How a Peruvian Girl Showed Me How Poor I Was.

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I am Journaling Through Revelation Here in Tampa Bay

 

I think I’ve made an interesting observation, at least to me. The church of Smyrna, which receives no rebukes, thinks that it is poor but is told it is rich.

I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! Revelation 2:9 NLT 

Later, Laodicea, the only church that gets nothing but rebukes, thinks that it is rich, but is told it is actually poor!

 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Revelation 3:17 NLT 

Reminds me of my mission trip to Peru about ten years ago. We came from America to help hold meetings in several churches in Chiclayo. Many of the churches had no roofs, and seemed to be made out of tin. We pitied them and gave them our projectors and other equipment they could not afford. We thought they needed what we have. But they had many committed, passionate members. Their lives revolved around God and His church. They even took turns sleeping in the church every night to guard it from thieves. They held meetings in their homes. Whenever they were not at their regular jobs they were out working for the church. We had 1,000 baptisms after our meetings, and while the missionaries from America took all the credit, the real credit belonged to the local Peruvian church members who were studying with people in their homes, and inviting them to church and the meetings.

When we first arrived at our hotel in Peru rather late on a school night, we were greeted by about a hundred Peruvian Pathfinders. I approached one girl, about 14, who understood English. I told her how nice it was for them to welcome us. I tried to give her some money for her group of friends to get some ice cream. Kids in Peru don’t get sweet treats like American kids do every day. She smiled, almost laughing, and told me “no thank you.” They did not need any treats. They were just very excited that we were here in her city to hold meetings, so the people they were working with could get to know Jesus better. He reward would not be ice cream. The reward she was desiring, was to see her friends get baptized in our meetings!

I thought I was a rich man offering a poor girl somethings she needed. But when she smiled and almost laughed at my offering, telling me how excited she was that we were in her city to talk about Jesus, was there was such a beautiful glow in her smile and gleam in her eyes the most skilled cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills could never recreate. I walked away with all my money still in my pocket, not feeling like a rich man anymore. I realized she did not need what I had. I needed what she had!

I am the Rich Person James is Talking About

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. James 5:1-4 NLT

King David heard a story about oppression and became very angry about it, until Nathan told him, “You are that man!” Like King David, I have to admit, for years whenever I read James 5:1-4, I thought I was among the poor that God’s justice would vindicate. I have lost money to dishonest and greedy people. I compared myself to those who had more. Then I realized there are many who consider me rich! With almost 7 billion people on the planet, there are only 1 billion cars.* This does not mean that 1 out of 7 people owns a car, because there are many people and companies who own many cars, meaning there are over 6 billion people who do not own a car. So if you own a car, even if its a 1980 Ford Pinto, you have something over 6 billion earthlings do not have. The other night when you got sick in the middle of the night and had to run to the toilet down the hall, you may not have realized what a luxury that midnight run was. Over two billion people don’t have a toilet to run to in the middle of the night. ** So their experience with sickness may be a little different than yours. The other night I got a headache and my bones became a little achy, so I took a hot bath and presto! Headache disappeared and my bones felt brand new. Again, a hot bath would not be an option for billions of people. What a luxury!

Now when I read James 5, I realize I am one of the rich people James is talking to. But how could I be holding back the wages of the workers in the field? I don’t even own a field. How about the gospel workers in God’s field? Do I return an honest tithe and offering? If not then I am cheating the field workers of their wages just like James says. Do I give an honest tip to the waitress, hairdresser or the boy who carried my grocery bags to the car? If not, I am the cheater James is talking to. I could go on but I think you get the point.

Withholding money which rightfully belongs to others is not the only form of oppression. How about when we snub someone from our social circle because they don’t conform to our beliefs or opinions? That is emotional oppression! How about when we sneer at the kid who just let the ball go in the other goal, costing our kid’s team the game? That’s emotional oppression. So you don’t have to be a millionaire to be oppressive.

No matter what my losses in life have been, I am still the rich person James is warning in James 5.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32 NLT

If I give my bread to someone who never pays me back that is okay. My Father will give me all the bread I need. If I love someone who never loves me back that is okay. My Father gives me all the love I need. Whenever the Bible gives warnings to the rich, I know those warnings are for me personally. Nathan woke David up by saying, “you are that man!” When I read James 5 the Holy Spirit woke me up by saying, “You are that man!”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

*http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/23/car-population_n_934291.html

**http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/impact/water-sanitation-hygiene?gclid=Cj0KEQiAneujBRDcvL6f5uybhdABEiQA_ojMglo4kAT0afufxpjEU4q0va_pKJZXhX7eZB8yElpImHEaAjY78P8HAQ

Rich People Have Needs Too

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A family I am friends with bought a huge home many years ago and their daughter invited her friends over for their first get together at the new home. Unfortunately jealousy set it in with one of the daughter’s friends who made a comment about the home and her thinking she is all that and so rich. The daughter was very hurt because the money her family has had never crossed her mind. Her friend saw the house and only thought about how rich they must be. The family saw the home and only thought, “What a nice place to have all our friends over.” Granted the kitchen pantry was bigger than my whole apartment at the time, but while the daughter’s friend associated the huge house with money, the family only associated it as a place to meet with friends!

The family had money but they needed friends. Money doesn’t buy real friendship. And in this case it was a stumbling block to a real friendship. Not on the part of the family with the big home, but on the part of the friend they invited and reached out to.

I was not born poor but I was not born rich either. Sometimes as a kid when I would see people with nicer things than we had, I would wonder, why couldn’t I have just been born rich? As an adult I read about a very rich American family, who had a daughter, born with a defect that surgery only made worse to where the daughter was totally incapacitated. I then realized while I had asked why I couldn’t have just been born rich, there were rich people asking why they couldn’t have just been born healthy.

Some rich (and poor) people have health issues not all the money in the world can cure. Some even use their wealth to squander their health. They need a health message. Rich people need healing.

Sometimes we forget all the needs of the rich when we drive by their huge mansions or see them drive by in their Lamborghini. We must be careful not to make assumptions that they are even rich. For all we know they are about to lose the mortgage on their mansion and are never going to get out of debt for that Lamborghini.  Are they really better off with all that? A rich man had a Lamborghini. So he has four wheels. My Hyundai has four wheels too. So he has a mansion. He has a place to lay his head. I have a place to lay my head too, and really don’t need 20 more rooms that I am not in.

After all, while I may tempted to think life would be just perfect if I only had what they have, there is someone thinking their life would be just perfect if they only had what I have. I’ve heard it said, the richest man in the world is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.

In Acts 26 we see Paul standing in his prisoner clothes, hands bound, while talking to King Agrippa who was dressed in all his splendor and glory. Paul tells King Agrippa,

“I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”Acts 26:29 NKJV

What Paul was telling Agrippa was, “I don’t need what you have. You need what I have!”

So today there are rich people who need true friendship. Who need true healing, and true forgiveness. We can reach the rich once we realize, we don’t need what they have. The world is after what they have, and God has promised to meet our needs in Christ Jesus and not in the rich people of the world. We will reach the rich once we realize we have what they need- a redeeming Savior!

You can study this week’s SS lesson on reaching the rich here.