I just listened to an excellent teaching on “the power in time” by my favorite Bible teacher, considered one of the premium Bible teachers today. The subject is based on Ephesians 5:15-17, about how to walk as wise, redeeming the time. He teaches that time is a resource that impacts eternity. We can take from the eternal and sow into this temporal life, and from the temporal and sow into eternity. Some go through time, never redeeming one minute. How to redeem time? 1. Have the right attitude. Hebrews 11:1 (faith). 2. Do not look at the temporal. 2 Corinthians 4:18. We have spiritual eyeballs to choose to see through God’s words, our default, and expect God’s promises to be fully realized. 3. Perseverance. Galatians 6:9. Do not grow weary doing good, for in due season (time) we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
The above encouragement is timely as I am pondering on making a choice in what to major in third year. I just watched the presentation of the seven faculties to choose from. It is hard to make a decision at this moment. I have narrowed down the options to three. But it appears that all three are relevant to my future direction: ministry, business, and media school.
My mentor advises me to be patient and continue to finish my present year’s course and the Holy Spirit will guide me on the right choice. Has my fasting worked in terms of sharpening my spiritual hearing ability? I seem out of practice after having been so engrossed in busyness in chores, what with sudden landing of a young ward to serve for a season (time)… Alas. But I am determined to redeem time and sow into eternity come what may.
My generic guide: Bible verses from Luke 4:18
Luke 4:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me [a]to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are [b]oppressed;
In recent years the world notes how effective economic leverage works in social-political re-engineering. Today we study another kind of successful leverages from a great master, Paul, a businessman-apostle. Economic (financial) interest is always the top priority in this world. It ties with the micro self-interest of an individual and the macro self-interest of a group, a nation or even the whole world.
In 2 Corinthians chapters 8-9 we continue to reflect on Paul’s motivations and strategies, supporting a broader understanding of mission – one that sees the purpose of the church as going beyond mere evangelism, and including all manner of personal and social reconciliation (including the use of financial and economic resources). Paul presented a sustainable economical and spiritual inter-linked blue-print to the Corinthians who were already well versed with the marketplace and its language. Now Paul teaches them the higher spiritual reality which is an integral part of their physical financial reality. Take note that the Corinthian Christians were just ordinary individuals (not particularly outstanding or privileged in terms of intellect, wealth and status) when they were first converted. But they have apparently been transformed and blessed with bountiful physical prosperity and spiritual gifts after that. (1 Corinthians 1:26) Apostle Paul showed them the way of God’s economy and finance.
Here is my simplified chart on this practical application of grace and economics by Paul. (Please read Chapters 8-9 in 2 Corinthians)
Application regarding Christian giving:
Paul reminds us that our source of wealth is God’s grace through Jesus Christ
God gives us the ability to make wealth
God makes us abound in everything
We are to abound especially in giving grace
We are to give ourselves to God first
Then we will be able to give financial gift to others
We (the believers) are expected to give to the ministry of Christ
We give what we have (not what we do not have)
God will ensure we have more than enough to give
We must complete the doing of the giving
He who sows sparingly will also reap bountifully
The recipients are to ensure that gift be administered with transparent honor
In the summer of 50 A.D., the apostle Paul left Athens and traveled to Corinth city where he met Priscilla and Aquila, a tent-making couple who greatly aided him in his ministry. He stayed with them and joined them in the marketplace. Following Paul’s visit between 51 and 52 AD, Corinth became the centre of early Christianity in Greece. Paul’s friends and fellow evangelists Silas and Timothy joined him in Corinth. He preached the gospel every Sabbath until he left the city around Autumn of 52 A.D. Paul revisited the city in 58 A.D. during his third missionary journey (see Acts 20:1-3).
Why did Paul choose to leave a somewhat neutral intellectual Athens where he discoursed with civil Jews and Gentiles without being obstructed but instead proceed to a melting pot like Corinth? Because he saw a greater Gospel sharing evangelical opportunity at Corinth with its strategic crossroad location situated between Italy and Asia Minor on the Isthmus and is master of two harbors and a large population with various needs conglomerating for the economic boom and related activities. Corinth city was flourishing by the 1st century AD as an important international center of administration, trade, games and entertainment. Corinth had the largest population in Greece with Greeks, Jews, Romans, even the Phoenicians and Phrygians from the east. Corinth’s financial prosperity was the result of business activities, athletic games, the skills and quality of its statesmen and craftsmen, and immorality. Because of its close connection to the sea, with ports to the east and to the west, the cosmopolitan population of Corinth consisted largely of sailors, merchants, adventurers, and refugees, which included retired and discharged veterans.
Thus, Paul and his team had found a needy evangelistic target as well as a market niche from the Jewish refugees (from Rome), Roman soldiers, the many tradesmen and religious pilgrim travelers and the games competitors and spectators.
Corinthian became the second largest city in the Roman empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people. In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world. The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.
I started reading 2 Corinthians in the Bible with freshness and revelation in my spirit. I believe this is an antidote to the prevailing fear in the face of uncertainties in the external factors that appear to impact our life and our ministry. In chapter one Paul displayed his key success factor, the God he believed in. Who is God? What can God do? What has God done? What is his relationship with God? These are the questions he has answered. I pray you too will be comforted and reassured as you read Paul’s confession in this letter.
My summary of 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 Paul is entirely God-focused:
God is: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
God raises the dead: who delivered them (Paul and his team) from death in the past, and does deliver them (present), and in whom they trust that He will still deliver them in future.
