A Theology of poverty

Today, I was reading Luke 2:22-40 as part of my daily devotions. Here we read how Mary & Joseph when presenting Jesus in the Temple bring “a pair fo doves or two young pigeons” (v24). Commenting on this verse Thabiti Anyabwile had this to say about our view and thinking on poverty:

“The two turtledoves or the two young pigeons were to be offered if a family could not afford to offer a lamb and a turtledove (v. 24; Lev 12:6-8). In other words, Jesus was born into poverty. What does it mean that the Savior of the World, the Son of God, was born to a poor mother and family? I think it implies at least seven things:

  1. Poverty is not a sin
  2. Poverty does not prevent a person from worshipping God.
  3. Poverty does not prevent a person from worshipping God.
  4. Poverty does not necessarily doom a person to poverty forever.
  5. Poverty does not excuse unrighteousness.
  6. Poverty is not harmful in and of itself.
  7. Poverty is a cross that God entrusts to some people for a time.

If some teacher or preacher tries to convince you that poverty is a sin, that poverty is God’s condemnation of you, that you have to give a certain amount of money to worship God, or that poverty excuses your sin, then do not listen to that teacher. Remember Jesus. Jesus and his family were poor, and none of those things were true of him. Jesus was not in sin. God the Father was well pleased with him.

…If we despise the poor, we show we would have likely despised the boy Jesus himself. Our Lord was poor and has infused righteous poverty with dignity and holiness.

Zacharias … a good model for enduring seasons of affliction

I’m currently reading Luke’s Gospel in my morning devotions. Today I was considering the birth of John the Baptist and in particular the story of Zecharias (John the Baptist’s father). He and his wife Elizabeth had endured many years of affection (in their culture childlessness was seen as a shameful thing). Then the Lord spoke into their pain! Yet Zecharias’ heart was hard, in unbelief, towards the Lord. This led him into a season of isolation (you might prefer the word training like in Hebrews 12). Yet when he came out the otherwise, he was a new man! God had hemmed him in so that he might be transformed at a heart level. How do we know this was a heart transformation? Look what we read in Luke 1:64: “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God”. The heart always ‘leaks’ into the mouth, and Zecharias heart had been transformed was filled with gratitude, love and affection for his God. Listen to what the wonderful J.C. Ryle had to say about Zecharias transformation:

 

“He shews that his nine months’ dumbness had not been inflicted on him in vain. He is no longer faithless, but believing. He now believes every word that Gabriel had spoken to him, and every word of his message shall be obeyed.

Let us take heed that affliction does us good, as it did to Zecharias… “Sanctified afflictions” … are “spiritual promotions.” The sorrow that humbles us, and drives us nearer to God, is a blessing, and a downright gain. No case is more hopeless than that of a man who, in time of affliction turns his back upon God.”

 

Reasons to sing when the wind is howling

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Here in these opening verses of Psalm 95, we come face-to-face with a whole raft of reasons to sing when the wind is howling:

  • V3 – Our God is a great God.
  • V3 – Our God is the King above all gods.
  • V4 – Our God is the creator of everything earthen.
  • V5 – Our God is the creator of everything oceanic.

However, the crescendo of this riff of praise is the best:

  • V7 – Our God is our God!
  • V7 – Our God has made us his people and we live under his good care.

 

Opening our eyes to the real world

Today I’ve been studying Daniel 10. It is an amazing chapter about the intersection of prayer, spiritual conflict and the advancement of God’s plans and purposes.

 

Two quotes that really help us grasp the impact of this chapter:

“If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there–that is where the real conflict is waged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.”

Abraham Kuper (1837-1920), journalist, theologian and prime minister of the Netherlands.

 

“Take the supernatural seriously and realize that we are in a warfare that cannot and should not be domesticated by reinterpreting everything in the biblical worldview so that it fits nicely with secular; naturalistic ways of thinking about the world. Be ready for the extraordinary as well as the ordinary ways that evil spirits work. Don’t be anxious, as though they were stronger than Jesus”

John Piper

What is controlling your meditation

In these unusual times, I thought it would be helpful to quote Paul David Tripp, on the importance of getting control of what you meditate on:

 

“What controls your meditation will control your thoughts about God, yourself, others, your situation, and even the nature of life itself. And as you mediate on what you are suffering, your joy wanes, your hope fades, and God seems increasingly distant. In the meantime, God hasn’t changed, his truth is still true, and what you’re acing hasn’t grown bigger, but it all seems bigger, darker, and more impossible. Your suffering has replaced God and his truth as the lens through which you look at and understand life.”

Suffering, Pg 60