Blankets With Holes

Have you ever witnessed or been a party to this scenario? You’re in a church service or at a conference and the speaker is giving a word of prophecy that goes something like this: “I decree and declare that this is your season to be blessed! Whatever you’re going through right now, the Lord told me to tell you that it is over! Your time of suffering is over! Your time of being the tail and not the head is over! Now, turn to your neighbor and tell them; ‘My time of suffering is over! My day of victory is here!”

Well, this sounds well and good, but there are some fundamental problems with ‘blanket’ declarations or prophecies such as the one I just described. First of all, when a speaker is speaking to a congregation of people, any and all broad declarations made similar to the ones I just described are always based on an assumption! The speaker assumes the people he or she is speaking to are in a position to receive what they say God is giving them! But more often than not, that is not the case! Let me show you what I’m talking about! It doesn’t matter what the prophecy may be, if a person is not in right-relationship or fellowship with God, they are not in a position to receive the blessing! For instance, if a person is living in known and open unrepentant sin; they are not eligible to receive the blessing! How can God bless mess? This is the main problem I have when people make blanket declarations; it gives a sense of false hope because usually the speaker does not express the conditions of the blessing!

Conditions of the blessing? Yes! Most blessings, particularly the ones that most people crave and the ones many ‘prophet-profits’ espouse, have conditions attached! I heard a choir singing about the fact that we are blessed in the city and we are blessed in the field! However, the biblical passage from which that song is derived says: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.” (Deuteronomy. 28:1-3 KJV) Do you see the condition? The passage does indeed say that Israel would be ‘blessed in the city and blessed in the field,’ but only ‘if’ they were careful to diligently hear and obey all of the commandments! Most of the promises of God contain an ‘if-then’ condition: If we obey, then God will bless! If we are in right-relationship or right-fellowship, then God will do this or do that! Even salvation is an ‘if-then’ condition! Romans 10:9 says: That ‘if’ thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, (then) thou shalt be saved.” (KJV) People say that God is a ‘forgiving God,’ but even God’s forgiveness is conditional! In order for God to forgive us, we must repent (turn from, forsake, change our mind) from the wrong offense! If we don’t do that, God will not forgive! Jesus also said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(KJV) So, if we want forgiveness, then we must be forgiving!

Therefore, I would like to suggest that many of the ‘blanket prophecies’ that are being declared are blankets with holes! The prophecy may or may not cover you! Here’re another insight to consider: Let’s just supposed the prophecy is that the Lord is going to immediately bring you out of a certain bad situation. But, it could be that you’re in that situation because of some foolish decisions you made and the Lord may choose not to immediately deliver you from your ‘mess’ because He wants you to have time to learn the message (lesson). So you hear the prophecy and you think your day of deliverance is near, when in fact, it might be awhile!

There are countless factors you should consider before you accept a blanket declaration as being from the Lord. Although it might be a blanket-declaration, it might not cover you because of the ‘holes’ in your life! It might not be for everybody, just some! Therefore, be leery of prophets, profits, and others, who are quick to utter blanket decrees and declarations, because more often than not, those decrees and declarations are blankets with holes!

Why Most ‘Blessing-Plans’ Don’t and Won’t Work!

Do you know of anybody who is always in the ‘blessing-line’ at church or at the conference? It seems like they are always seeking, but they are never able to find! They are always asking, but they are never able to really get an answer. The preacher or speaker tells them the reason their ‘breakthrough’ hasn’t happen is because, either they don’t have enough faith or it’s just simply not their time to be blessed! Consequently, just like the man in the Bible at the pool, they are waiting for the right time! After a while, they try another church or another ministry; someone with a different blessing-plan. But, may I make a radical suggestion? I would like to suggest that most blessing-plans that are being advocated today are fundamentally flawed! They simply don’t work! Not only do they don’t work, they won’t (they will never) work and there are several reasons why!

First of all, in most blessing plans, the fundamental premise is that a person needs to be blessed because of some shortage, deficiency, or lack in their life. They need a blessing or they need to be blessed because they don’t have what they need, whether it is health, wealth, or whatever. This premise is flawed because it is a direct contradiction of Scripture and what the Bible teaches about the nature of God!

