How to Use Religion to Get Rich

Religion does make a person very rich, if he is satisfied with what he has. (1 Tim 6:6 GNB)

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We can talk eloquently about contentment, but at the end of the day, we want more. I like the expression in the Good News Bible: “Well, religion does make a person very rich, if he is satisfied with what he has” (1 Tim 6:6 GNB).

Handling the lack of contentment is one of the greatest challenges of life. Paul gives three pointers for learning contentment: a reasoning, basic requirements, and a warning.

The reasoning for contentment is that “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we carry nothing out” (1 Tim 6:7 NKJV). At the end of our lives, when our net worth is calculated, money will not be a criteria.

The basic requirements for us in this life is to have food and clothing. When we learn to be content with those basic requirements, we can say that one is truly wealthy.

Paul also gives a clear warning to those who desire to be rich. Such a desire simply lures a person into numerous traps that ensnare and ultimately destroy the person.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment will completely change you. You will never be the same. It will be great gain, you will be wealthy.

Who are the truly rich people? The godly ones who are satisfied with what they have. So religion is a great way to become wealthy – for those who are satisfied with what they have.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Rebuke Without Rebuking

Correction and rebuke can be quite a difficult task for leaders. It’s often like walking on eggshells. We don’t like to do it, but it is one of those unavoidable things we must do. But unfortunately, many leaders completely avoid this part of their leadership for fear of conflict and opposition. 

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But how can we handle it without hurting feelings and without broken relationships? This is a difficult task, but that’s why we are here as leaders. This difficult and important task has been assigned to us.

When Paul gave some leadership advice to Timothy, these were his words: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, all in purity” (1 Tim 5:1-2 ESV).

Two aspects are evident here; encouragement and relationships. Paul wanted Timothy to prefer encouragement over rebuke, and relationships over hierarchy.

When we lead or bring correction based on our emotional response, we tend to “rebuke” the persons involved. But if we can deal with the individuals based on relationships, we can use encouraging words.

If we see our task from a hierarchical perspective, we may end up with increased conflict. But if we deal within a relational context, the results are amazing.

Paul was giving some important advice to Timothy, a young leader in the church. He instructed Timothy to treat older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters. Paul intended a relational approach to discipline and leadership.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Do the Talk and Talk The Doing

It is not easy to measure integrity. But I believe Paul’s words to Timothy give us a clue to measure our own integrity. “Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching . . . “ (2 Tim 4:16 NLT).

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Maybe we can use it like a thermostat for ourselves. These two aspects can be viewed as two parts of the same entity.

First, we need integrity in our actions. How we live must match our words. Of course, this assumes that we speak according to our values.

If we live according to our words, and our words are in line with our values, then our life will be in line with our values.

Second, we need integrity in our words. Many thoughts may come to our mind. We will hear a variety of ideas from different people we value. But what is consistent with our values? What is in line with the scriptures?

Popular opinion may not be in line with your values. The “gatekeepers” may have thoughts that are different from your values. Stay with what you value regardless of the cost. Acceptance and popularity are illusions fabricated to satisfy the needs of our insecurity.

We need a life of integrity backed up with words consistent with our values.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Permanently Broken

What if things don’t get better? What if the pain, sickness, and brokenness you face is permanent? Hope is good, but what if the hope you have just doesn’t pan out?

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It is good to encourage people to hold on in the midst of their struggles. Continue to be faithful in what you do in spite of the difficult circumstances you are in. Our hope is that one day, things will turn around for the good.

For some people, the only healing they’ll receive for their bodies is at the time of resurrection. Resurrected bodies will be free of sickness and pain.

Whatever struggles you face, there is a longing to be free from that pain. There is always that thought that maybe one day, the agony will go away. So we continue to pray for healing, and ultimately desire wholeness in every area of our lives.

Yet throughout the Bible, there are people who went through life never having received what they longed for. Abraham never reached his “destination” during his life. Moses missed the promised land. Although Job got back more than what he lost, his children were no more.

What if our pain is permanent? What if your loss is never to be recovered? I remember the words of Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”

Maybe it’s the end of your hope. Some things may never change. Maybe it’s the end of your life as you had wished it to be, with all its success and grandeur.

