Friday, November 29, 2013

Trivial Pursuit

We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One!  But my heart is heavy with grief.  Weep for me, for I wither away.  Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere.  Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth.  Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare.  Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake.   Isaiah 24:16 - 18 (NLT)

Seek the LORD while you can find him.  Call on him now while he is near.  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.  Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.  Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.   Isaiah 55:6 - 7 (NLT)
Isaiah’s time was a dichotomy – cash flow was great, and judgment was on the horizon.  Israel just didn’t see it coming.  The sacrifices at Temple were regular; business went on as usual – life was good!  But, in the wings (Isaiah saw) the Lord was about to bring calamity on the land.  Isaiah was withering away from continual fasting and prayer in grief over the spiritual condition of his people.

Isaiah saw the nation as engaged in a never-ending game of Trivial Pursuit™.  If you’ve never played the board game, the rules are simple – move around the board by correctly answering questions of little known “trivial” issues, and claim your prize – which is to take a stab at the next question – hot pursuit of the trivial.  Pedal that treadmill!

That was Israel – pursuing every trivial side issue and neglecting God.

That is America – playing with iphones, ipads and 401K’s – God is certainly on our side.  I don’t think we see what’s coming any more than ancient Israel did.
What’s Coming?
I’m not a prophet, but the words of Scripture help us see ourselves clearly.  We may not be able to predict when or exactly how, but Western civilization is in for a huge awakening.  Like ancient Israel, for us, it may take Iran’s nukes to wake up.  The cauldron of judgment has been boiling for decades – someday it will spill all over our land.

The issue is sacrifice; more appropriately, the issue is a lack of sacrificial spirit.  In Israel the sacrifices of animals at Temple went on until the blood flowed neck-high.  But the hearts of the people were like stone towards God.  

If their hearts were like stone, American hearts are like tempered titanium.  How far have we fallen?  A refresher course on the 10 Commandments from Exodus 20:
no other gods.  
no graven images.  
no taking the Lord’s name in vain.
keep the sabbath day holy.
honor father and thy mother.
no killing. no adultery.
no stealing.
no false witness against neighbors.
no coveting (greed).
Billy Graham recently said this about American culture:
The wickedness is unbelievable.  I turn on the news late at night and it seems to be nothing but murders, robberies and all kinds of things.  Our morals are so terrible today, and part of that is due to television and our means of communication and the media…through the drinking, the drugs, and all the different things that are manifested in an outgrowth of what’s in a man’s heart.[i]
Thought for today
As has been often said:  If God doesn’t punish America, He’s going to have to apologize to an awful lot of people, including Sodom and Gomorrah, Judas and a whole bunch of Philistines. 
We need to cease our trivial pursuits and turn to turn to Him while there’s still time.

[i] Billy Graham, Decision Magazine, (The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Charlotte, NC) December 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving (from the Turkey's side)

