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(By Pastor Larry Burkholder)

II Chronicles 31:6-10

It seems to me that far too many Christians today have their eyes and heart fixed on prosperity.  Today it is most difficult to find many Christians who value spiritual success enough to make it top priority.  Bible teacher M.H. Reynolds writes: "We cannot thrive apart from God's approval of our attitudes and actions."  He is so right!  Yet, many today yet "don't get it" from my perspective.

Note in II Chronicles 31:6-10 how that God provides when we put Him first in all that we do.  Only when Israel learned to rid themselves of idols did they decide to give God what was His; and they soon found that you cannot "outgive" God.  Please read along with me the Bible text of this month's study: "And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps.  In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.  And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord, and his people Israel.  Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.  And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the Lord hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store."

Because the people of God put God first, they were now being blessed both spiritually and materially according to 31:6,7.  That text proves that when God is placed and given first place, we have no lack of anything.

Note too 31:10b where Azariah states: "…Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH TO EAT, AND HAVE LEFT PLENTY: FOR THE LORD HATH BLESSED HIS PEOPLE…"  Oh, yeah, read the very last part of that verse where Azariah states: "…and that which is left IS THIS GREAT STORE."

Note also with me that before the people of God could give as we just read, there was a need to rid themselves of such things that violated their relationship with God Almighty.  We read: "…all Israel that were present went out of the cities of Judah, and brake images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, ...until they had utterly destroyed them all..." (II Chronicles 31:1)  And later in that same text we read: "…the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly." (31:5)

My point is this, people who make material prosperity their focus frequently find themselves behind the learning curve that "things" can NEVER truly satisfy!  Our old greedy, grimy, flesh always wants for more; and generally that is more for ourselves.  By contrast, all who put the Lord first can sincerely appreciate and will properly use everything God gives them in the way of material goods for His purposes and causes.  One lesson we need to learn and take to heart is this: If our hearts are not right, the financial affluence will be a curse rather than a blessing.  And we will stand before Almighty God and give account for what we've done with that which He has blessed us.

If we have not yet done so, we need to learn to say and agree with the Apostle Paul where he wrote: "Not that I speak in respect to want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11)

One more thing before I draw this study to a close; Permit I Timothy 6:6 and Matthew 6:33 be our daily guides in regards to material blessings.  "But godliness with contentment is great gain." and, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you."

ILLUSTRATION:  A noted young concert artist was asked the secret to her success with the violin.  "Planned neglect!" she replied, and then explained.  "Years ago I discovered that there were many things which demanded my time.  After washing breakfast dishes, I made my bed, straightened my room, dusted the furniture, and did a host of other things.  I then turned my attention to violin practice.  That system, however, failed to accomplish the desire results.  So I realized that I had to reverse things.  I deliberately set aside everything else until my practice period was ended.  That program of PLANNED NEGLECT accounts for my success!"
(Our Daily Bread Favorites - January 12)

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