for you… he needs “us” to except the plan He made for us and Walk in it! (Eph 2:10) But plans can have time limits… Paul did not stay in one place with only one church. That was Paul’s plan from God. But Paul only went where and when God told him to go.
And those who find in their own personal plan from God…that today they have more than enough in their pocket to live on, should give to those who do not have it…as the Apostles taught in Acts, as it says they had ALL things in common. (Acts 2:43-45 ) (That is a principle of God)… Because “we” also do have ALL things in common with Christ…. Yes it really is according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.(Philip 4:19 ) That being the case and is Truth of God…Still I cannot “be” what God does NOT plan for me, and I can not “have” what God does NOT plan for me to have. But whatever I have really is not mine anyway but God’s riches for me to use and act as steward of it for Him. See the verse again in (Acts 2:45 ). So then does that appear like the Apostles were “keeping” and “acquiring” bigger, better, prettier, nicer things than the world had…Or did they lack faith? NO! …So is that “extravagant” version of prosperity teaching actually God’s way? I do not see it. But yes “we” should always have enough! And also have some to share, as that is God’s way ( remember the story of the widow woman and Elijah, he actually asked her for a cake first! She barely had any thing, but she shared what she had. 1Kings 17:12-16 ) … But our lifestyle must balance with that principle shown “us” in Acts 2 as well. And so we must be givers, especially to our brothers ! And we must also do “work” for God to bless the work of our hands! Yes God returns to us from His abundant riches. It is established by His word! (Deut 15:7-10 )
And look at this example the great Apostle Paul… who gave much…also did not always try to look so wealthy, but actually lacked much at times, even though He was an Apostle! 1Cor 4:11Nasb- “To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;” … Did Paul lack faith? NO! ! He had same Spirit of Jesus in Him we do!!! But sometimes God’s plan allows hardship to to teach us, or improve our character, and balance us… Or humble us, so we can then learn to be willing to receive from another, until we can learn to behave as a giver again. And sometimes it might be to learn to speak truth and say to others I have a need… Not pretend all is well…when clearly it is not! And after all Paul also said he had “learned” to be content in all circumstances. (Philip 4:11 )
It seems God used this analogy of the “body” to explain it. Taught by Paul’s mouth!
1Cor 12:15-21Nasb- “If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” ….
Paul it appears was very much used like a hand; He worked and he paid for things for God, as he was instructed to do by God! And so God allowed him to make an abundance as it was “planned by God” for Paul to build many churches; But notice Paul did not live extravagant and even said he had learned to be content in little or much, (Philip 4:12-13) and sometimes as we already seen was without! That is “lack”. … and God called Paul into the highest office of the body of Christ as an Apostle, and so as an Apostle (a part of the five fold ministry offices), Paul also spoke for God as a mouth too.
But Paul did not try to make everyone be like him, Paul walked his plan for God, and he knew others should walk theirs, he tried to teach everyone to understand,…”you” just find and take your place in the body of Christ, and let God take care of the needs. Act like the follower of Christ you claim to be, and “you” do what “you” were made to do, and I “Paul” will do what I was made to do, and one day we will all be home together with our God.
And so if a man is placed (born) in Africa by Gods choosing, and he becomes a Christian, and he does not have much, but he has learned contentment, and loves God. I will not say to him… you should be wealthy and look better for God. When God is the only one who has the right to place “us” in the body as He designed… “we” should not say to that brother, hey quit acting like a foot and become a hand! But if we see a brother with a need , “we should” see if we can meet a need with what we got.
We should realize even if I am appointed as a private part in the body, but I find out I still have just a little bit extra, “I” will help;Just like the widow with Elijah; And “if” I am appointed a hand in the body of Christ, and I feel “directed” by God to pay for a house for an Africa Christian man (brother), or pay for a well to be dug, so he and his family can drink, or maybe so many can be added to the body of Christ, or pay for a pastor to run a church, then I will be a paymaster for God… “a hand” like Paul, but only as God directs… as ALL is God’s;
But not to do anything to “look” wealthy and be seen…but to help out others because I realize in Christ I really am rich… “with or without money”!
I have my Father God, and Jesus Christ who walks with me through deep water, or fire, in those times of trouble He is there. ( Isa 43:2 ) and God said I will never leave you, or forsake you. ( Hebrews 13:5 ) Just like He was with every one of those African brothers and sisters in Christ who just last week may have been broke by the worlds standard…but died for being Christian, giving their lives as believers for Christ, because they were rich in faith and gave God all the glory.
Maybe “we” as Christians should ask why I would need to show my wealth at all…I do not see it in the bible, I only see I will be recognized by my love, and seen as a Christ like one…not recognized by the type of worlds riches I have. But I DO see the bible teaches what to do if I notice that my “brother” has a need. 1John 3:17Nasb- “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? ”
Maybe in America we need to stop using the wealth of God for making payments on “things” to look like a King here…and decrease that Christ might increase, (John 3:30 ) and focus on living a lifestyle where we can give more away than “we” live on,.. because apparently there are going to “always” be brothers who have a need and are not rich in there “place” in the body of Christ as the “world” considers riches.
Or do we teach to pray for things that we might “consume” it upon ourselves?… Does bible teach to do that? James 4:3 Nasb-“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” So if God does not give it to you…then devil who controls this world might help you get “things”, to mess you up! It is devils way, not God’s…Hey the devil will help you be selfish! It is what devil wants to see from us!
