Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (Part 2) – Is God An Investment Payback Calculation for You?

Posted: December 13, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (Part 2 of 2)

There Is Only One God


The prosperity gospel. If you do this and that, God will bless you with riches. If you are not experiencing prosperity, it is because you have sin in your life that is blocking the flow of prosperity to your life. There are many who believe this. There are those who believe if they tithe their 10% or more to their local church, God will bless them financially in return. When we have our minds in this direction, we make our relationship with God and investment/return payback analysis. When we expect our obedience to God’s Word to result in an easy street existence, it is again an investment/return payback analysis.


In the business world, when we are considering whether to purchase a large number of machines to expand the productive capacity of our companies, it is common to do a payback analysis. We examine the amount of cash to be outlayed for the machinery and compare that to the additional annual revenues to be generated by the additional capacity. Then we subtract out the additional costs that would be created by the machinery such depreciation, maintenance costs, the interest on investments lost by having our cash tied up in the machinery (or the interest costs on a loan to purchase the machinery if we don’t have sufficient cash to purchase the machinery outright). The result is the net additional cash flow that results from the purchase. The cost of the machinery is then divided by the net additional annual cash flow to determine the number of years it will take to recoup the initial investment in the machinery. Usually companies have a pre-defined number of years for payback that they live by. If the investment produces a payback within the acceptable range of years, the purchase will be made. If not, the capital project will be rejected and no investment will be made.


We are sometimes like that when it comes to obeying God’s commands. We are commanded to be generous givers. However, we often view it as business decision rather than a decision of obedience. We treat it like that if I give my tithe or even more than the tithe, we expect God to bless us financially in return. We expect a payback. If we do not get the desired financial blessing in real time, then, we may quit giving altogether. God didn’t bless me like I thought He would, we say. It is the same way with obedience to God’s non-financial commands. We try our hardest sometimes to keep God’s Word. We keep his commands and we are miserable trying to keep up with God’s Word but we expect God to bless us with an easier life at some point. However, we fall away when hard times hit and we are not seeing benefits from being “a good boy” immediately. We treat God like He is an investment option. We do the calculations to see if we are better off for having tithed or for having been obedient to God’s commands. If we do not receive the payback that we expected, we fall away from God.


It is this idea of the investment payback approach that we take with God that came to mind as I read through this passage again this morning, particularly the last verse of this passage. Let’s read the whole passage once again this morning with particular focus on the last verse:


32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?


35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.


39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.


After reading this passage, you have to ask the question, “was Israel guaranteed prosperity for obeying God’s laws? Yes and no. We have to look closely at what prosperity means in God’s economy. God’s laws were designed to make His chosen nation devout, healthy, just, and merciful. When the people followed those laws, they prospered. This prosperity did not mean that there was no sickness, sadness, or that there were no misunderstandings among the people. The result was not all of Israel sitting around the campfire singing, “Kum-Bah-Ya, My Lord!” holding hands. Rather, it means that as a nation they prospered and individual problems were handled in a manner that was ordained by God.


Today, God’s promise of prosperity to us – His constant presence, comfort, and the resources that we need – extends to all believers. We will face trials and tribulations, according to Jesus Himself. It is not a matter of if but when. The prosperity that God offers us is that we can have joy regardless of whether we are rich or poor, experience a period of financial blessing, or experiencing a period where we are in the process of losing everything we have. Our faith in the Lord does not and should not depend on whether He is blessing us or not in the manner that we expect.


For example, for me, the act of tithing and giving generously above that, has given me blessing. Sure, I am in a season of financial blessing at the moment, but that’s not the blessing that came from tithing and more above that. No, the blessing is that it has changed my heart about my money. It has taught me to see the world through the lens of seeking opportunities to bless others. When we put God first in our finances, it changes your attitude. It creates an attitude of generosity. What can I do to help others help themselves. The blessing is to learn that the we don’t have to have the latest, greatest house, the latest, greatest car, the latest, greatest technology. We become content by lower the fixed demands on our funds and be able to live for the opportunities to be generous to others. That’s the blessing. Not some financial windfall that we may or may not get by tithing or more. We have to disassociate the two. God’s blessings are of eternal nature and not necessarily going to result in financial benefits for us, personally, here on earth. A changed heart from a begrudging “here you go, God!” to a heart that is captivated by the needs of others and we work to arrange our lives so that we can be generous.


The same is true for seeking to obey God’s Word in other areas of life as well. The blessing comes from making God number one in all areas of our life. The blessing comes from knowing that God has our best interest at heart through His commands. We seek to obey His commands because we view Him as a good, good Father that is going to keep us from evil and from sin’s ravages through our obedience. It’s not about begrudging keeping a scorecard of do’s and don’t’s. It is not about earning brownie points with God to offset all the bad stuff we do. Obedience is not going to guarantee us an easier life. Many times, following God is going to get us persecuted. It may lead us to lose every possession we have. It may not result in some giant earthly financial blessing. We must disassociate our ideas of earthly, temporal blessing from God’s definition of blessing. The blessing of obedience to God is the contentment of knowing that He cares for us and will pull us through any situation if we just hold onto Him. The blessings of obedience are the thanksgiving for what He has done for us that compels to seek obedience. He is not there to hold us back through his commands. His commands are there to keep us from harm. His commands are there because He understands the long range consequences of behaviors that He calls sin. He knows that they will bring us to harm and destroy us and He does not want that. His call for obedience is so that we will live a safe and orderly life that gives praise to Him. That’s the blessing of obedience. Obedience changes the heart’s perspective. That’s the blessing. It’s not some investment/payback scenario as we sometimes want it to be. We want it to be “God if you will do this, I will do that!” or “If I do this, God you gotta do that!” But, as the GEICO commercial says, “That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!”


God is not an investment/payback option. God is not a vending machine. God is not going to guarantee us this return on our investment if we invest in obeying Him. He will guarantee us an eternity with Him through Jesus Christ as our Savior and He will guarantee us joy and contentment through our obedience to His Word. Those the greatest blessings of all.


Amen and Amen.

  1. fewox says:



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