Luke 6:20-26 -

              And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God

              Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now; for ye shall laugh.

              Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

              Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers
            unto the prophets.

              BUT WOE UNTO YOU THAT ARE RICH. For ye have received your consolation.

              Woe unto you that are full. For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now. For ye shall mourn and weep.

              Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you. For so did their fathers to the false prophets

      Matthew 5:2-6 -

              And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

              Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

              Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.

              Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.

              Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.

      I Corinthians 4:ll-l3, 2 Corinthians ll:24-25 -

              Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;

              And labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure it;

              Being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day...

              Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes, save one.

              Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.


      The way of the Cross is not a pleasant way. Unfortunately, many in the church do not understand what Christianity is all about. They "name it and claim it", they exhibit "seed faith", they harass the poor, they tell people they will go to hell if they don't pay their tithe, they accuse those who would disagree with them of being "demon-possessed". There are two ways that you can live if you wish to live according to The Book: poor or poor in spirit. The ideal way to live is poor, the practical way to live is poor in spirit. For those who live poor, " shall hate you, and shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil..." For those who live poor in spirit, " shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely..." Living poor means POOR. Living poor in spirit means, have money but don't show it. Meaning, someone could have a million dollars in the bank, but still live modestly - living in a simple home and driving an older vehicle. We need to prosper as Paul prospered: stoned, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked. We need to prosper as John prospered: sitting in exile on the Isle of Patmos. If we could only understand these great principles of prosperity and apply them to our lives.  Job 20:l5 -

              He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again. God shall cast them out of his belly.

      Proverbs ll:4 -

              Riches profit not in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivereth from death.

      Ecclesiastes 5:l0 -

              He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance, with increase; this is also vanity.

      Luke l2:22-30 -

              Then Jesus said to his disciples: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.

              Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

              Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds.

              Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

              Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

              Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

              If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith.

              And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.

              For all these things do the nations of the world seek after; and your Father knows that you have need of these things.

      I Timothy 6:9 -

              People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

What much of the church feels is right, and what is right, are two separate things. To live poor in spirit is to live the "cottage below"/"mansion over the hilltop" concept. That is to enjoy the cottage life, while looking forward to mansion life in eternity. This is not really an option.

      Christianity is a "do-without" religion. You suffer now, you reign later. Various scriptures bring this out.  Luke l2:l6-2l -

              And he spoke a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully.

              And he thought within himself, saying What shall I do, because I have no place to bestow my crops?

              And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my crops and my goods.

              And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou has much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease. Eat, drink and be merry (for tomorrow we are raptured).

              But GOD said unto him, You stupid idiot (paraphrase), this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which you have provided?

              So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

It is made abundantly clear that Christian people are not to "chase the $buck$" in any way, any shape, or any form.  Matthew l9:l6-22 -

              And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

              And he said unto him, Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is, God; But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

              He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

              Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

              The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up. What lack I yet?

              Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.

              But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

Here our Lord is castrating a well-to-do, "religious" businessperson.

      Revelation 3:l4-l5,l7 -

              And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.

              I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would you were cold or hot...

              Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Here Jesus Christ is speaking to the modern American church. A church that just needs to change its ways.

              Then said Christian, even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, as it is, how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking horse to get and enjoy the world (Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan).

A "stalking horse" is something (i.e. religion) used to cover up a secret project. It is unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, i.e., get involved in Christianity to "prosper".

      These prosperity nuts in the church world stand on the scripture, III John 2 -

              Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

However, they miss III John 4 -

              I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

      The American Christian church thinks they have it all together - buildings and programs, prosperity and health. Yet the American Christian church at the start of the 2lst century has fallen into the classic trap - the thornbush. Mark 4:l9 -

              And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

      There is another side that no one in America likes to talk about. Acts l5:l9-2l -

              And so my judgment is that we should not insist that the Gentiles who turn to God must obey our Jewish laws, except that we should write to them to refrain from eating meat sacrificed to idols, from all fornication (i.e. pre-marital sex), and also from eating unbled meat of strangled animals. For these things have been preached against in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.

Even in Jewish synagogues in, 63 A.D., pre-marital sex was condemned. I Corinthians 6:l8, Colossians 3:5, Jude 7 -

              That is why I say to run from sex sin. No other sin affects the body as this one does. When you sin this sin it is against your own body. Away then with sinful earthly things; deaden the evil desires lurking within you, have nothing to do with sexual sin,impurity, lust and shameful desires; don't worship the good things of life, for that is idolatry. And don't forget the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, all full of lust of every kind including lust of men for other men. Those cities were destroyed by fire and continue to be a warning to us that there is a hell in which sinners are punished.

God is sure no fun. Jesus Christ spoke the word: "For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying and slander (Matthew l5:l9)." I Corinthians 6:9-l0 -

              Don't you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who live immoral lives...adulterers or homosexuals - will have no share in his kingdom.

These people cut themselves out of paradise. "Outside the city are those who have strayed away from God, and the sorcerers and the immoral and murderers and idolaters, and all who love to lie, and do so. (Revelation 22:l5)."

      The problem of divorce has been with us since the beginning of time. The Bible is very strict when it comes to this:

              But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:32).

These are hard words, what do they mean. Unfaithfulness means any sort of habitual, immoral conduct. Meaning, emotional cruelty or abuse of one spouse to the other on a regular basis, physical abuse or cruelty on a regular basis, sexual abuse or cruelty within the marriage on a regular basis, obviously immoral behavior outside the marriage, all constitute grounds for divorce. Divorcing for frivolous causes is equivalent to adultery. "Frivolous causes" would be a spouse divorcing because the mate is not "perfect enough", or divorcing over money.

            Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
            I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now, I see.
            T'was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace, my fears relieved;
            How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

            Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
            T'is grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.

            When we've been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun,
            We've no less days to sing God's praise then when we've first begun.
                                                                     Amazing Grace, by John Newton