Jesus asked the Father to take away the “cup” of torture and agonizing death, but he submitted himself to the Father’s will. Although the pain was too much to bear, he loved his Father more than his desire to be free. And of course, He loved us too much to give up.

I am learning a new lesson. It’s an old one, and I’ve known it all along, but it is finally getting into my heart. This life is temporary. This is just “practice” for eternity with God. The fullness and true reality will come then. Today is the day to learn to be in relationship with God and to trust Jesus.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Everyone Gets to Play, But . . .

We consider it an important value that everyone gets to play, but leadership is limited. They need to be tested first. Active involvement is open to all of God’s children. We are not to limit anyone because of their situation in life.

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Once people are involved, they need to prove themselves faithful. When tasks are assigned, we observe their commitment to the task. Are they faithful? Are they committed?

Paul clearly expressed this important principle to Timothy. “And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless” (1 Tim 3:10).

Salvation is open to all people as God wants a personal relationship with everyone. Ministry involvement is open to all of God’s children without putting any limitations on people. But Leadership in the church is limited only to those who have proven themselves faithful to the tasks assigned to them. Likewise, they need to be people of character in their personal lives, family, and in society.

People’s reputation in the society is vital as the community sees the church through the people of the church, especially its leaders. So everyone gets to play, but church leadership is limited to the faithful.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Pray for Peace, Pray for Leaders

Leaders are the key to have a peaceful and dignified society. As the leaders are, so are the rest of the people.

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In every society, leaders are criticized and stereotyped as corrupt and power-hungry. In 1 Timothy 2:1-7, we are encouraged to pray for the leaders of our society.

Everyone desires a peaceful and dignified life. Paul says the way to get there is through prayer. When we pray for our leaders, God is pleased with our prayers.

But the ultimate key to that prayer is that our leaders may come to know Jesus. This is because Jesus is the one mediator between the true God and people.

When leaders have a genuine relationship with Jesus, the society can enjoy peace and live a dignified life. These qualities come as a result of having leaders who are committed to Christ and committed to governing with biblical values.

So, what about our complaints regarding the nation? Yes, they may be valid and accurate, but the instruction for us is to pray. Our prayers will transform them, and transformed leaders will transform our society.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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One Look is All it Took

I didn’t do anything special. I simply looked His way. One look was all it took, and He was so gracious to me and filled me with faith and poured out his love to me.

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This is clearly unique to the Christian faith, that our faith is based on God’s grace to us. It wasn’t a great set of sacrificial deeds on our part, but entirely on the grace of God.

The thief of the cross simply looked at Jesus and said “remember me.” Those words of desire was sufficient to Jesus for him to be accepted into his kingdom. Jesus clearly taught through parables that this acceptance was entirely God’s prerogative, and not based on our works or abilities.

As if that was not enough, he filled us with faith and love. Because of our sinful and broken condition, we don’t even have the ability to have faith in Him. He graciously provides that too, the faith to keep believing and trusting in Him.

Then, to top all of that of, he gives us his love. Of course, it was love that prompted the Father to send His Son to die for us in the first place. But now, he fills us with that kind of love. His kind.

So just as we did in the beginning, let’s keep looking in his direction…

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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How to Know if You Will Endure

    For a long time now, I have been on a quest to “move” people. The aim has been to move people towards God, and towards a better life.

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    Normally this should be an easy task. Who wouldn’t want a better life and a better future? Unfortunately, many are not able to stay focused on a life set in that direction. People want the end result, but they waver in their commitment and focus.

    Paul the apostle wanted people in the Thessalonian church to remain faithful to the call of God on their lives. Here is what he said to them: “And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness [patient endurance – NLT] of Christ” (2 Thes 3:4,5 ESV).

    Since Jesus patiently endured so many things in his life, we know that we can too. We are being formed into the likeness of Jesus. That is why Paul’s confidence was “in the Lord,” about them. He had confidence that they would endure, because of Jesus.

    So, will you make it in the Christian walk? Will you be fruitful? Paul would be confident in Christ about you — that you will endure.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Overcoming Fear When Praying for Healing

When we see people suffering due to sickness or other reasons, it’s good to remember how Jesus was moved with compassion. But as much as we think on those positive examples in Jesus’ life, we tend to struggle with fear. Although we’ve seen God’s work of healing in us and through us, fear is a great hindrance for us to pray for others.

