Jan 17, 2017
“PUT YOUR FAITH IN ACTION!” | Bishop TD Jakes
He has not stopped showing his kindness. Ruth 2:20
“How can you be so kind if you don’t even know me!”
By making some wrong decisions, Linda had ended up in jail in a country not her own. For six years she remained in prison, and when she was set free she didn’t have anywhere to go. She thought her life was over! While her family gathered money to buy her ticket home, a kind couple offered her lodging, food, and a helping hand. Linda was so touched by their kindness that she willingly listened as they told her the good news of a God who loves her and wants to give her a second chance.
Linda reminds me of Naomi, a widow in the Bible who lost her husband and two sons in a foreign land and thought her life was over (Ruth 1). However, the Lord hadn’t forgotten Naomi, and through the love of her daughter-in-law and the compassion of a godly man named Boaz, Naomi saw God’s love and was given a second chance (4:13–17).
The same God cares for us today. Through the love of others we can be reminded of His presence. We can see God’s grace in the helping hand of people we may not even know well. But above all, God is willing to give us a fresh start. We just need, like Linda and Naomi, to see God’s hand in our everyday lives and realize He never stops showing us His kindness.
Dear Lord, thank You that You let us begin again and again.
God gives us second chances.
Placed in the same time period as the book of Judges, the book of Ruth complements the bleak tone of Judges with a hopeful focus on God’s unconditional faithfulness. The most central character in this book is Naomi, who receives renewed hope after her own resources are gone.
The concept of “redemption” in Ruth refers to the practice of a “guardian-redeemer.” The redeemer restores losses due to tragedy for a close relative. The guardian-redeemer’s role might involve some self-sacrifice, for restoring the relative’s inheritance or family line meant the possibility of not creating his own family line. In the book of Ruth, after the death of Naomi’s husband and sons, Boaz chooses to restore Elimelek and Naomi’s family line through marrying Ruth and considering her child as Naomi’s.
But “redemption” also had a deeper meaning for Israel, pointing them to their hope of God restoring them (often portrayed as redemption; see, for example, Ex. 6:6–8; Isa. 43:1). Ultimately, it was God, not Boaz, who restored Naomi (Ruth 4:14). And from Ruth’s family came David (v. 22) and eventually Jesus, who restores all believers into relationship with God.
When have you, like Naomi, experienced God’s restoration despite feelings of despair?
Zaccheus worked as a chief tax collector for the Roman government. His profession caused him to be despised by his fellow Jews. When Jesus sought him out and asked to visit his home, the crowd was dismayed—the Lord was associating with someone whose conduct made him a sinner in their eyes. The Savior responded, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
The word lost is a biblical term used to describe the spiritual situation of everyone who has yet to receive Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. In this state, a person is separated from God—there is physical life but no spiritual connection to the heavenly Father. Lost doesn’t have to do with physical location; it speaks instead of spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1), when the mind is blind to the truth of God.
Man’s sinfulness was established through the disobedient action of the first human being—Adam. When he supported Eve’s plan and disobeyed God, his nature became one of rebellion, and all generations from then on have inherited his sinful flesh tendencies. Everyone is born into this world with a nature bent away from God (Rom. 5:12).
Zaccheus was a sinner because of his lost condition, not because of his greedy profession. Good behavior doesn’t make us a Christian, nor does bad conduct disqualify us. The tax collector received salvation through faith in Jesus. By trusting in Christ as Savior, we, like Zaccheus, are no longer lost; we’re made spiritually alive. Hallelujah!
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” (Luke 12:16-17)
God called this rich man “Thou fool” (Luke 12:20) because, rich as he was in his own eyes, he was “not rich toward God” (v. 21). Instead of choosing to bestow his goods on others in need or on any kind of ministry for God, he decided to build more barns and “there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods” (v. 18). The barns did not need them, however, and neither did the rich fool, for he died the very night on which he made this selfish decision.
The intensity of his self-centered nature is pointed up by the fact that he used personal pronouns (I, my) no less than 11 times in three verses (vv. 17-19). Furthermore, no counselor advised him on this course of action. He just “thought within himself” (v. 17) to keep it all for his own comfort and pleasure.
