TRUE PROSPERITY AND SUCCESS
6. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swear unto their fathers to give them.
7. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which] is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
II Timothy 2:15
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The texts give us a glance concerning how to obtain true prosperity and success. To His servant Joshua, God outlines the requirements for prosperity and success. In comparison to God’s prescription, we can clearly see that the world’s definition for prosperity and success should be considered as a temporary understanding which only refers to their standards and not what God expects His servants to seek after.
In most religious communities, the concepts for prosperity and success present a picture painted with wealth, fortune, and fame, but without the signature of God’s blessing. While many may try to convince their audiences that their wealth is from God, we should take their claim with a grain of salt. The reason is that in many instances those occasions were blended with deceit, and selfish desires. “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not.” II Peter 2:3. In the text Peter gave a description of those who will use the vulnerable to obtain riches, which is exactly what many preachers do to gain their wealth.
In contrast, God’s message of prosperity and success is outlined with obedience; study to gain knowledge, understanding and wisdom from His word. This includes faith, trust, diligence, and pleasing Him by keeping His commandments. That person will always seek for the strait and narrow path, and will aim to be attached to the True Vine Jesus Christ [John 15]. The true man of God will allow Him to plan and order his steps while He prepares him according to His will for the work He wants to accomplish in that person’s life. God gave clear instructions for obtaining true prosperity and success.
The first instruction, Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
God encouraged Joshua and showed him what He required for obedience which would make him successful in pleasing Him. God saw in Joshua what he may not have seen in himself when we consider the number of times he was encouraged to take the people across the river Jordan. Not only did God have confidence in this leader, but He showed him that by following the precepts laid down in the word, his endeavours would be successful throughout his leadership.
Joshua 1:5 “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
God made a promise to Joshua, that His presence would be with him throughout his journey, and gave specific details concerning what was required for him to be successful. God explained that success and prosperity depended upon Joshua’s obedience to His commandments. This is an indication that no one can be successful without accepting the truth of God’s word from the heart, and obeying those teachings (Joshua 1:8). Obedience requires faith, determination, and purpose with a heart that is truly renewed to follow the teachings of the word. Is it any wonder that God repeatedly encouraged Joshua to be strong?
Nothing can be achieved without grace, faith in God, and obedience to His word. In order to obey the word, we must study and apply them so that we can be approved by God (II Timothy 2:15). Without His approval we will not achieve anything despite how qualified we may think ourselves to be or how others think of us. It will be God’s acceptance which will make the difference concerning true prosperity and success, which can only be acquired by faith and trust in Him with humility, submissiveness, and obedience (John 15:4). These are important qualities which must be obtained from the word through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and teachings. We need the Holy Spirit to interpret God’s messages, and to teach us so that we can understand and know God’s will for us (I Corinthians 2:10, 13).
Furthermore, we cannot live the true Christian life without God’s grace which the Holy Spirit imparts as we have need (Hebrews 4:16). In the days of Noah, he must have relied upon God to give him strength to overcome the prevailing circumstances of sinfulness as are evident today. He made up in his mind not to follow the crowd despite the heckling, and ridicule he and his family must have faced. Noah’s faith and determination touched the heart of God Who gave him grace to sustain him in those evil and sinful times (Genesis 6:8).
Unquestionably, God’s will for mortal man is a life pleasing unto Him. He made this clear in the text indicating God’s desire, which states, “This book shall not depart out of thy mouth….” The indication speaks of study, and application of the word before prosperity and success can be acquired by anyone. Furthermore, true prosperity does not refer to materialistic acquisitions, but pleasing God. This requires diligence, perseverance, purpose, sincerity, and action along with many other factors. These are not acquired from natural abilities or intellectual achievements, but rather by simply obedience to His word.
The second instruction Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
True prosperity and success represent a life that is pleasing to God through obedience to His word. It means that the mind must be renewed to receive God’s interpretation for prosperity and success. The prosperity and success from the world will always result in disappointment and sorrow in their acquisition and usage. Their enjoyment is temporary, and they can be lost in a moment. It may only take one mistake, wrong act, a mar on an individual’s reputation and everything can be lost overnight. Whereby, when we put our faith and trust in God and obey His commandment as He desires, our endeavours will be etched in the annals of heaven, in the “Lamb’s Book of Life” and we will enter into eternity to live forever with Christ.
