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Paul asked the Corinthians, What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?”  That same question could be asked of us by Jesus, who is coming and will soon arrive.  Not only is the question, “when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”, but what would be on the Lord’s mind might also be this same thought of Paul, “What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?”

The last time they provoked the Lord to wielding a whip was when He had found His Father’s house turned into a market.  This was recorded in John 2.  When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn My Father’s house into a market!”  And later at the Passover before His crucifixion in Matthew 21, He had to drive them out again as is written:  Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, this time saying, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, ‘but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'”

If the Lord were to visit the Temple of the Holy Spirit today, what would He find going on inside the Temple?  Will He find what He found in the Temple at Jerusalem?  And where and who is the Temple of the Holy Spirit?  Paul said, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s Temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”

So if Jesus were to come to you today, what will He find?  What will be in your heart, not just individually, but as a collective, as a fellowship – together we make up the present Temple of God – so what will He find here today?  Have we turned this new Temple into a market also, with buying and selling, not of doves, cattle or sheep, but buying and selling of the means by which the atonement of our sins are executed… buying and selling the means, by which the price for the manifestation of the blessings that were through our repentance and the forgiveness of sins by God, can manifest. 

Cattle, sheep and doves were the means through which the blessings of God would come, as people sacrificed them as their work of repentance and God accepted them.  They were the means through which the storehouses of God’s blessings would be opened to release His blessings in the Old Covenant, before the time of Jesus.  As such, their presence in the temple area was not incorrect.  What was incorrect was that they were being traded as in a market… that is they were being sold for a profit, which means those who were selling them were profiteering from the sins of the people in violation of the Law in Leviticus.  “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.  Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you.  You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit.”  Read this for yourself.  You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit.  If that was not allowed, how much less will they be allowed to profiteer from the cattle, sheep and doves by which God’s blessings would manifest?

The Covenant was there, the promises of blessings were there, the Temple was there… all it took was for the prescribed sacrifices of cattle, sheep and doves and the blessings would flow.  So the cattle, sheep and doves were like keys to the Kingdom of Israel, the sacrificing of which at the Temple opened the flow of God’s continued blessings.

Likewise, Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”  What do these keys unleash for the Kingdom of Heaven, other than the Kingdom of God with its power?  What are these keys?  They are words spoken in faith and in repentance by someone who has changed and become like a little child.  “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” 

The keys are words spoken in faith and repentance, because Jesus quoted John the Baptist saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  So now, in the new Temple of God, the words are there – words for repentance and prayer, words that are spirit and life, which when practised can make the hearer like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And also the faith is there – faith to believe in the One and Only and His words – faith that is made more sure by the testimonies, which are more words by those who have practised them.

The words, the faith and the deeds are there like the cattle, sheep and doves, and when applied in the prescribed way, the blessings of the Covenant flow as it did in the Old Covenant.  But are they being traded as one trades in a market for profit?  Has the attitude, which is the spirit of the Canaanites, taken over the present Temple of God as it did in the second Temple, so that Jesus had to come with a whip?

It is not that money was not allowed for the buying and selling of the cattle, sheep and doves.  It is just that no profiteering is allowed!  The Israelites were allowed to lend money and expect repayment.  They were just not allowed to charge interest for profit.  They were allowed to sell their food, but just not to make a profit, for the food came from God in the first place, and we are merely tenants of the land.  So if any food was to be sold for a profit, then that profit surely belonged to God and not to the people.  So if profit was to be made from the selling of the cattle, sheep and doves, that profit belonged wholly to God… not 10% of it, not 50% of it, not 90% of it… but all of it!  Just as with the servants who gained the five more and the two more talents… all the talents gained belonged to the master… not 10% of them, not 50% of them, not even 90% of them… but all of them!  When those cattle, sheep and dove traders kept the profit, they were robbing God and the money changers were their accomplices.  Thus they turned God’s house into a den of robbers.

I wonder how many of those cattle, sheep and dove sellers would still be at the Temple if they could not enjoy the profits.  Did God want them to work for nothing?  Not at all, for they could sell the surplus cattle, sheep and goats outside the Temple as food for the people.  Had they trusted God in that, they would find that they would have had a richer existence and business, for God who can do all things, could prosper their flocks to such an extent that they would have abundant leftovers from the Temple sacrifice to sell to the peoples for their food.  No, it is the profiteering and the keeping of the profit that Jesus said His Father’s house had been turned into a market and a den of robbers.  Jesus could not say that, had He Himself also been profiteering from what the Father had given Him for Himself.