The Bible teaches that we (especially believers) already have everything we need! David said in Psalm 23:1: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (KJV) The Christian Standard Bible renders it: “The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need.” The New English Translation and the New International Version say: “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Psalm 34:10 says: “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.” Psalm 84:11 says: “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” Therefore, to advocate the need to do something special, such as following a ‘blessing-plan’ in order to be blessed is a direct contradiction of the word of God! According to the aforementioned texts, the only biblical blessing plan is seeking the Lord and living according to His righteousness!

Another thing to consider are the words of Jesus. Jesus is recorded as saying in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (ESV) How does God feed the birds? By pre-programming them with all the instinctive instructions and abilities they need for their survival. The point is this; If God has pre-engineered birds to be successful, how much more has God pre-engineered us for our success? Birds don’t die from strokes and heart attacks, brought on by stress; worrying about where their next worm is going to come from! Birds just fly around in their ‘bird-ness’ trusting their instinctive programming!

In looking at that same text, notice that Jesus referred to God as; “Your heavenly Father.” Now, if a good earthy father will take care of his children and family, how much more so will our Heavenly Father take care of us? Jesus said in verse 32 in regard to the things needed for life (food, clothing, shelter, etc.,) “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” When I was a child, I never had to ask my father to do what any good father was supposed to do; take care of his family! Therefore, when we approach God to ask for what He has already promised to provide, we are actually implying we don’t trust him to be a good Father! We really don’t need to be blessed because, even more than animals with instincts, we have been pre-engineered for success and already equipped with the blessings we need and our Heavenly Father is indeed a ‘good’ father!

The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (ESV) Most people overlooked this important verse because they don’t think Paul was saying anything important; they think he was just merely saying ‘hello!’ But look closely at what Paul said! Paul said that God ‘has blessed’ (not that God was going to bless or that God would bless) us with ‘every’ spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. Now, the last time I checked, the word; ‘every’ means the same thing as the word; ‘all.’ If you were to ask me for something and I gave you ‘every’ or ‘all,’ then that means I have nothing left to give you! Most blessing plans don’t and won’t work because they imply that God has ‘more’ to give us, but God has already given us all! Now, I hear you! You’re saying; “Yes! But the text says every spiritual blessing, but I need a material blessing! I need a financial blessing!” What most people fail to understand is the fact that everything that is now material or physical existed in the spiritual first! Every thing that is now physical had its genesis or origin in the spiritual. In fact, it is the spiritual that produces the physical! For example: When does a house first exist? Most people would say; when the house is being built or is complete. But actually, the house first existed in the mind (the spirit) of the architect! The architect took what was in his mind (his spirit) and placed it on paper and it was transformed into a blueprint. Then, the builders took the blueprint and built the house according to the specifications of the blueprint. But think about it! They could not have built the house without the blueprint! There would not have been a blueprint without a concept or idea in the mind (spirit) of the architect! Therefore, the very first existence of the house was not while it was being built or when it was completed, it actually first came into existence in the mind of the architect! That’s a spiritual principle of how life works! In the beginning was the Word (the audible expression of the mind/spirit of God) and the Word was made flesh! Consequently, the real problem is not that people have a need to be blessed, the problem is that most people don’t know how to manifest the physical/material from the spiritual! They don’t know how to transfer the blessing that already exists in the spiritual into the physical where they can use it to benefit their lives! The problem is not that people need to be blessed, the problem is that people don’t know how to manifest the blessings they already have! I don’t want this post to be too long, so I will just briefly mention in addition, but not expound too much on 2 Peter 1:2-3 where, in his greeting, Peter says: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (ESV) Notice again, the tense and the totality: His divine power ‘has granted’ to us ‘all things that pertain to life and godliness’ Yes! Again I say: Most blessing plans don’t and won’t work because they advocate asking God for the blessings that God has ‘already’ given! God cannot give what God has already given and you cannot ‘get’ what you already have!

