Chapter 1 of
The 2,000 Percent Nation
And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant.
Before all your people I will do marvels
such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation;
and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD.
For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
— Exodus 34:10 (NKJV)
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the LORD’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you
and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
And whoever falls on this stone will be broken;
but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
— Matthew 21:42-44 (NKJV)
Originally, there were no nations. There were only families. God knew that bigger things were to come after His people multiplied in number due to His grace, and He began preparing His followers to form nations.
Here’s an example. When Abram (whose name meant “father is exalted”) doubted at age ninety-nine that he would ever father a child by his almost-as-old wife Sarai (whom God later renamed as Sarah, meaning “princess”), God repeated His promise that Abram would become the father of great numbers of descendants, promised that Abram would also become the father many nations, and renamed Abram as Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” (Genesis 17:4-6, NKJV)
Through Moses, God made it clear to the Israelites and those who accompanied them out of Egypt what was expected from the new nation that He directed them to form in the Promised Land, in keeping with an earlier promise to Abram and later to the renamed Abraham:
Now the LORD had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:1-3, NKJV)
Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments [referring to the ten commandments as repeated in Deuteronomy 5 (NKJV)] of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28, NKJV)
Here are the ten commandments:
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Deuteronomy 5:7-21, NKJV)
Some may wonder if the Genesis 12 and Deuteronomy promises apply to nations other than Israel. Galatians 3:8-9 (NKJV) indicates that the promises extend to those who are saved by repentance, believe in Jesus, and follow Him:
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
As the Bible shows, God later revealed more requirements to His followers. For instance, through His Son, Jesus Christ, information, instructions, commissions, and commandments were added that changed what individuals should do for God. Consider Jesus’ explanation of how to be born again and to gain Salvation, a new covenant that’s totally independent of following the ten commandments and making animal and grain sacrifices to atone for sin (through the rules spelled out in the book of Leviticus for the Israelites):
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:3-21, NKJV)
Jesus also increased the requirement for loving others to include self-sacrifice [expressed as agape in Greek], following His precious example during His ministry and especially on the cross at Calvary:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34, NKJV)
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:12-14, NKJV)
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven following His resurrection from the dead that was witnessed by more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:4-8, NKJV), He told His disciples to make more disciples throughout the world, a command that applies to all believers today because people cannot choose to repent and accept Salvation without first knowing about it and how to gain it (Romans 10:14, NKJV):
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NKJV)
My directions for writing this chapter told me to address five types of measurements for a nation to use in assessing its own fruitfulness for God: spiritual, moral, health, emotional, and physical. In each of the next five sections, I describe measurements for one of these kinds of fruitfulness from God’s perspective, how we might measure such fruitfulness to help guide our human activities, and what some of the benefits are that these measurements can provide us. Let’s start with spiritual fruitfulness measurements.
God’s Spiritual Fruitfulness Measurements
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you
not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
— 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NKJV)
God knows how many souls have been saved among those who live in and are visiting a nation. He has a handy reference guide in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27, NKJV). It’s an obvious measure for Him to be aware of because being saved is the minimum step for entry into heaven and starting to become more like Jesus during life on Earth.
While God certainly knows who has and hasn’t been saved, we often don’t know. Our best Earthly substitute for His perfect awareness is explaining to everyone in a nation how to receive Salvation by sharing Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV) and then asking each person if he or she is saved:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
While some people may not answer the question or answer, instead, with a lie, explaining about Salvation and asking if she or he is saved can still provide value by causing unbelievers to examine themselves. When people indicate that they aren’t saved, it becomes natural and easy for Christians to share more about the Gospel and to help people decide if they want to repent their sins, to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and to follow Him.
In just the last few months, God has shown me how important it is to ask if someone is saved: Some people I thought were saved weren’t. Because of my asking, some of these people examined themselves, repented, and chose to accept Salvation. Praise God for prompting me to ask!
Another important measure of fruitfulness for God is how many Christians in a nation share the Gospel about Salvation by using the correct Bible information. God knows who shares effectively, but we don’t.
In addition, God is surely interested in how often Christians correctly share the Gospel of Salvation and with how many people. Once again, He knows, but we don’t.
For us, surveys among saved and unsaved people could be the basis for reasonably precise national estimates of accurate Gospel sharing. By publishing such estimates, activity levels could be tracked. By increasing awareness of the frequency of these important communications, at least some Christians would become more active in this way … thus increasing their fruitfulness.
