It Pleased Them!

25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. Rom. 15:25-26

This morning, my mind is on the subject of giving – again! The scripture above tears at my heart.

First aways, notice the singular form of ministry mentioned in this scripture. It is the ministry of giving to the poor. It is not stated that Paul went to preach in Jerusalem. The purpose of his journey to Jerusalem was to deliver the Gentile churches’ contribution to the poor saints there. Whether he preached or not is not our subject here.

But the thing that sends my heart racing with excitement is the second part of this passage of the Bible. The Bible says it pleased the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to make a contribution for the saints in Jerusalem.  It pleased them! Wow, the beauty of that!!

There is nothing as beautiful as something that is done from the heart. It is so powerful it reaches the ureachable parts of the heart. For this reason, the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

God loves a cheerful giver!

God loves things that are done with a willing heart. God loves a purposeful heart. To demonstrate this, God has even taken people who were terrible sinners and changed them and put them to serve Him mightily. They were men and women who were willing to do things from the heart. Chief amongst these is the Apostle Paul himself (1 Tim. 1:13-16).

No man in their right minds loves things that are half-done. With God, it is infinitely much less so.

As believers, we are to do things heartily. When you give, give heartily. Don’t allow your mind to pick nits and bits. Above all, do not count how many times you have given in the past. Give as if you have never given before!

In the same manner, when you forgive (for we are called to forgive whenever someone wrongs us) do so with a hearty heart. Don’t weigh the wrongs! Above all, do not count the former wrongs done to you by the person you are supposed to forgive.

Whatever we do, we are to do it heartily. In Ephesians 6:5-8, the Apostle Paul writes:

“5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

Notice verse 6. Whether bond or free, we are to do things

“from the heart”!

From the heart. That’s not talking of any old heart. Rather, scripture here is talking of a willing and cheerful heart.

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Businessman Or Preacher?

34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mk. 8:34-36

It is incredibly strange how Jesus’s teaching that one should deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him is juxtaposed alongside the prosperity gospel that is rife in the church today.

There is an infinite difference between motivational teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The principles embodied in motivational teachings are not for the church; they are for the world. Jesus should not even be mentioned in such teachings, because He did not come to seek after the success of this world.

Millions in the church will try these principles and still remain poor because God is not involved in such principles – or their end result, which is worldly riches and success.

These teachings by Dr. Myles Munroe only encourage greed for worldly success and glory, and worldly riches. (The Bible calls greed “covetousness, which is idolatry” – Col. 3:5)

In the end, so much good $25,000 did Dr. Munroe.

 

A Man; And Money

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Cor. 9:1-15

Today’s is a rather long post. I felt I should not cut it up into 2 or 3 parts but bring it up as a whole. So, belt up!

Notice also that the title of this post is “A Man; And Money”, not “A Man And His Money”. That is important for our understanding of what I want to share here.

I write a lot about money in this blog. Now, I will not say that the reason for this is because I do not love money… or that I do. I will not say anything about that here.

Aside from money, though, my readers will concur that I also write a lot about the Apostle Paul. But what could possibly be the connection between Paul and money?

Brother Miki Hardy, the head of our umbrella church organisation, CTMI (www.ctmi.org) once called a meeting of pastors, both from the islands and from the African mainland. He told them, “Go tell your churches that we need only two things: we need a man; and we need money.”

I was not in that meeting, but when I heard that statement, in my spirit I knew exactly what Brother Miki was speaking about.

A man, not men. Getting that rare man who can fully carry the purpose of God in their hearts is no mean task, even for God Himself. The flesh, unfortunately, is a big barrier for many of God’s servants. The flesh is our most intractable enemy. That is why we can talk so loftily of the Apostle Paul. Through his ministry, Paul was able to set the standard of how a servant of God ought to be: his character, life and ministry. To arrive at this goal, Paul denied himself and gave himself fully to the call of God. He allowed God to mould him to fit His plan. Unfortunately, too many of God’s servants do not have Paul’s vision or heart. And, in our generation, God is still looking. He is looking for a man.

The case for a man is summed up in how God chose to use the Apostle Paul. Paul single-handedly and effectively took the gospel to over half the then living world. Physically. Not to mention the physical, psychological and spiritual torment he endured.