Now, I just mentioned the problem is not with ‘getting blessed’ or ‘getting a blessing,’ the problem is that most people don’t know how to manifest their blessings. Well, Jesus shared how to manifest in Mark 11:22-24. Jesus said: “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (ESV) How do you manifest or transfer from the spiritual to the physical? By using faith! You must believe you already have what you ask for! How do you respond when you have asked for something and you finally get it? You’re happy! You’re relieved! You’re satisfied! Jesus says, in order to manifest the blessings you already have, you must praise God, be happy, be relieved, be satisfied, even though you can’t put your hands on it! You’ve got to ‘act like’ you already have what you ask for and then you will have it! Now, how would you act if you already had your blessing? You certainly wouldn’t be in a blessing-line or participating in a blessing plan because that would be acknowledging that you don’t have what you have! Jesus said whatever you ask or desire, you’ve got to act like you already have it to manifest it because the truth of the matter is: you already have it, it just exist in spiritual form! It would be a good idea to read the background of this text, starting with Mark 11:12 to get the full picture! Jesus cursed a fig tree, but the effects of the curse were not seen until the next day. When did the tree die? The moment Jesus cursed it! However it took some time for the manifestation! It was in the morning when Jesus cursed the tree. They passed by that tree that evening and no one noticed any changes! It was not until the next morning, as they were passing it again, that the Bible says: “And Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” (ESV) The lesson: The spiritual cause was immediate, but the physical manifestation took time! We live in a microwave age where people are programmed for instant results. But just because the manifestation is not immediate, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happened! Just because you prayed for it this Sunday and you don’t see it next Sunday, that doesn’t mean your prayer didn’t work and you need to get in a blessing-line on the third Sunday after! Another example of delayed manifestation is found in Daniel 10:11-12 where we read: “Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,” (ESV) Daniel had prayed for understanding about a certain matter and according to this text, the Lord answer Daniel when he prayed! However, because of interference from the enemy in the spiritual realm, the manifestation of the answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed for three weeks!

And don’t ever think that just because something exists in spirit and cannot be seen with the physical eye that it is ‘less than real.’ Remember, everything that is now physical had its beginning in the spiritual! In fact, if the truth be told; the spiritual is actually ‘more real’ than the physical! The physical is actually just the residue or the final effects of the spiritual! Take a look around you! Everything that can be seen in the physical is actually in a state of decline, including your physical body! If you can see it, it’s on the way out! Speaking of the ‘reality’ of the spirit, did you know ‘the ultimate you’ is spirit? I’ve heard people say that they are not a spiritual person! What a ridiculous statement! The truth is: We are all spiritual, because at the core of our being; we are all spirits! Now if you say that spirits are not real, then you are actually saying that ‘you’ are not real! In addition to the pastoral ministry, I also work in the funeral industry. I have observed that when a person is dead, they don’t weigh any less than they did when they were alive! Yet, something that was once in them is no longer present! That something could not be seen, measured, touched or handled, it was spiritual, invisible, and immaterial, nevertheless was quite real because when it left, they died and all that remained was a body!

Another reason most blessing plans don’t work is because of the emphasis on ‘receiving’ from God! Aside from the fact that God can’t give what God has already given, the preoccupation with ‘receiving’ from God, usually is an indication of a primary concern with personal issues instead of a concern for others or the work of God. James wrote to his readers: “You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3 CSB17) Say you want to be blessed? Well, why do you want to be blessed? Is it so that you can be more comfortable? Are you seeking more when you are not faithful with what you already have? It is a hard pill for many modern Christians to swallow, but God is more interested in developing our character than in making us comfortable! When God blessed Abraham, God didn’t bless Abraham just to bless Abraham! God blessed Abraham so that Abraham could be a blessing! What is your motivation? Why are you seeking to be blessed? Is it primarily for your own comfort or is it so you can be in a better position to serve the Lord? Is it so you can help others? Most blessing plans promoted today don’t and won’t work because they primarily promote selfish and lustful consumption!

