YCCM Part 2 A WAY OF LIFE

Chapter 5

 Investment vs A Way of Life

 


The Illusionist 

Simon, a magician in Samaria, heard Phillip preach and became a Believer. After witnessing the power Peter and John possessed to lay hands upon Believers to receive God's Holy Spirit, Simon offered them money to buy their power, so that he too could lay hands on others. He saw this manifestation of God as being transferable like a common commodity.

 

Perhaps, in his mind, he could only relate the power to the magic tricks that had brought him fame and fortune and perceived this also to be magic. Nevertheless, at that moment, it was beyond Simon to perceive God's Holy Spirit as Life-Changing, in the sense that the blessing of God's Spirit would change his way of thinking and living, or perhaps he would have had second thoughts about making such a request.

 

Simon showed the Disciples the things that he treasured most in his heart--power, fame, money, self and the world. His request was not out of love of God or love and compassion for others.

 

He wasn't thinking in terms of being cleansed of his sins that would end his life of trickery.  He could only see God's Holy Spirit as a lucrative commodity, that could be bought to make him look more powerful in the eyes of man, preying upon the minds and pockets of  others as he did.

 

Simon was not led by a repentant and contrite heart, instead, his pride led him to assume that a one-time monetary investment could lead to a lifetime of self-serving results.

 

It is important to point out that Simon was a Believer like you and me. Still, as a Believer, he wasn't willing to exchange his whole life for God's Holy Spirit, just a one-time investment, giving a portion of his earnings. Yes, like Satan, Simon wanted God's Power and in doing so, he created an illusion of being a Believer.

 

ARE WE SIMON?

Are we also illusionist? People who paint a picture of being Christ's followers that isn't real? So many people who become Believers are convinced it ends there. They believe that since they've accepted Christ with their lips and mind, they are automatically followers.

 

Like many of them, we may think that we cannot relate to Simon and his desires, but we must look at this picture from a different angle, behind the illusion. This is not just a lesson about a man who was so shallow and void of substance that he was arrogant enough to think that he could buy God's Holy Spirit and be like the disciples; or just a man looking for power to bring him fame and fortune; or how the eye is deceived because our heart clings to the world. No, this is also a journey into the heart of man, because, you see, Simon was like any other man in the flesh (self).

 

I've grown to appreciate this lesson much more and I'm able to put myself and others in the shoes of Simon. This account is much like Jesus' parables, to help us examine the treasures of our own heart, as well as exposing how man continues to try and buy God today.

 

Simon is given as an example--a glimpse of many people who claim to be Believers, but have not been born again through God's Holy Spirit, because they are still clinging to the world and self.

 

We often try to buy a little of God to wear about as a garment or piece of jewelry, when it is convenient to do so, then take it off, put it in a box and return to looking and acting like ourselves. We want to invest bits and pieces of our life in God; a second, minute or two or hour here, maybe two or three days; or God can be a part of my family life, but at work, I'm my own man or woman; and I'm not giving God full control over my finances or how I enjoy myself.

 

We may offer to spend a little time in worship, prayer or Bible Study, pay our tithes, give to charity, volunteer time to work, then believe we have given God enough to receive His blessings. Yet, we have not surrendered all and given ourselves to God to become a disciple and fruitful member of the Body, because we haven't learned to LIVE The Truth, The Way and The Life. We are still lacking one thing and that is to be Born Again, for the Transformation of the heart and mind, united with Christ and God's Holy Spirit to be made Perfect in Love.

 

On any given day of worship, people might be kneeling, chanting, meditating, preaching, teaching, missionary outreach, evangelizing, visiting sick and shut in, caring for the homeless, playing an instrument, ushering, directing, nursing or working in the nursery, controlling traffic, cleaning, cooking and serving, working in the store, managing finances, clerical duties, phone lines, or audio and video, security, singing, dancing, speaking in tongues, prophesying, praying and praising God. If I have left anything out, please forgive me, but, you get the idea. There is a lot of worshipping and works going on for so many people to be unchanged and the world to still be in the shape it is today! To believe that' s just the way it is, is to not believe God or His Promises; for He said...

