The problem with prosperity is that we come to depend upon ourselves rather than the LORD. How quickly we forget!
(31) The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.
One of the things that make life as a soldier easier these days is the drone. It flies above the soldiers in the field and gives the commander a bird’s-eye view of everything, thus making his commands much more accurate and successful. The Holy Spirit has a “bird’s-eye” view of our battleground and wants to guide us through it successfully. But, we have some things working against us:
- Our prosperity has made us arrogant. We think that our success is based upon OUR decisions. To some degree, it is true, but what we forget is that worldly success may not be for our best interest. We cannot foresee what any particular success will do to us down the road. What LOOKS good and right and successful at this moment may not take us to where the LORD wants for us down the road.
- The world itself is in the hands of the enemy. What is successful in the world is usually in direct opposition to what the LORD deems successful. For a good overview of this truth, read Psalm 73. Here are a few verses from it: (4) They [the arrogant and wicked] have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. (5) They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. (6) Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. (7) From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. (8) They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. (9) Their mouths lay claim to heaven and their tongues take possession of the earth. They are enemies of God–not of His doing, but of their own.
- Our own flesh is working against us. The apostle Paul talks about our struggle in Romans 7:7-25. Only God knows what is best for us. But, how do we discover His best and see from His perspective? For that, we return to Psalm 73: (16) When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply (17) till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (18) Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. (19) How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! When impending doom was coming, they headed straight into it! What does God want for us? (23) Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that!
We talked yesterday about the war we are in and that Satan is the ruler of this world. Let’s look at that passage in Ephesians:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10
We were dead spiritually. We naturally followed the ruler of the kingdom of the air, which is the devil, i.e. Satan. We sinned and we enjoyed it because we had no Holy Spirit to bring conviction. We had no hope of having anything to do with God, nor did we even want it. What changed our minds?
When we heard of God’s great love for us through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit brought conviction on our hearts. We responded through faith and received by grace His great gift of salvation. WE CHANGED ALLEGIANCE. We no longer follow Satan, nor continue down the road of destruction with the rest of humanity; we repented (turned around). The problem is that we are now heading against the flow. NOW we understand why the “Prosperity Gospel” that is preached a lot on TV doesn’t work. Let me hit you with a verse from Peter: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you [bear out what is latent within you], as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (16) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:12-13, 16
How, then, shall we live?
- Keep our eyes on the Prize: Jesus and heaven. We should have already read this morning something in His Word to orient ourselves to His reality and His perspective.
- Be prepared to do whatever He asks even if it is in direct opposition to the logic and goals of this world, especially concerning money. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also.” – Jesus.
- Be ready to receive resistance, frustration, argument, rejection, ridicule and even persecution for your decisions. It’s natural and inevitable. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything [THIS is the definition of “perfect”]. James 1:2-4
Abba, as we go out in Your name, may we stay close to You and oriented to Your battle plan to snatch as many from the fire as will come. Help us to follow You and to be Your ambassadors in this fallen world. May our lives be living testaments to Your grace, Your love, and all the benefits that come from being Yours: abounding love, transcending peace, overflowing joy, steadfast hope, and grace upon grace. Lead us to SOMEONE with which to share Christ today. Amen.