Tag Archives: Will of God

Christian and Money Series- Boundaries & Priorities: Part 9

Introduction

Posts 7 and 8 of the Christians and Money Series discussed the hard factors (tangible) of economic realities, the shared economic baselines, and the 2 impediments of the sacred cows of social giving and inheritance. These tangible factors form the natural application’s structural framework to fulfill the RELATIONSHIPS’ goal of soul salvation mentioned in posts 5 and 6.

Post 9 deals with the soft factors (intangible) of relationship dynamics.
The illustration below shows that how the hard and soft factors form the wealth stewardship ecosystem. God’s alternative and Man’s ways have very different goals and means, although both appear to do “good” on the appearance.

 

 

Wealth Stewardship Ecosystem

 

These soft factors involve

  1. Discover the personal boundaries of oneself and the party in-need.
  2. Develop a hierarchy of priorities that’s clear yet adaptable to serve the goals.
  3. Be flexible with the Wayside ministry to suit various life circumstances. (Elaborated in Post 10).

Christians need the harmonized mindset of wise as serpents and harmless as doves to be effective stewards of God.

Boundaries

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT LOVE FRAMEWORK

Self-Love

Jesus said in Mat7:1-5
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but does not notice the log that is in your own eye?
“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

In Mat7:1-5, Jesus drew attention to the undesirable nature of actions that attempt to change others’ circumstances while one’s affairs are no better or in worse condition.
While this was in-context of judgment, this principle where one settles their affairs before advising or imposing on others is valid in the area of love.

The 1st and 2nd Love Commandments in Mat22 impose an expectation on Man to love God and their neighbor. This outcome motivates Man to set requirements among themselves. The emphasis is to love God and love their kind, which this series of posts have identified as the RELATIONSHIPS issue that is why Man loves money rather than loving God and their kind.
However, this love demand has biased the reading of Mat22:39, which reads as follows: “ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The part glossed over is loving “yourself,” which is self-love. Self-love is settling one’s love affair before loving God and loving others.

 

Jesus recognized Man’s significantly inferior self-love experience and the need to be loved by another before loving others. For this reason, He gave a new commandment in John13:34 where Jesus offered love to humankind as both God and as a man. Jesus showed this love to restore the broken sense of self-love by offering loving acceptance in-place of abandonment. In this way, humanity finds the strength to love themselves, knowing that God as Man loves them to the point of death.

 

It is imperative to anchor in this healthy self-love according to God’s will as a pre-requisite to be free of the enslavement of money, which this post and the past eight posts in this series are attempting to foster.
For a deeper reflection on self-love, the reader can refer to the Self-love Series found in the blog “Relationship” section. I will include the links here once the series is complete.

 

Define Your Boundaries

 

To define one’s boundaries is to gain clarity on what one needs for healthy self-love. One’s boundaries are unique, taking the form of personal and environmental circumstantial factors.

 

Circumstantial Factors – Personal

Personal circumstantial factors are realities that occur leading to birth and early childhood (up to age 6, Berk, 2014). These factors comprise the person’s genetic make-up, temperament, and early childhood attachment. The person has no or very little control over these factors. In scripture language, they are part of the purpose of God. Purpose in the Greek describes the mandatory plan of God.
Circumstantial factors are essential regardless of which wealth stewardship model is adopted. The verse that lends weight to this claim comes from John5:19.

 

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the son also does in like manner.

 

The key phrases that support this observation are bolded. The word “unless” indicates a condition for action. That action “what the father is doing” fulfills the 1st and 2nd Commandment, which embodies God’s purpose and will. Thus the decision to love one’s neighbor and the manner to show this love is contingent on “unless one sees what the Father is doing.”

 

What does it means “unless one sees what the Father is doing?” It is notable that both the “see” and “doing” are verbs in the present tense. In other words, the wisdom concerning current circumstances determines the impetus for action. The following could be one possible framework for this wisdom

 

It raises the need to observe one’s current life circumstances for patterns or trends, especially in the following areas.

