Bible Ballistics: He Shall Prosper? Really?? Vol. 5 #23
Psalm 1:3, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
There’s a lot of teaching and preaching these days about “prosperity”—God wants you to have it “all”. Teaching that declares that we are “kings” and that means God will give us anything that we want, anything that we “claim with positive confession”, anything that we “believe for”—well scripture paints a different picture. Let’s take a look at scripture and reality, God’s reality. The reality of “bringing forth fruit” IN “His season”—not mine. As Jesus told his disciple in John 4:34:
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
Jesus prospered, but not like many are thinking today. The verse from Psalm 1 says, “and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper”. Well, what does that really mean? Just as importantly, what does it NOT mean? God’s definition of prosperity is not like ours. God judges righteous judgment. Job defended his righteousness before men, and he was by God’s own testimony a man unparalleled in the earth, a perfect (mature, complete) and upright man in his doings, and one that feared God and hated evil!!! Yet God saw fit in His sovereignty and foreknowledge to allow Job to be tested.
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8
Even Job’s ‘so-called’ good friends insisted that Job’s situation proved that he had sinned or he would be in ‘prosperity’ at the very time he was in distress!
Job 8:6, “If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.”
I’ve often said that Bildad was the first “prosperity” preacher in history. He has directly, of his own wisdom and presumption, declared to Job that he is NOT pure and upright, or else God would prosper him!!! Yet God has already declared that Job was upright (or righteous). What you see isn’t always what you think you see. Let God and His Word say what it says, and don’t presume on God, His Word or His will !!!
God is God and we who claim to know Him, should let Him be so. The whole idea that we are ‘entitled’ to dictate to God the when, where, what and how of our own lives and circumstances, flies in the face of scripture. Let’s begin with a simple example that everyone knows:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:9-11
Jesus gives us a ‘prototype’, if you would, of our prayer life and where our desires should take root:
“Our Father”—we are to honor our ‘Father’ and seek to please HIM, not ourselves.
“Hallowed by thy name”—reverence, awe and submission are the order of the day NOT demands.
“Thy kingdom come”—His ruler-ship NOT mine!
“Thy will be done”—Again His will NOT mine!
“in earth, as it is in heaven”—NOT my will on earth stamper approved in heaven, but His will from heaven accomplished in me, as I yield to His Spirit!
“Give us this day our daily bread”—NOT give me all I want to consume upon my own lust, but daily depending on God’s provision.
In fact James has something to say about that very thing, and a very apropos warning to our culture—this is written to believers:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Ja:1-4
So, my friends, what are you desiring for yourself, God’s will or your own? Do you trust God and His sovereign will to care for you? Do you trust Him to send His rain upon the just and the unjust? As Elihu spoke to Job.
“By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened. 11 Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud: 12 And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth. 13 He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy.” Job 37:10-13
Are you so wise as to know what God’s eternal purposes are? This righteous man Job didn’t know God’s purposes but he came to understand the total sovereign will, provision and trustworthiness of his God. Do you know that God may be working some great and wondrous purpose through your suffering or the suffering of someone you love? He may be working for “correction, or for his land, or for mercy”!!! As the popular refrain of the day says, “let it go”!! Let God be God and trust HIM!!!
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes:
fear the Lord,
and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel,
and marrow to thy bones.”
He will provide in His way, His time and for His glory and your good!!! Just trust HIM and don’t presume on His grace or His sovereignty!
Consider for a moment with me a few folks who seem to fly in the face of the ‘prosperity’ teachers and preachers:
Dietrich Bonheoffer: A powerful man of God with an amazing grasp of God, His Word and His dependability. Slain in his prime. But what a powerful testimony he ignited in his martyrdom. He gave Himself totally to God! He didn’t prosper materially, He died—but he died trusting God!!
Joni Eareckson Tada: A quadriplegic who prayed for healing but instead was given a very powerful platform to reach disabled people for Jesus, and bring attention to the needs of people across the globe. A platform she probably wouldn’t’ have had in healing. But she trusts God to this day and has affected countless thousands of lives, with her testimony, her writing, singing, painting and advocacy for the disabled.
Jim Elliott: A young man totally committed to righteousness, devotion to God and missions. His life snuffed out by the very people he had gone to share the gospel with. He died trusting his God! A useless waste, right? No, not at all. His death and the deaths of his friends sparked a revival across America and the world, which encouraged countless numbers of young people to surrender to God’s call to missions. A mighty work resulted because these men and their families trusted God even in death. A mistake? I don’t think so.
So in conclusion today, what or who are you serving? Prosperity? Worldly success? Fame? Recognition for your accomplishments—whether for God or man? Yourself and your dreams, goals and desires? Or have you completely humbled yourself before the Lord and sought His will, direction and purpose for your life and perhaps the life of you family? I leave you with one of my favorite passages in all of scripture:
“ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Wherefore, my beloved,
as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you
both to will
and to do of his good pleasure.”
Won’t you humble yourself and trust it all to HIM? Today?