God’s Blessings: I May Not Be Rich, but I’m Very Fortunate
By Bong, Philippines
I Want to Become Wealthy
“Principal, please give my child a chance and let him take the examination!” My mother’s eyes implored the principal as she spoke in a slightly trembling voice.
Keeping a straight face, the principal said, “No, the school has rules. A child can only take the examination when the exam fee has been paid!”
My mother looked ashamed and pleaded with the principal, saying, “Principal, I know this is very hard for you at the school too, but I have many children and we just about manage to get by. We really can’t afford the exam fee. How about I write the school an IOU, you let my son take the examination, and I’ll figure out a way to pay you back as soon as I can….”
The principal looked at my mother and thought for a moment. Looking as though he didn’t have much choice, he said, “OK, fine!”
I’ll never forget the time I moved on to senior middle school when, because my family couldn’t afford the exam fee, my mother begged the principal of the school to let me take the examination and she had to write out an IOU. I felt so indignant at that time. In this society where money rules supreme, if you don’t have any money then you can’t accomplish anything, and I silently made a resolution: After I grow up, I will work hard to make money, become wealthy and change my own destiny!
A Life of Exchanging Health for Money
After I graduated from senior middle school, in order to realize my dreams as soon as I could, I enrolled at a vocational school and studied car repair. While I attended that school, I worked hard to study specialist knowledge. When my classmates went off to enjoy their free time during the day, I was still there studying machine skills; when everyone else went to bed at night, I stayed up reading and studying hard.
After I graduated, I went to Manila to develop my skills. Because I had no connections and my graduation certificate was not from a well-known school, however, when I applied for jobs, no one was willing to hire me. I felt like I had no choice other than to go work at my uncle’s car repair company. In order to make more money, I repaired cars and helped my uncle tally up his accounts. I worked every day from dawn till dusk, and I would often still be working overtime when other people finished and went home.
When I got married, I had three kids. I didn’t want my children to be poor like I had been, and so I worked even harder. I worked every day from 7 am to 7 pm, and after work I drove an electric tuk-tuk, taxiing people around to make some extra money. I finally returned home around 2 am in the morning and only slept around three or four hours every night. Not only that, but I used the four days of leave I had every month to moonlight as a taxi driver to make a little extra. Although I was already a believer in the Lord, I only attended gatherings when I had free time at that point and I sometimes felt indebted to the Lord, but when I saw my family not living a well-off life, I would start again working real hard to earn money.
After several years of hard work, I was finally able to buy a house and a car. What wasn’t so great, however, was that, because I had worked nights for so long and had overstrained myself, I developed high blood pressure. The doctor told me to go for treatment and not overwork myself anymore. I thought to myself: “I’m no longer in good health and if I can’t earn any more money in the future, does that mean that my hopes to become wealthy are now dashed?” Thinking this, I despaired. I wasn’t willing to give up like that, however, so I went for treatment and carried on earning money both day and night. Only when I really felt physically unwell was I forced to stay at home and not take the car out. But every time I took a rest, I saw that I’d made less money and I would then become unwilling to rest, and so I’d endure my illness and keep on driving. In the end, my illness got worse and I became so weak that I could no longer work. I had no choice then but to stop work and rest, and rely on taking medicine to keep myself going …
I Hear God Calling
One day in June, 2016, Pastor Jess and his wife came to see us. They said that the Lord Jesus had already returned, and that He was performing a new stage of work. They said that Jesus had performed the work of redemption in the Age of Grace and that, although our sins had been absolved by the Lord, because we had been corrupted so deeply by Satan, our sinful and satanic nature remained rooted within us. Under the domination of our sinful nature, they said, we were often able to commit sins and resist God, and we were bound and constrained by sin. In light of our needs as corrupt mankind, in the last days God had once again become flesh to perform a stage of work of judging and cleansing man with words, and this stage of work was being performed upon the foundation of the work of redemption. God had come to save us completely from the bonds of sin, and this was entirely the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy “Judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
Hearing Pastor Jess’ fellowship, my heart felt very moved. I thought of how, despite having believed in the Lord for many years, I had never cast off the bonds of sin, but was still following social trends and pursuing a life of material luxuries…. Every once in a while, I would feel indebted to the Lord, but I just couldn’t control myself—I really did have sin rooted within me! The more I listened, the more I felt that Pastor Jess’ fellowship came from God, and so I decided to listen to him in earnest. Pastor Jess later testified to me of the work of the returned Lord Jesus—Almighty God—and he gave us fellowship on aspects of the truth such as the three stages of God’s work to save mankind, the mystery of the incarnation, how God performs His work of judgment in the last days to cleanse and change man and how God determines mankind’s end destination. I became certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, and my wife and I gladly accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