 

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; thewill I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES, however, like Simon, we have not humbled ourselves. We're still trying to buy God!

 

Again, we don't always pay money for God's services. We will invest a small amount of our time in worship or service, then expect God to do great things to reward us.

 

We equate reward to many things, such as: prosperity; good physical health; education; food and shelter; earthly comfort and pleasure; or the safety of our family. Yes, God will bless you and provide for you, but He has not made provisions for your physical, fleshly body or any fleshy body within your family to continue enjoying this life indefinitely. Our bodies in this world have an expiration date.

 

Let not your work be in vain. We cannot minister to the body and leave the soul untouched in an unhealthy condition, then wonder why we have become entrenched in darkness. Yet, most places of worship are structured to condone and support this type of behavior.

 

 

CHANGE DEPENDS ON FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS

 

What does this have to do with being able to change others--everything. God is very specific in His instructions for healing and change to take place.

 

We must:

Humble ourselves

Seek His face

Turn from our wicked ways

 

These instructions do not only pertain to healing a nation. It is the pattern for initiating change in our lives and the lives of others.

 

These are instructions for ACCOUNTABILITY! God wants us to stop taking Him for granted and thinking we are the masters of our own ship, doing whatever ungodly thing we please, if we are His.

 

We must bring people out of their comfort zone. Stop enabling people to remain the same and make them accountable, which requires changing ourselves first.

 

How do we bring people out of their comfort zone? We show them another way of living. We show them Christ within us and what God offers them, not with His hand, but by who He is. We offer them the character of God through the fruit of His Holy Spirit.

 

If the world has given them anger, we give them gentleness, kindness, self-control, patience, understanding and true joy that the world can't give and the world can't take away.

 

It is time to stop living in self and pride and surrender our will and all to God; stop looking for what is in God's hands for us and seek who He is--His character--so that we can try to become like Him; and repent--turn away from sin to help pull others out of the miry clay.

 

God is not accepting investors in franchises, down payments, installment plans, cash, checks or credit cards. He's not interested in people who want to make short-term investments and expect long-term results. God is looking for True Worshippers to become Disciples of Change.

 

God sacrificed His Son, who suffered and shed His blood for you, so that you can come into His presence and have abundant and eternal life. He wants you to surrender all of you.

 

Places of worship are full of people who try to buy a piece of God to make a good show for the people around them, but what is lacking in individuals is something that is beyond temporary investment in spiritual health. We can't bargain with and buy God. We can't buy spiritual insurance from God, payable upon death, with the option of taking out a loan or cashing the policy in.

 

We can't go to the hospital without accepting a cure and leave the same or worse off than before. Operating like this is equivalent to giving patients medication that will deliberately make them ill and addicted. It is condoning spiritual illnesses, selling insanity and mass suicide!

 

Change! Change! Where is all of the change everyone is talking about, promising, and claiming to have found!? Why can't we see it?

 

We can't see it because there is only One who can promise us change and deliver and give us deliverance! There is only One who can open our eyes to seek Transformation! And His name is JESUS!!!

 

There is a struggle going on in the world today in individuals, families, groups of people who struggle with their identity (teenagers, those with mental illness, alcoholics, addicts, homosexuals, terrorists, gang members), Believers and nonbelievers alike, who have bought into the lie that "You Can't Change Me." Although we claim to know The Truth, The Way, and The Life, WE prove them right, because we refuse to be changed ourselves and invest in the lives of others.

 

When I speak of investing in one another, I'm not speaking of monetary investment, nor of earthly brotherly love, but the kind of investment your right ventricle makes wth your left ventricle, your arteries make with your blood, your kidneys make with your bladder, your lungs make with your heart and your brain makes with your body. They are physically dependent upon one another. Whether we know it or not, God has made us physically, emotionally AND spiritually dependent upon one another.

