PASTORS' DAILY DEVOTIONAL
The Pursuit of ProsperityJustin Smith
Ez.11:15-16 “Son of man, the people still left in Jerusalem are talking about you and your relatives and all the people of Israel who are in exile. They are saying, ‘Those people are far away from the Lord, so now he has given their land to us!’ “Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.
What does prosperity in God look like? Many would hypothesize that His favor would be evidenced in easy and comfortable living, as one sits back and reaps in the blessing, but as we see in Ezekiel, His grace may come through unexpected circumstances. The Israelites were split by the Babylonians with some remaining in Jerusalem while the majority were exiled. Those in Jerusalem boasted in their comfort and indulged in the evil of the land. They mocked those that were taken believing that God had punished the exiles and brought honor to those that remained in the “prosperity” of their homeland. In the eyes of man, it would appear that the faithless in Jerusalem were finding success, while the faithful in Babylon had been abandoned by God, but soon His favor and grace would be shown to those that truly trusted Him. God declared judgment upon the comfortable, the mockers, that had chosen idolatry and rebellion, while extending His grace and sovereign hand to the faithful few in exile. God had a perfect plan, and in due time they would understand the fullness of His grace. The exiles had lost their home and land, they were separated from friends and family, and they lost the Temple, but because God was with them, they had peace and joy that surpassed their situation. He was more than enough to sustain them, and as they remained faithful and obedient, He was able to bless them with protection, provision, and His perfect plan. His grace and favor was with them, which superseded their difficult circumstance.
How do I measure prosperity and success? There are times I find myself working to provide my family with comfortable living and the enjoyable things of this world that they might have happiness. I want the best for my kids, but what is “the best”? Is the key to their prosperity found in their comfort or their pleasant circumstances? Granted, these things are not evil, but I have to make sure that I convey to my family that our prosperity is not measured by the material. I must show them that it is not our circumstances, or the things we have, that determine our happiness. Even if we lost everything, as these exiles did, there is one thing that secured their joy—God’s presence. Man looks on the outward to gauge prosperity, but if God is with us, He is all we need. His love sustains us, and He is able to work every situation out for His glory, as we remain faithful. Our home, our things, and our comfort must never be the source of our joy and hope; rather, He who provides these blessings is our joy and hope. We will not choose the lavishness of the land over the love of the Lord. This week our family will talk about what we are grateful for, as Danice and I seek to teach them that only He can make their joy complete.
Lord, I thank you for this reminder that in you there is fullness of joy. I thank you that our hope is secure in you and your presence. I praise you because you are sovereign and far above the circumstances we face. As we gather to talk about what we are grateful for, I ask that you would reveal yourself to my children that they might come to know you as their personal Savior, their personal hope and joy.