Don’t Deny Reality…Change it!

In one of my first blogs I told the story of the veteran missionary who told his wife and children that they would always be poor because of their call to missions. Here is his story quoted from my earlier blog:

With tears in his eyes the veteran missionary looked at me. He had gathered his children and grandchildren around him at the front of the church building. I had just finished teaching that God wanted to be the God of “more than enough” for his children. Generally as I proclaim the message of biblical prosperity, people respond and ask for prayer to be free from poverty. But I realized God was doing something different as this man approached me with his extended family gathered around him.

       Here was a precious man of God and his wife who had spent much of their lives on the mission field. As they approached me, he gathered his sons and daughters and put his arms around them. He wanted me to pray for his whole family. He shared that early in his life he felt called to the mission field and he had told his wife and family that they would “always be poor” because they were called to be missionaries. He went on to share about their experience of never having enough. When they were on the mission field and when they were home, they never seemed to have enough…always barely scraping by. And now he saw the same lack in the lives of his children. He wanted me to pray for them and break the power of these words he had spoken over his family. He wanted his family to meet and know God as El Shaddai, the God of more than enough.

        Knowing the power of our own words, I asked him to pray first and cancel his words of financial lack over himself and his family. He stood in his place of God-given leadership authority over his family and renounced his words of “always being poor”. Then I followed in a prayer of financial blessing for the family as God met them in a beautiful time of prayer and restoration.

Our words are so important. This man’s words bore the fruit of poverty and lack in his family even for years after they were back from the mission field. He felt the Lord prompting him to retract those words. The spiritual principle here is simply stated in Proverbs 18.

From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:20-21).

When we speak faith filled words about our finances, we are not deny a financial reality, we are speaking words that change that reality.

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A Prosperous Person Will Speak Blessing Over Their City

Government officials are sometimes called the city Fathers. Fathers want their sons to succeed. It seems appropriate that those in political offices would work for the good and prosperity of the city. The following is the prayer that William Penn offered for the city of Philadelphia. It is still inscribed on the outside wall of City Hall in Philadelphia.

And Thou Philadelphia the virgin settlement of this province named before thou wert born, what care, what service, what travail have there been to bring thee forth and preserve thee from such as would abuse and defile thee. O that thou mayest be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee, that faithful to the God of thy mercies in the life of righteousness, thou mayest be preserved to the end. My soul prays to God for thee that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, that thye children may be blest of the Lord and thy people saved by His power. 

This was a prayer for the prosperity of the city. In 2008 as a sitting, elected school board member in our local school district, I had the opportunity to pray a prayer of blessing and prosperity over a new Middle School building we were opening. This same prayer was then mounted on the wall inside the main lobby of the building.

An intercessor friend of mine recently met with the mayor of a large US city of six million people. The input he gave him was to say a blessing over the city each morning as per Proverbs 11:11, “Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.” Many times local citizens will say negative things about their city, but a prosperous person will speak blessing over his city.

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Christianity Birthed the Middle Class

Historically, Christianity has brought much prosperity to society. Alvin Schmidt points out that before Christianity the Greek/Roman viewpoint of physical labor was very low. It was only suitable for slaves and the lower classes. The Christian view of labor and work as honorable and God-pleasing was in direct conflict with the Greek/Roman idea. This view set them apart in honoring work, but also they prospered economically because of their strong work ethic. Before Christians brought dignity to work and labor, there was not much of a middle class. People were either rich or poor and the poor were slaves. But with the spread of Christianity the economic phenomenon of the middle class arose which is now present in all Western societies.1

Francis Schaeffer points out one of the practical results of Christianity as transforming the workplace during the time of the Reformation; with the result that all the vocations in life came to have dignity. The vocation of honest merchant or housewife had as much value as the King, a radical thought for leaders in this time in history and a welcome relief to the followers of the day2.

However it does take time for a whole city to prosper, A business man I know is fond of saying, “If you are lost 30 miles into the woods you have to walk 30 miles to get out.” How does this help us? If we, or the population of a whole city, have been thinking one way for a many years it will take some time to reverse this. It is possible, but it is not easy and it does not happen by accident. Not only will it take time, but it will take like minded individuals collectively believing for the city or region to experience prosperity. In future blogs we will see how this happens biblically.

  • Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity changed the world : formerly titled Under the influence. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
  • Schaeffer, Francis A. How should we then live? : the rise and decline of western thought and culture. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2005.
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Was the Prison a Better Place with Joseph in Charge?

