Paul’s warfare and weapons

We finally reach a key survival tactic, how do Christians win wars? Apostle Paul is really an expert in this field judging from the long list of challenges he went through and his always emerging as the victor and not the victim! I have done a simple chart with the key Bible verses from 2 Corinthians 10. Please read the whole chapter for a better understanding. Paul’s other letters speak of how we can control and train our thought life. For example, Philippians 4:8 is a good place to start your meditation.

2 Corinthians 10 warfare and weapons

Philippians 4:8  (NKJV)

Meditate on These Things

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

2 Timothy 1:7  (NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Paul’s leverages: grace and economics

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)

2 Corinthians 8-9

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

Background:

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.

Paul’s motivation speech

2 Corinthians 7:13

I was asked to give an impromptu speech for five minutes under the main topic of “high performing organization” to my fellow corporate colleagues. We were each given 10 minutes to prepare. Unlike others who were experienced managers, I was at that time a fresh graduate and had to think outside the box. I chose to speak on “leadership” with a very simplistic illustration of a man standing on top of a patch of ground. Then the ground was dug away and he fell into the hole. It gave the message that a leader without supporters/helpers (or a king without subjects) is useless. The seemingly insignificant supportive workers (or citizens) in an organization (kingdom) form the solid ground the CEO-leader stands on. A high performing organization requires a leader who values and sustains those who together make and hold up the solid ground for a pre-defined and agreed upon common good and rewards according to each share of contribution in efforts. I was thinking of a somewhat “populistic” yet effective performance-based leadership.

Good management theories and practices have sustained over the years and in fact have impacted all economic activities. In my worldview, ethical, productive, and constructive economic activities and their sustainable distribution of positive outcome can solve many problems in this world.

I use the term ‘economic activities” to sum up all the activities that involve two humans or more doing something productive together with the goal of achieving a mutually beneficial increase in the sum total outcome than each would have achieved on his own. There is a term called “synergy” to describe this: a state in which two or more things work together in a particularly fruitful way that produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. Expressed also as “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

I find this quote relevant and give a higher level of perspective: “We are all bound to work in the vineyard where God is the husbandman. We have all been given our little vineyard, but the way in which we cultivate it is of great importance for the prosperity of our neighbour’s vineyard… In fact all our vineyards are a part of the Lord’s great vineyard, the Holy Church, and we are all bound to work here too.” ― Sigrid Undset

The apostle Paul was such a practitioner. In his letter (speech) to the Corinthian Christians (2 Corinthians 7) he showed such a servant-leadership characteristic. He had every right to tell them off as being ungrateful and disrespectful etc. But he did not. Instead he praised them for the positive things they had done and highlighted those aspects that showed their sincerity in their relationship with him and his team.

He wrote: 7:Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.

He praised them further for their repentance: 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

He spoke of his talking good about them to his co-worker Titus who also witnessed their goodness when visiting them: 13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

I will continue in my next blog on Paul’s motivational leadership practice.

a fitting confession for a king to declare

1 timothy 1:121 Timothy 1:11-13 King James Version (KJV)

11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Letter to my young friends: Get Solomon’s treasure

Bible verse Proverbs 31:2630Dear young friends:

Today I am led to read Proverbs 1. King Solomon (reigned Israel 970–931 BC) was a very versatile, multitasking, talented and diligent man who authored 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:32) amongst other famous art and scientific accomplishments. He received 666 talents of gold yearly (10:14). That’s about 730,000 ounces of gold per year. (10:14) At today’s gold price of $1252.08 per ounce, that means $914,018,400 yearly income from gold alone around three thousands ago! Why did he write Proverbs? What we can receive from reading this Book? Many ask. The answer I have received is “PLENTY” of especially practical wisdom, how to conduct one’s life wisely. The rewards are both material prosperity and beyond material wealth. The overall advice encourages a reverential fear of God, courage, kindness and piety living. In sum, the themes of Proverbs are neatly summed up in Eshet Hayil: “build a worthy family, stay on the path of virtue, and you shall be rewarded.”