Just after I’d accepted God’s work of the last days, I enthusiastically attended gatherings, I would read God’s words whenever I had time, I felt very close to God and the condition of my spirit got better and better. But after a while, seeing that my family needed money for so many things, I thought I must start making money urgently. It wouldn’t do to not have any money, so I started to work hard once again. Sometimes, work clashed with my church gatherings and I would choose to earn money instead, and so I attended gatherings only irregularly. My wife and my brothers and sisters in the church gave me fellowship many times, saying that the work of the last days was God’s final stage of work to save mankind. We had to focus on pursuing the truth, they said, physical pleasures were empty, that it was enough to have food and clothing, and that it was fine to work just normal hours. They enjoined me not to pursue wealth and material pleasures so much that I wouldn’t even have time to attend gatherings, for then I would be likely to lose my chance to gain the truth. But my heart was already occupied by money and I simply paid no attention to what my brothers and sisters said; I kept on working hard to earn money.
Afterward, I worked at my uncle’s company during the day and drove my cab at night to make a little extra. A month passed in this way, then two months, then three…. To make money, I was constantly hustling and bustling. During this time, my cab would have problems almost every day, yet I never prayed to God or withdrew into my spirit for self-reflection in order to discover the reason why. One time later on, I was just about to take my cab out when the engine broke down. Thinking that such a major breakdown would not be repaired quickly, I went back home. As I walked home, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Since I started keeping myself very busy to make money, I haven’t attended regular gatherings, and I feel like I’m getting further and further away from God. Every day, my head is filled with thoughts of how to make more money and how to live a better material life. I’ve never given any thought to how I can attend gatherings or how I can read God’s words more and understand more truths. My car engine has suddenly broken down today—could it be that God’s good will is behind this?”
God’s Words Lead Me to See Satan’s Harm
After I got home, I saw that my wife wasn’t there, so I went to the church to look for her. I just so happened to bump into two sisters and, when they found out that my car had a problem with it, they fellowshiped with me, saying, “Brother, you are a Christian, and when you encounter issues you should receive them from God! You have been constantly working hard to make money for a while now, you have not attended gatherings regularly and your heart is getting further and further from God. Your car has broken down today and God’s good will is behind this. You should quiet your heart and seek diligently. Think carefully: Is money earned simply because we want to earn it? Are we really capable of controlling our own destinies? If we understand these questions, then we will know what approach to take to money.” They then asked me to read a passage of God’s words: “The fate of man is controlled by the hands of God. You are incapable of controlling yourself: Despite always rushing and busying about for himself, man remains incapable of controlling himself. If you could know your own prospects, if you could control your own fate, would you still be a creature?” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this passage, the sisters then gave me fellowship on the aspect of truth of God’s sovereignty over the destiny of mankind. After I’d listened to this, I felt filled with all kinds of different emotions: “Yes,” I thought. “We human beings are God’s creations, and our destiny is ruled and controlled by God. God also predestines how much money we can make in our lifetimes, but I did not recognize the fact of God’s sovereignty over mankind’s destiny, but instead just single-mindedly earned money by my own hard work, making myself wealthy, trying to change my own destiny and struggling to free myself from God’s rule—I really am so rebellious and dull-witted!” Having come to this realization, I said to the sisters, “Ever since I stopped regularly attending gatherings in order to make money, I’ve spent all the money I’ve earned driving my cab on fixing the car. This time, the money I’ll have to spend on a new engine will be all the money I’ve earned driving my cab over the past three months. This has made me truly come to appreciate that we really are unable to control our own destinies, and whether I live poor or rich or how much money I have is not decided solely by my unilateral efforts, but rather is decided by the sovereignty of God. God is using the matter of my car’s engine breaking down today to urge me to come back before Him, to make me recognize His sovereignty and so that I no longer struggle by myself. I must learn how to obey God and make pursuing the truth my priority. The only right thing to do is to entrust earning money into God’s hands!”
