The Prosperity Gospel: A Defense of the Message

by Tom Brown

Has the message of prosperity confused you? You want to believe that God desires to prosper you, but the flashy evangelists that proclaim this message turn you off. They seem to be motivated by something other than the spread of the gospel. I understand your feelings. I too had difficulty with the message of abundance.

I was raised in the Assembly of God church, and was quite happy with my relationship with God in it. However, my mom heard on radio a new pastor in the city proclaiming a positive message of prosperity. His words excited her. While feeling stagnant in our church, she felt this new pastor would provide a key to a deeper relationship with God.

Our Assembly of God pastor, sensing that he may lose many members to this new pastor, warned us of this new pastor preaching health and wealth. Ignoring his warning, my mother took me to this new church. Although my mother was completely enthralled with the pastor’s sermons, I wasn’t. I agreed with certain truths he preached, but when the topic of money, prosperity and riches were mentioned, I closed my ears to what he said.

After being in the church for a few months, I decided to take the matter of prosperity to God. I told the Lord, “God, you know I am confused about prosperity. My former pastor warned us against the prosperity message, yet this new pastor is for it, and the church seems to be doing much better in terms of growth than my other church. Now Lord, I make a decision to hear from You. I am not going to take sides with either position. But I need You to show me the truth.”

From that simple prayer, I made it my quest to know everything about prosperity, wealth and money in the Bible. I listened to various Bible teachers explaining their views, both pro and con. It wasn’t until I heard Derek Prince that all my doubts and confusion was removed. I want to share the three simple keys I learned from him.

Purpose, Promise and Precondition

These three words clarified for me the message of prosperity. It explained the warnings of materialism and yet affirmed the great promises of El Shaddai, the God of abundance and at the same time balanced out the truths with human responsibility to meet the conditions to qualify for prosperity. I have always kept these three great truths before me when I teach on prosperity and practice it.

First, let’s look at the first word: purpose. God spoke to Abraham and said, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:2). God said he would “bless him” so he “will be a blessing.” From the beginning God wanted Abraham to know why God was going to bless him—not for his sake only—but for the sake of all nations. God wants to bless us financially so we will have the funds to bless the nations with the gospel.

The primary purpose of prosperity is to spread the gospel, not for us to live self-indulgent lives. While it’s true, God desires for us to enjoy the wealth He gives us, He wants us to primarily use it to give toward the gospel. Paul affirms this truth:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Tim 6:17-19)

Notice three important points in this passage: first, the rich are often tempted to become prideful of their riches; second, God does indeed “provide us with everything for our enjoyment.” God delights in watching His children enjoy all the abundance and pleasure prosperity provides. It’s true that the Lord “hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant” (Ps 35:27, KJV). If God enjoys the prosperity of his “servants” then He must leap with joy over the prosperity of his “children.” Just as any parent enjoys watching their kids have fun, God delights in watching His children enjoy what money can buy. I believe God is love and He desires the best life we can have.

However, the third point is the most important:  “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” God does not give wealth for our own sakes, but so we can help others. We should not become selfish or arrogant with our wealth. If we do, we will lose out on the blessing that money can bring. There are many rich people that recognized the emptiness of money. To have money, just for the sake to have it, is pointless. Money cannot buy you real life. Real life is in sharing! So when God blesses me, I try to remind myself of the purpose behind my prosperity. And I do my best to guard against pride. I attempt to be there for the poor as well as the rich. I try not to show favoritism.

It makes me sick in my heart to watch ministers who have experienced some success, maybe even great success, to let it go to their heads. They demand only five star hotels, limousines, and special goodies, before they will even consider coming to your church. And when they do come, they become too big to mingle with the “little guy.” They are too important to take time to answer questions from the “little people.” They act like kings with little regard for “the peasants.” C’mon, without God’s grace, none of us would be blessed with success. I thank God everyday for the unusual blessing He has shown me. I have and will refuse to allow it to get to my head.

Promise

If God promised to bless us, then why should we doubt it? The Bible provides many examples of God blessing people and promising abundance to His covenantal people. The passage in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 helped me greatly in understanding this: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). The verse is staggering in its implication. It’s not just that God promised His Old Testament saints riches, but Jesus, Himself, on the cross provided redemption from poverty, so we can be rich with His riches.

On the cross, Jesus could have simply focused on our sins and took that away so we can be righteous, but He extended the benefits of the cross to our financial lives. He chose to allow all His riches to be taken from Him—in substitution—so that we can be “rich”. Immediately, because of religious upbringing, we have a tendency to interpret the word “rich” to mean “spiritual riches.” But the context of the passage is referring to wealth. Paul was encouraging the Corinthian Church to give money to the suffering saints in Jerusalem. So the context is about money, and thus, the word “rich” is a reference to material riches. I know this is shocking! I was shocked too over the passage—and like many, I tried to reinterpret the passage in a spiritual way, but I could not, because of the context.

Then as I looked at the cross and compared the curses that would come on Israel because of their disobedience, I recognized that Jesus took each of the curses.

Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. (Deut 28:47-48)

Instead of the blessings of prosperity, they would experience poverty. The description of poverty is vivid: hunger, thirst, nakedness and dire poverty. Do you see it? This is the description of the cross! Jesus was hungry, thirsty (He said, “I thirst”), and naked (He was stripped of all His clothing). He lost everything, even the essentials. Why would God allow His Son to lose every bit of His material possessions? Didn’t Jesus simply need to shed His blood and die? Why make Him go through such humiliation, that He was naked before the public? It was clear to me that Jesus went through dire poverty, as atonement for our poverty, so in turn; we could be rich with His riches.

When I saw the complete sacrifice of Christ on the cross, I determined that I would not allow one bit of suffering to go to waste. If Jesus died for my poverty, then, bless God! I was not going to be poor. Since He made such a great sacrifice, I would not allow the sacrifice to be wasted by me. I was going to make the most of the atonement, and be rich with His riches!

Of course, there are many other passages where God promises to supply all our material needs. (see the following prosperity scriptures: Phil 4:19, Deut 28:11, Ps 25:13, etc.).

Precondition

This is where the rubber meets the road. You can have a good heart and desire to help others with God’s blessings and you can claim all God’s promises of prosperity, but if you do not meet the conditions of the promises then you will not prosper. God does not promise “unconditional” prosperity. Prosperity is promised by God, but He puts preconditions in front of prosperity. This is why many sincere Christians fail to prosper; they do not qualify for it.

There are two important preconditions to prosperity as I understand it: hard work and generosity. There are many sincere Christians living in poverty due directly with laziness or stinginess. It’s not enough to have a job—one must work hard at it to prosper.

