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A proper perspective on prosperity

November 15, 2021

Daily Scripture

Deuteronomy 8:10-18

10 You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless the LORD your God in the wonderful land that he’s given you.

11 But watch yourself! Don’t forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commands or his case laws or his regulations that I am commanding you right now. 12 When you eat, get full, build nice houses, and settle down, 13 and when your herds and your flocks are growing large, your silver and gold are multiplying, and everything you have is thriving, 14 don’t become arrogant, forgetting the LORD your God:

the one who rescued you from Egypt, from the house of slavery;

15 the one who led you through this vast and terrifying desert of poisonous snakes and scorpions, of cracked ground with no water;

the one who made water flow for you out of a hard rock;

16 the one who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your ancestors had never experienced, in order to humble and test you, but in order to do good to you in the end.

17 Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me. 18 Remember the LORD your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors—and that’s how things stand right now.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Deuteronomy, set just before Israel entered the Promised Land, warned about how humans tend to view prosperity. We’re tempted to believe that everything we have or achieve came solely from us—our hard work and innate talent. But when Israel forgot that “the LORD your God” (verse 18) is the ultimate source of human talent and energy, spiritual (and then military) failures followed. Not just Israel, but all of us, need to always “remember the LORD your God!”

  • “Bless the LORD your God in the wonderful land that he’s given you,” said the text. Yet the Promised Land didn’t fall magically from the heavens (in the same way that Resurrection’s varied ministries didn’t “just happen” without any human effort). How can you keep a healthy balance, praising God while thanking God for giving you a responsible part to play in doing God’s work?
  • Deuteronomy looked forward based on God’s actions in the past. In the desert, God gave Israel manna for food (see Exodus 16:13-21), water from a rock (see Exodus 17:1-7) and everything else they had to have in order to reach Canaan. In what ways has God provided for your needs? (You may need to reflect on the difference between “needs” and “wants.” For example, the Lord’s Prayer asked for “our daily bread,” not “our daily luxurious 5-course meal.”)

Creator God, let my giving grow from my inner recognition of your creating and sustaining power in my life. Thank you for life, for strength and for talents. Amen.

GPS Insights

Molly Simpson

Pastor Molly Simpson now ministers in Texas. But when she wrote today's Insights post in 2010, she was the campus pastor for Resurrection's relatively new West campus in Olathe, and Resurrection was marking our 20-year anniversary.

Rarely does anyone claim responsibility for a failed endeavor. We don’t go around looking to take credit for another person’s loss. But when it comes to succeeding or winning, we like to associate with the right team. I speak from experience here, people-–I went to Baylor and this week I’ll proudly wear my t-shirts that have sat at the back of my closet in football seasons past.

Even with the church, it is all too easy for us to be fair-weather fans. We stop giving when we don’t like a decision that has been made; we don’t attend worship if we don’t find it entertaining.

On the other hand, when something is going great, when an organization is successful, when positive changes are taking place, we are drawn to be a part of it. And this, I think, is a fine and good thing, but what often happens next is not so fine. We get comfortable, then presumptuous, haughty, prideful, and even take credit for things which were not our doing.

I believe that this is what Deuteronomy 8:10-18 is trying to tell us. When “all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God,” the one who brought you to this place. “Really?” you’re thinking. “We are the church. How could we possibly forget God?” I’m not sure how… but I do know it happens. Sadly, it has happened in thousands (millions?) of churches across the world. People stopped giving God the glory for the great things he had done, they started taking credit for themselves, moved on ahead into the future with a self-reliance that did not need God’s blessing, and eventually, they stopped changing the world for Christ’s sake and either died away or continue as innocuous social organizations.

Oh, good LORD our God, keep us from that fate! As we stand at this point in our church’s history, celebrating 20 years of changing lives, transforming communities, and seeking the renewal of the church, may we rejoice not only in God’s blessing but that we have had the great privilege of being a part of what God is doing in God’s church. And when we start to say to ourselves, “my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me…” may God bring courageous voices to speak against our erroneous ways and set us on a right path again. Here’s to all that God will continue to do!!

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.