Reading the Proverbs daily one chapter following the calendar date is a lifelong habit of many successful people. The Holy Spirit is in every born again Christian and we can read and ask the Lord to speak to us the verse(s) he wants us to pay specific attention.

There are 31 chapters (915 verses, or 15038 words) in the Book of Proverbs, an average of 29 verses or 500 words a day. For a person with basic English reading speed of 100-200 words you can finish reading your chapter in less than 5 minutes.

A testimony: I know of a young Christian child who wanted to be wise and do well in her study. She prayed and asked how to do that. Then she was led to read and copy the Proverbs (written by the wisest man in the world) one chapter daily. She truly became wise and excelled in her academic pursuits. She has since recommended this to other young people who are similarly struggling with their studies. From what I know she can study any subject and do just as well within a short span of time. Her uncle once told me that during a brief interval of her visit she had measles. So she studied insurance and passed her exam within the brief grounded period! They have never seen anything like this. Many youth find it hard to study but this one finds a way to help herself. Once she told me that to learn Chinese she was reading the Chinese dictionary (like a text book) from beginning progressively based on the number of Chinese characters’ strokes starting with the single stroke, and by then she had progressed to the words with six strokes. I had never seen anything like this but I was not surprised.

Proverbs 1:1-9 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Purpose of Proverbs
1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
knowledge and discernment to the young.
5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
Let those with understanding receive guidance
6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
A Father’s Exhortation: Acquire Wisdom
8 My child,[a] listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck.

Proverbs 31:25-31 (of a wise successful business woman)
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

I pray you too be encouraged to read and copy down the wisdom the Lord uses through this Book of Proverbs to speak to you. How do you apply the words? By faith put into action. You will harvest just as Solomon had advised three thousands years ago.

Your watchman friend

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“
About Chinese characters
“Far from being complicated drawings, Chinese characters are made out of simple single strokes, all of them variations of only eight basic ones. All strokes have their own name and are written according to a few rules. It’s very important to learn to recognize them, since the number of strokes in a character is often the easiest way to find it in an index… but this will become clear after learning radicals and the use of dictionaries.” (Online source)

BTW: What happened to the young person? She became conversant in several professions. No worry about employment and enjoys the flexibility of choosing what she likes to do and where.

Daily Word: ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.'(Judges 717)

psalm-683Today’s daily word is not for the cowards. Courage and boldness are what the apostles and disciples continued to pray for even after they have witnessed the release of Peter and John from the hands of the adversary. (Acts 4:29) The physical number of the courageous men could not match the number of the adversary in the enemy camp. But God asked for a mere three hundred brave men (who remained standing) against armies like a swarm of locusts and camels like grains of sand on the seashore-too many to count! (Judges 7:12)

Judges 7:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)
Gideon Defeats the Midianites
7 So Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon) and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. 3 Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain[a] and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.

4 But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” 5 When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” 6 Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.

7 The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”

The Lord even gave Gideon a supernatural prophetic confirmation
7:14 His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”

The Outcome just as the Lord had promised to Gideon
7:21 Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. 22 When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as…

A song for the intercessor to sing today
Psalm 68:1-4
1 Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies.
Let those who hate God run for their lives.
2 Blow them away like smoke.
Melt them like wax in a fire.
Let the wicked perish in the presence of God.
3 But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God’s presence.
Let them be filled with joy.
4 Sing praises to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the Lord—
rejoice in his presence!

Daily Word: Look, walk through, remain undaunted (Genesis 1317)

genesis-1317Today’s prompting is entirely action-oriented: “look” and do not limit your looking. The word was first given to a man of established wealth and power. Yet, God gave him a very hands-on instruction. God told him to look far. Do not set your own limit based on your own limited view. God did not ask Abraham to look at the past accomplishment. No doubt he was a wealthy and powerful man in his own right in his own territory. But God had uprooted him and moved him to a strange, hostile territory with uncertainty and threat in all aspects. Yet God asked him to look beyond and keep looking, as far as he can see or imagine and even beyond…Awesome. God is awesome. We serve an awesome God. Note that God asked him to look at the further positive gains which God was giving and going to give instead of focusing on the loss of Lot and Lot’s loyal support.

