Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Our Own

- All the believers (around 8,000...see Acts 2:41 and Acts 4:4) were one in heart and mind (soul). Wow wow wow! Imagine how different this world would be if this were still true today! They agreed in doctrine & devotion, cooperated and shared selflessly, genuinely loved and cared for one another, and gave generously to anyone who had need. What a beautiful, remarkable picture of true unity among the Body of Christ! Oneness in Christ. 

- "No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had."--They chose to relinquish their rights to their material possessions for the benefit of the community. Agape in action. Selflessness was demonstrated. This is a clear evidence of their unity (truly amazing that there's no dispute over the decision) and the Holy Spirit's work in them (to pull this off perfectly was definitely supernatural). They were not under obligation; they shared everything voluntarily out of their mutual love. They realized that everything (not just 10%) belongs to the Lord. "The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." (Psalm 24:1) None of our possessions are absolutely our own. We're stewards of God's resources. We should focus on investing in eternity (laying up our incorruptible treasures in Heaven).

- This system of community living and sharing everything in common does not work for long or in a larger scale because of people's selfishness and sinfulness. It's ideal but not practical. However, I believe that it's mentioned here as principles to teach us to deny self, love one another sacrificially & selflessly, be kind & compassionate, live simply & give generously, put others' needs above our own, use God-given treasures for His glory and for His kingdom, be willing to surrender all and submit to the will of God. This is also a good example for how churches should distribute their funds. The distribution was determined by the need of the recipients so that there were no needy persons among them (Acts 4:34-35). 
We ought to live lives of "New Testament" simplicity, not in luxury and self indulgence. There is a significant mismanagement of God’s money among His Church (the body of Christ) in affluent countries. The Church should not be spending billions of dollars on church buildings, church salaries, and unnecessary/extravagant personal items/hobbies/property. (Certainly, the worker deserves his wages, but his work must be in accordance with the Father’s will. The Church is not a business.) These resources should be spent on reaching the millions of people who have never heard of the Gospel even once, and on providing them with the Word of God in their own language. Sadly, we are spending the majority of our resources on the areas of the world where Christ has already been preached. "More than 95 percent of the total church budget in the United States is spent at home to maintain programs rather than to reach out in mission. Of the five percent that goes overseas to mission, less than half of one percent is used to reach the lost." (K.P. Yohannan, The Road to Reality, p. 118) We should also generously give food, clothing, shelter, and medical supplies where possible to the neediest from among mankind. We need to give to those who could not otherwise receive the basic needs of life from anyone else. Many of us are so comfortable and wealthy compared to these needy ones. If we live simply and pool our resources together, by God’s grace there will be enough for everyone throughout the world who is in need (remember the five loaves and two fish)...enough to eliminate poverty. 

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:33, 34)

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

- Prayer: Father, thank You for all Your blessings...for Your faithful provision! Please help me be a blessing to others and be a good steward of what You have entrusted me with. 
Please guide me and show me how to use my time, talents, and treasures according to Your will and purposes. Unite us, Your children and fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we may love and serve one another like Jesus and that the world will be drawn to You. May brothers and sisters in Christ join together in giving to those in need and to reach the lost across the world as You direct! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

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