We have been talking about Joseph being a blessed to be a blessing to those around him. He prospered in Potiphar’s household. Just when it seemed like Joseph had advanced as far as he could with Potiphar, God allowed something to happen that sent Joseph to prison; only to see the prison blessed and become a better place.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did (Genesis 39:20-23).

Was the prison a better place to work as a guard or even be a prisoner when Joseph was in charge? Somehow I think it was. The rest of the story is that Joseph’s prosperous soul and advancing mindset soon opened up the door for him to lead Egypt during a very challenging time of natural disaster. The whole nation was blessed by Joseph’s leadership. Joseph personally prospered and so those in Potiphar’s household, the prison and eventually all of Egypt prospered. We must change our thinking first and eventually the finances of our whole city and region can prosper as well.

It is amazing how historically, Christianity has brought much prosperity to society. We will look at this more closely in the next blog.

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God’s Presence Brings Prosperity

God’s presence brings a sense of blessing to individuals and to the place where they live. If we examine the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament we find something interesting.

The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had (1 Chronicles 13:14).

The Ark, which represented God’s presence, brought prosperity wherever it went. So if God’s people prosper, then the cities in which they live can prosper too.

Joseph’s prosperity affected the places he lived. Earlier in the blog we looked at the life of Joseph and saw that he had a prosperous soul. He often encountered opposition, but he always found a way to prosper. In addition, whatever physical location Joseph was in seemed to prosper as well; first Potiphar’s household, then the prison where Joseph stayed and finally the whole nation of Egypt. Let’s take a closer look: his brothers sold him as a slave to a traveling caravan when he was a teenager. From there he was traded off as a slave to an Egyptian official named Potiphar. This presented a huge challenge, but not for long, as we read in Genesis.

 The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate (Genesis 39:2-6).

Potiphar saw the blessing in Joseph’s life and it convinced him to put his whole household in Joseph’s hands. He saw that everything he put under Joseph’s authority multiplied and prospered. Potiphar entrusted everything he had to Joseph’s care. Eventually, he did not even know how much money he had anymore. God’s blessing on Joseph was making Potiphar rich. That is the Biblical truth.

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Your Village Can Prosper Too

The following is another example of God’s financial blessing on a community, but this time it is a village in Africa prospering. Yes…God’s word is so practical it works in developing nations as well.

Hesbone Odindo now leads the DOVE churches in the Kisumu region of Western Kenya. They first started a small group in 2005 in Hesbone’s home village of Kadawa, approximately 400 km from Nairobi. This group grew into a church called Restoration Community Church which was officially launched in January 2006 with thirty members. Today, the church has multiplied into five churches with over 1000 people attending. But Hesbone and his wife Violet did not stop with just spiritual transformation of church members.They had a vision for physical transformation as well.

They worked and obtained financing to oversee the transition of village swampland to banana tree groves. Because of the growth of the church and the addition of the banana trees, more than ten new jobs were created. New bore holes were drilled for clean water for the villagers to drink; eliminating the disease of Cholera which had previously claimed 5-10 lives each year. Because of the high number of people whose immune systems were weakened by HIV, historically four people a week died from malaria. The Kadawa church introduced mosquito nets which cut the malaria death rate to one per month. As Hesbone followed the call of God to his native village, his village began to prosper.

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We Lost 10,000 Jobs When the Plant Closed

But is this possible? Can a whole city prosper? Can a whole city be lifted out of poverty? There are those who are trying. Listen to Steve Fricke’s story from Wilmington, Ohio. Steve is both a pastor and a businessman. A couple of years previous to this, a major employer in their community closed which eliminated 10,000 jobs from the area. Steve writes,

With our community experiencing double digit unemployment the local businesses have suffered.  For over two years the local community pastors have been meeting weekly to pray for spiritual and economic revival. We specifically are asking for the abandoned store fronts and factories to be refilled with prosperous Kingdom minded business leaders.  And we are asking for Gods creativity to be released among area believers to start new business and fill the old ones.

As a business person myself, I recognize the need to encourage the business owners to dig the ditches in preparation for God’s provision to be released.  We can sit around complaining and worry about what is going to happen to us or we can dig some ditches.  For some this means hitting the pavement again to make sales calls or expand their market territory.  For others it means dreaming again about what their business’ can become and the importance it carries in the community and in the Kingdom. By that I mean keeping people employed and continuing to contribute to the overall economy. Some may need to go back to what they did in the beginning to make their business a success.  But the need is encouragement for their business talents to be released in expectation of God’s provision.   