After hearing me say this, one of the sisters said, “Thanks be to God! Brother, that you can come to such an understanding of this matter is by the guidance of God! But if we want to be completely free from the bonds that money subjects us to, we must have discernment concerning the ways and deceitful schemes Satan employs to use money to corrupt and harm us, we must gain a thorough understanding of Satan’s evil and baseness and understand the painstaking efforts God goes to to save us. Let’s read another passage of God’s words that concerns this aspect.” As she said this, the sister read to me a passage of God’s words: “‘Money makes the world go round’ is the philosophy of Satan and it prevails among the whole of mankind, among every human society. You could say that it is a trend because it has been imparted to everyone and is now affixed in their heart. People went from not accepting this saying to growing used to it so that when they came into contact with real life, they gradually gave tacit approval to it, acknowledged its existence and finally, they gave it their own seal of approval. … Don’t you feel that you couldn’t survive in this world without any money, that even one day would just be impossible? (Yes.) People’s status is based on how much money they have as is their respectability. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. … To what degree has this saying affected you? You might know the true way, you might know truth, but you are powerless to pursue it. You might clearly know the word of God, but you are unwilling to pay the price, unwilling to suffer to pay the price. Instead, you would rather sacrifice your own future and destiny to go against God to the very end. No matter what God says, no matter what God does, no matter how much you realize that God’s love for you is deep and great, you would still stubbornly stay the course and pay the price for this saying. That is to say, this saying already controls your behavior and your thoughts, and you would rather have your fate controlled by this saying than give it all up. People do this, they are controlled by this saying and manipulated by it. Isn’t this the effect of Satan corrupting man? Isn’t this the philosophy and corrupt disposition of Satan taking root in your heart? If you do this, hasn’t Satan achieved its goal? (Yes.)” (“God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After reading this passage, the sister gave fellowship, saying, “God’s words speak clearly about the root cause of why we are subject to the bonds of money, and they tell us the serious consequences that await us if we pursue money. After mankind was seduced and corrupted by Satan, Satan used all manner of philosophies and axioms such as ‘Money is first,’ ‘Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,’ ‘A man dies for money; a bird dies for food’ and ‘Money makes the world go round’ to deceive and corrupt us. After accepting these philosophies and axioms, we see money as being more important than anything else, believing that we can only get a firm foothold in society if we have money, and then we will be able to enjoy a wealthy life. We therefore struggle and strive and work incredibly hard to earn money, and we become more and more greedy. When we have money, we want more money, and without being aware of it we sink down into becoming the slaves of money. We spend all our time making money, we squander our bodily health, and we don’t pursue the true way even when we know perfectly well that it is the true way. We then no longer feel like worshiping God or seeking to live out a meaningful life. From this, we can see that Satan uses these evil life axioms to corrupt and harm us, to totally ensnare us in its net, and thereby to make us deny the existence of God, deny the sovereignty of God, shun God and betray God, and become firmly under its control and bound by it so that we lose God’s salvation—this is Satan’s ultimate purpose for corrupting mankind. And yet we are without the truth and we cannot see through Satan’s deceitful schemes, but are just led by the nose. As this goes on, we become further and further away from God, and when God’s work comes to an end it will be too late for regret. We must cherish the chance we have today to be saved by God! Although Satan harms and corrupts us in such ways, God is always there, silently saving us. When we become ensnared in money’s web and cannot get out, God awakens our numb hearts through dealing with us and disciplining us, making us able to quiet our hearts and seek to understand His will. From the outside, your car breaking down looks like a bad thing, but within it is hidden God’s love and salvation for you!”
