Dear saints, I trust that the Lord has been prospering you and it’s indeed good to be back with you. In these days of falling unemployment and rising prosperity (although I must admit that wide income disparities still persist) it may be redundant to ponder on God’s protection and provision. However, one should be able to differentiate between being rich and prosperous. Having wealth isn’t the same as enjoying it (Ecclesiastes 5:19, 6:2). One could be made rich by the Devil (Matthew 4:9), but the ability to enjoy that comes only from the Lord (Matthew 19:29, Luke 6:38). I’d also like for us to be reminded of what God expects us to do with our wealth (2 Timothy 6:18-19).
Please turn with me today to Isaiah 58:11-12. These prophecies uttered by the Prophet Isaiah were actually words of hope and comfort that were an exhortation to the Israelites to repent and be redeemed. However, these verses also indicate God’s ability to protect and provide for His children in the most adverse situations. In tough and difficult circumstances it’s much easier to rely on our wits than to trust in the Lord.
Let’s take an example from the life of our ancestor Abraham. Genesis 12:10 describes a famine that occurred in Canaan. God Almighty had promised Abraham that He’d prosper him exceedingly in Canaan. Following that promise Abraham’s faith was tested by the severe famine that happened in Canaan. Abraham should have stayed in Canaan and trusted God to provide. However, neighboring Egypt was prosperous and Abraham was naturally tempted to go there. In Genesis 26:2 the Lord very clearly forbade Isaac from entering Egypt (These restrictions no longer apply to us Christians as it’s our mandate to evangelize our cities and the world (Matthew 28:19). One of the best ways to spread the gospel in our nations and the world is to take up careers to support ourselves as we spread the word as the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:3-4)). Not only did Abraham disobey God’s command, but the way he went about doing it landed him in the soup. To protect himself, he made his wife Sara lie about her identity. What followed was a very shameful and painful episode in which the man of God was deported from Egypt.
Abraham’s life also provides yet another example of trying to accomplish God’s will our way. God Almighty promised Abraham children who would fill the earth (Genesis 15:5). But the wait got to be too much and Sara attempted to help God along the way! In Genesis 16:2 Sara made arrangements for her maid Hagar to sleep with Abraham. Hagar did conceive, but the consequences were devastating. Not only was she driven from her home, but the son that she bore, Ishmael, was destined to suffer from the beginning (Genesis 16:12). This is yet another example of what we shouldn’t do if we are to be in God’s will. God gives us a vision and then there is nothing but darkness or confusion (Genesis 15:12 tells us that a thick and dreadful darkness came over Abram. Sometimes God has to speak to us from darkness, as that’s the only way He can get our attention). When darkness prevails and we are not certain about what to do, we must patiently wait upon the Lord to accomplish His vision for our lives. This is easier said than done. However, if we’re attentive, we’ll hear the soft voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us in the right direction. But if we run ahead of God and try to accomplish His vision by ourselves we’ll end up hurting others in the process.
As economies improve globally (well may be not globally, but certainly in America, India, China and a few select nations), new opportunities present themselves. Maybe some of you are planning on starting a new business, getting married, having another child, buying a second home, or taking an early retirement. God may have given you this vision some time back, and you may feel that the times are just right to make your dreams come true, and you could be right. But let’s not get ahead of God and commit the mistakes Abraham made and hurt ourselves and those around us (Isaiah 50:11). Instead let’s rely on the Holy Spirit to help us in making the correct decisions. I pray that our common sense is in line with the Holy Spirit’s leading and these prosperous times are indeed the right moments to make all our dreams come true!
Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any among you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen.