21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Psalm 35:27 (NKJV)
27 Let them shout for joy and be glad, Who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
2 Corinthians 9:7-9 (RSV)
7 Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written,
“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness[a] endures for ever.”
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1 KJV) Paul had been given unique authority from Christ to be his representative and the founder of churches (see Acts 1:21-26). In his letters to the Corinthian Christians he identified himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” His apostolic ministry was clearly evidenced by the authority and the life transforming revealed words and power of the resurrected Christ. As a closing to my notes on a meditative journey in 2 Corinthians I have done the following chart on the subject of power and authority. My notes on the Bible verses are in brackets.
1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. (All authorities on earth will come to an end)
2 Corinthians 10:8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— (God-given authority to men is for constructive and not destructive purposes)
2 Corinthians 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. (same as above)
1:18 [Christ the Power and Wisdom of God] For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (The salvation message is the power to save and transform)
1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (The resurrected Christ is the power and wisdom in us)
2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (Paul’s speeches are confirmed by deeds of spiritual power which manifests in physical realm)
2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (man’s words are powerless; power of God makes things work)
4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (We are so privileged to be chosen for His glory)
4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. (No use to boast about your ministry unless your words can be confirmed by God’s power)
4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. (God’s kingdom is about power in deeds that confirm His words)
6:14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. (God’s power raises the dead; power of God is the only source of life)
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.
Today I have done a simple diagram. Let us read this new wine revealed in new wineskin. I am awed that we can actually apply this simple rule of law to every practical aspect of our lives, as ambassadors for Christ, representing the Kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Be Reconciled to God
12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [a]imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, 15 the perfect Father of every father and child[a] in heaven and on the earth. 16 And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.
17 Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.
18–19 Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude[b] of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!
20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.
21 Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!
Ephesians 3:15 Translated from the Aramaic. It could also be translated “the perfect Father of every people group.” The Greek word for “father” and the word for “family” are quite similar, which indicates that every family finds its source in the Father.
Ephesians 3:18 Or “excellence.”
(Ephesians 3:14-21 The Passion Translation (TPT) Paul Prays for Love to Overflow)
1 John 1:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. (John 17:6-8)
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
John 14:21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
John 17:26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
“Therefore, my beloved:” From Apostle Paul to you this December.
Summary: You all are my beloved. My joy. Stand firm in the Lord Jesus. Stop bickering among yourselves. Be peacemakers. Think of excellence. Be in love, joy and peace. Be in Christ. Be real in Him.
Therefore, my fellow believers, whom I love and long for, my delight and crown [my wreath of victory], in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree and to work in harmony in the Lord…my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice!5 Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near.6 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
8 Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].9 The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord, that now at last you have renewed your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned about me before, but you had no opportunity to show it…
(Quoted in parts from: Philippians 4 Amplified Bible)
What would you do to the brothers and sisters of Jesus? We continue from yesterday’s message. What does God say about end times and how Christians will be measured by their love of God manifested in their love for the people of God, the followers of Jesus in the end time, as clearly specified in the last group of teachings with parables in the book of Matthew by Jesus. Yesterday’s teaching of Matthew 24 and 25 can be linked to today’s passage from prophet Isaiah. I list below the similarities of the group of followers of Jesus whom God wants Christians to minister to as if we are ministering to Jesus Himself, between the two passages from Matthew 25:34-36 and Isaiah 58:6-7.
Isaiah 58:6-12 (NIV) quoted in parts. Please read the whole chapter on your own.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Lately the 5am Bible reading group of brethren in Christ have been praying for spiritual breakthrough. They asked the Lord to further open the eyes of their spirit, to know God and Jesus in the Spirit. Having been led through the key chapters on the Holy Spirit in the gospels, Acts, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 2 and 2 Corinthians 3, having prayed and read in depth and in meditation of Ephesians 1-3, they were led to read Philippians.
The Epistle to the Philippians is a very different kind of letter from the rest. Paul wrote with tenderness, warmth, and affection. He presented an informal and intimate diary of his own spiritual experience, revealing that Christ is his sum and substance of life. To know Christ was his highest aspiration and goal. He revealed that he was still working at attaining the utmost goal of gaining Christ, the power of God!
Why are we urged now to read this book? The revelations from key verses received by the group are excerpted as follows. Do join us, brethren in Christ round the globe!
__________________the key word is Christ. Be in Christ. Christ is the power of God. The upward race for us is on all the time and completes only when Christ Jesus returns just as He has promised.
A bit of background observation:
Paul was a mature Christian leader (an Apostle) when he wrote this letter. He had personally encountered Jesus the risen Christ. He received and was filled with the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hand on him at conversion. After his conversion to Christ the had been raised to heaven and knew that heaven is real! He spent three years in the desert alone with Christ and received all his revelations first hand from the Lord.
When he wrote this epistle he was in prison. However, his letters were circulated among churches as instructed and preserved till today. He has remained credible and accepted as inspired by the Lord (Holy Spirit) in all his epistles which are included as the Bible.
His letters were read by many Christians then who knew of his plight. They would not have accepted and preserved these documents if they had not also witnessed the power he had walked in and the reality of God in his life. Observations and revelations from the verses: Philippians 3, and other epistles of Paul.
Paul declared that he was still pressing on to attain Christ, to know Him and His power. The power of His resurrection.
The same power is prayed for in Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians Christians. Take note that he used the word ‘Christ’ prominently (as compared to the word ‘Jesus’). Christ is the resurrected and risen Jesus. The Son of God who had defeated the power of death and sin and now sits at the right hand of God in heaven.
Paul continued to press on to attain this ‘Christ the power of God’. Why? He had already experienced Christ’s power (in the Holy Spirit). He had described many types of trials and challenges he went through successfully. He remained undaunted and alive! Even the physical environments and oppressions had not deterred him from completing his assignments from God. He walked so close with the Lord in the Holy Spirit that he knew when he would be released from prison. Even the other apostles and disciples knew and acknowledged his credibility as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Reading all his letters we could see how much he had known about and indeed already experienced in the Lord. All the other Christians who were living at that time knew too.
But Paul pressed on, because he knew he was not already perfected. He knew because he was joined to the Lord and was one spirit with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17).
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 3:16, 19-20 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Paul spoke of this same power in the resurrected Christ in many other verses:
Romans 1:4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 5:24-25 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Colossians 1:11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
Colossians 1:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.