John was the apostle filled with God’s love and that’s why he repeatedly referenced it in his writings. One of his most quoted passages occurs in First John 1, when he says, “Beloved, let us love one another. For everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Love is a virtue we must always exhibit in life and that’s why John emphasized it. With that in mind, how would an apostle, known for urging Christians to love one another, pray for his spiritual children? The answer to that question is recorded in our text. John wrote: “I pray that you may prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.”
Think about that prayer. John’s request embodies what parents want for their children. Don’t you want your children to have good health, faithful friends, and most importantly, spiritual blessing? It’s what John wanted for his spiritual children. He wanted them blessed in every area of life: body, soul, and spirit. That’s why he said, “I pray that you may prosper in all things.” This agrees with everything the Bible teaches about a Christian’s welfare. And there is a special way God demonstrated his desire for man to be blessed in every dimension of life when Jesus died on the Cross. Let me show you:
Years ago, the Holy Spirit opened my understanding of “The Five-fold Provision of Christ’s Blood at Calvary.” As I examined the five areas of Christ’s body that bled at Calvary, I understood how Christ provided for our welfare in these wounded places of man. For example:
The Blood that dripped from His pierced His hands was meant to prosper our labors for Him.
The Blood that spilled from His feet was meant to bless the path we take in life.
The Blood that ran from His lacerated back was to heal our bodies.
And the Blood that flowed from His speared side was meant to redeem our souls from sin.
God wants to bless and protect every aspect of our lives. And that’s because Satan attacks every aspect of our lives. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came that you and I might have “life, and that we might have it more abundantly.” Paul calls believers “overcomers” and says we should be fruitful, and “abound in love,” and “be filled with righteousness.” This is what our loving Lord desires for His children.
But how do we claim that? This is what I want to discuss. I want to discuss how you can position yourself into the path of God’s blessing. That path isn’t always the widest or the smoothest, but it’s always the correct path. And that’s because the route is mapped out in this Book. It’s the Turnpike of Truth! And if you ever veer off course just repent; God permits U-turns!
(Transition) But how do we claim this abundant lifestyle? First, we must consciously look to God as our answer to every situation.
Do you do that? Do you consciously look to God as your answer for dilemmas? He is! There is nothing that Christ can’t help us through! He is our source of salvation, healing, deliverance, guidance, strength, comfort, or whatever the need. When God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush He said: “I am that I am.” Have you ever heard of a name like that? Moses says, “Lord, what is your name.” And the Lord says, “It’s I am that I am.” What did God mean by that? God was saying, “Moses, whatever you need Me to be, is what I am. “I am . . . Moses. It’s up to you to fill in the blank. “I am who I am.”
I think most Christians believe God is able to impossible things. They believe He can intervene in the course of human events. The issue isn’t, Can God solve our problem. The issue is, Will God solve our problem? But 365 times the Bible expresses God’s willingness to supply the needs of His people. That’s one expression of God’s benevolence for each day of the year. And Jesus did an incredible job of emphasizing this in the New Testament. Fifty-nine times in the Gospels Jesus said, “I will.”
For the Centurion’s servant He said, “I will come and heal him” (MAT 8:7).
To the weary and oppressed He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (MAT 11:28).
To the repenting sinner He says, “. . . whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (JOH 6:37).
To the one who approaches God by faith He says, “ask anything in my name, and I will do it” (14:14).
To those needing companionship He says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (14:18).
Paul was so confident of Christ’s willingness to help us that he declared: “my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (PHI 4:19).
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Christ not only can, He will! He is our Source of supply for whatever the need! And Jesus, Paul, and Jeremiah aren’t the only ones to assure us of God’s willingness to intervene. King David testifies to God’s predisposition of meeting your needs.
As a teenager he was empowered to topple Goliath with only a slingshot.
As King of Israel David defeated armies from without and conspiracies from within.
That’s why David wrote his own epitaph before his death: “I have been young, and now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken or His seed out begging for bread.” We must always focus on God for whatever we need because He is our Source! That’s why He is “I am who I am.” He is whatever we need Him to be!
(Transition) Another key to our prosperity involves trusting God.
When you study Abraham, you’ll find his obedience toward God contributed to his prosperity. But something else brought him prosperity. Look at verse nine once again: “Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Now that’s faith! And I want to explain why it is: When Abraham gave Lot the first choice, Abraham exhibited total reliance upon God for guidance. Remember, when this journey began God told Abraham to search for the Promised Land. But to this point, Abraham hadn’t located it. However, Abraham was so secure in faith he knew whichever land Lot chose wouldn’t interfere with God’s choice of real estate for him.
