Is God Your Genie in a Bottle?

A well-known television preacher was earnest in this recent plea to his viewers: "Give your seed an assignment." He compared the Father sending Jesus to earth with an that of viewers sending money to his television ministry. The announcer then came on and encouraged viewers to "target your seed toward your greatest need." The announcer said that in response to their financial gift, the minister was believing God to give the donor "a life-changing creative idea, supernatural favor, and a debt canceling miracle." What a deal!

The preacher then came back on and said, "God gave you the power to get wealth. Now I dare you....I double-dog dare you to lay hold on your belly right now and with a heart full of faith shout as loud as you can, 'I have been given the power to get wealth.'" Sounds like this guy thinks he has God in a bottle.

Hucksters like this one are a real piece of work. They promise you something which they cannot deliver. They want your money, and they in essence teach you that God is your personal genie in a bottle. All you have to do is send them some money....a "seed gift" as they say....and believe God for your miracle. Sending them your "seed offering" is like rubbing the bottle so God can come out and grant you any wish you desire.

A word to the wise....God does not sell His services....and He is not trapped in a bottle. God owns everything and doesn't need your money. He wants your heart. Jesus made it clear, "You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24) Television salesmen who teach that you can "buy" your miracle from God are delusional and they are promoting a lie. It doesn't work that way.

You cannot "buy your dream." In fact, God may have a different dream for you than you have for yourself. Trust him and don't allow yourself to get worked up into a lather by some smooth-talking television con artist.

God's Word says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) Man's natural reaction to that statement is to assume that the current desires of my heart are what God wants to give me. That is not what the verse says. It actually tells us that if we will find our joy and delight and purpose in the Lord and Him alone, the desires of our heart will begin to flow in the direction of loving the Lord even more. It won't make us lust for more money or more possessions. It will make us want more of God's presence and His holy purposes in our life.

You see....there are two radically different ways to view God. One of them is correct, and the other isn't. One of them teaches us to view God as doing whatever He wants with our lives. The other view teaches us to control our own destiny and "rub the lamp" so that the genie will come out and give us whatever we want. The first view holds God in high esteem. The second view treats God as though He is there to wait on me.

If you have been viewing God as your genie in a bottle, then you don't really know Him yet. A good way to get turned around and moving in the right direction is to meditate on verses such as these: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17)

Are you someone who needs to be "deprogrammed" from false teaching which you have been soaking up. There is plenty of it out there. One of the ways to recognize it is to "follow the money." If they entice you to give money to their ministry with promises of future wealth for you to spend on yourself, run from that false teaching. Jesus never taught such a thing. Instead, he warned people about the danger of loving money. It so easily takes over a person's heart. When that happens, a person tends to view God as a genie.

The truth is this....God is no one's genie. Those who attempt to use God for the lust of their eyes and their personal boasting will one day find out how wrong they have been about God. Don't listen to their schemes. Don't follow their advice. God says, "Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion." (Jude 1:11)

You probably won't be able to stop them from rushing for profit into all sorts of error. But you can stop yourself. You can change course if that philosophy has gotten into your heart. Recognize it. Renounce it. Repent of it. And then run from it. It's one thing to truly delight yourself in the Lord. It's another thing altogether to delight yourself in the natural desires of your sinful heart.

Do you really trust yourself and your motives that much? That's what led to Lucifer's downfall....and that is what leads these television salesmen down the wrong path. Just because someone mentions "God" and starts throwing around Bible verses doesn't necessarily mean that they are truly speaking for Him. This problem has been going on for a long time now.

"Therefore," declares the Lord, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes," declares the Lord, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, "The Lord declares." Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the Lord. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the Lord."(Jeremiah 23:30-32)

There was a report this summer with the headline: "The Greatest Scam in the World! TV pitchman Don Lapre Faces 25 Years In One Bedroom Prison Cell over $52 Million Fraud." Don promised something to the viewers that didn't pan out. He got paid, but the viewers got ripped off. How many television preachers are doing something very similar. They promise that God will grant your dream if only you "sow a seed" in their ministry by sending money. How pathetic and immoral is that!

Just because a preacher is on television does not guarantee that He is doing God's will. In America, we tend to think that image and numbers and fame must mean that God's blessing is on the man and the ministry. Instead, it is sometimes just a reflection of what people want to hear. "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:3)

That's it isn't it. We have these "genie in a bottle" preachers today because so many people want that message. It resonates with our flesh....and with our appetite for personal wealth and luxury. The problem doesn't resonate with the Holy Spirit....and that's a big problem. It doesn't come from Him. That why the Scriptures which He inspired warn God's people against such abuses and false teachers.

Oh wait....I forgot....we live in a day where we are not supposed to ever say that anyone is wrong about anything. I guess we can all be right. After all, the Creator of the universe has decided to be our eternal genie and grant us whatever we want, right? What a great guy! He must really appreciate it every time we let Him out of His bottle!

Come to think of it, He is kind of lucky to have us. He would really be in a jam without us. Who would let Him out if we weren't around to put Him to work for us?

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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