The True Prosperity Message
Submitted by Clay Sikes
Many years ago the Holy Spirit said to me, “Forgo the World’s System for your reward and gain the Kingdom’s Way of receiving. If you engage the World’s System, you will be dependent upon it for you’re your reward.” I have spent years learning the deep meaning and subsequent contrast of the two systems as a result of the above word. Essentially, I have come to conclude that these two systems are in constant competition – seeking individuals through which to apply their principles. Knowingly or unknowingly, we participate in one of the two systems daily. The World’s System is led by the god of this world, Satan, and is fraught with the traditions of this world. Our Lord, Jesus, leads the Kingdom’s Way.
While the effort here will be to contrast the two systems and their relationship to the prosperity message, I first believe it valuable to compare their similarities. First, spiritual forces to include angelic beings support the two systems. They both will produce a harvest if engaged, and lastly, they both are made up of many members who adhere to the “ways” of the system to which they are attached.
While these two systems are constantly in the forefront of choice in our daily life, I will attempt to focus on their contrast relating to the realm of finances and material blessing. It is important to point out however, that the World’s System is alive and well in many areas of the Church in addition to the financial arena.
During the mid 80’s through the early 90’s I embraced many financial problems. Raising two boys as a single parent, as well as managing almost $5,000,000.00 in existing debt from previous bad business dealings, I was in dubious financial condition. For years we literally trusted God for our next meal and other very basic necessities. Constrained by the Holy Spirit from declaring bankruptcy, we learned through these difficult years and hardship that God is faithful. Our needs were always met and our trust was never denied. The deposit made in me during this hour of my life would serve me well in the future for all too soon I would face these same problems again.
In early 1991, I began to hear the prosperity message, and as a result began to apply what I heard. The revelation of giving and the subsequent blessing it evoked was both exciting and challenging. I threw myself upon this word, applied its principles, intitially being led by the Holy Spirit to a concealed five dollar bill and subsequently sending it as I felt God had directed me. In relative short order, three years to be exact, I had supernaturally been able to erase the $5,000,000.00 of indebtedness and create another $5,000,000.00 in net worth – a $10,000,000.00 swing in 36 months. Coming out of years of an impoverished financial state, nobody could ever have convinced me that it didn’t work.
To everyone’s shock, most of all mine, by the end of 1997 I had again managed to lose the net worth and create another $5,000,000.00 in debt. While in the middle of this debacle we gave away everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to get God to move. Over the span of years we sowed almost three quarters of a million dollars, mostly to large ministries. We bypassed the poor, orphans, missions, and genuine needs in the Body of Christ to sow into these giants. I mention the amount we gave only to off set their (the big ministries) argument that we did not give enough. Before leaving the subject of this great financial swing in such a short time, I feel it imperative to mention that initially we were diligent to pray, get the mind of the Lord and give ONLY as he directed. By the way, we were not tithing at this time. Later, we made a law out of giving, many times without praying, and began tithing heavily, more a rote exercise in mathematics (10%) just like paying the power bill.On top of the tithe we paid huge offerings. Years later I realized that anything that is not done in faith is sin and my tithe check was never given in faith, it was simply obeying the new law I was being taught. For what it is worth, after almost four years of seeking God on this subject, God owns 100%, not 10 or 20 or any other number. When I receive now, I seek Him for what to do with it all.
I continued to practice what I had learned in the original prosperity message and continued to operate “MY FAITH” in “MY GIVING,” yet for unexplained reasons, it did not work any longer.With a new wife and new baby I faced many challenges in the natural, but now, for the first time in years, I needed fresh revelation as to the true prosperity message. What had worked so well for me for a season, now seemed to have little to no effect upon my finances. I was taught that the laws of prosperity would work for anyone who applies them. All I had to do was give large sums of money and God would return it to me in major proportions, and indeed this worked for a season.
Finding myself in the throws of financial distress, again down to the need for basics such as food, clothing, gasoline, house payments, power and water bills, etc., I again cried out to God for answers, specifically asking “why.” He would only answer with “My Mercy!”What I was soon to learn would become an important key for my life and financial future. Perhaps this word will apply to anyone who has present financial needs or feels challenged by the present day prosperity message.
The key for me was this; any changes that I desire to happen in my life, no matter what they may be, must always begin within me. My willingness to change things about myself will eventually cause the things I desire to happen in my life. The great change that God was calling in me was so contradictory to the present teaching that I had to completely retrain my thinking and destroy much of what had become tradition. This came about as a result of spending much time with the Lord and hours praying in the Spirit. The Lord once told me, “(Spiritual) ignorance often come disguised as tradition.” He began to tell me to release my concerns for money, increase my trust for him by being content with what I have. I was also shown to have faith in God, not faith in MY FAITH or faith in MY GIVING.
