The Palace Test
By John Braland, President of IMF's Board of Directors
o you believe that God wants to prosper you or punish you? Sometimes we believe that God is out to get us and punish us for all that we do wrong. Like an overbearing parent who yells at their child for everything they do. And once this gets in our head our perception of God changes and no matter how many times we read that God is loving and kind all we see is this judge who is out to sentence us with misfortune every chance he gets. This is bad theology. The reality is that life is tough and we do have hard times but God is with us through them. In fact, God wants us to prosper.
In Genesis 39 we learn about how Joseph prospered even after Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph to have an affair with her. After Joseph refused Potiphar’s wife’s advances, she had him thrown into prison and he continued to prosper. I call this the Palace test, and if you pass it, you will prosper. You can prosper in difficulty, you can prosper even though you are under stress, you can prosper when times are tough.
What the Bible teaches very clearly is that the key to prospering is the presence of the LORD. If we walk with God we will prosper. Why? Because God is perfect. And if you go where God goes you will prosper, it’s that simple. One of the best lessons I ever learned came from the book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. What he says in the book is simple, find out where God is at work and go there.
The key to the presence of the Lord is obedience. We don’t like the word obedience. If someone tells you to be obedient you might tense up. Interestingly we want others to be obedient, but we don’t really want to. Obedience is the key to having the presence of God in our lives. If we don’t obey God, he won’t walk with us. God only walks with those who obey him. This is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
When we walk with God in obedience, we are blessed.
When we walk away from God, we walk away from his blessing.
The key to obedience is faith, we must believe that God prospers us for being obedient. We work hard and God will prosper us. No matter who Joseph worked for he prospered because the presence of the LORD was with him. The presence of the LORD was with him because he was obedient. He was obedient because he had faith.
You get to choose whether or not you want to prosper. So the question is, how do I get more faith? Obedience does not produce faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The key to faith is hearing the Word. Get into the Word of God. This is where you get to know God. Hearing the Word builds faith in you. The Word of God is living and active. The Word of God is what builds faith in us. We obey because we have heard the Word.
“17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:17
Hear, Believe, Obey. That is the formula. Hear, believe, obey. And when we obey we will prosper because the LORD’s presence is with us.
Faithfulness to God’s principles found in God’s Word is what causes us to prosper. The best news is that God’s favor is available to anyone and everyone who hears God’s Word, believes God’s Word, and obeys God’s Word. The more faith you have, the more obedient you will want to be. And the more obedient you are God will honor you with His presence. Then his favor and blessings will rest on your life and like Joseph, you will prosper in all you do. And you will know that you have passed the palace test.