Having A Heavenly Vision

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Mat. 6:19-21

Is it not truly amazing that with so few words one would become the greatest investment advisor both in heaven and on the earth. But that was exactly what our Lord Jesus accomplished here. In just one sentence, the Lord provided the single most important piece of advice for anyone who wants to arrive at true riches. You will never, ever find any sounder investment advice than the words that Jesus spoke here.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Master of everything, even in bringing out in the briefest and clearest summary the most important and complex aspects of our lives!

The word that I love most in this scripture is “yourself”. That is a word we should meditate over and over. In other words, just as we love to gain in this world, we could equally gain in heaven! But is that truly possible? Yes; but to do that, I need to hate myself first.

Now, people who hate others are normally bitter at heart. But did you know you can hate with joy? But the only hating that you can do with joy is when you hate yourself for the sake of God’s Kingdom. That is a spiritual experience that can only come about when we have been born again by God’s Spirit.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

I can attest to the fact that the truly joyous moments that I have experienced in my life are when I found myself giving, not receiving. There is a certain joy attached to receiving, a gross and spiritually oppressive kind of satisfaction. But there is another kind of joy, a joy that is spiritually liberating, which we can only find when we give away our lives for the sake of the gospel.

Notice the scripture talks of not laying up “for yourselves treasures upon earth”.

What does that mean? Jesus could have been saying many things here, but here we will consider specifically money and material wealth. The Bible tells us not to lay up for ourselves these things upon the earth.

Now, if you love the world, you will bring up every argument to counter Jesus’ words. But if God has touched you and in your heart you love Him, you will rejoice at Jesus’ words.

I have heard people say, “Y’know, you don’t have to be stupid to be saved”. They say, “Don’t live as if you are not in this world!” They tell you things like how you ought to save money so you can build a house. They tell you that you shouldn’t live in a rented house all your life.

Well, if there was one person they should be telling this, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus began His earthly life on the wrong foot right from birth. His mother even had no place to give birth to Jesus, and He had to be born in a manger. A manger! Try to imagine that.

You would think God would correct this anomaly and give the most powerful Man his due place on earth. But we read that even when Jesus was at the height of His ministry, He did not have a place to even lay His head! Our Lord lived a truly poor life.

And how about the worldly-eccentric man, John the Baptist? John might have appeared eccentric by his odd lifestyle, but I can assure you that apart from Jesus Christ, in his lifetime John was spiritually the sanest person alive. This man lived in the desert his entire life, and he fed on locusts and wild honey – but God was with him!

Let me tell you, you can live in a hole, literally, all your life, and enter heaven triumphantly. Do you want God to be with you? Just have a heavenly vision. Seeing into God’s Kingdom will make you the richest man spiritually because God will be with you.

Neither Jesus nor John the Baptist lived a materially expensive life to prove that God was with them. Nor did the apostles of Jesus Christ. But they saw with a deep clarity into God’s spiritual Kingdom.

There are also dangers associated with setting our hearts on the things of this world. Robbers could come in and take our property. I raise chickens at my home and someone came and suggested that I should buy a dog to protect my chickens. I told him no. I told him God is well able to protect my chickens. If He ever allows them to get stolen, He will do so for a reason. Another reason I will not be buying a dog, I told my friend,  is because I do not want my heart to be set on those chickens.

The reason Jesus, John and the early church did not lay up treasures here on earth was because they saw into God’s Kingdom, and what they saw there made them to despise the glitter of this world. The things we crow about, these people despised. Jesus even had one seamless shirt-cum-coat. You would need to know how people in his day dressed in order to appreciate how poor our Lord truly was! There are people who do not like the idea that Jesus be portrayed as a poor man. But Jesus was a poor man. You do not even need to guess it. The Bible itself states that Jesus was poor (2 Cor. 8:9).

Let me end by giving you some good investment advice. In fact, this is the best advice you will ever get, and especially if you have large sums of money. And I am giving it to you free of charge.

My advice is: If you have money, do not put it in the bank. Put it in the church. Put it into God’s work. This is where it will truly pay. If you can invest your money into the bank to put into God’s Kingdom, well and good. Only, do not invest it for yourself. The only place “yourself” is waiting to gain is in God’s spiritual Kingdom, not here on earth.