I will admit that with no money, no food, and at times without medicine for my child, I found it hard to learn to be content, but during a particular time of extreme need, I came to learn a great revelation. In the midst of this storm, God kept telling me to be content – I tried, but worry and anxiety overtook me constantly. On a Sunday afternoon in May 1998, the circumstances in the natural looked as bad as I had ever faced – losing home, car, power, water, and virtually all material possessions at once. It was only when I humbled myself and cried out to God that I was enabled to be content in spite of my extreme circumstances.
God moved supernaturally and soon, without explanation, I felt washed in His peace and knowledge that everything would be all right – Amazingly, He had given me the contentment I had asked for. As I sat basking in this miraculous state, I heard a horn honk in my front yard. It was a former employee whom I had not seen in two years. He didn’t live in Hinesville so I hadn’t spoken with him since leaving my employ two years earlier. At the very moment in time that I was being supernaturally washed with the contentment of God, he was passing through Hinesville on the way home some 30 miles away. While sitting a red light, God spoke to him to come to my house.
Not knowing my dreadful circumstances, and after a short greeting, He said, “Clay, I feel awful asking you this, but do you have a financial need?” Before I could answer he said, “I feel God wants me to bless you financially.” Though his gift did not take care of all of our immediate problems, we were able to take care of many vital necessities. I had a need and he was able to meet it, but of even greater importance, a great revelation was birthed in my spirit. “Godliness with contentment is great gain”(I Timothy 6:6). The contentment of God in us releases the anointing of God, which transitions the needs we have from the spiritual into the natural realm. Since this original “happening” this revelation has worked over and over again in our lives. Money has no power over me, because God is my supplier and my trust is in Him. I now enjoy a peace relative to finances that is unexplainable and has nothing to do with what is in my checkbook - in fact; I don’t care what is in my checkbook.
By seeking the things of God first, I released the hand of God to supply and meet all my needs. Contentment is in stark contrast to the modern day prosperity message, which says, “If you are not content with your present financial situation, you can do something about it. Make sacrificial gifts to God (preferably to this ministry) and God will be forced to bless you.” It teaches a form of discontentment which is strongly connected to the World’s System. The emphasis is on “YOU” doing something about your problem saying little about totally trusting God. The World’s System is all based on what we can do for ourselves. The Kingdom’s Way is about trusting the goodness of God for whatever we have need of. It is not about us, it is about Him.
A mystery is a hidden truth revealed and I believe the following to be a word from God:
If you are going to enter the blessing of God, you MUST learn to be content. Be content with what you have and God will let you drink from wells you did not dig and live in houses you did not build…Quit digging and building on your own. The desire for wealth will cause a fall for a Christian as sure as gravity causes a fall for those who defy it. Avoid selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3) and the love of money (I Timothy 6:10). Recognize the old carnal nature when these symptoms arise…run from them as a man avoiding the plague. Discontent will block the flow of God’s blessings. If you rest content you will be untouched by troubles. Contentment destroys worry, doubt, fear and ungodly ambition.
To chase money is to engage the world’s system – “For the pagan world runs after such things” (Luke 12:30). We are to simply “Seek the Kingdom first” – pray, get the mind of the Lord and obey, and then God will see to it that “things” (all of our material and financial needs) are brought into our life. At this point, God said something to me that shocked my religious mind. In essence He said that chasing the blessing will stop the flow of God. When you chase the blessing instead of chasing God, you will have your back to, and actually be running away from the blessing that is trying to overtake you. When your focus is entirely God (not money and blessing), not only will your needs be met, but also you will experience the goodness and abundance of God. “Let your character or moral disposition be free from the love of money (including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions) and be satisfied with your present (circumstances and with what you have); For He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you helpless nor forsake nor let (you) down (relax my hold on you)! (Assuredly not!)” Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified).
He then whispered another profound revelation: A needy man can crave earthly possessions as much or more than a greedy man. Those of us who have faced serious financial dilemmas have more than likely been guilty of craving earthly possessions - I know I have. The prosperity message seems to be music to the ears of a financially hurting Saint, yet its subtlety places our entire emphasis on chasing the blessing. Many of today’s ministries are more blessing conscious than God conscious, providing us with all the formulas to getting blessed. Ironically, many of the formulas involve supporting the ministries, ministers, and ministers’ agendas. This to a great degree explains the critical condition of the Church today – we are focused in the wrong direction, looking for the blessing of God instead of God. May God forgive us!
