Jesus Culture [Part 2]: Birds and Lilies
Look at the Birds—See the Lilies
You won't have to work for a living once you get the key to this radical Kingdom principle: "I will give you rest," says Jesus in Matthew 11.
It's a rest so few believers today enjoy. Most Christians still race with the world daily for mundane meaning and sustenance. The race is part of the curse man got from the Genesis debacle after the Fall. But the birds and lilies faith Jesus laid out in the Beatitudes is God's way out of it.
Genuine believers won't have to be enslaved by work anymore, but getting the key to this requires radical faith to the extreme, and the true church should grasp it fully to commence its full operation. But first, consider this intro:
Watch this—birds and lilies don’t worry about environment degradation but they’re the ones hit by it. People worry about environmental ruin but it’s really people who destroy it. Worriers destroy, and their victims are the worry-free. Most people worry too much about their religion these last days that they persecute and crucify those who don’t.
They will also fret about financial standing and condemn those who will not. In the last days, financial worriers will become more religious, becoming more serious with their church life, thinking that will save their riches and money in the bank. This explains why many people are turning to the bible nowadays, going to church—to protect their possessions. Denominations also become more serious about their religion and denominational expansionism—building men’s empires. The Master says only pagans run after such. In terrible, anxious times, Jesus expects us to be more like birds and lilies.
Now, birds do not sow or reap or store in barns. You realize this? They do not sow. They do not reap. They do not store in barns. Yet the Father feeds them. Birds don’t work to store up for themselves. The Father is pleased and feeds them. Do you see how Jesus was dead serious about this? It wasn’t just another surrealistic tale for a Sunday school story, to catch the attention of bored kids, sounding like Cinderella or Snow White. And my Jesus lived it out. He didn’t work, yet he had a very vital job to do. That's Jesus culture. It’s God’s will for us to be like birds and lilies that don’t work yet have a vital role in Kingdom Come on earth.
We see some folks making it really good in their careers and jobs, building wealth out there, and we think they're great. But their achievements are nothing compared to what the birds and lilies faith can do. We have to give flesh to this principle, not merely preach it and have church people shout "Amen!" to it.
If you see pastors working to death (even getting sick and dying) to grow their congregations so that church income would go up (which is often the sole goal), and then hear them preach,
“Look at the birds, they neither sow nor reap nor keep in barns, yet the Father feeds them...”
you’d certainly think in the back of your minds that everything’s just a big lie. And if you’re honest, you’d admit it, too.
Well, it's also true that Paul said somewhere that, “He who does not work must not eat.” What Jesus and Paul said are easily reconciled in, “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth.” The key phrase is “for yourselves.” It’s better to just be like birds that don’t work at all, never storing up treasures for themselves, than spend the rest of your life working to store up treasures for yourself and family and church denomination. The Father feeds you if you don't store up treasures for them--but for Kingdom Come.
Feeds you with what?
The common misreading here is that it’s all about our daily physical bread--bread you buy from the bakery. The same is true when the Lord ’s Prayer is read, particularly the part about, “give us this day our daily bread.” Well, wicked people don’t pray for that sort of bread but they eat more than enough 3 times a day, in style. The Father clothes lilies that rely on him for clothing 100 percent daily, but so does He clothe Solomons and imeldific socialites even in our time.
So, if it's all about material bread and clothes, how come we need to pray for them and others don't? We pray and fast and obey and still sometimes have these material things in lack, while those who don't care a hoot about God and praying get them in abundance?
The answer: Because it's not about bread and clothes you buy with money.
Thus, when people see you go hungry physically and not well dressed materially, they’d think you’re missing out on God’s "supplies" where the birds and lilies of the Beatitudes is concerned, and where “daily bread” is concerned in the Lord’s Prayer. Then they’d suspect you of shallow spirituality. The worldly church always rates things and people by worldly possessions—how much money and how many properties (what they call church planting). Thus, the Lord moves me to always keep simple, sometimes extremely and radically simple, in lifestyle and possessions, and churches often interpret that as being broke. Then I and the Lord LOL.