Secondly, God used Paul to write over two thirds of the Apostolic epistles, on which the entire apostolic gospel hinges.

And then there is the life that Paul lived. Faultless, and blameless. The Apostle Paul attests to what God can do with that rare man who is willing to sacrifice all for Christ.

Lastly, Paul had a heart for God’s people. He was a father to the churches. And this is the most difficult position to fill in God’s order of vacancies. Not many people have a true heart (God’s heart) for the church. One time, Paul could trust only Timothy in this regard! (Phil. 2:19-22) Incredible.

Money, on the other hand, is needed in church because it logistically helps to further the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring glory to God. Yes, money does bring glory to God if used well. Unfortunately, the love of money has created its own problems within the church. Notice the Bible says that not money, but the love of it, is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Money is clean. Our love of it is not. Money can accomplish a lot of good; our love of it brings only misery and tragedy, as is so evident in the world around us. When the love of money enters the church, its consequences are incalculable, and devastating.

We as the church need to understand these things.

Now, back to the Corinthians. The Corinthians were a desperate lot. They were 1. Fornicators of the worst kind 2. Divisive and combative; and 3. They were very, very stingy. You would need a nutcracker to get a dime out of their pockets. (The Apostle Paul had to send an advance delegation to prepare these saints to collect money they had promised a year earlier!)

But all these things speak of the extent to which the Corinthians had allowed the works of the flesh into their lives. That is why, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, the Apostle Paul addresses them thus:

“1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal…”

We could laugh at the Corinthians were it not for the fact that we are also tempted in like manner; and I have never heard of a soldier who laughed at a fallen comrade. When we are walking in the flesh (which we do oftentimes), when we are not denying ourselves and taking up our cross, we automatically have all the works of the flesh in us, only in varying measures.

Apparently, the Corinthians were not poor folks money-wise, certainly not to the extent that the Macedonians were. But Paul had to write two whole chapters of the Bible to get them to give! And we will never know for sure whether they ever did give, for it is not recorded.

But the lesson that I want us to grasp in these verses is why we need money in church. We need money:

  1. In order that we “may abound to every good work”. The Bible says that one of the keystones to abounding to every good work means giving to the poor and meeting every good need. There are people who have a problem with giving to the poor. They call the poor “lazy”. Well, lazy or not, there are legitimately poor people, otherwise we would need to rip 2 Cor. 9:9 out of the Bible. When God blesses us and we are rich, we should not become complicated and conceited; we should remain plain and simple.
  2. Supplies the needs of the saints (v. 12). There are needs in the church. People need food, clothing, school fees for their children, etc. These are basic human needs when we are here on earth.
  3. Thanksgiving to God. When a need is met, God’s people give glory and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father. They say, “Thank you, Lord, you have been so faithful!” And God loves it when His people glorify Him (For He alone truly is worthy).
  4. Prayers and Godly envy. “And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.” (v. 14) Godly people don’t envy your Ferrari. It is worldly people who will envy your material expansion. Godly people envy the grace of God upon your life.

And so, here, in Paul’s words to the Corinthians, we have the case for the need for a man, and for money, in the church.

I cannot end this post without pointing out the grace of God that was upon the Apostle Paul’s life. Notice he does not angrily lash out at the Corinthians for their sluggishness. Instead, he begins (v. 1 and 2) by praising their readiness to give, even though it is clear they did not demonstrate any. But Paul had faith in them. That talks of incredible faith, and love.

[God is still looking… for a man]

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Grateful Beyond Measure

Without a doubt, the greatest scourge that ravaged the African continent during the 19th century – although it is reputed to date back to as far back as the 6th century – was the infamous trade in slaves. The slave trade was an evil that was as indescribable as it was unprecedented and it brought untold misery to the African peoples.

There are many stories, all true, of how the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone fought the war against the slave trade both in small and in big ways. The story is told of how David Livingstone once met a slave caravan and, although he could do nothing to halt it – the slave traders were armed and dangerous – David stopped the caravan and managed to bargain for the release of one of the slaves upon whom he felt extreme pity.

The negotiations ended successfully after money had exchanged hands, and the slave was untied from the caravan. And there he stood in front of David, thinking he had merely exchanged hands from one slaver to another.

At which Livingstone told him, “Friend, you are free. You are free to go home.”

