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.
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
Meditate on These Things
8 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)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
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 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: 7:2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. 3 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. 4 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.
Today we learn how effectively Paul use both his mind and spirit: aligned with the mind of Christ and the Spirit of Christ.
His challenge list reads like a horror movie, far worse than any nightmare: five times whipped with 39 stripes each, three times beaten by rod, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, one night and one day in the deep, in journeys often, in perils of waters, robbers, own countrymen, gentiles, city, wilderness, sea, false brethren, weariness, toil, sleeplessness often, hunger, thirst, fasting often, cold, nakedness, deep concern for all churches, threat of imminent arrest (his life) from city authority. He was in constant physical and mind challenges: in much patience, tribulations, needs, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, tumults, and labors. (2 Corinthians 11:24-26; 6:4-5)
Imagine a human always being hounded, on the look-out, on the run, slandered, taunted, intimidated, verbally and physically abused, violently assaulted, falsely accused, brutally arrested, beaten, condemned as guilty without evidence, imprisoned without a just trial, and always overhung with the death sentence.
But what did Paul say about his conditions? How did he deal with such an overload of injustice and schemes of torments after his life? His letters showed how he looked at things both sides. He lived in both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man, the spiritual and the physical realms, the temporary and the eternal, the external and the internal, the seen and the unseen. To Paul, both were real. He really experienced them, the natural and the supernatural. By knowing the two parallel realities Paul was able to handle the challenges confidently and overcome them successfully. Because his focus and priority are always on the side of the real victor, Christ.
He explained this plainly in his letters (2 Corinthians 6:6-10). There are two sides in everything: the view of the enemy and the view of a Spirit-filled Christian (reflecting God’s view). The evil and the good. The good will always overpower the evil one. Paul effectively and fearlessly exercised his spiritual power and authority over his unseen foe who worked through other human and natural elements. I append below self-explanatory Bible verses on this awesome revelation!
2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (NKJV)
4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much [a]patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by [b]sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
24 Festus interrupted Paul’s defense,[a] blurting out, “You’re out of your mind! All this great learning of yours is driving you crazy.”[b]
25 Paul replied, “No, Your Excellency Festus, I am not crazy. I speak the words of truth and reason.[c]26 King Agrippa, I know I can speak frankly and freely with you, for you understand these matters well, and none of these things have escaped your notice. After all, it’s not like it was a secret!
Acts 26:24 The Aramaic can be translated “As the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul, Festus interrupted.”
Acts 26:24 Or “So much Scripture has made you senseless!”
While meditating 2 Corinthians on how to be fearless in the fearful days, I was led to read Acts 27 Paul’s fearlessness at sea in a tempest. The incident happened around 62AD, about five years after he wrote to the Corinthians. In the letter to Corinthians he stated that he was shipwrecked three times and spent a day and a night in the deep previously. Paul lived a supernatural life by the Spirit. He was always with His God (ours too).
In this shipwreck he again stayed calm and confident at all time. The captain (owner) and the helmsman of the ship panicked. The Romans centurion was persuaded to listen to them. But only Paul was right in his predictions.
Paul was right because he knew our God, “the God to whom I belong and whom I serve,” Paul described to them. God had sent spiritual messenger (angel) to tell Paul things beforehand.
Paul perceived correctly the voyage would end with disaster and much loss, cargo and ship and possibly lives before they encountered the tempest.
After they encountered the tempest for many days and lost all hope Paul gave them his words of comfort and assurance of safety from the Lord: that there would be no loss except for the ship which would run aground on a certain island. “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”
Paul’s further prediction and advice: unless the sailors who tried to escape on their own stay in the ship they could not be saved; that all should take nourishment for this was for their survival (after fourteen days of fasting); “not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” He promised.
That night they ate and the next day they were shipwrecked. Those who could swim jumped overboard first and got to land. The rest on boards and on parts of the ship. And all 276 escaped safely to land. The ship was a total loss.
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.
When I ponder about why there is a sudden surge of interest in end-time prophesies, I receive the word “fear”, people are fearful and that is why they want to know more. That includes Christians. So last night I looked at some verses on being fearless.
The following verses are quoted from New King James Version (NKJV) Bible
2 Timothy 1:7 7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Proverbs 3:25-26 Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.
Psalm 91:5-6 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
Psalm 112:6-7 Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. 7He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
2 Corinthians 1:22 He sealed us as his own and gave us
the Spirit as the down payment in our hearts.
Ephesians 1:13 In him, when you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and in him, when you also believed, you were
sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with
whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The following verses are quoted from Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV) Bible
105:15 “Do not touch my anointed ones, and do not harm my prophets.”
Psalm 121:7 The Lord will watch to keep you from all harm. He will watch over your life.
Acts 18:10 For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
Revelation 7:2 And I saw another angel coming up from the
east, who had the seal of the living God. He called out with a loud voice to
the four angels who were given power to harm the earth and the sea. He said,
Revelation 7:3 “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees
until we have placed a seal on the foreheads of God’s servants.”
Revelation 9:4 They were told not to harm the earth’s grass, any green plant, or any tree, but only those people who do not have God’s seal on their foreheads.