Through the revelations of God’s words and my sister’s fellowship, I finally understood that I had regarded money as so important, that I had failed to heed my own health for the sake of money and that I had even shunned God. It turned out that all this was the result of being subjected to the bonds and harm of Satan’s life axioms, and I thought how true this was. Because, when I was small, I had tasted the bitterness of having no money and being looked down on by others, and I had accepted Satan’s philosophies and axioms, such as “Money is first” and “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” I had believed that money could solve any problem and I had made a resolution to become wealthy, and so, no matter how hard or exhausting my work was, I didn’t care at all, even if I lost my own health. In particular, after I’d accepted God’s work of the last days, I knew that God was expressing His words and performing His work of judgment to cleanse and change man, and to finally lead man into their beautiful destination. I also knew that this stage of work was the final stage of God’s work to save mankind, and that it was absolutely crucial to us attaining salvation. And yet I hadn’t cherished God’s salvation, but only ever thought about earning more money and having good material things to enjoy, and in the end I wasn’t able to attend gatherings regularly to worship God, and my heart got further and further away from God. During this time, God had helped me through the brothers and sisters, and He had given me reminders through my car frequently having problems, but I hadn’t paid God’s will any attention, but just acted willfully on my own initiative and rebelled against God. Had all this not been caused by relying on Satan’s life axioms to live? If it hadn’t been for my car’s engine breaking down, I would not have engaged in self-reflection and sought God’s will, and wouldn’t I then have missed my chance to attain God’s salvation and spent the rest of my life in regret? I had been so damaged by those satanic philosophies! Thanks be to God, for it was the guidance of God’s words that enabled me to see those philosophies and axioms were nothing but heretical fallacies meant to deceive and corrupt people, and I saw clearly Satan’s sinister purpose to corrupt man. From that point on, I was no longer willing to be deceived or bound by Satan, but I wished to return before God once again and attend gatherings in earnest, pursue the truth and worship God.
Later on, I rescheduled my time: I would find two evenings every week to gather with brothers and sisters to fellowship God’s words and, when not attending gatherings, I would make the time to read God’s words and contemplate the truth. Some time later, my heart felt at ease and peaceful, my relationship with God got closer and closer, and what came as a real surprise to me was that my illness also began to get better.
I Struggle to Cast Off the Bonds of Money and Come to Appreciate the Authority of God
Not long afterward, God tested me. One day, the church arranged a duty for me which required several days to perform. I knew that God was exalting me by giving me this duty and I really wanted to get started, but the time needed to perform my duty just happened to clash with my job. I thought of how my mortgage payments and my children’s school fees were fixed, and in two days I had to give my children their school fees. If I didn’t work for a few days, I wouldn’t have enough money to pay it all. I felt just then like I was in a somewhat awkward position and I didn’t know what to do for the best, and so I prayed to God and told Him of my difficulties. Afterward, I read in the piece of God’s words “God Himself, the Unique III”: “The first thing one must understand, when one sets foot on this earth, is where human beings come from, why people are alive, who dictates human fate, who provides for and has sovereignty over human existence. These are the true assets in life, the essential basis for human survival.” “If one views life as an opportunity to experience the Creator’s sovereignty and come to know His authority, if one sees one’s life as a rare chance to perform one’s duty as a created human being and to fulfill one’s mission, then one will necessarily have the correct outlook on life, will live a life blessed and guided by the Creator, will walk in the light of the Creator, know the Creator’s sovereignty, come under His dominion, become a witness to His miraculous deeds and to His authority” (The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After reading God’s words, I understood that God created mankind and gave us the breath of life, that He provides us with everything we need to survive and holds sovereignty over our destinies, and He expresses the truth to lead us onto the right path in life. As created beings, we should perform the duty of a created being before God in order to repay His love, we should experience His work in our real lives, and experience and know God’s authority. Thinking back, I was always relying on my own wild ambitions and subjective efforts to walk the path of worldly people in pursuit of money, and all I brought myself was pain, and I suffered loss in my life. Now, I could no longer be like I was back then—I should pursue the truth, seek God’s will in the situations I encountered every day, practice God’s words and submit to God’s sovereignty, for only this was the true way in life and only a pursuit like that could earn God’s praise. After coming to this understanding, I prayed to God: “O God! I now understand Your will. I wish to obey and perform my duty. I also wish to make a resolution in Your presence, that no matter what situations I may encounter in the future, I shall always seek the truth from within Your words, practice in accordance with Your requirements, submit to Your sovereignty and arrangements and perform my duty as a created being. I ask that You guide me.” After praying, my heart grew calm and I decided that I would perform my duty in earnest.
