WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
OCTOBER 8, 2021
TOPIC: PROSPERITY COULD BE A BLESSING OR A CURSE
BY T. O. BANSO
“How prosperous Israel is — a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit! But the more wealth the people got, the more they poured it on the altars of their foreign gods. The richer the harvests they brought in, the more beautiful the statues and idols they built” (Hosea 10:1 New Living Translation).
The apostle John says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2 New King James Version). The King James Version Dictionary defines prosperity as “Advance or gain in anything good or desirable; successful progress in any business or enterprise; success; attainment of the object desired.” Financial prosperity is an aspect of prosperity, which also includes abundance, health, peace, and quietness.
Everyone I know wants to prosper because of the benefits accruing from it. With prosperity, poverty and all its associated problems are largely excluded from someone’s life. But as good as prosperity is, it does not always have a positive impact on everybody’s life.
Poverty is not good! But prosperity could also impact some people’s lives negatively, especially those who are prosperous. Someone readily comes to my mind in this regard. The man’s life was cut short by his failure to manage well the prosperity he experienced in the business.
Life became better for him as his business experienced a boom. He bought a new car and his home was full of things that many people were praying for. Money was, to a great extent, not so much a problem; he could meet all the necessities of life. But soon, it became obvious that he was going after other women outside. He had enough money to attract them.
Soon, his wife at home suspected that the husband was no longer faithful to her, particularly as she started spending more time than normal outside the home after work. He began to neglect his beautiful wife. The man continued to progress in error, blinded by money and led astray by his immoral life. He began to come home only when he wanted. He slept outside with other women.
His case was a subject of discussion among neighbours and those who knew him and saw him with different women in his car at different times. His family members, neighbours, and business associates were concerned about how the boom in his business changed this family man into an unfaithful husband and irresponsible father. They wondered whether this immoral behavior was part of him before, which was only exposed by his riches or he cultivated it because he was unable to manage his business success.
There was nothing his wife at home didn’t do to make her husband see that he was destroying his life and their home but he didn’t change. The wife started hearing of the husband having children by other women outside. Not long after then, he moved out of his matrimonial home and abandoned his wife and children. The wife had to fend for herself and take care of the children.
When the rent expired and the husband was nowhere to be found to renew it, the wife was forced to move out with the children and their property to a smaller apartment that she was able to rent through the assistance of compassionate people. Unfortunately, this family that used to live in peace with the good things of life suffered a lack.
Nevertheless, like the prodigal son in Luke15:11-32, this man squandered all that he had. The business suffered a downturn. Everything turned upside down for him. He had nowhere else to find his way back to the family he had abandoned and had been praying for him to come back home. He came back but he was a liability to them. He couldn’t feed them or meet their needs. Rather, he depended on the wife for sustenance.
This man’s case was a pathetic one. It’s a case of the danger of prosperity – the failure of a man to manage his success. This man never recovered till he died, not at a ripe age. He died prematurely, failing his wife and the children. Unfortunately, the wife who suffered to take care of the children died a few years after.
Billy Graham said, “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” Some people think that their lives would be better or they would be better fathers or mothers if they have prosperity. But that’s not necessarily true. Some people think that they would serve God better if He would prosper them, make them rich. But this also is not necessarily true. As it is often said, success has made a failure of many people. Prosperity could sometimes become a curse rather than a blessing.
The LORD said concerning Israel, “How prosperous Israel is — a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit! But the more wealth the people got, the more they poured it on the altars of their foreign gods. The richer the harvests they brought in, the more beautiful the statues and idols they built” (Hosea 10:1 New Living Translation).
This is a sad commentary. Instead of Israel’s prosperity to draw them closer to God, the giver of prosperity, it separated them from Him. Rather than serve Him, they served foreign gods even though God had forbidden the worship of other gods. “You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 26:1 New King James Version). Other scriptures say a similar thing (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 5:8; 16:22; 27:15; Psalm 97:7).
