by Lea Lewis
HOME - www.inthebeginning.com
I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have any other gods before me.
There is a lie being proclaimed in American pulpits today. In the guise of, "the abundant life," the true gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced with the false gospel of prosperity. Christians are being taught that if they have appropriate faith their lives will produce the fruit of material prosperity. Many have come to Christ hoping to attain "life more abundant," which they interpret as gaining the world's material wealth. Although the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been westernized in many of our churches, let me assure you, Christian, that God is not an American and He does not perpetuate this myth of "abundant life," or as some may call it, the American Dream. The mind-set of the American Christian seems to be that if God is a God of Love, then He must want you to be happy. However, God's primary concern is not that you are happy, but that you are holy.
Many Christians do not realize that soon all that can be shaken will be shaken and very shortly this world will be rolled up like a scroll. (Isaiah 34:4) If you are not found deeply rooted in the Truth, you will not be able to withstand the soon coming storms.
Some younger Christians, and I mean this in terms of spiritual maturity and not numerical age, have bought into this prosperity lie. Perhaps you have sound marriages, good jobs, and financial security. Life is good. Surely it is because the Lord is well pleased with you,... right?
You go to church, pray, tithe, and even witness to others how they too can receive abundant life. Yes, God is good, and life is good. Truly He must be pleased with you to have showered you with such material blessings... right?
After all, isn't that what your pastor said would happen if you tithed? Aren't you, "above all things to prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." (3 John 1:2) Didn't he say you were to lack nothing, because "the Lord is your Shepherd and ye shall not want." (Psalm 23:1) Perhaps your Pastor even proclaimed that as the "King's kids," you should expect to prosper and something is terribly wrong if you don't!
Well, how good of your Pastor to tell you all these things! Surely they must be true, for he can quote the Holy Scriptures to back up his claims. Oh yes, God is pleased with you, very pleased indeed... right?
Yet, you know other believers in Christ, who do not share the same blessings. They are often in poor health and certainly do not appear to be prosperous. You wonder what is wrong with them? Are they old-fashioned and just don't "get it?" Are they listening to a different message? Are they following a different Jesus? I mean, just look at them. They often look so tired and ragged. There seems to be dark clouds looming just ahead of them, while hardships chase them from behind, and persecutions and hindrances bite at their heels every step they try to take. What is their problem anyway? Why don't they get with the program? Why don't they seek after the American Dream, this "abundant life" Jesus promised to give us. Surely these so called, "Christians" must be out of the will of God or they would prosper just like you... right?
Many times you have wondered about these peculiar followers of Christ. Let me tell you, that just like you, they were young in the Lord once too, and also dwelled in trouble free, prosperous days. It would be nice to stay there forever and bask in the Scriptures that speak only of the good gifts of God. We could hide ourselves in those Scriptures our whole lives. Of course we would never grow spiritually, but we would remain safe, for a time at least.
If we are content to abide with our American god, the god of prosperity, the devil is more than happy to leave us alone. We are no threat to him. He laughs at the feel-good gospel that pastors preach. The ones that Americanize Jesus and promise the good life here and now. This message produces carnal Christians with no spiritual battle scars or deep roots. Satan can then attend to the more serious business of battling Christian warriors, who give him a real fight. He'll get back to baby Christians at a later time. He knows with the slightest pressure from him, they will collapse. Yes, he can crush them any time, but he will leave them alone for a season. After all, he may be able to use them to his advantage. These young Christians still possess a good measure of pride, which he finds quite useful, and although they often have much zeal, they lack Godly wisdom. This makes them an easy target for his deception. He has found he can even manipulate them into persecuting their own elder brethren! Young Christian, it is because you pose no threat to the devil that you are free from troubles. Beware, or the Adversary will use you in his attacks against God's mature saints, and you won't even be aware that you are but a puppet on the end of his string.