Jesus told this parable not just to rebuke selfish rich people, however, but to warn all of us against the wicked sin of covetousness “which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “Beware of covetousness,” He said in introducing the parable, “for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
Complaining American Christians (and almost all American Christians are wealthy compared to multitudes in many other nations) need to hear the ancient word of the psalmist still relevant today: “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. . . . Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:16-17, 20). HMM
1 Kings 12:27
He feared that while the tribes went up every year to the temple, the old love to one another would revive, and seeing the palace of the house of David in its magnificence, they might feel regret for having revolted from their ancient line of kings: Jeroboam therefore felt that the temple worship endangered his position. He was a man of a crafty mind, like Ahithophel, and had no fear of God before his eyes, and therefore he resolved to set up a new religion. God’s honour was nothing to him. Worldly policy and other base motives have often been the reasons for founding false systems of religion.
1 Kings 12:28
Men naturally love ease, and prefer a religion which involves little trouble and inconvenience, hence Jeroboam craftily appealed to this degrading propensity of human nature; but how disgraceful it was on the part of Israel that under such a pretext they should forsake the living God and bow before the image of a bullock. May we never leave the good old paths of truth for the sake of honour, position, gain, or ease. Let us cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart.
1 Kings 12:29
At both ends of the land, so that none might have far to travel.
1 Kings 12:30, 31
The true priests were faithful and hence he must needs set up others. This speaks well for the Levites. If all other men become idolators, God’s ministers must not.
1 Kings 12:33
He dared to take upon himself the priesthood, to change the ordained seasons for worship, to set up a rival altar, and to adore God under a symbolic form. All this was detestable in the sight of God. It is to be feared that in our day many are guilty of Jeroboam’s sin, for they invent rites and ceremonies of their own, and for sake the Lord, who is a Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. O for grace to be faithful to the Word of God in all points.
1 Kings 13:3
This was bravely spoken. The prophet feared not the wrath of the king or of the crowds around him. Messengers of God must not fear the faces of men.
1 Kings 13:4
He was greatly irritated to have the first and greatest ceremony of his new religion broken in upon by this zealous messenger of the Lord. “Seize him!” cries the king, yea he puts forth his own hand to execute the arrest.
1 Kings 13:6
The Lord can soon bring down the strongest heart. This proud potentate speedily fell from threatening to entreating. God who withered his hand could have paralyzed his whole body, but in wrath he remembered mercy.
1 Kings 13:6
God’s servants are easily entreated, and return good for evil.
1 Kings 13:7
Observe that Jeroboam never uttered a word by way of repentance or humiliation. He was hardened in his proud rebellion against God, and though he was ready to reward the prophet, he would not thank the Lord who sent him.
1 Kings 13:10
It was not meet that God’s servant should have any fellowship with revolted Israel, no, not even so much as eating a piece of bread or taking a sip of water with them. The true believer’s duty is to avoid all unnecessary fellowship with men of sin. “What concord hath Christ with Belial?”
Arm of the Lord! awake! awake!
Put on thy strength, the nations shake:
And let the world, adoring, see
Triumphs of mercy wrought by thee.
Say to the heathen, from thy throne,
“I am Jehovah, God alone!”
Thy voice their idols shall confound,
And cast their altars to the ground.
Faith must obey her Father’s will
As well as trust his grace;
A pardoning God is jealous still
For his own holiness.
Though from his wrath he sets us free,
He will be Lord within,
Nor will he let his servants be
Unchastened if they sin.
We bless the Lord of tender love
Who sees the feeblest spark of grace,
And sends his Spirit from above
To bless the babes that seek his face.
His quick approving eye discerns
Where “some good thing” for God is found;
On that good thing his eye he turns,
And there he makes his gifts abound.
Well may the Lord that good espy,
‘Tis he who works all good within;
Faith’s healing look, prayer’s childlike cry,
And love which weeps o’er pardon’d sin.
Lift up a banner in the field
For those that fear thy name;
Save thy beloved with thy shield,
And put our foes to shame.
