The way you think determines the course of your life. Today's look at prosperity is absolutely general and all-inclusive in its application. It can be claimed by anyone, anywhere, at any time-for those who will fulfill the clearly stated conditions.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you out of truths that have made the difference between success and failure in my life and can do the same in yours.
First, let me say “Thank you” to those of you who’ve been writing to me. Before I finish this talk we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. Feel free to share with us your personal needs, your problems, your prayer requests.
For the past two weeks I’ve been sharing with you on the theme, “Walking Through the Land of God’s Promises.” I’m going to continue with the same theme throughout this week.
In the Old Testament, under a leader named Joshua, God brought His people into a promised land; but in the New Testament, under a leader named Jesus, God brings His people into a land of promises. So it’s Old Testament, a promised land; New Testament, a land of promises. In the Old Testament God gave Joshua a specific way to gain possession of the promised land. It was step by step, stage by stage, area by area. It’s summed up in Joshua 1:3, where God says:
“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you...” (NAS)
It’s the same with us in the New Testament. The way in which we enter into our inheritance is exactly the same. It is promise by promise, stage by stage, area by area. As we place our foot upon each new promise of God, we possess that much more of our inheritance.
In my talks this week I’m going to focus on two main areas of our inheritance, the areas of prosperity and healing. In previous talks we’ve already looked at the comprehensive promise of prosperity and success which God gave to Joshua in Joshua 1:8:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all this is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (NAS)
Notice that promise, “You will make your way prosperous and you will have success.” We summed up the three basic conditions that Joshua had to fulfill as follows: first, think the Word of God; second, speak the Word of God; third, act the Word of God. Certainly that promise given in Joshua 1:8 is as positive and complete as any promise could be. However, it was given to one individual in one particular situation.
Today we’re going to look at a promise of prosperity which is absolutely general and all-inclusive in its application. It can be claimed by anyone, anywhere, at any time, who will fulfill the clearly stated conditions. I’m going to repeat that. The promise that we’re going to look at today is absolutely general and all-inclusive. It can be claimed by anyone, anywhere, at any time, who will fulfill the stated conditions.
We’re going to turn now to the opening verses of Psalms. Psalm 1:1-3. In essence, the book of Psalms is a book of praise and thanks to God for the blessedness of being related to Him and knowing Him and walking in His way. And this blessedness is set forth very clearly right at the opening of the book of Psalms. Psalm 1:1-3:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit inn its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (NAS)
Let’s look now at the promises. They are really in four sections. The first one: The man who fulfills the conditions will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water. “Firmly planted” indicates a tree whose roots go down so deep into the soil that it cannot be shaken or overthrown by winds or storms. So the first picture we have, or the first part of the picture is of a man who’s strong, steadfast, unshakable. He’s not moved by adversity or unfavorable circumstances. His roots go down so deep that such things do not shake him, overthrow him.
Then it’s also stated that his roots go down by the streams of water, so that always his roots have access to water which, of course, is conveyed up through the roots into the tree and gives life and health to the whole tree. He’s not dependent upon the temporary rainfall or the temporary shortage of rain, but he’s in a place and in a relationship with streams of water that flow continually. And so he derives his supply of water from these streams that do not change with the climate.
Then the second part of the picture is that he yields his fruit in season, he’s a fruitful person. And God requires fruit in the lives of all of us. He says in the New Testament, “every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is going to be cut down and cast into the fire.” Here’s the secret of yielding good fruit, of meeting God’s requirements, enjoying God’s favor and blessing.
Thirdly, it says his leaf or his foliage does not wither. The leaf is the part of the tree that shows the most. So I think that picture indicates that such a man presents a picture of prosperity. You look at him and you know that he’s flourishing. It’s seen in his eyes, in his carriage, in his clothing, in everything there’s just that atmosphere of well-being.
And finally, the promise on which we want to dwell most: whatever he does, he prospers. Anything he does, he prospers. He never knows failure, he never knows frustration. He’s so completely in line with God’s Word and God’s purposes that everything he does goes through with the blessing of God upon it. What a beautiful picture, what a beautiful promise.
We’ve looked at the promises. Now of course, we’ve got to look at the conditions. There are five conditions that are stated: three negative and two positive.
First of all, we’ll look at the negative conditions. The first one is that such a man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. He doesn’t get his advice and his input from the wrong source. How would we define “the counsel of the wicked”? I’ll suggest to you some words or phrases that could easily be associated with wicked counsel. First of all, it could probably be “unethical.” In other words, it would be counsel that would lead us to treat other people in a wrong way. And the advice and instruction of the Bible is that we treat others as we want them to treat us.
Secondly, the counsel of the wicked is often “dishonest,” it leads to shady practices. Maybe to fudging income tax returns or in some way not being honest in the handling of money and accounts. That’s one obvious possibility.
Thirdly, the counsel of the wicked is often “immoral,” it leads us to acts that are contrary to the law of God in the area of morality.
Fourthly, the counsel of the wicked is “wrongly motivated,” it’s not centered in God, it’s not in line with God.
And fifthly, which really follows out of that, the counsel of the wicked isn’t in line with God’s principles, it runs contrary to the principles that govern the universe. Therefore, ultimately it’s doomed to failure.
Secondly, the second negative condition: Such a man must not stand in the path of sinners. This indicates a different lifestyle and different fellowship. He doesn’t “hang around” in the wrong place. He doesn’t get his inspiration in the bar or in some other low place where the wrong kind of people gather. He has a lifestyle that’s different and his friends are different. His whole associations are different.
Thirdly, he does not sit in the seat of scoffers. The “seat of scoffers,” to me indicates an attitude of determined cynicism. A dark, skeptical view of life which prevails all too often in the world of business today and which, I believe, is a sure path to frustration and failure.
Notice in these three negative conditions there’s a slowing up process. Such a man begins by walking, then he stands, he ends up sitting. In other words, his position and his situation get worse and worse as it goes on.
Now let’s look at the positive conditions. These are twofold. First of all, such a man delights in the law of the Lord. He takes his pleasure in the Word of God, in the revelation of God’s truth. We need to understand the meaning of the word “law,” the Hebrew word “Torah”, which is, of course, familiarly used amongst Jewish people today.
We sometimes think of “Torah” or law as just a set of rules, but it’s not that. The root meaning of the word is “that which shows the way.” The Torah is that revelation of God which shows us the way we ought to live if we desire God’s favor and God’s blessings. So such a man meditates in that, delights himself in that and, as a result of delighting himself in that, he meditates in that, his thoughts center around it all the time. And in that meditation, he’s like the tree that’s drawing its water from the streams that flow nearby. He is drawing new life and new strength and new inspiration. I cannot too much emphasize the importance of right meditation. I believe that really is the key to true prosperity. You cannot think wrong and live right. And you cannot live right and think wrong. In other words, your thinking is going to determine the course of your life. So that’s the picture of a man who is like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Whatever he does prospers.
Our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of prosperity. I’ll be explaining one special and specific way to prosperity.