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Friday, April 27 2018
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
Introduction: Last week, we continued in our study of why we believe Jesus was not poor while on earth. We looked at 2 scriptures where he had provided food and drink for thousands. This week we will consider one of the main purposes why we must not allow ourselves to believe in the mentality that we are meant to be poor for any reason.
Have you ever seen a poor give? Jesus gave in so many ways while he lived on earth.
Jesus was NOT poor while on earth. He had so much to give and He gave. However, if you watch closely He could only give what HE HAD! (Time because he was the master of all time management, Strength even though he was travelling one city to another he drew strength from God to carry on and never gave up or complain, he gave his Life without questions, Knowledge because He believed in passing the acquired knowledge to others as that didn’t make Him less a great man rather One who acquired more knowledge only to again give out)
Ask yourself this, how can I help others if I cannot help myself first?
POOR Defined- Deprived economically, politically and socially. Have inadequate nutrition, higher risk of diseases and lack access to healthcare and basic essentials for living resulting in low achievement.
Agreed; we cannot make such people wealthy but we can at least help them achieve the essentials of life and lead a prosperous life.
Some people only need to be given a chance or opportunity in order for them to live an effective and long-lasting improved lives. Create a new system which motivates them to work and move forward.
Throwing out money or other kinds of donation do help the poor but let’s try another approach to change - raise them instead. Yes, RAISE THEM! Build a relationship with them, teach them and they can regain their self-confidence and self-esteem to work for themselves.
Change your approach. Rather than viewing them as a project (some of us have projects marked giving to the needy). Don’t get me wrong it’s good to help however rather than considering them a “project” start to see them as people to love and respect.
So I have but how exactly do I give the most effective way?
1. Give them a hand up rather than a hand out.
2. Donate Groceries/eatables
Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,”
3. Group Involvement/Volunteering Teams
Deuteronomy 15:11 “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
4. Better Understanding
Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”
Proverbs 13:1-2 “A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good . . .”
REMEMBER YOU CAN NOT GIVE WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE!
Wednesday, April 18 2018
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we concluded that Jesus wasn’t poor and neither was He homeless by answering two important questions – “When Did Jesus Become Poor?” And “Was Jesus Homeless?”
Today’s study will be likened to the closing statement in a court case; where we will consider other scriptural indications that Jesus didn't live a poverty-stricken life while He was on earth in a topic titled “Fishing for Gold”; to address any iota of doubt that may persist. The underlying basis being that you can’t give what you don’t have and that everyone can be identified by their fruits. Matt. 7:16a says: “You will know them by their fruits.”
STATEMENT NO.1: He Had Access to Both Heavenly and Earthly Resources
I will like to draw your attention to the evidence in Matthew 17:24-27 (MSG)
“24 When they arrived at Capernaum, the tax men came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay taxes?”25 Peter said, “Of course.” But as soon as they were in the house, Jesus confronted him. “Simon, what do you think? When a king levies taxes, who pays—his children or his subjects?” 26-27 He answered, “His subjects.” Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”
From this scripture, we see Jesus displaying that He had access to both heavenly and earthly resources and these resources were at His beck and call. If He wanted more than a coin, He could have commandeered it.
STATEMENT NO.2 – He Had the Power to Miraculously Multiply Resources
There are also other examples, when Jesus operated God’s miraculous power in meeting the physical and material needs of others. Matthew14:15-21 (MSG) says:
“15 Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.” 16 But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.” 17 “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said. 18-21 Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”
“32 But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.” 33 His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?” 34-39 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” “Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. After Jesus sent them away, he climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills.
These passages tell two different stories of Jesus feeding; on one account five thousand men with five loaves and two fish and the feeding of four thousand men with seven loaves and a few fish on the other account. These go to further prove Jesus’ access to heaven’s unlimited resources.
In John 6: 26 Jesus said: "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
Multitudes followed Jesus for what He could offer them; not only spiritually but physically. Proverbs 19:4 says: “Wealth attracts many friends, but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.”
During His ministry on the earth, time and again Jesus demonstrated that the resources necessary to meet every need were available to Him. He was not limited in anyway; being God, He owned the cattle in ten thousand hills. There is quite a lot we can learn from how He handled the resources at His disposal; He never attached importance to it more than is necessary. In Luke 12:15 he warned “. . . Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."
He had access to both earthly and heavenly resources but He didn’t “flaunt” it and didn’t live a flamboyant lifestyle; that was why many times He would sneak away and mix with the crowd without standing out.
