Today we look at the controversial topic of Biblical Prosperity:
- Biblically defining "blessings" and "cursings"
- How the "system" of Redemption reveals God's extravagant provision
- The impact of God's extravagant provision on our attachment to Him
- The origin of poverty, lack and need
- Wasn't Jesus poor?
- What about covetousness and greed?
SESSION 6 - GROUP VIDEO
Watch 10-20 minutes of a GROUP video teaching, that correlates with the full Workshop semester topics.
GROUP CONVERSATION GUIDE
Today we talk about a controversial topic, PROSPERITY!
- Encouragement: Set aside all previous preconditioned ideas, so we can take an unbiased look at Scripture.
QUESTION: Does God want you to prosper?
Doubts, Myths and More Questions:
- Wasn’t Jesus poor?
- Wasn’t the Apostle Paul poor?
- Doesn’t the Bible warn against greed and covetousness?
The way we answer these questions impacts our sense of identity. We aren’t really talking about prosperity here; we are talking about attachment to God. We are talking about…
- Who is God?
- Who are you?
- Who are the people around you?
- Where do you fit in the social construct?
- What/who can you count on?
If we don’t know God’s unrelenting attitude towards us, both relationally and provisionally, we will inadvertently fall into an insecure attachment style; anxious, avoidant or confused. God's love and desire for your goodness is ferocious, unchanging and exhaustive!
The topic of God’s provision, including the promise of prosperity, is best viewed through the lens of attachment, “can we securely count on God to provide.”
GALATIANS 3:13,14,29 Christ hath REDEEMED us from THE CURSE OF THE LAW, being made a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith...And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Within the violation of the law is the curse of that broken law. The curses are...
But Christ has Redeemed us from the curse of the law. So Christ has Redeemed us from physical, emotional/psychological, material/financial and social need.
DEFINING “BLESSINGS” AND “CURSINGS”:
We have to define and interpret Scripture with Scripture. In Deuteronomy 28:1-68 we have a clear delineation as to what a “blessing” and what a “cursing” is. Throughout Scripture sickness, emotional/psychological disorder, poverty or victimization (of any kind) is never … ever … labeled as a “blessing!” God HATES human suffering! He is not in collusion with Satan, not even an ambivalent "allowing" of such things. Such concepts are an insult to the goodness of God!
Sickness, emotional/psychological disorder, poverty and victimization are always clearly defined as a “curse.” Even in more ancillary texts, they are assumed, as though common sense would affirm the gravity of their inordinance. Even though, many today will argue that sometimes God uses these same “curses” to “bless” His people.
DEUTERONOMY 28:1-68 NIV If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
- 4 Have a fertile womb; crops and livestock will be blessed
- 5 Your business will be blessed
- 7 The Lord will protect you from your enemies
- 8 You will be blessed in bank accounts and other storage houses of blessing; thecircumstances of economies won’t matter to you
- 9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways.
- 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail.
DEUTERONOMY 28:15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
- 17 You won’t enjoy your work/labor
- 18 You won’t be able to get pregnant, and you will struggle in both finances and vocational successes
- 20 You will lack of peace, wisdom and clear decision-making and have no safety or protection or security of future
- 21 You will have sickness, disease and physical weakness
- 23 Nothing will be easy, no favor, no momentum
- 24 Opportunities will be hard, impossible, and hopeless
- 25 Shame, regret, oppression will be the norm along with fear, faithlessness, question, skepticism
- 26 You will experience isolation, aloneness, separation
- 28 You will have darkness, confusion, mental and psychological breakdowns
- 29 You will have complete failure and be victimized with nor oversight or justice
- 30 Your spouse will be given to sexual rape.
- 31 Your dreams will be taken from you
- 32 You will experience literal and spiritual child abductions
- 34 You will find yourself meditating on your regrets and intense emotions of injustice
- 36 Your religion will not make sense but be forced upon you
- 37 You will have embarrassment, shame, rejection, humiliation
- 38 Everything will be against you and nothing will work out for you
- 39 Unforeseen, pest-like things will spring up. When you do everything right, something will happen to undermine it.