    1. Personality and temperament traits. Introvert or extrovert, meek or prideful, sober-minded or given to impulsivity, coping styles.
    2. The following events that shaped one’s life decisions or life trajectory
      • Learning or developmental disabilities
      • Major illness or death of loved ones
      • The quality of early childhood attachment or lack of that thereof.
      • Gifts and skills.

 

Observe for Patterns that Create Arching Themes

 

The pattern emerging over time and space usually forms themes within one’s lot in life. Commonly multiple themes coexist, but they manifest as primary or secondary and manifested or suppressed.

  1. A sad theme.
  2. A happy go lucky theme.
  3. A lonely theme.
  4. A social theme.
  5. A materially poor theme.
  6. A materially rich theme.

Whatever the life circumstances and themes may be, they are what the Father has DONE and STILL doing in each person’s life. To see these patterns and themes in one’s life is necessary before embarking on seeing what the Father is doing in others’ lives.

Patterns and themes form the boundaries of one’s life, and another’s life. Boundaries will feature later as key to be wise when doing good (remember the Christian character’s duality in post 7.

 

Circumstantial Factors – Environmental

Circumstantial environmental factors are events that occur from middle childhood up to the point of death. In these life stages, these events are increasingly within the person’s control. It is subjective to include middle childhood and late adulthood as circumstantial environmental factors. Middle childhood and late adulthood could also be part of the personal circumstantial factors due to the low levels of individual control over their events.

 

Central to what constitutes circumstantial environmental factors is the element of choice and the free will to make those choices. Such factors would fall under the will of God. The Greek meaning of will (Thelema) describes the desirable optional plans of God.

The following are examples of circumstantial environmental factors:

  1. The characteristics of one’s adult family relationships constitute circumstantial environmental factors. These relationships include parents, siblings, spouses, and children.
  2. Other nonfamily relationships that constitute environmental factors are business partners, significant peers.
  3. Major illness or death of loved ones
  4. Educational opportunities.
  5. Loss of employment.

These circumstantial environmental factors contribute to the reshaping of the individual’s circumstantial personal factors.

 

The significant difference between the Recipient’s (person in need of help) and the offeror is the scarcity of available information on the Recipient’s part. It takes time and mutual trust to construct the story of their life circumstances. The Recipient’s life circumstances likewise will produce emerging patterns and themes.

Commonly, such information is obtained indirectly by inferring observed clues and cues over time. Consequently, they are incomplete, an approximation of the facts, and subject to change.

 

The Holy Spirit is the believer’s helper in this instance. The Holy Spirit grants the believer access to God’s mind (1Co2:16). Because the Holy Spirit is the wisdom of God (2Co2:13), She helps Man to search out what God has concealed (Pro25:2). Life is one long continuous unveiling of God’s life parables for each individual. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and what She reveals are indispensable for Man to search out what God has purposed and willed for the Recipient.

Discovering the Recipient boundaries is a time-consuming iterative process, the test of patience that requires perseverance, and most importantly, the wisdom of a serpent and dove to navigate the mutual boundaries.

 

Combining the Personal and Environmental Circumstantial Factors (To be Wise as Serpents)

 

Wise as Serpent

 

How does this testing meld with the boundaries mentioned earlier? In the course of stewardship, one needs to look for alignment between the following.

  1. Understand your boundaries and emerging themes.
  2. Understand your neighbor’s boundaries and emerging themes.
  3. Test God’s will in the various life context presented.
  4. Review the result of the testing.
  5. Observe the kind of patterns emerging from several testings.

This alignment is to explore the following in the course of the Wayside ministry.

  1. Identify areas of harmony and conflict where the boundaries interface and overlap concerning the 1st and 2nd Commandments.
  2. This harmony and conflict management is similar to what God has done concerning balancing His Love and Justice needs (see Post 6).
    1. Does it support loving God?
    2. Does it support loving self?
    3. Does it support loving the neighbor?
  3. In the context of the testing results, observe for patterns; they are God’s hidden message.
  4. Prayerfully; Seek scripture for guidance, seek the rest in your soul to confirm, and seek counsel from like-minded Christians in this order of priority. These 3 seekings support the focus and clarity of realizing God’s will observing how the harmony and conflict of boundaries resonate with God’s hidden message.