This is even the case sometimes with how people approach the traditional and biblical concept of tithing! Look at what the Lord said to Israel through the Prophet Malachi: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:10-11 KJV) Most preachers and tithers place emphasis on the latter part of the statement. In other words, they promote tithing and pay their tithes because they want the Lord to ‘open the windows of heaven to pour them out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive!’ They promote tithing and pay their tithes because they want the Lord to ‘rebuke the devourer for their sakes.’ But look at the text closely again! The Lord’s purpose for the paying of the tithe was so that there may be meat in His house! In other words, the main motivation for tithing should be so that the local house of God might be able and equipped to do the work of the work of the ministry of preaching, teaching and helping people! The tithe was not designed primarily to help the tither, but rather to support the house and work of God! The benefits the tither receives are by-products! Therefore, even tithing will not work as it should if the motivation is wrong!

Now, I know! Jesus said in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (ESV) But notice the context! Jesus was not talking primarily about giving money! Notice what he says in verses 36-37: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ‘Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Jesus’ point was: Whatever you give; mercy, judgement, condemnation, or forgiveness, it will be given back to you multiplied! Money was not the primary consideration. In fact, just before he said verses 36-37, he is recorded in verses 34-35 saying: “And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (ESV)  Now if Jesus said ‘lend, expecting nothing in return’ from those who you lend to, it stands to reason, the same principle applies to giving! You don’t give just ‘to’ get, but whatever you give, you will get!

Most blessing-plans also advocate ‘seeking God’s hand.’ But in the Bible, we are encouraged to ‘seek God’s face!’ In the Bible, we are instructed to seek, not what God can provide or give to us, but rather to seek God! Jesus said: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:27-33 ESV) Jesus was saying that we should not worry about obtaining the basic necessities of life, because to do so is to act like people who don’t know God and like orphans. Also, to worry and seek to be blessed in spite of the fact that God is our heavenly Father is to act like God is not our Father at the worst and to act like God is a bad Father who does not provide for His children at best! But if we make the Kingdom of God (the rule and authority of God) and His righteousness (right-standing and right-relationship) our priority and main pursuit, all the things we need will be added unto us automatically!

I conclude with what David said in Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (ESV) What many modern Bible readers don’t realize is that the Hebrew word that is translated as the English word; ‘follow’ in that verse is actually a Hebrew verb that literally means; ‘to pursue or chase with the intent to overtake.’ David was not saying that goodness and mercy would passively follow him, like a little puppy dog following his master. No! David was saying goodness and mercy (the blessings of God) would chase, pursue, hunt him down, every day of his life, like a ferocious beast pursuing its prey! That’s why most to the blessing-plans don’t and won’t work! Instead of running after and seeking blessings, according to the Bible, blessings are to run after and seek us!

One last thing and I’m through! Many blessing-plans don’t and won’t work because they are actually designed to bless, not the person who follows the blessing-plan, but rather the person who promotes the blessing-plan! The prophet tells you to send an offering, a seed, and you will be blessed! You do it, but you’re still not blessed! He or she tells you the reason you are not blessed (which is a lie, because the Bible says that if you are in Christ, you are already blessed with every or all spiritual blessing!) is because you don’t have enough faith! Therefore, you must increase your faith by increasing the amount of your offering! (This is another lie because the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God! Therefore, if you want to increase your faith, you don’t have to increase your offering or enlarge your seed, you just need to increase your exposure to the word of God! Find and join a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, and Bible-teaching church! And don’t just join and be a passive ‘bench-member, commit yourself to faithfully attend worship, Christian Education opportunities and become actively involved in ministry opportunities!). But, PLEASE! In that scenario, the only person who will ever be blessed is the prophet! Truth be told; many blessing-plans today are nothing more than clever religiously disguised con-games by ‘prophet-profiteers’ designed to swindle people out of their money by offering false unbiblical and ungodly hope!