While working with my coauthors to prepare Witnessing Made Easy (Jubilee Worship Center Step by Step Press, 2010) and Ways You Can Witness (Salvation Press, 2010), I was astounded to learn that only a small percentage of Christians in the United States have ever discussed Salvation with anyone outside of their own families. It should come as no surprise, as a result, when surveys report that most Americans believe that “all good people go to heaven,” in contradiction to what the Bible clearly says. Because of witnessing inactivity encouraged in part by this false view of Salvation, the number of missed opportunities to serve God by sharing the Gospel of Salvation must be enormous over a lifetime! Consider the significance of such omissions as expressed by Romans 10:14 (NKJV):
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Since the Holy Spirit saves people and no one can be forced or persuaded by a mere human to accept Salvation, we shouldn’t measure the results of any individual’s witnessing in terms of how many people choose to accept God’s free gift of Salvation. It’s also rare for someone to choose Salvation after conversing with just one person. Sharing the Gospel of Salvation until someone is saved almost always requires ongoing teamwork; and the bigger the team, the more likely an unbeliever is to seriously investigate the opportunity to be saved.
Once saved, people are drawn by the Holy Spirit to change how they lead their lives to become more like Jesus. While any positive works by saved people don’t contribute to their gaining Salvation (a free gift of God’s grace that’s totally undeserved), the works can certainly help confirm in ways evident to us mere humans that Salvation has occurred.
While God knows what’s happening in each saved person’s life, our Earthly information is much less accurate. For us to learn more abut sanctification, those who know saved people well could track their progress in becoming more like Jesus in terms of whatever harmful habits, bad actions, and strong temptations the saved people had previously struggled with. An indirect benefit of such measurements would be to make the saved people’s transformations more noticeable to their unsaved family members and friends, potentially encouraging some more soul searching among unbelievers about seeking Salvation.
Keeping in mind that repenting and accepting Salvation will then begin to affect the behavior of saved people, let’s look next at measurements of moral fruitfulness for a nation.
God’s Moral Fruitfulness Measurements
Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;
and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are:
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred,
contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like;
of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past,
that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
— Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)
As Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV) points out, there should be large differences in moral behavior between those who are subject to the lusts of their flesh because they aren’t saved and those who are trying to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance after being saved. God keeps track of any such bad behavior that isn’t repented of and covered by the precious blood of Jesus Christ so it will be justly punished. For those who are saved, He also credits many types of moral behavior toward heavenly rewards. Upon death, Jesus will present us with these records of our behavior.
Our current Earthly records of immoral and moral behavior in a nation are, by contrast, woefully inadequate. It’s as though we don’t think that reducing immoral behavior and increasing moral behavior are important.
What information do we have now? Nations already collect some information about fleshly behavior in the form of statistics for criminal acts such as murders, violent contentions and outbursts of wrath that are reported to the police, drunk-driving arrests, and certain public acts of hatred. It’s far rarer for a nation to keep careful statistics about the occurrences of acts that exhibit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
What are some potential benefits of measuring more kinds of fleshly and Holy-Spirit-led acts? Many of the fleshly acts listed in Galatians 5:16-26 can be observed by other people. In addition to offending many of those who see such acts that are contrary to God’s will, other people may be directly harmed by certain of the acts. When we keep track of the total number of such incidents, we can have a better sense of the total harm being done in a nation by immoral acts.
When citizens and visitors recognize that so many of a nation’s problems relate to people not repenting their sins, gaining Salvation, and following Jesus, the amount of Christian witnessing is bound to increase at least as fast as do the calls for governments to enact stricter laws and to provide more prisons, tougher judges, and larger police departments. As a result, more people will be saved, more moral acts will occur, the number of fleshly, harmful acts will decline, and less harm will be done to others.
In recent years, police in some cities have reported great success in reducing certain kinds of crime by focusing their attention wherever most of those crimes occur. Similar statistics about the locations of fleshly acts of immoral behavior could be used by Christians to focus where to do more witnessing. Such information would probably increase witnessing the most in communities where reported crime rates are low, but the frequency of immoral, but legal, behavior is high.