 

God and Man are Balancing Love and Justice

 

Ultimately, God’s balances His love and justice and His free will with Man’s free will. He decides the appropriate proportion of love, justice, free will for Himself, for you, and the neighbor in this balance. It is also needful to point out that the balance is not necessarily static with time and is often a moving target. The Wayside Ministry in post 10 will offer examples of how this balance of boundaries may look like in practice in the Boundary Concerns section.

Only God is qualified to oversee this unimaginably complex endeavor that occurs over time and space across countless lives, like interlinked webs, each of which is invaluable to God. Furthermore, God is not operating randomly; His 2 Commandments bind Him, and He has an overarching purpose-goal for His Kingdom and each individual.

 

In summary, the advice by Jesus to be “wise as serpents” and Paul to be “wise in what is good “is a partnership with the Holy Spirit in the process narrated above.

The verse that impresses me the most concerning being harmless as doves come from Phil4:8.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

See the series on self-love for the reflection of this verse. The author’s opinion is that being harmless as a dove is more demanding than being as wise as a serpent. And the most demanding is harmonizing the serpent and dove needs. See the Boundary Concerns in the Wayside Ministry Section for guidelines on harmonizing the serpent and dove needs.

 

Priorities

The recurring theme of this series of posts is RELATIONSHIPS.
RELATIONSHIPS are not only the focus but also the priority of God that drives His purpose and will. God is omnipotent and omniscient, sees the need for focus and priority; He does not spare Man this need. This section explores Man’s priorities in light of the RELATIONSHIPS.

 

 

 

Setting Priorities

This post has adapted (with modifications in non italics) the list of priorities from Elizabeth George’s book, A Woman After God’s Heart. My wife subscribes to this book’s many insights, which has blessed our marriage with harmony and effective partnership. The list shows the priorities in order of importance.

  1. Prioritizing God (1st Commandment and New Commandment) by focusing on internal soul growth (Post 6 shows that soul salvation best represents the 1st Commandment) to form a relational attachment with God. For attachment measures the quality of love with God. See the self-love blog series for the narrative of how self-love contributes to attachment with God.
  2. Prioritizing your soul salvation by prioritizing
    1. Your husband/wife
    2. Your children
    3. Your dependents
    4. Your home
    5. Your Wayside Ministry narrated in post 10 that engages with the various life scenarios.
    6. Prioritizing your other activities, including work, hobbies, socializing.

All the above priorities are expressions of the 1st and 2nd Commandments. God in the New Covenant has the relationship focus. God introduced Himself as Father (Mat5:16 ), Jesus as Elder Brother (Mat28:10), Jesus a friend (John15:15), Jesus as the bridegroom (Mat9:15), and the Church as the bride of Christ (Eph5:25-27). All these relationship facets are to fulfill the 1st and 2nd Commandments of love.

God naturally occupies the 1st spot in the priority list. After that, direct family members, wife, and children come next on this priority list. 1Timothy5:8 condemns family breadwinners who fail to provide for their household as having denied their faith in Christ and behaving worse than a non-believer. This judgment ranks among the most extreme ever passed by apostle Paul. Even the man in Corinthian Church who fornicated with his stepmother in 1Co5 did not receive such an indictment. Apostle Paul’s response in 1Tim5:8 is indicative of the importance God places on the husband in the context of that day, to fulfill his responsibilities to provide food and shelter for their family.

The Wayside Ministry comes at 6th position in the priority list. This list’s exception occurs when one does not marry and dedicate their lives to Christ, such as apostle Paul. In such cases, the simplified priority list looks something like this.

  1. Prioritizing God (1st Commandment).
  2. Prioritizing your wayside ministry.
  3. Prioritizing your home. This priority is about self upkeep, feeding oneself. E.g., Apostle Paul was a tentmaker (Act18:1-4), earning his keep while performing his duties as an apostle.
  4. Prioritizing your other activities.