Our faith shall gain a wide renown
By thine assisting hand;
‘Tis God that treads the mighty down
And makes the feeble stand.
Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercies, and shall break
With blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.
Philippians 1:4, 5
When I think of all the people who have financially supported our ministry throughout these many years that we’ve been serving in the former Soviet Union, it fills my heart with gratitude to God for putting such wonderful and faithful people in our lives. Without them, we would not be able to do the front-line, cutting-edge, frontier-type work that God has assigned to us.
In fact, a day never passes that I don’t dedicate time to pray for and to specially thank God for those who support us with their prayers and offerings. You see, they are our partners in this work of God. We don’t use this term lightly; we truly mean it when we say that these friends and supporters of our work are our ministry partners.
You see, Denise and I are aware that:
My wife and I understand that although we are the ones God has anointed to lead this work, we couldn’t do any of it without the financial support our partners send to our ministry every month. It is their gifts that make it possible for us to accomplish all that God has called us to do.
Every time I pray for our partners, the law of sowing and reaping, found in Galatians 6:7, is the foundation of my petitions for them. I ask God to bring a rich harvest back into the lives of those who have sown financially by faith into this precious work of God. I desire and expect them to be blessed because of the acts of generosity they have shown toward the work of God.
This must be how the apostle Paul felt about those who financially supported his ministry. The church of Philippi was among his most faithful supporters. That is why he told them in Philippians 1:4 and 5, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”
By using the word “always,” Paul lets us know how frequently he prayed for his partners. In Greek, it is the word pantote, which means always, at all times, or constantly. This lets us know that praying for his partners was a regular occurrence in Paul’s daily life—something he did habitually. Paul understood what my wife and I are also well aware of—that his partners’ role in his ministry was just as important as his role. Therefore, Paul made his responsibility to pray for them a very high priority in his life.
The word “prayer” is the Greek word deisis. This word describes a heartfelt request for God to answer a concrete, specific need— usually some type of physical or material need. The church of Philippi was suffering financially at this time. Considering how they gave of their finances despite their own financial struggles, it makes sense that Paul prayed earnestly for God to answer and meet the concrete, physical needs of this sacrificially giving church.
When Paul says he is “making request,” the Greek tense carries the idea of Paul continuously making requests for the Philippian believers. This is definitely not a one-shot, occasional prayer; rather, Paul makes it very clear that praying for these believers is a part of his daily pattern. The word “request” is again the word deisis, now used twice in this verse, which categorically substantiates that Paul was asking God to answer and provide for the physical, tangible needs of this church. And notice that Paul said he made these requests “with joy.” It was no burden for him to pray for his partners; he did it with pleasure and joy.
In Philippians 1:5, Paul explains the reason he feels so passionate about these believers who had so faithfully supported his ministry. He says, “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” The word “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia, a word that depicted partnership or a mutual participation in some project or event and often referred to a partner, a sharer, or a companion.
Paul felt about his supporters the same way my wife and I feel about our supporters—that they are partners. By supporting the ministry with their finances and prayers, these partners actually enter into the work of the ministry and mutually work side-by-side with those on the front lines.
Paul had told the Corinthians, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one…” (1 Corinthians 3:8). The word “one” is the Greek word hen, which in this context means one in purpose, one in aim, or one in terms of being on the same team and having the same goal.
You see, Paul had a revelation that every person is essential in accomplishing the work of God. He knew that those who water the work with their prayers and finances are just as important as those who do the actual work of tilling the soil and planting the seeds. If the first group tries to do their job without the assistance of the other group, failure will be the inevitable result. On the other hand, if both work together as a team, appreciating and valuing each other’s role in achieving their common purpose, the result will be a great harvest.
So when Paul wrote to the Philippians and spoke of their “partnership” in the Gospel, he truly did mean that they were his partners. He was doing his part and they were doing theirs—and together they made a great team that was having an eternal impact. One part of that team wasn’t more worthy of honor than the other part. Everyone was on the same team, moving toward the same goal; they were simply fulfilling different roles to get the job done. Paul was a planter, and those who gave of their finances were the waterers. Both were essential to the success of the work.