The Thanksgiving tradition of granting a Presidential pardon to one very fortunate bird started (officially) with President George H.W. Bush.  Other stories date back to Lincoln going without bird one year because his son Tad was so attached to the turkey the President couldn’t bear to hear both the bird and his son squawking as Thanksgiving approached.  It is American folklore that Tad taught the bird to follow him around the Whitehouse gardens.  I would imagine it was a very happy bird…and thankful!
It was President Lincoln who gave official status to Thanksgiving Day in America:
In the midst of a civil war of unequal magnitude and severity I do, therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father."  October 3, 1863
Considering America’s Civil War, and the uncertainty of the future during the years of that first “official” Thanksgiving Day, the Apostle Paul’s memo to the Philippians is a pretty good example of Thanksgiving – especially from the turkey’s side!
…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.                      Philippians 4:10b - 13 (NLT)
Turkeys get nervous in November.  After weeks of "livin' high on the hog", the bird is the guest of honor at a meal in which he cannot take bows, nor hear the applause.  In short, for the turkey, it's nothing less than a pain in the neck!
The apostle Paul could relate to the turkey.  When he wrote his memo to the Philippian church he was the guest of the Roman government in a cold, dark, rather smelly prison cell.  Paul knew he was facing what our Thanksgiving turkey experiences; an unceremonious execution by the blade of the axe. 
While Paul was waiting he received a gift from the church at Philippi.  More than likely it contained some material needs, and some needed encouragement from the folks who, only a few years prior had been a mission Paul had started in northern Greece.  In the middle of terrible circumstances, Paul receives a breath of fresh air.  But the odd thing here is that he takes pains to tell the church folks not only that he appreciates the gift, and that it has refreshed him, but that long after the physical gift itself is gone the source of his thanks giving will be stronger than ever. 
     Today we celebrate Thanksgiving, and it is right to enjoy our material blessings, and family blessings, and to share these with others.  But as we do, let us not convey a message to the world that these pleasures are the source of happiness.  Rather, like the turkey, let us remember that it is our connection with Jesus Christ that is the center of true thankfulness and worship.
There are two REALIZATIONS I have come to lean on about thankfulness, especially when I am in the same circumstances as the turkey
It is so very natural to express gratitude when things are going well.  Paul's situation was different. He was in jail, without comfort, friends, or material blessings.  It would not be natural to be thankful for those conditions.  That is why I say it is a supernatural gift of God to be thankful when you're in the pits! 
Paul had been through it all.  He'd been a well-respected member of the educated, politically able upper class; he'd been "demoted" to itinerant preacher, shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, left for dead. 
He'd been rich, poor, hungry, and full.  And yet it was never the circumstances that determined his thankfulness to God.
So, tell me, preacher; does that mean I should be complacent, not even try to make things better?  Just sort of meander through life, let the tides of circumstance push me here and there?  No, not at all.  Paul wasn't one to be passive when it came to accomplishing great things.  He overcame obstacles and circumstances.
To be "content" literally means to experience sufficiency.  It's freedom from depending on outside human resources; it’s freedom to concentrate on discovering God's will IN the circumstances of life, rather than attempting to change what circumstances DO exist.      
Jesus in the inner-person, makes for sufficiency that says "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation."  When friends disown me; When family disappoints me; When sickness comes; When business fails; When loved ones die, the Jesus in me says, "Father, ALL things are working towards your ultimate plan, and I thank you for loving me!"  That is a super-natural gift!  
Anyone who is truly thankful is a person who is in debt.  When we receive a gift, our thankfulness is an expression of the meaning of the gift.  Give me a mess of okra, I'll say a rather formal "thank you" (God could NOT have created that slimy stuff!).  But give me a Rolls Royce, and I'll be your adopted child if you so desire. 
The principle is thusly:  The degree of thankfulness is directly proportional to the perceived value of the gift. 

Here’s the way that works:

Paul had a weakness, a "thorn in the flesh".  It was a sickness, or problem, something any of us would have found distasteful.  (The Bible is not specific as to what exactly afflicted him).  Paul spent much prayer in trying to get rid of the pain. 
God finally said to him, "Paul, my grace covers that!  I'm going to take that weakness of yours, and do something wonderful with it."  Paul was immediately filled with thanksgiving and learned to glorify God even in the midst of pain.
Paul knew it was possible to, do anything God wants to do in him when he was thankful enough to let Jesus be senior partner in the firm of Jesus and Paul."
·        Would you like to live with this supernatural gift of thankfulness? 
·        Would you like it to be so that you learn, even in the tough places life drags you, to glorify God rather than gripe and complain? 
·        Would you like to see God take even that which is weakness, and a bother to you, and have Him make it strength for the sake of His kingdom? 
Beloved, the difference is found in Jesus. 
When you begin to put Christ on the throne of your life, all that was your own weakness and insufficiency, all that was drudgery and failure becomes the sacrifice of praise, a sweet smelling savor in the nostrils of a holy God.
We have choices to make.  Thanksgiving is not just a national holiday when the turkey gets stuffed, and then the people get stuffed with turkey.  Thanksgiving is a way of life...eternal life.  It's a gift from God, and it is God's strength in His children. 
Beloved, be thankful.  Be filled with Jesus.

