Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Secret to Prosperity?

The Secret to Prosperity?

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. Philippians 4:12 ESV

There are many who know how to be brought low who have not learned how to abound. When they are set on a pinnacle they grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. Christians more often disgrace their profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining furnace of prosperity. Oh, what a leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not the way things must be, for the apostle Paul tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, so he floated safely. It requires more than human skill to carry the overflowing cup of earthly joy with a steady hand. But Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:12 ESV). It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once—but while the quail was still in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them (see Numbers 11:31–34). Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy the lust of their own hearts. Abundance of bread has often made people careless, and that has led to an undisciplined spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercy, it often happens that we have little of God’s grace—and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God; satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured, it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry—the tendency of human nature runs desperately to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you how to abound. Let not the gifts thy love bestows Estrange our hearts from thee. “Father of Mercies! God of Love!” Ottiwell Heginbotham (18th century) - C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

Take special note of the things that stood out to me this morning in Spurgeon's devotional.  

I have lost track of how many times I and others that I have come across in my life have desired to be free of debt.  Some actually were praying to win the lottery. 

It's interesting to note that Paul was teaching that there's a secret to prosperity.  Not in the obtaining it but in being wise in it.  It's not for everyone. 
With great wealth in this world comes the need for greater wisdom.  Face it, when a windfall happens the first thought on the minds of most is what can I get?  Not what can I pay off.  Proverbs speaks to the wise and the foolish in regards to the type of man.  It talks of how it should be desirable to owe no man anything.  

We live in a culture that is exponentially growing farther and deeper in debt to companies and governments.  The only recourse is to live within your means.  Not that that itself is in your favor. Companies intentionally degrade product life to ensure you spend more than something is worth to fix it. Hospitals and doctors make sure you are never 100 percent cured to make sure you come back.  Yes that last one is real, especially when you look at the multi-billion dollar a year business it is.  

But getting back to what Paul was saying...not everyone knows how to deal with prosperity.  Oh people pray for it all the time. Those who don't play the lottery weekly for a chance to strike it rich.

Prosperity in this life for a believer is to lay up treasure in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy.  The only treasure in Heaven is people. 

Nobody's got a U-haul on their casket.  Even if they did, check on it in 5 to 10 years and you will still find their stuff still in the same place.  Untouched. 

Once more...whether or not you can understand it fully now...the mind of the believer and unbeliever isn't at all on what possessions they left.  In Hell their only desires are that God would change His mind concerning them, releasing them, and for those they know never to come there.  For the believer their thoughts are on those left behind that the unbelieving would believe and come to be where they are.  Never at all is it on them to want anything else.  They praise Jesus in person and intercede on behalf of those they know in person to Jesus.  

Nobody who is young gets it but everyone who gets older appreciates it.  That joy doesn't come in an abundance of things. 

The older I get the simpler that I want things.  I am one who prays to be debt free.  My hopeful desire is that some day it will happen in this life.  All who die are already debt free...of worldly things.  I have this hope to be debt free in order to be able to help others.  A noble desire. Yet I also know me.  Temptation lurks at the door of prosperity.  Pray to be debt free yet that dog n squirrel routine happens.  You know the scene. The obedient dog on a leash beside it's Master, walking along peacefully. A squirrel runs across the path and off the dog wants to go. All caution thrown to the wind. All thoughts of obedience lost.  Praying for to be debt free and in time God does provide.  Yet our first inclination is to spend it on self.  Exactly what Scripture says. 

James 4
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts? You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.

There is a secret alright. It's called Spiritual maturity.  Toddlers are not given sharp objects because they know not how to use them properly. They will undoubtedly hurt themselves. 

I don't do things now that I once did because of lessons learned through maturity.  We have to learn from God on how to handle even prosperity. 

Joseph began his life as a shepherd. At the end he was just about the highest ruler in Egypt.  God didn't just promote him to that without lessons learned along the way.  Lessons of still leaning on the Lord vs what the culture in Egypt taught. We know this because of his strong desire to hold to his upbringing around the teachings of God.  He even gave orders that when God would save His people and take them from Egypt, they were to take his bones for proper burial in Israel the land they were going to.  God taught Joseph how to handle the prosperity in his life. He wasn't just given prosperity with no instruction. 

Pray for wisdom in your life.  The Bible says that God gives that freely to all who ask.  Pray for you to remember lessons learned so that you don't need to repeat them.  If God should so bless you, remember to only move forward in wisdom with it.  He also says in Scripture of the whys of blessing being that we are so blessed in abundance so that we might help others.  I do not honestly want an overabundance of blessing.  I would that Jesus would help us to be debt free and that we might indeed have it at the forefront of our minds to be sensitive to the Spirit and be ready to help where needed by Him.  Read Ecclesiastes. There is no lasting joy in riches. It's a fools errand to think that riches can make you happy the rest of your life. Howard Hughes died a exceedingly rich man. Lonely and miserable.  It did nothing for him.

Pray for the wisdom to live as you ought in all things.

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