And notice that the Philippians had been partners with Paul’s ministry “… from the first day until now.” They had been with him for a very long time. Through the years, people had come and people had gone in Paul’s life; those who stayed with him through every circumstance and challenge were precious and rare. Paul was keenly aware of how special it was that the church of Philippi had not only supported him from the very beginning, but were also still standing with him as his partners in the work of the Lord!
Philippians 1:4, 5 could be interpreted to read:
“I am always praying for you. In every one of my prayers, I am asking God to meet the tangible and physical needs in your lives. And I want you to know that praying for you is one of the greatest joys of my life. Why, you’ve been my partner in the work of the Gospel from the very start, and you’re still with me now. Because of that, praying for you is a very special joy for me.”
Never let the devil tell you that your partnership with a Gospel ministry isn’t important. Think of what would happen if everyone simultaneously stopped giving! Preachers would be like automobiles with no gas in the tank. Although equipped to go with a vision burning in their hearts, they would be unable to do their work and fulfill that vision because of their “empty tanks.”
The gifts you sow into a ministry “put gas in the tank” so the work of the ministry can go forward! Thus, it isn’t just the minister’s work but your work as well. One plants, another waters, and God gives the increase.
I want to thank you for what you do for God’s work. Your partnership in the Gospel is not a light matter. It is one of the most significant things you can do in this life. When you stand before Jesus and see all the people who are in Heaven because of the gifts you sowed, that is the golden moment when you’ll really understand the power of every single gift you ever gave for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Lord, I thank You for allowing me to be a participant in the Gospel by sowing my finances every month into ministries that are touching the world. Help me to always be aware of the great impact my gifts have and to never let the devil make me think that what I do is unimportant. My gifts and prayers help “put gas in the tanks” of these ministries so they can take the Gospel forward. I want to give faithfully to these works, Lord. Therefore, I ask You to increase me financially so I can give even morel I want to partner with them to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to help fill Heaven with the souls of those for whom Jesus died.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am a faithful supporter of the work of God. I give regularly, consistently, and passionately to see the Gospel go forward around the world. My gifts are important. What I sow really does make a difference. Because of this, I am faithful to do my part, and God will reward me both here and in eternity for the financial seed I’ve sown to help further His Kingdom around the world.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Never let the devil tell you that your partnership with a ministry isn’t important. Think of what would happen if everyone simultaneously stopped giving! Preachers would be like automobiles with no gas in the tank. Although equipped to go with a vision burning in their hearts, they would be unable to do their work and fulfill that vision because of their “empty tanks.” The gifts you sow into a ministry “put gas in the tank” so the work of the ministry can go forward!
In an upside down world, where lunatics often reign, and personal safety remains uncertain; where calamity looms from every quarter, and I am incessantly bombarded and lied to by media and marketing “spin doctors”, God’s Word stands firm as the one stronghold upon which I can stake my life. Fathom this:
It “restores (turns back, recalls) my soul,” which is prone toward seduction, wandering and duplicity.
It makes the “simple (the easily seduced, silly, foolish [Hey! That’s me!]) exceedingly wise.”
I don’t know about you, but in this world of charlatans, nutzoid fruitcakes and wolves, I need His exceeding wisdom to make it through life’s variegated minefields. (Matthew 10:16; James 1:5-8)
It “rejoices” the heart. That is, it is an influence that makes me glad. Even gleesome!
Again, in a world of terrorists, downsizing, gyrating currencies, car bomb explosions, and the specter of global warming, isn’t it nice to know that there is a source that can cheer my shopworn soul?
I am warned and greatly rewarded. (See Proverbs 3:16-18; 6:22, 23; Psalm 119)
So, my fellow pilgrim, are you regularly immersing your easily bartered, battered soul into the ocean of His love? A love that is revealed to us through unrushed, attentive, and prayerful processing of His Truth? If so, you are indeed THE RICHEST PERSON IN BABYLON!
If not, you are A SPIRITUAL PAUPER IN A “WACKO WORLD.”