A very well-known preacher today Joel Osteen often uses the phrase “more than conquerors”. There are many other preachers who reference similar scriptures in their core message. They are often labeled prosperity preachers and receive much ridicule due to their successful ministries. And while I totally agree that there is more to the Bible than God’s promises, isn’t the core message of the Bible about God’s unending and unfailing love, the greatest love of all?
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31
Is there more to the Bible than the prosperity message? Of course. The Bible is packed full of information that we could spend our entire lives learning from. We like to say that the Bible is an acronym for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. God our Father truly has much to teach us all through the dense amount of instruction, wisdom, and guidance that is contained in the Bible.
So what separates this book of information from countless other books of information on science, medicine, literature, and others? In short, the Bible contains the Word of God, who is our Father in heaven and creator of life and all things. Further, the Bible contains the greatest love story of all time. At its core, the gospel translates into “good news” of God’s love for us. and it is the sharing of good news that brings joy, hope, and peace.
How much does God our Father love us? Perhaps we could relate to the love of a father in the flesh. There is almost nothing that we would not do for our children. We teach them, instruct them, play with them, protect them, and sacrifice for them every day. But how many fathers would send their one and only son to be crucified for the good of others? That is exactly what God did for us. That is exactly how much God loves us.
Once people grasp hold of the message of the overwhelming love of God’s love through Jesus Christ, they are open to learning more. Once they know how much God cares, that is when God’s Word can begin to take root. People are encouraged to read their Bibles and attend a good local church where their new sprout of faith can be nurtured and cared for. How good of a job are we doing in our churches at tending these budding sprouts and providing them with continued instruction, direction, guidance, and care?
There’s an old and wise saying, “people don’t care, until they know you care.” Another saying is, “you catch more bees with honey than vinegar.” If we wanted to draw people to an event, how many people do you think we would reach if we posted a sign, “Free Work Day – Come Help And Not Get Paid!”? I would suspect that not many people would come. But how many people would come to an event if we posted a sign “Free Carnival, Food, & Games – This Weekend Only”? Similarly, do we teach advanced algebra to children in first grade? Of course not!
Let us not forget who and where we were when we first heard about the good news of Jesus Christ? The fact is that most people are not attracted by the message that the end is near and that we are wrong to even have sinful thoughts. While these messages are important for us to learn as we grow in spiritual maturity, the fact remains that this message is not going to attract people who are enjoying their lives of sin and the temptations of the flesh.
So let the good news of Jesus Christ flow. Let positive thinking and prosperity grow. And let the love begin to take root in the hearts of those who have just received the greatest news of all! Jesus has come that we might live forever. Have you ever seen the impact of a new believer understanding that the same power that rose Jesus from the grave was given to us and that it lives in us? What overwhelming hope we have been given. What tremendous joy results! Why would we ever want to stop others from being encouraged and empowered by this message of hope? Why do we try to extinguish this light and this message?
Maybe we should be thankful for the millions of people that the “prosperity preachers” have brought to the Lord. Many of the people in our congregations are only there because they were first attracted by the good news that they first heard through preachers like Joel Osteen on television. Because of them we actually have people interested in learning more about the gospel than ever before. Maybe we should be thankful that our churches are filled up with those who had a seed planted by others that we are now entrusted to water.
We are all called to play a part in the advancement of the kingdom of God. Some are called to prepare the way by willing the ground. Some are called to attract others to Christ through the planting of a seed. Some are called to water through increased information. Some are called to fertilize through encouragement and support. And all of these steps are important in the process. Without any of these steps there would be no healthy plant.
Perhaps preachers who have different messages and techniques are not wrong, just as we are not wrong simply by the fact that we have been entrusted with a different message or calling. Perhaps we are all just different, created uniquely and exactly as God intended for our own unique purpose and calling. Some are called to leave the ninety-nine to find the one, while others are called to tend to the ninety-nine.
Let us be reminded that we are all members of the same body of Christ. Maybe it’s time we seek peace rather than strife with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Were we there when Christ called Joel Osteen into ministry? Was Joel there when you were called? I think not. Who is to know and judge but God himself? When it all comes down to it, there is one teacher and he is the Christ. (Matthew 23:8-12) The rest of us are doing what God has called us to do.
It is time that we respect each others callings. Let us all do our part in bringing others to Christ and helping develop people in their spiritual maturity. And let us remember that it is ultimately God who can make them grow. For is it Christ alone who is the perfecter and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Let us not forget that we are all just playing our part. Let some tend the ninety-nine while others find the lost one. Let us put pride aside and be open to the fact that others are being used for God’s glory in their own unique way. And let us respect and honor those who dedicate their lives to sharing the good news and bringing others to Christ.
God’s Word tells us to aim for restoration, to encourage one another, to be of open mind, and to live in peace. (2 Corinthians 13:11) For those on earth who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. To God alone be all the honor and glory and praise. Let us seek peace rather than strife with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us respect each other’s callings and first look for how we can work together and lift each other up for all who are working to share the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
And don’t just take my word for it. I would expect you to verify everything against the Word of God. Further look to the example of Jesus Christ. When the disciples came to Christ and sought to put an end to the teachers who were driving out demons in his name, Jesus said, “Do not stop him. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”
God’s Word tells us that we are to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And we are to be thankful. Let us not be so disturbed and consumed with criticism that our hearts are hardened, and we too become lost. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25)
Jesus told his disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” – (Mark 16:15). Let us focus on what God has called us to do and our walk with Christ. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (John 8:7) Let us first take the plank out of our own eye that we can see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. And let the love of Christ rule in our hearts and minds.
Here’s the point, we need to be less critical of each other and spend more time working together and lifting each other up. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. We need to spend more time working together and seeing each other as members of the same body of Christ and start working together. Let us not make each other the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. One of the enemy’s primary tactics is to separate and divide us. Don’t fall into their schemes. The enemy has a strong unified attack against us, and we need to work together against the enemy and not each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
I call you blessed.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for Your Word today. Romans 8 is full of incredible verses, I could read it over and over and over again. Let your wisdom and peace sink deep into our hearts and minds. Help us to be more like you. Help us to see the good in our brothers and sisters who dedicate their lives to you Lord. help us to seek peace and to work together for the glory of your kingdom. Empty us of our pride, and help us to remove the plank in our own eyes before removing the speck in our brothers. Let us realize our sin and reliance upon you that we not cast the first stone at our brothers and sisters. We humble ourselves before you Lord. Wash us clean by your blood. We fully surrender to you. We give you all the honor and glory and praise, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Today’s full reading: Proverbs 4-6; Romans 8
Scripture References From Today’s Reflection:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
- “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
- “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5
- “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
- “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:8-12
- “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” – 2 Corinthians 13:11
- “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12
- “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’.” – John 8:7
- “But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.’ – Matthew 12:25
- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
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