 

Yet, we are all so disconnected in the way that we worship and care for one another, because we cannot see past the flesh to see the condition of the spirit. Are we walking in God's Light and having fellowship with one another?

 

Division of the church goes beyond doctrine, religion and denomination or the invasion of darkness in our places of worship. Division affects us individually, robbing us of our sight and our ability to see each other as spiritual beings and love one another as Jesus commanded.

 

We are anchored to corporeal thinking attached to the world. When we look upon our brother, we only think of him in earthly, fleshly or carnal terms, referencing his state-of-being to what can be seen by the naked eye. Depending upon the condition of our heart (spirit), we may have very distorted vision.

 

Some may think I'm referring to empathy, but it even goes beyond that. In order to bring about change in our brother, we must become a part of him, seeing with God's eyes to look beyond his FAULTS and see his NEEDS!

 

There may be funds, resources and man hours set aside for crises and short-term development and care of our physical and emotional needs, but the long-term care of the spirit is usually left up to the individual.

 

Most people seem to think that as long as they go hear a message, read the Word of God, and pray regularly, their spirit is nourished. But if your mind is cut off, locked up in bondage because your heart is unchanged, then you're walking around malnourished, on the verge of starvation!

 

Even in small churches spiritual development is considered to be a personal thing in that one is left to their own devices to apply the Word of God to their own life. Little or no emphasis is placed upon the individual's spiritual health being an integral and vital part in contributing to the spiritual health of the whole church and the Body of Christ.

 

The church, which is responsible for bringing individuals into maturity and maintaining a healthy relationship fails to see the face of the individual. As a result, those who fall into sin and bondage, are often left alone to fall deeper and deeper. In most cases, unless they are physically ill or dead, they are usually on their own.

 

The attitude and stance is that it's between the individual and God and we can't and won't try to force anyone to be a part of us and be accountable to God, so, we'll leave them alone.

 

This idea is always backed up by Jesus telling the Disciples to wipe the dust from their feet and depart from those who won't receive you. Yet, hardened hearts seem to try to enact this policy before trying and applying it to those who have lost their way, felt rejection, have not received proper help, or have not been absorbed and utilized for various reasons into the church body.

 

This alone shows a church that is not led by the Mind of Christ and can't identify itself as being part of the Body of Christ, whereas, if one member suffers, the others are effected also.

 

It is really quite astonishing that so much emphasis is put on the care of the mind and body, while the spirit is sometimes looked upon as a spare part, nonessential or non-existent. It's like servicing a car and never looking under the hood at the engine which drives it.

 

People think it is their heart which must continue to pump to keep them alive or their brain that determines the hour of death, but, it is that part of the body which comes from GOD, the SPIRIT, which tells the body, "No!We cannot quit! We must press on, until GOD calls us home!" 

 

CAN YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF?

 

It can be so easy for us to disconnect ourselves from others, strangers, acquaintances and even family, friends and loved ones. It leaves us to examine motives and sincerity.

 

We can preach, evangelize and profess that we want our loved ones, friends and the lost to be saved and give their life to God, but, one of the most difficult realizations to come to, is to realise that you are doing something for yourself; for your own benefit; what you can get out of it; so that you can feel  accomplished, having won a battle with the flesh; or to make your life easier. There are so many ways to say it, but what it boils down to is wanting something for me, myself and I.

 

This is especially true when it involves someone close to us (spouse, child, family member, friend). It can be extremely difficult to see past the flesh of those we interact with daily--those we claim to know and love.

 

People join a place of worship one day and are never seen again, or go from place to place with no continuity of care and we feel that it's alright, because God will take care of them. But, WE are the BODY of Christ!

 

We give people what they want to hear and see about themselves in palatable doses. We seem to think that by keeping current members productive and active, we make them accountable. Yet, we fail to assess their spiritual health, maturing them to produce GOOD FRUIT of God's Holy Spirit.