So, you wonder if these war-torn, battle-weary Christians are serving the same Jesus as you? Well, let me tell you. No, they are not! They do not serve an Americanized Jesus. And because they worship the True God and not an American Idol, they are persecuted by the world, the devil, and the apostate church.
But, you wonder, what about the abundant life? Doesn't Jesus promise we are to be prosperous? Just like children have to grow up and abandon childish fairy-tales, Christians need to spiritually grow up and forsake the false idea of an American god who desires to shower them with material wealth and abundant prosperity. It is true God does promise to "supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19) But, nowhere in Scripture is Christ found, sitting at the right hand side of His Father, making intercession for our endless list of self-indulgent greed. This idol, this American Jesus, does not exist. Just ask persecuted believers in China, or North Korea, or those imprisoned in Muslim countries for their faith. They would be the first ones to tell you that there are many Scriptures your Pastor has forgotten to tell you. Such as the one that says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all." (Psalm 34:19) They know afflictions have purpose, because "before they were afflicted they went astray: but now they keep His word." (Psalm 119:67) You can be sure they treasure in their hearts the Scripture which says, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mat. 5:10) And not for one moment do these suffering saints forget that the "servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Jesus, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20) They do not think it strange the fiery trials that come to try them. (1 Pet. 4:12) For they understand that their faith, which is a much more precious commodity than gold, must be tried to be proven genuine. In contrast, there are some Christians in America today, who have been taught that their faith is just a tool to receive wealth. They bow down and worship the golden calf of prosperity never realizing what they are doing! Nor do they understand that "riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle towards heaven." (Prov. 23:5) But not so with these tested fire-brand believers of the True God. They know, in the heated furnace of affliction, gold will melt, but genuine faith that is tried remains strong under pressure. They know it is "through much tribulation that we will enter into the Kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22) They are prepared to enter into whatever hardships come, knowing trials are but tools to refine and purify their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, understand that there is good news in the midst of all this persecution, for the Lord promises that "if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. 2:12) Just think about it. We shall reign with Christ for all eternity, "if" we will be partakers of His sufferings here on earth. That is what the Lord calls "abundant life!"
Now here are a few questions for you. Are you sure your Pastor is telling you the whole truth, or has he only told you the easy sayings of Jesus and left out the difficult ones? Has your Pastor taught you what God says about sin, repentance, holiness, purity and being separate from the world? Do words such as suffering and persecution make you flinch? Does your Pastor lead you to believe those words apply only to Christians who live in far away lands? Do you think Americans are more deeply loved by Jesus and more deserving of His blessings than saints living under ruthless and oppressive governments? Have you ever wondered why so few brethren in other countries prosper materially like you do? Could it be they have not embraced the same gospel or the same Jesus as you? They know the scriptures say, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?" (James 2:5) If you lost all your material blessings and found yourself poor, would you still be rich in faith? Would you still love Christ? And would you love Him with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength? It is important you search your heart and give honest answers to these questions, because it is to those you love Him, really love Him, that He promises to make heirs of His Kingdom.
Please understand that there is a price to be paid for following Jesus. For truly if He was persecuted by the world, you will be too. Does the world hate you, like they hated Christ, or do they embrace you as one of their own? God expects you to lay aside your popularity and friendships with the world. he says, "come out from among them an be ye a holy and separate people." Also, "anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4) God also says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15) Again, I ask you, if you love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, as we are commanded to do, then young Christian, where is the evidence of your persecution? For being a friend of Christ will make you an enemy of the world and bring "insults and persecution, and evil will be spoken falsely against you for His sake." (Mat. 5:11) Would you rather be displayed on a pedestal and admired by the world here and now, or be "made a pillar in the temple of our God" for all Eternity world without end? (Rev. 3:12) It is your choice to make. Choose wisely!