What was Abraham required to do after looking in every direction? A simple task: “Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” Just walk through the territory and claim his right, based on God’s covenant and God’s authority. What did Abraham have? He had the Word of God, the Name of God, and the Covenant of God. What did he do? He obeyed and started walking through, exercising and executing God’s given authority just as God had said so.

It may seem too simple to be true. But Abraham was not just any man. He was a spiritual man. He heard God and communicated regularly and naturally with God like a close friend. God called him friend. Abraham was an intercessor. He was also a hands-on and action-oriented pragmatic man. Is this impossible for today’s would-be-Abraham? No. Jesus called His disciples friends. He even gave His life for His friends. Those who are followers of Jesus are born of the Holy Spirit under the Covenant established by the blood of Jesus, given the authority as sons of God, the Word of God, and the Name of Jesus. Awesome. God is awesome. We serve an awesome God. We call Him our Abba Father. We have His Spirit in us. We can discern spiritual matters. We can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

Genesis 13:2 New Living Translation (NLT)
2 (Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.)

Genesis 13:5-6
5 Lot, who was traveling with Abram, had also become very wealthy with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and many tents. 6 But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their flocks and herds living so close together.

Genesis 13:14-17
14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants[a] as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”

Footnotes:
13:15 Hebrew seed; also in 13:16.

Note: There is one condition for the Covenant to take place: Lot must go. The Word clearly says, “After Lot Had gone,…” Lot was not included in the Abrahamic Covenant and had no share in what God had given to Abraham. Lot had a choice to stay in the favor of God by supporting Abraham. But he chose to leave.

I am also reminded of a scene at the time when Governor Nehemiah (with a formal official decree from the King Artaxerxes) entered Jerusalem and started to rebuild the Jerusalem wall. When the adversary party of three officials (Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab) heard of his plan  they continued to scoff contemptuously at him. But Nehemiah remained calm and undaunted, and boldly proclaimed, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2:19-20)

Daily Word (2/17/17) Why do you cry to God? Go forward!

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! 16 Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.

AAAJ watchman

exodus-141516In Exodus 14:14-16; 19-20; 15:1-2; 6-7, God gave Moses a sure win weapon.  All Moses had to do was to tell the people to go forward. Nothing would happen if they stood still. By faith, they went forward and of course they won the battle against the adverse forces: the enemy, the sea and their own fear and doubt.

“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and…

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Daily Word:Ecclesiastes 111 Send your grain across the seas, profits will flow back

ecclesiastes-111All about Christian (and Jewish) economics and finance today. In another word, how to persistently and sustainably prosper the Bible way?
Advice from the richest man in history. Ecclesiastes 11 New Living Translation (NLT) Investment and disbursement
11:1 Send your grain across the seas,
and in time, profits will flow back to you.
2 But divide your investments among many places,
for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down.
Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls.
4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.
If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.
5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

Isaiah 28:23-29 Listen to me;
listen, and pay close attention.
24 Does a farmer always plow and never sow?
Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting?
25 Does he not finally plant his seeds—
black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—
each in its proper way,
and each in its proper place?
26 The farmer knows just what to do,
for God has given him understanding.
27 A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin;
rather, it is beaten with a light stick.
A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin;
instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
28 Grain for bread is easily crushed,
so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart,
but he doesn’t pulverize it.
29 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
and he gives the farmer great wisdom.