Proverbs 14:23, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Some are mere talkers. They speak a good game, they claim all the promises, but they do not work hard. Instead they hardly work.

Besides hard work, we must give generously. God wants to put money in the hands of those who will give toward the gospel and help the weak. The people of Judah were hard workers but they forgot to put the Lord first in giving to the temple. Haggai speaks to them these words:

You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Hag 1:6).

Have you ever felt at times that you had holes in your purse or wallet? You slave at work, but see little results. God gives Judah the answer:

Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.  “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. (Hag 1:8-9)

Those words should still speak to us today. We cannot expect great results from our hard labor while we neglect our churches. Tithing to our churches is not just the right thing, but God will bring rewards to you.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (Mal 3:10)

I know you may feel this scripture has been abused by ministers who you think are trying to get every last nickel from you, but do not let your attitude change what this verse says. God promises to bring a flood-time blessing to the tither. Make no mistake; God does not make this promise to anyone but to the tither.

Jesus provides the biblical proof that giving brings a boomerang blessing, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). It would be nice if God returned every gift to us, but He goes further by explaining that the gift will be returned, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”

It’s like a box of cereal. The manufacturer may claim 20 ounces and then puts a disclaimer: “some settling may occur”. But if they tried hard enough, they could shake the box, fill the box with more cereal, press down the cereal, so more can be poured into it; and then overflow the box with running over cereal. You could get pounds and pounds of cereal by “pressing down, shaken together and running over.” They won’t do this because they are stringent. But God is not! He will return our generous gifts with much more than we originally gave.

Motives

As I searched the Word of God concerning prosperity, these three keys brought a needed balance and wisdom concerning prosperity. When I saw these truths, I went back to God and praised Him, “Lord, I see very clearly the truth about prosperity. I believe in it and know I can proclaim it without apology.” To this day, I am proud to be a prosperity teacher. And I think every gospel preacher should be a prosperity preacher and proclaim the great truths about biblical finances.

I hope you won’t throw out the baby with the bath water because you feel that the prosperity message was been twisted to encourage greed and put money in the coffers of preachers. Instead, try not to judge peoples’ motives, and be bold in claiming your inheritance in Christ.

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Prosperity God’s Way

by Tom Brown

Yes! You can prosper in all things! You can have a wonderful marriage, fine children, peace of mind, good health, a worthwhile career and, on top of all this, you can have plenty of money to enjoy life and still maintain an intimate relationship with God.

Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not, because God has promised all this to us.

3 John 2 says, “Beloved, concerning all things, I pray that you may prosper and be in health.” (Literal Greek). The disciple whom Jesus loved shares this prayer with Gaius, the recipient of this short letter. John knows how and what to pray for. And what does he pray: Notice, “…concerning all things, I pray that you may prosper.”

John wanted Gaius to prosper in all things. God also wants you to prosper concerning all things, not just some things. This is God’s heart.

God’s plan for prosperity includes everything. Yet, too often, we associate prosperity with just money. Money is a part of prosperity, but only a small part. In fact, money is the lowest form of prosperity.

This is what prompted Paul to write, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). Paul was not against money, but he knew that it had very little power.

Money can buy you…

A skilled doctor but not health.

A high-priced psychiatrist but not peace.

A house but not a home.

Clothes for your children but not their respect.

A vacation but not enjoyment.

A car but not safety.

Food but not contentment.

A Bible but not understanding.

Shrewd lawyers but not justice.

A beautiful church building but not spiritual people.

Companionship but not friendship.

A wedding but not a marriage.

There are definite limitations to money. Money is not inherently evil, but neither is it inherently good. Money is amoral. It is only an instrument. You can use it for good, or you can use it for evil. But its power is definitely weak.

True power lies in our faith in God. Nothing is impossible for him who believes.

True prosperity is the ability to use God’s power to meet the needs of mankind in any realm of life. How do we get this power?

PROSPERITY OF THE SOUL

The answer lies in the scripture that we first quoted: “Beloved, concerning all things, I pray that you may prosper…EVEN AS YOUR SOUL PROSPERS.” You will only be as prosperous as your soul! If your soul is poor, so shall you be.

The soul is the mental part of you that controls your spiritual life. Your soul governs your spiritual life.

The way your soul prospers is by walking in the truth. John continues, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth” (3 John 3). John knew that Gaius’ soul was prospering because he was walking in the truth.

Jesus says, “Thy Word is truth.” To walk in the Word of God is to walk in the truth.

Ultimately, it is the Word that produces prosperity.

God told Joshua to “meditate on the Law (God’s Word) day and night,” and as a result, “you will be prosperous and successful wherever you go” (see Joshua 1:7-8).

David agrees with this, for he writes, “Blessed is the man who meditates day and night on the Law. Whatever he does prospers” (see Psalms 1:1-3).

The New Testament affirms that the Word prospers us in everything: “But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God’s law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does” (James 1:25, Living Bible–italics added).

Notice that in these passages, the Word prospers us in everything we do. This corroborates what John said to Gaius–that he would prosper concerning all things because he was walking in the Word. As long as you walk in the Word, you can prosper in everything!

GOD’S PLAN VERSES THE WORLD’S

God has a highly organized system to meet the needs of every facet of life. It is based on the “Word System.”

The devil, on the other hand, promises prosperity to his faithful, but it is based on the “World System.”

The world’s system has one major drawback. It cannot produce total prosperity. It can produce prosperity only in the areas that a person will be totally devoted to.

For example, anyone can make a lot of money, as long as he is willing to sacrifice in other areas to do it. We know of many rich people who have miserable marriages, rotten kids, ulcers, and a host of other problems. They have these problems because they had to devote themselves to earning money and, as a result, could not spend enough time with their spouses and children to make them happy. The divorce courts are backed up with many such cases.

God’s plan, however, has no drawbacks. God says, “Get in My Word, put it first, learn it, memorize it, speak it, do it–and you will prosper in everything!

Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters…he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus says that it is impossible to be devoted to more than one thing, so you might as well be devoted to God and His Word.

ONE THING IS NEEDED

Jesus was eating dinner at the home of Mary and Martha. Jesus was teaching, while Martha was busying herself with cooking dinner. In frustration, Martha told Jesus, “Lord, tell my sister Mary to help me in the kitchen.”

Jesus looked at her and said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What did Mary choose? She chose the Word.

Can you relate to Martha? Are you worried and upset about many things: perhaps your business, your finances, your family, your spouse, your health, or whatever? Martha’s answer to all her problems was at the feet of Jesus with her sister, listening to Jesus teach the Word. (see Luke 10:38-42).