Upon hearing these words, the slave fell down at Livingstone’s feet and declared, “I will freely serve you all my life!”

He was overcome with the love and compassion that Livingstone had shown him.

Apart from writing this blog, one of the tasks that I do on my laptop is to translate gospel material from English to Swahili. The material that I translate comes mostly from brethren in the West.

When local people find me working on my laptop, they often ask me about the nature of my work, and I tell them. I tell them, “I am translating gospel material written by brethren from European countries.”

When they hear that, more often than not they say, “You must be receiving a lot of money from the white people for all this work!”

To which I reply, “No. I do not get paid to do these translations. Actually, I do not need any money to do this work. It gives me the greatest joy to do it for free. If they paid me to do this work, I would not have as much joy as I have doing it for free.”

Serving my Lord Jesus Christ is my joy. The opportunity to serve God the way I do is an indescribable reward from Christ to me. Many times I wonder at the incredible favor that I have to serve my Master in this way.

This joy is something that only my spirit comprehends, for my spirit knows well the redemption that Christ wrought for me.

But translating gospel teachings is not the only way that I am called to serve Christ. There are many other ways that the Bible calls us to serve Him. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12, the Apostle Paul lists three levels, or areas, of service to Christ, culminating with the famous thorn in the flesh. Paul’s bottom line in all his service to Christ is:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

Paul took pleasure, not only in serving God in peaceful terms, but even in conditions where the service involved suffering. This was a man who truly understood how much the Lord had paid to redeem him.

This is the place that the Lord calls us to arrive at.

[Below: In one area, at least, I serve my Lord with great joy!]

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The Cross For Our Worship

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Mat. 4:8-10

Let me begin, at the very outset, by stating the most important thing that I set out to say in this post.

What I want every reader to understand is that as far as the believer is concerned, the devil has only one goal – only one: to blind the believer to God’s plan and purpose in the Spirit. The devil’s singular goal in your life is to blind you to God’s spiritual purpose and instead have you focus on the material life of this world – and thus worship him.

Seeing this is the singular point that I wanted to make in this post, I probably need to write that in bold capitals:

THE DEVIL HAS ONLY ONE GOAL IN OUR LIVES: TO BLIND US TO GOD’S WILL AND PURPOSE IN THE SPIRIT, AND THEREBY WORSHIP HIM.

THAT IS NOT HIS NO. 1 OR NO. 2 OR NO. 3 GOAL: RATHER, IT IS HIS SINGULAR GOAL IN OUR LIVES.

Very few men would not stop to consider it, even if it were momentarily, if they were tempted with a substantial amount of worldly wealth. And no amount that the devil would give any man would hardly compare with what he was offering Jesus here: “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”.

Jesus was under severe, intense temptation here. The master of this world was offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”! Just stop and think about that. The devil’s “if” indicates that our Lord Jesus was about to lose and lose it big.

But in Jesus, Satan met more than his match. At every step of the way, Jesus did not miss a single beat. He met the devil’s challenge word for word – and the devil knew Jesus meant every word He said. Try as he might, the devil could not crack a chink in Jesus’ spiritual armor and finally he had to leave.

Notice in the scripture above that it is about whom we worship. If you told a believer today that they were worshipping Satan, they would have you arrested by the state police. Literally. But this scripture proves to us that, without a doubt, many believers are actually worshipping Satan.

Colossians 3:5 states:

“… covetousness… is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Idolatry is the worship of false gods, and the Bible teaches here that coveting the things of this world is equal to worshipping a false god – in this case, Satan himself.

Satan was trying to get Jesus to commit the sin of idolatry. He was showing Jesus the glory of this world and trying to get Him to lust and covet after it. Mind you, Jesus here was not God; He was as much man as you and I.

But Jesus was dead to covetousness. Long before He would be crucified physically, Jesus had crucified his flesh in the Spirit. He had not an iota of desire for the things of this world. As far as this world was concerned, for Him, the words of the Apostle Paul applied:

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

Walking fully in the Spirit, Jesus made short work of the devil’s strenuous attempts to have him worship him by coveting the world.

Today, Satan has no such problems with the church as he had with Jesus. As a matter of fact, today, there is a gospel that is fully dedicated to worshipping the devil – and this gospel is alive and well in a born-again, Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking church. It is called the gospel of prosperity. A vast majority of the church of Jesus Christ are under the influence of this gospel.