Leverage: God’s economics and finance (2)

AW financial stewardshipIn my previous blog on this subject I have quoted excerpts based on a talk and left lots of questions which this book by the same teacher, “Financial Stewardship” will answer. I shall summarize and/or quote excerpts from each chapter and would encourage you to read the whole book as it will answer more in depth your questions.
Introduction
In reality, money only has value because people agree to view it as valuable…creations of men used to trade for services. The world’s system of trade is based on money, and we all have to use it to survive. The influence of money in our lives is very real, so it isn’t surprising that Jesus taught more on the subject of finances than on any other single topic. He taught more about managing resources than He did on prayer or even faith-which tells us that the topic of money, and how we handle it, is very important…the Gospel has a lot to say about everyday earthly concerns-especially finances.
Learning how God views finances is basic Christianity. Jesus said that if you can’t be faithful in your finances, then you can’t be trusted with anything! (Luke a6:11)
God doesn’t operate by this world’s system, an it’s more important for us to understand how God financial system works than it is to understand the Wall Street.
What really bothers me is that those carnal techniques work! Many in the body of Christ are so uninformed in the area of finances that people fall for manipulation tactics all the time…the kingdom of God doesn’t operate that way; you can’t buy God’s favor.
So, yes, there are abuse in the body of Christ regarding money, but don’t miss out on benefitting from the truths in God’s Word about finances just because a few people are abusing the topic. I encourage you to allow the Word of God to reveal finances to you in a godly perspective, I believe you’ll be glad you did.
In this book I’m going to be teaching the Scriptural principles that go to the heart of financial problems-and success. Once your heart is right, using wisdom in how you spend your money comes naturally.
A house divided will not last for long. (Matthew 12:25) Our relationship with God needs to permeate every area of our lives: marriage, business, relationships, recreation, and finances…letting God into your finances can bring peace and healing to other areas of your life. My goal in this teaching is to help you discover how to turn your finances to God, and to step into true prosperity in every area of your life.

(excerpts and quotes are taken from “Financial Stewardship” by Andrew Wommack)

Purpose of signs: Living to God

Daniel prayed
Daniel praying

We shall increase our focus on this subject through reading the Word of God so we can live wisely in dangerous time, knowing that the Lord Jesus’ return is closer than before just as the Apostles had remarked and taught. What does God look for and what is His will? In previous posts we read that He wants godliness and holiness. He is holy. He is also our Father in heaven. Godliness means we shall be like Him just as Jesus has told His disciples. Today we read from 1 Thessalonians how to please God in our daily living.

Take heed that there are no cliches in Christendom. In the world, there is a norm of man-defined practices driven by the pursuit of instant gratification and external pleasure linked to the senses. Christians pursue another realm of happiness -God’s realm. God’s holy word defines the parameters and brings us to God’s realm. Because God’s word are life and spirit and God is the God of the living, every individual Christian lives before the living God and interacts with Him Who permeates every aspect of our lives. Reading God’s Word, we have to admit that there is no option for Christians to pursue anything different from God’s realm and His definition of happiness.

I pray that each of us stay focused on this pursuit more and more just as Jesus has commanded through the apostles in the Scripture. Seeing the signs of time should spur us to seriously look at all aspects of our lives. Apostle Peter in old age has given his heart-felt admonition: Each is to examine oneself “what manner of persons ought I to be in holy conduct and godliness…” (2 Peter 3:11)

Summary: These instructions are given by the authority of Jesus through the apostles.

  1. God wants us to live a life that pleases Him. Mere doing is not enough. God wants us to know Him and be like Him more and more.
  2. It is God’s will that we be sanctified: Avoid sexual immorality; keep the body pure, holy and honorable by learning to control it against immoral lust practiced by those who do not believe in God.
  3. God has given each believer the Holy Spirit to enable us to do and fulfill the above requirement that involves our body and soul (mind, emotion, mood, the sensual and senses).
  4. God wants us to live a quiet and peaceful working life.

