We talk a lot here at NoLimits about getting closer to God. But I’ve realized that there are some roadblocks along the way.
As you draw closer to God, you are going to run into places where you get stuck because you don’t understand something about God. And actually, most of us run into the same roadblocks.
In this series, we’re breaking through those areas and getting closer to God as a result.
Our theme verse for this series actually comes from a place where the church as we know it today was brand new and people were making fun of it and making fun of God because they didn’t understand what God was doing.
This is when the Holy Spirit was poured out shortly after Jesus had ascended into heaven. Take a look at the response:
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Maybe you’ve been here yourself. Something out of the norm happened at church or with one of your christian friends and you just sat there thinking, “What in the heck is going on?!”
I wanted to show this to you so you know you are not alone in your thoughts. The truth is, you will always criticize things you don’t understand.
It’s not that you don’t believe God can do it, it’s just you don’t understand. And it is easier to make fun of it than to dig in and try to understand it.
But through this series, I’m going to help you just like Peter did in the early church:
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.
So, this is not what you think. This is that. You know, the truth you find in the Bible.
Today, I am going to tackle an issue that Christians all over the world can’t seem to agree on. Actually, just a few months ago, I was talking to someone who had never been to our church but found out I was a pastor.
He was trying to figure out what kind of church we were, and one of the questions he led with was, “Are you one of those pastors that teaches that God wants us to prosper?”
I think we could all agree that the whole reason God would give us more than we need is so that we could be generous towards others. That makes sense.
But, how do you explain the scriptures that make it seem like a bad thing to have money? There’s even several scriptures that make it seem like it is more holy to be poor. Really, it all boils down to this:
Prosperity God’s way is not the same as culture’s idea of prosperity.
If you struggle with the idea that God wants you to be prosperous, it’s because you are trying to take the world’s definition of prosperity and apply it to God. It just doesn’t fit.
So today I want to help you redefine prosperity. This is going to help you put money in the right place. And when you do that, you are going to experience prosperity God’s way.
I heard this story about this one church who made an offer, “If you give $1,000 today, we’ll let you pick three hymns.” And so this little old lady walked up with her thousand dollars, pointed out into the congregation and said, “I’ll take him, him and him.”
I wanted to give you a laugh so we can all release the weight that comes with talking about this subject. I really just want to help you see money God’s way today because it will bring you a lot of freedom.
Alright, let’s dig into this. This is an area that God has most anointed me to teach on, so I am not going to lie, I’m stoked about this.
Let’s start by looking at the Hebrew word translated to prosper:
Tsalach (prosper) – To push forward
In other words, you were out making progress, doing your thing, and it’s like the hand of God came and gave you a push forward into something you could have never done on your own.
I’ve personally experienced this many times in my own life. The most dramatic was with my blog. I was writing every week, serving my online community for three years.
I got to a point where the blog earned enough to cover the expense of running a blog and create a nice little side income. And then God came and pushed it forward. The next year it replaced Beth’s income from her full-time job. And it has more than doubled since then.
I believe this is coming for our church too. We’ve all been staying consistent, serving on Sundays, building relationships in our small groups, being faithful in generosity, and we’ve made decent progress on our own.
But God is about to push this thing forward into something that we could have never done on our own. We are going to look back on these days and simply be amazed at what God did through us.
I bet your idea of prosperity is already starting to change just by digging into that original Hebrew word. And God was not shy about using this word either. Take a look:
Genesis 26:12-13 NKJV – Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous;
Notice how God is not afraid of the word prosperity like we are. Here’s another one:
Proverbs 11:10 NIV – When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
In other words, when the right people have the right things, the whole city benefits from it. Here’s another one:
Proverbs 11:25 NIV – A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Now we are starting to see how God’s idea of prosperity is a lot different than what culture tells us about prosperity. Prosperity God’s way starts with generosity and then prosperity comes.
Culture teaches us to lie, cheat and take advantage of others in order to prosper. Do what it takes to get that promotion even if it means you have to destroy someone else, or even your own family in the process.
