May 2, 2014

Thinking About My Future

Blessed is the Man or Woman...

Yes, I love this Psalm, and I treasure these words because I believe that they are true. I believe that Psalm 1 is a promise to the man or woman of God who longs for prosperity to know the way, to see the path, and to be shown how to go. God is clear on many things in the Bible, and the way to prosperity and success is through His Righteousness alone. God must be made the center of everything, and the man or woman of God, must place their trust in Him. In doing so, and in living a life predicated upon His Word, prosperity and success is a promise reward.

I think about my life today, and I consider prosperity and what that means to me. According to Merriam-Webster, prosperity means:

n. the condition of being successful or thriving; especially :  economic well-being 

I like the idea of being prosperous by the world's standard. I like the idea of being wealthy. Yes, I admit it, I have an affinity for wealth-building, and I see great value in being materially successful. I am not addicted to money, per se, but rather I am a person who sees how money can be used to further God's plans and to bless and prosper the Kingdom. Mind you, this is God's business. He is the One doing the blessing and the prospering. I would like to be used as a tool in His plan to help disseminate that wealth, that goodness, that blessing, to others. I would like to be used this way, and I long for the opportunity to share my blessing, my favor, with others.

I think most of us understand that the world's definition of words and God's definition of words are often opposites. In Strong's Concordance, the Hebrew word for prosperity is Shalom, which means peace. Interesting that this word is not about money, wealth or material success, but rather it is all about wellness, wholeness and completeness. In the Greek, prosperity also speaks of God's favor or blessing, which is wrapped up in His marvelous Grace. God desires to bless us in every way, not just with material possessions, but with all the spiritual blessing necessary to live a successful life.

If you want to find out what the Bible has to say about wealth, then you need to look that word up in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary (one of my favorite Bible study tools). In Baker's, wealth is treated with great seriousness. In the Old Testament, wealth is tied to the land, the land of promise. God gave very specific rules and regulations governing how the land was to be taken, to be kept, and later to be dispersed among the twelve tribes of Israel. Throughout the OT, God gives warnings on the improper use of wealth, and on how the Israelite's were to use wealth to maintain their communities (caring for the widows and orphans, etc.)

Likewise, in the New Testament there is a lot of instruction about the dangers and inherent evil of wealth. In context, there was tremendous greed in the Roman Empire. Money was treated as a god, much like the way it is today, and many people were using it to promote sinfulness and unlawful acts. The early Church was reprimanded for making money a god, and for seeking it, instead of God, as the solution to the people's needs.

How then do we treat Scripture where the Word promises us prosperity? I know many preachers and teachers who feel that as Christian's we are to live in a state of blessing, of favor, and that in doing so, we will have "no lack." I subscribe to blog posts, twitter feeds, and Facebook "likes" for many Charismatic teachers of the Word. I like their optimism, their overt faith in all things Scriptural. Sometimes though I do wonder about all the prayers for removal of "lack" because I know that for many of the followers of these teachers, there is GREAT Lack in their lives. So something is not working properly -- either the teaching or the following is wrong? Can we really increase our status, our wealth, our prosperity by following the Lord?

I think the answer to this question is "perhaps." I can tell you that since I made the Lord supreme over every area of my life, I have experienced "no lack" of anything. I have seen the Lord govern my finances and provide to me financial resources to ensure that my account never runs out. I may have small resources at times (like now), but somehow the Lord covers me and I have no lack of financial or material wealth. I am not rich, no way, no how. I am poor, very poor (by the world's standard), but I am rich in spiritual things. I have enough to live comfortably, and I am contented to be where I am this day. However, I know that I am not where I need to be financially to retire. Yes, this is true. I don't have a 401K, and I don't have savings built up to sustain me through my "golden years." I am working on it, for certain, but I am not where I want to be or need to be. The Lord knows this, He knows my needs for today, and for tomorrow. I am resting in His promised SHALOM. I am well-covered, I am at peace, and I have health and well-being. I am good because He is so very Good to me.

I panic over lack of money, I really do. I do this because I spent so many years living hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck. I lived my life in arrears, and I hated every single minute of it. It is true, it is completely true -- I am motivated by wealth because I fear being poor.

The Lord has been working on my faith in this area for some time now. For a long while, I looked to my work as the source of my sufficiency. You know, a good paying job. I had three good paying jobs, all with 401Ks and benefits. I was not rich, but I wasn't poor. I was happy with my salary, and I liked the fact that every two weeks another paycheck was auto-deposited into my checking account. I had just gotten to the point where I could plan vacations, and I could think about future purchases. If I wanted or needed a new car, I could think about buying a car (planning for it). I was resting in the security of a good job, and I was finally feeling the peace that comes from letting go of the worry over "having enough" each week, each month, and each year.

Then everything changed, and my path took a turn toward teaching college, and WHAM! I went from being settled to being unsettled. I gave up the good paying job with 401K and benefits for the opportunity to teach college. Yes, I knew that I would have to start over again, and that I would have to be without full-time work for a season in my life. I knew that I would have to go from a well-paying job as Analyst to living hand-to-mouth as a college adjunct (part-time) instructor. I knew that I would have to live off my savings, and that I would have to rely on Him for His complete governance over my financial security. I did it, I am doing it now, and I will continue to do it until He tells me otherwise. The smack of financial strain, though, is difficult for me. I hate it. I hate being poor.

The Lord has a great plan for my life, of this I know, of this I am certain. I am resting in His security today, and I will rest in His provision tomorrow. He has me well-covered. I am favored, and I am blessed. I am trusting in Him to provide for me.

Heavenly Father -

Your Word promises to provide for our daily needs. I look to your hand of provision now as I need you to provide for my needs. I need you to cover me with your blessing and favor this day. I need a way to generate income this summer, a way to provide fresh rewards to help supply my needs, and that of my parents. You know that I contribute to their welfare so I ask now that you would provide a door of opportunity for me so that I could do something this summer that would provide additional income to cover us well until my fall teaching contracts begin. I ask this now in Jesus' Name, and I rest in your provision and security. You are my Jehovah-Jireh, and I look to you alone to provide this day. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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