Daily Devotional for Sunday July 9, 2006
The Real Prosperity Gospel
(Psalms 37:16; Proverbs 10:22, 13:7; Hebrews 11:26; James 2:5; Matthew 6:19)
How many times have you turned on Christian television and heard a message on ?prosperity?? On the screen was a man or woman wearing thousands of dollars worth of clothes, tens of thousands more in jewelry, speaking from a million dollar set or a multi-million-dollar building. Their message was about prosperity and how God wants you to have a mansion, drive new luxury automobiles, wear the finest clothes, eat the most sumptuous food, vacation in far-off lands. They tell you from God?s Word that you are the ?Head and not the tail,? ?The lender not the borrower,? that ?God owns the cattle on a thousand hills,? ?All the gold and silver belongs to Him,? and the ?Wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous.?
As you sit there watching, you start to get into their message. They tell you that you are the child of a King and you deserve to live like royalty. Their powerful words encourage you to believe that God will provide you with all of the riches this world has to offer. They tell you that the only thing keeping you from enjoying great prosperity is your faith. You simply need greater faith. They, then, explain to you how to attain greater faith. You see, according to these prosperity teachers your faith is tied directly to your bank account and how much you are willing to give to them! (Where do you think their prosperity comes from?)
You are, then, challenged to show how great your faith is by the amount of money you are willing to send to them. Though it is never said in words, it is clearly insinuated that the bigger the check you write, the greater your faith is. The verse in the Bible that these prosperity teachers routinely pervert is Luke 6:38, ?Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.? Bottom line?even though they never actually say it, they make it very clear that the more you want from God, the more you have to give to THEM. This false prosperity Gospel is based on your GREED and not really on your faith at all.
That is why in nearly 6 years of Liveprayer, I have never, nor will I ever, play games with you and try to manipulate you into giving to God?s work here. I have taken a very strict Biblical approach to giving. I simply share our needs with you, encourage you to give based on your responsibility according to the Scriptures, remind you to give according to your ability to give, and provide you the opportunity to partner with me in bringing the Truth of God?s Word and the hope and love of Christ to millions worldwide each day who are hurting and lost, and trust God to move on your heart. No hype, no games, no manipulation, and no false hopes of wealth just because you give to God?s work here at Liveprayer.
The flourishing of the prosperity Gospel in the past 30 years has coincided with the wealth and excesses of our culture, especially here in the United States. It has played right into the trap of this world that measures success in dollars and cents. It parallels the mindset of Michael Douglas?s character Gordon Gekko in the late ?80s film Wall Street when he proclaimed, ?Greed is good.? Sadly, like in how we dress, our music, how we view the issues of our day, instead of the church influencing the world, we have allowed the world to influence the church, especially in regard to this whole issue of prosperity.
I?ll give you the perfect example. How do we judge a successful church? There is only ONE criteria we use, the number of people who show up for service. How do we judge a successful ministry? How many people work there, how big and modern are their buildings, do they have more than one corporate jet, HOW MUCH MONEY DO THEY RAISE? We have allowed the world to influence the church instead of the church influencing the world! God doesn?t judge a successful church by the size of their buildings or the number of people who attend. God judges a successful church by their dedication and service to Him! God doesn?t judge a successful ministry by the value of their assets. God judges a successful ministry by their faithfulness to the work He has called them to and the lives they are impacting for His Kingdom!
Those who have gone completely in the other direction and say that to be a true follower of Christ you have to live in poverty are equally as wrong. There is NO PLACE in the Bible that supports this false notion that you have to live in poverty to be a real follower of Jesus. There is nothing wrong with having a nice home, nice cars, nice clothes, eating good food, going on nice vacations. Money is not evil, the LOVE OF MONEY is evil. God has richly blessed many of His people with great material possessions and wealth since the beginning. It has been many of these people God has so richly blessed that have been responsible for much of the work of the Kingdom getting done! God blessed Joseph of Arimithea to be able to give his tomb to Jesus. God blessed those who gave to support Paul?s missionary trips. Many who God has blessed with great wealth and resources have been faithful to use their blessings to further His work!
Also, God?s Word is TRUE. As a child of God we ARE the head and not the tail. We ARE to be the lender and not the borrower. The wealth of the wicked HAS been laid up for the righteous. God DOES own the cattle on a thousand hills and ALL the gold and silver belongs to Him. Luke 6:38 that tells us to give and it will be given unto us IS true! God DOES bless the faith of His children, often in their giving. But the real prosperity Gospel is not about money or possessions, it is about our relationship with Jesus Christ! The wealth of the child of God is NOT in the things of this temporal world that will one day pass away, it is in our eternal relationship we have with the Lord! The real prosperity Gospel is about what we have in Jesus, not what we have in the bank!
I love you and care about you so much. Ever wonder why you don?t see these prosperity teachers on ABC or major network affiliates? Simple. Only a few would watch meaning nobody would give them money or buy their books and tapes. Ever wonder why they don?t preach their prosperity message in India, Africa, or other parts of the world? Same reason. Their message doesn?t work on people who have nothing to give them. That is why it is a false gospel. Our prosperity is NOT measured in our earthly treasures but in what we have stored up in heaven. The Bible is very clear that our wealth is not in the temporal things of this world but in the eternal things of God!
Do you want to tell me that a person who loves Jesus, follows Christ daily, serves Him faithfully, yet lives in a small apartment in Siberia and has no material possessions is poor because they have no faith? The reality is God is blessing that person 100x greater than He is blessing someone who is saved and has all this world can offer in terms of material possessions, but is not fully surrendered or living their life for Him. Do you want to tell me God is not richly blessing someone who lives in Dallas, Texas who has a small 2 bedroom home, a mortgage, a 13-year-old car with 120,000 miles on it, basically living paycheck to paycheck but loves Jesus, is in the Word and prays daily, part of a local fellowship, serving the Lord in different ways, and honors Christ each day in how they live?
NEVER FORGET THIS. YOUR BLESSINGS FROM GOD ARE NOT MEASURED IN DOLLARS AND CENTS BUT IN THE CURRENCY OF HEAVEN! YOU CAN HAVE LITTLE ACCORDING TO THE STANDARDS OF THIS WORLD, YET BE RICH BEYOND BELIEF BECAUSE YOU KNOW CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR! WHAT PRICE CAN YOU PUT ON HAVING THE ASSURANCE THAT WHEN YOU DIE YOU WILL BE FOREVER WITH JESUS? WHAT PRICE CAN YOU PUT ON THE PEACE THAT PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTATING? WHAT PRICE CAN YOU PUT ON THE JOY OF THE LORD? DON?T LET THE WORLD OR ESPECIALLY THE CHURCH LIE TO YOU THAT YOU ARE NOT BLESSED BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DON?T HAVE IN THIS WORLD, BECAUSE GOD?S WORD SAYS THAT IF YOU KNOW CHRIST YOU ARE RICHER THAN EVEN BILL GATES IN THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER!!!
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will not allow this world or especially those in the church force you to judge how much God is blessing you by your bank account. That is a false prosperity Gospel. The real prosperity Gospel says that if you know Christ as your Savior you have riches greater than anything this world could ever offer. You really are royalty, the child of a King! I pray that you will continue to surrender your life daily to King Jesus and develop an even more intimate relationship with Him through prayer, the Word, fellowshipping with other Believers and your service. That is how you continue to live with His blessings in your life each day. That my friend is the REAL prosperity Gospel.