The gospel of prosperity is vast in its scope. This gospel begins by saying that Jesus promised us that “… all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33). From there on, it reverts into free-for-all mode, where any teaching is acceptable as long as it brings material and physical gain to the recipient.

The healing ministry, today largely an inherent part of the prosperity gospel, has itself become a big money-spinning industry. There are healing ministries, healing churches, and even healing schools! One of the most diabolical offshoots of the healing ministry is the wildly acclaimed ‘deliverance’ ministry, where the devil is clearly running things in person. At present, under this ministry, the hottest-selling commodity is something called anointing water. Whatever this water is, it has taken on a life of its own and it has become the life-support for many believers.

Incidentally, in many places of worship and even on the streets, this water is being sold at exorbitant prices.

Under the guise of ‘deliverance’ people are being made to eat grass, snakes, frogs… the list of horrors is endless.

Under the prosperity gospel, every other ministry – the worship ministry, the prophetic ministry, the apostolic ministry, and every all other ministries – have been hijacked to cater only for the physical and material well-being of God’s people. And, apart from the fact that these ministries no longer cater to the spiritual need of the church, today, all these ministries are million-dollar money- minting machines.

The devil loves to be worshipped and he will use everything in his power to achieve this goal. That is why he was willing to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only He would worship him. If you know anything about how the world runs, you will acknowledge that what the devil was offering was a sure deal. Jesus would have become the most powerful man on earth!

Now, we all know that although the devil has power over all the material wealth in the world, yet he is the stingiest and most selfish soul alive. He is extremely rich in two these qualities. But here we see him willing to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

This shows the extent to which the devil will go to blind God’s people. If you have a problem with money in your heart, he will use money to ensnare you. He will bring money into your life. Of course, he will begin by giving you small amounts since it is not in his nature to give. But if he sees that the amount he is giving you is not enough to get you away from seeing into the Spirit, he will increase the bounty. But the devil goes even further than that. He will sacrifice everything if the catch justifies it!

That is why all the top preachers today are wildly moneyed. You cannot take someone who was powerfully called and anointed by God – as many of these men were initially – and try to con him with a ten-dollar bill! If you are serious about your mission to derail such a preacher, then you will have to think in terms of “releasing” private jets and million-dollar mansions. And, believe me, the devil knows all this and he is willing to pay the price.

He had no problem giving the Son of God “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

Today he is giving preachers dollars and material wealth.

Of course, with Jesus, the devil was patting in the dark. Jesus did not exhibit even one carnal trait upon which Satan could hinge his traps on. But he tried anyway.

But with us, he knows our weak spots. If you lust after anything, the devil knows it and he will give you tons of it, if need be.

But there is no way we can claim to be living for God if we love the world and the things in it. On the contrary, we need to die to the flesh and to the world. That is why we need to thank God exceedingly that He has brought us, once again, the revelation of the cross. Through this revelation, the Pauline doctrine of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) has become alive again! Praise Jesus for that!

And we should be extremely grateful that this gospel is being revealed in our day. How much God loves us! And how is it that God has brought about this revelation in our day?! We are not blind, and we can see the damage being done by the charismatic gospel. How much grateful should we be to God for bringing the cross into our hearts?

The cross “…by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

What glorious words! Being crucified to the world, and the world to me, beats “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

It is the only way I can worship God in truth and in the Spirit.

Free To Give!

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:7-9

Giving away our finances and our material wealth is one of the ways that we serve God. The devil therefore works hard to bind us in this area. According to this scripture, to find yourself free in the area of finances and giving as our Lord Jesus Christ was is an incredible grace. Indeed, this is an unbelievable scripture. That a believer can “abound” in everything else – “in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us” – and yet not be free in the area of financial giving! This talks of the power of money upon the human spirit.

The area of giving, for most believers, is where “the rubber meets the road”. The human heart is so bound up with money that to find oneself free in the area of finances is true freedom indeed! He who is free from the power of money is free in nearly every area of his spiritual life. Just imagine how rich the Corinthians were in all these other areas; and yet, in this single area, it is clear they were woefully lacking.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). According to Galatians 5, evil is “… adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

The word “mammon” means money, wealth or worldly possessions. Mammon is so powerful that the Bible equates it with God! Mammon is the god of this world.