But you see, my Jesus picked up grains left by harvesters in the fields (a sign of severe, pathetic lack) and didn’t even have a pillow for his head. Yet, he never really went broke. As he was rich yet became poor for us, so we must become poor for others as we are really rich in God. John the baptizer wore the same camel’s hair and leather belt day in and day out (I can imagine how he must’ve smelled), and ate the same honey and insects—yet these guys were genuinely favored and blessed by the Father.
Poor but blessed? Nope, favored. Nobody in God is poor.
What then does the Father feed radical believers with—believers who never work for self gain in this world but are like birds that never go hungry and lilies clothed with splendor?
A birds and lilies faith is fed by the Father with spiritual depth and radical insight that pagans who run after possessions never get or appreciate.
They (those with birds and lilies faith) also get physical bread, of course. But, “We have an altar from which those who minister at the earthly tabernacle have no right to eat,” [Heb.13.10]. When you eat that (spiritual) bread you get more of the Jesus DNA, the Jesus culture, and you begin to give up everything—and I mean everything, especially your church denomination. Nothing of this world appeals anymore. They begin to be such a bore! You begin to realize it’s the glorious church of Jesus alone you must build. You realize that the more you lose for HIS sake, the more all things are yours. The only way to build the glorious church is to lose more and more possessions and hit rock bottom where your ego is concerned.
You become a nobody--praise God!
Where Work Fits In
Devote yourself fully to work only so that “there may be meat in my house” [Mal.3]. If not, working would be pure idling in God’s eyes. In such case, Paul said you shouldn’t eat. If you just store up treasure for yourself, you get NO spiritual food from God. Nothing. Pfft! All you get are Sunday sermons. You just get touched and blessed by them. But no Jesus DNA in you. What a pity.
Well, of course, Paul’s context was folks who gave up their jobs because of the anticipated Lord’s return—they figured it was useless to work because the Lord was going to return anytime soon, anyway. You see that? They didn't want to store up treasures on earth for Kingdom Come. But I bet they'd store up treasures for themselves again if they thought Christ's return was delayed. Storing up treasures for ourselves is as foolish and idle as that in God’s eyes.
Money is an important servant. But its value is nullified or validated by whether it’s stored up for ourselves (or for your church denomination) or for genuine Kingdom building. “Meat in my house” means all our money should be devoted to pure Kingdom building on earth. And “My house” is not a man-made church building; it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit—our bodies collectively as believers. All money should be used to build up lives so they can fully participate in the divine nature of Jesus Christ. “I came that you may have LIFE, and abundantly.”
How the Father Feeds—Genuine Prosperity Gospel
Birds don’t plant, reap, or keep. They just “seek and you shall find.” They just “knock and the door shall be opened.” They just, “Ask and it will be given.” The Acts church got to a certain point on this level. They gave up everything, put them at the apostles’ feet, and the apostles distributed them according to their needs [Acts 4.34-35]. That’s the genuine Jesus culture—birds and lilies faith. That is how the Father wants it. We should pursue this to its fruition even more today. When we do it HIS way, God will multiply the meat in His house. Like the widow’s jars of oil that got filled up in Elisha’s time. The key was “Don’t ask for just a few,” [2Kings 4].
Don't Ask for Just a Few
He didn’t say don’t work for just a few; he said don’t ask for just a few. It’s all ours for the asking. “For everyone who asks receives,” says the Master of truth. And the supply will never run out if we just keep bringing empty jars for God to fill up. They’ve got to be empty jars. This Kingdom principle kept the creditor from taking the widow’s boys to slavery. The same will keep our sons and daughters safe from slavery to creditors, even spiritual creditors. We should have the bold faith not to ask God for just a few. But neither should it be to store up treasures for ourselves. The widow did it to free her sons--who were part of the next generations of prophets, the sons of her prophet-husband. So, she did it for Kingdom Come, not just for their selfish mundane benefit.
Thus, God will fill empty jars. Half-empty ones will just store up treasures for themselves. It should be to have meat in my house. And from the house the meat should be divided to all the Levite priests of God, especially Aaron’s sons, according to their needs. All for Kingdom Come.