You may say, “But I don’t understand how getting into the Word of God is going to solve my problems!”

Here is how it works: Your soul influences your spirit. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. As you renew your mind to God’s Word, and start to think in line with His will, your spirit man will began to produce the things you need in life that you have discovered are God’s will to meet.

Many people are living below their privileges in Christ because they don’t know the will of God. God’s will can be discovered by knowing His Word. His Word is His Will. Once you discover that it is God’s will to prosper you financially, heal your body, restore your marriage, fill you with the Holy Spirit, give you power to drive out spirits, then your faith will rise up to that level and you’ll begin to pray in faith for all those things.

You cannot have faith for all those things unless you meditate on the Word of God. For faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Let me illustrate this truth.

Many years ago there was a poor, illiterate man from a third-world country who heard about prosperity in America. So he worked hard to save enough money to buy a one-way ticket to America.

He was glad to board the ship. But after the long journey he became hungry. For days, he had been eating cheese and crackers that he purchased for the trip. This was all he could afford.

During the mornings, he would sneak to the dining room deck and watch all the people enjoy their breakfasts. They would eat three-egg omelets, succulent ham, crispy bacon, and drink fresh-squeezed orange juice, milk and coffee. His mouth would water as he envied them.

He would do this during lunch and dinner also. He began to despise his stale cheese and crackers. But the journey finally ended. He had arrived in America.

Before he departed from the ship, he was asked to see the captain. He met him, and the captain asked, “Sir, was there anything that we did to offend you?”

“Why, no, Captain. Whatever gave you that impression?”

“I could not help notice that you never joined us for any of the meals, so I thought you were upset with us.”

The man bowed his head in shame. “Well, you see, I wasn’t able to afford the meals. I had enough money just to buy the ticket.”

“Oh, sir,” the captain exclaimed, “Didn’t you know that the meals were included in the ticket!?”

The man missed out on enjoying all the meals because of ignorance. He didn’t read what the ticket said.

Many Christians are going through life, not realizing that the price Jesus paid for their trip to heaven also includes the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in other tongues, healing for the body, financial prosperity, power over the devil, freedom from fear, and much more.

Why aren’t they enjoying these things? Because they haven’t read the ticket, which is the New Testament, to find out what belongs to them.

This is why all you need to prosper in everything is to know what the Word of God says.

You can have it all…with the Word of God!

Praying to the Father in Jesus Name

by Tom Brown

“In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God”—(John 16:23-27)

Here in this passage of scripture, Jesus tells us that we should not pray to Him. Yet many sincere Christians spend most of their time praying and petitioning Jesus instead of petitioning the Father. I hear their prayers, “Oh, Lord Jesus, please help me with this or that!” That is a wrong way to pray.

Jesus taught us that it is better to go directly to the Father. “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” So let’s accept his teaching and not tradition. Jesus did not want to take glory away from His Father and so He instructs us to pray to the Father and not to Himself. Jesus submitted Himself to the Father’s authority; therefore, the Father is in charge. This truth is a revelation every Christian should understand. Your prayer life will become more powerful and effective once you receive this truth. Jesus taught His disciples to pray after this manner, “Our Father in heaven.” Prayer is directed to the Father, not to anyone else.

Only while Jesus was on the earth, could people ask Jesus for help. However, Jesus said that it wasn’t right to ask Him anything after His resurrection. We are now living in the day of the new covenant, so praying and petitioning Jesus is not the proper way to pray.

Someone may argue this point and say, “Why can’t I pray to Jesus?” Because Jesus said not to! That is a good enough reason for me!

“Well, I don’t understand why I can’t,” someone may persist. It’s not whether you can’t, but it’s whether you should. Let me explain the work of the Trinity.

One Mediator

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 (Tim 2:5)

Notice that Jesus is the mediator not the object of our approach to God. Although Jesus is God by nature, He is the Son of God the Father, which places Him in a subservient role. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Jesus is the mediator, which means that He is the go-between God and men. He is like a bridge. You cross the bridge to get to your destination. So you go through Jesus to get to God the Father. Unfortunately, many treat the bridge as their destination. They go to Jesus instead of to the Father. It is an unscriptural approach to prayer.

Let me explain what His being mediator is NOT. You do not say your prayer to Jesus, so that Jesus can take your prayer to the Father. Jesus ruled this out: “I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.” So His mediator-ship does not mean that you ask Jesus to pray to the Father for you. I bring this up, because our Catholic friends usually accept Mary as co-mediatrix. They will claim that they do not pray to Mary, but only ask her to pray for them. In this sense they see her as co-mediatrix. But notice that Jesus said concerning His mediator role that He would not ask the Father on our behalf. So if this were true of Christ, it would be true for Mary as well, according to the Catholic view.

Beside, the Word says that there is only “one” mediator, and He is the “man” Christ Jesus. The “woman” Mary is exempted from being co-mediatrix based on this clear passage.

PRAYING TO SAINTS

Since Mary is not co-mediatrix, you can be sure that the other saints are not either. Why people would waste their prayer time talking to saints, I will never understand. I suppose I can’t understand this kind of irrationality since I was never a Catholic. However, my wife Sonia was. I asked her why she used to pray to Mary. Her answer was silly, but honest. She said, “I figured since Mary was the mother of Jesus, he would have to obey her. So I prayed to Mary thinking she would tell her Son what to do.”

Now some of you may be laughing at this explanation, but this is actually what was taught to my wife. Many Catholics believe just like my wife used to believe, and they are very sincere. However, being sincere does not make someone right. The only teaching we should adhere to is the Bible and not tradition. Jesus said to some very religious leaders, “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matt. 15:6). In another place he says, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mk. 7:8).

We all need to ask ourselves this question. Do I hold onto traditions that go against the word of God? If the answer is yes, then get rid of your tradition that has robbed the word of God of its power. God’s Word has the power to save, heal, bless and deliver. But traditions stop the word of God of its saving, healing, blessing and delivering power. Praying to saints is really praying to idols. An idol is any person or thing that occupies the place in your heart that only God Himself should occupy. We should never put any person or thing in God’s place. We should pray only to God and not to saints.

Why even pray to saints if Jesus said that we could go to the highest in all authority? Why go to someone lesser if you can go to the greatest? Let me give you an illustration: Suppose I had a problem with a certain federal law. Then the Vice-President hears about my problem and writes to me a letter inviting me to speak to the President about my situation. But instead of accepting the invitation, I tell the Vice-President, “I really do appreciate the opportunity to talk to the Head of Chief, but you see, I’m so unworthy to talk to the President. I wish I could get the nerve to talk to him, but I can’t. Instead Mr. Vice-President, I’m going to talk to my Congressman about my problem. Thank you anyway.”

