Tag Archives: flesh

Prosperity and You

First, let us look at the word ‘prosperity’. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that prosperity is the condition of being successful or thriving; especially:  economic well-being.

A recorded example of prosperity was recorded over 3000 years ago. It is found in the Book of Job.

 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. Job 1:1-5 (NIV)

Did prosperity come to Job because he was only thinking about himself and always being happy?  According to the Bible, he attained it by fearing God and shunning evil.

As we read the book of Job, we read that Job lost everything!  So Job cursed God and said: ‘I am going to do it my way!’ I don’t find that any place in the book of Job. What you will find is that Job kept trusting God.

Job’s prosperity was not about Job. It was about God. Just like our prosperity is not about us. It is about God and what he is doing for us. In fact, after Job prayed for his friend, the Bible says that God restored his prosperity. Because Job believed God, he was given twice as much has he had to start with!

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years. Job 42:12-18(NIV)

Prosperity Gospel, as I understand it, is the idea that we use God to obtain our fleshly desires. We can have whatever we want, because God will give it to us. Prosperity Gospel also uses the notion that the Holy Spirit is there for us to use to our advantage. We can use the Holy Spirit for whatever we want because God wants us to be happy. It should also be noted that the prosperity we get following our fleshly desires is only good for our time on earth.

We can have a ‘be happy attitude’ and expect to be prosperous…and in fact some people are prosperous without trusting God. But the truth is that this prosperity is only for a short period of time. People die. Then, what good is the prosperity?

The first example of prosperity gospel is found in Genesis 3 when Satan told Eve that she didn’t have to do things God’s way. God was holding out on her. If she ate from the tree that God told her not to eat from, she wouldn’t die but would be like God. She could do it her way and have ‘prosperity’.

However, Eve already had prosperity. She had everything she could want but Satan made her believe there was something more. Because Eve listened to Satan and did it her way, she actually lost the prosperity that she had.

God sent his Son to be crucified for our sin and to become victorious over death. He made a way for us to once again have the prosperity that Eve had before she ate the forbidden fruit.

Another problem with our prosperity is that when it is gained following our fleshly desires, it is only good for this lifetime. The prosperity that is gained by following the Holy Spirit is good for eternity. You see, the prosperity that God wants for his children is for them to share his wealth for eternity.

Who are God’s children? Galatians 5:24(NIV) says: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. You see the children of God have crucified themselves. In other words, they have become nothing, so God could use them to do His work rather than expecting God to do their work.

We can pretend to be happy, and can even deceive ourselves into thinking we are happy, but it doesn’t guarantee prosperity. In fact, it may even lead to a feeling of guilt because you aren’t becoming prosperous. The Bible says that when we follow our fleshly desires, we get involved in ‘sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like’. (Galatians 5:19-21, NIV)

However, when you follow the Holy Spirit, the actions you demonstrate are ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

Perhaps the real question about prosperity is: How important is prosperity?

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Mark 8:36(NIV)

Is it really prosperity we are looking for or is it love, joy, and peace?

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15-16(NIV)

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

Who Are You following?

Here is an interesting piece of information. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  For us to have true freedom according to this verse, we must possess the Spirit of the Lord.

We have two forces in this country: The forces of the flesh and the forces of the Spirit of the Lord.

 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8(NIV)

Those controlled by the flesh, are hostile to God, do not submit to God, cannot please God, and will experience death. On the other hand, those controlled by the Spirit, will have life and peace.

So…if we want peace in this country we need to follow the Spirit and pray that our government leaders will follow the Spirit, not necessarily pray that they are kicked out of office.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:1-3(NIV)

You may say that you have been praying for the governmental leaders… but God doesn’t seem to be listening. Perhaps you are praying with the ‘wrong motives’? Are you praying that God will let you continue to live the same way you were living several years ago? Or are you praying that God will use this country for His glory? Secondly, are you depending on the power of the Holy Spirit, or are you depending on your own power to change the government?

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:1-5(NIV)

Since God is spirit and God has appointed the leaders of our country, it would seem logical that we would respond to government in a spiritual realm. Perhaps God has placed our currently leadership in office so we will follow the Holy Spirit rather than man?

Our peace and hope does not come from government…it comes from God. Romans 15:13(NIV) says: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIVunless otherwise noted.

Pray v. Prey: The Christian’s Responsibility Regarding Sin

In our world today, there are many meaningful Christians who do things in an effort to make the sinner more like them, rather than like God; Christians who think God should smite the sinner dead for what others are doing; they will get on their bandwagon in an effort to get other Christians to prey on the other person who has sinned. But, what does God say we should do when someone sins?

As I was reading 1 John 5 recently, there was a verse that jumped out at me. In verse 16 of that chapter, the writer says:

If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. 1 John 5:16a(NIV)

The first thing I noticed is that when a brother or sister sins, my responsibility is to pray for that person. Is that what I am doing? Am I praying or am I preying?

If I get on the social network and try to get everyone to do the same thing I am doing, it is probably preying. Or if I develop an organization condemning the other person, I am probably preying. If I am the first to post the other person’s sin, do I like getting other people to “like” it? Doesn’t that make me feel really good? When I prey on someone, I want other people to think more highly of me than the other person. I want them to condemn the other person, just like I am condemning them.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the writer recorded these words of Jesus:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:5(NIV)

In the time in history when this was written, the synagogues and street corners were the social media of the day. The hypocrites wanted the maximum exposure to what they were saying. They get their reward, their short period of gratification…just like I would get on the social media or the organizations I may try to start.

However, that is not how I am supposed to pray. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t stop there with His instruction for praying, He continued with these words:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:6-8(NIV)

You will also notice that this scripture indicates that God knows what the other person needs; we do not have to tell God how to answer our prayer.

This brings us to the second important concept mentioned in 1 John 5:16. Once we pray, it is not our responsibility to change the other person. God is the one who brings life, not us. Somehow, as Christians, we want to confront that person (prey on that person) so we can have the satisfaction of changing that person to our way of thinking.

Has it ever occurred to you that God may have already answered your pray and is in the process of changing that person? If we attempt to put words into God’s mouth, we may be hindering God from changing that person into the person He wants them to be.

When we pray and give God multiple choice answers that he should give, we are babbling like pagans because God already knows how He is going to answer your prayer.

Galatians 5 tells us what the acts (sins) of the flesh are:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Galatians 5:19-21a(NIV)

These sins mentioned in Galatians is the sin of the flesh (self). Every sinful act mentioned is a side effect of living in the flesh. As Christians we have a tendency to condemn the side effects of the sinful act and not the sinful act itself. In fact, in many cases, we are acting in the flesh when we condemn the other person’s ‘sinful act’.

Galatians 5 also tells us how we should respond to the person involved in the sin of the flesh:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

If you want to help the person who commits sin, these are the tools you will use with that person. When used properly, these are the tools that cause the person who sinned, want the life that God has to offer.

When you use flesh to fight flesh, the only person to win is the one acting in the flesh. Let us fight flesh with spirit. In other words, let us ‘pray for the sinner’ and not ‘prey on the sinner’.

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.