Someone close forwarded to me a monetary write-up. I did not finish reading it and immediately told her not to share it to anyone anymore. The write-up mentioned an announcement by an international organization about a monetary decision and related speculations.
I am always confronted with questions like this. What shall we do about our rather humble investments which may be affected by policy changes in the world? Like what I told my faraway friend I could only tell her my views and predictions (prophecies) when we meet face to face as it is too complex to talk about in a chat. I would have to explain to her many multifaceted power factors and variables, social, political, economic, financial and many more. I shall need to explain to her the issues of two parallel kingdoms and citizens of the Kingdom of God are not to panic like the residents of another kingdom because we walk by the Spirit and not bound by the limitations of the external world.
So coming back to a small investor what shall we do? I have only one fall-safe advice. Do not follow the pack. Do not believe in the media (including so-called analysts). Do not make any hasty decision based on hearsay. Do not follow the world and its way.
Do follow the Holy Spirit.
I know someone will cry by now. How to follow the Holy Spirit if you have never practiced hearing Him and following His advice? Money is where the heart is. How to trust the Holy Spirit if you have never learned to trust and obey Him in small money matters like offerings and givings? Jesus gave a good way to test if you have listened and acted correctly. He said only the good trees produce good fruit. He also specifically said that hearing Him and acting on it would assure that your house is built on solid rock.
How to listen to the Holy Spirit? For a start, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and pray in tongue. Read God’s word (the Bible). Meditate on His words. Talk to God and listen to His Spirit talking to your spirit. No, it is not an intuition or magic. It is a relationship with someone really close built up over time.
Christians (born again by the Holy Spirit) have the ability to hear God. The Spirit in you is not a spirit of fear. It is a spirit of power, love, and sound mind. Fear is the major tool to make you lose peace and rest in God. You will forget God’s love for you which is a constant factor. God does not change His love. God’s Love is a supernatural power. Every Christian has this power.
My advice is always fall back on God’s love, peace and the faith that He has placed in your heart. Always maintain your close relationship with Him like you do with your best loved one. He has never failed me.
Be encouraged and built up by these Bible verses:
Romans 5:5 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
2 Timothy 1:7, 13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [a]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Towards the end of last year I went through a challenging time in the physical and spiritual realms. The incident drew me to re-examine my daily timetable and reprioritize my life. I decided to get into the spiritual realm to handle it and it meant halting other stuff and adopt a new schedule as follows:
Put God-factor as number One. How? Praying in tongue persistently in most of my waking hours. Read the word of God whilst praying in tongue. My spirit prompted me to read 2 Corinthians so I have been doing that until now. Read. Meditate. Pray. Let the Lord speak to me. Receive and record down His revelation. Meditate and act upon it by faith with the position I have in Christ and the authority I have as a believer.
Result was significant and the manifestation was completely over by the third week. I resumed my normal routine incorporating the modifications as above. The experience changed my perspective and lifestyle. I have been reminded that there is no off time in walking by the Spirit. Discerning from the state of the world today, it is evident that the spiritual realm is getting more real and is increasingly taking precedence over the physical realm.
As I have been praying for new direction this year, I realize that this is a year we need to walk deeper in the Spirit (Ezekiel 47:5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. 6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.)
Yesterday while driving I pondered on the purpose of the church (a gathering of Christians) and thought of what Jesus did and what He commissioned His apostles and disciples do, the same and more. Healing is a major need in the physical human world. The ability to heal makes a significant difference in a church compared to others. Weekly I hear of individuals seeking healing from one place to another. I also find that in my current Bible study subjects the topic of healing is really prominent and relevant. Walking in the Spirit means walking in the power of healing because the Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. This is the direction to develop further this year in our walk with the Lord both as an individual and as an assembly of people together for the purpose of worship, prayer, praise and looking unto God.
Ezekiel 47:7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. 8 Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. 9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.
47:12 Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
I originally posted this prophetic blog on July 28th 2016. All about an anointed teacher who went to see the most powerful anointed king and asked for impossible favor!
“And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
(passage from: Ezra 7:8-10)
There is this Christian teacher who is fully qualified in knowing and teaching the Bible and is filled with the Holy Spirit. At the right time he goes to see the President of the country and the President respects, honors and favors him. The President gives him everything he asks for regarding the matter of following God’s Law to govern the people. The reason? The President believes that by pleasing God he and his family will be blessed instead of cursed. The President is afraid of God’s wrath against “the realm of the President and his sons”.
The President gives this Christian man full authority to access the federal and state treasuries for all the resources he needs for the church, and blanket executive power to execute the following based on Biblical principles in the country selected by God for God’s people:
Winter reminder: The seasons of winter and summer shall not cease. The ground will not be cursed. Not all living thing will be destroyed. It means some living things will be allowed to survive, at least two seasons will remain and the ground (earth) will not be cursed as long as there are human around to sow and pant and harvest crops. Those who grow plants from the ground will survive. God will give the sowers seeds and the eaters bread according to His words which are forever settled in heaven. These people will have bountiful supplies from heaven and live well.
21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.
Then He will give the rain for your seed With which you sow the ground, And bread of the increase of the earth; It will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed In large pastures.
2 Corinthians 9:10
Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,