I was worshiping this morning, finally emerging from a dark cloud that had been over me for a little over a week. I’ve been joyless. This morning, while worshiping, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the present message in the church is stealing the joy out of God’s people and making them ineffective. What message? The Message of Me.
The message that it’s all about us. That it’s all about favor and prosperity and reaping. The message that with enough of this and enough of that, we will be truly happy and our lives will be a testimony to how awesome God thinks we are. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
We have become shipwrecked in our faith, church, because we are living in a fallen world listening to a doctrine that encourages us to exalt ourselves and selfishly pray that God exalts us too. God, give me this and that. I’ve earned it. Shouldn’t my life look like I’m living for you? Don’t you care that I prosper? Prosper me!
I’m not pointing fingers. I’ve been listening and taking this message to heart for a really long time. I am about to take my new car on a very long roadtrip down to Florida for my first family vacation! God is prospering us, and for this I prayed. I don’t dispute Jeremiah 29:11 because I like it, and I like when God gives favor to His people.
But I’m also lacking joy most of the time.
The Holy Spirit said to me, “How can you say ‘He must increase, and I must decrease’ if you are always asking God to make much of you? To exult your present circumstances. You have it backwards.”
We have no lasting joy or peace, church, because we expect our circumstances to be indicative of how God feels about us. Bad day? “God, did I do something wrong?” Bad week? “God, what did I do? Just tell me!” Bad month? “God, please! I love you! I’m sorry! Whatever it was, I’m so sorry!!” Bad year or years? “God. Hates. Me.”
Let me tell you something true: God loves you. You will, like Paul, know both plenty and want, and in both of these times, God will still love you. He is crazy about you. He loves you so much that, before you were conceived and had done neither right nor wrong, He sent Jesus to redeem you back to Himself because He loves you. We live in a fallen, war-torn world and every day that we live, Satan is attacking us and accusing us before our Father. Read Zechariah 3, when Satan accused Joshua before the Lord. Joshua was guilty by all accounts, but Jesus stood and said, “The Lord rebuke you! … Is he not a branch plucked from the fire?”
God loves you. Your circumstances merely reflect the living here. The days of plenty remind us of God’s goodness and the days of want remind us who our source is and where our hope lies. This is truth worth rejoicing! Neither height nor depth, present nor future, angels nor demons, life nor death … nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of Christ. We have to know this, church, because perilous times have come and are coming still. They will touch us. Not because God hates us, but because we are His and darkness must reign a bit. We must find joy in something more solid and enduring than our circumstances. Throw any other Gospel out the window. It’s trash, and the Bible says that such doctrine will lead you astray.