- “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4
- “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Romans 9:23
- “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33
- “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” 2 Corinthians 8:2
As we enter another time where the Powerball jackpot is well over $300,000,000 there’s always someone who asks you the question of what you’d do if you won that kind of money. For me, I can’t wrap my mind around having that kind of money, but to say I haven’t considered what I’d do with that kind of money would be a lie.
However, what I’ve discovered is that I am really a simple person, and I really don’t have these extravagant dreams of what I’d do if I won $300 million dollars. The temptation is to say that I’d buy this huge house, fourteen cars, and travel…and buy all kinds of stuff. Aren’t we told in the Bible about a man who had an abundance of stuff, and was called a fool because he was unwilling to share his abundance with people who either didn’t have enough…or anything at all?
I’m interested to see where today’s message is going to go, and what Paul’s sense of wealth was, and if it lines up with mine. I’m also interested to see what John Piper adds in to this devotional message for today…so without taking any longer to get into it…let’s see what we can do with today’s message: PRAY AND PONDER YOURSELF INTO SYNC WITH PAUL’S SENSE OF WEALTH
When the apostle Paul thinks about “wealth” or “riches” what springs to his mind? What should spring to ours? Where should our efforts at enrichment be invested?
I would have to imagine that Paul’s sense of wealth is much like mine has become today. We’re going to get into a list of Scriptures and points by John Piper…and the Word of God, but before we get into that I guess this is a moment where I’m able to share some personal revelation on what I believe true Biblical wealth is…and contrast that with what the Prosperity Preachers (or Pimps as Brother Donnie Swaggart calls them) teach us about wealth.
First of all…I should give a precursor here. I think that we all to some extent (thanks to the prosperity doctrine that’s invaded the Body of Christ) has a distorted view of what the abundant life is, and I think that because mine was distorted by it too…until the Lord dealt with my heart on what true abundance of life really is…and is not.
For quite some time I believed that true prosperity (wealth) was about…well…stuff. After all, there are many preachers on television these days that would have you to believe that God desires for us all to wear Armani suits, have a Mercedes-Benz or BMW or Cadillac in the garage, and a mansion to live in. In addition to our homes, all of us should have these huge mega churches, and maybe even a private jet, private yacht…and if we don’t…then we’re not sowing enough seed or we don’t have enough faith…and therefore I began to have this distorted view of the abundance of life.
You see, friends, I talked in the introduction about not being able to wrap my mind around having hundreds of millions of dollars because in truth…I can’t really wrap my mind around having hundreds of thousands of dollars…and in many cases over the course of my life…just hundreds of dollars.
I know…I hear the prosperity teachers already. Well…you have to have $5.00 faith before you can have $5,000,000 faith. You have to start where you can, and just begin to sow seeds…and before long you’ll be reaping rewards off of the prosperity gospel’s Ponzi scheme…because that’s really what it is friends…it’s a Ponzi scheme.
Listen…I’m not saying that it’s not possible to reap 30, 60, and 100 fold off of your tithes and offerings because I know it is. What I am saying is that this prosperity message has gotten the Body of Christ to believe that if we’re not all multi-millionaires it’s because we’re either not sowing enough seed or we don’t have enough faith.
Can I tell you what God showed me about true biblical abundant life? It’s not about money, it’s not about houses, cars, airplanes, boats, expensive suits, jewelry, watches, or vacation homes in the Caribbean Islands. The abundant life is about riches that money cannot buy. Things like having a restored relationship with my parents that was broken for the better part of a decade. Having a restored relationship with my in-laws after a time where I paid for sowing a bad seed with my father in law. Having a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a bed to sleep in at night without worrying about whether or not the bills are going to be paid. Having the love of a good woman, and enjoying the life of having a family…and a house that feels like a home. Having the ability to serve God with a gift I’ve had all my life, and not only is it being used to cultivate my relationship with God…but it’s being used to help others to cultivate their relationship with God.
It’s about finding an awesome Bible teaching church to become a part of and be fed by knowing that God’s presence is frequently invited to attend their services, and the people there really do care about you. It’s about having a job that I can enjoy doing while making sure that I’m able to write these messages. It’s about having come to the point to where you realize like Paul did…I have discovered that I’m able to be content with life.
It’s about beginning to realize that there are more fruits of the spirit in operation in my life. It’s about love actually being a part of your life. It’s about discovering there’s peace in your life that surpasses your understanding…and even though we do live paycheck to paycheck…God always provides for us the ability to pay our bills, keep a roof over our heads, and foods in our stomachs. It’s about discovering that there’s a little bit of joy that accompanies that sense of peace that you’ve never really had before…and then one day you realize you smile a little more, you enjoy life a little more, and you are actually living a little…and not just existing.