It’s not our jobs, businesses, overtimes, career advancement, promotions, title or degrees, denominational church ministries, or any hard work that will make us financially secure. The same will not make the Father feed us as he feeds the birds that do not sow, reap or keep. Pagans who run after daily needs don’t get to feed straight from the Father’s hands, but only those who pursue after the Father.
And feeding straight from the Father’s hands is the only key to genuine God-given prosperity. “..then all these things shall be added to you.”
When the church matures in this area, we will begin to see ourselves as birds that don’t sow or reap or keep yet eat, and lilies that don’t labor or spin and yet with garments not even Solomon enjoyed in all his splendor. The Jesus Culture will reign. Then we will store up treasures in heaven. That’s birds and lilies faith.
But don’t think all this will end up happily ever after. God’s ways, though powerful and abundant, always leads to the cross. The cross is the glory right before resurrection. We’re aliens and strangers in this world, and yet this world will become the Father’s world [Rev.11.15] through the cross. Without this mindset, believers will always end up being pagans running after possessions in this world.
Blueprint for Tremendous Church Power
The Sermon on the Mount is really a blueprint for tremendous church power so that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It’s all for Kingdom building (Jesus Culture) on earth through the birds and lilies faith. Thus, Jesus wraps up his Sermon with the wise and foolish builders. You seriously live out the Sermon on earth daily, you are a wise builder, though you’d be an idiot in the eyes of the world.
As it is, the church is comfy running after the world, worrying about what to eat and wear, joining the silly rat race, always worrying about tomorrow. No, they worry about what would happen to them 5 or 10 years from now—what they call church planning. They copy how secular corporations do their planning. And they also use the SMART principle, and all the trash. They’d copy anything they find in the world to look smart and effective. They hate looking foolish as Jesus had looked in the eyes of Herod and Pilate (very successful folks) when he stuck it out with His Sermon principles against all odds. After all, he never craved for the world’s applause.
How to Inherit the Earth
This is among the wildest claims of the Messiah—inheriting the earth. Being a Roman Empire underdog, the Israelites must’ve been frustrated, to say the least, when they heard Jesus’ formula for power: meekness. And up to this day you see “believers” frustrated with it, and instead they measure up to worldly success standards by showing off material possessions, titles, church monuments, and positions.
I recently attended a denominational church meeting of pastors to observe, and they talked about nothing but these--their and their denomination's success in the world, so that the world will recognize them. They brag about their titles and degrees and licenses, countries they’ve been to, countries where they have churches. It’s not making disciples for Jesus---it’s a show of force, a who’s who in denominational expansionism. Church denominations compete against each other for world domination. And that’s how they conquer the world for Jesus.
Why all this? It’s because no one really believes that the meek shall inherit the earth. It’s survival of the fittest. You have to be somebody quite accomplished first before anybody listens to you. So they scramble for titles and degrees, especially eager to be called a Doctor of something. No one in church believes that God has chosen the weak and the despised in the world to shame the wise and strong.
Yet, in reality, the church, in all its titles and degrees and accolades received, remains weak and powerless in the spiritual realms.
I’ve seen big church denominations spend thousands of dollars to spread their influence abroad and to be among the top 10 churches, whatever that means. Yet, they have accomplished little, if any, to really inherit the earth. They’ll deny they want world domination, but that’s what you see in their actions. They see the correct goal—aim for global discipleship—but are doing it in man’s ways. They do it as secular companies would—promotions, ads, marketing, show of force, propaganda, franchising, diversification, and millions of dollars from offerings and pledges.
But the Jesus culture and mindset is clear: Just stay faithfully meek and God himself will work out world dominion for you. It’s something like this:
“Then you’ll say in your heart, ‘Who birthed these for me? I was bereaved and barren; I was banished and rejected. Who brought these? I was abandoned, but these—how did they get here?’“
Here’s the answer: “God says, ‘I will beckon to the gentiles. When they see my banner lifted, they will bring your sons and daughters to you…kings and queens will gratefully serve and support you.’ “ [Isa.49.20-23]. In Jesus’ words: “The Father will draw to me only those who are mine,” [Jn.6.44]. It all depends on God raising up His banner. And He will if we do everything His way.