Now, what would you think of me for turning down the opportunity to talk with the President? You would think I was crazy! Well, aren’t we crazy for passing up the opportunity to talk to the Head of Chief of the universe?

I could almost hear Satan laughing at some people. He laughingly says, “Look at those people with false humility. Jesus told them they have the right to go to His Father, yet they’re trying to pray to his mother! Ha! Ha! Ha!” As you read this article, you might be getting mad at me for tearing down your doctrine. However, I’m not tearing down your doctrines, instead I’m giving you something better. Isn’t it better to pray to our heavenly Father than some saint? Sure it is! So, let us get on the right track and start praying to our Father in Heaven. Hallelujah!

IN JESUS NAME

Jesus not only taught us to pray directly to the Father, but he also said to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. In other words, we do not go to the Father without first going through Jesus Christ. If you’re trying to pray to God without Jesus, then you’ll get nowhere. You see, no one is worthy to go to God the Father in prayer because we have all sinned. No sinner can go to God since God is perfectly Holy. However, God made a way for mankind to approach Him. That way is Jesus!

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).

What about coming to God through Joseph Smith, Muhammad, Rev. Moon, Hare Krishna, or some other self-proclaim prophet? The answer is found in Acts 4:12:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

There are some people who want to unite all religions together. They falsely teach, “All the roads of all religions lead to God.” But Jesus contradicted this by saying, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt.7:13-14). Jesus is the small gate and narrow road. You must go through the Lord Jesus to get to God.

Several years ago I was talking to a girl about God and her relationship to Him. It was apparent to me that she was not born again. However, she tried to convince me that she was religious. She said, “I pray to God every day.”

I shocked her with my next statement. I told her, “But God doesn’t listen to you!” Her eyes got as big as quarters.

“Why do you say that?” she asked.

“Because you do not go to God through Jesus Christ.” I then proceeded to tell her about salvation. That evening she accepted the Lord Jesus into her heart.

Many people are just like this girl. They pray to God and get no results. Why? They don’t get results because they don’t go through Jesus Christ the Lord. God listens to you when you go through Jesus.

GOD IS OUR FATHER

There is one more point I want to write concerning prayer: God is our Father! Many people think of God as being mean and angry. However, God is our loving, caring, and watchful Father. Whatever problem you might have pray to your very own Father, who will take care of your problems, if you’re born again of God’s Spirit. If you’re not sure that you’re born again, then please pray the following prayer out loud and from your heart.

Dear God in Heaven. I come to you through your Son Jesus Christ. I come as a repentant sinner. Please forgive me of all my sins. I’m going to live for you starting right now. I believe that Christ died for my sins, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day and that he is Lord. I now make Jesus the Lord of my Life. I’m now saved by the blood of Christ. Heaven is my eternal home. And God is now my very own Father. Thank you Father-God for adopting me into your Family. Amen!

How to Get Your Prayers Answered, 4 Steps

by Tom Brown

You should pray to get results. Unfortunately, many people pray, but they don’t receive specific answers to their prayers. I’m going to show you how to pray to get answers. Once you know how to get answers to your prayers, you’ll never be in need. You’ll never have to stay sick, stay broke, or stay defeated all the days of your life.

The first and most important step for getting answers to your prayers is this: Find scriptures that definitely promise you the specific thing you are praying for.

When people say that they’re praying for something, I like to ask, “What scripture or scriptures are you standing on in order to get what you are asking?” Often, people answer, “Well, nothing in particular.” Well, that’s what they’ll get, Nothing in particular

Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). Notice that Jesus began this promise with a little word called “if”. The word “if” is a little word with consequences. The word “if” means that this promise for answered prayer is conditional upon something. What is it? Jesus says that you can ask whatever you wish, so long as “my words remain in you.”

You must have God’s word abiding in you if you expect an answer to your prayer. Often Christians pray for something, such as healing, yet they don’t have any promise from God abiding in them which guarantees that God will answer.

God has made many promises to heal you. What you need to do is find those promises and meditate on them until they become real to you. By doing this, you will be able to fight doubt when your healing doesn’t manifest immediately.

You see if you pray for healing and do not know God’s promises to heal you, when the symptoms persist, you’ll begin to doubt that the answer is coming. Once you doubt, the answer is cancelled.

James 1:6-7 says, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” God answers only believing prayer, not doubting prayer.

Someone might say, “But if God doesn’t heal us in response to our prayers, then maybe God does not want us to be well. It may not be His will to heal us.”

The truth is, God’s Word is His will. If you want to know what God’s will is, then look at His Word. He only promises things that He is willing to do. Since He has promised us healing, we can be assured that it is His will to heal us. By not knowing His Word, delays in answers may make us think that God is denying us the answers. But by knowing the Word, delays are simply opportunities to stand on God’s Word in faith.

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE

The second step for answered prayer is this: You must ask God for what you want and believe that you receive it.

What is it that you want? Be specific and ask.

Dr. Cho, the pastor of the world’s largest church, said that many years ago when South Korea was poor, he asked God for a bicycle. Back then a bicycle was a big thing. Well, several months had elapsed, but he had not received the bicycle. Finally he asked the Lord why it was taking so long for Him to answer this prayer. The Lord answered, “Son, you didn’t tell Me what kind of bicycle you wanted. There are many different brands, different colors, and different manufacturers. Be specific. What kind of bicycle do you want?”

I think many people need to be specific in their requests. Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” It would seem obvious that the man wanted his sight. But Jesus never assumes to know your desire. He wants you to tell Him.

Once you are specific in your request, you must believe that you have received the answer, even before you can see the answer.

Jesus says in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Notice that this scripture does not say to believe that you will receive. No! It says to believe that you have received. This means that you must believe that you have the answer already, even before you physically possess the answer. This is faith.

Many times people are praying, thinking that they are believing, when in reality they are not believing, but hoping. Hope and faith are not the same. You cannot expect to receive from hope what is promised only to faith. Faith is what is required in prayer.

If you’re praying and expecting that God will, sometime in the future, answer your prayer, then you are not believing but hoping. Faith says that God has answered my prayer the very moment that I prayed. Are you believing or hoping?

I’m reminded of a story that Happy Caldwell once told. When he was a sinner, he and his buddies used to love getting drunk. One day, they were driving down an old Arkansas highway when they drove past a run-down tavern. Its sign read: FREE BEER, TOMORROW.

“Whoa!” they were excited. They could hardly wait to guzzle down the free beer. The next day, they sped back to that old tavern.

