Sharing Christ’s Riches

27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. Mk. 10:28-31

If you think that anything that Jesus said was easy, you better begin scratching those grey cells again. Although He was on the earth, yet Jesus always spoke as God. Which means He spoke nothing less than perfect perfection. He was so far-sighted we have to die first to begin seeing the things that Jesus saw in the Spirit. Nothing Jesus said was of this world, which means nothing He said was easy. But, thank God, He also said,

“with God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19:26)

We ought to be eternally grateful to God for giving us His Holy Spirit who enables us to do God’s will in its perfection.

There are many believers today who interpret the above scriptures to suit their own lusts. They say, “Lord, I claim (or, Lord give me) a hundredfold this and that according to your Word in Mark 10:30”.

But Jesus was not speaking in that vein. He was not speaking about you or me in the way we are used to. On the contrary, Jesus was speaking about the church. The church is where everyone, including me, dies. We die to our selves – and live for others.

The early church arrived at that spot. This was because they were fully filled with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is given full reign in our lives, we can live God’s heavenly Kungdom right here on earth.

And so, the more we give ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the closer we get to that hallowed spot, where we can truly give rather than receive, of which the Lord Jesus Himself said,

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

Although I live in Africa, I have brothers and sisters and mothers and lands and houses all over the world. I have them in North America, I have them in Asia, I have them in Europe, in Australia and New Zealand. I even have them in the Middle East. If I go to any of these true brothers’ and sisters’ homes, whatever they have is mine. They would not say that I could not fully share in anything that was theirs.

Where the power of the Holy Spirit is, nothing is impossible. In today’s world, for example, the world is getting steadily polarised – especially between blacks and whites. But, in the Spirit, the church is getting more and more united. God’s people are coming together as one as the Holy Spirit readies the Bride of Christ for His soon return.

If you are thinking in terms of I, me and myself – the doctrine of receiving – then you have absolutely no idea of the church that Christ is building. In this church, we are here to give, not receive. That is why Jesus said,

“…with persecutions”.

We are to have the mind of Christ who, although He was God, and although He was rich, chose to forgo those rights for our sakes.

The Bible also says:

“27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:27-28)

Colossians 3:10-11 basically says the same thing.

“10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

The riches of Christ – both the heavenly and the worldly – are all ours to share . When we have been blessed with the mind of Christ, it is easy for us to give our all. Here there is no poor or rich. Even the poor has something to give, because he has the heart of Christ. And, more importantly, he will not go to church to look for his own gain. He will go to give his life even as the rich man has gone to church to give of his life.

Finally, on the part concerning eternal life, that’s where we need to be super careful. This was where Jesus said,

But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”

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Dead Or Half-Dead? Part 2

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. Mk. 10:17-21

We saw in the first part of this post that Jesus loved this man; but it is his soul, or spirit, that Jesus loved. He did not love him in the natural, carnal way that we are accustomed to. It is for this reason that the prosperity preacher got it right in one way when he said God wants us to prosper in our spirits. But the gospel is about one thing only and we cannot bring in a concoction of eveything else and claim it is the gospel.

For now, let me tell you a story, the story from which I got the title for this post. This is a true story.

There are some communities in my country that eat donkeys. Yes, they eat donkeys just like you and I eat beef. One of these communities are even my neighbors. Actually, the incident I am about to narrate took place not too far from where I live.

Now, donkeys are not in as much supply as cattle anywhere in the world and with the voracity with which these tribesmen were consuming this particular delicacy, the government soon awoke to the fact that before long there would be no donkeys in this country. So one day the prime minister of that time decided to pay one of these communities a visit, and as chance would have it, he chose to visit my next-door neighbors. He came with a large contingent of government ministers because most people require to see big government for any point to sink in. Flanked by top government officials, the prime minister in effect banned the wholesale slaughter of donkeys that was going on in that community. The people agreed to the ban and the slaughter ended there. But the truce was only temporary. Now, hardly three years or so down the path, the slaughter has started all over again. Obviously, these people’s appetite for their favorite “beef” is too overpowering.