From our house to yours, Elizabeth and I pray yours is a very Happy Thanksgiving (especially from the turkey’s side!).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Truth Whole Truth Nothing BUT the Truth

(Note about The Pastor’s Points – the Bible must be taken on faith…reasoned faith to be sure….but, in the end, faith is a leap of the heart which is attached to an informed mind.  Faith is not scientific fact or mathematical equation.  These devotional writings are faith-based, and therefore rooted in Scripture.  They are meant to encourage your faith, grow your faith, and challenge you to live by that faith. 

But one thing is not intended – to give you faith on a silver platter, as if somehow you could read what is written each morning –take it like a “faith-pill”, and grow a belief system.  That is patently impossible – and that’s way beyond my pay grade as a writer anyway. (For the source of faith read Romans 10:17)

Faith is personal, and it is also a gift from God.  Every human being possesses – at the very least – sufficient faith to recognize the truth of God as our Creator, who is due our worship.  We have His image stamped on our souls! 

That image has been corrupted by sin, but it nonetheless calls to us from within, that we seek to find the God whom we have distorted and seems out of reach.

With that in mind, let me suggest that you read these devotional thoughts like you take a vitamin supplement – to assist what your body is already doing.  If, in your heart you have chosen to take the “faith-leap” and accept Christ’s Word as truth, that is your main diet and hope.  This devotional is simply another fellow-disciple’s look at how the diet of God’s Word works for him.  Take the supplement or not – but never lay aside the main meal!)

The “Heart” of God’s Word Psalms 119:160

If “the heart” of a person is centered in something (a boyfriend, drive to become rich, being valedictorian of the class, building the perfect ice cream sundae) it is certain everything else – thoughts, words and actions will follow the heart’s desire. 

So it is with God’s Word; its heart is truth.

Everything about the heart of the Word of God begins in truth…absolute truth.  The Psalmist called the Word of God “eternal”.  That means “no beginning, no ending”.  

So truth is true – whenever, and under whatever conditions exist.  It is never relative to circumstances or the thoughts of man.  One scholar’s exposition of the Psalm text is:  And all these, thy words endure for ever. They are true, and ever will be true.[i]

True is always just true.  (If you accept the premise of “God” in the first place, then His word is absolutely true, or He is not God.)

But “truth” in our culture is always relative – never absolute.  That’s so strange in a country with a foundational document which declares, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.  “All” sounds pretty “absolute” to me.

Now, that presents a problem for the Christian who is trying his best to live in the world, but not be of the world.(James 4:4)

Our culture’s reasoning and truth-seeking have degenerated over the years; now we have what John Calvin called the appeal to custom against truth[ii].  We went from God’s immutable, undisputable truth to…. “Well, that may be true for you, and I’m glad for you, but it’s not my truth”.  Some truth is not so “self-evident” today – the distortion of God’s image grows; eternal truth has been ripped from God’s hands, and now belongs to the created beings!
Ready to Swim Upstream Today?
Take your stand with truth today. 
Truth… Whole truth… Nothing BUT the truth!  So help us, God!

[i] Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament, STEP Files Copyright © 1999, Parsons Technology, Inc.
[ii] John Calvin, Institutes of Religion, Preface address to King Francis, Illustrations Unlimited, James Hewitt, 1988