When God blesses you or gives you wealth, do you use it to worship Him or do you lavish it on foreign gods? Have you been using your money to worship God or the idols of materialism, sexual immorality, and other modern gods? Have you been spending your money on your wife and children or some immoral, strange woman?
The more Israel prospered, the more she poured her wealth on the altars of foreign gods. This was an error. The New Century Version renders Hosea 10:1 thus: “Israel is like a large vine that produced plenty of fruit.
As the people became richer, they built more altars for idols. As their land became better, they put up better stone pillars to honor gods.”
Verse 2 says, “Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars” (New King James Version).
Some people don’t know why God prospered them. Therefore, they abuse it. They spend their money or wealth to promote the causes of the devil rather than God’s causes. They spend their money to worship the devil rather than God and to finance a sinful lifestyle.
The rich fool, the farmer whose ground yielded plentifully beyond his expectation, thought of what he would do since he had no room to store his crops. He came up with a selfish plan, saying, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry’” (Luke 12:18-19 New King James Version). This man worshipped himself, not God.
Verses 20-21 say, “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (New King James Version).
Are you rich towards God or you’re lavishing your wealth on other gods? Are you using your wealth to advance the causes of Satan or God? Have you neglected God and your spouse, children, and family because you’re now prosperous? Are you positively impacting the lives of your family and others with your wealth? Have you multiplied idols because you’re now rich or you’re worshipping the living God? Is your prosperity a blessing or a curse?
1 Kings 14:23 says the people of Judah built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. Talking about Israel’s apostasy, God said, “They set up kings, but not by Me; they made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold they made idols for themselves — that they might be cut off” (Hosea 8:4 New King James Version). Similarly, verse 11 says because Israel (Ephraim) multiplied altars for sin, they became for him altars for sinning.
Furthermore, Hosea 2:8 records how Israel gave to the idols the gifts that God gave her. “She doesn’t realize that it was I who gave her everything she has — the grain, the wine, the olive oil. Even the gold and silver she used in worshiping the god Baal were gifts from me!” (Hosea 2:8 New Living Translation).
Don’t let your prosperity lead you away from God. Don’t use the blessing of God to worship Satan. Don’t seek your own interest like the rich fool; seek the interest of Christ. “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:21 New King James Version).
Hosea 13:6 says about the Israelites, “When they had pasture, they were filled; They were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me” (New King James Version). But God had warned them before they entered the Promised Land not to forget Him after they had eaten and were satisfied and had prospered. He warned them not to say in their hearts that their power and the might of their hands had gained them their wealth (Deuteronomy 8:11-17).
Verses18-20 say, “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God” (New King James Version).
Be careful! Don’t let prosperity make you stray from God. You can’t serve two masters; you can’t God and mammon (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Using the words of the prophet Elijah, I say don’t falter between two opinions; if the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. (1 Kings 18:21).
Don’t use your wealth to multiply idols because you feel your power and the might of your hand had gained you your wealth. “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18 New King James Version).
Don’t lavish God’s gifts on idols or living a sinful life. Be rich towards God. Spend your money and use your wealth for God’s purposes on earth. What you spend your money on shows where your heart is. Luke 12:34 says where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The LORD said concerning Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, “I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, ‘I will not hear.’ This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey My voice” (Jeremiah 22:21 New King James Version). Therefore, the LORD passed a judgment on Judah. Don’t let your prosperity go to your head so that you become disobedient to God or misbehave towards others.
The King James Version says in Proverbs 1:32b that the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. The New King James and the New Living Translation use the word “complacency” instead of “prosperity” Similar words used by other translations include peace, careless ease, and security.
Prosperity could either be a blessing or a curse. Let yours be a blessing. Don’t let prosperity destroy your relationship with God, spouse, children, family, and others. Be guided by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for Your gifts in my life. Thank You for the abundance You have given me. I will not waste Your gifts or my riches or wealth on foreign gods or a sinful lifestyle. I will be rich toward God and not use what You have blessed me with to multiply idols. Prosperity will not become a curse in my life but remain a blessing.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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