GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 10/10/04
Prosperity. Part 2
1 John 1:1-8
Under the doctrine of prosperity, God’s guidelines and instructions sound simple and basic, but they actually are not. One of the first principles for blessing from the God of prosperity is to make sure God has top priority in our life,MAT 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Solomon sets a great example in 1KI 3:5-12, “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, ‘Ask what you wish me to give you.’ Then Solomon said, ‘Thou hast shown great lovingkindness to Thy servant David my father, according as he walked before Thee in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward Thee; and Thou hast reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that Thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?’ And it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.'”
The wisdom that God gave Solomon was spiritual insight and wisdom to rule. He was wise in the political economy and did a marvelous job of ruling the nation. Because he asked for wisdom, esteeming God’s Word above all else, we read in 1KI 3:13, “‘And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.'” Whatever we need in any area of our lives, God’s guidelines and instructions for prosperity teach us that He will provide when we keep Him first in every area of our lives.
There are many principles we need to know when it comes to keeping God first, and one is to always start your day spending a period of quiet time with God. It does not have to be a long time, but there should be some conversation with Him if you really believe that He is the most important one in your life. There should be a time when you can speak with Him and ask Him for guidance and direction and help concerning anything that you’re going to need throughout the day. The power of prayer is revealed in 1CH 4:9-10, “And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, ‘Because I bore him with pain.’ Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!’ And God granted him what he requested.”
Jabez prayed that God would increase his capacity, that God’s power might be with him, and that evil would not deceive him, and God granted him what he requested. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers and things started badly for him, but he remained faithful to God, and prayed an unusual prayer with extraordinarily results. The key was to put his relationship with God first-he was more honorable than his brothers.
Putting your relationship with God first also means to set time aside for the study of His Word on a daily basis, 2CO 13:5. Take a test: Do you place your family commitments ahead of God? Is God more important to you than your social life? Do you spend more time seeking God than you do on the computer, watching television, or enjoying your games and hobbies? Is seeking God on a daily basis more important to you than seeking financial prosperity? Many Christians believe that they always keep God first, but if you are completely honest with each one of these questions, you might find that this is not the case.
“Do I actually place God ahead of each member of my family?”
“Is God more important to me than my friendships?”
The Bible teaches that if you are going to be a winner and receive God’s highest and best, you will have to overcome opposition, which comes in many areas. You will be hindered by your friends, family members, co-workers, members of the opposite sex, and, of course, your enemies, from fulfilling the plan of God. You will have distractions sent by the kingdom of darkness to stop your spiritual momentum. This happened to Abraham when he stayed with his father because of sentimentality, GEN 11:31-32. Jonathan also chose his father over God’s people and died on the battlefield, 1SA 31:2. King Ahab chose his wife Jezebel over the plan of God, 1KI 16:31, and Samson chose a woman named Delilah, JDG 16:4. Many of God’s servants have been led astray by another person whom they love.
The Bible teaches that when loved ones hold you back, then your loved ones have to go. Many times personal loves hinder spiritual growth because the believer is forced to compromise certain standards and convictions that are developed through doctrinal growth. Your family life and social life are not worth compromising, MAT 10:34-39. Our Lord’s own earthly family, including His mother, thought that He had lost His senses and that He was out of His mind, MAR 3:21. At one point His own family did not believe that he was the Son of God, Joh 7:5. They did not come to believe in Him until after His resurrection when He appeared to His brother James. The Lord Jesus Christ taught that His followers are even closer to Him than His natural family and closest relatives. In fact, we are told that His disciples took the place of His earthly family because they had believed in Him, Mat 12:50. Our relationship with God must take priority over relationships with people, and our number one priority demands that we have a right relationship with God. As an expression of this, emphasis on people over God must be set aside.
“Do I spend more time seeking God each day than I do listening to the lies perpetuated from the cosmic system through technology?”
With all the garbage in the media today, Christians will still spend more time with this than they do in the Word of God. They are filling their minds with all the deceitful notions and propaganda from the cosmic system, as in 2CO 4:4. We are told throughout the Word of God to be careful what we allow into our souls through the eyes and ears,MAR 4:24; LUK 8:18; PRO 16:25, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”;JOH 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” This is why God tells us to be very careful of what type of information we allow into our souls. You may not think that it will affect you, but inevitably it will, ISA 59:5.
Just as we can eat God’s words by allowing His Word to enter our soul, the “god of this world” uses his power through words to influence the believer and the unbeliever. We have all been taken in by the lies perpetuated by the cosmic system, the prime purveyor of the lies that keep the truth hidden. Cosmic thinking has been so deeply ingrained in almost every human being that one can only see what is real through divine viewpoint. For many people, when the truth is too strong to ignore, they hide it from sight and attempt to forget it because they can’t handle the truth.
“Do I spend more time seeking God each day than I do watching television or enjoying hobbies?”
Many Christians give God some time on a Sunday, perhaps one or two Bible studies during the week, and maybe a few minutes of prayer each day. And in the lives of many Christians, that is “it” as far as God is concerned. Such a lifestyle obviously does not put God first. Many have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have never truly allowed Him to govern their entire lives. To put Him first, we need to deny ourselves each day and put Him first in every area of our lives, LUK 9:23, “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'”
The average person is seeking fame, fortune, and long life, and God’s Word tells us exactly how to achieve them,PRO 22:4, “The reward of humility and the fear [respect] of the Lord are riches, honor and life.” There is nothing wrong with riches and wealth, provided they are obtained God’s way. God wants us to enjoy riches, honor, and a long life, as a result of always humbling ourselves before Him. This is God’s “prescription” for prosperity. God does not allow us to put people, money, hobbies, or anything else ahead of Him, EXO 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The world’s system of prosperity puts temporal things ahead of God. In fact, many people get so caught up with earning money that they think about it almost constantly, and although most of them do not realize it, money has become their god.