In these last days deceitful preachers have left sound doctrine. Having turned from the truth, they use cleverly devised fables, and lead their followers into serving and worshipping created things instead of The Creator! (Rom. 1:25) Like spoiled children, these greedy believers look to a gift-giving god. They are taught they can manipulate God and circumstances to get whatever they desire. Thus, it is by their "name it and claim it faith," that they enter into the promise land of the Abundant Life, also known as the American Dream. Listen Christian, I want you to know that this carnal gift-giving god does not exist anywhere in Scripture. He is only found in the pulpits of false teachers who tell their congregation whatever their itchy ears want to hear! These wolves in sheep's clothing, with the help of seducing spirits, make converts to an Americanized Jesus. This is no more than idol worship! The message of the cross and repentance of sin is lost, and because this message is lost, so are precious souls. Jesus does not promote an easy salvation or a trouble free life. He is Lord over those who, like Him, are persecuted. He is the God Who still commands you to "pick up your cross and follow Me." Before we follow Him into heaven, we must be determined to follow Him here on earth, no matter where He leads, and no matter what the cost.
I am not saying that the Lord does not want to bless His people. We do not serve a miserly God. He is "able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to give to every good work." (2 Cor. 9:8) It explains in this Scripture that you are blessed in order to be a "giver." So, one needs to remember that, "a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses," (Luke 12:15), but in the abundance of his generosity to give it away!
Now if you still think the American Dream is a promise from God, consider this; the Father said of His Son, "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." This Jesus, not the American version, is the One the Father is so pleased with. Because He was so pleased with Him, did He bless Christ with popularity and an abundance of material prosperity? No, on the contrary! Immediately after receiving His Father's approval, Jesus was led, by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he fasted 40 days and 40 nights and was severely tempted by Satan. (Mat. 4:1-3) You might be thinking sarcastically, "what a way to show favor!" Yet, the Father knows it is the only way. After suffering the pangs of fasting, Jesus' flesh was hungry, but His Spirit was strong. Our Father knows that a life of ease makes us easy prey for the Devil, but a life prepared by trials and testing, strengthens our faith; enabling us to live victoriously over our enemies. Jesus was made perfect through suffering. He was tempted, yet sinned not. He was rejected, lied about, imprisoned, laughed at, cruelly mocked, spit upon, beaten, whipped, nailed to and tortured on a rugged cross.
This is a description of the True Jesus. The King of kings was not ashamed to wear an earthly crown of thorns, for He is Lord of the persecuted. He is Lord and Savior of captives bound by sin, and all those who have been abused, rejected, and misunderstood. He is the God of humble and meek men, and of those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Is He your God?
He is not the American god of "the rich who have all earthly goods." He calls them, "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17) For God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Base things of this world and things which are despised, hast God chosen." (1 Cor. 1:27-28) Are you one of His chosen? Are you despised? Oh, Christian, show me your persecution!
If you are following a counterfeit Jesus, and chasing after the American Dream, I beg of you, wake up! Get ready, for your Messiah is coming soon. He is your Commander-in-Chief and He comes bearing battle scars. He expects to find you looking like one of His soldiers. He expects to find you among the ranks who declare, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, who has taught my hands to war,and my fingers to fight." (Psalm 144:1) His soldiers are not fearful of the battle. They may get dirty, bruised, beaten, kicked and sometimes even killed, but they "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Tim. 2:3) They have "fought a good fight, they have finished their course, and have kept the faith." (2 Tim. 4:7) They have been persecuted and they have the scars to prove it. Oh, Christian, where is your persecution, show me your battle scars!
Don't sit in the pews of the spiritually soft and delicate. Don't sit in the congregation of religious elitists. Ask your Pastor to tell you about his trials, tribulations, and persecutions, and to show you his battle scars. If he cannot produce any, then expose him as a fraud! For his lack of scars convicts him, and proves he has not followed the Lord of Hosts onto the battlefield! If he has not allowed Christ to lead him into spiritual warfare, then Christian, he is not worthy to lead you anywhere!
If we don't bear scars like Christ, then we have no right to call Him Lord. For without the scars of rejection and persecution, we may call Him Savior, but we cannot call Him Lord. We are to be made in His image and let us not forget that His glorious image includes the nail scars of the cross.