 

Perhaps Jesus was not specific enough in His instructions as to how we are to go about maturing the saints. Then, we can blame Jesus.

 

Jesus said He was leaving us a Helper, God's Holy Spirit.

 

 

  • Should we require that all church members possess God's Holy Spirit? 
  • How, will we know? Is there a test? 
  • Are we prepared to cast out those who bear no fruit, ill fruit, or who are sowing discontent?
  • What if they are contributing or in positions of leadership or authority? 
  • Is it our place to cast others out of the Body? 
  • Should unfruitful people be in positions of leadership and authority? 
  • Should we give preference to those who contribute more money and participation?

 

Now that we've pondered these questions, let us think about 'the' question--"Do we have complete faith in God to do a great work in others to make them whole?" That is what is most important. If we lack faith, in God to work through us individually and collectively, then what is the point of discipleship?

 

GOD HAS NOT GIVEN UP ON THE CHURCH! It is not in His Character to do so. To believe otherwise is to deny what and Who we believe in! If He hasn't given up, then why have we?

 

Our division and lack of accountability prove that we do not believe in the BODY as a WHOLE. We fail to see that if one member of the Body is spiritually unhealthy, other members will suffer also.

 

MAKING SENSE OF THE SYSTEM

 

The human body is an amazing creation. Looking at how the cells, muscles, bones, organs, systems and appendages work together, one cannot deny that God put great care and thought into His creation. The Body of Christ is just as important to God.

 

Jesus showed us how faith can feed a multitude of thousands. Yet, we do not put faith in God providing for the increase of Believers, so, we are afraid to speak Truth into people, because we are in bondage to fear and don't want to risk offending them and perhaps embarrassing ourselves. We don't know how to respond to their hurt, pain or anger, because we either fail to abide in Christ or we have not been reborn and made perfect in love.

 

We may see no change in their life, because there is no change in ours.  Deep down, we believe they are the ones who need to change.  Time goes by and we see no improvement in them or our relationship.  We resort to choices and ultimatums. They must change or else. Usually, or else means distance or separation in the relationship.

 

The outcome depends on our needs, desires and will. What will we tolerate and for how long? Are we prepared to carry out our threat? How important is their change to us?  Are we willing to change our lives and circumstances if they do not comply?  Are we an enabler and/or codependent?

 

Because we are thinking of ourselves, the course of our actions may depend  a lot on what we have invested in the person or relationship.  Our decision is based on worldly and institutionalized thinking.

 

It is sad and appalling to think that any person or church would have relationships that operate like a banking institution, but it happens.  The policies they adapt officially or unofficially are often very much the same. For Example:

 

1. Bank:You must meet eligibility to become a member and hold an account with us.

 

Individual: You must meet eligibility to be in a relationship with me.

 

2. Bank: As long as you keep investing in our establishment, we will work with you, in the best interest of our institution.

 

Individual: As long as you keep investing in our relationship, I'll work with you, if it benefits me first and foremost.

 

3. Bank: If you have a negative balance, you will be heavily penalized with fees.

 

Individual: If you do anything that I deem as impacting me as negative, hurtful or vindictive to me; if you can't make me happy; if you upset me; or cross me in any way, I will make you pay either emotionally, physically, financially, etc.

 

4. Bank: If you are absent for too long, without making a substantial deposit, or keeping the required balance, we will close your account and have no further interest in you.

 

Individual: If you are physically or emotionally inaccessible and I don't get the attention, respect, and compliance  I expect and deserve, then our relationship is over. (consequences: divorce; unfriend; or disown)

 

5. Bank: If you  leave or close your account,  taking all of your money with you, then we have no further interest in you unless you have unpaid fees.  Wherein, we will seek legal retribution if these fees are not paid.

 

Individual: I'm going to try to get back what I invested in you, gave you and more for my emotional damage. If need be, I'll take you to court.

 

6. Bank: If you are not a member of our bank or credit union, then you cannot do business with us.

 

Individual: If you're not on my team, my side; if you can't commit to my way of thinking and doing things, then, we can't have a relationship.