Give away your money and property to the poor. There are many poor people, and some are even our brothers and sisters in Christ. Do not lend, but give. The Bible says,

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Eccl. 11:1).

That speaks of a generous heart. One day, in heaven, you will reap a wonderful harvest.

Giving away our lives in this manner is one of the really big ways that we plan for heaven. Planning for heaven is the best investment plan. Plan for heaven, not earth. Invest in God’s spiritual Kingdom, not this earthly one.

Indeed the Apostle Paul urges us to handle this worldly life with the tips of your fingers. In 1 Timothy 6:8 he says:

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).

That’s truly incredible, coming from this great man of God. Do you think Paul did not know of other things? Do you think he did not know of chariots and horses? Do you think Paul was not aware of money, and of gold and silver? He knew, of course, but he wouldn’t mention them. He wanted to show us that when it comes to this world, we should only desire the bare necessities. Desiring anything beyond that can only be of the flesh!

This is hard for many believers to accept, but it is the truth. A rather hard truth, but the truth nonetheless. As believers we should be aware that the flesh is very much alive and that it will always picket against us taking the narrow way. But we have to, for the gospel’s sake.

Peddlers of the Gospel, Enemies of the Cross – Part 2

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:17

Notice here that, just as in the scripture in Philippians 3:18 concerning the enemies of the cross, these people who corrupt the gospel (or peddlers of the gospel) Paul says they are ‘many’.

The people that Paul is talking about in both scriptures are, unfortunately, preachers. We probably think the Church is safe today. It is not.

Who is a peddler of the gospel? What does the word ‘peddle’ mean, in the first place? From my computer’s Thesaurus it means ‘to sell’, ‘to vend’, ‘to market’, ‘to hawk’. One version says to ‘hype’.

So there are venders, sellers, hawkers and marketers of the gospel. The last lot must be the upper-crust, the more sophisticated.

There are also ‘hypers’ of the gospel. Here hysteria rules. I have seen on TV in some church service in the US, someone was preaching and people were hysterically waving kerchiefs and screaming their heads off and pawing at the air and at the same time they were doing this the preacher was preaching even more violently and they were screaming louder and louder with no let-up, and that went on and on; and 30 minutes later I realized I hadn’t heard one word the preacher was saying and I thought, “They must be catching something in the spirit!”

Those are the hypers.

But there are the venders, sellers and marketers. This is the really dangerous group. Now, here Paul is not talking necessarily about those who tell you to give money so that you might receive this and that blessing. These are simply crooks who prey on the gullibility of simple folk. But they are also an offshoot of that other gospel.

More importantly, Paul is talking about what today we have come to accept as the gospel – a gospel that deals with and talks about what a Christian can get in this material world. It is a gospel which, in effect, panders to the flesh. This is a gospel that tears out one scripture from the Bible and runs away with it. It is the gospel that tells you that Jesus became poor so that we might become rich: and, ever so slightly, it turns that scripture to mean that Jesus became poor so we might become rich in money and the material things of this world. It is a gospel that tells you that God wants you to live a comfortable life in this world because that is what Christ died for.

But the Word of God never talks about us becoming rich in this world. Jesus did not come from heaven to die for the riches of this world.

The preachers who preach this kind of gospel are they whom Paul calls the enemies of the cross of Christ. The enemy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the Devil. It is the carnal Christian, especially a worldly-minded preacher. And these are many in the Church today.

In Romans 8 the Bible says that the carnal nature does not, nor cannot obey God’s law. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:47,48, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”

The Bible says clearly here that there is an earthy man, and that his desires are earthy. In other words, the carnal nature within him lusts after this world and the things in it. We born-again believers are of the second Adam, “the Lord from heaven.” We are spiritual. We have no business with the first man. We are not of that stock. We are of the second man, “the Lord from heaven.” Our desires and our vision is heavenly. May the Lord be praised for that!

Jesus did not have much to say about this earthly life. He said simply, “31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

He said to seek first the Kingdom of God.

That is why the apostles could go hungry and naked. That is why they could undergo all those lacks and still carry the plan and purpose of God in their hearts. They were spiritual.