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Root System

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.   Hebrews 10:23 - 25 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered why God chose to make the church necessary?  Why gather often, especially with people that can sometimes be irritable, and even unkind?  After all, there are times when it really is like Noah’s ark – salvation to be sure – but smelly and a bit of a problem.  Have you considered the fact that there were porcupines on that small, crowded boat? 
There is a very good reason God chose “church”, calling-out millions of people through the centuries to be one body.  
Popular Christian author and pastor, Max Lucado, wrote:
Questions can make hermits out of us, driving us into hiding.  Yet the cave has no answers.  Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship.  He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many.  When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess and pray, Christ speaks."[1]
The cave has no answers!  This is the reason I choose the church.  I’m a hermit by nature – an introverted loner who chooses the risky company of God’s ark!  Go figure!
In the church-ark you find all kinds of people:
·        Sweet-spirited lambs and treacherous wolves
·        Spiritual schizophrenics and those who are simply faithful
·        Sporadic relatives and surprising strangers
It’s definitely a strange and mixed bag, we, the church!

What’s the point?

The point is that over the years I’ve met just about all of them (er…us)!  And, for the most part, I still choose the church over “no-church”.
Here’s why:
The questions I hear from without the church are cave questions – no valid answers.  They’ve got no basis – no genuine root system that is attached to anything but the nothingness of empty hope. 
The questions I hear from within the church are faith questions – struggle, doubt, fear, anger, and crushed at times – but questions with faith in God who never lets you down!
With all its bugaboos, bruhaha’s, blunders and occasional brutality, this messy ark is my home, my family, friends and safety. 
You are my root system. 
It is Christ in you, and me, which keeps me standing when, without Christ and you, I would have given in to life’s craziness long ago. 
How could I ever leave that? 

Today I’m singing a song

Annie Murray’s song “You Needed Me” could very easily be about me and the way I have been loved by God’s church, and the God of that church.  
It’s my song today:

I cried a tear, you wiped it dry
I was confused, you cleared my mind
I sold my soul, you bought it back for me
And held me up and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me

And I can't believe it's you
I can't believe it's true
I needed you and you were there

And I'll never leave, why should I leave?
I'd be a fool 'cause I finally found someone who really cares

You held my hand when it was cold
When I was lost you took me home
You gave me hope when I was at the end
And turned my lies back into truth again
You even called me "friend"

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me

Alone, I couldn’t sing a note on key.  But this is sweet music – God loves and needs us.  And we are roots together in His vineyard!

[1] Lucado, Max, Imagine Your Life Without Fear, Thomas Nelson, 2009

Monday, November 25, 2013


William Arthur Ward wrote:
Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not to envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.[i]
I had a friend who fit that description.  John Wesley Coble went home to his heavenly reward last week.  He was truly a gentleman and a disciple of Jesus Christ; I will miss him.

As a Sunday School leader, John taught Bible Study to adults for 50 years.  He often remarked how much of a privilege it was to be able to do that, as the constant preparation/study to teach helped him more than his teaching helped the class.  It’s true, nobody learns like the teacher who prepares.

Before he retired John was an auto mechanic; he worked for dealerships doing expert maintenance and repair.  He was also no stranger to the pit crews of Richard Petty.  When you serve in a pit crew there’s no time or energy left over for envy or jealousy.  It’s like that in being a disciple too.  And John knew it!

John told me his family had not been homeless when he was growing up, but …in the depression, just keeping life and limb together was sometimes all one could do.  There were a lot of stories in John’s life about “making do” with a lot less than perfect circumstances and resources.

After a lifetime of fixing other people’s cars and tinkering with the racing monsters that go round in circles on Sundays, John retired and drove his old Chrysler.  The old tank wasn’t in bad condition, but neither was it “showroom ready”.  It was just a car.

Once, after a Wednesday evening Bible study about stewardship, John and I talked for a good while after everyone had departed.  I asked him about the old Chrysler, only half-joking when I wondered if it was a cast-off from the depression.  John answered me with three simple sentences that taught me about the simple grace of a life without envy:

Well, preacher, I’ve thought an awful lot about getting a newer car, and I always come back to the same thought.  An’ that thought is, if I don’t buy a new car I’ll have more money to be able to give to the Lord’s work.  I don’t need another car as long as I can fix this’un, but there’s always somebody else that needs Jesus.
When you live your life under that kind of Biblical wisdom nobody has to say “Rest in Peace”; John Wesley Coble was already there!