Wednesday, April 11 2018
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
As much as the Lord desires for all of us to prosper here on earth; there are many who teach that Christians should not live in prosperity. One of the arguments used by those who oppose the idea of material prosperity for Christians is that Jesus was poor during the time He lived on earth. They say He lived an impoverished life from the time He was born in a stable and laid in a manger bed, throughout His ministry when He had no home, until He was crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb.
The idea of Jesus' poverty has been repeated so often and passed down for so long that most people never stop to question it and see if it is scripturally valid or not. In fact, this commonly accepted teaching is totally contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.
First, let’s look at the terms used to define the word “poor”
"destitute, inferior, indigent, needy, impoverished, feeble, pitiful, lacking, insufficient".
Will any of these be a true description of the way Jesus lived? Definitely not!
Yes, on the night Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary had to take shelter in a stable. They wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. But the Bible does not say they were in the stable because they didn't have enough money to rent a room. That Jesus was therefore born in a manger due to the overcrowding in Bethlehem was certainly no indication of poverty.
Next, we will answer two important questions based on the two primary scriptures used to erroneously substantiate the idea that Jesus was poor.
Question 1: When Did Jesus Become Poor?
2 Corinthians 8:9: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
This passage undeniably declares that Jesus became poor and experienced poverty.
But when? Was it during His entire earthly life? During His years of ministry? Exactly when did Jesus become poor?
Jesus was not a poor man during the thirty-three years of His earthly life, including the three years of His earthly ministry. He was made poor upon the Cross when He became our Substitute and paid the penalty and price for our sin.
Isaiah 53, the great substitutionary chapter of the Bible, speaks of how Jesus bore our sins. He took upon Himself what belonged to us so that we could receive what belongs to Him.
“Surely he hath borne our GRIEFS [the word translated “griefs" is the Hebrew word "choli," which means diseases], and carried our SORROWS [this is the Hebrew word "makob," which means pains]: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the CHASTISEMENT OF OUR PEACE was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. . .. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief [The Amplified Bible says, "He has put Him to grief and made Him sick"]: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:4-6,10
The word translated "peace" in verse 5 is the Hebrew word “shalom," which has the following meanings and connotations: safe, well, happy, welfare, health, prosperity, and rest. In other words, this passage tells us that God allowed Jesus to bear our sins and sicknesses so that by His stripes, we could have healing, peace, safety, wellness, happiness, rest, and prosperity.
There are other important "substitutionary" verses to consider.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be SIN for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in him.
Galatians 3:13,14 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made A CURSE for us: for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree: that THE BLESSING of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
At Calvary, Christ took on sickness to provide us health. He was made sin so we could be made the righteousness of God. He was made a curse so we could receive the blessing.
Let's look again at Second Corinthians 8:9. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became POOR, that ye through his POVERTY might be RICH."
We see that by His sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus took our poverty to provide us the riches of His grace. He became poor that we might be rich, which means abundant provision!
When did Jesus take on sin, sickness, the curse, and poverty? On the Cross! He did this so we could receive health, righteousness, blessing, and prosperity. He took the punishment that belonged to us so that we could receive the blessings that belong to Him.
Question 2: Was Jesus Homeless?
Luke 9:58: “And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
This verse is often interpreted to mean that Jesus lived such an impoverished life that He never owned a home or had a place to stay after He began His earthly ministry. But contrary to traditional thinking, Jesus did have a place of residence. The passage most often cited by people in an attempt to prove that Jesus never owned a home or had a residence is found in Luke chapter 9.
Let's read all the related verses in context.
“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
Reading in context, we learn that in verse 58 Jesus was simply saying, "At this time in My life, I am on the move. I’m going forward on My way to fulfil My mission. I'm not settling down on this earth, but I'm on My way to be taken up to Heaven."
There are also other scriptures that seem to indicate that Jesus did have an earthly home or residence.
Matthew 4:12,13 (NIV) “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali.”
Mark 2:1 is also very interesting. It reads, "A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home" (NIV).
Jesus couldn't "come home" or be reported as being "at home" if He didn't have a home.
The argument that Jesus didn't have a home cannot be used as proof of the poverty of Jesus because Scripture indicates that Jesus did indeed have a home.
We can be certain that Jesus becoming poor for our sakes was only at the cross. Reading through the Gospels, we discover that Jesus was not portrayed as a poverty-stricken individual. He was also never sick but He took our sicknesses. He never sinned but took on our sins. He wasn’t poor but became poor so that we might become rich once we accept His gift of salvation. All these exchanges took place at the cross! This therefore concludes that prior to the cross, Jesus was rich!