But no, that’s not how it works. Start by becoming more generous than you’ve ever been. Then God will know that you are ready for prosperity because your mind is already set on using it to help others.
And don’t miss the second part of this verse. When you focus on refreshing others, you yourself will also be refreshed. Not only will you have enough to keep you alive, but you’ll be able to sit and enjoy a cold glass of lemonade.
Let’s look at one more scripture with the word ‘prosper’:
3 John 1:2 NKJV – Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
It’s unfortunate that prosperity has become just about money, because it is about so much more. This is about prosperity in every area of your life.
For example, you have more joy than those around you so you can bring joy to those around you. You have an abundance of peace so that peace overflows on those around you. Are you getting this?
Prosperity is not a bad word when we understand it from a Biblical standpoint. This is not what you thought it was, this is that. You know, the truth that we find about prosperity in the Bible. Let me define it for you:
Prosperity God’s Way – Having more than I need so I can make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
I say this all the time, but I am going to say it again. Life on this earth is very, very short. Eternity is very, very long. You’ll spend about 80 years on earth and then FOREVER in eternity.
If we focus all of our energy on our earthly life – gathering stuff, saving money, building a bigger house, buying a nicer car – we are going to be really disappointed in ourselves when we get to heaven.
But, if we take good care of our family and then use all of our extra resources to make an eternal difference in the lives of others, Jesus is going to welcome us to heaven with the loudest hand clap you’ve ever heard.
Let me put it to you this way:
God blesses us to be a blessing.
We are not blessed so that we can have more things, or so that we can stick our chest out as if God loves us more than someone else. No, we are blessed so that we can be of greater service to those around us.
Here’s how God explained it to Abraham:
Genesis 12:2 NLT – I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.
Did you know this is also God’s desire for America? He made us into a great nation and then we turned it over to the enemy by sitting on the sidelines while our government passed laws against God’s Word.
We’re talking about legalizing same sex marriage. You don’t have to be in the Bible very long to figure out that we might as well tell God that His design for marriage sucks and ours is better.
We’re talking about legalizing abortion. We might as well tell God that His plan for creation is invalid and He needs us to tell Him which human lives are necessary and which one’s aren’t.
Let me clarify something. God does not hate people who are struggling with their sexual identity. He doesn’t hate women who’ve had abortion. But He does hate the sin because it puts His children in bondage. He wants you to be free.
God is taking America back. And whether we like him or not, Trump is part of that plan. God gave us a president who cares nothing about the political agenda and will do whatever it takes to restore America back to what God intended.
Listen to me. I am prophesying right now. God is shaking America right now to wake us up.
It’s like when you are driving down the highway and you start veering off into the shoulder. All of a sudden you hit those little bumps that shakes your car and wakes you up.
God is going to swiftly correct us back onto the path He has for this nation. So get ready because you are going to feel a little whiplash right before things start to get back on track.
God will once again make America into a great nation. He will bless us. But it’s not for us. It’s so that we will be a blessing to the nations of the world.
I hope you heard that. You need to know these things because there is no reason to be scared about what is going on right now. We need to rise up as people of God and pray for America to be restored.
So, God is leading us back into the land of prosperity so that we can be a blessing to others. And here’s what’s really cool about this:
When we bless others, God takes care of our needs.
Wouldn’t you rather God take care of you than you take care of you?
You know, we say things all the time like, “I just want to be financially secure.” But do you really? Do you really want to put your security in finances when they could be here today and gone tomorrow?
I don’t think that’s what we really want. I think we’d rather say, “God, I want to be a distributor. You pour it in and it will go right out to bless those around me. And while You’re doing that, I trust you to take care of my needs.”
You know what? God can do anything with someone who has that kind of attitude. Let me show you:
Matthew 6:33 NLT – Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
We can rest assured that God is going to take care of us as we follow His Word. Try to do it on your own and you are going to have to take care of yourself. But put your faith in God and rely on His way of doing things, and He will take care of you.
Here’s the last thing you need to know about Biblical prosperity:
The more God blesses us, the more He expects us to bless others.
