Sunday, March 9, 2014

Being Blessed and Prosperous: Not What You Think - Part 2

What is the Criteria for Being Blessed?


If you listen to most prosperity teachings, you will quickly find that they are full of promises of blessings in return for giving...giving money that is. In essence this makes it a doctrine of works.

Yet we know that as Christians we are to live by faith, with works being a natural result of being conformed into the image and likeness...nature...of God.

However, there is something so sneaky about the prosperity gospel and man's desire to take the easy way to blessings. Afterall, it is much easier to toss some money at something than to begin to submit to the shaping and pummeling that takes place when we put ourselves into the hands of the Master Potter.

In the U.S. we live in a society that tends to value money and visible signs of wealth above almost anything, so when we listen to those give-to-get message about how God will bless us for paying money to Him, we are all to ready to believe that He values the same things we do.

However, that's just not the case. In fact, the Bible has a lot of reasons for why God will bless us, and only a few have anything to do with giving.

If you want to be blessed, then know that God finds many reasons to bless us:

Bless Israel


Gen 12:3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

How many so-called Christians are anti-Semitic, that hate or talk against Israel and Jews? According to this verse, God is NOT going to bless them; instead He will actually curse them. If that's true, then someone who is against Israel is NOT going to be able to give their way out of God's curse on them.

Obedience 

Deu 28:2  And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

God places great importance on our obedience. In fact, in this day and age of New Testament grace, the word "obedience" is only found in the New Testament.

Of course, the word "obey" appears quite often in the Old Testament, which shouldn't be surprising as the whole concept of salvation was based on obedience of the law. However, while we live in an age of Grace, that doesn't mean we can do anything we want and still be blessed.

Walks Separately from the World


Psa_1:1  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Pretty sure that you can't live like the Devil Monday thru Saturday, partying it up at the bars, telling dirty jokes and conducting business dishonestly and still expect God to bless you.


Is Forgiven


Psa 32:1  A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Psa 32:2  Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Wow! According to this, Jesus has already paid the price for us to be blessed.

Governmental Blessing


Psa 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Pro 11:11  By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Even a nation or city that honors God will be blessed. Why do you think the United States was so blessed for the first 200 years? Because (despite what the modern textbooks say) the Founding Fathers did dedicate this nation to God.

Trusts in God


Psa 34:8  O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

God values our trust or faith in Him. He knows that as frail humans it is easier to believe in that which we can see, taste, touch and feel, but to trust in Someone that cannot be perceived by any of our physical senses? That's tough. So this says that anyone who trusts in Him is blessed, and to be a true follower of Jesus Christ...a Christian...don't you have to start out by trusting in Him?

Is Merciful and Compassionate


Psa 37:26  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

Psa 41:1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Pro 22:9  He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Act 20:35  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

This is kind of about giving, but it's about giving to a need because you are moved by compassion or being merciful. This is not about dropping a tithing envelope in the offering plate, this is about having eyes to see those in need and a heart to reach out.

Unfortunately in this day and age of grifters, frauds, generationally needy and fear of becoming a victim, to protect ourselves we all too often close our eyes to the needs around us. It is safer to send a check to some charity or to drop our change in a red bucket at Christmas.

Generous in Business


Pro 11:26  He who withholds grain, the people shall curse him; but blessing is on the head of him who sells.

This is probably the same subheader as being merciful and compassionate, but seems to have more to do with how we operate our business. In today's global economy I can see how this could apply to a business that withholds from selling in a local market because they can get more money by shipping overseas, or visa versa.

As followers of Jesus Christ, putting money above compassion will put our business in jeopardy of failure as it bring a curse on it from the very ones that would have been the first to bless.

Not only that, but you don't have to spend more than 30 minutes on Facebook to see that social media will spread the word about a business that puts people above profit, and by the same token spread the word about a business that is only about money and profit and doesn't care who it harms to get there. (Hmmm...I can think of a couple off the top of my head: Monsanto being at the top of the list).

Firstfruits


Eze 44:30  And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.

So does this mean the firstfruits every pay period, and what is that? You'll have to figure that out, however, it is obvious that we are to support the priests or those who minister to us and where we receive our feeding.

On a side note, I wonder if this is where money began to be called "dough".

Tithes


Mal 3:10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Here is the verse used by so many to assure us that God will bless us when we give, but it is by no means the main reason God has said He will bless us.

Has Integrity


Psa 40:4  Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

Pro 10:7  The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

Pro 20:7  The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

What exactly is "integrity"? The dictionary defines it as: "possession of firm principles: the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards.

Synonyms: honesty · truth · truthfulness · honor · veracity · reliability · uprightness

While there are still men and women of integrity, this is not something that seems to be as highly valued as it once was. But if one operates with integrity and honor, the heritage of that person will receive the blessing.

When Corrected by God


Psa 94:12  Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;

Being corrected by God is sure evidence that we are indeed His children. Afterall, only a parent can correct a child and a loving parent only corrects out of love.

Loves the Word


Psa 112:1  Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.

Psa 119:2  Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

Loving the Word or Truth is a sure promise of blessing, and at this point on the prophetic timeline, it may be the only thing that will ensure that the Lord Himself won't send you a strong delusion (2 Th 2:11).

Fears the Lord


Psa 128:1  A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

Sadly, too often in today's churches the Lord is not feared or revered. Instead of being held in awe, He is treated like an errand boy or someone that can be commanded to do our bidding. You can't have it both ways.

Faithful in Marriage


Pro 5:18  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

If you don't want to have to resort to those little blue pills, you need to be rejoicing in the woman you married. If a man continually steps outside of his marriage and treats fidelity as an option rather than a mandate, pretty soon he may find he's resorting to artificial means to keep his "fountain" flowing.

Endures Temptation (what is "temptation"?)


Jas 1:12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Here "temptation" means adversity or trials, troubles...it doesn't necessarily mean to be tempted. Although if one is being forever tempted to do wrong and endures that temptation rather than giving in to it...that is a trial.

However, we live in a sinful, fallen world with wickedness all around and the persecution of the righteous is becoming more and more prevalent. Here we are promised that if we will endure..."stay under, remain, undergo, bear trials, have fortitude, persevere, patiently suffer and tarry behind"...that we will receive a conspicuous honor (you can't hide a crown).

Look for His Return


Luk 12:37  Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

If we want to be blessed then we need to be watching...not just hoping for His return, but actively watching. You don't watch by avoiding studying Biblical prophecy which is the tendency of many Christians today. They just accept what they're told about end time events and never study it for themselves.

This is one reason so many sincere Christians believe the lie of a pre-trib rapture. Afterall, you can't study prophecy very long before you realize that the doctrine of a catching away before the Tribulation is not in the Bible and that in fact the Bible says the very opposite thing. (2Th 2:3).



So you see money is the least of the reasons why God will and does bless us, and to only tie His blessings to our giving not only short changes us, but will change our relationship with Him.

Next we'll be looking at what the many ways God blesses us that have nothing to do with money.

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