“The sign for free beer is still up!” Happy exclaimed. They jumped out of their car, busted down the tavern’s doors, and shouted to the bartender, “Hey! Give us some free beer!”

“What are you talking about?” the bartender asked.

The guys pointed to the sign, “You advertised free beer. That’s what we’ve come for.”

The bartender smiled, “Free beer—tomorrow!”

The devil is like the bartender. He will get you thinking that tomorrow you’ll get your answer. And when tomorrow gets here, he’ll say, “Wait until tomorrow.” As long as you are waiting for tomorrow, tomorrow never comes. God says, “Believe that you have the answer today–NOW!” This is what Jesus meant in Mark 11:24: “…whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

THANK GOD FOR THE ANSWER

The third step for getting your prayers answered is this: Thank God for the answer, before you can see it. Since you have already believed that God has answered your prayer, the only logical step is to thank Him in advance for the answer. Doing this proves that you trust God’s Word.

You may ask, “How can I thank God for answering my prayer, when I don’t see the answer yet?” Because He promised the answer, and that’s good enough for you to thank Him.

Suppose a gentleman promised me that he was going to buy a new suit for me next week. Would I say, “Sir, when you actually buy it and I’m wearing it, then I’ll be grateful and thank you for it. But I’m not going to thank you until I am wearing the new suit you promised.” Of course I wouldn’t say that. I would immediately thank him for the new suit, even though I don’t actually have it yet. I thank him, because I believe his word is good. The same is true of God.

God promised to answer our prayers, and His promise is good enough to solicit gratitude from us. So after you have prayed and believed that you have received the answer, then thank God for the answer.

KEEP YOUR MIND POSITIVE

The fourth and final step for answered prayer is this: Let every thought affirm that you have the answer to your prayer.

It is this last step that many believers stumble over. They will do fine until this last step, because many believers do not know how to fight the devil. Satan battles against the mind. The mind is the arena where the battle is fought.

Do not allow any negative thoughts to enter your mind. Let your mind affirm that you have the petitions that you requested from God. The reason you need to keep your mind on positive things is because doubt begins in the mind. And if you can keep it out of your mind, then you can keep it out of your heart.

These are the four practical steps to answered prayer!

The Power of Speaking Blessings Over Others

by Tom Brown

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
—1 Pet 3:9

Pastor Kerry Kirkwood was driving up to his church for a prayer meeting when he noticed a driver in a truck pulling up at the same time. As he walked into his church, the secretary told him that she would find out who the man was and let him know that the pastor was busy with a prayer meeting. As Kerry walked into the sanctuary, he felt a tug from the Lord to talk to the man.

He went back and introduced himself to the man, and the man told him his name was Thomas and that he owned some adjacent land that he wanted to sell to the church. The pastor told him he was not interested, and out of nowhere, the man began to unload all his burdens to Pastor Kirkwood: “I was a pastor like you, but my church kicked me out because I had become wealthy through oil and they felt they needed a pastor who was full-time serving the church. They really hurt me.”

Then Thomas continued, “My daughter left the house over money and I have not seen her in a long time. On top of this, I had a young partner stab me in the back by leaving my company and taking some clients from me. Then I had a man who tried to break up my marriage. Pastor, I have had so many people mistreat me; I just hope they get what is due them.” The man went on to speak very badly of all the people who wronged him.

Pastor Kerry gave Thomas the scripture in 1 Peter 3:9 about blessing those who insult you and if you bless them, you would inherit God’s blessings. He explained to Thomas that our words act as a boomerangs and that what we say about people comes back to us, whether the words we speak are good or bad. He told him that if he wanted God to bless him, he needed to start blessing others with his words.

He invited him into his church bookstore and gave him his series on the power of blessing. He told him to listen to the message and practice it. Thomas thanked him for the series and left.

Less than 24 hours, Thomas called Pastor Kirkwood and told him, “Your teaching revolutionized my life. I never knew that if I cursed others, I was stopping God’s blessings from coming to me. So immediately I begin to bless my daughter. I asked God’s blessings on her and spoke every positive thing I could think about her. And today, my daughter called me up and asked if she could come home. It worked quickly.”

He told the pastor he couldn’t wait to try this out on his old business partner.

Later that week, he called the pastor and told him that blessing his partner worked, and that the partner called him and asked if he could see him. And when they met, the partner apologized for stealing his clients.

Then he told the pastor that he is going to work at blessing the man who tried to break up his marriage. Thomas got so excited over the results in blessing others. Later he called Pastor Kirkwood and told him that God has done a miracle in his heart toward the man. He said to him that the man has not repented, but something better has happened to his own heart. He has such compassion on the fellow since he had started to bless him. And that was the biggest blessing.

Your Inheritance is Tied to Blessing

            If you will learn to speak blessings over everyone, you will inherit a blessing. “Because to this you were called, so that you may inherit a blessing.” There are many believers who struggle with inheriting everything Jesus purchased for them. They know that Jesus died for their sickness, yet they can’t seem to inherit the health that Jesus came to give them. I believe one reason could be is that they are not speaking blessings over others; instead they constantly curse their enemies.

Others can’t pay their bills. They seem to always be behind in their bills. They claim prosperity, but prosperity eludes them. One reason could be is that they curse others instead of blessing them.

Still others struggle in their businesses, while all along they curse their competition. You can’t expect God to bless your business when with your own mouth you curse other businesses.

Have you wondered why your prayers go unanswered? It could be that you use your tongue to malign others and speak badly of them. God hears your words. You can’t assume that God will honor your prayers with your lips, while with the same lips you curse others.

I know of many who can’t seem to get along with their family members, and the main reason is they curse them.

Marita and her siblings could not agree on how to divide the inheritance of their parents. For months, the inheritance was tied up in disputes. Then Marita heard this teaching on blessing others and if you do, then your inheritance will come to you. She had a vision where she saw the words she and others were speaking to each other as being cobwebs entangling their inheritance. So being convinced that God was speaking to her, she changed her attitude toward her brothers and sisters and started to speak blessings over them. She said every positive thing she could ever hope God would do for her siblings. Within one week she received a call from her sister who told her that everyone has finally agreed to settle. Everyone got their inheritance, including Marita. The key to release the inheritance was speaking blessings over others.

Eulogy

            Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing.” The word “blessing” is the Greek word “eulogia”. It is the same word we get eulogize from. At a funeral people come to eulogize the decease. It doesn’t matter how un-saintly the decease is, everyone seems to have something good to say about him.