There is no human effort involved. When the church has reached the Jesus caliber of meekness, God himself will move in awesome power and beckon or signal the gentiles to come to God’s servants. Then the meek inherits the earth. So, go back to the simple things in life—birds and lilies. God wants the church to master Jesus’ meekness and simplicity. And when it happens, you cannot claim any glory—God instead gives it to you. Because as He glorifies his children, He is glorified in them.
But stay meek? You expect these churches to do nothing but stay meek?
Well, in a way, yes. You see some ministers starving to death and having no other option but to look meek--begging for money in all meekness. Asking for solicitations and donations even from non-believers. Lots of churches today survive on alms...and they're "successful" because they build church buildings with them.
But it's not meekness; it's poverty. Poverty is NOT God's will.
You see these ministers hating their lot in life and working real hard to boost their church membership and income to escape the severe lack. They hate being meek, actually. They want to be numbered among those with mega churches. Thus, they want to be achievers. The disease today is doing great things for God. Great accomplishments. It entails church membership boost and the accompanying income increase. It's all for money.
Yeah, sure, many churches get rich that way, but you will never inherit the earth as God wills it. The very word "inherit" strongly hints at a divine endowment. When you inherit, you merely receive from a benefactor without any effort. You cannot work hard to get an inheritance, especially not God's inheritance. You have to be His genuine son or daughter to have it. And that means you have to have God's very DNA in you. How do you get God's DNA? You have to eat Jesus' flesh [Jn.6]. And you can only eat Jesus' flesh if you feed from the Father's hands, free of any human effort.
Great Accomplishments in Secret?
Here’s what frustrates most great accomplishers. Jesus says in his Sermon to do them all in secret. That’s Jesus culture. But they hate that--accomplishing great things and keeping them all a secret. “How else can our church be promoted and get more people in,” they’d fret, “unless we make people see?”
So, they announce everything. Jesus never announced his crusades--in fact, never sat down to plan it with his disciples--but ministers today announce theirs with streamers and ads and posters and everything. They even sell tickets. Can you imagine Jesus and his disciples selling tickets? If you paid $1000 you get the best seat. If you pay $500 you get a not so good seat. And if you pay $50 you sit at the far back. Sorry.
It’s things done in secret for Him that counts much to God’s eyes. And this requires deep faith in God. God sends you to do an outstanding task and after you finish you remain low profile, unrecognized, and even persecuted. Nobody knows except God and his angels. If you were a pagan running after the world's recognition, your ego will will not stand being hidden in meekness after a great accomplishment. You'd promote it as churches do.
Most churches and ministries stubbornly show off. They love standing on the stage praying for all men to see. They have “opening” and “closing” prayers, inventing anything to be seen by men. The altar stage is a lure for people—get active in church and you’d soon be applauded there, too, like a star.
Jesus says fasting should be done in secret. “And the Father, who watches in secret, will see it and reward you.” But you keep hearing prayer and fasting announced by churches and bragged about by preachers. The worldly church is basking in carnal pride and showmanship. We should wait for God to promote and announce us to the world, as did Jesus. The Father opened heaven and announced, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!" And even that was announced only to Jesus and John the baptizer.
It’s an awesome revelation that the Father, unseen, really watches in secret. It’s a deep revelation so few in church get. It’s the secret things, the things done in unguarded moments, in the privacy of your locked rooms, things you're often unaware of doing, things you do in the streets where no one knows you're born again, that the Father is particular of. Few see this because to them the Father is “unseen.” They can't see the Father and therefore is unreal to them.
But to Jesus and his real disciples, all these are an open book. Thus, they more often spend time in remote and lonely places, mountainsides and hills, alone, to do secret things for the Father’s eyes only. The Father is not impressed with whatever you do in church for men to see.
You have to have powerful binoculars to watch what birds do in secret, and powerful microscopes to see what lilies produce.
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