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There are several fears that people most commonly struggle with. Here some ways to handle those fears.

Fear of Failure

One of the greatest fears is that of failure. What if the person is not healed as a result of my prayer? What if, after all my efforts and focus, the person remains the same? Am I simply setting myself up for failure?

It seems this fear is present every time I’ve prayed for a sick person. If the person is not healed, I remember the words of Jesus in John 5, that the Father is always doing His work, and that Jesus is also working. I clearly understand that God the Father is working in this person’s life at this very moment.

If the healing is not done, I believe that God has begun His work on this person’s mind, heart, and body. The work needs to continue and requires more time. I don’t have a clear idea of the time, but that is in God’s hands. Some are healed immediately, others take time, even days or months to heal. Even others may need to wait till the resurrection when they are given a new, glorified body.

Fear of Disappointing the Sick Person

Sometimes I worry about the emotional and mental condition of the sick person. The person is already distressed due to their agony. Maybe for years they have experienced the physical and emotional struggle of their illness. If my prayer does not result in their healing, will that become an additional disappointment for them?

The concern is genuine, and certainly for the benefit of the person who is sick. The common tendency for me is to not promise them much, so that if they are not healed, they won’t feel so bad. But I’ve noticed that by doing that, I reduce the level of their faith. Instead, I want to encourage them to focus on Jesus and what He can and wants to do in their bodies. This increases expectation and faith in Jesus’ healing power.

If they are not healed, I give them encouragement to continue to seek healing through prayer. I don’t ask them to stop taking the medications. That decision should be in consultation with their doctor.

Fear of the Opinion of Onlookers

When praying for the sick, others in the room can be a great asset, or they can become the greatest hinderance as well. We need to know the difference and know the people in the room.

Jesus felt the need to put some people out of the room before he healed some people. But during other times, he healed people while many onlookers were present. Their opinions or their level of faith may be quite different, but that did not deter Jesus and the work he was doing.

Doubters in the room can influence the person receiving healing and can certainly have a negative effect. I was in a hospital ward where a patient’s family and friends were present when I asked the person if they would like prayer. The person answered with a resounding “yes” with a desire to be healed. But the others were hostile and said that sufficient medication is being given under the doctor’s care. They objected to my offer for prayer. I walked away from that bed without praying. I felt at that moment that even if I was allowed to pray, the healing may not have occurred.

When the room is full of people who believe that healing can occur, and the person being prayed for has faith, the chances are greater. But I have experienced such a variety of situations, and each has been different. One thing that has been most common is that when the person being prayed for is urgently in need of healing with a great desire to be healed, I am almost certain that the person will receive healing.

Fear of Satan/Demons

When praying for healing, am I stepping into the territory of the demonic? Some are clearly afraid of praying for healing for fear of a demonic backlash. In our country, this type of fear is common. Here, the demonic/spiritual realm is quite overt, and commonly accepted by the general public.

Even in Christian communities, this fear is common and can have a detrimental effect on the healing process. Many will not pray or will pray with fear and not faith. Either way, fear wins.

As children of the Kingdom, we can be bold in praying for healing. Will there be trouble for us? There certainly can be an attempted “backlash” from the opposing forces in the spiritual realm, but I believe we don’t need to dwell in fear. There is victory for us in Jesus’ name.

Your Turn

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  • Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

My Books:

Struggling to Live or Living Gloriously

In the midst of all we face in life, we are in a great struggle just to make it from one day to the next. But I keep bumping into verses of Scripture that tell me that we are to live with another perspective.

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When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he told them they were called to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Glory? But that word seems to imply great honor, praise, value, and other amazing things.

So God is calling me to something great, but I am stuck here with my limitations. What are we to do to move in the direction God has for us?

We clearly know that Jesus experienced all the struggles of life that are common to us. But he lived with a higher purpose and perspective. While people all around him struggled with living their daily lives, Jesus focused on how he could please his Father in heaven. He wanted to do the works of his Father and speak the words of the one who sent him.

He lived a life of glory and a life of greatness because he lived with a purpose that was greater than a common purpose. It was a glorious life lived among common people, but in an uncommon way.

What is God’s higher purpose for your life? What will it take to move you toward greatness? Get ready to switch over to a life of glory that Jesus has for you.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

My Books: