Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The NEW Prosperity Gospel!

Dear Friends,

Have you ever walked out of a dark theater or dimly-lit restaurant and been overwhelmed by the brilliance of the mid-day sun? The contrast brings a greater awareness of the darkness we’ve exited from and accentuates the light that we’ve entered into. I recently went to Sam’s Club and saw both evil and good displayed right next to each other on the warehouse shelves. Both darkness and light are on sale at member’s-only special prices during the upcoming holiday season, and as we cycle through Fall and Winter holidays, perhaps the one good thing we can say about Halloween is that when it’s over, we step out of the darkness and celebration of evil and into the brilliant light of Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I see displays of harvest baskets with the brilliant, golden colors of autumn. I see gravestones, skulls and skeletons symbolizing death, alongside Nativity sets signifying life. I see animatronic demons with flashing red eyes and I see fire-breathing dragons. I see Mary kneeling next to the baby Jesus lying in the manger. I wonder what possessed the store manager to display the demons right next to Jesus. What a contrast between darkness and light when we transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving and then to Christmas!

But I wonder if we should also be transitioning from a season of Thanks-Getting into a season of Thanks-Giving. We love Thanksgiving and celebrate it as a day to feast! But do our prayers sound like this? “Thank you Lord for Your bountiful blessing of this Thanksgiving Feast, as we consume turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered with gravy until we are bloated with Your blessings.”

We express our thanks and gratitude to God throughout the year: “Thank you God for Your generous financial provision,” we pray as we quickly deposit that check safely in the bank where no one else can get their grubby hands on our money.

“Lord, thank You for all your good gifts this Christmas,” we pray as we add another cute, red top to the twelve red tops we already have hanging in our closet. Or unwrap the latest, ergonomically-correct, computer-balanced, miracle putter guaranteed to improve our golf game. (Okay..maybe we do need that...)

“Thank you Lord for all You have blessed us with,” as we survey our packed garage or storage rooms filled with expensive things we will no longer use (and perhaps never did?).

And many years ago, during this season of giving thanks to God, He put on my heart that I needed to start practicing and preaching the Prosperity Gospel. No, no, no. Not that Prosperity Gospel! I’m talking about an entirely NEW Prosperity Gospel. 

The doctrine of the old Prosperity Gospel is not based on scripture and was developed by American Protestants in the 1950's. That doctrine says that financial blessing is the will of God for all believers. You must confess that, believe in it, use positive thoughts and speech to affirm it and of course you must give a “seed faith” to your church or to the prosperity preacher’s ministry to “activate” your “blessing” of material wealth.

But the NEW Prosperity Gospel is not based on self-centered desires; it’s based on God’s Word and the Lord’s desire that His kids share their things. The old PG takes “authority” over what I don’t have and commands that God give it to me; the NEW PG looks at what God has already given me to see how I can use what I have to bless others. 

The NEW PG is not based on my getting more, it’s based on my giving more. It’s not coveting what you don’t have and “Naming and Claiming” it. It’s naming what you do have and giving it away to someone who needs it more than you do. If that sounds shocking to you, open your Bible and read Acts 2:41-47 paying special attention to verses 44-45.

The old Prosperity Gospel, preached in many churches, says that God wants you to live in affluence, wealth, opulence and luxury. But the Bible says: “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry. You should help the poor and remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Luke 12:33 NLT; Luke 3:11; Acts 20:35

Have you become swept up in a swirling tsunami of things? On a first-name basis with the Amazon Prime driver? Bloated with blessings that are rusting away and attracting moths? The NEW Prosperity Gospel says, “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness..” Isaiah 58:10 If you practiced the NEW Prosperity Gospel, what would your priorities look like? What would you be doing differently in your life? With your money? With your things? With your time? Are you willing to turn this season of Thanksgetting into a season of Thanksgiving?

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