- 40 You hopes will begin to get up. But in the last minute you will have them crushed.
- 41 You will be captivity to drugs, alcohol, to people/spouses who don’t like you, literal child abductions, kidnappings, etc.
- 42 New and multiplied problems will arise from places you will be surprised by
- 43 Everyone else gets promoted and are favored over you, while you continue to stagnate and find no favor
- 44 Others will be in control over you and have tentacles that harass your life
- 46 Your failure will not be merely natural, you will have miracle level and supernatural failure.
- 48 Your work and vocation will be intense with oppression
- 50 Life will have no compassion or empathy from anyone who has the human power to change it)
- 61 Any disaster that can be conceived will happen to you
WHAT ARE THE “CURSES” OF DEUTERONOMY 28?
- Faulty thought processes
- Distance from God
- Hard heartedness
- Unclean conscience
- Hating work/labor
- Can’t get pregnant
- Financial / vocational failure
- Darkness mentally
- No safety or protection or security
- Sickness, disease, and physical weakness
- Everything is hard, no momentum, things are impossible
- Isolation, aloneness, separation
- Psychological breakdown
- No justice
- Child abductions / kidnappings
- Rape of life (literally and figuratively)
- Supernatural failure
THE SYSTEM OF REDEMPTION
Where there is open sin, unatoned sin, there is the presence of these curses.
Where there is forgiveness of sin, atoned/redeemed sin, there is the presence of blessings.
REMEMBER: We are not assuming that a person’s experience of a curse means they are in some kind of sin. We are saying that legally, in God’s own frame of mind, it is an injustice for the curse to impede on the lives of those who are forgiven. There are other factors to consider, beyond God’s will and positive attitude towards us. In the same way God is passionate for people to experience His forgiveness, though many do not, so it is with these other blessings. God can desire things in our lives, yet we continue to lack experience in them. Factors related to the human heart are very important here. The heart is where we “receive” all of God’s blessings. Faith, motives, attitudes, tenderness/hardness, etc. all effect our experiential outcomes.
THE ORIGIN OF POVERTY, LACK AND NEED
From the increase of the land to the created treasures in the earth, this garden was fully prosperous. The earth was abundantly supplied all the way down to the gold, bdellium and onyx stone (Genesis 2:12). When Adam sinned the “curse” was introduced to the earth. The “curse” was death, and by sequence, anything that evolves towards death.
GENESIS 2:8, 10-13 NKJV The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed… 10 Now a river went out of EDEN to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is GOLD. 12 And the GOLD of that land is good. BDELLIUM and the ONYX STONE are there.
GENESIS 2:16-17 NKJV And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely DIE."
GENESIS 3:6-11, 21 NKJV So when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and THEY SEWED FIG LEAVES together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where [are] you?" 10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." 11 And He said, "WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU [WERE] NAKED? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" ... 21 Also for Adam and his wife the LORD GOD MADE TUNICS OF SKIN, and clothed them.
ROMANS 5:12 Wherefore, as by ONE MAN SIN ENTERED into the world, and DEATH BY SIN; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
WASN’T JESUS POOR?
- Deuteronomy 28 - Jesus lived completely righteous under the Old Covenant
- He started with gold, frankincense and myrrh
- Jesus sought first God’s Kingdom (Mat 6:33)
- Jesus had a treasury (Jn 12) / Jesus had a treasurer
- Enough to support a full-time staff of 12, and part time of 70
- Judas stole from treasury, but no one knew
- Jesus gave to the poor (Jn 13:29)
- Jesus distinguished himself from the poor (Jn 12:8)
- People gave of their substance to his ministry (Lk 8)
- Jesus had a house in a resort city big enough to entertain guests (Jn 1:35-39)
- Jesus wore expensive clothing (Jn 19)
- Jesus BECAME poor – when??
WHEN DID JESUS BECOME POOR?