It’s about realizing that you’ve even begun to have the ability to be long-suffering with people, and that instead of holding on to resentment, bitterness, and grudges you find that forgiving people comes easier, and you don’t hold on to stuff and dwell on things…because you realize that you have that love that’s shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost…and that love over rides the feeling of resentment or desire to hold a grudge…because you realize that God’s not holding anything against you…so you don’t have the right to hold anything against anyone else. You realize how LONG suffering God is with you…and therefore you learn to extend more grace, mercy, and forgiveness to others…even when they don’t deserve it because you realize that God extended those things to you…and still extends them to you…even though you don’t deserve to have them extended to you.
It’s about realizing that you’ve become a kinder…gentler person. That goes along with the long-suffering…and the ability to extend love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace a little easier. Then you realize that you extend goodness…which is another fruit of the spirit tied to love, long-suffering, and gentleness…there are some of these fruits of the spirit that kind of work together…and one day you realize that you’ve just become a nicer person in general. You get laughed at for being someone who animals and children naturally like to come up to…but you realize that’s part of the fruit of the spirit…and that’s part of becoming a gentler, kinder, and much better person.
It’s about realizing that your faith is growing, and that you have the belief that you may not know when or how God will intervene…but you know He will. You know He has your back…and you know there’s no circumstances that are beyond His control. It’s about having this humility that you never had before…even in serving God. You’re grounded enough to realize that the ministry you have isn’t yours, the people who you’re ministering to aren’t yours, and the ability that you have to minister with isn’t yours…it’s all Gods. The people are God’s, the ministry is God’s, and the gift you have is from God…so the glory and honor for your ministry goes to where it belongs…God.
It’s about learning temperance…other wise known as self-control. It’s about realizing that you’re learning to balance life a little better, and that you are getting better at getting out of God’s way. This is one of those areas I’m still working on…but I have the faith in God to know that will be worked out on His time and in His way.
So…you see…my idea of the abundant life really has nothing to do with stuff at all. It’s not about stuff that money cannot buy…it’s about the stuff that money cannot buy. It’s about realizing that you’ve grown into someone who you can stand to live with…and that whether you had hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars or just hundreds of dollars…that you’re going to be the same person, and that…is what I believe the abundant of life is all about.
I realize that this is about as far off the path the message is meant to be, but I believe there’s a time to be on point, and there’s a time where it’s okay to maybe go off point a little bit. But…I believe it’s time to get back to the message now…and if this is too much or too long…I apologize…but maybe there’s someone out there who needs to read this stuff…and therefore…I guess I’m not sorry after all…if you have an issue with the length of this message…then talk to the One who is helping me write it.
Here are all the uses of Paul’s favorite word for “riches” (Greek: ploutos). Taste and see what he lives for.
I’m not sure if the Lord’s going to want me to break any of these down…or just give them as a point of reference…or a little of both…but that’s where you learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit for the direction…and not your own understanding.
– The riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience. (Romans 2:4)
– The riches of God’s glory for vessels of mercy. (Romans 9:23)
– The riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33)
– A wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:2)
– The riches of God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
– The riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints. (Ephesians 1:18)
– The immeasurable riches of God’s grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
– The unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)
– The riches of God’s glory. (Ephesians 3:16)
– God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
– The riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
– The riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. (Colossians 2:2)
– The rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17)
Well…I waited upon the Holy Ghost…it seems good to just make these as points of reference, and maybe for you to come up with your own understanding of Paul’s thoughts on wealth and riches…and maybe…hopefully you came away from my testimony about my views of wealth, riches, and the abundant life…that maybe somehow can help yours.
So…I am going to close this message here…and trust the Holy Spirit to teach you the rest. You’re welcome to comment or contact me should you have questions or maybe a desire to talk about this message further…some times…it’s just good to allow the Holy Spirit to teach than to try to write something just for the sake of writing…Amen!?!
Conclusion & Prayer:
I think this message turned out to be alright after all. I’m not sure if it’ll make sense or that it’ll become the most popular message I’ve ever written…but I hope it’s helpful in some way to you and your walk with the Lord.
Heavenly Father…I don’t have much to say…I just would like to ask that You would help us to understand what true wealth, prosperity, and the abundant life really is. Help us to not buy into the lies of the prosperity message that says that we don’t have stuff because we don’t have enough faith. Help us to know that’s not true…and help us to know what is true. Lord…I thank You for the revelation that You’ve given to me about the abundant life…and I ask that You would give us all wisdom and understanding about riches…and more importantly YOUR riches…and we ask that You would continue to open the windows of Heaven and pour out Your riches upon us. In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen