Thanks for joining us on this journey of building a consistent habit of reading our Bibles every day. The Bible reading plan we are using this year can be found here: One Year Bible or here on the Bible app. As always, if you miss a day, don’t feel compelled to go back and catch up. Just skip it and start back on today’s date. I am reading the NLT this year, but feel free to use whatever version you prefer. Now here are some thoughts from today’s readings:
“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.“
– Mark 10:29-30
What Jesus promises Peter here is huge! We often think that our reward is only in heaven, but here Jesus says that there’s nothing we will give up in this life that the Lord won’t bless us for in this life. That’s huge. Now, he also promised persecutions, and we can’t leave that part out, but, equally, we can’t live out that God is promising earthly blessings to those who follow Him through a lifestyle of sacrifice.
Now, this may sound dangerous close to the “prosperity gospel” we hear some much about today. In western Christianity, all you have to do is mention that God wants to bless someone to get slapped with that label and branded a heretic. So, let’s get clear on what is and isn’t the prosperity gospel. It is the teaching that if you’re following Jesus the right way, you’re going to be rich and healthy all the days of your life. That’s the true definition of it, and the truth is, there are very, very few who preach that message. What it is not is teaching people that if you follow Christ, God will bless you. As we see here, that’s very Biblical.
There are some additional errors when teaching on God’s blessing that should be avoided, but do not qualify as “prosperity gospel”, though many who make these mistakes are branded that way. That too would be an error. There are some who will teach exclusively about the blessings of God, which is all true, without ever talking about the persecutions. We should be sure to do our best to teach any subject as balanced as possible.
The next one isn’t necessarily an error, but something in which we should proceed with much caution. Some will take up offerings claiming if someone gives, God will bless them. As we have already stated, that’s Biblical. But some will go further and may even say something like, “If you give $37 right now, God is going to bless you 100 fold.” Many label this as erroneous, but they would be the ones making the error. There’s nothing in the Bible that says God can’t speak that way. It may sound crazy to us, but the Bible is full of crazy things God told people to do. We don’t have to like it or support it, but we also shouldn’t judge it unless we know the person close enough to have a conversation with them about it. If we don’t, we should just focus on our own lives and those God has put us in relationship with, and let God judge others. However, if you feel like God is telling you to make a statement like the one above, proceed with caution. Though there is nothing in the Bible saying God can’t, there is nothing in the Bible to support such a claim either. Get some wise counsel. Ask yourself if you’re everything the Bible does say to do before you start trying to do things it doesn’t say to do. It would be very easy to slide into manipulation, pride, greed, and a host of other sins, which is what many fear about people who make such statements.
Back to the story at hand and what it has to teach us each personally. Are there relationships you need to break off? Is there a financial sacrifice you need to make? An offering you need to give? A risk you need to take? Jesus promised Peter that he would never lack for these things if he would make the sacrifice. He also promised persecution, but you will make it through that persecution with the help of your new relationships and resources the Lord will bless you with. The real question is, do we trust God enough to take Him at His word? Well, do you?
What sacrifices do you feel like God might be calling you to make? Have you judged someone, maybe like a tv preacher or evangelist, as preaching the prosperity Gospel, and now see you might have been a little unfair?