Anyways, on the particular day that I am recounting of here, some men were slaughtering a donkey. The man handling the machete had slit the throat completely, but the donkey is a very powerful animal and in order to kill it, you need to cut the neck vertebrae also. The man was about to do this when the donkey, in the initial stages of its death throes, gave out a kick that was so violent that it threw the men holding him down completely off balance. They let go and that is when the impossible happened. The donkey got up on its four legs and began running about, with its head swinging from its neck!

It was an incredibly horrific and gruesome sight. Blood and gore was spattering all over the place as the animal banged itself about. People scattered. Unable to really make a run for it, the donkey kept running around in ever-tightening circles until it tired itself out and fell to the ground with a thud.

It was a sight to turn your stomach.

I have brought this story up because I thought it was so apt a description of what happens when a believer fails to allow the cross to have its way in their lives. A believer without the cross is a believer who does not have the death of Christ working in them. And this is the greatest tragedy in Christianity.

Had the donkey allowed itself to die peacefully, he would not have created so much inconvenience for himself and for the people handling him. We create all kinds of havoc in the Spirit when we refuse to accept to die to our carnal ways.

Moreover, the life of Christ is sadly lacking in such a life.

But, really, who can willingly allow themselves to be slaughtered without making a fuss? Obviously, this rich man was not able to.

Well, Jesus did. Jesus Himself stated:

“17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (Jn. 10:17-18)

But scripture goes beyond that and states that Jesus was slaughtered even before the foundations of the world were laid (1 Pet. 1:19-20). That fact alone is central to our calling as believers.

Moreover, Isaiah 53:7 says that as Jesus was being slaughtered, He opened not His mouth.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

You can be taken down to the slaughterhouse and, like this rich man, not allow yourself to die. He was a wonderful man, full of zeal for the Lord. But he was spiritually deficient in that he had no revelation of the cross in his life. When Jesus therefore began to tell him to deny himself, he stumbled at this word. He did not allow God’s machete to go far enough, and he stumbled away from the scene of the slaughter, wounded but not dead. The Bible states that he

“went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (v.22).

The man had tempered himself since his youth… for nothing.

What a sad commentary on this young man’s life! But this is the same sad commentary that is written of our lives when we fail to take up the cross. When the cross is absent in our lives, we are still short of the Kingdom of God despite all our religiosity. Something needed to die in this young man. He needed to have his neck vertebrae cut. And so do we.

[Below: Deep in central Tanzania, I found the most picturesque bathroom!]

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Faith and Compassion

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Lk. 16:19-25

Notice here that one man “was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day”; while his neighbor was daily “laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”

Now, the Bible here does not say that Lazarus was born again and that the rich man was not. It could well be that the rich man was also saved. But there is no doubt that Lazarus lived a life that pleased God.

The accusation against the rich man, on the other hand (vs. 19-21), involves how he treated his neighbor, Lazarus. It appears that he lived a selfish, unloving life. He did not love or show compassion to his neighbor, Lazarus, who was poor.

Even Abraham accuses him of only this sin:

“Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”

God is not envious of us when we prosper. I haven’t heard of a father who is envious when his children prosper. God is the Father of fathers and He is happy when we prosper, even in material things.

But, in countless scriptures, God tells us how we ought to live our lives with the less fortunate in a manner that testifies of our faith in Him.

When we get to heaven, we will not just walk up to God and tell Him, “Lord, you know that on such and such a date I believed in Jesus and I got saved”.

That salvation script won’t work. What will happen is, God will bring out a rap sheet of your lifestyle. He will say, “Let us see your works.”

The Bible, in the Book of James, talks about faith without works.

“14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (Jam. 2:14-17)

Are you saved? Don’t get complacent; Judgement Day is coming. Get out there and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)

Working out our salvation incudes how we live with the less fortunate. We are stewards of whatever God has given us. One day, we will give an account to God.

All that the rich man would allow the beggar, Lazarus, to have of his sumptuous fare were the crumbs that fell from his table! When we read this, we can think of any number of scenarios that could have been coursing through the rich man’s mind whenever he thought of Lazarus.

Scenario no. 1: He probably considered Lazarus a loser. In today’s church parlance, he would have said Lazarus was cursed. A child of God a beggar? Impossible! The fellow needed a ‘deliverance’ session.