 

Conclusion

This post has proposed that boundaries and priorities are the ways of the serpent sanctioned by God. They are circuit breakers or checkpoints of sober-mindedness that reminds both Patron and Recipient that it is the best effort and no one is forcing another in this relationship.

Post 10 will expand on how these boundaries and priorities feature in the Wayside Ministry Model.

 

Reference

1. Berk, L. E. (2014). Development through the lifespan (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River :NJ; Pearson Education, Inc.

Wealth Ranking in Heaven (10min read)

Introduction

The “currency of heaven” post established that the soul earns heaven glory currency while suffering according to God’s will is doing good, for righteousness, and Christ’s sake is earned on earth when the soul suffers. Therefore, glory is the measure of wealth in heaven. The Bible established that Jesus has the most glory among the sons of God.

The link for the currency of heaven post-

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/31/currency-of-heaven-10min-read/

This reflection explores scriptures to approximate a wealth ranking among God’s sons in heaven and its significance to the personal glory production on earth.

The following visual illustration recaps the mentioned two posts and two other posts https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/once-saved-always-saved-10min-read/ and https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/faith-and-work-in-harmony-4min-read/.

 

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit Engaging Spirit, Soul and Body of Man

 

The tree represents the believer’s body on earth. The part of the tree above the ground represents the body of a man. The soul’s roots, like the body, spans both domains, Domain of the Law of Sin and Death (DOSD) and Domain of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus (DOL). The salvation of the born again spirit is secure in Christ is grounded in Abba God’s love to save man through Christ (John3:16) is in the DOL.

It is noteworthy that both Domains exist as part of the will of God.

The soul that sins shall die dwells in the DOSD operates from the old covenant (Eze18:20). The born again spirit anchors the soul that sins in the DOL. Therefore the soul that sins does not need to die based on the new covenant. Refer to the post “Once Saved Always Saved” for scriptural evidence of this claim.

The soul’s salvation is proportional to the degree to which the soul’s roots can bind themselves into the ground of Abba God’s love shown through Christ. In human experience terms, this binding is called attachment experience.

This attachment with God is similar to the attachment man develops at birth with their early childhood caregiver. First, the natural, then the spiritual (1Co15:46). Man’s failure to understand their human attachment experiences poses challenges to form an attachment with God. This failure hampers the necessary foundation for the attachment with God, which is spiritual.

The tree is exposed to the lot of life presented as a fire below the tree. This fire’s size and intensity vary according to God’s will and the person’s response to God’s will. Some fires of the lot of life are candlelight fire, and they are towering infernos for others. Regardless, the leaves of the body in the DOL catches fire when the body and soul suffer for Christ’s sake and righteousness sakes due to the fires.

The lot of life affects the tree in the DOSD. But the tree does not catch fire in this part of the domain due to the tree’s death state. The lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and pride of life enslaves the tree that’s in DOSD. Glory production does not exist in this domain.

This suffering in the DOL produces the fruit of the spirit and eternal weight of glory, heaven’s currency, and tests the attachment with God.

 

Does the Bible offer clues who have more significant potential to earn glory currency on earth and who are at greater risk to make less glory currency on earth?

The answers to these two questions will be the backbone of the wealth ranking framework.

The Bible has identified specific groups of people that possess characteristics that support and challenge the production of glory.

People who have more significant opportunities for suffering support glory production are as follow-

  1. The fivefold ministry. (Eph4:11)
  2. The martyrs that died for Christ’s sake.
  3. The socially marginalized, such as widows, orphans, aliens (without rights of citizenship), and the poor (James2:5, Mat5:3, Luke16:25). In current vernacular, the special needs, the disabled, and the mentally challenged.
  4. The meek (Mat5:5) and sincere, appearing to be naïve pure children (Mat5:8, 18:4, 10, Mark10:15,) to the world, often taken advantage of and discriminated.
  5. The righteous, averse to dishonest gain. (Pet3:14)

 

People are challenged in glory production when they have received their reward from man and experience lesser opportunities for suffering (Mat6:4). Such people emerge from the following groups-

  1. The rich and powerful (Mat19:23, Mat6:24, Luke12:16-21) who
  2. Boast about the future without acknowledging God, which God deems as arrogance and evil (Jam4:16).
  3. Oppress the poor while living in-luxury themselves (Jam5:1, 4-5).
  4. Those who purpose to live life for themselves are unwilling to share with their fellow men in need, particularly the socially marginalized. (Mat25:35-40).