But notice the Bible says that we cannot serve God and mammon. It is clear, therefore, that we as believers need to be set free from the power of this force or god, mammon. In other words, we need to be set free from the power of the love of money! We are to be free in our spirits with regard to finances in every area, including in our giving. That is the only way to serve God.

That was why Jesus said of the poor widow who put in two cents in the offering box, that she had given more than everyone else (Mk. 12:42-44). This old lady was so free she gave away all her “living”.

Do you think she was grieving and telling God, “God, I am planting a seed so that you might bless me a hundedfold”?

Hardly. Had she said that in her heart, Jesus would not have said those words about her. But Jesus spoke about her because in her heart she was free from the power of money. Although she was poor, yet she was the richest person in the temple. She was so rich she could give all her living for the gospel’s sake.

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

The heart of this old widow was the heart of Christ. Free.

Had this widow died from hunger, she would have died gladly. She would not have been sorrowful about her condition.

Our love for money is a subject that we tiptoe about, simply because we do not want to offend the flesh. It is the flesh that is bound up with money, not the spirit. The spirit of the born-again believer yearns to be set free from the power of money.

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

This is a verse that has become the bane of the church because carnal-minded preachers and believers use it for their own gain. They say, “Jesus became poor that we may inherit the wealth of this world.”

But this scripture is not even talking about that! Jesus did not become poor so that we might inherit worldly possessions for the simple reason that God’s Kingdom is spiritual. You will not find the dollar sign in heaven.

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

The Apostle Paul here is trying to show the Corinthians how free our Lord was in the area of finances. Christ did not serve mammon. He served God. That was how He could afford to become poor.  You do not become poor simply because you have decided to become poor. You become poor because a work of God has occurred in your heart and God has set you free.

And notice Jesus did not become poor for poverty’s sake. Jesus became poor that through His poverty we might be rich.

But, anyways, let us give the benefit of doubt to those who claim that this scripture is talking about Jesus sacrificing His worldly riches so that we might become financially and materially rich. This argument gets instantly killed by the fact that the Bible also tells us to become Christ’s disciples, to follow Christ’s example and manner of life. How about we follow Christ’s example in not just becoming rich, but also in becoming poor that through our poverty others might become rich? That would require  we go and sell all that we have and give to the poor! Incidentally, that was exactly what Jesus told the rich young ruler. And just like the rich young ruler, I am sure not many who follow this line would obey Christ’s command to go sell all.

The love of money is the root cause of all evil. We, being innately evil, have not the faintest chance of defeating this god, mammon. If we have been born again, we can only thank God for having delivered us from the power of darkness. Hallelujah to that! And to thank Him exceedingly for the Holy Spirit who, through the power of the cross, will fully conquer this most subtle and menacing of all our enemies, the love of money in our hearts as we willingly surrender our wills to Him.

The cross is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

[Below: God was so rich He gave us His Son Jesus Christ!]

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God’s Nature, Our Nature – Part 1

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Mat. 5:43-45

Luke adds something there:

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk. 6:35-36).

People want to be paid for every little thing they do! More so today than ever before, fewer and fewer people can think of doing anything for anyone – even God – without attaching a financial tag to their ‘good’ work.

And it is not just money that people are after. Appreciation and gratitude is another thing that people avidly seek after. People love the gratification of self. A simple “Thank you” can turn into a deadly trap for the heaven-bound person. The minute you demand to be acknowledged or thanked in your heart, the good you just did is forgotten, lost forever. Jesus specifically said so:

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Mat. 6:2).

There are many things that the human heart desires, and when these desires are appeased, the Bible considers it as payment. But regardless of this warning by our Lord, even believers want to gain in this world.

But that is not God’s nature. God is kind, and He gives freely. Just stop and think about the many good things that God does for us? Who pays Him?

Let us consider what Matthew says:

“…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Why does the Bible here mention only the sun and rain? It is because these two things form the basis of life on earth. And the Bible says that God gives them to us freely and without measure.

