Prosperity gospel – does God want us to be rich or poor?

One of the most controversial topics in Christianity today is the prosperity gospel.

Ministers who preach the prosperity gospel tell their congregations that God wants them to be rich and often flaunt their wealth in terms of private jets and lavish mansions. Opponents of the prosperity gospel condemn such prosperity ministers, accusing them of being materialistic and greedy.

What does the Bible teach about prosperity?

The Bible tells us that wealth is a blessing from God. In Deuteronomy 28, it is written that

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.

In Psalm 35:27, the Bible says that God takes “delight in the prosperity of His servant.”

God is the source of wealth and it is God who gives the power to get wealth. This can be seen in 1 Chronicles 29:12 – Wealth and honour come from you (God)” and Deuteronomy 8:18 – “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

In the Bible, most of the time, poverty is seen as a negative state, and it is the duty of the Christian to help the poor financially. However, there are some verses that support the fact that some righteous Christians will encounter poverty and their impoverished state leads to spiritual growth as poverty makes a person more dependent on God for their survival. Jesus calls the poor in spirit “blessed” in the Beatitudes.

In Phillipians 4:11-13, Paul writes about his financial situation:

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul regularly enjoyed plenty and poverty, as a Christian he both prospered and was poor. The way he coped with his differing states was to develop a spirit of contentment and faith that he could achieve anything through Christ’s strength.

The Bible doesn’t promise Christians that they will be rich, but the Word does promise that even when Christians are poor, they will be provided for abundantly. Speaking to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul writes

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

You may be poor, but you can trust that God will meet your needs with abundance. Your provision doesn’t need to come just from personal wealth. There are many testimonies from Christians who are in dire straits but received generous donations or had their debt supernaturally cancelled. Jesus didn’t have much money but He was always well taken care of. When he had to feed a crowd of 5000, he only had five loaves and two fishes, but He managed to multiply the food so everyone was fully fed and he even had baskets of food leftover. What a wonderful illustration of how God provides for the poor abundantly!

So it can be seen that God doesn’t want you to be poor or rich, but wants to meet your needs abundantly.

John Wesley exhorted his audiences to “earn all they can, save all they can and give away all they can.”

The accumulation of wealth is not for our own personal enjoyment, but so that we can give to the less fortunate and achieve equality in wealth levels among Christians. As it says in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 – [

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

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Overcome challenges with the favour of God

Did you know that as a Christian, you have the favour of God?

In Psalm 5:12 it is written,

For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favour as with a shield.

When you have the favour of God, you will enjoy God’s blessings. You can expect good things to happen to you. God’s favour surrounds you like a shield, protecting you from harm.

However, even though you have God’s favour, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have any problems.

A great example of a godly man who had the favour of God is Joseph.

We can see God’s favour in the life of Joseph starting from a young age, when he was his father’s favourite son. Jacob loved Joseph more than his brothers and gave him a beautiful coat as a token of his affection. Yet this favour only stirred up trouble for Joseph, as it made his brothers jealous of Joseph. His brothers became so envious of Joseph that they plotted to kill him. In the end, they faked his death and sold him to a passing band of slave traders.

The slave traders brought Joseph to Egypt, where he became a servant in the household of Potiphar, the captain of the guards. There, God’s favour was with Joseph.

As it says in Genesis 39:2-6 –

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

So God’s favour enabled Joseph to prosper even in the difficult situation of being a slave. However, though Joseph prospered under Potiphar, his problems didn’t end there. Potiphar’s wife saw that Joseph was a strong, handsome young man and tried to seduce him. When Joseph rebuffed her advances, she accused him of trying to rape her. Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s accusations and sent Joseph to prison.

Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? He was doing well, flourishing under God and Potiphar by living a righteous life. And now because He feared God and refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife, he was thrown into a dark dungeon. Most people would have become angry with God and sunk into despair. But not Joseph. Joseph kept his faith in God, knowing that God still had a way to bless him even in his difficult circumstance. And that was exactly what happened. Even in the bleak environment of the prison, Joseph prospered.

In Genesis 39:20-23, we are told that

But while Joseph was there in the prison,  the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

It was in prison that Joseph met the chief cupbearer and correctly interpreted his dream. When the chief cupbearer was restored to his position in Pharoah’s palace, he told Pharoah about Joseph. Pharoah needed someone to interpret his dreams and he sent for Joseph. When Joseph interpreted Pharoah’s dream for him, Pharoah was so impressed with Joseph’s wisdom that he made Joseph second-in-command of Egypt.

Now that’s the favour of God!

So you can see in the life of Joseph, when you have the favour of God, it doesn’t mean that everything will go smoothly in your life and you won’t have any problems. No, Joseph faced great challenges and you will, like him, can expect difficulties to come into your life.

However, take heart. If you rely on God’s favour, his love will help you overcome your challenges.

God promises to deliver us from our trials. As it says in Psalm 34:19 –

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers them out of them all.

When you have the favour of God, it doesn’t mean that everything will always go your way and your whole life will be a bed of roses. You’ll still face difficulties, sometimes even problems that knock the wind out of your sails. When that happens, you may feel that you have lost God’s favour. Fight that thought! Even though something bad has happened, continue to believe that you have God’s favour and that this favour will help you overcome your problems. When you feel that God’s favour has left you is when you have to make extra effort to believe in God’s favour. Don’t be discouraged. Put a smile on your face and put your faith in God – his favour will deliver you.

In Isaiah 54:17, God promises us that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper.” We may face weapons from our enemies but in the end, through God’s favour, we will defeat these weapons. Our enemies’ downfall and our victory is guaranteed!