1 Thessalonians 4:4-10 New International Version (NIV)

LIVING TO PLEASE GOD

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

BODY AND SOUL TO BE MADE HOLY AND TO STAY PURE FOR GOD -BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

WISELY CONDUCT OUR DAILY WORKING LIVES AND INTERACTIONS WITH OUTSIDERS: keep in peace, live a quiet life; mind your own business; do your own work. Be self-supporting. Note that respect must be earned. No short-cut.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting].

God’s Plumb line: micro-finance

holy-spiritBeing poor is neutral. It does not make one better or worse intrinsically. In the mission field we handle matters concerning the poor. Some missionaries spend their whole mission life and focus on dealing with the body needs of the poor. Personally this watchman sees being persistently poor a spiritual as well as a physical and soul condition. Oppressions come in when a Christian is not spiritually aligned with God’s words.
Let us read some verses as led by the Lord’s Spirit to understand this matter and how God sees the poor and being poor. Pray that we receive the Spirit of wisdom and Spirit of revelation to really know God.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
God speaks through Bible Verses from the Old Testament:
From the beginning when God gave His principles and laws to Moses, He specified very clear social justice, economic, financial management, administrative rules, moral standards and measures to apply in practical daily lives. He also sets clear requirement and standards for a court of civic law and legal justice that should be fairly and equally applied to poor and rich, without favor. Jesus has further set a spiritual standard to apply to Christians (brothers and sisters in Christ) just as among the Jews (Jewish brethren) as well. The apostle Paul has taught on how this standard is to be applied in the church between Christians.
God’s standard is important because when the enemy (evil) comes in like a flood, the Holy Spirit lifts up the standard of God against him.
Isaiah 49:22
Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; They shall bring your sons in their arms, And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
Isaiah 59:19
So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

(Watchman’s notes: The enemy comes in like a flood. This is a condition that happens. The word of God states that a believer of Jesus can always lift up the banner of God’s standard to resist and overcome the enemy. In a poor land, a usual condition that diverts attention from God is physical poverty and the resultant heavy indebtedness. In practice, improperly managed micro-finance has become the problem itself instead of being a way out for the poor).
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The Old Testament’s teaching on the matter of being poor:
Exodus 23:3
And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.
Exodus 23:6
“In a lawsuit, you must not deny justice to the poor.
Exodus 23:11
But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.
Exodus 30:15
When this offering is given to the Lord to purify your lives, making you right with him, the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less.
Leviticus 19:15
“Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.
Leviticus 23:22
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 25:35
[ Redemption of the Poor and Enslaved ] “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you.
Deuteronomy 15:4
“There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession.
Deuteronomy 15:7
“But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them.
Deuteronomy 15:10
Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Deuteronomy 15:11
There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.
Deuteronomy 24:12
If your neighbor is poor and gives you his cloak as security for a loan, do not keep the cloak overnight.
Deuteronomy 24:14
“Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns.
Deuteronomy 24:15
You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.
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God speaks through Bible Verses from the New Testament on the matter of being poor:
Matthew 5:3
[The Beatitudes ] “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Matthew 11:5
The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.
Matthew 26:11
You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.
Luke 21:2
Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
Mark 12:43
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.
Mark 12:44
For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Luke 14:12-14 2 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
John 12:5-7 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (note: the aforementioned statement was spoken by Judas the disciple who later betrayed Jesus) 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
Acts 9:36
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.
Acts 10:2
(Cornelius) He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.
Acts 10:31
He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God!
Romans 15:25-27 5 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers[a] there. 26 For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia[b] have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially.
1 Corinthians 13:3
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
2 Corinthians 6:10
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
2 Corinthians 8:2
They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:9
You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
2 Corinthians 9:9
As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
James 2:5
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?
James 2:6
But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
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Finally, a word of warning to those who consider themselves rich in the worldly goods and possessions but not rich in the matters of God:
Revelation 3:16-18 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
Luke 12:21 (EXB) | In Context
21 “This is how it will be for those who store up ·things [wealth; treasure] for themselves and are not rich ·toward [or in what matters to; or in their relationship with] God.”