The devil is roaming about seeking to “consume” God’s things! Including us! (1Pet 5:8 ) And wants us to do the same, to act like him, and not be imitators of God as dearly loved children!! Which “we” are all instructed to act like! (Eph 5:1)
I think the American church needs to be taught ALL the Truth and that none of God’s Truth ever conflicts with any other Truth, and then learn to be where they belong in the “body” of Christ, and if they are not a hand…be content… and if they are a foot …be content…and just walk out the plan God has for “just” you! And trust God will provide ALL your needs for HIS purpose He made “you” for doing! And if your not a hand like Paul was… maybe it is because God knew YOU could not handle it wisely enough, for Him to receive all the glory. But He will give to others to give it to you somehow… It is in His plan to provide for you! God does not change!
Everything created is ALL His. Just as “we” are suppose to be ALL His, for His good will and pleasure. (Philip 2:13) Remember we were taught to honor God in prayer and ask the Father for everything, and that “everything” should be done according to “His will” on earth as in heaven (Mat 6:10 ). … His plan not ours….And His ways are above our ways, His thoughts above our thoughts. ( Isa 55:9 ).
But are you willing to decrease that He might increase? And are you willing to work at the job He called you too, and willing to give up the tithe He asked you for to the “storehouse” your Church congregation He placed you in?… And do “you” live to be a blessing to everyone around you…Right where He ordered your steps? (Psalm 37:23 )
That is not being a hand..that is just being a part of the body “the family” of God!… Look at the blood flowing in your body, how it takes the things needed for life and spreads them around to every cell in your body as it needs it!
Do you not take care of some parts of your own body that are not easily seen? And do you see someone right next to you with a need in the body, that YOU can meet? Or are they not as important, or not as valuable as a hand, or foot that is seen? A Body with no eye could not see where to walk….or see what opportunity to grasp when it is there in front of them! We need everyone in the body to do there part as God planned!
But “we” must take care of the eye, or the body cannot function, and also care for the eye lid, or the eye can not function as “planned” for by God either! 1Cor 12:23-25 Nasb 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which “lacked”, 25 so that there may be “no division” in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” …
God is no respector of persons and according to that verse, He is also no respector of those who are hands or those who are hidden parts in the body….All are equal heirs in Christ. All deserving the same care. Regardless of faith!
Your “faith” can not change Gods plan. nor manipulate our All powerful Father God so “you” can have more to play with,….Faith is to be used to help you implement God’s plan for your life! But you should be seeking Him to KNOW where you belong, to do Gods will He wants done by you…because WHERE God puts you in the body….those verses say He takes care of you!.. With enough to be “content” with… Of course Paul said he had to “learn” to be content!
So unless God’s plan for you is for you to be a hand, you will not become a hand because you ARE something else in the body!! But if you are a hand…Then I see you better be trust worthy…and not bury it on yourself, because being self consuming with what God gives you, is no different than a hole in the ground. Don’t bury the talent God gave you! Use it for God so He gets a return…of glory! Just say’n. Cuz the out come for the dude who buried it in a hole in the ground was not good.(Mat 25:30 )
Only “us” walking out the purposes of God, is doing the will of God as He planned for “you” to walk in. So be what you are designed to be, where God wants you. And ALL things will be added unto you. (Mat 6:33)….You might not get to be seen driving a new BMW to look good in, or new truck either, but you might be able to help that part of the body God had counted on “you” and appointed for you to help, when He gave you the money! And if you need a car He will get you one that works!
Do not be tempted to “look” more like the world, after all James taught his church that being a friend of the world is to make yourself an enemy to God (James 4:4) … So I say stand up and look like the Body of Christ no matter what it appears to cost you, remembering what God said, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” ( Psalm 50:15)….Like the Apostles taught us to do, and lived…and died… Facing the worlds trouble with God, and died, but not alone, and not rich as the world considers riches…but full of God, heirs full of Faith! (James 2:5) And they glorified Him with all they had. And they were Kings kids too! Just like Jesus who they follow “imitate”…They just did not think of themselves as Kings in the life style choices they made… they were “disciples” who became the apostles of the bible for “our” example, and I am sure remembered a parable Jesus taught “THEM” in ( Luke 12:15-24 ) ..And see it finished with this point Jesus spoke to THEM…
” So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” … And notice the warning in this verse 15 speaking to “us”. ( Luke 12:15 point cursor over scripture)
The Apostles of Jesus Christ only thought of themselves as part of a body, not divided, not haves and have nots… but one body in Christ. And taught their life style made them rich even in their death…. Your plan from God is not ever about “showing wealth” not ever about having a bigger barn to hold all your blessings, Why? Because you can trust God to take care of you tomorrow like he did yesterday…our life is only to be about making God’s “plans” for the “church”..,to go farther and faster than the world can comprehend! …By allowing Him to use “us” in His plan He made for each of us to walk in.
Remember Jesus made a point to tell the disciples the story of the rich man, whom Jesus had told go sell all he had and follow because he would have treasure in heaven ( Luke 18:20-23); I wonder if the American church is like that rich man who could not give up his desire to keep wealth… And walked away sad.
But I do not see Jesus anywhere saying believe for more wealth. But He did say all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23-24)… Of course the things we believe for are suppose to be His will, “for us”to do. Just say’n….But I “see” in the word of God the Apostles were very much like “us”, and they learned to be led by the Spirit, and not worry about tomorrow, but do exactly what God asked them to do today, with ALL God gave them today… So then we can be like them through Christ too. And they were able to walk clearly in the narrow road…and stay in the light! Pastor Ernie