Yet, when people are alive we often have very little good to say about them. For example, at a high school reunion people will ask about Bill and how he is doing. Someone says, “Oh, that rascal is still at it. He is up to no good.” Then someone ask about Frank. “Oh, that stinker, he stinks worse than ever.” Finally someone ask about Sam, “Oh, he died last year, bless his soul. He was such a good man.”

When someone dies then we began the eulogy him; however it’s too late then. We need to eulogize people when they are alive, because by doing so, our words can be used of God to bring people into God’s perfect plan. Plus our words will boomerang back to us and cause us to be blessed too.

Speak by Faith

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future” (Heb 11:20). It was a common practice in biblical times to gather one’s children around the bed before the father died. He would place his hands on his children and bless them. I want you to notice that Isaac blessed his sons “by faith.” Too often people have trouble blessing others because they “see” such bad things in people. Yet, we “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). You have to live by faith in the Word of God if you are to bless people. You cannot go by what you see and be able to bless others. You must take God’s promises for them and speak them over others, regardless of how they look.

This is especially true of your children. I am sure many reading this article have troubled children. You cannot bless them if you concentrate on their bad qualities. Instead you have to look at them through the eyes of faith. Here is a sample blessing you can say over your children:

(Child’s Name), I bless your life as I know you will become a wonderful woman of God. I bless your mind to remain sound and for you to have wisdom and discernment in all decisions. I bless your body to remain pure until marriage and to be healthy and strong. I bless your hands and feet to do the work that God has ordained for you to do. I bless your mouth where words of truth and encouragement will flow. I bless your heart to remain loyal to God’s will for your life. I bless your husband-to-be and your future children’s lives with richness and unity. I love everything about you, [Child’s Name], and I am proud to be your mother/father. You bless our family and your friends in so many ways.

Isn’t this far more productive than cursing them?

Emily had a dream that every little girl has, and that was to get married and have children. Well, the first half of your dream easily came to pass. She got married, but in the first year, she discovered that she was infertile. Her dreams of having her own children were crushed.

She went to a seminar and the teacher was explaining the power of words, especially the words of parents. As Emily was listening to the teacher, she had an epiphany. She remembered when she was young that her mother would tell her emphatically, “Emily, you will never be a mother. You will never have children.” Emily realized that her mother cursed her womb.

Emily also knew that Jesus came to redeem her from the curse of the law. The first thing Emily did was to forgive her mother. There is no point in trying to break the curses of others if you are resentful. So after forgiving her mother, she said out loud, “I break the words my mother spoke over me. I will have children of my own. My womb is healed.”

Within fifteen days Emily got pregnant. Emily now has two children of her own.

The Blessing Challenge

Words are powerful. The ability to speak words shows that we are in God’s image.

The first thing God spoke to the human race was a blessing: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Notice that “God blessed them” so they could be fruitful. And like God, we have the power to bless others too.

Are you having difficulty with curses in your life? Maybe it is because you are cursing others. It’s time to take the “blessing challenge.” Decide to bless others—not just the nice people—but even the people who insult you. And as you do you will experience God’s blessings in your life.

Paul’s Thorn

by Tom Brown

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. —Corinthians 12:7-10, KJV

Whenever I teach along the lines of test and trials, and show that God does not test us with problems, inevitably people want to know about Paul’s thorn. To them, Paul’s thorn is proof that God sometimes allows us to get sick in order to teach us.

There is not a thorn that has stuck more people than Paul’s thorn. Through this passage, people have developed a weak, passive gospel where they are suppose to suffer sickness for the glory of God.

I have debated with theologians about divine healing and have asked them, “Show me one example in the Gospels where Jesus refused to heal a person who had faith.”

Nearly every time I ask this question, they reply, “Paul is the example.” I have to remind them that I asked for an example in the Gospels. When I clarify the question, they simply shrug their shoulders, “I don’t know of any example in the Gospels where Jesus did not heal someone who came to Him in faith.”

The fact that people have to depart from the Gospels and use Paul’s thorn as an example of Jesus denying someone health is proof how weak their arguments against divine healing really are. The Gospels clearly reveal that Jesus healed everyone who asked Him, yet people will cling to this one passage as proof that Jesus has denied them their healing on the grounds that they have a thorn in the flesh.

Three Errors

The accustomed interpretation in traditional Christianity concerning this passage is as follows: Paul was prideful because of the great revelations God gave him. To keep Paul humble God sent a demon to make him sick. Paul asked God to heal him, but the Lord said no. The lesson: God sometimes sends demons to make us sick in order to keep us humble.

Satan is cunning. He can distort any Scripture to keep people bound. This passage is a case in point.

There are three major errors concerning this traditional interpretation: first, that God personally sent the demon, second, that the demon made Paul sick, and third, that God refused to heal Paul from this sickness.

Exalted Beyond Measure

Paul gives the reason why this messenger of Satan was given to him. “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations.” I find it inconsistent that people claim to have Paul’s thorn but they don’t claim to have his abundance of revelations. So before you claim to have a thorn, make sure you have an abundance of revelations.

Paul says, “there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” Since Paul uses the word given people assume that God gave it. But notice that the thorn in the flesh is a messenger of Satan. Messengers are sent from their leaders. This messenger was sent by his leader, Satan. God did not send him.

What did this messenger of Satan do? Many think that this messenger was a demon who made Paul sick. They assume this demon made him sick because in the gospels we find demons causing sicknesses. But this is not the only thing that demons do. They also cause persecutions. This is what this evil spirit caused. Let me prove this to you.

Let the Bible Interpret Itself

The first rule of Bible interpretation is this: if at all possible, let the Bible interpret itself. In other words, before you give a meaning to a passage, ask yourself if there are any other Scriptures related to this. If there are, then let those passages interpret the passage you’re reading. This is especially true concerning Paul’s thorn.

To understand what problem the messenger of Satan caused, you have to understand the term “thorn in the flesh.” This term is found frequently in the Old Testament. Paul was very familiar with the Old Testament, so he undoubtedly used this term in the same way that it is used in the Old Covenant.

It’s amazing to me that people speculate as to the meaning of Paul’s thorn. Most theologians will say, “We can’t be sure what this thorn was, but it was probably a sickness, perhaps an eye disease.”

When I hear this kind of speculation I wonder if these so-called experts have bothered to look up the word thorn in their concordance. If they had, then they would know for sure what Paul’s thorn really was.

So what was this thorn? You have the answer if you know how the word thorn was used in the Old Testament. Once you know, then you know the meaning of Paul’s thorn.

There are three main passages in the Old Testament that relate to Paul’s thorn in the flesh. The first one is Numbers 33:55:

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.”