Rest in God and be thankful for what you have, remaining fully persuaded that the God of abundance will bring increase and meet your needs. The rest of God is found in those who have ceased from their own works and only do as the Father says do – They are not into doing their own thing!
Word given relating to the above: “Surrender, complete and total surrender is what I am calling you to. Surrender means trust and trust means peace. My yoke (to surrender and trust) is light, not burdensome to carry. Trust me in your surrender; I am forgiving, I am just, I am merciful – surrender, surrender, surrender and find peace, peace, peace. Surrender and trust require the exact opposite responses than what your emotional soulish realm tells you to do. Your surrender frees me to bless and provide you with my abundance. When you do the opposite of what you feel like doing by staying surrendered to the situation, I WILL CAUSE THE OPPOSITE of what is happening to happen in your favor. Keep your eyes on me (on things above) and I will keep you in perfect peace (my peace). Learn this important key for your calling requires it.”
In short, we should not set our minds on money, wondering how we are going to take care of this and that, because He will take care of these things for us. He has promised to never fail us or forsake us. We are to do our part, not try to do God’s part – the load is too heavy to bear.God is looking for a few dead men; men who cannot be ruled by possessions or the cares of this world.
For those of us who watch television, hardly a day goes by that we do not see someone from a Pulpit exhorting us to give into his or her “good ground” ministry. This, of course, comes at the end of a particularly rousing message in which the minister is embarking upon some new building program, in need of a new jet, or some great work for God. Some of these exhortations are from God but most are not. Some are for us to give to, but most are not. God is LOUDLY saying to His people, “Be led by my Spirit (within you) in ALL of your giving. Don’t be fooled by ear tickling messages, hype, entertainment, and emotional manipulation any longer. Recognize and come out of the World’s Systemthat has settled in My house.”
Having served on the board of one of the Nation’s, and perhaps the World’s, largest Prosperity Ministries, I know first hand “The Message.”While I do not want “to throw the baby out with the dirty diaper,” I do think it important that the Church begin to recognize that much of “The Message” is taught in error. Please judge for yourself. I believe God desires to bless His people. I strongly believe God desires His people to give and be blessed in their giving, however, the divide for me, is GIVING WITHOUT BEING LED OF THE SPIRIT and giving with the ulterior motive of getting. Our giving, if led of the Spirit, is form of precious worship to our Heavenly Father.
The Word of Faith movement has taught us for years that the Laws of God will work for anyone who applies them: In other words, simply do what the letter of the law states and God is bound “by His written word” to make things happen for you. The Word of Faith movement spawned the prosperity message along the same lines – “If you give, God is bound to bless you.” This simply is not true and, as earlier stated, is one of the major reasons the Body of Christ struggles financially – “The letter kills, the Spirit gives life…” Eve tried to teach Adam that he could have the things of God WITHOUT GOD, resulting in the great fall. Satan was cast out of heaven for much the same reason.
God indeed blesses our giving when it is done cheerfully, worshipfully, and obediently to His Spirit. If our motive is to “get something from God,” which is the THRUST of the message, our motive in giving becomes tainted and self-righteous – the end result of which is religious and prideful. On January 23rd, 2001, the Lord spoke the following word to me:
“When they give to gain my favor I am grieved; they already have my favor, the cross provided it – Moving in obedience to My Spirit in their giving is all I require. The sacrifices of men to gain My righteousness are an affront to me. Giving through obedience to My Spirit gains My favor and blessing. Acknowledge the favor obtained through my shed blood and give only in Obedience to My Spirit and you will see unmerited favor and financial blessing come to those who operate in this revelation.”
I submit to you that GIVING TO GET is the Christian lottery, the Saints Stock Market – “Invest In God, He Needs Your Money And Will Provide 30, 60, and 100 Fold Returns.” Some of these messages and messengers sound more like stock traders than preachers. It reeks of the World’s System. The abuses I have personally witnessed have the same results - Skinning of the sheep, while certain beneficiaries (Shepards) grow fatter.I have seen life savings, children’s college funds, and retirement savings emptied into coiffures of Church leaders and TV evangelist. Unlike my brief success, the 30, 60, and 100 fold has seldom happened for most who have bought into this lie, not because God does not want to bless, but because the order and motive is wrong. God is a God of order and He will not bless disorder. Mercifully, He will withhold His hand until His order is restored.
Learning to be content, whether you are abased or whether abounding, giving as a form of worship, under the leading of the Spirit, totally trusting God, will result in peace and a form of Godly prosperity that extends far beyond the boundaries of money. This, I believe to be the Kingdom’s Way.
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