“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.
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!
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).