We live in the most prosperous nation in the world. We’re over here spraying water on our lawns to make them look pretty while other nations are carrying water on their heads just to have something to drink.
We sit here in an air conditioned room while the churches we support in the Philippines are open air and exposed to the elements.
I say these things not to make you feel bad, but to make you realize that regardless of how much money you make, it’s a blessing to simply live in America. And since we are so blessed, God expects us to be a blessing.
Luke 12:48 TLB – Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater.
So none of this today is to make you feel guilty. Because here’s the deal:
God doesn’t want us guilty. He wants us responsible.
When we finally realize what the more is for, we can move into our purpose of making an eternal difference in the lives of others.
So the question remains:
How do I experience God’s blessing in my life?
I want to end today by giving you five practical ways you can experience prosperity God’s way. I bet you are doing most of these already, but pay attention to the one or two that stands out to you today.
God is going to use those things to push you forward into something you can’t even imagine. Here’s the first one:
1. I prosper as a put God first.
We talk about this a lot here at NoLimits. Actually, we talked about it last week. It’s okay for you to have passions and hobbies and love your work, but nothing should come before God.
God wants you to enjoy life, but He doesn’t want the things of life to come before Him. He wants to be first. And I think we’d all agree that He deserves that place in our lives. After all, He created us and everything else.
We all know that putting God first is the best idea we’ve ever heard, yet we all struggle to do it. So let me encourage you to look for ways to put God first.
That’s why we do 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting at the beginning of every year. We want to intentionally put God first in our year. That’s why church is on the first day of the week. We want to put God first in our week.
We also need to find ways to put God first in our day. It doesn’t mean you have to wake up at 5am and have a 2-hour Bible study. If you want to, that’s great. But the way you put God first in your day doesn’t have to look like anyone else.
It may be as simple as waking up and letting your first thought be, “God, thank you for another day. Help me to walk out your plan for my life today.” That’s only 10 seconds, but it’s the first 10 seconds and it matters.
Find ways to put God first in every area of your life, including your finances. The Bible actually gives us clear direction on this. Take a look:
Proverbs 3:9-10 NKJV – Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
Aren’t you thankful for clear direction? We don’t have to wonder what God wants us to do with our finances, He told us plain as day.
The first line item on my budget should be to honor the Lord. I don’t wait to see what’s left over. No, I give first.
And you know, honoring God is a good enough reason to do this. But check out the benefit of putting God first in your finances:
Proverbs 3:9-10 NKJV – So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
In other words, your household is going to have plenty and you will also have overflow so you can bless those around you.
But don’t forget the first instruction. If you want plenty and overflow, it all starts by honoring God first with every paycheck before you spend it on anything else.
And I get it. This is really hard to do at first. But it is actually not as hard as you think. Once you get going, you gain momentum that is almost impossible to stop.
Getting the train rolling down the tracks is tough, but once it gets going, it’s almost impossible to stop. The best time to start honoring God first in your finances is now. It’s never too late to get started.
Here’s the next one:
2. I prosper as I maintain my integrity.
Do whatever it takes to be honest with your finances. If they forgot to add your coffee to the ticket, tell them. If Amazon sent you something you didn’t order, send it back.
You probably already know why this is important, but let me show it to you in scripture:
Psalms 84:11 NLT – The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.
I’ve talked to people that were perplexed as to why their finances were such a mess only to find out that they cheat on their taxes. Or they mooch off of everyone they can. Or they borrow money and never pay it back.
You think you are getting away with something, but you are reaping what you sow. God’s not mad at you. He just can’t bless a lie. Restore your integrity and all those good things that have been tied up are going to be let loose.
Someone needed to hear that one, but don’t let it make you guilty. Let it inspire you to stand up and make the necessary corrections. God is ready to push you forward.
Alright, here’s the next one:
3. I prosper as I give intentionally.
There’s a lot of people who wait to be moved by emotion before they give. They have to go to a banquet where they share lots of sad stories. Or they have to see the sad dogs in the commercial.