Studies of crime statistics have also shown that unlawful acts are mostly performed by the small percentage of the whole population who are career criminals and who may break laws thousands of times. If we knew which unbelievers were doing the most lustful acts of the flesh who were not serving jail or prison time for a crime, witnessing activities could be concentrated on being sure that these specific unbelievers received the most information about how much God loves them, that their many sins have already been forgiven and atoned for, and that God wants a relationship with them after they accept Salvation. Such targeted witnessing could greatly contribute to decreasing a nation’s immoral behavior.
Now, let’s consider what can be learned from measuring and tracking moral acts. While some might believe that the number and frequency of moral acts would perfectly correlate with where Christians live, work, and travel, the facts may be quite different from such beliefs. Some people who gain Salvation work much harder and more effectively at following Jesus than do other Christians. In addition, some people have been Christians longer than others, which may have helped them to develop greater desires and abilities to act righteously. Further, many Christians behave one way in certain public circumstances and differently in other private ones. Finally, unsaved people may act morally, too.
Survey information could regularly capture how often moral acts of various kinds are encountered in various nations. Such information could become as influential as crime statistics are for influencing which nations attract the most legal immigrants, long-term visitors, and vacationing tourists. Nations that were performing poorly in the frequency of moral acts would probably find it desirable to encourage more of such behavior. Increasing moral behavior could become an important focus of public policy in most nations, regardless of what the predominant local religious beliefs were.
Capturing information about the number of moral acts for smaller geographical areas within a nation could also influence where people choose to live, to work, to invest, and to shop. Consequently, prices paid for homes, businesses, and other property could be raised or lowered compared to other areas. Such measurements would also probably increase concentrations of people who like to perform and to benefit from moral acts. As a result, children who grow up in such areas might experience fewer temptations and develop better personal habits.
In addition, some people who want to spread the light of God’s goodness into areas of moral darkness might have an easier time picking places where their own moral acts would provide the greatest contrast with the typical lack of moral behavior. As a result, activities of churches and Christian nonprofit organizations might be more effectively directed to where their examples could do the most good among those seeking a better way to live.
For both fleshly and Spirit-led acts, survey information based on asking about recent experiences of individuals in observing others will be the most accurate and lowest-cost sources of measurements. Experience with household crime surveys has long demonstrated that such surveys are more accurate than crime statistics for picking up incidences of criminal behavior. Since we have so little information about moral acts, a greater improvement in measurement accuracy is bound to be observed for capturing the frequency of fleshly acts that aren’t criminal.
Many fleshly acts have negative health consequences in addition to whatever spiritual and moral harm they create. Let’s look next at measuring health fruitfulness.
God’s Health Fruitfulness Measurements
Or do you not know that your body is
the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)
Surely God is measuring our health fruitfulness by how physically able we are to accomplish what He has called us to do and for how many years we have such physical capabilities. Since our callings vary, what is fruitful health for a high-profile athlete who is to be a Christian role model may be quite different than fruitful health for someone who is primarily called to write about what the Bible says.
One of the great ironies about “wealthy” nations is that many aspects of health decline for some people when their incomes increase. That’s true in part because some choose to spend more money on harmful food while also becoming less physically active (such as by riding more often in vehicles rather than walking, running, or riding a bicycle). Surely such self-directed health declines are not part of how God intended our temples of the Holy Spirit to be maintained for accomplishing His purposes.
By contrast, many people think about health primarily in terms of longevity, how long they and others live. While that’s certainly one health measure, it’s one that can be very misleading. Since many children in lesser developed nations die from preventable diseases and treatable conditions, looking just at how long people live who don’t succumb to such childhood problems misses a big part of God’s purpose. He undoubtedly wanted most of the deceased children to live longer so they could have served Him as adults.
In addition, what good is longevity for serving God if people are so weighed down by ill health that they cannot be very active in any aspect of their lives? And it certainly can be a great trial to be in ill health, pulling some people toward indulging their flesh in ways they might otherwise avoid.
Many nonbelievers wonder why God “sends” so many people poor health. Such wondering can be mistaken. God doesn’t intend for most people to have poor health. Before sin entered the Garden of Eden, God intended that Adam and Eve would live forever in their natural bodies. Even after the fall, the Bible reveals that people formerly lived much longer than today and were able to do more at advanced ages than most elderly people can now accomplish.
Many physicians and scientists argue that most ill health is brought about by poor lifestyle decisions. Consider what happens to many people who regularly consume lots of alcohol, use illegal drugs, and practice dangerous activities (such as sharing intravenous needles and smoking). Since being overweight leads to many serious diseases, the lesson about avoiding poor lifestyle decisions includes those who eat too much or too many harmful foods (such as those high in refined sugar and trans-fatty acids).