Think about the sun. The sun is not a spiritual something; it is matter. Now, definitely, a lot of physical energy is used to run that raging orb of fire! So who runs it? God does. God physically runs the sun. They say nothing is free in this world, but you haven’t seen a bill for the sunlight lately, have you? But God runs the sun at His own material and physical expense. God keeps the sun burning to provide the heat and light that is needed for us to stay alive, healthy and happy.

And just think about the rain. A lot of physical work is needed to condense and pour down all that water upon the earth. Physical work, I say. And who does all that work? It is God who does it. And once He is ready to pour down the rain, He does not ration the water for us. Year after year, generation upon generation He pours down rain far in excess of our needs.

The more interesting fact is that God keeps the fact of His ‘busy-ness’ on our behalf a closely-guarded secret. He keeps it under wraps, so to speak. So much so that most people think these things happen of their own accord.

The Bible says that God even dresses up the flowers, and that He feeds the birds! How busy God is. While we are busy defending our small little rights and protecting our insignificant little backyards, God is busy doing good on a physical and spiritual scale that defies any form of description.

There are people who work very hard and who believe that others should not benefit from their hard labor. God would put such people to shame!

And, by the way, did you happen to read that God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4)? I haven’t read anywhere where it says that God would not want to ease up on His schedule and rest aways. But He stays awake and alert on our behalf. Have you ever thought how this world can remain in so much relative peace while there is so much evil abounding? That also comes from God. He holds back the evil.

God is the most selfless Person ever. This blog would not suffice to list the thousands of different kinds of provision that God affords mankind in the physical realm, free of charge.

Now, with all the physical and material cost that goes into the preparation and delivery of all these things, you would think that God would give them only to those who are obedient and pleasing to Him – those who do good. With God nothing is impossible, and it would be a very small matter for Him to only shine His sun on His good servant and leave the bad guy patting his way about in the darkness even if the two were sleeping in the same bed.

But again that is not God’s nature. Luke’s account says He is kind even to the unthankful. Now, I can assure you that dealing with a thankless person is an extremely testing experience. You do something for someone and they do not thank you well enough. That is highly inflammatory, to say the least.

But do you know how many thankless people are enjoying God’s sun and His rain and every other provision that God has to offer? In actual fact, God blesses the evil more than He does the good. Regardless of what you have heard taught in church, have you not noticed that the unrighteous people in this world are also the richest materially? Undoubtedly, that is one of the most obvious facts in this world.

And now we come to the mind-boggling final look at the nature of God. Have you, as a child of God, ever thought about the fact of God’s grace in choosing you to inherit salvation? You were no better than your fellow man who dies in their sin and goes to hell. You never paid a cent for your salvation. And the even more incredible truth is that you were rebellious right up to the minute that God saved you.

Personally, I recall that God came looking for me at the wrongest possible moment in my life. I was 25 years old at the time, and “enjoying life” to the full. And I was extremely rebellious. My grandmother used to call me the ‘king of the Baganda’. To this day, I never knew what she meant by that term, but I do know that in our family of more than ten members, I seemed to rule everyone and everything. Whatever I said in that house was law… even my father and my mother and my elder brothers were expected to obey it. Later on in my adult life, my mom would look at me and she would begin to laugh, and she would laugh and laugh and I would ask what she was laughing about, and she would remind me of any one of a thousand ‘epic’ dust storms that I raised in that home during my heydays.

Anyways, on the day that I got saved, as I knelt down and they began to pray for me, I do remember that I was tempted to stand up and walk away… the rebellious nature in me was rising up even as they prayed over me to get saved! But as the pastor and his team of three young men pressed on in prayer – with their hands firmly planted on my head – a miracle happened, and a transformation occurred in my life. I instantly became as meek as a lamb. You might think it a rather fictional account that someone would need four men to hold him down in order to get him saved; but Saul, who would later on become the Apostle Paul, needed a bolt of lightning from heaven to cool his heels!

Even today, I am awed by the grace of that moment. God held me down there until He had delivered me from the devil’s clutches. Somehow, He needed me that badly. Amazing!

In whatever fashion we were saved, though, the fact is that our salvation is totally a work of grace. It is God Himself who chooses men and calls them. And after He has called them, He washes them clean and begins forming them to become His sons and daughters in the Spirit.

[Below: Just like children, we are partakers of God’s hard labor, freely and generously given, both physically and spiritually]

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