So here, the thorns represent Israel’s enemies—those who caused trouble for Israel. The second passage which refers to thorns is Judges 2:3:

Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”

The thorns were the Canaanites. The Canaanites were Israel’s persecutors. Again we see that the thorns referred to people who hated Israel. The third passage about thorns is Joshua 23:12-13:

But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations…then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.

This passage makes it plain that the nations were going to be thorns in Israel’s eyes.

Put these three passages together and you discover what the thorns represent. The thorns consistently represent Israel’s enemies. They were Israel’s persecutors. Not once does the Bible use this term thorn to represent physical sicknesses.

Go back to the passage in 2 Corinthians and you see that Paul’s thorn represented his enemies who persecuted him. This is obviously what he had in mind, because he mentions clearly what the thorn did to him:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Paul used the term thorn to represent persecutions (and all that went with it) that he endured for preaching the gospel. To suggest that Paul’s thorn was an organic illness, such as Ophthalmia, is really stretching the meaning of this term. The Bible plainly tells us that the term thorn is used in reference to people who become enemies of God’s family. This is what Paul meant by that term.

Even today, we have a similar term which means the same thing. We say that someone is a “pain in the neck.” We don’t actually mean that we have a physical pain. The term pain in the neck is a colloquial phrase which conveys that someone is giving us problems. The term thorn in the flesh does not mean an actual thorn or an actual fleshly problem. It simply means that people harassed Paul.

Loop Holes

Why do theologians misinterpret Paul’s thorn to mean sickness? The reason is clear: they are looking for loop holes in God’s covenant of health. God makes it clear that Jesus bore our sickness and that He is the God Who heals us from all our diseases. The Gospels reveal Jesus as our complete healer. Yet, instead of accepting the clear teaching of the Bible regarding divine healing, people comb through the Scriptures, hoping to find exceptions to the covenant of health. Paul’s thorn seems to be their supreme exception.

Do you realize that Paul’s thorn is their major evidence that proves that God wants some people to have a demon afflicting them with disease? If this is the primary evidence, then their case is ruined.

Imagine that you are a jury, and the only evidence is the Bible. You listen to the evidence of divine healing. As a lawyer, I present you case by case examples of Jesus healing everyone who was afflicted by the devil. I show you God’s covenant of health in the Old Testament, and how Jesus fulfilled the covenant of health through His sacrifice on the cross—that He took our infirmities on Himself and by His stripes we are healed.

After all this conclusive evidence, another lawyer—a theologian—tells you to forget all this evidence and accept only one piece of evidence that he has, and that is Paul’s thorn.

I come back to rebut this evidence by pointing to the fact that the term thorn refers to Paul’s persecutors.

After hearing all this evidence, what are you going to conclude about divine healing? You easily conclude that the theologian lawyer is grabbing for straws to maintain his traditional doctrine that divine healing does not belongs to us. The clear evidence of Scripture is that healing is ours.

Four Kinds of Suffering

This brings us to one last important point. Paul prayed that God would remove the persecutions from him. Yet God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). It was God’s will that Paul be made perfect through suffering persecutions.

Many complain about the message of health and prosperity. They charge that faith ministers deny the role of suffering in the Christian life. Well, I can’t speak for others, but I believe that a Christian should suffer, but only suffer if it’s God’s will.

The problem with much of the teaching on suffering is that it assumes that all suffering is the same. Many do not differentiate between bad suffering and good suffering. The Bible mentions four kinds of suffering: general, sinful, demonic, and Christian.

General suffering is discomfort that everyone goes through. Sinful suffering is punishment for doing wrong. Demonic suffering is unusual misfortune which happens to people because of the work of demons. Christian suffering is adversity which comes only to Christians who are living godly—it’s usually in the form of persecutions, criticism, prejudice—and is normally caused by fallen angels.

Some simply treat the subject of suffering as though all suffering were the same. For example: one believer may be thrown into prison for preaching the gospel and another may be in prison for stealing beer at a convenient store. Both are suffering, but it’s clear that one is suffering for the cause of Christ and the other is suffering for his own sins. You can’t say that both are suffering according to God’s will. Peter writes:

If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name…So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Pet. 4:15-16, 19).

This Scripture clearly shows the difference between Christian suffering and sinful suffering.

In another case, one lady experiences pain in child birth, and another dies giving birth. They both suffered. The lady who had pain experienced suffering which nearly every pregnant woman goes through. This is called general suffering. It is suffering which everyone goes through, whether they are a believer or not.

However, the woman who died experience unusual tragedy. When someone experiences something unusual, often this kind of suffering is demonic. Demonic suffering is caused by the devil himself through his agency of demons. There is no reason that a Christian woman should have to suffer death when she gives birth. Pain yes, death no.

Paul says, “But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Tim. 2:15). God promises protection in child birth. He does not promise to exempt her from pain, though.

Some overly zealous charismatics have taught that women don’t have to go through pain in delivery. They say that we are redeemed from the curse. And the curse is having pain in childbirth. “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children” (Genesis 3:16).

They reason that since this is a curse, and we are redeemed from the curse of the Law (see Galatians 3:13), women should not have to have pain in childbirth. The problem with their interpretation is that they confuse the curse in Genesis with the curse of the Law. God does not exempt us from the curse in Genesis; He exempts from the curse of the Law. The curse of the Law is mentioned in Deuteronomy chapter 28, and nowhere does it mention pain in childbirth as a curse. It does mention miscarriage as a curse, but never pain.

You see, some suffering is normal and should not be considered sinful or demonic. It’s just normal. For example, it’s normal to get gray hair when you grow old. You don’t rebuke gray hair, you simply dye it. It’s normal to slow up a bit when you get older. The devil is not slowing you up; age is. However, that does not mean you should be in a wheel chair.

I find it humorous that Christians are fighting what is normal. On the other hand, I find it tragic that other Christians accept suffering which is not normal—like terminal and chronic illnesses. The Bible describes those illnesses as demonic, and believers need to fight those.

So it’s clear that suffering can be God’s will if it is Christian suffering. This is what Paul went through, and God made it clear that through this kind of suffering Paul would be made perfect and strong. We should embrace this kind of suffering, but reject demonic suffering.

Nike Man: A message on the Anointing

by Tom Brown

A message on the anointing

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
—I John 5:4-5

The key word in this book of the Bible is overcome. It is not only used three times in the preceding passage but it is also used in 1 John 2:13; 2:14; and 4:4.

God has made total provision for you to overcome the world. What does it mean to overcome the world? The word “world” refers to all that is bad and evil, including sin, worry, sickness, poverty, and other such things. God says to you that you have overcome the world.