Do you have peace?  Or are the things you have competing with the things you want?

[i] Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 3

Family Birthmark

 Sometimes family resemblance is so clear it’s scary! 
Several years ago I put my grandson’s picture next to my baby picture and one thing was abundantly clear – I will never get to deny that kid!
The Scriptures make it clear that Satan imitates everything God does.  As the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one…so is the Devil, his beast (Antichrist) and false prophet.  You can recognize Satan’s family by their marks; so it is with God’s family.
God’s Family is Marked
Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.  Revelation 14:1 (NLT)

The Flock is Numbered

Some groups place great literal significance on numbers.  Some claim that, above all other believers in history, there will be exactly 144,000 who are the “worthy chosen” to stand with Christ. 
Most evangelical scholars see this number not literally, but more as representative of all people who have trusted in God for salvation.  The significance of the numbers represents groups as well as ways that numbers are used in Scripture.  Here, for instance, the number 144,000 is pointing to the 12 groups (or tribes) of the Old Testament, and 12 groups (or apostles, patriarchs) of the New Testament.  These two groups represent the leaders of all God’s people and the innumerable numbers of them throughout history. 
So 12 OT tribes x 12 NT apostles x 1000’s = 144,000).  This isn’t an actual headcount; it’s signifying all believers in all ages as Christ brings all of God’s family together for the final conflict with Satan and his followers.

The Flock is Named

…144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.  Revelation 14:1b (NLT)
In the previous chapter we note the “mark of the Beast”, Satan’s claiming of those who reject Christ.  But here the family of God is marked with His own name.  It is the seal of God’s Holy Spirit:
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.   Ephesians 4:30 (NLT)
This seal is for our protection:
The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.  I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.  I will rescue and honor them.  I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”   Psalms 91:14 - 16 (NLT)
God’s Family is Musical

An Overpowering Song

And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder.  It was like the sound of many harpists playing together.    Revelation 14:2 (NLT)
God’s people have always sung.  The Methodist movement was marked by singing – LOUD singing!  John Wesley warned Methodists to not sing as if we’re half-dead.
I don’t know that you could have counted all the verses of “Jesus Loves Me” were sung in the Brownworth car on the way to school when our children were little.  There were versions of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” but I also taught my kids to sing hymns and choruses.  (It’s a wonder any of them sing on key these days!)
Listen, in heaven the singing is going to be long, loud and will lavish great praise on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  If you’re going to join in then, it would be well that we practice here.
(And if you feel like you can’t make a joyful noise…make a joyful racket; God is waiting for you to open your mouth!)

An Overcoming Song

This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders.  No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.  Revelation 14:3 (NLT)
When I read this passage and try to imagine the tune and words all I can hear is “Amazing Grace”.  Only the redeemed of God can sing this song. 
a.     Because of Sin
This song comes out the heart of gratitude; it is a song only people who were lost and now are “found” can sing.  Angels are not so; they have always lived with God and do not sin.  Our sin would have separated us from God for eternity, but his grace and his cross made a way to the throne of God.  It’s an overcoming song!

b.     Because of Suffering
This song’s triumph is over suffering and heartache of this life.  Remember the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – how they refused to bow down to anyone but Yahweh, and they were thrown into the fiery furnace?  Remember Joseph, unjustly imprisoned (several times in his life) – how God redeemed and restored him?  Remember Job – lost it all and God restored it many times over. 
Don’t despise the troubles you may suffer because of your faith in Christ.  All these suffered, but God lifted them to overcome their tragedy.  This song is an overcoming song!

The Family of God is Marked, Musical and….
God’s Family is Mature
Maturity has nothing to do (as we all know) with how old you are.  I’ve known some pretty mature sixth-graders; I’ve also known some octogenarians who could use a dose of common sense.  Maturity has to do with how you act.  God’s family is mature insofar as they mirror the character and actions of their Master, Jesus Christ.

