True Prosperity

…and so he prospered (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). 

When I look up “prosper” in the dictionary, the first entry says, “to be successful or fortunate, especially in financial respects.” This isn’t even close to the Old Testament Hebrew word for prosper! 

God makes prosper a dependence on Him. Mammon makes prosper a dependence on self. 

The Hebrew word tsalach means: 

  • to overcome obstacles (like crossing a river) 
  • to be empowered by the Spirit of God to overcome an enemy (like Samson did) 
  • to flourish like a plant growing to full harvest 
  • to have favor with man so that good can be done for others (Nehemiah 1:11) 
  • to finish well (2 Chronicles 7:11) 
  • to be poured out; to be a conduit of God’s blessings to others 

Prosperity God’s way is being blessed to be a blessing to others.

Prosperity is never for me, only from God through me. 

Prosperity from God helps me overcome obstacles for others, defeat enemies for others, bring in a good harvest for others, have earthly favor that will benefit others, finish well for the sake of others. 

I’ll say it again: True prosperity ISN’T for me, it’s only from God through me! 

Hezekiah showed how God’s prosperity came through him to benefit others: 

  • he did “what was good and right and faithful before the Lord” 
  • he lived “in obedience to the law and the commands” 
  • “he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly” 

In light of this definition, I have no problem praying, “God, make me prosperous. As I seek You and work wholeheartedly, flow through me to bless others!

Poetry Saturday—What Do You Have?

Moses had a staff.
David had a sling.
Samson had a jawbone.
Rahab had a string.
Mary had some ointment.
Aaron had a rod.
Dorcas had a needle.
All were used of God.
What do you have? —Max Lucado, in You!

Is Sin For Me Sin For You?

In our recent Q Series, I was asked a great question: If God has told me that something is a sin for me, does that mean that it is a sin for everyone?

Using a personal example from my life, and using two biblical examples (in Samson and John the Baptizer) I shine some light on this question …

You might also be interested to check out some other Q&As regarding the Bible, end-times prophecy, parables, and prayer.

Fight (book review)

FightThere’s something about the way Craig Groeschel writes that energizes me to take action. And since Fight is especially addressed to guys, this book has me really fired up!

Near the beginning of Fight, Craig explains the goal of the book this way—

“If you read this book, you will uncover who you really are—a man created with a warrior’s heart in the image of God—and how to fight the good fight for what’s right. You will find the strength to fight the battles you know you need to fight—the ones that determine the state of your heart, the quality of your marriage, and the spiritual health of your family.”

And, ladies, Craig has something to say to you too: “Ladies, if you are still reading, don’t miss this. The man you want isn’t the guy who wins tough-guy fights but the man who knows his weaknesses and fights in God’s strength. He won’t be perfect. But God will be perfecting him.”

Using the life story of Samson (from chapters 13-16 of the book of Judges in the Bible) as the backdrop, Craig sprinkles in some of his own life’s stories with some powerful, take-action-now truths. It’s a fun and enjoyable book to read, but it is also a bare-knuckled wake-up call for Christian men to be real men. Or as Craig says it, “Don’t try just to ‘be a better man.’ Be God’s man.”

Not only did I need to hear these concepts and be reminded again of the type of man God has created me to be, but I can’t wait to walk through these principles with some other godly warriors as well.

Guys, you need to read this book! Ladies, please encourage the men in your lives to read it. And then both of you can stand back and watch the godly transformation take place as a God-honoring warrior emerges and begins to fight for what’s right.

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

God’s Originality

Have you ever noticed all of the different ways that God reveals Himself to people? He is original with every original person.

I love looking at the Aha! moments that people have. You know, the moments when the light comes on and they understand Who God is to them?

  • When Jethro heard how God delivered Moses and the Israelites from Egypt he said, “Now I know that the true God is greater than all other gods.”
  • When Elijah raised a dead boy back to life the boy’s mother said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that you only speak His words.”
  • When Naaman was healed of leprosy he said to Elisha, “Now I know that there is only one true God.”
  • When David recalled all the ways God has delivered him from certain disaster he sang, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed.”
  • When Peter was delivered from prison by an angel he said, “Now I know that God did this.”

(check out the references for these examples by clicking here)

God reveals Himself uniquely to everyone because we’re all unique originals.

“Let God be as original with other people as He is with you.” —Oswald Chambers

Here’s the problem with God’s originality: We try to make our unique experience with God a universal experience for everyone else. We think that because He did it such-and-such a way for us that everyone ought to experience it the same way.

Wrong!

Think about the deliverance from lions in the Bible. In Samson’s case, God gave him supernatural strength to kill a lion with his bare hands; Benaiah went into a pit to kill a lion with his club; Daniel never even touched the lions, and they couldn’t touch him either.

Imagine if Samson was there with Benaiah: “Hey, brother, if you’re going to go after that lion, just wait on God to give you supernatural strength. If you really had faith, you would lose that club!”

Imagine if Benaiah and Samson were giving lion-killing advice to Daniel: “My friend,” Benaiah might say, “Please use my club.” And Samson would interrupt, “How many times do I have to tell you? No clubs!” Yet in Daniel’s case, God wanted the lions alive.

Perhaps you had your “Now I know” moment after a prolonged struggle in a particular area. Your tendency would be to tell others, “Get on your knees and pray and pray and pray. Pray really hard! It might take years, but God will eventually help you breakthrough.” Perhaps God wants to deliver someone else instantly.

Perhaps your “Now I know moment” came while reading from the King James Version of the Bible. Your tendency is going to be to hand out KJVs to everyone. Perhaps God is going to speak to someone through the New Century Version.

Let God be original with you. Let Him uniquely work with others too. Don’t make your “Now I know” experience the theology which rules everyone around you.

I’m so glad God is unique with every unique individual because each of us is a one-of-a-kind original!

Be An Intrusive Friend

Yesterday I talked about how to defeat depression in our personal lives. Maybe you’re not battling depression yourself, but since anti-depressants are one of the most prescribed medications, there’s a good chance that someone you know is dealing with depression. Beyond medicine or counseling, one of the greatest antidotes for depression is a friend: an intrusive friend.

In 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was running scared and slipping into depression, there is an important verse at the beginning of the story—Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there (v. 3).

One of our most natural reactions when we’re battling depression is to withdraw from others. It’s natural to want to be alone, but it is one of the worst things to do. Throughout Scripture, powerful people became vulnerable to attack when they left their friends behind—Samson, David, and Peter are prime examples. Even Jesus was tempted by the devil when He was alone in the wilderness.

So if it’s natural to want to be alone when depression is raining on our souls, a true friend will have to be an intrusive friend … a tenacious friend … a persistent friend. I love the lines in the Toby Mac song “Face Of The Earth” that say—

Now Hope Road is calling
Let’s pack you up and move
‘Cause real friends are willing to intrude
So I’m gonna push you in because I wanna love you well
Let the ghosts of your past rest

If you have a friend who is starting to become distant, dropping out of activities, or spending more time alone, these may be the warning signs of depression. Don’t let him be like Elijah and leave you behind, but love him or her enough to intrude in his or her life. Your encouragement just may be the best anti-depressant he/she will ever receive.

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message)

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. (1 Samuel 23:16, New Living Translation)

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