Oh, that we may bear the scars that show we are His followers! May we shrug off the cloak of indifference and cowardice, that causes us to sit on the side lines, and may we put on the whole armor of Almighty God. We must thrust the Sword of the Spirit straight through the enemy of complacency!
Repent! Forsake all that is unscriptural, and take up the whole Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of our sins, he suffered great persecution, bled profusely, died in agony, but rose victoriously! This He did for you!
The false doctrine of prosperity has lulled many to sleep. It's time to wake up from seeking the American Dream! It is a dangerous path that can only lead to disillusionment. It could leave you embittered by its false message and in danger of becoming part of what the Bible calls the "great falling away!" (2 Thes. 2:3) It is time to pull off the mask of this American Idol, and expose the imposter hiding behind it. Rip off this disguise and you will reveal that clever masquerader, the son of perdition, none other than Satan himself! Beware Christian, we cannot serve both God and mammon. If we serve Christ we will bear the mark of persecution. If we serve mammon, we may end up bearing the Mark of the Beast! Choose wisely whom you will serve!
Salvation is a free gift from God, but there is a cost to discipleship. Christ paid the ultimate price when He bought you with His blood, but you will be required to pay a price for following Him. The apostles did. Christians in past generations did. Today's suffering saints in other countries do. Do you think living in America will make you exempt?
Attaining a life filled with prosperity, ease, and void of troubles, is not a sign you are spiritual, or well pleasing to the Father. Obedience to the point of death is; death to your old Adamic nature, death to selfish ambitions, death to greedy desires and a self-centered lifestyle, and yes, even death of your physical body should the Lord require it! You must come to realize you no longer hold the title deed to your life. Christ bought you and you are to now live your life for His purposes. "For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)
Christian, you cannot have a foothold in both kingdoms. You cannot take Jesus as your Savior, and leave Him as your Lord. Many suffering saints in other countries visibly bear the scars of torture for their faith. You may never be required to go through the same fires they endure. Nevertheless, if you are serious about following hard after the Lord, you can fully expect persecution to some degree. You will be thrown into the furnace of affliction, and upon coming out, may you bear the spiritual scars of true repentance! Oh, let us not be satisfied to live useless lives of ease! May we throw ourselves upon the mercies of God, and with Godly sorrow, beg the Refiner to purify us in His Holy Fire! May we emerge from the furnace scarred, but bearing a closer resemblance to His glorious image!
Repent and get ready! Christ, our Messiah King, is coming soon in the clouds of glory. When He looks at you, will you mirror His own scarred image, or will you look like the world?
Christian, it is urgent that you do not hesitate, or His coming will overtake you like a thief in the night! I warn you that the dispensation of grace is about to end! If you are a lukewarm Christian, who has been compromising with the world, now is the time to get right with God. Act quickly for the Lord does not wish to spew you out of His mouth. He tenderly pleads with you saying, "Return with your whole heart to Me! I will heal your backslidings, I will love you freely, for mine anger is turned away from you. Return and I will have mercy on you and abundantly pardon you." (Hos. 14:9, Isa. 55:7) Return, Christian, to your gracious God while there is still time!
If you have never known the one True God but only the false American idol of prosperity, please know that, "Today is the day of Salvation." Rend your heart and repent of the sins you have indulged in. With deep sorrow cry out to God and admit to Him that you are a vile idol worshipper and a sinner in your thoughts, words, and deeds. Tell Him that your sins weigh heavy on you. You feel dirty and unworthy. You need cleansing. You need forgiveness. You need a fresh start, a new beginning, a new birth! Repent and turn away from your sins and your own selfish ambitions. Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe with a humble heart that God has raised Him from the dead. Thank God for the gift of His Holy Spirit who will make His home in your heart and be your Comforter, Helper, and constant Companion from this day forward.
It is my prayer we may all soon hear the Father say, "well done thou good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Mat. 25:23)
AMEN & AMEN
- by Lea Lewis
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