Scenario no. 2: Or, he considered Lazarus plain lazy. Yes, Lazarus was a dirty, lazy beggar. His sores most likely were caused by an unhygienic lifestyle. The rich man therefore gave his security detail strict instructions to keep Lazarus locked out of his compound. He intelligently surmised that if Lazarus so much as set a foot within, something worse than the bubonic plague could erupt right inside his home, and he and his entire family could die.

I once heard a preacher say that he handles only clean, brand new dollar bills. He said something about having a phobia of all the germs that one can easily collect from touching old, dirty bills.

Just like Lazarus’s benefactor, this preacher was also a very intelligent man. But I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes when God shows up.

We should be careful how we handle people, especially God’s people. We should not call them names like “lazy” when we don’t even know – or care – what they are going through. The Bible faults us when we carry this very uncharitable attitude. Colossians 3:12 says:

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…”

We ought never to forget that Christ died; and that He died for these very people. It is for this reason that we cannot despise or mistreat people, least of all God’s people.

I believe it was this very sin that took the rich man to hell.

[STOP being merely religious and reconsider your WAYS with regard to God’s people while you still have the time]

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A Merciful Heart

27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

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.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Lk. 6:27-38

Recently, a brother came to my house and I could see from the look on his face that he was upset about something. He began telling me about another brother with whom they had started a business together. They would buy maize in the villages and sell it in town. The brother who came to my house (whom we shall call ‘A’) provided the capital; the other brother (we shall call him ‘B’) went to buy the maize. But ‘B’ had to go through middlemen, and getting the maize was a complex and difficult task.

Some time back, ‘B’ had lost money to a middleman through these dealings. Now, on this day, ‘A’ was telling me a story similar to the earlier one. ‘B’ had lost money again to a dishonest middleman. Both ‘A’ and I knew ‘B’ well and we knew he could not have played a dirty trick. The brother has such a lovely heart! But, apparently, he was much too trusting of worldly men.

Now, ‘A’ was livid. He said to me, “This is the second time this brother has lost my money. I feel this has gone too far and I cannot take it anymore. I will not lie to you, pastor, my heart has gone bad on account of this.”

When I looked at him, his eyes were red, and it was not because he had been crying. It was due to anger, deep rage.

I told him, “Brother, first of all, I empathise with your situation. It is a terrible situation. But we must look at this issue from God’s point of view.”

I also said to him, “In the world, the currency is money: pounds, dollars, euros and shillings. This is the basis of the world’s riches. But God has a different currency. His currency is not money. God’s currency is our hearts. Our clean hearts constitute God’s riches. You must guard your heart at every cost if you are to be of any value to Him.”

Worldly currency – money – is nothing to God. Money is nothing in the Spirit. It has no value. Fortunately, in heaven, God does not deal in money. He deals in hearts.

Money should not make our hearts go bad. Nothing of this world should make our hearts go bad, or become bitter. That is why Jesus said to forgive your brother “seventy times seven” if he sins against you (Mat. 18:21-22). The reason for this commandment is simple: it is because God expects our hearts not to be set on this present world. On the contrary, they have been taken up by the love of God.

The richest man in the world is the man who carries a pure heart. Such a heart is priceless. Such a heart can do all of God’s will. It is rich in the grace and love of God.

Notice what Jesus said in verses 35 and 36:

“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.”

The Bible says here that even when we lend people money (or things), it should be as if we have given them rather than lending them. That means that the word “lend” is not in our vocabulary. Such is the heart that God is looking for in us – a heart of mercy.  Why a heart of mercy? The reason is simply because the person who borrows from you is a person in need. Why would you not have mercy on a needy (and probably poor) person?

Of course, there are joyriders in this category, but they should not worry us. If we have the heart, we will also do good to them, and one day, they will see the light and repent of their joyriding. There is nothing difficult about being kind for a person who has mercy.

This is why Jesus also said we should love our enemies. “Love your enemies” is a scripture that we quote glibly, but there is nothing easy about loving your enemy. Only a merciful heart can do it. If you have a heart of mercy, you look beyond your enemy’s attitude and you see how much he is suffering in his spirit. Jesus said that our heavenly Father “is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

I cannot imagine being kind to a thankless person, much less an evil one. Only a heart of mercy can do that. If you are rich in mercy, you can do that.