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Living for eternity

About two weeks ago, I couldn’t sleep so spent the time lying in bed listening to Christian songs. A lot of times when I have insomnia, I get messages from God and insights into Christianity. In fact, quite a lot of the material for this blog comes from times when I’m lying in bed, unable to sleep.

During one recent night of insomnia, a thought from God suddenly popped into my head. God said to me – “You don’t live for eternity”. Immediately, I realised it was true. I am very focused on my earthly life in the present moment. My focus is usually on how I can best enjoy myself in the present moment, and the bad thing about this is that sometimes I thus neglect future consequences of present actions. I was convicted by God telling me that I don’t live for eternity. So I started meditating on this thought – how would my life be different if I was living for eternity? How would my life be different if I really believed that I was going to spend eternity in heaven and I lived my life according to a desire to earn heavenly rewards instead of earthly ones?

Immediately, I was convicted that I don’t give enough. This verse popped into my head –

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

I got laid off in December 2012 and for the past three months I haven’t had an income. So I stopped giving to church and charities. This verse from Matthew convicted me that I should start giving again, that I shouldn’t spend money just on earthly needs and pleasures, but to continue to give to the church and the poor, so as to store treasures for myself in heaven. I realized that what I buy for myself only gives me temporary satisfaction in this life, but what I give to others brings me rewards in heaven for eternity.

I also realized how important it is to live for eternity. One thing I always feel is about how quickly time passes. I’m turning 40 next year and I can’t believe how quickly those years have passed, especially the last 20 years. It seems only last year since I graduated from college, life seems to have zipped by in a flash. This brought home to me the danger of living for this world. Life is fleeting and will be over before you know it. James 4:14 says – “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

If you’re only living for this life, it’s a very fast and short term pleasure. But if you live for eternity, it’s a long term investment that will last forever.

Living for eternity will also change your perspective on suffering. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, it says – “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” When you believe this truth, it will transform your attitude towards suffering. Instead of resisting suffering, getting frustrated or depressed about your troubles, you rejoice in the fact that your trials are bringing you eternal glory.

James 1:12 says – “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Our troubles will bring us a heavenly crown. Knowing this truth will empower us to rejoice in suffering.

In Hebrews 12:2, the writer tells us that Jesus – “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We should follow Christ’s example and bear our crosses in life patiently and fix our eyes on our victory in heaven.

One thing which God convicted me of was my habit of living life for earthly, temporary pleasures. I struggle with eating a healthy diet and often indulge in fatty, sweet foods. As a result, I am overweight. God convicted me that I should not indulge in temporary pleasures at the expense of long term consequences, to not indulge in the flesh’s unhealthy cravings.

Colossians 3:2 tells us to “set your on things above, not on earthly things.”

I also realized that I shouldn’t focus just on earthly success. I’ve been working on a Christian book and one thing which I’ve focused on is how to make the book a bestseller. But God was telling me to work on the book just as a means to glorify Him. Even if the book sold only 1 copy, I shouldn’t be discouraged because I would still have my reward in heaven for working on the book, since God had called me to work on the book and it was part of His will for me.

Matthew 19:30 tells us that in heaven, “many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” Maybe you feel you are of low status or have a job that’s mundane and unglamorous. I’d encourage you to work at your job with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for earthly rewards. God sees your dedication to Him and you’ll receive high praise from Him when you go to heaven.

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If you enjoyed reading this post, do visit this website again. I update the blog once a week, usually on Wednesdays.

 

 

God will promote you

When you put your faith in God and live a life that is obedient to Him, you will experience the favour of God. This favour may mean that you’re chosen for promotion even when you are least likely to be selected.

This principle can be seen at work when God planned to choose a new king for Israel. In 1 Samuel, we are told that God was angry with Saul and planned to replace him with a different ruler. God sent his prophet Samuel to the family of Jesse, as God told Samuel that the new king would be one of Jesse’s sons. When Samuel saw Eliab, he was impressed with how Eliab looked and wanted to anoint him as king. But God had other plans. In 1 Samuel 16:7, it is written

The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Jesse lined up seven of his sons and had them pass by before Samuel, but none of them were the one chosen by God to be king. Samuel asked Jesse if he had any more other sons and Jesse said he had one more son, the youngest one, David, who was tending the sheep.

Samuel called for David and when David arrived, God told him to anoint David as king.

In the natural, David seemed to be the least likely to be king. David’s father, Jesse, thought so lowly of David that he didn’t even bother to bring David to Samuel’s king-selection process.

In the same way, you may feel unqualified to achieve greatness. You may come from a humble family background or have limited education. But take heart. If you’re a Christian, you have the favour of God. This favour will cause people to choose you to take on high-ranking jobs even if you come from a low background. God’s favour will cause you to be promoted above your natural ability.

Gideon was another great leader whom God exalted even though he came from a humble background. In Judges, we are told that God commanded Gideon –  “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Gideon’s reaction was one of fear and confusion. He said to God –  “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

 The Lord answered him, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

God’s presence with Gideon was enough to empower him to be a great leader of Israel, even though he was weak in his natural ability. In the same way, God’s supernatural presence in your life can strengthen you so you can excel in areas where you may feel lacking in your natural self.

What is God calling you to do today? Is He calling you to work in some area of ministry or shoot for some high-ranking job that you feel unequipped to handle? Remember how God showed His favour to David and Gideon and trust the favour He showed them is with you as well. Take a step of faith and answer His call – the task might seem like a mountain, but His favour will help you conquer the greatest heights.