God is faithful with all His promises: when He says Yes He means Yes.
God is his witness; anointed them; given them the Spirit as seal and guarantee; God gives grace and wisdom abundantly to Paul and his team.
Paul is apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
Paul follows God’s plan (walking by the Holy Spirit) in every decision.
With God in mind, Paul and his team conduct themselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity.
Paul values the answered prayer/intercession by the Corinthian and Achaia Christians for Paul and his team’s safety.
Two unexpected ministry friends joined my house-mate for the watch night on new year eve and spent a busy day visiting and ministering to a needy family. By the time the three of them returned they were practically quite weary but determined to spend the last hour of 2018 praying. I joined them and prayed together during which each person shared their most memorable encounter with God/the Word of God in 2018. I shared my whole recent healed testimony.
After that we each took turn to pray. I was not sure of what they meant so I prayed an intercessory prayer for my country which took my prayer partners by surprise. My house mate nudged me a few times and urged me to stop. So I ended the prayer in a hurry. As it was near midnight I suggested we all pray in tongue in the last 15 minutes. But it ended up we had not more than ten minutes to pray. I soon discovered I was praying/singing in tongue sort of solo as the others were like dozing off. They assured me they were praying softly in tongue. By midnight I was alone.
What was I to do? I was the lone watchman in the group. They are evangelists who go to the frontline and really work physically with people in need. I am just a typical spiritual watchman who is always in the background in the unseen realm. We are so different and yet we are all working in the Kingdom of God. We practice what we are called to do with the gifts the Lord has given each of us specifically. My gifts are entirely different from theirs.
When we were about to start the prayer meeting I received a verse in my spirit. At the close of the meeting I received another verse.
Beginning verse: Acts 11:12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. (This was Peter’s testimony of how the Holy Spirit guided him to do evangelism.) This verse was meant for the three evangelists as they have been doing just that!
Ending verse: Psalm 68:11 Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV) The Lord Defeats the Kings of the Land “11 The Lord provided the message. The women who proclaimed it were a great army”. The three evangelists are all women! The verse was meant for them!
The Lord has demonstrated how His Kingdom’s frontline ministry works, always using a team of individuals of different yet related gifts, such as, teaching, healing and helping.
Where do I fit in then? The watchman asks. Are watchmen obsolete? This is going to be what I shall focus on in the new year 2019. Finding a spiritual place and purpose in the Kingdom of God for watchman.
Reading Psalm 68 which I have posted on January 1 2019, I believe that this is what I have been called to do as a watchman, listening carefully in the spirit, praying in the spirit, reading God’s words as the Holy Spirit leads me, proclaiming those words which He wants a target audience to know and pay attention to. The words will exalt God and yet comfort and build His people up.
Here are some of the revealed verses from Psalm 68 about God that He wants you to see today as you are led to read this post. I pray you are stirred up in the spirit to praise and sing to the Lord a new song. I believe I am one of the troop who sing in the Spirit and not a solo singer.
Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)
Blessing on God’s People
3 But the righteous rejoice and celebrate in the presence of God. They will be happy and joyful. 4 Sing to God. Make music to his name. Lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts. His name is the Lord.[b Celebrate before him. 5 In his holy dwelling, God is a father for the fatherless and a judge who defends widows. 6 God causes the lonely to dwell together as a household. He leads out the prisoners with music, but the rebellious dwell in a scorched land.
Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him. 2 As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God. 3 But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.
4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol[a] Him who rides on the [b]clouds, By His name [c]Yah, And rejoice before Him.
5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 6 God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
7 O God, when You went out before Your people, When You marched through the wilderness, Selah 8 The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel. 9 You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, When it was weary. 10 Your congregation dwelt in it; You, O God, provided from Your goodness for the poor.
11 The Lord gave the word; Great was the [d]company of those who proclaimed it: 12 “Kings of armies flee, they flee, And she who remains at home divides the [e]spoil. 13 Though you lie down among the [f]sheepfolds, You will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And her feathers with yellow gold.” 14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, It was white as snow in Zalmon.
15 A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan; A mountain of many peaks is the mountain of Bashan. 16 Why do you [g]fume with envy, you mountains of many peaks? This is the mountain which God desires to dwell in; Yes, the Lord will dwell in it forever.
17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, Even thousands of thousands; The Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place. 18 You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the Lord God might dwell there.
19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah 20 Our God is the God of salvation; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.
21 But God will wound the head of His enemies, The hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses. 22 The Lord said, “I will bring back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 23 That [h]your foot may crush them in blood, And the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from your enemies.”
24 They have seen Your [i]procession, O God, The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. 25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; Among them were the maidens playing timbrels. 26 Bless God in the congregations, The Lord, from the fountain of Israel. 27 There is little Benjamin, their leader, The princes of Judah and their [j]company, The princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali.
28 [k]Your God has commanded your strength; Strengthen, O God, what You have done for us. 29 Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, Kings will bring presents to You. 30 Rebuke the beasts of the reeds, The herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples, Till everyone submits himself with pieces of silver. Scatter the peoples who delight in war. 31 Envoys will come out of Egypt; Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; Oh, sing praises to the Lord, Selah 33 To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old! Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice. 34 Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, And His strength is in the clouds. 35 O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.
Blessed be God!
Psalm 68 (NKJV) The Glory of God in His Goodness to Israel (To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.)