So what is the state of God’s Temple today?  Are not the words, faith and deeds still being bought and sold for a profit and are the profits being usurped by the servants?  If Jesus were to come today… here… will it be with a gentle spirit in love or will He come with a whip?  We are not judging others, only ourselves.  Today, what do you prefer?  Shall Jesus come to us with a whip or in love and with a gentle spirit?  If He were to ask you to give an account of the talents and minas He has given you today, do you have to dig them up and un-wrap them?  Or can you say they are still in the market invested and they are not ready for harvesting?  Ensure that you have enough of the talents sown and working, or He will judge you by your words, faith and deeds just as He judged Israel by the quality of the cattle, sheep and doves they were offering Him.  “When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong?  When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong?  Try offering them to your governor!  Would he be pleased with you?  Would he accept you?”  

The half-hearted apologetic way we present the words, faith and deeds of the Lord to the world… the way we deny His truths, water it down and apologise for them being politically incorrect nowadays… I wonder how many Nazis would have dared do that to the words of Hitler and live!  Yet we do that to the words, faith and deeds of our Lord and expect our God to let us live!  I wonder how many servants of despots would dare cheat their masters of their profits and expect to live?  Yet we cheat our Master of His profits when we sell His words, faith and deeds.  How do we do it?  We do it every time we profit from people exchanging the words, faith and deeds He has given us for money, and we charge a profit and keep it. 

So, how should those who are meant to minister in the ministry of providing the cattle, sheep and doves live… that is those who provide the word, faith and deeds live?  Not from the profit!  They are to live from the wages as a servant would and to live on the commonwealth of the family, as a child and son would without robbing from the Master or the family.  If you learn now never, never, ever to pocket the profit, if there is any from the exchange of the words, faith and deeds of our Lord, which He has given you, be it your testimony, your books, your music, even your ministry, you will experience that He will give you other words, deeds and faith by which you can profit from, which do not involve turning the Temple of God into a market and a den of robbers.  Then you will have spared yourselves a whipping.

Take this as a warning for yourselves, and not as a comparative judgement to others, for we do not judge, but if we follow the Lord fully, we will become His instrument of judgement.  To some we are the fragrance of life and to others, the stench of death itself.  Up until now, very little of the treasure of the Kingdom of God has been given for you to provide for those who need it, only some of the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Those who prostitute themselves on the treasures of the Kingdom of Heaven will never be entrusted with the treasures of the Kingdom of God, just as the servants who buried their mina and talent did not receive cities.

So, how do we live if we are not to profit from the cattle, sheep and doves that are sold in the Temple?  We live on the profit of the cattle, sheep and doves we sell outside of the Temple or as the Israelites did from the cattle, sheep and doves of the nations around them that they conquered.

So, learn to distinguish between what is common and what is holy – what is common profit and what is holy profit.  Profit is not forbidden; just that not all profit is beneficial.  “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, Who directs you in the way you should go.”  “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.”

So, set the holiest of the holy profit aside for God so that whenever we are gathered together, the Lord can come to us in love and a gentle spirit.  Remember Ananias and Sapphira who sought to secretly keep aside some money from the land they sold and died instantly.  Why did they die?  They lied to the Holy Spirit according to Peter, and because of that, Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Yet now, we see many openly selling and profiteering and keeping the profits of the cattle, sheep and doves… the words, faith and deeds of our Lord, and there is little fear, like the brazen prostitute who wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’  Paul wrote:  Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 

You can hear Jesus adopting those words of Paul’s as He adopted Moses’ words for His own when He said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”  Indeed there is an arrogance out there, but unless we learn to separate common from holy, holiest of the holy from the holy of holies, we are in danger of sharing their fate… of being whipped into repentance by Jesus and have our tables, which is our plans, schemes and our hopes overturned and worse still, like Ananias and Sapphira, find that the Holy Spirit can depart from us like a thief taking our spirits out and dropping us dead before we are able to repent, so that the words of the Lord, “their deeds will follow them,” are not a blessing at all to us.

