November 12, 2021
Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
When my oldest son, David, was 4 or 5, we began working on memorizing some short scripture texts. One day he rounded the corner with great excitement and shouted, “I finally rememberized it!” I corrected, “Oh, great David, you mean you memorized it.” And then I remembered that I was the student in this classroom. He said what he meant and this has been teaching me ever since. We are well familiar with the rote practice of memorization. Repeat it over and over and over again until you can say it without looking at it. Take the exam. . . and flush. I have memorized so many things over the course of my life, aced so many tests, and I’m sure I got a ton out of it, I just have no idea what. You too? It’s a sure fire way to pass the test and fail the real course.
So how is rememberizing different? Memorization is the quick loading of the short term memory. Rememberization is the slow loading of the long term memory. My grandmother, suffering the worst kind of dementia near the end of her life, could not remember who we were, but she had the Lord’s Prayer on demand. She couldn’t even remember who she was but queue up the Apostles Creed and she was off to the races. Rememberizing comes from the sequence of a way of reading that becomes hearing and mouthing, a way of ruminating that becomes holding and meditating—day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Remember Psalm 1 again concerning the one whose “delight is in the Word of the Lord and on his Word he meditates day and night.” What is that person like.
“They are like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. Whatever they do prospers.”
This is the real prosperity Gospel. See it there in today’s text.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
The false prosperity gospel is a transactional formula. If you do this, then God will do that. If you have a certain manifestation of faith or claim the Word of God in a particular way, then God will be bound to grant you the brand of prosperity you desire—namely worldly wealth and perfect health. It is prosperity on the world’s terms. The real prosperity gospel is a transcendent faith. It is about becoming a particular kind of person, a person imbued with divine qualities, who walks in deep humility, profound authority and breathtaking love, and whose life prospers in super surprising and extraordinary ways—even in the most difficult circumstances and losses imaginable. They succeed like a flourishing tree succeeds, not producing but bearing fruit. Their success comes not from a slavish striving after some outcome but from a deep and sustained surrendering to Jesus. In this way of life, this way of delighting oneself in the Lord, we come to desire the life Jesus desires for us. We grow to love in the ways Jesus loves. And this, my friends, is the real success in life, the success that leaves long and profound legacy in your wake.
In short, we are going to have to learn a way of approach to God and God’s Word that is constitutionally for God and not for ourselves.
Be strong and very courageous.
[And by the way, I’m thinking and praying about leading a course in January on just this—Learning How to Read the Bible Better. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do it. If you are interested, Let me know here.]
Father, thank you that your first words to us were actually a command to flourish. We confess, we don’t really understand flourishing. We set our sights so low, and our interests are so self-oriented. I am so weary of the “more” the world markets and advertises. I want the flourishing of Jesus and his Kingdom, the flourishing of trust and rest and love and extraordinary generosity. I am so tired of trying to perfect myself for others approval. I am ready for the flourishing of blessedness in brokenness, of beautiful scars, of the extravagant power of love. Come Holy Spirit, and sow the Word of God, as the Script of my life, bring me into the deep character of Jesus, for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.
Do you know we call it when human beings posture themselves to try and get God to bless their vision of prosperity and success? Idolatry. Do you know what we call it when human beings posture themselves to receive God’s will for success and his ways of flourishing? Worship. How are you making the shift?
P.S. — ENCOURAGEMENT #12 (LAST ONE)
ENCOURAGEMENT #12 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: We are going to sing together, pray together, gather around God’s Word together, hear from Jesus together, and start a fire together that will never burn out. Come on! I want to see you there. Deeper Advent = Better Christmas. You can see all the details here. If you already have the book, The Christian New Year, be sure to choose that option on the dropdown to avoid buying another book—OR EVEN BETTER—get another book and invite a friend to join us. COME ON!
For the Awakening,