(Insight) Let me assure you of something. The blessings others around you receive will never impede the goodness God has prepared for you. That’s why you should never be envious when others are promoted, honored, or blessed. God has a specific will for your life, so there is no reason to be jealous of others! Let me illustrate what I mean by continuing to read from Genesis 13, after Lot made his choice:
“Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. (15) All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. (16) I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. (17) Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
I’m going to say it again: Never allow a jealous spirit to grip you regarding the blessings of others. It can corrupt your soul! Being envious of God’s goodness toward others will eventually lead you to impugning the wisdom of God. Envy says God isn’t wise enough to know what’s best for you. Do you see how this attitude strikes at the character of God’s goodness? God wants you to live with the confidence of Abraham, which is this: The goodness God lavishes upon others will never impede His goodness for you. That’s why you can trust the loving providential mastery of our Lord:
Proverbs 3:5 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
God is faithful, good, and completely wise and His very character testifies that you can trust Him. Thus, celebrate the promotion and blessing of others and trust Him to bring blessing into your life too.
(Transition) However, there’s a third key to prosperity and it involves living by the law of reciprocity.
The Law of Reciprocity is this: “Whatever you sow, that shall you also reap.” And remember this too: Every day you live, you sow seeds. It could be good seed or bad seed; you may sow liberally or miserly; but you are sowing seed every day. And ultimately, without exception, every planted seed grows!
(Example) Awhile back an Egyptian excavation team discovered seeds that were thousands of years old. When the Egyptians planted those seeds, even after thousands of years, they germinated and grew! The law of sowing and reaping is fixed and unalterable. That means, our responsibility is to use the law of reciprocity to our advantage. Make certain that whatever you sow in life is seed that will produce a good crop. What type seed is that?
It’s sowing a smile for someone hurting.
It’s sowing a helping hand when somebody stumbles.
It’s sowing mercy when someone is in need or when they don’t deserve it.
It’s sowing our tithes and offerings.
But here’s what some people fear. They think obeying God’s command to sow strips them of their resources and diminishes their welfare. And nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just the opposite! When you understand the law of the harvest you realize sowing/giving is the key to receiving. That’s what Jesus said in Luke 6:38. “By your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
Every farmer has three intentions when he plants:
Second, he anticipates a specific type of crop—corn, wheat, or whatever.
Third, he anticipates a specific size crop.
Now, what must a farmer do in order to obtain these intentions? He must sow, then he must sow the proper seed, and finally h,e must sow in a proportionate measure that he desires to reap. If the farmer sows a small amount of seed he will reap a small crop. If the farmer sows a large amount of seed he will reap a large crop. The magnitude of the harvest is always proportionate to the measure of seed planted. And that’s how we, as Christians, reap in life too. Whatever we sow we reap. And the measure we sow is the measure we reap. Unfortunately, Satan has succeeded in convincing people that their generosity limits their capacity to receive from God. Let’s look at this from Malachi 3.
If you interpret that from a legalistic, “God just wants your money” perspective, you’ll miss that He’s again trying to (1) establish His lordship and (2) expand your capacity to receive. Here’s what God means when He says: “you have robbed Me by withholding your tithes and offerings”:
Like those holy, forbidden-to-touch trees in the Garden of Eden there’s a tenth of your earning that is “holy” and belongs strictly to God. We shouldn’t touch it! When we neglect His command to give, we repudiate His lordship and accept the lie that says: “You can’t survive without keeping everything.” However, it goes beyond that. When we squander our tithes and offerings it not only repudiates Christ’s lordship it robs Him of the opportunity of tangibly blessing us. Look at verse ten again:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 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 you will not have room enough for it. (11) I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. (12) Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land.” When He commands giving tithes and offerings here He’s begging us not to rob Him from the privilege of rebuking the devourer, growing a bumper crop, and manifesting His blessing evident enough for others to see! Again, our giving enlarges our capacity to receive!
Will you live in such a way that you always look to God as your answer to any problem? Will you always trust Him to open doors and trust that He always has your best interests in mind? And will you try to remember to sow good seeds that God may bless you with a good harvest?
Will mankind walk blindly into the Apocalypse and be caught off guard by the Antichrist and the crush of Endtime events? Or, has God supplied irrefutable evidence for the nearing days of calamity?
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