Finally, let us consider verses 37 and 38:

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Men and preachers have used verse 38 to try and get rich in the natural. We have all heard the sermons! But if it is a matter of money or worldly riches, the devil also can give you those things. But the devil cannot give you grace.

We cannot fool God. Since the riches of God are grace, He will give us grace, much grace, to the extent that we have mercy to do what God says we should do first:

“Judge not… condemn not…forgive… give…”

The more we do these things, the more grace we will have.

[“Judge not… condemn not…forgive… give…” This is what God’s people need]

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Carrying The Heavenly Vision

24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.
26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Lk. 7:24-28
Just the other day, a brother and I were walking in the hot midday sun and we got so exhausted that one of us quipped, “Sometimes I wish we had a car to move about with!”
To which the other replied, “True. But that’s hardly a priority.”
“Yes”, agreed the former. “A car is hardly a priority with us.”
One of the incredible graces that God has blessed this brother and I with is to discern what God’s real blessings are. I remember there was a time when I used to pray for every material blessing under the sun. I had a long list of things that I wanted God to give me. While some are needful, yet I now realize that most of the things that I used to desire and pray for so vigorously are absolutely insignificant.
When some believers hear me saying that, they deride me.
“It is because you do not have these things, that’s why you talk that way”, they say.
But I know their accusation is not true. On the contrary, it is what is in my heart that makes me to consider material things unimportant in my life.
There are many blessings in my life which that God has granted me. One of the blessings that this brother and I cherish in our lives is the deep contentment we get from each other’s company. We both realize that the grace of God is upon our lives in this regard. This brother’s company is one of the most amazing and important things in my life. He is as I and often I wonder at the blessing of having such a wonderful brother by my side.
Today’s modern gospels want the believer to believe that the comforts of this world are the most important things in their lives. This leads him to compete with the world for the things and comforts of this world. But we ought to realize that, although we are in the world, our Kingdom is not of this world. We should not become materialistic Christians.
Jesus said, “… Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.” (Lk. 7:25)
These are worldly-minded people, Jesus said. In today’s world, the prosperity gospel has bewitched God’s people.
But the man whom Jesus was about to talk about did not live in kings’ houses.
Now, one the most amazing facts about this account is the fact that Jesus would take such a long time to speak about a man, John the Baptist. This shows us that this man was very important in God’s Kingdom. Jesus Himself said as much.
Jesus began by contrasting John the Baptist with the comfortable lives that earthly kings live. A king’s lifestyle represents the highest standard of living in the land. He lives that kind of life because he holds the ultimate reins of power.
But Jesus went on and told the people that, even though John was so weak in the worldly sense that he appeared like a reed in the wind, yet he represented something which had infinitely much more power and glory than that of earthly kings.
Jesus said, “You went out to see, not a king, but a prophet.”
It is beyond doubt that a prophet is supremely above any king. A prophet is someone who has been sent by God. That in itself sets him far above this world in terms of glory, power and importance, for all earthly kings are subject to God. A prophet carries a message from God. He might be sent to warn, to direct or to comfort, but his message comes directly from God Himself. He is God’s mouthpiece. In spiritual terms, an earthly king in all his glory pales in the face of a prophet of God. The former lacks enduring glory and power, while the latter carries the same in himself.
But, still, Jesus told the crowd, John’s mission was far greater than that of an ordinary prophet. John had a mission that set him apart from other prophets. This is because he came to accomplish the most important task that would ever be accomplished by any man on earth. John was sent to precede and prepare God’s people for the coming of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”
There could never be a more noble duty assigned to man than this!
For this reason, Jesus said, “… Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist”.
Among those that are born of women, including kings, there never had been, and there never would be, a greater prophet than John the Baptist.
But Jesus had not arrived at the end of what He wanted to tell the people who were listening to Him. In saying all this, Jesus was laying a foundation for the ultimate message that He was about to deliver. All this was a preamble to the important message that He had for His listeners. And it was that, finally, He declared it:
“… but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Notice there are two “he”s in this sentence. The last “he” refers to John the Baptist, of course, but who does the first “he” refer to? And it is clear that this person is greater than John the Baptist. Who could this “he” be?
It is us, we who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was telling His listeners that anyone who would believe on Him under the New Covenant would be far greater than John the Baptist.
What an awesome realisation! Jesus indicated that John was of another era, the Old Testament era, whose end he was announcing. The Lord Jesus Christ ushered in the new era of the New Covenant. And the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3 that the New Covenant is far greater than the old one.
Now, if Jesus could contrast, or separate John the Baptist from the world and its comforts, how much more should we be separated from them? Much, much more, I believe.
It is not that we should not have the things of this world; rather, it is that our hearts should never, ever be bound up with these things.
One of the most powerful examples of this in the Bible is Job. Job was one of the most blessed men in his generation. He was extremely rich materially. But Job lost everything, including his children, in just one day. Upon receiving the news of his staggering calamity, however, the Bible says that Job fell down on his face and worshipped God. And the Bible further says:
“21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:21-22)
Clearly, Job’s heart was not on the things that God had blessed him with. Job’s heart was on the heavenly glory; losing, or not having material things was a small sacrifice for him.