The Greek word for “overcome” is nikeo. It originally comes from the famous legendary Greek god named Nike of Samothrace who was the messenger of Zeus and Athena. You can view his statue at the Louvre Museum in Paris. As you might notice, the shoe company Nike took their name from this god.

He was famous for one thing: he never lost a battle. It is this word that John uses to describe the believer in Christ. He says that the believer, like Nike, will never lose a battle. God wants you to win, always!

God guarantees to make you a winner. You are “Nike Man”! Say that out loud, “I’m Nike Man!”

Faith is the Key

If God says that we are overcomers then why are so many believers not overcoming. Notice carefully who John says is the overcomer: Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. John does not say that everyone overcomes the world. He says that This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

You cannot overcome without faith. Faith is the key to victory. So what does faith mean?

Faith is only as good as the object it believes in. If you have faith in a liar, then you will be let down. No amount of faith is going to help you in that case.

The important thing about faith is not faith itself, but the object of it. We hear much about faith, yet most people associate faith with optimism and positive thinking. However, the faith that John talks about is faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.

Notice that there are two things that you must believe about Jesus: first that He is the Christ and second that He is the Son of God. Let’s take these two facts about Jesus and discover what they mean; after all, if you don’t know what they mean, then you will not overcome!

Peter’s Faith

Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (see Matt. 16:15-19)

What was Jesus’ answer to Peter’s declaration of faith? He told him that because of his faith he would have the keys of the kingdom to bind the devil, and that the gates of hell will never overcome the church.

The thing that made Peter an overcomer is the fact that he believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Notice that Peter believed both realities about Jesus—that He’s the Christ and the Son of God. It’s not good enough to believe one without the other. You must believe both.

Christ is Not His Last Name

If you asked the average person what “Christ” means, most will tell you that this is Jesus last name. They’re wrong. Christ is not a name, but a title.

Christ comes from the Hebrew word Messiah. It means anointed One and His anointing. It refers to both the person who’s anointed and the power he is anointed with.

What I’m saying is this: it’s not enough to believe that Jesus is good and loves people unless you also believe that He has power to do good and help people. So the title, Christ, represents His available power, not His love.

So many people are defeated, and yet they believe that Jesus loves them. Good! But that’s not sufficient, you must believe that He is anointed with power to help you. Not only is Jesus anointed but so are you.

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)

Wow! Did you get the meaning of this passage. The glorious riches of this mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Who’s in you? Not simply the person Jesus, but Christ! His power, His ability, His strength. When you believe this and act like it’s true, then you start to overcome.

You hear altar calls given, “Ask Jesus to come into your heart.” You will not find this phrase in the Bible. It’s not simply Jesus as a person that comes into your heart, but it is also His anointing power!

You Are Anointed

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. (I Jn 2:27)

You are anointed, so quit acting like you don’t have power. You do! Many believers look at Benny Hinn or some other great evangelist, and put their trust in their anointing, but they never have received a revelation that they are also anointed.

Of course there are special gifts that people have, and one of Benny’s is healing. You should take advantage of any gifts that others have. However, your faith should be in the anointing that you have!

The mystery is not that Christ lives in some television evangelist, but that His anointing is in all believers. Believe that, and you’ll overcome.

To Rub

The word “anoint” originally comes from the word meaning to “rub.” A person under the Old Covenant was anointed when the elders rubbed anointing oil on him, hence, the word rub.

When someone resembles another person, we sometimes say, “That person is rubbing off on him.” The same is true with the anointing. Christ starts to rub off on you through the anointing working in you. You start to resemble Christ because of the anointing.

How did Christ react when He saw a need? He met the need. He healed, cast out demons, calmed storms, multiplied bread, and even raised the dead. Listen: His anointing is in you to do those things as well.

Say, “I’m anointed to heal the sick, I’m anointed to cast out demons, and I’m anointed to raise the dead!” Believe that, act like it’s so, and you’ll see God’s anointing in you work.

Recipe for the Anointing Oil

Many people do not know what the anointing in like. I found a passage that describes three characteristics of the anointing.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil…Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on men’s bodies and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. (Exod 30:22-24 and 31-32)

At first glance this passage seems rather odd. It doesn’t seem to fit into the main teaching of the Bible. However, everything in the Bible is there to teach us.

God gives the recipe for the anointing oil, because through the recipe we discover several important truths about the anointing.

The main ingredient mentioned is olive oil. Not simply any kind of oil. It must be olive oil. Why olive oil?

Olive oil is made by pressing olives through stone wheels. Once the olives are firmly pressed, oil flows. The lesson we learn is this: the more pressure we are put under, the more the anointing flows.

I don’t know about you, but God works greater in me when I’m under pressure.

Pressure should make us into better saints. If you find yourself getting worse under pressure, it’s because you are depending on yourself and not the anointed One and His anointing in you. This goes along with what Paul said about him and his companions:

…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor 1:8-9)

The best in all of us will never be detected when things are going well, but only when tests and trials come our way. The anointing works best under pressure.

Myrrh

The second main ingredient to the anointing oil is myrrh. Myrrh is a sticky, gummy substance that is hard to remove. The lesson is simple: God’s anointing is permanent.

If God would have skipped myrrh, then the only liquid element would have been oil, and oil is slippery. It would have given the impression that the anointing slides off of us easily. Many believers think this way.

If they mess up, then they believe they are not anointed. They feel that God is looking for reasons to take away His power that He gave them. He’s not.

Jesus said about the Holy Spirit that He will abide with you forever (John 14:16). Concerning Himself, Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Like glue, the anointing sticks on you.

Sweet

The final ingredients were sweet smelling fragrances. God is showing that His anointing is sweet, not sour or bitter.

I’ve noticed that when a preacher preaches constantly with anger, people will comment, “Oh, he’s really anointed!” Yet another may preach with kindness and love, and people say, “He’s sweet!” But then don’t see him as anointed.

The truth is, the second preacher was anointed, while the first was not. Don’t associate meanness or harshness with the anointing.

It takes the anointing to constantly preach with love and patience. It’s human nature to get angry at people when they don’t seem to obey the Lord.

The anointing works best when you walk in love towards people.

Don’t Sweat

An important commandment that God gave ministers under the previous covenant was to not sweat.

They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire. (Ezek 44:18)

Sweat stinks. This is why we wear perfume and cologne. The anointing oil contained sweet perfume, so that the sweat could not be smelt on the minister.

It is so important that you don’t depend on the sweat of the brow to overcome, but instead, depend on the sweet, smelling anointing oil. Through faith in the Anointed One and His anointing, you can be Nike Man!

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