Two days later, my wife told me that our son needed seven thousand pesos for his school fees, so I took a piece of jewelry I’d previously bought from a pawnshop back to the shop to pawn it. I never expected the shop manager to give me 18,000 pesos for it! It was inconceivable to me, as the manager of this pawnshop usually only ever paid out low amounts. I thought that piece of jewelry would only fetch 11,000 pesos at most, but now the manager had actually given me seven thousand pesos more than that and it was just enough for my son’s school fees—this really was God’s wondrous deed! I truly came to appreciate that God’s authority ruled and administered all things, that God arranged all things for our lives and that we had no cause to worry or fret. I could but offer up my thanks and praise to God.
I Feel Great Gratitude for God’s Love and March Onward to a New Life
One day, I read these words of God: “What God wants to see is that man’s heart can be revived. These ways that He uses to work on man are to continually awaken the heart of man, awaken man’s spirit, letting man know where they came from, who is guiding them, supporting them, providing for them, and who has allowed man to live up till now; they are to let man know who is the Creator, whom they should worship, what kind of road they should walk, and in what way man should come before God; they are used to gradually revive the heart of man, so man knows God’s heart, understands God’s heart, and comprehends the great care and thought behind His work to save man. When man’s heart is revived, they no longer wish to live the life of a degenerate, corrupt disposition, but instead wish to pursue the truth in the satisfaction of God. When man’s heart has been awakened, they are then able to make a clean break with Satan, no longer to be harmed by Satan, no longer to be controlled or fooled by it. Instead, man can cooperate in God’s work and in His words in a positive way to satisfy the heart of God, thus attaining fear of God and the shunning of evil. This is the original purpose of God’s work” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Only after my experiences did I finally understand that God had arranged these situations to awaken my heart and my spirit, and to get me to follow the right path in life of obeying God, fearing God and shunning evil, and to live in God’s blessings—all this was God’s painstaking effort! I thought back to what I’d gone through, from sinking into the quagmire of money and getting a serious illness to having the fortune to hear God’s gospel of the last days and coming before God, then once again going in pursuit of money and getting caught in Satan’s net. My brothers and sisters gave me fellowship about God’s words, I came to have some knowledge of the fact of God’s sovereignty over mankind’s destiny, and I also came to have some knowledge of Satan’s wicked purpose in using heretical fallacies to corrupt people, and only then did I begin to let go of money little by little, and I understood that only practicing God’s words and submitting to God’s sovereignty was the right path to follow in life…. In order to awaken my heart and to save me from being harmed by Satan, God paid such a painstaking price for me and He showed me mercy. Every step I took, whether I listened and was obedient, or whether I rebelled against and shunned God, God always used the most suitable means to save me. I truly came to appreciate how real God’s love is and how beautiful and good God’s heart is! Were it not for God’s salvation, I’d still be living in Satan’s snare, caught in a whirlpool of money, completely unaware of what Satan’s harm was turning me into. Coming to this appreciation of God’s love, I had a deep sense of what a true honor and what good fortune it was for me to be able to come before God—God had graced me and showed me favor! I wished only to spend more time and energy in the future attending gatherings, reading God’s words and worshiping God, to arm myself more with the truth, and to perform my duty well to repay God’s love. Thank God and praise Him!