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 10/17/04
Prosperity. Part 4.
In our study of prosperity, we must look at God’s perspective on work and discipline. In order to lead prosperous, successful lives, God expects us to work hard and discipline ourselves. Many Christians believe that they can have anything they want simply by asking God for it and expecting Him to give it to them. However, the Word of God clearly teaches us that we need to do the very best that we can with the abilities that God has given us, COL 3:22-24,ECC 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might.” God’s guidelines and instructions for prosperity definitely require us to work hard, in order to receive God’s highest and best for our lives, 2TH 3:10. Unfortunately, the attitude of “the world owes me a living,” seems to be very prevalent today. Many people are content to put as little into their work as they can get away with. Too many employees are receiving a full day’s pay for less than a full day’s work. They live by the concept, “I can get more by doing nothing.” And they are becoming slaves, dependent on the government and others, and they are never content with wealth.
This is the slave mentality, emphasizing security over freedom, as in NUM 11:1-6, “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died out. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them. And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.'”
To these Jews, security was more important than freedom. They actually wished to return to Egypt, where they had been enslaved, because Egypt represented security. The freedom mentality is something that we must learn, and as believers we cannot have freedom without doctrine. Spiritual freedom is the heritage of the new birth, 2CO 3:17,“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” PSA 119:45 describes spiritual freedom for the Old Testament saints: “I will walk in freedom because I seek Your doctrines.” In JOH 8:32, “You shall know the doctrine and the doctrine shall make you free.” None of us are naturally freedom oriented; by instinct we are security oriented. However, the only true security comes from freedom. You do not develop freedom from security; you must develop security from your freedom.
We are not to use prayer and miracles as “shortcuts.” We must work hard and diligently, PRO 10:4, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
PRO 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”
The Word of God tells us that we should work hard to reveal the virtues of Christianity to those around us, 1TH 4:11-12 (Amplified Bible), “Work with your hands, as we charged you; so that you may bear yourselves becomingly, be correct and honorable and command the respect of the outside world, being self-supporting, dependent on nobody and having need of nothing.”
The Word of God uses the simplistic illustration of the ant to teach us this principle. The ant has no boss telling it what to do, but instinctively works hard to provide its needs, PRO 6:6, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise.”
PRO 6:11 warns us of the danger of just a little laziness and slothfulness here and there, a day off here and there:“And your poverty will come in like a vagabond [drifter, wanderer], and your need like an armed man.”
One day the lazy man will wake up and find that poverty has overtaken him and, like an armed robber, has take everything from him, the financed home, the car, and everything else he thought he owned. We cannot continue to violate God guidelines and instructions to prosper; sooner or later we will pay the price. Instead of robbing our employers by doing less than our best, God’s Word tells us to work as hard as we can, ECC 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might.”
The Word of God teaches us to go “all out.” God wants us to do more than what is expected. Many people are looking for ideal working conditions, longer vacations, more leisure, etc., but we are told to do our job as unto the Lord. Whatever we are called to do, God’s Word tells us to put everything we have into it, because we are working for Jesus Christ, COL 3:23. Our job is to do the very best we can with the human abilities God has given us and trust in Him for the rest. If a believer does not do his best at his work, he will soon start to feel empty and unfulfilled, ECC 9:9. On the other hand, when we put in a solid day’s work, we receive a sense of inner satisfaction, ECC 5:12, “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much.”
God wants us to do our best, but the fact is that the great things of life really are done through us, not by us. As Solomon said in Psa 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” God will do great things through us, if we will first of all do our very best and then trust completely in Him to take it from there. Many Christians miss out by going to one extreme or the other-either they do not do their very best, or they think that they have to do everything by themselves. If we want to be free from the bondage of problems, we must have discipline, which is needed to continually study God’s Word, JOH 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This freedom is obtained by continuing in God’s Word and never quitting but continually going forward.
The one major obstacle that blinds Christians from realizing the their freedom in Christ is lack of consistency. Many Christians start studying God’s Word, and perhaps even stick with it for a while, but do not continue their perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine consistently. The words “disciple” and “discipline” originate from the Latin word discipulus, which means pupil or student, and is derived form the root word discere, which means to learn or discern. If we really want to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must have the discipline to get into God’s Word and stay there. We will only consistently obey God’s Word if we follow His “perfect law of liberty,” the law that sets us free, JAM 1:25, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”
To be great at anything in life requires a tremendous amount of time, effort, and devotion, and this is true of natural talents, just as it is true in the spiritual realm. You have been given at least 40 fantastic gifts at the moment of salvation, but these things must be studied, learned, and applied in order for you to reap the benefits, PSA 111:2,“Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.”
God wants us to realize how precious our time is, PSA 90:12. He does not want us to waste the time that He has given us, but make the most of it, EPH 5:15-16. This is why we read in MAR 4:15, “And these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.” Satan has all kinds of ways to get believers away from doctrine (1TI 5:15), as we are warned in 2Co 2:11, “In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
In 2CO 11:14, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
If it takes us four years to graduate from worldly high schools and another four years to graduate from college, why should any of us expect to learn God’s great spiritual laws without spending a great deal of time and effort in studying and meditating on God’s Word? If we want God to prosper us, we must give ourselves wholly to continual perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine, 1Ti 4:15 (King James Version), “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” The word translated “meditate” comes from the Greek word meletao, which means to revolve in the mind, to meditate, to attend to carefully, and to study.