In nations where governments are ineffective in providing enough low-cost potable water, immunizations, and antibiotics, much avoidable suffering occurs. Some of the same nations fail to share basic information about hygienic practices and how to avoid the transmission of communicable diseases. As a result, everyday behaviors can lead to avoidable illnesses and premature death. In places plagued by malaria, many people don’t know how much using mosquito nets for sleeping can help reduce new infections.
In places where there are few Christians or limited knowledge of faith-based healing, there may also be many people who are plagued with infirmities that could be overcome through prayer and faith. In such instances, God’s potential to heal may be mostly ignored. Remember how many times Jesus is described by the Bible as healing all those who asked for His touch.
As with the other types of fruitfulness, God is well aware of how healthy each of His children is. In that knowledge, He is way ahead of us.
Medicine today often places more attention on treating illnesses than on sustaining and improving basic health. Consequently, most people will tell you that they are perfectly healthy with no problems just before having a serious heart attack or stroke, becoming a diabetic, experiencing a detached retina, or having a fall that fractures a calcium-deficient hip.
One of the wonders of God’s creation is how effective our bodies are at healing themselves. For example, when left untreated, most severe incidents of back pain disappear within two weeks. With better lifestyle choices, accepting God’s free gift of Salvation, prayer, and faith, many aspects of health are bound to improve.
Surveys today report that some people are more concerned about how long they can lead “healthy,” active lives rather than how long they will live. Increased interest in being active is encouraging for increasing fruitfulness.
If we begin to measure all the behaviors that we understand can affect health, both for good and for harm, we have a better starting point for letting a nation know how its culture, practices, and habits could be beneficially adjusted. If, in addition, many individuals can receive tailored information about the consequences of what they are doing for adding to or reducing the risk of ill health, more people will change what they do for the better.
As a personal example, I have a hard time keeping the level of triglycerides (fatty acids) in my blood as low as research suggests is desirable. My physicians share that information with me after each physical. In response, I have tried a lot of things involving diet and exercise, but nothing worked well enough. After reading that oatmeal was good for lowering cholesterol (with which I have a minor problem), I decided to start having oatmeal daily for lunch. To my happy surprise, my triglyceride level dropped to acceptable levels for the first time in decades. My cholesterol and many other blood measures also improved. Even better news is that I love to eat oatmeal. Praise God!
Without such measurements, I consider it unlikely that I would have become such a lunchtime devotee of oatmeal. And there any many other people who could benefit from making a similar change, but won’t, unless health measurements and good information about what to do point them in the right direction.
Medications taken and treatments received are also useful health measures to consider. There have been rapid expansions in people taking prescription pharmaceuticals for decades just to “maintain” them at a certain level of ill health. It would also be good to measure how various activities can contribute to avoiding such long-term use of medications. There are very few molecules that don’t present their own long-term health challenges, such as through uncontrollable side effects and especially in causing irreversible liver damage.
Increasingly, people are also using pharmaceuticals to manage their moods, suggesting that there are widespread problems with emotional health. Let’s shift to considering measurements of emotional fruitfulness.
God’s Emotional Fruitfulness Measurements
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk
as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God,
because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness,
to work all uncleanness with greediness.
— Ephesians 4:17-19 (NKJV)
Emotional distress and depression incapacitate many more people in most economically advanced nations from being fruitful than do injuries and chronic illnesses combined. While a focused person who is ill may still serve the Lord in some ways, someone who is overcome by negative emotions or emotional distress may be as inactive for God as someone who is totally paralyzed.
In addition to knowing who is saved and who is not, God can certainly tell who is emotionally on an even keel and who is not. The Bible tells us in one of my favorite Bible verses: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NKJV).
While God has told us that we will have troubles, He has also promised to be with us through our troubles (Matthew 28:20 and Psalm 23, NKJV). In addition, when we love God, He will work for our good … often turning what seems to be a trouble into a blessing:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NKJV)
What, then, is emotional fruitfulness from God’s perspective? It’s actually pretty simple. He wants our rejoicing to be so uplifting that it not only stirs us to action for Him according to our calling, it also raises the emotions of others who need encouragement, including unbelievers, to draw closer to Him and to do His will, such as by witnessing to unsaved people:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22, NKJV)
As to Earthly tools for measuring emotional fruitfulness, asking questions through surveys is again our best method. We should ask about unbelievers drawing closer to God and the Godly actions Christians take as well, as the encouragement received from others that contributed.
