Month: January 2017

#BLESSED = Health & Wealth??

blessed

In the Western church, we assume that wealth, health, happiness, and good relationships are all signs of God’s favor. This is sometimes true… but not always. The so-called prosperity gospel is often cloaked behind the sermons of well-meaning pastors in churches all around the world. To summarize their message: as long as you follow biblical principals then you will experience health & wealth in all areas of your life! God DESIRES you to have PROSPERITY… that’s how you become #blessed.

By this standard, neither Jesus nor any of the Apostles were obeying God.

This so-called gospel is a gross distortion of the truth and has been slowly poisoning the rest of the world. It is garbage exported from the United States and other Western countries. It’s Christianity without a cross – salvation without suffering.

Before you use #blessed in your next social media post as a way of bragging about your accomplishments, let’s see what the blessed life truly is according to Jesus.

In the most famous sermon every preached – the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus opens up by pronouncing as #blessed the following kinds of people (see Matthew 5):

1. Those who are poor in spirit.
This describes all of those who don’t believe in themselves. Those who have realized self-esteem is simply narcissism cloaked in pop-psychology. True life begins at the end of yourself.

2. Those who mourn.
We are uncomfortable with pain. Jesus declares that those experiencing tremendous pain are #blessed. In many of our churches, we would view Jesus as a heretic. We have allowed the American Dream to distort the Gospel.

3. Those who are meek.
In both the business world & church world, it’s those who enlarge their ego and expand their platform that get ahead. Contrasted with this, Jesus calls the meek – those who live with self-forgetfulness – as #blessed.

4. Those who hunger & thirst for righteousness.
Many pulpits in the U.S. are filled with pastors who cater their messages to the self-interests of those in the congregation. We do not need “Five Steps to a Better Marriage” – We need to know the sufficiency of Christ in all things. It’s those who seek God for God that are #blessed; not those who seek God for a better marriage, bigger bank account, or greater influence. If you come to God for anything other than God, that is idolatry.

5. Those who are merciful.
Our natural tendency is to seek revenge. We have a wicked desire to get even when evil is done to us. Those who are blessed by God offer mercy to those who least deserve it – they reflect God’s character. While we were yet sinners… enemies of God… objects of wrath… Christ died for us.

6. Those who are pure in heart.
#Blessed are those who love others for other’s sake. As Christians, we are commanded to put the interests of other people before ourselves – this is impossible without the empowerment of the Spirit. Is your heart pure before God? Or is it mixed with dangerous contamination from this world?

7. Those who are peacemakers.
Many of us often seek division & discord. We gossip about the leaders in our churches; make controversial Facebook posts for the purpose of getting a reaction; and argue about secondary issues in the Christian faith. Are you making peace or sowing discord?

8. Those who are persecuted, insulted, and spoken falsely about.
If you follow Jesus, you will be persecuted. If everyone speaks well of you it is because you are ashamed of the Gospel. To some people this message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the aroma of life. For others, this message is the rotten stench of death.


Jesus lived the life you couldn’t live; died the death YOU deserve to die; and rose victoriously from the dead. He offers forgiveness & eternal life to all who come to him by faith. True blessing is not found in earthly prosperity, healthy bodies, or positive thinking. It is only found through the death & resurrection of the King of kings. 

Riches of Poverty (Devotional)

poorwidow.jpg

I often write down my reflections & prayers when I read Scripture. I pray that this challenges you to take Jesus seriously and helps you grow in your faith! I encourage you to read the passage first and then read my writing.


Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”


In the eyes of the religious system of Jesus’ day, this woman was cursed by God. Similar to the beliefs of many Christians today, a healthy family & prosperous income are indicators of God’s blessing. As long as a person works hard for an honest living and seeks to love their family, that person will receive a ‘blessing’ from God.

God’s economy is NOT the American Dream.

This was a woman who realized that riches are uncertain. We do not know her name or age but we know two facts about her:

1. She was a widow.
At some point of time she had lost her husband. She had no one to protect her, care for her, or provide for her needs. She experience the tremendous pain of watching her husband pass into eternity. Her hope has been dashed against the darkness of death.

2. She was poor.
The only money she had to her name amounted to a few pennies. The fact that she was both a widow & poor shows that she had no family support around her. Many would purposely turn their eyes away from her due to her needy circumstances.

This is a woman choked by poverty, broken by death, and abandoned by family. It is in these impossible circumstances that she learned to hope in the only One who never fails – God himself.

Out of her poverty she gave EVERYTHING to God as an act of worship. The giving of the rich may have looked impressive by our standards… but not in God’s. The woman learned that life does not consist in an abundance of possessions; instead she has learned the key to being rich towards God. Her hope had been firmly planted in the God of the universe and her sacrificial giving is the fruit.


Father, my heart is often choked by the riches of this world. I give out of my wealth; not my poverty. I often give enough to appease my conscious rather than giving sacrificially and generously. O God, you see the destructive idols in my heart. I try to worship both you and money; in the end it leads me into destruction.

Holy Spirit, please empower me to view my finances as belonging to you. Show me the needs around me and enable me to give liberally to anything you place on my heart. I pray these things through Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, and to the glory of the Father. Amen!

The Suffering King (Devotional)

king

I often write my reflections & prayers when I read Scripture. I will begin posting these short meditations in the hope that it helps you grow in your faith. I encourage you to read the passage and THEN read my reflection on it.


The Suffering King
READ: Luke 17:20-25

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.


The Kingdom of God is vastly different than any earthly kingdom. An earthly king will often establish his rule through the use of force and enslavement. The king will overthrow another nation and subject the people to cruelty in order to force adherence to his new rule.

The kingdom of God is not like this.

Jesus explains in this passage that his Kingdom is inaugurated not through acts of violence done unto others but by acts of violence done to him – the King. In order for the Kingdom of God to come onto the earth, Jesus must first “suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

Father, help me have eyes to see Your true Kingdom. Let me never confuse your Kingdom with earthly power as your church has done in the past. Instead, I pray I would live out the implications of your upside down Kingdom. A Kingdom which begins with the suffering of its King on behalf of his enemies makes NO sense in the eyes of the world. In the same way, I pray that my life is counter-cultural and brings you glory. I ask this in the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the glory of the Father. Amen!


 

The Side Effects of Money (New Message!)

wealth


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Wealth can be incredibly dangerous. The truth is, if you make more than $10,000/year you are in the top 8% of the global economy. If you are reading this on a computer, phone, or tablet – you are considered RICH by the rest of the world.

In this message we look at what the Bible says to all of us with wealth. There are a few dangerous side-effects that we NEED to be aware of!
(if you are reading this in your e-mail, you will have to go to the actual page to listen to the message)