This is a strategy that a lot of nonprofits use to raise money, and it works. But emotional giving is not the highest form of giving. Intentional giving is the highest form of giving.
Have a plan for your giving. Do it on purpose. Be intentional. God likes this kind of giving. Let me show you:
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NIV – Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
Who does God supply seed to? The sower, not the eater.
This is a farming parallel because that’s something that people really understood back then. Farmers were really intentional with when they sowed, how they sowed, and where they sowed.
What happens when we give with the same intentionality?
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NIV – You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
When you are intentional in your giving, God gives you more to give. And that’s not even the best part. Your generosity will cause others to draw close to God, to thank God and I believe many people will give their lives to God all because you decided to be intentional in your giving.
Here’s the next one:
4. I prosper as I give generously.
We are not talking about a certain amount. Many people mistake this principle and think that the only ones giving generously are the ones giving large amounts of money. But that’s not it at all.
Generosity is a heart issue. It has to do with your willingness. It means you won’t resist it.
You know you’ve adopted a generous mindset when you have something in your house that you don’t need and someone else does and you don’t even think twice about giving it away. “Oh, here you go.”
Or, when God moves on your heart to leave a large tip and you don’t even take time to grade how good of a server they were. You just give them the large tip and thank God you had the means to do it.
That’s why Jesus said this:
Luke 6:38 GW – Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket. The standards you use for others will be applied to you.
Oh man. Some of you just realized what is getting in the way of blessing in your life. You’ve been stingy with others, so that’s what you’ve been getting in return.
And I get it. You don’t even mean to be stingy, but there is something inside of you that you can’t seem to shake. I actually used to be a stingy person, so I can speak from experience.
There were several things the Holy Spirit used to help me become a generous person but there is one that stands out. It’s when I learned that money is not a limited resource. There’s always more than that came from.
Let me explain it to you this way. Money is a renewable resource. I spend it on coffee, which enables the coffee shop to hire workers, which enables workers to buy groceries, which enables the grocery store to keep their lights on.
You see what I am saying? It just keeps moving and getting recycled for a different purpose. When you open your mind to this principle, it takes the brakes off of generosity, which in turn causes you to prosper.
Some of you are going to need to think through that a bit. And I encourage you to do just that. We’ll post this message online so you can listen to it again later this week.
Alright, I have one more to give you, but let me show you a scripture first:
1 Timothy 6:17 NLT – Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
Money has this way of seducing us into a false sense of security. We think that as long as we have enough savings or a big enough retirement account we’re going to be okay. But these are all lies. You could have a bad accident and all your money could be sucked away tomorrow.
That’s why there is only one place we can put our trust. There’s only one thing that can give us security. There’s only one way to prosper God’s way:
5. I prosper as I stay dependent on God.
God, I can’t do this on my own. I’m not smart enough. I’m not skilled enough. I may be good looking, but it’s not enough.
Y’all, it’s a journey, especially as a young man, to realize you can’t do this on your own. You spend all your time trying to impress God and those around you only to end up falling flat on your face.
Then you spend all your energy trying to protect your reputation and making people believe in you again. It’s a vicious cycle and it never ends. You reach a certain point of success on your own, but it always ends in a crash and restart.
Some people live their entire life never learning to depend on God. What a frustrating way to live. And I can only imagine how much of an impact they could have made if they simply relied on God instead of themselves.
This is something we all struggle with. So I want to take some time right now so we can all repent of trying to do it on our own and express our need for God.
Go ahead and close your eyes and take a minute to do that now in your own thoughts, in your own way.
Now I would like to lead us all in a prayer. Usually I would say this is for people who are coming to know God for the first time. And yes, this prayer is for you. But it is also for everyone else listening right now because we all need to learn how to stay dependent on God.
Say this prayer out loud:
“God, I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to do this on my own. I’m so sorry for trying to do this without you. I need you. I depend on you. I want your name to be glorified, not my name. Help me to see your power working through me. Help me to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.”
Salvation Next Step
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