38. LET US DESIRE AND PURSUE SPIRITUAL RICHES
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich).” (Revelation 2:9a) (the church in Smyrna)
“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.” (Revelation 3:17) (the church of the Laodiceans)
In Revelation 2:9, our Lord is speaking to the church in Smyrna. We readily see that they are physically poor, but spiritually rich (for all eternity). Then in the next chapter (3:17), God our Judge rebukes the church of the Laodiceans for boasting of their physical riches, and declares unto them that they are spiritually wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. And His harsh, painful (and just) judgment upon them is that I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
In the previous story, I told of renting an apartment on Guam to assemble people there and teach them about the Saviour. I could have lodged for free with kind Christian friends. But in my poverty, I would pray for God to deal with Christian friends to give enough offerings to pay the rent. Thank you, who did so! I would scrape my pennies together to come up with just enough money to pay the rent for the unfurnished apartment.
I would scrounge up a large cardboard box, flatten it, and put it on that hard concrete tile floor as my bed. My pillow was my bag of laundry. Friends gave 2 or 3 old sheets, and that was my sleeping arrangements. I usually had no other furniture. I would stand at the counter in the kitchen to write letters and such. Each time I sat, I sat on the floor. So did everyone who came to my house. Usually friends would lend me some old throw rugs they were not using, I would carpet my living room and bedroom floors as best I could with them, for a little more padding. Physically poor, but spiritually rich beyond measure! Oh, what glorious times we had in that bare apartment with its bland concrete block walls and concrete tile floor!
I scheduled a one-hour service each day, and typically children were present for hours a day, especially on Saturdays (when school was in session on weekdays). I had visualized children’s songs, and old-fashioned brown paperback hymnals (common in poor Southern churches in the 1950s). At times, the children would sing an hour or more, one child after another requesting that we sing another ancient hymn (that I had taught them) out of those brown paperback hymnals. They would go with me to sing those hymns at the Flea Market and other public places. Several started riding the church bus to Harvest Baptist, and riding with me (in the compact car a friend had loaned me) to Temple Baptist at times.
A Christian man on Guam who was a Gideon asked me if I wanted a box of Bibles that had some mildew on the covers from being stored in a somewhat damp place. ‘Yes!’. We used those disfigured Bibles for Sword Drill. Oh, those kids loved Sword Drill! ‘Draw your Sword.’ ‘Habakkuk 3:17 and 18.’ (Repeat it once.) ‘CHARGE!’ They became ever so fast in finding the Scriptures I called out. One day, long after the service ended and I was singing and praying with several children, I looked at 6-year-old Peter (Vietnamese) using those Bibles as building blocks (playing with them). ‘What are you building, Peter?’
“I’m building a house,” he eagerly replied. I can think of nothing better with which to build one’s house, than a hardback King James 1611 Bible, even if the “walls” are stained with mildew!
“The unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)
“Abba Father in Heaven, The unsearchable riches of Christ are so wonderfully vast that we will never know the full extent of them during our earthly pilgrim journey. I beg Thee to set our hearts ablaze with a burning desire to plunge ourselves as deeply as possible into those vast and unsearchable riches of Christ, while shunning the vain, fleeting riches of this present world. I pray this for all human souls presently on earth. Amen!
From January 1979 thru August 1984, I flew from Japan to Guam 11 times to hold such children’s services for a month or longer, in one or two, and even in 3 different apartment complexes each day. Well over 100 young ones who attended, made a decision to trust in Christ, voicing that decision in prayer. Each time in that physical poverty, my heart overflowed with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Presently (2020) I hear from one of them occasionally, (now in their 40s or 50) thanking me for teaching them about Jesus.
Contrast that to a bank president’s (somewhat rich) widow in my Alabama hometown area (with hot tears and weeping) pouring out her heart’s misery to me back in 1995. She and her husband (in their heyday, 1950s thru 1970s) were affluent “pillars of their community” in their small town, and were faithful church members. His somewhat shady dealings as a banker were known to several local folks. In 1995, when I stopped into this somewhat elderly widow’s office to inquire about a business matter (no one else was around), she started pouring out her troubles and heart’s misery to me, weeping profusely. “I don’t think God loves me!” Can you imagine the gall, of a (faithful for many years) church member to make such a false accusation against Almighty God in Heaven? Her family had chased after money. And that vain chase had made her (a church member) into this miserable creature in her “golden years”. (She departed this life on earth decades before you read this.)
“Precious Lord Jesus, my Lord and my All, please guard my heart against loving the riches of this world. Please help me to do Thy Divine Will for me, regarding going unto Thee without the camp, to bear Thy reproach in front of the devil’s children. Help me to truly strive for spiritual riches, no matter how physically poor that makes me. I also pray this for all other people now on this earth, journeying toward Judgment Day. Amen.”
Richard Yerby (Matsuida, Japan) www.Christ-is-all.us