Mature in Purity

They have kept themselves as pure as virgins,… Revelation 14:4a (NLT)
Some would make this a case for celibacy, but that is too literal for the meaning here.  God is much more concerned about our spiritual chastity to limit this to a physical virginity.  It boils down to this:
People totally in love with Jesus act like it!

Mature in Loyalty

…following the Lamb wherever he goes.  Revelation 14:4b (NLT)
Being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb gives you a pretty clear sense of direction about what you’ll do in life – follow your Redeemer!  This is the “seal of the Spirit” – those who have been saved live like the Savior.

Mature in Royalty

They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb.  They have told no lies; they are without blame. Revelation 14:4c, 5 (NLT)
When you have an audience with a king you wear your best clothes and use your best manners.  If you’re the child of the king, you stand before him a little taller. 
Jude, half-brother of Jesus closed his little letter with this doxology about how we will stand before the throne of God:
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.                               Jude 1:24 - 25 (NRSV)

Friday, November 22, 2013


“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.   “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.   Isaiah 55:8 - 11 (NLT)
I have enjoyed some times of financial prosperity (relatively-speaking).  We’ve owned several houses and sold most of them for more than we paid.  You feel pretty much on top of things when you deposit that check.  It doesn’t last.  You gotta go find another place to live…and they don’t give those away.

I enjoy health (again, relatively speaking….I’m not going to run a marathon any time soon, but that is my fault for not exercising regularly).  It also doesn’t last.  Twice in the last 50 years I have had medical emergencies that came close to that Long Black Train!

I enjoy good, healthy relationships with family and friends (not just speaking about the family when I say “relatively-speaking”).  The “good” and “healthy” part is always in question, because opinions, lifestyle, mood-swings and a whole host of other “unknowns” always threaten the dynamics of human interactions.  You can go from “hero to zero” in the twinkling of a nanosecond!  So, prosperity – even with BFF’s can be like ice cream in the sun on a July summer dog day; better enjoy it while you can.

I have enjoyed some moments in the sun – a few articles published in periodicals, a few paragraphs published in a book, a few glory days on the high school football field.  Even preached on the steps of a government building in Talahassee during the Earth Day celebration once….woo hoo!  These don’t last either (you who?).

So what does last?

Well….go back to the top of the page – God’s thoughts and ways are so different than our interests in financial well-being, health, relationships and fame-hunger.  He says his ways are so different, its like the difference between up (heaven) and down (earth).
What lasts?  God’s Word lasts, and governs all of eternity, time and space. 

Prosperity Gospel

A very popular modern American approach to understanding God’s ways is through the so-called “Prosperity Gospel”.  Proponents of this greed process see the word “prosper” in Scripture, rip it out of context, twist and stretch it until even God wouln’t recognize the original sentence. If you do things just right, believe and receive, pray just the right way and know the secret handshake, God will drop wealth, health, fame and good looks right in your lap!  (I’m missing on 3 of 4 there, so guess my faith is pitifully-lacking).

Isaiah 55:8 is our case in point:  it will prosper everywhere I send it.   The “it” is God’s Word; prospering is what it will do according to God’s ways and thoughts.  The prosperity gospel gurus tell us the “prospering” part is all about using God’s Word to prosper a brand new Mercedes into my garage, which is part of my new 13 bedroom mansion on High Rock Lake.  And I’d like that by next Thursday….ok, God, got another call coming in, gotta go; see ya…click!

And so…

Don’t get caught in Biblical gymnastics that teach you to manipulate God into giving you what you want (health, wealth, healthy relationships and a great plastic surgeon to take back the years).  

Read Scripture with the lens God provided – the common sense that tells you He is God and you are not.  He is to be worshipped; he will take care of the other stuff in your life, because he already knows what you need.  (I found that in Matthew 6:33, and didn’t have to twist it at all!).