The Manipulation of God?

The prosperity message is freely preached today in our churches and many times it comes disguised.  Yesterday, I listened to a sermon that mentioned a ‘formula’ that would ‘make prayer work’ such that God would ‘rain blessings down’.  It’s disappointing to hear this message preached, because in my opinion, it truly diminishes the real love that God has for us.

You see, I believe that when God gives us something  – He gives it to us simply because He loves us. That’s it! Pure. Unconditional. Love.

However, this preaching of ‘prosperity prayers’ suggests that when we pray to God using a formula – it’s because we’re expecting to get something back – Blessings. Needs. Wants!

I have been repeatedly told that if I pay my tithe – God will bless me!  If I pay more offering, God will take care of my bills! If I pray like this – my prayer will be answered! If I meditate more, if I serve more, if I do…more… more…MORE… God will do more… MORE…MORE!

But the bottom line is…God’s blessings have absolutely nothing to do with anything I do, how faithful I think I am or how I have prayed my prayers.  He has already told us that our righteousness is as filthy rags. So, to even suggest that God’s blessings have anything to do with my behavior reduces God to a mere puppet, who responds and is manipulated according to my actions.

While I believe that God wanted to teach us how to pray, I think He was teaching us how Me holding the Bible to the back of Christ and demanding He love me.to honor Him. I do not believe He was teaching us how to pray so that we could use it as a formula to receive blessings. The idea of this sounds extremely manipulative – and in reality – it is.  We end up using the Bible and God’s promises to try to get things from God, that He really does not intend for us to have because they may not be in our best interest.  We can end up using the Bible to tell God what to do… to demand his love, a house, a car, more money and potentially things that really may not be good for us.

How many of you would feel honored if your child only ever helped you around the house based upon what they could get out of you?  Or if your spouse only ever put something into your relationship because it meant he or she could get something in return? While admittedly it seems to be the way things are done these days, with incentives, motivations and bribes being they way to get what you want but wouldn’t you rather  receive help or gifts simply out of love? Pure. Unconditional. Love?

It doesn’t mean that we cannot ask God for things, we should.  He tells us to ask, but our love and worship is not tied up in giving to get.  I think God laid His ground rules stating how He wanted to be treated, loved and respected and therefore when you pray … ‘do it like this’. This is God’s Love Language not his ‘formula’ for manipulation.  I wonder how much God wishes that we could just give Him love, worship and prayers simply to honor Him, without the strings. Pure. Unconditional. Love.

Yes – there are certain things I would expect to have ‘right’ before I approach God in prayer.  Love for Him, a ‘right heart’,  contrite spirit, forgiveness for others, a desire to get to know Him and learn His will for me.  But I’m not doing this to get anything  and furthermore, getting my way, needs or desires met really should be last. Nevertheless, if our prayers are based upon a formula to get our needs met – isn’t God going to see through this anyway? Are we not insulting God? We cannot fool God!

I don’t know about you, but if I listen to the concept of any kind of prosperity message, it is burdensome.  It adds another layer of works to my faith, and I know I cannot be saved by my works. Just as we like to feel loved and blessed, I think God wants to be loved and blessed too. So I just want to learn to sit in God’s presence and be in awe of Him. If God’s going to bless me – He going to do it  anyway- simply because He loves me.  Pure. Unconditional. Love.

 

Our Very Real Treasure

We are all broken and hiding our issues. We need to remember that in our weakness God is made strong, and during these moments of brokenness, God is carrying us, He is closest to us.

Broken Believers

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As Christians often our theology tells us that mental illness, depression, and bipolar disorder have no place in the believer’s life.  So we hide, sneaking into our sessions with our therapists, and then change the subject to minimize our exposure to direct questions. We have hidden our issues really well.
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But I would submit to you that it is we who are closest to the Kingdom of God. It is far easier for us to approach the Father, in our brokenness, humility, and lostness. We have needs; a sound mind, a healthy body and we know it. We have no illusions of wellness, nothing can convince us that we are well. We are not. We are broken and only our loving creator can mend us.
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You might say that the Church needs us. An Archbishop was given an ultimatum by the Huns who surrounded his cathedral. “You have 24…

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Could I? Would You?

Would I be welcome in your church if I showed you who I really was?

Could I take off this mask of pride and feel your warmth and tender love?

Would I be welcome in your home if I showed you all my pain?

Could I worship next to you in all my naked shame?

Could I cry, confess my sins, kneel down and have you pray?

Or would I hear your judging words as you turn and walk away?

Would I be welcome in your heart as a fallen child of God?

Would you show me His affection, His mercy and His love?

Would you gently wipe my tears and then hold me in your arms?

Or would you hold up your right hand and point me to the Psalms?

Would you love me at my worst with all my guilty stains?

Or would you sacrifice our friendship to protect your ‘holy’ name?

Would you stand by me when EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has walked away?

Would you help me on my feet, forgive and love me ANY WAY?

WOULD. YOU. BE. LIKE. JESUS?

WOULD YOU?