So far in this chapter, we have focused on people and their actions as they relate to saving souls, drawing forth moral actions, decreasing immoral actions, improving physical health, and inspiring Godly actions through having and sharing uplifting emotions. You may be wondering about what it means for there to be more physical fruitfulness. We look next at that dimension of fruitfulness.
God’s Physical Fruitfulness Measurements
When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying,
“This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late.
Send the multitudes away,
that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”
But Jesus said to them,
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
He said, “Bring them here to Me.”
Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass.
And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples;
and the disciples gave to the multitudes.
So they all ate and were filled,
and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.
Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men,
besides women and children.
— Matthew 14:15-21 (NKJV)
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink;
nor about your body, what you will put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air,
for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you
that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is,
and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
— Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)
We are spiritual beings who inhabit physical bodies. God knows that our physical lives need to be sustained and nourished for us to be able to serve Him as spiritual beings. He will gladly provide for us after we gain Salvation, and seek to serve Him first and act righteously. Praise God for His provision. As the feeding of the five thousand men (plus more women and children) shows, God has more than enough power to provide whatever is good for us.
In particular, God wants us to have the physical resources we need to be active in following our callings. His desire is for us to have Bibles and Bible study materials, teachers to help us learn about Him, enough of the right foods, clean water to drink and to wash in, comfortable places to rest at night, supportive surroundings, ways to exercise that we enjoy, and whatever information and tools are needed to accomplish our callings.
We have only to look around us to see and read about other places to realize that many people don’t have all their physical needs met. Unfortunately, many people aren’t saved and even among the saved some people aren’t yet putting God’s kingdom first by engaging in their callings from Him as their top priority.
Let’s look at the problems that are created by such disconnection and disobedience. When aspects of our physical needs aren’t met, we can be as limited as by paralysis or by a debilitating disease. In addition, lacking certain nutritional needs (such as essential vitamins and minerals) can cause disease, reduce our ability to act, and shorten life.
In many cases, our physical needs may be unmet simply due to our own poor choices. The person who watches so much television that no walks occur nor any exercise taken will suffer from lack of activity just as much as someone who is physically unable to walk or to exercise.
If Christians are active in witnessing and mentoring new believers, many of the unmet physical needs will melt away as God provides for His people who are following Him. Nevertheless, Christians and nonbelievers can also help to provide for those who aren’t following Him. Such human-based provision can be another way to show His love and to encourage more to gain Salvation and to follow their callings.
Surveys again are what we can use to measure how we are doing in accessing physical resources and to locate opportunities to improve our physical fruitfulness. Designing such surveys will be quite simple in some ways, such as by asking about water quality and availability.
Difficulties present themselves when it comes to defining physical needs for engaging in an individual’s specific calling. As an initial challenge, unsaved people may have little sense of what God is calling them to do in serving Him. In some cases, the best we may be able to do is to ask about the physical needs for doing what an unsaved person likes to do or regularly does that isn’t harmful.
Measuring potential for an individual’s physical fruitfulness is an important activity. There’s a great need for Christians to develop skill in helping believers to find their callings, to define what physical support is required and what physical resources are needed for greatest fruitfulness, and to identify the best ways to gain the needed physical resources.
Here’s an example. Most people will be more effective witnesses for Christ after receiving some practical training and then being mentored by a fellow believer in applying what has been learned. While witnessing, most people find that they can interest people more by sharing a written testimony that’s relevant to the hearer. If the witness is often unavailable for follow-up conversations, it will be good to have a witnessing partner who is almost always available. Such witnessing will also make a bigger impression if there are lots of Christian radio stations in the area so that unbelievers can easily acquire more information while scanning for something good to listen to. While I could add more dimensions of physical resources to this example, notice that the list of physical needs for greatest effectiveness is pretty lengthy.
Naturally, God can draw on supernatural resources to supply any lack in physical resources for fulfilling a calling, such as by causing an unsaved person to have an experience that draws her or him closer to wanting God in his or her life … or by directly providing the need from someone else through the Holy Spirit’s direction.
