What is true biblical prosperity and how does it differ from the popular “prosperity doctrine” many adhere to today? How do we put ourselves in a position to prosper in God’s kingdom? And what is the danger of believing a doctrine that is not biblically sound?
Isaiah 49 & 50
Biblical Prosperity & “The Prosperity Doctrine”
Blessed is the Man …
Verse 1, “… Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”
Psalm 1 expands this thought:
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
Unfortunately, the message preached in many pulpits is, “just come to Jesus and He will cause everything you do to prosper.” There is an element of truth in that idea, but without qualifying it with the truths found in these verses and understanding what prospering means from God’s perspective, people end up coming to Him like a spiritual vending machine.
It’s the man or woman who fears the Lord, who doesn’t listen to ungodly advice, doesn’t hang around friends and co-workers who are up to no good, especially those who scorn the truths and reality of God, who will prosper. It’s those who delight in the things of God, meditate on those truths, and obey them, who will prosper.
Sadly, many buy into a superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness, a message that sounds good to our selfish, sinful nature, but requires little of us in the way of change or growth. A large percentage of them will walk away from God at some point when what they believe doesn’t deliver, sometimes mad at God when they do.
The reality of God’s love and care for His children and the work of grace through salvation are so much greater and more wonderful than we can imagine! But He is God and we are not.
True prosperity is the peace that God takes care of His own, that He meets our needs even when He doesn’t give us everything we want. It’s contentment with the blessings of God and not always striving for more (Phil. 4.11-13).
It’s knowing He’s with us in our trials and has a plan to use them to change us into the likeness of Christ (Jas. 1.2-4; Rom. 8.28-29). It’s trusting in His love, His goodness, and His sovereignty. It’s knowing that our past is forgiven, our present guided by His hands, and our future secure.
Let’s not settle for the cheap imitation that the world offers.
Today’s Other Readings:
Isaiah 49 & 50:
The Coming Messiah
These two chapters continue to talk about the (then) coming Messiah. He would be a man—a human being—born of a woman (49.1) and a light not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles (49.6). Though there would be a time of separation from the nation of Israel, God would not divorce her (50.1). And He would suffer torment at the time of His first advent (50.6-7).
There is an invitation to all who are in darkness to come and trust in the name of the Lord (50.10), as well as, a warning that man-made religion will not work (50.11). We can do nothing to save ourselves; all our attempts at being good enough or finding our own way to God (“you who kindle a fire”) are futile.
Men and women have tried to find their own way to God since the tower of Babel and, probably, before. But there is only one Way!
There’s a Lion in the Street! Just Stay in Bed!
These three verses all talk about the “lazy man.”
Verse 13, “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!’”
This is the person who can never do anything, especially work, because there is always some risk, some danger, some excuse that he claims he has no control of, which would make it unwise to do so.
Verse 14, “As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.”
The lazy man fails to redeem the time God has given him or her, preferring to stay in bed and do nothing.
And verse 15, “The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.”
This person is so lazy he or she won’t even use the resources God has so generously provided, whether it is time, talent, or opportunities.
To Those Who Are “in Christ”
The first three chapters of Ephesians are theological; they focus on doctrine. But don’t let that scare you off, as you read through these three chapters take special note of all the things God has provided through our relationship with Him, more reminders of true prosperity. Then as we get to chapters 4-6, we will see Paul’s instructions on how these truths are to be lived out in our lives and behavior.
In chapter 1, we see that He has, “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places ‘in Christ’,” that He has “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,” that “He made us accepted in the Beloved,” “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace,” “in Him also we have obtained an inheritance,” “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory,” and we have been “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance,” just to name a few!
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days we’ll talk about true freedom, what a mature Christian looks like, what’s going on when we think we can sin now and ask forgiveness later and more.
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Have a blessed day in the Beloved!
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Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved
“If there were a Guinness Book of World Records entry for ‘amount of times having prayed the sinner’s prayer,’ I’m pretty sure I’d be a top contender,” says pastor and author J. D. Greear. He struggled for many years to gain an assurance of salvation and eventually learned he was not alone. The idea of “asking Jesus into your heart” or “giving your life to Jesus” often gives false assurance to those who are not saved—and keeps those who genuinely are saved from fully embracing that reality.
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