 

Based on the above groups of people identified, the wealth rankings take shape as follows.

 

 

 

The rankings involve believers making it to heaven, as the spirit is born again when one confesses, according to Rom10:9. In this way, some are poor in glory in heaven, while others are wealthier in glory.

The glory that the soul produces is only tangible eternal possession that man can truly claim as their own. Love, faith, and hope, the greatest of the 3, is love because love remains relevant in heaven for three reasons.

The first, God is love (1John4:7). The second reason, Jesus eternally bears the marks on His body paid out of love for us at the cross (John20:27). The third reason is related to glory. The glory each believer has produced is evidence of their genuine (tested by the fires in 1Pet1:7) love for God, expressed as sincere brotherly love for one another.

What is hoped and believed are manifested tangibly in heaven. There is no more need for this hope and faith in the unseen and promised.

The above ranking is to create awareness of this potential scenario in heaven. This awareness seeks to support identifying the real treasure, which is their glory earning potential on earth.

 

Do Not be Deceived

A caveat, this is not a get glory rich quick scheme. If one believes he can game God’s glory system, that person’s pipe dream is laughable. God foolishness is the wisdom of man (1Co1:25). God has in-place fail-safe controls to prevent such outcomes. They are

  1. God determines each person’s lot of life, which is the foundation for earning glory points. E.g., if God calls one to the fivefold ministry, God will supply the life situations to produce glory.

 

If one by the flesh (self-effort) seeks the fivefold ministry without God’s call to gain glory points, that is operating in the domain of the Law of Sin and Death. By default, glory production does not occur in that domain, and that person reaps the penalties that lead to death.

 

  1. God looks at the heart and not only at the action of the person. The heart motivation that underpins the action needs to be genuine faith in trusting God (1Pet1:7) and sincere love (1Pet1:22) that’s practical (James2) for people.

Hypocrisy and hidden agendas frustrate the glory production.

 

Avoid the Pitfalls

This reflection will explore the two groups of people to help them realize their glory production.

  1. The rich shall have the attitude to glory in their humiliation, realizing their wealth is vanity and vapor (Jam1:10).

Therefore the rich are to abstain from

    1. Boasting about the future as if one is God (Jam4:16)
    2. Oppressing others by corrupt ways for financial gain (Jam5:2)
    3. Hoarding wealth (Luke12:21) and trust in uncertain riches (1Tim6:17)
    4. Showing partiality by oppressing the socially marginalized (Jam2:9)

Therefore the rich are encouraged to be rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share. (1Tim6:18).

  1. The socially marginalized are encouraged to rejoice in their lot of life, for from it, God supplies the opportunity for glory production. (Jam1:9).

Both the rich and the socially marginalized are to adopt the prayer Apostle Paul made in Phil4:6 and 1The5:17-18.

Phil4:6 – “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”

1The5:17-18 “Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Giving thanks in prayer and daily speech for everything that God has presented as one’s lot in life is the hallmark that God is looking for as evidence of this genuine faith that one professes to possess.

Wealth Ranking in Heaven (4min read)

Introduction

This post is the 4min version of Wealth Ranking in Heaven. Scripture citation is incomplete here. For a more in-depth review, please refer to the 10 min read post with the same title.

This reflection is a follow-up riding on the momentum of the post –https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/31/currency-of-heaven-3min-read/ where that post established that glory is the measure of wealth in heaven.

This reflection will explore from scriptures to approximate a wealth ranking among God’s sons in heaven and its significance to the personal glory production on earth.