Concerning worldly prosperity and success, James saw the practical side and the misery it brings when he alluded to the riches many people accumulate with the hope of obtaining power. He referred to those persons who abuse their employees and step on others to gain riches and prosperity in this world.
James 5:1-6, “Go to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” This passage says it all about ungodly worldly gain and the deceptive possession of wealth.
The worldly-minded individual will always live in misery and stress with constant uneasiness brought on by fear and the uncertainty of life. In contrast, the renewed mind is steadfast and unmovable knowing that his hope is in Jesus Christ, and he has eternity to gain at the end of time when he reigns with him forever (II Corinthians 15:58). That person sets his hopes on things above and not in the riches and successes of this earth (Colossians 3:2)
The third instruction is found in II Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The instruction indicates obtaining knowledge through study, understanding, reflection, observation, and performance. Without knowledge and understanding it would be impossible to carry out the instructions concerning what God desires of us so that we can be approved by Him. With knowledge, we need understanding and wisdom to apply the learning to our lives and to help others. When the knowledge obtained is effectively and successfully applied the individually can be assured that he is growing by doing God’s will. This is indeed success, and the individual is then able to prosper from this experience.
Joshua learned from Moses, and he depended on God’s promises for His continual guidance as he took the people forward. The different episodes with the people and their stubbornness during the time of Moses may have been frightening to Joshua who was a young man to take over as leader. Despite his dread, God encouraged him that He would be with him; but he must obey His word and do them for him to prosper and have good success (Joshua 1:8).
Prosperity and success may seem applicable when great numbers are added to the church along with the financial contributions which they bring. These cannot be considered the only indications for success because they are transient due to various changing circumstances. The concern is whether those persons are being fed with the right teachings.
Does the leader depend on the Holy Spirit to instruct and guide him? (Psalm 32:8; Galatians 5:16). Does the member understand what he has read? Is this the right interpretation? From where or whom did he acquire the answers? The reason for these questions is that people read the Bible, but not many spend time in study or even to wait for the Holy Spirit to interpret the meaning so they can gain knowledge and understanding to apply the learning.
There are times when people read and hear the word, but they do not really understand the message to grasp the mere essence of what the writer or speaker is saying. Some people listen to a pastor; but they might not be able to examine and synthesize the teaching to obtain knowledge and wisdom that will improve or change their lives. It is understood that hearing leads to obedience; but how can the listener apply the word without understanding. Having heard the word, it must be understood and acted upon to bring about change (James 1:19, 22-25).
Therefore, leaders ought to encourage members to move higher in their experience with the Lord by attending the weekly Bible study, and private study of the word. Leaders should follow the teachings of Paul who encouraged Titus to seek out worthy men and ordain them to help in reaching the lost (Titus 1:5). Scriptures must be interpreted in the correct context for any value of learning to be achieved. It is important for leaders to correctly interpret a text to extract the message being conveyed for understanding so that members can apply the learning to their lives.
There is no question concerning Joshua’s understanding of what God had imparted to him in terms of courage and success if he obeyed the word. We cannot obey what we do not know. We may know but do not understand; and we may understand; but cannot apply what we have learned. Joshua was not in this category.
In conclusion, Joshua 1:8, gave the outline of what God requires from us if we are to prosper and be successful; while Romans 12:1-2 explains that we need a renewed mind to interpret the true meaning of prosperity and success. This renewal comes by study and application of the word II Timothy 2:15. It means that the individual who seeks after God and obeys His word will obtain His approval to work for Him. He is contented to labour regardless of whether it results in material gain or loss. The main intent is to please God, and this is how true prosperity and success are realised.
Obviously, pleasing God cannot be initiated from men’s ideologies or humanistic thought. The individual whom God calls may not be visibly rich in the physical sense for others to see the abundance of materialistic gain. Yet, there is peace and contentment knowing that the God of heaven is pleased to walk with him and to guide him along the way. True success comes through the operation of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God which results in reverence towards Him. Through that person’s spiritual successes, many spiritual battles will be won, and at the end of his pilgrimage, he too will say like Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith:” II Timothy 2:7. Paul left a legacy behind him, which is still being used today, and will continue until Jesus comes.
With God’s grace we can be more than conquerors at the end of our spiritual journey here on earth.
This is what true prosperity and success are all about.
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