Notice that the missing physical elements in this example may already exist but just may not be readily available to the person who needs to learn how to be a better witness. Becoming aware of what’s missing can be enough in some cases for a committed believer to fill in any physical lacks for fulfilling a calling. In other cases, developing skill in creating and implementing 2,000 percent solutions and combining complementary breakthroughs will usually be more than sufficient to supply anything that’s physically lacking.
The essential elements for physical fruitfulness are probably most limited by individuals being ignorant about what their unmet physical needs are. God has bountifully provided for what we need, but we aren’t always attuned enough to fruitfulness to start stocking up on what we need.
After a nation has become highly fruitful for Him, virtually everyone will know what physical resources he or she needs and how to obtain them. Until that self-awareness universally exists, a few Christians and some organizations are going to be required to take the lead in filling in for ignorance.
Fruitfulness Measures Summarized
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you
that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain,
that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
— John 15:16 (NKJV)
Before leaving this chapter, let me summarize how God considers these five types of fruitfulness for Him while examining a nation:
a. Number of saved people
b. How many saved people correctly apply the Bible while sharing the Gospel
c. How often saved people correctly share the Gospel
a. Number of moral acts inspired by the Holy Spirit that are occurring as described in Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)
b. Number of immoral acts inspired by the lusts of the flesh that are occurring as described in Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)
a. Number of people whose health enables them to fulfill His callings for them
b. How long these people have had sufficient good health to fulfill their callings
a. Number of people who are emotionally able to fulfill His callings for them
b. Number of people who are able to lift the spirits of others so that they fulfill their callings if they are already believers, or seek Him if they are not believers
c. Number of actions taken to fulfill His callings and to seek Him as a result of receiving emotional encouragement from Christians
a. Number of people who have enough resources to sustain a healthy, active life
b. Number of Christians who have the resources they need to draw closer to God and to fulfill their callings for Him
As a reminder of what to do, let me also summarize how we humans should be measuring these same types of fruitfulness through national polls and surveys conducted with samples of randomly selected people:
a. Explain to all people in a nation what it means to be saved and ask if they have repented of their sins, believed in their hearts that Jesus rose from the dead, and dedicated their lives aloud to following Jesus as Lord and Savior
b. Ask saved people how their lives and behaviors have changed since accepting Salvation
c. Ask family members who know saved people well what changes they have observed in increased good behavior and decreased bad behavior as defined by Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)
d. Ask nonfamily members who know saved people well what changes they have observed in increased good behavior and decreased bad behavior as defined by Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)
e. Routinely ask national samples of saved people how and how often they have shared the Gospel message with unsaved people in their own families
f. Routinely ask national samples of saved people how and how often they have shared the Gospel message with unsaved people who are not in their own families
g. Routinely ask national samples of unsaved people how and how often someone has shared the Gospel message with them
a. Routinely ask randomly selected national samples of people how often they have observed or experienced a list of moral acts (as defined in Galatians 5:16-26, NKJV) done by others in the prior week
b. Routinely ask randomly selected national samples of people how often they have observed or experienced a list of immoral acts (as defined in Galatians 5:16-26, NKJV) done by others in the prior week
c. Routinely ask randomly selected local samples of people how often they have observed or experienced a list of moral acts (as defined in Galatians 5:16-26, NKJV) done by others in the prior week
d. Routinely ask randomly selected local samples of people how often they have observed or experienced a list of immoral acts (as defined in Galatians 5:16-26, NKJV) done by others in the prior week
a. Annual physical examinations supplemented by laboratory tests to measure factors that accurately describe the current and future level of full functioning, longevity, and the ability to perform each person’s calling from God
b. Written information about what the measurements mean and how to improve the underlying circumstances that lead to the measured results
c. National usage information about medications and therapies employed to ameliorate unhealthy medical conditions that limit full functioning, longevity, and the ability to perform each person’s calling from God
a. Routinely ask a randomly selected national sample about saved people’s emotional ability to fulfill their personal callings from God to serve Him
b. Routinely ask a national sample of nonbelievers about the frequency of receiving emotional encouragement that led them to draw closer to God
c. Routinely ask a national sample of believers about the frequency of receiving emotional encouragement from Christians that led them to take actions to fulfill their callings from God
a. Routinely ask each person about the availability of whatever they need to sustain a healthy, productive life
b. Routinely ask each person about the personal habits that encourage or endanger physical fruitfulness
c. Routinely ask Christians about the availability of whatever they need to draw closer to God and to fulfill their callings for Him
Copyright 2012 Donald W. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
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