One of my Old Testament instructors said, “I have as much or more training than a lawyer, I deserve to get a salary equal to my education.”  My first church offered us a yearly salary of 6,402 dollars.  While it was a few dollars short of most pastor’s requirement, we lived in a 100-year-old parsonage, lived below poverty and loved it.   We probably had the smallest salary to go with the smallest church in the Midwest District.   But that didn’t matter.

Unlike the Old Testament which taught an upward mobility attached to the land of promise, the New Testament teaches “down ward mobility.”  

The apostle Paul famously said, “I am crucified with Christnevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lived in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith.”     John the Baptist’s life verse, “I must decrease so that He might increase.”   Jesus asks us to leave family and friends and cleave unto Him.  We suffer (God crucifies our ego) so that we might live.  Lucifer’s fall from grace fills up only a few pages of Scripture (God’s church might give him too much credit).   Isaiah reports his fall from grace with a series of “I’s”

  1. I will ascend into heaven,
  2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
  3. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation…On the farthest sides of the north;
  4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
  5. I will be like the Most High.’

 Isaiah was the first to say, “There is no “I” in team work.”   

In contrast to Lucifer, the Son of God, in obedience to the Father’s will, left heaven’s court to become our Savior.   In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, John records Jesus’ conversation with the Father.   It contains at least 25 “I” statements:

  1.  “I revealed your name* to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me
  2. I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that
  3. I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
  4. I pray for them.
  5. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and
  6. I have been glorified in them. And now
  7. I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while.
  8. I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When
  9. I was with them
  10. I protected them in your name that you gave me, and
  11. I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now
  12. I am coming to you.
  13. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.
  14. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because
  15. they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
  16.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so
  17. I sent them into the world. And
  18. I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
  19. “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.  And
  20. I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,
  21. I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.  Father, they are your gift to me.
  22. I wish that where I am* they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but
  23. I know you, and they know that you sent me.
  24. I made known to them your name and
  25. I will make it known,* that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”


Jesus promised us a return on our service of 100 fold.  If we gave up a lot like the apostles, expect the moon for your reward.   Jesus tells us, “It not a matter how long you were a Christian, it’s a matter of God’s generosity that anyone of us cross over into heaven.”  Then Jesus adds, “The last shall be first and the first last.”    The MEANING behind this phrase is simple.      I come to Christ at 46.  The next day I take a stand for Christ but my Muslim neighbor turns me in and the authorities chop my head off.  That person’s reward will be greater than a pastor who lived for himself and neglected his congregation.

“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. However, the less you have the freer you are.

“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. However, the less you have the freer you are.  Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. However, we are perfectly happy.  Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”           Mother Teresa

The early church referred to itself as “The Living.” 

The early Church referred to itself as the living.  People viewed their lives like Christ’s; it was a gift to be given back to God and offered to the world.   When someone asked you what you did for a living, your answer was, “Christ.”

Jesus, the Living One continues to speak to us saying, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven.  Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”   Why would anyone KEEP their possessions and REFUSE a life with Christ in His kingdom?

When Christians live as though this is all there is, it is a major scandal.  When the prince of this world writes us a blank check, we refuse to cash it because we are not like the king of Tyre or the rich young ruler.  When the angel of light says to us, “Children of God are never hungry, sick, or weak” remind him of what God really says: “Blessed are the poor, blessed are the hungry and those who suffer.”

Comparatively, we are rich but as Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”     The greater the obedience, the greater the reward.

If you rank the lowest paying jobs in America, there are plenty to choose from.  Fast food, cashiers, retail workers, or home health aides all pay less than 10 dollars per hour.

The lowest paying job in the Gospel was an apostle.

The lowest paying job in the Gospel was an apostle.  Why didn’t God make the apostles as rich as Abraham?  One reason might be that Pharisees loved money.  You can tell how much Pharisee is in your heart by the extant of your attraction of stuff.   Jesus’ does not want us weighed down by stuff.     Jesus’ command to take only the bare minimum reminds me of God telling Noah to build the ark.  I cannot imagine Noah was too concerned about remolding his condominium with the world about to implode.   Similarly, the apostles are building the ark of God’s new temple.

Apostles are conquering heroes. 

Apostles are our conquering heroes.  They deserve the biggest welcome met you can afford.  Think of what they bring to your community.    Healing, forgiveness of sins and freedom.

You can’t buy these things.   Yet the Pharisee within me wants to keep these gifts locked up in the 1st century. Most people in our world are starving for the kingdom of God.  People like our Old Testament man, Agur (cf. Proverbs 30:5-9) who searching in all the wrong places.  Agur was from Arabia who was part skeptic-part prophetic searching for truth.   He is on a journey and about ready to give up.  Listen to his words:  “I am weary, O God. I am weary, O God …  I do not have … I have not learned … I do not have…  I do not know,” (Proverbs 30)  Even though Agur is ready to throw in the towel, he can spot truth and possesses profound wisdom    Agur is a believer but not yet.  He is kind of like the kingdom of God.   He is but not yet a follower of God.

Picture your heart as a continent with vast lands yet to settle.    That is how God views our lives.  To be a saint means God rules every continent in our hearts.

Author: gbradepp

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