I have spent most of my adult life involved with singing within the church world and at times in prisons, nursing homes and other places on occasion. I have been a song-writer and have recorded songs and also have been blessed with the honor to serve as an elder, associate pastor, worship leader and teacher throughout the years. As I became older, I wanted to do more because I am a seeker and have always presumed there was more to ministry than just the organized church. When I was younger, I would question those in authority with the church and ask very difficult questions as to why they did certain things and why miracles were not being demonstrated. I can imagine that many of these leaders desired that I go sit in a pew and just quietly follow the rules. All of the politics and insincerity gradually weaned me away from depending on man and I began to see that true ministry is not based on what other people think we should do, tell us to do or even “allow” us to do – it is listening to God. Ministry is not just an act or a deed; it is a way of life. My eyes are starting to grasp the overwhelming Ocean of human suffering and it is ALL around us. I believe that many need to examine their heart and ask the question; do I want to work in the comfort of a social club with my friends or do I want to actually make a difference in someone’s life? I’m not trying to suggest that Christians should stop going to church, I am saying that church is only a tiny part of our Christian mission.

In the last few years, I have branched out into the community more than I ever have before. For those of you that have lived within the walls of the church world all your life, you would be amazed at what is out there. It is a wonderful perspective to notice the difference between people who do not go to church and those who do. I have come to the conclusion, (and I realize this may shock you) there is very little difference. Is this sad? Yes, I believe so. In fact, there are many similarities. It is true, the lost have a general lack of spiritual knowledge but the saved even though they may know more have a huge problem – they do not believe what they know. Some might say that it is better to know it than not know it but what good is it if information is not converted to revelation? If church members do not really know who God is or who they are in God – how is this any better than those who are lost?

Let us take a peek at a powerful scripture in which Christ is mingling with the worldly crowd and listen as He explains a very important “reason” why He devoted His life to true ministry. Let us turn to Mark chapter 2 and verse 15, “And it came to pass, that as Jesus sat at meat in His house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and His disciples: for there were many, and they followed Him.” Let us consider this scene for a moment. When God’s Word refers to someone as a publican and sinner what does this mean? The Pharisees and the rabbis were the highest leaders of Jewish society and were known to be strict and precise when it came to the law. For example, tax collectors were known to be cheaters and this definitely gave them a reputation as a sinner. They avoided the rest of society because they were trying to preserve their clean image which is why they could not understand why Jesus would want to “ruin” His integrity. (Verse 16) “And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto His disciples, how is it that He eats and drinks with publicans and sinners?” As Jesus’ ministry grew, so did His popularity and effectiveness among the social outcasts of society. Hello, are we listening? Jesus may have broken some societal taboos, but His presence with them proves that He looked beyond the culture or religious tradition and was focused on the people’s hearts. Whereas the Pharisees wrote people off simply because of their profession or their past, Jesus looked past all that and saw their need. Until the modern church can grasp the reality of what Jesus is trying to say here, there will be very little ministry to the world. We have a dilemma; the lost are not going to church and the church is not going to the world. The church like the Pharisees believes it is far too good to mingle with the sinners but they are in denial that they are just as much a sinner as the world. It is denial and deception for the church to think they are better than anyone else. Only by the GRACE of God are we not all given what we deserve. (Verse 17) “When Jesus heard it, He saith unto them, they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It is time for us to ask, what in the world does this mean? If Jesus was to reach the lost, He must have some contact with them. He went to where the need was because “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” I believe that much of the church world has become numb to the gospel because they have an attitude they are well and all is good! They do not need the Great Physician because they have their ticket and everything is fine. What does this attitude remind you of? Exactly! The church at Laodicea! “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, miserable, and poor, and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) I am not really sure what many in the church world is thinking but it seems the majority has never realized they have been called to fulfill a mission. God’s people are called to represent HIM in the midst of publicans and sinners and continue where He left off.

21. Would God ever include within His divine blueprint for certain individuals to live in divine health and enjoy a life of prosperity? This is an interactive Bible study and I would like to know what you think. This is a good question because it deals directly with God’s will. I would say that within each blueprint of God’s children, there would be included the possibility of divine health and wealth. I use the word possibility because much of the way we live depends on how much we know and the decisions we make. Of course He completely sees our lives before we are born and knows how things will turn out but allow me to say that His DESIRES and our CHOICES are two completely different things. I am sure that us being a soul winner is also included in our blueprint but again this depends on how much we care about serving God. Have you ever thought that some people have the “gift” and anointing to build wealth and some do not? And we all have seen individuals that live long lives of health and strength while others were plagued with diseases. I believe God has given us His general will to study and learn what we need to do to live in obedience and blessing. When it comes to His specific will for us, it is up to us to find our personal blueprint and with His power we can accomplish our destiny.

22. Why does it seem that asking God for material blessings is being carnal-minded? For some reason we have been influenced that Jesus came to the world only to give spiritual blessings. I agree that spiritual gifts are the highest of all blessings and that our spirit being redeemed from being eternally lost is the greatest blessing of all. However, we have been given the encouragement to approach God in prayer for whatever we need. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to HELP in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Some people believe that Old Testament passages that pertain to Israel cannot be embraced by us as God intending the same message for us but, I have a difficult time with that view because there are so many passages that we do apply to our lives. Deuteronomy 15:6 is God talking about Israel BUT at least we can see an example of how He feels about wealth for His people. “For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as He promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.” This is referring to material wealth, so why does God not want His children to borrow? Because being in debt is being in bondage to the lender. “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). God’s people are to be living according to the divine wisdom of heaven and included in this way of living are the PRINCIPALS of receiving abundance. The promises of God are conditional upon obedience to His general Word and they do not fail. For example, if we give to God, He will anoint us and empower us to receive His blessings of health and wealth. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a BLESSING that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). I am not trying to convince anyone about what the storehouse is but rather trying to see that the principal of obeying God produces positive results. Another example of the principal of giving, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

In these principals we can see that it is not just about begging or asking God to help us through prayer but when we learn about His promises and believe we have discovered His will, we can invest our faith and receive a harvest. When we have our heart right and are living in sincerity with God, we are not to worry or be afraid of not having what we need. “But seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). In this light, we must accept the covenant concept as a very real and valid part of our Christianity. As we have said many times before, it is not that we have to beg for Him to save us from healing and poverty – the blood of Jesus contains “total salvation” and gives us the honor and privilege to be successful and a leader in this world to represent God and His Kingdom. Chapter 3 of Proverbs tells us that if we keep God’s Word in our heart, we can expect a LONG LIFE and peace! “It shall be health to thy navel marrow to thy bones.” Verse 9 says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the fruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be FILLED with plenty and thy presses shall burst forth with new wine.” Verse 16 says, “Length of days is in her [wisdom] right hand; and in her left hand RICHES and HONOR.”
Let us be reminded that the Lord does not increase His people and bless them so they can live according to their own plans. Those who seek first His Kingdom are focused on doing exactly what He is saying with all of the blessings He has manifested. We give because we love God not because we are trying to gain wealth! We are NOT concentrating on being rich, we are trying to listen and obey God! The blessings come as a RESULT of doing what He is saying and living a sanctified life unto Him. “He that gives unto the poor shall NOT lack: but he that hides his eyes shall have many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27). Compassionate giving should be our nature.

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