Prosperity and the Bible: What Does it Mean to Prosper?

I. What is True Biblical Prosperity?

The term “prosperity gospel” has become a magnet for dirty looks. These two words have gleaned a bucket load of  bad reviews – in some cases well-deserved. But it does depend on how you define “prosperity.”

In many people’s minds, the word prosperity evokes images of fancy cars, splendid clothes, mansions, yachts and private airplanes. People think of televangelists raking in big bucks promoting trinkets, books and baubles. Their misgivings are completely justified. I hate merchandising too.

Do you long for Jesus to drive those money-changers from the temple? If so, you’re not alone. Yet we can’t escape the fact that the Bible contains many references to prosperity.

The questions is, was does that word “prosperity” actually mean? Does it have anything to do with worldly wealth?

According to Chaim Bentorah, an online teacher of Biblical Hebrew Studies, “tsalach,” the Hebrew word for prosper, has to do with moving forward and/or making progress – not in a proud way, but through humble reliance on God.

 

II. When God Made Joseph Prosper, What Did That Mean?

Genesis 39:2-3 tells us that God caused all that Joseph did to “prosper in his hand.” In other words, Jacob’s son did well. He had success. It doesn’t tell us that he had a fancy room. Any fancy clothes he had got ripped off. Yes, he got “ripped off” more than once, yet despite that fact he remained faithful to God. The way he prospered blessed his boss. Joseph didn’t need a podium to get the guy’s attention.

That’s because God was with him. God gave him success. Then, in a strange turn of events, Joseph got promoted – to the king’s prison.

Wow- what stylish living! Not. Did this look like the so-called “American dream”? I don’t think so. But even in prison Joseph prospered. That’s because the warden put in charge of the other prisoners. Once again, God caused everything Joseph did to prosper. When the Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker told him their dreams, Joseph  told their meaning – with success. What he predicted, happened. The baker didn’t prosper, but the butler did. Joseph did too.

 

III. God’s Will For Us Equals Salvation Which Equals True Prosperity

But let’s move on and consider the best prosperity of all: when God’s word prospers in our lives.

Isaiah 53:10, a prophecy that Christians believe refers to Jesus Christ, declares that “the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

Verse 11 continues. “He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

Jesus caused God’s will to prosper (succeed, move forward). Herein lies true prosperity. What was God’s good pleasure in this case?

Hebrews 2:10 puts it this way: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Hebrews 12:2 describes Jesus as, “the author and finisher of our faith,” who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Salvation is God’s will for us and it is Christ’s success.

I believe that’s what the psalmist meant in Psalm 118:25 when he wrote, “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.”

(all verses KJV)

 

The Hardest Part of Ask, Seek, Knock

 I. Ask, Seek, Knock – First Ask

“Do you want to make your mountain move? Then before you start commanding, ask for understanding to lay aside all doubt. That’s what asking is about.” – original quote

“Ask, seek, knock. That’s what the Bible says. “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened.”

Who has never heard this verse before? Perhaps a better question is, what is the hardest part about asking, seeking and knocking?

Let’s discuss the first part, asking.

To some of us, asking can be a hard thing, especially when those close to us reject our requests for information. Despite the saying “There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” people tend to treat questions like dirt. They make the other person feel as if he or she has asked a stupid question. That’s what makes asking hard.

Nevertheless, Jesus instructs us to ask. For if we ask, then we’ll receive an answer. Of course, the best person to ask is God Himself, because He is all powerful. He knows what you need before you even ask Him. Sometimes people don’t ask God anything until they’e desperate. That’s okay, because a question is a question. A request is a request. And if you don’t know what to ask God for, a simple “Help!” will do.

If you’ve ever asked God for something and received an answer, then you know the power of asking.

If not, then maybe you need to seek it.

II. Ask, Seek, Knock – Second, Seek

A. Seek Wisdom

“If you don’t seek, you’re up a creek because you need direction” – original quote

Do you know it’s possible to receive an answer but not recognize it when it comes? Perhaps it’s because you forgot you asked the question. Or maybe you didn’t completely like His answer or got distracted by something else you wanted more. If so, then maybe you’ve been asking the wrong question. Is it possible that God wants something better for you – something you’re not smart enough to think of asking?

If you think God is a know-it-all, you’re right. That’s why you should ask Him for wisdom, because He is more than happy to supply it.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

In other words, God will never fault you if you ask Him for wisdom.

B. Seek Faith

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. for he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)

Whoa, what’s this? It seems that asking for wisdom isn’t enough. We need to have faith too. How do we get that?

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

There’s something about hearing God’s word that gives us faith to receive what we ask from Him.

“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we desired of Him.”

That said, the best way to know God’s will is to know His word. That involves seeking.

After all, how can you know the wisdom contained in God’s word  – the wisdom that shows you His perfect will – unless you seek it?

“My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commands within you; so that you incline your ear unto wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; then you shall understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)

 

III. Ask, Seek, Knock – Third, Knock (The hardest part)

“You search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they (the scriptures)…testify of me. And you will not come to me that you might have life.” (John 5:39)

Jesus spoke these words to people who were really into reading the Old Testament but who found fault with Him, the Messiah to whom those scriptures pointed so many years before.

They might have had the asking and seeking down pat, but they didn’t seem to know much about knocking.

To knock involves taking a step of faith toward God, reaching out your hand and tapping on His door.

“I am the door,” Jesus said. “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

To “enter in’ involves more than merely asking and seeking. It involves friendship and a willingness to share life together. This is the kind of relationship Jesus spoke of in Revelation 3:20, to quote His words, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.”

It is this relationship, this close knowledge of God, that allows you to come boldly before His throne of grace, in order to find grace and mercy to help you in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Knocking on God’s door involves submitting to his will, which is perhaps the hardest part of asking, seeking, and knocking. After all, don’t we all like to get our own way? To “ask, seek, knock,” you must surrender all.

Speed of Sight Book Release

 

What Does Paul’s Thorn Teach Us?

I personally don’t believe Paul’s flesh thorn was a sickness, but supposing – just supposing, that it was, what can we learn from it?

First off, if you read the account in II Corinthians 12:7-10, you will see that this flesh thorn was not of God. For according to Lamentations 3:33, He does not willingly afflict the children of men. The flesh thorn was a messenger of Satan, Paul tells us. Satan’s messages are evil, which is why Paul did not willingly embrace that message. Like any smart believer, he knew that sickness was a form of death, which entered the world through Adam. That’s because Adam accepted Satan’s message that if he ate the forbidden fruit he would be like a god.

So, if Paul’s flesh thorn was an illness – again, I say, “if” – we know that it was not of God. It was Paul’s flesh, prone to the sin of pride, that opened the door. Sin is what opens the door to sickness, for “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory,” as Paul tells us in Romans 3:23. Sin is what separates man from God and from His kingdom, which as Paul himself tells us in Romans 14:17, is all about “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

In Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20, Jesus said, “If, by the finger of God, I drive out devils, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” He taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In Acts 10:38 Peter tells us that Jesus went about doing good and healing ALL who were oppressed by the devil. What does that tell us about sickness? It is the work of the devil, also called Satan. Many times in the gospels we read where Jesus healed people by casting out devils. He never once told anyone to just accept the sickness. Despite their sin, he healed them, so that they would believe in Him and be saved from their sin.

All we have to be healed and to be saved is to humble ourselves, for as it says in James 4:6 as well as in numerous other scriptures, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

So then, if – and I do say if – Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a sickness – know that God’s grace is sufficient to heal you. Pride is the only thing that will stand in your way. Are you too proud to receive from Him? You might not think so, but what does God say about it?