 

If you haven't figured it out yet, life is about RELATIONSHIPS. The Body of Christ is comprised of relationships between its members. If one member is not coexisting and functioning in its full capacity, then there is a breakdown in the relationship that effects the whole Body.

 

Just as the Body must respond and adjust to external changes, the Body must respond to internal change, following the Mind of Christ, who loves and cares for all of His sheep the same, meeting their individual needs, as well as the Body as a whole. Our personal relationships should reflect the same love and produce the same fruit as the Body as a whole or it will affect the WHOLE BODY. 

 

A member working outside the body on its own behalf, has no relationship with the body, neither can it benefit the body. In order for individuals and churches to be members of the Body of Christ, they must work on behalf of the WHOLE Body and have a working  relationship with the other members of the Body.

 

Now, just speculating, to give you an example of what change could look like:

 

After reading the previous paragraph, how does becoming part of the Body of Christ effect your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you don't feel that you have to marry to sleep with; or your spouse you can't stay in the same room with; your boss you tell everyone you hate; the best friend you're not speaking to; the choir member you continually argue with and engage in foul language; the pregnant daughter you put out of your house; your gay son, who you disowned; the family member you told they were never allowed to come to your house again; and the minister you keep asking to pray for all of these people who don't know the Lord?

 

Yet, we think nothing of singing and praising the Lord for the new life we have found since we became a Believer. We could find more or less obvious examples of hypocrisy, but they all would demonstrate an unchanged heart and mind.

 

Christ is our First Love. We can truly love others because of His Perfect Love for us. If we are truly following Him, then we know that our Shepherd watches over His whole flock to attend to all their needs. He will go after the lost and attend to those who are wounded and hurting.

 

 

SELF REFLECTION: A Look in the Mirror

 

There are questions we need to answer individually and collectively. Take time to evaluate your spiritual health and your ability to be a productive and spiritually fruitful member(s) of the Body.

 

 

1. What things, beliefs and people have a positive or negative impact on your spiritual health?

 

Make two separate list and leave room to write Positve Reinforcements or Changes and courses of action you need to take.

 

2. How are the things, people and beliefs in your life affecting the WHOLE Body of Christ?

 

3. Will you be accountable to the WHOLE Body?

 

4. As part of the WHOLE Body of Christ, will you help others to be accountable to Christ and our Heavenly Father?

 

5. Pray for the UNITY of the Body, under the Mind of Christ.

 

My Brothers and Sisters, with love and gratitude for all that you do in His name, I pray His continual blessings upon you.

 

By the Sanctification of the Blood of Jesus, Our Saviour, Who has Justified us that we may continue to bring glory to Jehovah God, I leave these words upon your heart to grow and produce fruit in His Almighty name!

 

Your servant,

Mishael

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

DISCUSS your answers with a mature Believer who can guide you in your spiritual relationship with Jesus and our Father, and/or have group discussions to learn from those who have different experiences and perspectives.

 

QUESTIONS: Write down your questions and discuss them with a mature Believer or submit them to this blog.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

REFERENCED SCRIPTURE

 

 

Acts 8:1-40


[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

 

[2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

 

[3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

 

[4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

 

[5] Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

 

[6] And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

 

[7] For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

 

[8] And there was great joy in that city.

 

[9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

 

[10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

 

[11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

 

[12] But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

 

[13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

 

[14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

 

[15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

 

[16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

 

[17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

 

[18] And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

 

[19] Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

 

[20] But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

 

[21] Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

 

[22] Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

 

[23] For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

 

[24] Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

 

[25] And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

 

[26] And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

 

[27] And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

 

[28] Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

 

[29] Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

 

[30] And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

 

[31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

 

[32] The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

 

[33] In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

 

[34] And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

 

[35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

 

[36] And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

 

[37] And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

 

[38] And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

 

[39] And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

 

[40] But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Published by Mishael T