 

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit Engaging Spirit, Soul and Body of Man

 

The tree is exposed to the lot of life presented as a fire below the tree. This fire’s size and intensity vary according to God’s will and the person’s response to God’s will. Some fires of the lot of life are candlelight fire, and they are towering infernos for others. Regardless, the leaves of the body in the DOL catches fire when the body and soul suffer for Christ’s sake and righteousness sakes due to the fires.

This suffering in the DOL produces the fruit of the spirit and eternal weight of glory, heaven’s currency, and tests the attachment with God.

 

 Does the Bible offer clues who have more significant potential to earn glory currency on earth and who are at greater risk to make less glory currency on earth?

The answers to these two questions will be the backbone of the wealth ranking framework.

The Bible has identified certain two groups of people that possess characteristics that support and challenge the production of glory. The first group has more significant opportunities for suffering support glory production, such as the fivefold ministry, the socially marginalized, etc.

People are challenged in glory production when they have received their reward from man and experience lesser opportunities for suffering, such as the rich and powerful (Mat19:23, Mat6:24, Luke12:16-21) and the self-seeking (Mat25:35-40).

Based on the above groups of people identified, the wealth rankings take shape as follows.

 

The above ranking is to create awareness of this potential scenario in heaven. This awareness seeks to support identifying the real treasure, which is their glory earning potential on earth.

 

 Do Not be Deceived- Avoid the Pitfalls

A caveat, this is not a get glory rich quick scheme. God has in-place fail-safe controls to prevent such outcomes. See the 10min version for these controls.

This reflection explores the two groups of people to help them realize their glory production.

  1. The rich shall have the attitude to glory in their humiliation, realizing their wealth is vanity and vapor (Jam1:10) and abstain from boasting, oppressing others, hoarding wealth, and showing partiality oppressing the socially marginalized.
  2. The socially marginalized are encouraged to rejoice in their lot of life, for from it, God supplies the opportunity for glory production. (Jam1:9).

Giving thanks in prayer and daily speech for everything that God has presented as one’s lot in life is the hallmark that God is looking for as evidence of this genuine faith that one professes to possess. (1The5:17-18)

Purpose of Prayer (3 min read)

Introduction

 

Prayer is the means one commune with God. Robert Deffinbaugh, who authored the in-depth study of the Book of Luke (1996) (see web-link- https://bible.org/series/luke-gospel-gentiles), observed the following regarding prayer and the Lord Jesus in his narrative in Chapter 22 of Luke.

“Thus, Jesus was praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him at the outset of His public ministry (Luke 3:21). Jesus was in prayer when He was transfigured before the three disciples (Luke 9:29). Jesus is likewise in prayer here in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

Prayer marked the critical events of Jesus’ life. Likewise, those who call upon Him as Lord and Saviour, who is not greater than our master (John13:16), need prayer to mark the critical events of their life.

 

Prayer marks the key events of life, illuminating them with the light of faith in God.

 

What is the purpose of prayer?

 

It is to commune with God. But is the purpose for the sake of communication only? Prayer is a means for the person to communicate their needs and wants to God. Prayer is not an end (purpose) unto itself. It seems superficial to claim that the purpose of prayer is to tell God want we need or want.

The following scriptures offer the basis to answer the first question, what is the purpose of prayer?

 

    1. The Lord’s prayer as narrated in Mat6:9-13and Luke11:2-13

 

      2. The three accounts of Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46, and Mark 14:32-42 of the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

 

The summary below shows the purpose of prayer, drawing from the above scriptures.

  1. Prayer takes place as a personal relationship between God as Father and the believer.
  2. This personal relationship is one that acknowledges God’s sovereignty, in tandem with the Father relationship, by praying in private from the soul and in a submissive posture.
  3. Prayer is for the person to convey their needs, desires, and emotions.
  4. Notwithstanding these needs, desires, and emotions, prayer helps the person resist the temptation to pursue those needs, wants, and feelings that fall outside of God’s will.
  5. Reliance on man and man’s pride has no place in the prayer.
  6. Prayer strengthens the person’s conviction to do God’s will.