Jesus became poor when he became the curse of sin.
GALATIANS 3:13,14,29 Christ hath REDEEMED us from THE CURSE OF THE LAW, BEING MADE A CURSE FOR US, for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith...And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NKJV For He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin TO BE SIN FOR US, that WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Him [Christ].
2 CORINTHIANS 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes HE BECAME POOR, that ye through his poverty MIGHT BE RICH.
Jesus became poor when he became the curse, when he became sin. Jesus was made sin on Calvary’s Cross. This is in contrast to the ideas that Jesus became poor when he moved to earth, taking on a baby’s body. To be consistent we must embrace the idea that Jesus became poor on the Cross, when he was stripped of all earthly goods, hanging with nothing but a loin cloth on that Cross.
In the same way, we were made righteous. When? We were made righteous at the time Jesus was made sin. We were “blessed” when Jesus was made the “curse.” We were made “rich” when Jesus was made “poor.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “RICH?”
“Rich” is NOT quantifiable by amounts. “Rich” means that we have an unlimited supply of resource available to us.
“Prosperity” is NOT about what you amass physically. “Prosperity” is about the ability to access resources to meet any need. All of these resources are “in Christ.”
PHILIPPIANS 4:19 NKJV And my God shall supply all YOUR NEED according to HIS RICHES IN GLORY BY CHRIST JESUS.
Biblical “prosperity” means that we are no longer waiting on God to DO something; we are accessing what God has already done in Christ. “Prosperity” means God’s mind is eternally cemented; you will never have to talk God into meeting your need. The issue is accessing what is in Redemption. To beg God, or to be ambivalent to God’s provision in Redemption, is in essence demeaning the work of Christ in our lives.
Some people focus purely on issues of:
- “So are you saying Christians can own cars like Maseratis?”
- “Does this mean God wants Christians to wear Rolex watches?”
- “Are you saying the Gospel is about increasing your financial portfolio?”
All of these questions miss the point!! These are bad questions, and bad questions always get bad answers. Our focus isn’t on cars, homes, watches, jets, or the pursuit of more and more convenience. Our focus is simply on living out the Great Commission, reaching the lost, discipling the believer and caring for the poor – through the finished work of Redemption. Redemption has given us complete and unlimited resources to fulfill these assignments, all found in Christ.
GOD’S PASSIONATE ATTITUDE
Some people say, “God doesn’t mind if you prosper.” That is a horrible understatement. What if someone said, “God doesn’t mind if you receive forgiveness”? That would be an offensive statement, because we know what it costs God to send Jesus to be crucified and raised from the dead on our behalf. God is passionate about His desire for us to receive forgiveness. In the same way, God is passionate for us to receive His prosperity. The issue is NOT about material stuff, it is about Redemption; it is about our attachment to a relational God who is extravagant in His personality.
WHAT ABOUT COVETOUSNESS AND GREED?
The root of covetousness and greed is unrelated to what material possessions you have, or don’t have. The root of covetousness and greed is fear and unbelief that God is your ultimate source.
The Apostle Paul addresses this idea of people pursuing material gain through human efforts, rather than being established in Redemption’s provision. When you read the word “rich” below, separate these people from those who are established in Redemption’s provision. The sorrow and destruction mentioned below are NOT associated with simply having material blessings; it is from motives, attitudes and unbelief towards God. “Loving money” is in contrast to loving God (Mat 6:24).
1 TIMOTHY 6:9-10, 17-19 NKJV But those who desire to be RICH fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the LOVE OF MONEY is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have STRAYED FROM THE FAITH in their GREEDINESS, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. ... 17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 [Let them] do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Notice, the opposite of covetousness and greed is “straying from the faith.” You are only covetous and greedy when you don’t believe God has, or will, meet your need. The opposite of covetousness and greed is NOT having stuff. The opposite is unbelief, that makes way for survival level fear. If covetousness and greed was focused on simply having material goods, then in verse 17 the commandment would be to tell the rich to get rid of their stuff. However, the command is to exercise the heart in generosity, moving the heart towards faith in God.