This study was culled from “The Midas Touch” By Kenneth-E-Hagin
Wednesday, April 04 2018
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In our last study titled “Angels Are Ministering Spirits” we learnt that God’s Angels are His ministers who harken to the instructions of His words that He has given onto us. They are messengers who deliver God’s blessings to His children which includes material, physical and spiritual prosperity. Today, from our text with emphasis on verse 11 which says: “After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” We will learn the importance of giving our best to the Lord. The wise men presented from their treasure, “valuable” gifts as part of their worship:
Gold: Tangible wealth has always been based upon the possession of gold and silver. In biblical times, gold’s primary purpose was (and still should be) storage for wealth and value.
Frankincense: Gives out a highly sweet-smelling fragrance when burned, and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. See Exodus 30:8; Leviticus 16:12.
Myrrh: Is obtained from a thorny tree, which grows 8 or 9 feet high; used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction and was an ingredient of the holy ointment, Exodus 30:23
They offered Him gold as to a King, frankincense as a High Priest, and myrrh to sweeten the place where He was. It was customary in the East to show respect for persons of distinction by making presents or offerings of this kind.
The offerings here referred to were made because they were the most valuable items which the country of the wise men produced. They were tokens of respect and homage which they paid to the new-born King of the Jews.
The fact that this deed of the wise men (offering their best gifts and offerings) to the Lord was recorded in the Bible teaches us that it is right that we give to Him that which is of value including our hearts, our property, our all.
1. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GIFTS
“A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.”
In Genesis 43:11; when Joseph’s brothers needed to return to Egypt, Israel asked them to prepare a gift for Joseph.
“Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift--a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.
It is custom still common in the East, and everywhere in the world that it is unusual to approach a person of distinguished rank without a valuable present. Not to bring someone of honour gifts is to despise them. 1 Samuel 10:27 says: “But some scoundrels said, "How can this fellow save us?" They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.
Proverbs 3:9 says: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase” The NLT says: “Honour the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”
When you give God your first fruits, you not only give Him the first, you give Him the best. In Malachi chapter 1, the Israelites brought God the worst of their leftovers for their sacrifices—the sick, blind, and lame animals. This is particularly important to us today because sometimes that’s what we bring God—our leftover time, energy, and devotion. We come to God when we’re not at our peak.
Let us consider a very popular story in the Bible recorded in Genesis 4:3-5. The AMP version says: “And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile.”
The MSG version says: “Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat.”
So, what was the difference? Why did God accept Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?
It was because Abel brought God the best because he believed God desired and deserved the best. Cain’s offering showed that he thought God deserved something but not necessarily the best. He kept the best for himself instead of offering it to God. Whenever you give God what is first in your heart, time, and treasure, (not when you have the time, not when you have done everything else, not if there is any money left, not if there is any energy left) you’re honouring Him as God; and the Lord will have respect (regard) for your sacrifice and be pleased with you.
2. THE BENEFITS OF GIVING
(a) You create the opportunity to receive even more!
When we give willingly, God will reward us in such abundance of blessings that they will be overflowing our basket and filling the robe in our lap.
It is important to know that the amount you give will determine the amount you get back! 2 Corinthians 9:6 (AMP) says: “Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].
(b) You are guaranteeing continuous income
Like Abel, we should give God the best because we believe God desires and deserves the best then He will ensure our barns (our bank accounts) are always filled with plenty of provision. And our vats to overflow. That means in addition to having plenty of provision in our bank accounts, God also promises to keep our income flowing to us in response to honouring Him with our first fruits offering.
When you think about it, those promises make sense. Our first fruits offerings demonstrate that we can be trusted with money because we don’t love money to the point of holding on tightly to it. It opens things up to work in our favour on the income side of the equation. And since we can be trusted to be good stewards over our finances, God can keep income flowing to us knowing it will be handled responsibly and our vats are overflowing as more and more income comes our way over time.
(c) You create the opportunity for an overflow while protecting what you already have!
It is a blessing to know that we are part of the New Covenant; we are therefore free from the curse of the law. So, there is no punishment associated with not tithing. Instead, when we choose to tithe from our own free will, it releases God to be able to actively act on our behalf in two very specific ways. According to Mal.3:10-11
Giving tangible, valuable gifts of treasure to the Almighty should come naturally to us as we worship and honour Him; but unfortunately, this is not the case. The reason is due to the selfish nature of the fallen man. It is also a trick played by the enemy on believers to deprive them of their blessings!
That is why once the issue of money is raised, people become overly sensitive! Not to mention how some ministers have misrepresented giving to the Lord for their personal gains.
Apart from the fact that He desires and deserves the best; God’s request for us to give unto Him in offerings, tithes and first fruits have different purposes in the Kingdom of God. They all work together on our behalf so God can bless our finances in different ways.