It was always my plan to live long and prosper regardless of the economic times. Unfortunately, What I know now I didn't know then. Over the years I have come to learn that it is God's will for His children to prosper.
I don't know of anyone who approaches life with the intent to take the hard road filled with strife and stress. We all have this built-in sense to live long and prosper, drive towards success, and to achieve a degree of satisfaction with what we do and who we become.
How we each approach is determined by a number of external factors such as family, friends, education, environment and even religious beliefs. As of late our beliefs are being influenced by what we are seeing televised and what we read.
Today's reality shows project a grim view of what it takes to survive and may even be impacting our view of what to realistically expect our lives to be like. They don't encourage us that we should expect to live long and prosper. Most of these shows project a scene where...
I experienced my first encounter with tough economic times in 1999 when I was forced out of my job which I held with a Fortune 500 for eighteen years. To top things off we had just built a brand new house in southern California. My mindset eventually went into survival mode whereas before this sudden change in my employment status I was expecting things to continue to improve for me and my family.
By that time I had begun to learn that as a Christian I was loved by my heavenly Father and it was His will for me to overcome all difficulties, come out on top, and to live long and prosper. I am a VICTOR not a VICTIM. I was not created to be on the bottom of my circumstances. Notice that I didn't say that we would NEVER encounter hard times.
The bible has various scriptures that refer to the type of life I could expect to live as a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Psalm 37 gives a good indication of what the believers life is to look like; "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed"
As one month rolled into the next and I struggled to find employment in the same field and I become somewhat disillusioned with my circumstances. Without realizing it I began to look at my life through the lens of a survivor on a reality show instead of through the reality of God's word.
There is a story in the new testament that tells the tale of Jesus feeding the multitude with only five loaves and two fish. When his disciples see the multitude they inform Jesus that since it was getting late and He should send them home so they could have time to find something to eat.
Unfortunately, many Christians are living their lives with the same mentality. They're simply happy to be able to get by and
Jesus didn't see the circumstances he was facing through the eyes or perspective of His disciples. He saw His curent circumstances through the "word" of His father. He didn't see lack. He trusted in His fathers ability and desire to provide. That's why He took the bread and fish and looked up to heaven and gave thanks to His father and instructed His disciples to pass out the bread and fish to the crowd. In the end it turned out that over five thousand men, women and children were fed and the disciples collected twelve baskets from the leftovers. Jesus demonstrated the mentality He wanted his disciples to have - teach my people that they can expect to live long and prosper.
Lest you think I'm promoting a prosperity gospel or some "blab it and grab it" theology I want to clarify that I am referring to a kingdom mindset that I believe more Christians need to have in order to take advantage of all that is available to them through the work of Jesus Christ.
As our current economic system becomes even more fragile and susceptible to poor management, greed, and sabotage, we will need to be able to tap into a different system to survive and live long and prosper during the coming difficult economic times. The disciples began to develop this kingdom mindset when Jesus first sent them out two by two. He gave them the following instructions:
These were His instructions:" Take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt." Luke 6:8-9
Then Jesus asked them, "when I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything? " "Nothing", they answered. Luke 22:35
It would have been perfectly natural for the disciples to be fearful regarding their day to day necessities. How many of us who have experienced periods of unemployment were without fear about our finances? The thing I want to point out from these two passages is the answer they gave to Jesus when He asked them if they lacked anything. Their answer was a resounding, "Nothing".
This lesson was to serve them well once Jesus left them after the resurrection. They had already experienced God's ability and faithfulness to provide for their needs. Indeed, throughout the rest of their lives they would experience tremendous difficulties and trials and have their lives threatened. Coming through their trials and hardship encouraged them to teach the people that in spite of their living conditions under foreign rulers God wanted them to expect to live long and prosper. This mindset would serve them well when their lives were being threatened. How many times did they experience the truth of what Jeremiah wrote?
" I know the plans that I have for you", declares the Lord. "Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and I will listen to you..." Jeremiah 29:11-12
When I first began to study about the kingdom of God and how it operates it was quite an eye-opener. I wasn't sure if I could do what it was asking me to do. I wasn't even sure how to begin living with this mindset of being able to live long and prosper even if I wanted to. The first thing I had to do was to overcome worry and fear. I had already learned that it was impossible to please God without faith. Now I had to learn how to live and operate in His kingdom.
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" Luke 6:24
There had to be a reason why God was so determined to speak on this subject of money as often as He did. The more I studied and looked into the matter the more I realized that as children of God we were citizens of His kingdom and had benefits and privileges that He wanted us to access at will in order to live in this world without depending on and being held hostage to it. One of the first changes we had to make was to invite God into our finances and we did this by the simple act of tithing.
God explains in Malachi 3 that if we would test him in this area He would prove his faithfulness.
" Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you", says the Lord Almighty. But you ask, 'how are we to return?' "Will a mere mortal rob God ? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'how are we robbing you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - your whole nation - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe," says the Lord Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, " says the Lord Almighty.
I don't know about you but I want to have this kind of assurance when it comes to being able to live long and prosper. It seems that God is instructing the people through the prophet Malachi how to live long and prosper safely according to his kingdom principles. That's like having insider information on Wall Street. Why would I want to struggle and gamble with my family's financial security through my own efforts? I bet all those people who owned ENRON stock wished they had been partaking in the kingdom principles. After all, their reason for investing in ENRON was because they too wanted to live long and prosper.
Many of us are living in a land that is not producing fruit for us. Too many are like the first man mentioned in Jeremiah 17 and not enough are like the second man.
(First Man) "Cursed is the man who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives." Jeremiah 17:5-6
(Second Man) "But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water" Jeremiah 17:7-8
The message these various passages are providing us if we are willing to listen and adhere is that in times of famine, and economic hardship we can still live long and prosper because our trust is in God's promise to take care of us.
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