Specifically, we have commissioned two retired business men to visit each establishment owned by a Christian.  One of these men is a retired banker and the other a retired customer service representative. They are praying with the business owners and their employees.  They are asking God for prophetic words for that specific business.  They are offering their experience and expertise in giving ideas and consumer perspectives so the owners can make adjustments if necessary. And they are helping the owners connect with others who have ideas or have overcome obstacles and who might offer additional encouragement.  I personally have been able to assist one establishment in a cost savings plan which yielded the owner more than $9000.00 in savings this year.

Secondly, the community pastors have yearly held a ‘Be the Church Day’ where our congregations come together, as one force with no church labels, to do service projects around our city.  This year we are concentrating on blessing our downtown business district.  We will clean, paint, wash windows, do repairs, sweep sidewalks, refresh planters and mulch, clean restrooms and do anything else which will let the owners know in a practical way that we care and we are praying for them.   

When you are in the desert and all you see around you is dry sand, you need a word of encouragement to dig the ditches for God’s provision.  He is good and faithful always and I am confident the ditches will run with fresh provisional water in Wilmington again.

Steve’s reference to digging ditches is taken from 2 Kings 3:16 where Elisha told the Kings who were in need of water to dig ditches. They followed his direction and the next day the ditches were filled with the water they needed. It was both Biblical and practical.

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God Wants Our City to Prosper

Psalm 128 is a song that was literally sung by the children of Israel as they traveled up the hills to the old city of Jerusalem for their annual feasts and celebrations. It was a song of joy celebrating God’s blessing on vocation, home and family. One of the things they sang about was the prosperity of the city they loved…Jerusalem. Let’s read it.

“How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be. Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!”

Though Jerusalem holds a special place in the hearts of many Christians, most of us don’t live in Jerusalem. God wants to prosper us in the city where we physically live. Practically speaking…we need jobs. Our neighbors need jobs. Our children will need jobs. It is Biblical too. When Jeremiah was speaking of God’s desires for the Children of Israel in exile, he commissioned them to seek the prosperity of the city in which they were living.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7

Many Christians are fond of stating that heaven is their home and they are just visitors here on earth. Though this is true in the light of eternity, God’s desire is for us to see the cities, villages and towns in which we live prosper.

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Your City Can Prosper Too

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a young man named Roger Bannister from Oxford University began to have a dream – to run the 1600 Meter race in under 4 minutes. It had been attempted by many runners but it was a barrier that no one was able to break. Roger became convinced that it was possible. No matter what others told him, he simply would not believe their words for he came to believe this barrier could be broken.

On May 5, 1954, Banister broke the barrier running the 1600 Meter race in under 4 minutes. Amazingly enough, before the year was over a number of other athletes ran the same race in under four minutes.  In one race, five men broke the record at one time. What had happened? The barrier to accomplishing this great athletic feat did not exist in their physical bodies, it was in their minds. It was in their thinking. One person broke through into a new possibility and others quickly followed.

What barriers do we have in our minds that keep us from accomplishing all that God has for us? From the scriptures we have already learned that we will prosper as our thinking prospers. But let’s take that a practical step further. What if there is a Biblical model where our prosperous thinking can be combined with others to impact our city or the region in which we live?

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Wind and Hail

So we have been looking at examples of how God’s spirit can direct us to Biblical prosperity. Here is another example. A friend of mine and his partner are in the construction business. They do remodeling of homes in need of repair or upgrade. Business was a little slow a couple years ago so my friend felt like the Lord was prompting him to put a sign advertising their business out on a street corner in a neighborhood near where he lived. It seemed like a totally random act of advertising to the point of him questioning why he should do it. But he followed through because he felt a prompting of the Lord.

Within a few weeks of him putting out the sign a violent storm came through the area with large amounts of hail accompanying it. The hail damage was extensive, in many cases it shredded the soft vinyl that was used by many builders for house siding in our area. So the damage from the storm required repair and many of the people in need of repair called my friends business because the sign was right there. They were swamped with hail damage repair business and saw a huge increase in their finances.

Did God cause the storm? I don’t think so but he was motivated to prophetically stir my friend to put out a sign before the storms damage. This sounds like God’s supernatural direction to me. It does not bet much more practical than this.

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