Many Christians quit when they don’t see the results they were expecting. However, faithfulness to Bible doctrine over time will develop lasting habits and patterns, JOH 8:31; ACT 2:42; ACT 9:31; ACT 14:22; 2TI 3:14. In all these passages we see the results of continuing and not quitting. When we hear the Word of God, a seed is literally sown in our hearts, in fact, the Bible calls the Word of God a seed, Luk 8:11, “The seed is the Word of God”; 1PE 1:23, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding Word of God.”
To sow a seed means to plant a thought. Unfortunately, many people hear God’s Word, and as soon as they stop studying, they have forgotten most of what they heard, JAM 1:23, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” In this case, the seed of God’s Word never has the opportunity to take root and grow. This is why rebound (naming and citing our sins) before the study of God’s Word is so important; it gives us the opportunity to prepare ourselves to concentrate on the Word of God. As the Apostle Paul stated in 1CO 7:35, “And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” The Living Bible translation of PSA 119:78 reads, “Let the proud be disgraced, for they have cut me down with all their lies. But I will concentrate my thoughts upon your laws.”
Many people are distracted when the Word of God is being spoken, and therefore they do not concentrate and so the seed never gets sown, in MAR 4:3-8, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; and it came about that as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. And other seeds fell into the good soil and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
The Word of God will only grow in our hearts to the degree that we continue our doctrinal intake and learn how to think in the realm of divine viewpoint, so that it becomes a part of our frame of reference. However, knowledge by itself is not sufficient to activate God’s prosperity. God’s guidelines and instructions come from divine viewpoint and a spiritual realm that is completely different from the natural world that we live in; God’s guidelines come from epignosis, doctrine metabolized. We need to trust and apply these principles, and this is where faith comes in. God does not want us trying to figure out His way to prosper with our human viewpoint. The first step to activating His laws is to get them inside our heart, PRO 23:7, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” This is why we are told to meditate day and night in His Word, PSA 1:2.
When we work diligently at meditating on God’s Word, this will change every aspect of our lives because the significant events in our lives are based upon what we believe deep down in our heart. Therefore, we are instructed inPRO 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” God wants us to fill our hearts and our minds with His Word, Deu 11:18, PSA 37:31.
In difficult economic times, people stockpile money and hoard up food and other necessities. This urge to store things up is a worldly manifestation of the spiritual “storing up” that God requires. He wants us store up doctrine in our hearts so that we will respond instinctively to any crisis. He wants His Word to be so established in our hearts that we will not be afraid of any problems that come upon us, PSA 112:5-8.
Instead of concerning ourselves with bad news, our hearts should be fixed upon God’s Word, trusting completely in His promises, Nah 1:7. No matter how difficult a situation may appear, a heart that is truly established in God’s Word will never waver. ACT 19:20 says of the early disciples, “So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” The Greek word for “prevail” is ischuo, meaning to be strong and powerful. God wants His Word to be so strong and powerful inside us that it will prevail over every problem. This is what it means to have faith, and the divine promise is that those who have faith will be rewarded by God, HEB 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” There is nothing to fear, no need to worry. God will always come through to the degree that we believe and trust in His character and nature. God will do His part, but we have to do ours. If we want God to prosper us in all areas of our life, we must give ourselves wholly to continual study and meditation in His Word, PRO 13:13; PRO 16:20. All things do not work together for good in your life just because you’re a Christian and God is your Father,ROM 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”
Our minds are like computers, and our hearts store the data, and when a problem enters our lives, our minds should immediately turn to the storage area in our hearts and search out the appropriate laws of God that will deal with the problem we are facing. We must then respond based upon our faith in what God’s Word says, and not upon the problem itself. When faced with difficult problems, instead of being full of cares and worries, God wants us to go to Him with a faith that is based solely upon the promises in His Word. If we follow these simple instructions, God’s Word says that we will receive a peace so great that it will be beyond our human understanding.
PHI 4:6-9 Stop worrying about anything, but in every circumstance through prayer and through supplication for personal needs after thanksgivings, let your requests or petitions be revealed to the God. In fact, that spiritual peace and prosperity from the source of the God, which surpasses or rises above and beyond all comprehension, shall garrison your hearts [right lobes], also your motivation [minds] in Christ Jesus. From now on, members of the Royal Family of God, whatever is true [doctrinal], whatever is honorable [noble or worthy of respect], whatever is just [fair or right], whatever is pure [of proper motivation], whatever personal loves exist, whatever is commendable, if there is any virtue [and there is for the mature believer], and if anything worthy of praise [and there is for the mature believer], be concentrating on these things. These things [doctrinal principles] also you have learned [manthano-learned from a teacher under strict academic discipline] and received [accepted through metabolization of doctrine]and having heard [under discipline] and having understood by means of me [Paul’s teaching ministry], be putting these into action, and the God of prosperity shall be with you, all of you [supergrace believers].
For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1229 to 0190-1231.