The “love of money” is not the same as accessing money through Redemption. In fact, the only way to access money through Redemption is through faith. The best way to insulate from “the love of money” is to become established in Redemption, accessing prosperity by faith in God’s accomplished supply.
GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Take a few moments to discuss your answers to these questions with the Group.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
MY MEMOIR STORIES
IMPORTANT: If the Group would like to continue telling one Memoir Story per week until they are completed, that might allow for a more congruent transition. Please be sensitive to the Science of Freedom content and discussion. It is important that our people are exposed to the possibilities in their potential that this content will provide. Please take no more than 20-25 minutes for the Memoir to leave time for the rest of the content below.
MEMOIR: PREPARING TO TELL MY STORY (Scope Timeline) worksheet to help you think through your story. You can download the SCOPE TIMELINE WORKSHEET at the link. There is a longer version of the worksheet, that gives an extra step to dig deeper into your story, which can be downloaded at LONG VERSION WORKSHEET (RECOMMENDED). You can also watch the WRAP UP video from last week that explains how to use the worksheet. Each person's Memoir should be 10-15 minutes long.
REMEMBER, you don’t need to be the experts of this content. Our desire is that you begin a conversation with the Group. Be a great facilitator by helping everyone process the content, even if they don’t agree with it.
IMPORTANT – The questions are guides for conversation. It is NOT important that all, or even most, of these questions are completed.
- After watching Session 6’s Video, what is your biggest takeaway, “ah ha” moment, or challenging thought? Why?
- What emotions come up for you as you hear that God is passionate about your prosperity? Does this topic, in the way we presented it, threaten your previous profile of God? What emotions are present when you hear these things?
- What Christian beliefs about God’s provision – or poverty, lack and need - have influenced your beliefs? Share your background story of understanding God’s will concerning your material provision.
- Share your thoughts about Jesus’ financial portfolio, that maybe he wasn’t poor like many have believed. How does this revision of Jesus impact you in your beliefs and emotions?
- Share your thoughts about covetousness and greed, specifically as an issue of fear and unbelief? How do you wrestle against these in your own life?
SESSION 6 - WRAP UP
This is a 5-10 minute section for MOVING FORWARD, GOING DEEPER, use of worksheets and periodic church-wide announcements.
Receive the challenge to “move forward” by applying what was learned this week.
1. IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY, PREPARE TO TELL YOUR STORY, your MEMOIR, to the rest of us over the next few weeks. Use the MY MEMOIR: PREPARING TO TELL MY STORY (Scope Timeline) worksheet to help you think through your story. You can download the SCOPE TIMELINE WORKSHEET. There is a longer version of the worksheet, that gives an extra step to dig deeper into your story, which can be downloaded at LONG VERSION WORKSHEET (RECOMMENDED).
2. PRAY FOR GROUP MEMBER - Pray for at least one person in the Group. Try to identify someone who hasn't been prayed for, or given an encouraging Scripture. Don't worry about feeling inadequate as a prayer. No one feels like they are professional prayers, at least not when they look into eyes of the Almighty God. Praying the Scriptures over people is the best way to learn how to pray effectively. Simply find a Scripture, put the person's name in the text, and pray those words out loud. Then ask the Lord to help you think of things to say to Him about them that would help their lives.
3. ASK FOR A SCRIPTURE WORD - Ask God to give you a Scripture to give them to encourage, comfort and edify them. You can Google search "God's Promises" and find a plethora of appropriate texts. Look for one that seems to give you a spark of energy as you think about the person you have been praying for.
4. DELIVER THE WORD TO THEM - Then send them an email, text or phone call to encourage them. This is how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. As you practice these movements you will expand your own capacity with God, all while giving people much needed hope and strength.
Encouragement to engage the FULL WORKSHOP SEMESTER experience. While this is not required, nor is the Group discussions connected to the full workshop, it is an option for everyone.
PRAYER / DISMISS GROUP
Prayer time with the Group.