Where Does Prosperity Come From? By Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

There are few people in the world who don’t want to prosperous, whether it’s prosperous in business, ministry or health. Culture teaches us that prosperity is up to us. We work and strive, spending long hours in the office or at the volunteer job. Some religiously buy Lotto tickets in hopes that they snag the million dollar winner. But I’ve learned over the years that prosperity and success are gifts from God, and he wants us to steward them well. In Job 1 when Satan and God have a discussion about the upstanding and God-fearing Job, Satan said, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is!” (Job 1:9-10, NLT)

Many of us know the story of Job. God took everything away—Job’s children, livestock and health, but in Job 1:21 Job says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job knew that everything he possessed came from the hand of God and God had the right to remove everything. He was only a steward of the property.

That’s the way we feel about the house we live in. Our names may be on the home loan, but we believe it’s God’s house. This week is my doctoral in-class residency, required once a semester. One of my classmates will be based out of here this week. When we tape television shows, we always offer guests a place to stay at our home and we’ve had several pastors stay in our guest room when they are passing through. Once, a friend and her family lived here for a few weeks because there new house was not ready yet. This is one way we can bless others with the blessing we have received.

I believe that when we acknowledge God as provider, he is pleased and it gives Him glory. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” And when we follow Jesus we should not worry about provision. Jesus said, “‘That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!” (Luke 12:22-24).

Today, will you join me in thanking God for everything He’s given us—both large and small? Like any good Father, God wants His children to prosper.

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11, BSB).

“What We Think is Not Always What it Is” by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Have you ever thought that someone was angry with you when they actually weren’t? They just had something going on in their own life that made them appear distant. Or maybe you hadn’t heard from a friend for a long time and you deduced they no longer want to be a part of your life, when in reality they were in a difficult season requiring total focus.

Sometimes what we think is not always what it is.

This week, I was reading in 1 Chronicles 19 where the King of the Ammonites, Nahash, died, and Israel’s King David wanted to show kindness to Nahash’s son, Hanun, upon the death of his father. David sent messengers to the land of Ammon to comfort Hanun. But Hanun listened to the wrong voices. His princes said, “Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Did his servants not come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” (NKJV) So Hanun decided to humiliate David’s servants by shaving them, and cutting off their garments in the middle, exposing them on their backsides. David’s loving intentions were misinterpreted, eventually leading to a war that David’s army won.

Sometimes what we think is not always what it is. Our wrong thinking can lead to worse situations like what happened with the Ammonites.

If you are spiraling—without all the facts—it’s important to go to prayer about what you are thinking. It’s also good to have a gentle conversation with whomever you think has wronged you. It’s the best way to find out and face the truth.

Remember Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). It’s always best to give the benefit of the doubt and think the best until you actually know what’s going on.

Let’s Give Peter a Break by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Do you label people for the bad they’ve done—or the good?

Most of us remember the disciple, Peter, for the fact that he denied Jesus three times in the courtyard as Jesus stood trial. Here’s the account:

“One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, ‘You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But Peter denied it. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, ‘This man is definitely one of them!’ But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said ‘You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.’ Peter swore, ‘A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!’ and Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And he broke down and wept.”

On the surface, this scenario looks like failure and weakness on Peter’s part. How could he deny Jesus, knowing what he knows and after seeing what he saw for the past three years?

But what I realized while reading this passage this week, is that Peter was the bravest of all the disciples. He actually made himself vulnerable by going to where Jesus was on trial. There was no mention of the other disciples being there because they were probably still in hiding. Peter was brave enough to be in the courtyard, most likely close enough so he could hear the proceedings.

After seeing Peter from a different perspective, I realized I needed to give this future bold man of faith a break. If I had been in that band of early disciples, I know the courtyard outside Jesus’s trial would have been the last place I would have gone for fear of being arrested. Who am I to judge Peter?

So this can apply to current day. Sometimes we expect too much of our religious leaders and we are quick to judge when there is a chink in the armor. Maybe it makes us feel better to be critical, because deep down, we know we could never do what they do.

Perhaps today is the day to look at any perceived weaknesses in our faith leaders from a different perspective. Peter did not stay in that place of rejection for long. As we know, he became one of the boldest disciples who was not afraid to proclaim the truth. He was eventually martyred for his beliefs. The failure at the courtyard represents the failure that we all experience as we follow Jesus. Some days we are closer than others. Other times we are in hiding. Over the years I know there have been times when I, too, have denied Jesus. But I am thankful that my past rejections do not define who I am as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.

Trusting When it’s Dry by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)

Summer should be a time of rest. A time when we grow spiritually because we have more leisure time to stick our nose in an inspirational book or expand our quiet time in the morning. But what I’ve found is that the summer can be one of the driest times both weather-wise and spiritually.

I’m not sure why this happens, but it may be because we travel during the summer and we get out of our patterns of connecting with God. For myself, over the past few weeks, I was immersed in a convention, spent a week in Hawaii, and I’m now speaking out of town this weekend. Quiet times can be rushed—one-on-one conversations with God can be timed and brief.

So it’s during these stretches that we have to be more intentional about connecting. We have to trust God even in the dry seasons. Trust can be a discipline.

I’m still personally struggling with the fact that I thought I was hearing God correctly about a recent scenario, but discovered I was wrong. Instead of retreating into even drier land when I am disappointed that I did not hear His voice correctly, I have to trust that God sees the bigger picture, that He is a good God and there is purpose in everything. Sometimes the answers will come much later.

We also have to pray that the Holy Spirit will refresh us during the dry times spiritually. This morning, I prayed that He would fill me and that I would experience His presence today. Although I don’t feel as connected, on faith I am certain the LORD will answer my prayer. I also know that I need a day totally immersed in God’s word and prayer in order to saturate the dry land. I am looking for an opening on my calendar and will book an all-day appointment with God.

So if you are also feeling a bit dry on your spiritual journey, be intentional about reconnecting. Don’t pull away further. Be sure to trust God even though He seems very far away. I promise—the dry season will come to an end.

Grounded in Mobile by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

I hate letting people down and desire to honor commitments. James 5:12 says, “…let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (ESV)

But some things are simply out of our control.

After my husband Jeff and I spent a wonderful few days in Fair Hope, Alabama celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, it was time for us to return home. I had a speaking engagement at a live event the next day at lunch, so it was important to get back.

However, a massive storm system hovered over Alabama spawning destructive tornadoes across the state. It was not safe for our 5:00 p.m. flight back to Texas to depart. After countless delays, the crew eventually timed out and the flight was canceled—rescheduled for 7:30 a.m. the next morning.

I began to calculate how I would still make it to my speaking engagement. Okay, once arriving at DFW, we can retrieve our bags, and my husband can drive me to the location, and I can still speak. But when the 7:30 a.m. flight was also cancelled, I knew it was over. I could not honor my commitment.

So the question at that point was: “Do I continue to fret about what I cannot control or do I let it go?”

That may be a question for all of us. What situation is out of control in your life? Do you dwell on it 24/7 or do you release it to God?

In my case, as sad as I was about missing the luncheon, I had to let it go, and I had to trust God. I literally thought, I do not understand why this happened, but I trust you. I thought that maybe there was a divine appointment at the airport or an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone. Nothing like that happened, but in those many hours at the airport (it took us about 35 hours to get home) I was able to complete my schoolwork, so that was a positive.

When life presents something we cannot control, it’s important to turn it over to God because as Acts 17:28 says, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Our heavenly Father may be wanting to see if we trust Him even when a scenario doesn’t make sense.

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