[Below: The brother I love and myself]

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God and the Heart of Man

Better a little that is done from the heart than much that is not done from the heart. God loves things that are done from the heart. God is a person of the heart. In fact, the Bible says that God looks upon the heart. By the heart I mean that inner desire and joy that can only be born of God. Whatever we do from this kind of heart is very precious in the sight of God.

Not only that, but these are the things that are of true value to us and to our fellow humans. They are the things that make an impact in people’s lives. They are the things that bring about real change.

A nation, for example, whose leader leads the nation from his heart, that nation will prosper because it is built on a strong foundation. Our nation’s founding father, “Mwalimu” Julius Nyerere, built this nation on a strong foundation of unity. The great sense of internal peace that we enjoy in Tanzania today is a result of “Mwalimu”’s heart. He led this nation from the heart, and we are enjoying the fruits of his heart.

On the contrary, a nation that is not led from the heart cannot prosper. A nation that is led by the clout of money, charisma and other external bases will slowly deteriorate and perish. Much of the time, where money and power are involved, there is no heart. One of the greatest weaknesses of the natural man is the inability to conquer power and money.

I believe that is why God did not commit His Kingdom to the rich and powerful men and women of this world. The Bible tells us that God committed His calling to the poor, the downtrodden and the foolish of this world. Literally.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

In the developed world, I hear there are people who are so rich that when they enter a shop and need to make some purchases, no one else is allowed in. They are allowed to shop privately. Such people may be rich, but theirs is a sorry form of richness for it is selfish and temporal. What a joy would it be for them to discover the true riches of serving God and their fellow man with their wealth!

In the church also, money and power corrupt men’s hearts. They fill them with pride and they cannot give God the glory. They take up the glory instead. On the contrary, a weak and poor man will quickly and easily give God the glory.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross, however, gives us all the opportunity to allow God to deal with the flesh in order that we might serve God from the heart. Both the poor and the rich can benefit from this gospel. Both can learn to serve God from the heart, and not to trust in uncertain riches. No wonder Paul says in Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What does it mean to be a Jew as we read in the above scripture? Apart from the literal meaning of the Jew (an Israelite), there is the connotation of a ‘Jew’ being a believer who knows many things about God or who deems himself close to God. But you could be a Jew in either sense of the word and not serve God from the heart. If you do not serve God from the heart, your knowledge or perceived closeness to God will neither endear you to God nor will it bear any fruit in the Spirit.

A true believer ought therefore be a person of the heart. If we do things to please men, that is hypocrisy. In our relationships, for example, we ought to be clear and not fear or despise others. God hates both these things – fear and despising of others – for He is a righteous God. In any case, nothing that we do to please men is born of God.  There are many things that we as believers do, believing that they are spiritual, but which are not. They are not spiritual because we do them with an eye to pleasing men. Such things are not born of God. Moreover, they are temporal and superficial.

(A strong and lasting structure must be born of the heart)

SAM_0952

 

 

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.