Pseudo-Prophets & Blessings

There is a disturbing trend in much of the preaching in some church circles today. I’ve been hearing it for the past several years, but I was prompted to write about it after recently running across a Facebook post of a minister preaching a prophetic word of blessings. His message went something like this: “The Lord sent me here tonight to tell you that this is your season to be blessed!” Now mind you, this was said in an open preaching session with a church full of people, many who were saved, but no doubt; some who were not. My first issue with his statement is this: First of all, the people of God are already blessed with all/every blessing they need (see Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3) and secondly; the greatest need of the unsaved is the blessing of salvation! But in the context of this proclamation, it was obvious that the blessings the preacher were referring to were primarily physical and financial! But, was it possible that everybody in the room was at the same juncture in life? I think it was a bit presumptuous to assume everybody in that room was in the same place or on the same level spiritually. Therefore, even if it really was ‘someone’s’ season to be blessed {if there really is such a season} it wasn’t everyone’s season! I think it’s a dangerous practice to utter specific prophetic proclamations to general crowds! Then, the preacher really got the crowd involved by encouraging interaction, telling them: “Now, turn to your neighbor and tell them: ‘It’s your season!” Seriously? I think that sometimes, preachers do and say things because: (1) They saw or heard of somebody else (a well-known preacher) doing it! and (2) It looks or sounds spiritual or deep. But, if they were to really just study the Scripture for themselves and think about the practical application of what they are saying and advocating, they would find that many times, what they are saying and doing makes no practical sense and really amounts to spiritual foolishness! It is practically and spiritually impossible for everyone to be in the same season at the same time! Therefore to issue a mass prophetic word, is at best spiritual foolishness and at worst spiritual deception! In the Old Testament, the acid test of a true prophetic word and a true prophet was fulfillment. If what the prophet said came to pass, he was judged as a true prophet and the word was validated as being a word from the Lord. However, if what the prophet said did not come to pass, he was judged as a false prophet and the law declared that he should be stoned to death! Oh! We take the idea of ‘speaking for the Lord’ too lightly these days, but in biblical times it was serious and often deadly business! Then the preacher went on to say: “The Lord told me to tell you that He’s about to bring you out! Whatever you’ve been going through; it’s over now! You are about to walk into your victorious season!” Again; seriously? I know the preacher was trying to inspire the crowd and give them hope, but for many in that crowd, they were offered a ‘false hope!’

But all of this type of preaching and ‘prophi-lying’ completely obscures the primary purpose of blessings in the first place! When God blessed Abraham, the Bible says: “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:1-2 KJV). Note two things: First of all, note that in order for the Lord to bless Abram, Abram had to meet certain conditions, he had to; (1) Get out from his native country and his father’s house and (2) Go to a land that God would show him. Abraham was blessed because he obeyed God! His belief or faith in God was proven by his obedience to God. As Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23 state: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” But, how do we know Abraham believed God? Because Abraham obeyed God! Real biblical faith (saving faith) is not just a mere conviction of the heart and mind; real biblical saving faith is faith that involves practical obedience to the Word of God! Secondly, note that the Lord told Abraham that he (Abraham) would be a blessing! The Lord didn’t bless Abraham, just to bless Abraham, the Lord blessed Abraham for Abraham to be a blessing! In other words, the Lord didn’t bless Abraham just for Abraham! As Henry Blackaby, noted author of the Experiencing God and On Mission With God series, said: “When God blessed Abraham, He was on His way to the world!”

My issue with much of the modern-day preaching about blessings is that most of the preaching today seems to suggest the blessings of God are primarily for and about the person receiving the blessings; they are not! God blesses, primarily so that the person being blessed might be in a position to fulfill his or her God-given-God-ordained assignment! The blessings of God are not primarily for our comfort, but rather for our commission! They are not primarily for our consumption, but rather for the success of the mission! When we make the blessings all about us, we hi-jack and detour them from their God-ordained use and purpose! That is why the same people end up in the ‘blessing line’ over and over again! James put it this way, he asked: “What causes conflicts and contentions among you? Does not the tension on both sides originate from your lusts in conflict among your members? You want something badly, but you do not have it. You kill and covet, and still you are unable to get what you want. You fight and battle it out, and you do not have what you are after because you do not make a request. You ask, but do not receive, because you make your request from wrong motivation, that you might squander it on your pleasures.” (James. 4:1-3 McDonald Idiomatic Translation) That’s the point! Most of the requests for blessings today have nothing to do with the performance of the will of God! We don’t want to be blessed to do the will of God; we want to be blessed for our own comfort and enjoyment; which is the very reason we are not blessed like we want to be!

We have misunderstood the purpose of blessings! And as long as we insist on having blessings for our comfort instead of for doing the will of God, we will always be frustrated and going without; constantly going from pseudo-prophet to pseudo-prophet in a vain attempt to get a prophetic word to justify our selfish desires!