“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work…” Isaiah 55:8 (MSG)
As a Christ-follower, I have found many of my thoughts and actions are totally opposite of God’s. I am not talking about sin but just different. For example, when someone hurts you or does something to you, the ‘natural’ man will usually respond in a way that is totally opposite of the way God would have us respond. MT. 5:43-45 The world says if you want to be rich; be stingy. God on the other says giving is the way of receiving. Luke 6:38
Recently I have had a change in my thinking concerning how I view the church. For years, I have viewed the “small” church as inferior to larger churches. Small churches, in my thinking, just hadn’t arrived yet. They weren’t as successful as the large church. Many people look at the small church as an “unwanted, red-headed step-child.”
But does God categorize churches by size? No. How does not see churches as large or small. He just sees THE church. Jesus is the head of the church, so wherever He is worshiped that is church. Mt. 18:20 Churches are not called to be successful (at least as others think) but they are called to be faithful. Mt. 5:21
God must love the small church, He made so many of them.
God Wants You Happy
If you were to stop the “average” person on the street and asked them what they wanted out most out of life, the majority would reply,”I just want to be happy.” After all, our Declaration of Independence states we have a right to “pursue happiness” and we are in frantic pursuit. In our desire for happiness, we have somewhere developed a theology that God is responsible for our happiness. Many people think God’s ultimate task is to keep them happy. Some televangelists preach a Gospel of happiness. They would suggest that God doesn’t want any of His children to suffer or be unhappy. Unfortunately, Scripture does not support this theology:And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12
- “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
- “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29
If God wants His children happy, what do we tell the families of the Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS? What do we say to Christians suffering persecution and starvation in Africa. Christians have suffered for their faith for thousands of years. The goal of every Christ-follower is not happiness but Christ-likeness. Happiness is a byproduct of holy living, submission to God’s will and obedience.
Though God did not originally design it this way, we live in a performance-based world. Most people (including those in the church) assume that God loves us based on how we act – that’s how everybody else loves us. God’s love for us has nothing to do with what we do.
In Luke 18, we read about a Pharisee that went about to the Temple to pray. He reminds God of all the “good” things he has done. God is not impressed! What he did was not wrong but it he did them with the wrong motive. Jesus talked about folks who did all kinds of good things but said they were “evildoers!” (Matt. 7:23) Motive is huge with God.
We cannot do enough good works to merit God’s love. God is the one who initiates love for us.His love is not a response; it’s the way He is. God is love. So you don’t have to perform to achieve His love. He loves you unconditionally; guaranteed.
It seems the world news has been dominated by the rise of a militant Islam. They have made the statement that their flag will fly over our White House! Will we see the world conquered by a hostile religion that beheads those who do not convert to their religion? I am not a prophetic scholar nor a political analyst, so on an earthly, physical level I don’t want to speculate.
But I do know this…
“so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth—,” Philippians 2:10 The Bible says EVERY KNEE will bow and that means every militant Islam. No one can conquer the Kingdom of God!
“…I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Jesus’ own words in Matthew 16:18.
No power can or will defeat God’s Kingdom.
If you watch any TV preachers, you will hear the message that God wants all Christians to be rich and famous. The Bible tells us that money is both wonderful and deadly.
- The wonderful side
You don’t have to look very deep into Scripture to discover that God loves to provide for His creation. Many of the rich folks in the Bible credited God for their wealth. Genesis 14:23 – 1 Kings 3:11-13. But to say riches equal godliness is a Scriptural no-no. Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor people. Mt. 5:3 Some individuals in Scripture “joyfully accepted the confiscation” of their property, because they were poor – – poor AND godly. Heb. 10:34 Read also Hebrews 11:37-38. Wealth is good but it’s not a symbol of spirituality.
- The Dark Side of Money
The warnings about money in the Bible are severe. Luke 6:24 Luke 12:15
One thing clear in the Bible: money can be a threat to our faith. Money has a way of possessing us. If riches and possessions equal spirituality, what do we say to the Christ-followers in Africa that live in tremendous poverty? Try preaching the prosperity message to the homeless believer in India!
Is it wrong to be rich? No. Is being poor a lack of faith? No. Rich and poor, God made them both.