This all-consuming desire for money, or anything else in life, is exactly the kind of desire that we should have for God. We should think about Him all the time. Your attitude toward the Word of God is your exact attitude toward God Himself. God’s two requirements for perfect peace are very clear-(1) we must keep Him first at all times by keeping our mind on Him, and (2) we must trust Him completely. God’s guidelines and instructions to prosper will only work to the degree that we keep Him first in our lives, completely and absolutely ahead of everything else. They are based on total dedication of our lives to Him. If God really is first in our lives, why should we ever be worried about any problem? If we are worried about any problem, we are actually allowing that problem to take first place ahead of God? Instead of focusing on the problems, we should focus on the promises of God’s Word and the great ability of the Holy Spirit living inside us. A peace is available to us, is a perfect, complete peace. The blessings that we receive from God will be in direct proportion to the degree of our lasting commitment to Him.
Another necessity in God’s guidelines for prosperity is to renew our minds so that we will understand that God’s way for prosperity is different from the world’s way, ISA 55:8. We need to renew our minds in order to change our long-established thought processes from the world’s methods of prosperity to God’s, as in PRO 3:14. Sadly, many Christians believe in the world’s way of prospering and reject doctrinal principles of prosperity. One of the biggest obstacles to learning and applying God’s guidelines for prosperity is the tremendous difference between them and the world’s system of prosperity. This requires strong faith, developed through the inculcation of God’s Word, ROM 10:17.
Many of us have followed the world’s system for many years, and it is not easy to change from long-established and ingrained habits and patterns; however, that is exactly what we must do! In order to understand and apply God’s guidelines, we must stop conforming to the world’s system and renew our minds with God’s Word. Our minds are like computers, which must be re-programmed with God’s laws for prosperity. Most of us need to feed a great deal of new data into our “computers.”
In 3JO 1:2 the Apostle John writes, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” God wants us to be successful and healthy, but notice the “qualifier” at the end: “just as your soul prospers.” These last five words are the cause of the prosperity and health God wants so much for us, and we will experience this in exact proportion to the degree that our souls are prospered and made brand new. The soul is the combination of our heart, our mind, and our emotions, and a prosperous soul is one that is filled with God’s Word. Therefore, we must constantly engage in the process of converting our souls from the world’s ways to His ways. If we follow God’s laws, even the most simple person will receive God’s wisdom, PSA 19:7. God’s laws will never change, we are the ones who have to change.
Now, what exactly must be done so that our souls will prosper? This question is clearly answered in 3JO 1:1-8, “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was very glad when brethren came and bore witness to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they bear witness to your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”
“Walking in the truth” causes us to produce divine good, even toward strangers. God wants His truth inside us, and nothing gives Him greater joy than to see His children walking in truth, which means to live our daily lives in the light of Bible doctrine.
We often cancel the effectiveness of God’s laws because of our “tradition,” the way we have always done things,MAR 7:13. God never think in terms of shortages. There is no place for such thinking in His mind, and He does not want us to allow this thinking into our minds. If our minds are continually filled with thoughts of doubt and unbelief, as in MAT 13:58, how can we possibly enjoy prosperity in our lives?
God wants us to renew our minds because He wants to restore our souls, to make the soul “brand new” with divine viewpoint, and then such passages like PSA 23:1-2 will become a reality: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”
We must get rid of our old ways and start out anew, cleaning up our minds daily. Christians who have not renewed their minds in God’s Word do not have the spiritual eyesight to see their way out of seemingly unsolvable problems. God does not want us surrendering to the problems that overwhelm so many people of this world. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price at Calvary to give us victory over all of our problems, JOH 16:33.
God gave us His Word, full of instructions on exactly what to do in order to overcome the problems of this world. He gave us the Holy Spirit inside us to guide us in the understanding of the truth, Joh 16:13. Christians who have paid the price of diligently renewing their minds will focus on the solution; those who have not, will focus on the problem. So we need to feed our human spirit every day with spiritual food from God’s Word, which is transformed into a spiritual energy, which is called pistis, or “faith,” 2Co 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” We should feast on God’s Word, and regardless of what we might be going through on the outside, we will always have joy on the inside,JER 15:16, “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.”
God does not want our imaginations running rampant about our financial problems or the problems of the world. He wants our minds renewed so that we can cast down these negative thoughts and focus totally on the promises in His Word, 2CO 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” If we do not continually renew our minds, we leave them wide open to doubts, fears, and temptations. Our soul cannot prosper unless our mind is under control, and our mind will never be under control, unless we can cast out negative thoughts and bring our thoughts completely in line with the Word of God.
Too many Christians today focus so much on the problems of the world that they ultimately become part of those problems because they are so identified with them. Instead of focusing so much on the problems that surround us, we need to redirect our attention to the solution. You are the beneficiary of many wonderful blessings from God, yet if you do not know these things, you will lose out. Many believers live as paupers on earth even though they are the children of the God who controls the entire universe.
For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1221 to 0190-1224.