Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Purpose of Prosperity is Provision Not Self Indulgence (Part 1)

When I think about the prosperity gospel I just wanna scream, The Prosperity Gospel....AAAAAGGGGH!!  It's ironic I suppose because I have been hearing it, to some degree, from one source or another for years.  I was even sold on it to some extent for a little while.  Who wouldn't want to serve a God who is just waiting to poor out blessing on you.....especially if it's for your benefit?  That is in fact, where the problem lies.
    Contemporary Christianity has created a concept of Jesus as a drive-thru window.  Burger King Christianity, my way, right away.  Pull up, name it, claim it, and it's yours.  Or rather pull up to an empty building, speak that restaurant and food into being and enjoy your meal.
     These ideas tend to be based on a scripture taken completely out of context.  Romans 4:17 says, "As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations.  He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were."
This scripture is speaking of Abraham's faith and trust in what GOD had spoken.  This is the only place that uses this phrase about speaking things that are not as though they were and it is referring to God as the speaker, not us.  Yet we have taken this phrase and made it the basis for the "name it and claim it" concept.  This text in Romans is also part of a much larger multi-chapter discourse by Paul regarding salvation and righteousness.  It was not written as a discussion of how we can get what we want by placing demands on God.  We can proclaim HIS WORD which is still HIM speaking, but the results and timing are still up to him.
     Regarding getting what WE want, here is what the bible says about that.  "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).  "This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  That if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him". (1 John 5:14-15)  
     Ok, so far we know that if we are delighting in the Lord and are asking for his will to be done in our lives that we will have that.  So how do we know what his will is?  Well, to know that we must do something.  In Romans 12:1-2 Paul states, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  THEN you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
    One of the biggest problems in the world today is that we want God to do everything for us but we don't want to dig deep into our relationship with Him through prayer, study of the word, and application of the word to our lives.  We want to quote a few bible verses and go on living life our way.  That is not living according to his will.  If  you are not living according to his will then you probably WILL NOT pray according to his will.  If your lifestyle is selfish, your prayers most likely will be also.
Following Christ means loosing everything for him.  In fact in Luke 14:26-27 Jesus says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."  In Vs 33 after a couple of examples he says, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."
     Jesus, Paul, and John all drive a much tougher line in regards to what obedience and discipleship looks like than is taught and received in much of the church today.  However, what we need to realize is that we are not actually loosing or sacrificing but gaining and benefiting for as Paul said, "to live is Christ and to die is gain"(Philippians 1:21)  Paul goes on to say, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."(Philippians 3:8-9)
Can you say that?  When your life reflects a relationship with Jesus in which nothing else has value compared to potentially sharing in the same suffering as Christ did and dying as Christ did, then you can say that that HIS will is of most interest to you.
         Another misconception is that because all God's promises are Yes and Amen(2 Corinthians 1:20), that must mean they will happen when we want them to.  That is not the case.  God knows our heart and and only God knows his divine plan for our lives and the lives of everyone we impact. The timing of God's provision, healing, any other promises and whether it happens in this life on earth or eternity spent with Jesus is entirely up to him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  
           To many faithful followers of God have died afflicted and not living in abundance to suggest that God always answers every prayer as yes, in this life.   Paul himself prayed to be delivered from affliction and God did not say yes because he knew that Paul would know the glory and strength of God better in his weakness. Paul also knew that whether having much or having little he could be content knowing that all things were possible through the strength that Christ provides. We must trust that God's plan for our lives, though difficult at times, is perfect and for our greater good.  He will sustain us and provide for our every NEED.  No matter the trial or tribulation, by His grace we can stand, knowing that his strength is made perfect in our weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 4:11-13) 
 Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

In the interest of brevity I will stop here and continue in part 2 of this post title.  I wanted to deal with some misconceptions regarding this topic in setting up to present that the bible does in fact promise prosperity and to discuss the "why's" of that truth.  It is much less shallow or selfish and much more purposed towards God's glory than today's church culture in much of American Christianity would have us believe.  So if I have peaked your curiosity, good.  If you are not a free subscriber to this blog then subscribe or come back and check out part 2 for the conclusion.  If I have made you mad or you think I am nuts, that's ok too.  At least read part 2 and get the complete thought process before you write me off or label me a heretic. Stay tuned.

 My ultimate goal is that God gets the glory in my life and the life of every reader of this blog.  If challenging you to pursue biblical truth and grow in your relationship with God is not the primary purpose behind every post then my efforts are meaningless.  If you have not trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord then I pray my posts point you to him and that his Holy Spirit will draw you unto an eternal life that begins as soon as you are born again in Christ.

In Jesus Name,


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