Paul wrote:  For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  The Kingdom of God is a matter of power, but the Kingdom of Heaven is a matter of talk, and oh, how we love to talk!  “I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  What careless words?  Words that show you do not care for the Lord and His glory and honour… words that show that you do not care for His holiness, but compromise His holy, unique, above all status as The One and Only Begotten Son, by whose Name alone can man be saved, as you seek the world to come to you in love and a gentle spirit.

As the Master said, “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant!’”  Listen, those who have been taught the Knowledge of the Secrets of the Kingdom of God and the Secret of the Kingdom of God are judged by their words first.  Be careful that you never say, ‘I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man.  You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

Careless words are words spoken carelessly, and words spoken without a care… loose words spoken out of anger, frustration or whatever the reason, for which there is no excuse, only judgement… and words that show no care or love for the Master’s well-being… there is not even a reason for that.  Careless words from your lips now, you who have been instructed not only in the Law of Moses and the Kingdom of Heaven, but also of the Kingdom of God, would make you like a disciple who complained about the darkness at Calvary causing you to stub your toe while your Lord was hanging on the cross.  Be warned and repent now.

As for those who are talking, but have no power, they will come to a place when they will regret the time they wasted talking, buying and selling, and profiteering instead of listening and practising in imperative, continuous repentance and humble, willing submission.  As the Lord has said, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”  “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” 

If you are still unconvinced of the truths of the Lord’s words, start complaining about the common things of your life… your health, your income, your peace of mind, your joy, which God has provided for you, and see how quickly you will experience the decrease of these as some of you have experienced.  Being convinced now, I pray you guard your thoughts and words before God, for He loves you and He will perfect you into the fullness of Jesus, His Son, whether with a whip or in love with a gentle spirit.  It is your choice.

However, for those who are talking but have not the power and those who have been selling what they have received for a profit and stealing the profit from God, you will find that attitude of lack and mindset of a thief.  Even the words in which they took pride in and profited from will be taken from them, yet those who give away freely the words, deeds and faith of the Lord, even if it costs them, will receive more… much more power and ability to give even more away freely.  This is the Kingdom of God!

As a Christian, none of you have ever been taught to behave as a people with real power, but in truth, you have not ever had real power, power to multiply the food, walk on water, heal the sick, raise the dead and open the eyes of blind men.  As such, your behaviour has been modelled around that of people without the power to do anything except talk.  So, you have been taught to counsel on a matter and to go into long and lengthy periods of prayer and fasting, which are needed because your faith is so little… that is your faith is not full or offensively, but truthfully, you are not faithful.

A servant who steals the profits of his master is worse than a lazy servant.  The lazy servants were thrown out, but Jesus, Himself the Master, took a whip to those who turned His house into a market and a den of robbers.

Thus the culture of the church, which you see, is the culture of a powerless people who love to talk… and how we talk!  And with our divisions, the Corinthians would have felt right at home with us!  Even when we pray, we are long winded.  The world and the church, we ourselves, have not seen the culture and behaviour of a group of disciples who have the power of the Kingdom of God.  Thus, our repentance must be one of repentance of our behaviour and repentance from a culture of a deluge of words with little power to the culture of excessive, abundant power with few words.

If you have complained that little has happened and the progress has been slow, consider what part you have played in the littleness we have received and the slowness of our progress.  Consider how little care we have shown the Lord in our words, faith and actions… how we have been using the holy words and faith and gifts He has given us for common purposes.  Surely you will come to the place where you cast down your crowns and fall flat on your face as one dead, and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come,” and repent until He who is seated on the throne says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come.”

You see, God is not slow as you understand slowness, but patient so that all may come to repentance and none to perish.  He would prefer to come in love with a gentle spirit and not with a whip, but we would not allow Him.  However, if you will repent, and allow the Lord to whip you into shape, then you and I can freely give what we have received.  Then those who are deserving of a whipping from the Lord will be whipped by us who have been whipped, and the Lord can come to them only in love and a gentle spirit.  It is not that we do not know what the church and the world prefer, it is that we know what the Lord prefers, so we must set to task that which will give God what He prefers.

Here is a true saying:  Those servants who prefer the world to love them with a gentle spirit will be whipped most severely and those who prefer the world to whip them will be loved most gently, and that by the Lord.

So which do you prefer?

 

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