Handing financial difficulty God’s way

As we press into the new year, it seems a good time to look at our financial planning again. There are a few different points of view we need to keep in mind as we plan our finances. We need to make practical decisions and do our best to stick to them, but above all we need to put our trust in our heavenly father to bless our efforts and meet our needs.

On the practical end, we should be paying ourselves first. This means to take ten percent off the top of our income and set that aside. It also means having appropriate food stores and clean water for the unexpected calamity. Personally, I keep meat in the freezer, dry and canned goods in the cupboard, and make sure to rotate stock for freshness. One thing that most experts recommend that I am just learning to do is to have a garden of fresh vegetables and can the excess. If God has blessed us with the ability to work and to earn, we should do so and out of those earnings we should be charitable over and above our tithes and offerings. Remembering that all things come from Him.

As I was reading through the Gospels this month I came across and old familiar story. A large crowd had come to Jesus, to hear his teaching and the disciples were concerned about giving them food. Jesus took a small offering of fish and bread, certainly not enough to feed a crowd and fed them all. I think this principle still applies today. If we will give Jesus our all, He will take care of us. This can be taught in such a way as to take advantage of people, so I can understand if some of you are wary. I am not talking about giving to get. I am talking about trusting Him with everything, wanting Him first, and knowing that he will provide our needs

We must understand that God is all powerful and all knowing. If we have need we must ask Him, not because He is unaware, but as part of our relationship with Him. Now, this is the tricky part to explain. When making our requests for that which we need, our goal should always be first and foremost to have Him and His will. Mathew tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and all other things will be added to us. Reflecting Him at the office is a big part of this for me. I ask Him daily as I enter my office to please bless my efforts, to help me to do my job with utmost integrity, and trust Him for the rest. Many at my office know that I serve Him, so it is important that I do not represent Him poorly.

As we earn and spend our money today let us ask the question – what would my financial and work life look like if I lived as though all the promises of God were true? Turn your eyes to Jesus my friends.

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Understanding who God is

When we are seeking to reflect the light of God, we must understand who he is. As God, He is first and foremost master and creator of everything. He is the king of kings, who chooses to be our friend. When Jesus became flesh, it was because we had sinned and separated ourselves from a perfect and just God. He came that he might pay the price for sin – death. He came as one of us to become our kinsmen redeemer, a Jewish tradition that allowed a family member to pay the debt of slavery that a man had sold himself into and sold ourselves we have. We have chosen sin, and Romans 6:23 is clear that the wages for sin is death.

His death provided for us a righteousness that we could not have on our own. This righteousness gives us entry into the thrown room of God. The greatest gift of the gospel, the “good news” is that we can have God himself. Relate to him, know him in a way that as slaves to sin we have no right to. This is important, because Jesus did not suffer and die to give us this gift so that we can go on living in our sin. God accepts us how we are, we can come to him “just as I am”, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. We should respect him too much to want to stay that way. We must honor him as God almighty who gave us an amazing gift that we could never earn, the gift of himself! Ever had a friend who clearly loved you for what you had to offer? As people, we don’t want friends like that. Why would God want us to come to him only for what He can do for us?

Would you draw near to God today and have him for him? Because of the gift of Christ we can!

Tried and killed for his faith

This is the headline that will not likely be out there if Pastor Saeed Abedini is Martyred for his faith. His trial has barely seen any coverage and will soon be over. Pastor Saeed is an American and he is being held and tried for his faith in Iran. Iranian by birth Pastor Saeed has made many trips there in the past, but on this one he was imprisoned for his faith. Please pray for his release.

I turn now to each one of us. If any of us were to be imprisoned, jailed, beaten, for our faith would we stand strong for Jesus? Would we boldly say as Peter did in acts that “We can not but speak of what we have seen and heard”. We should pray as they did “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to to speak your word with all boldness. ”

Now is the time to praise the Lord and serve him with all your heart. Be bold and courageous in his name. Here in America we face only ridicule not death. Yet. The fields are white for the harvest, we must be his workers and reap this harvest, reflecting his light as moment by moment we draw near to him. Now we can no more wake the spiritually dead with our words than we can the physically dead, but we can be his light, and God will draw them in. We must do as God calls and trust him for the outcome.

Origin and purpose

All great philosophical questions of right and wrong must first begin with the ultimate question of origin and purpose. Using a pen as a paper weight may seem good, but it doesn’t fulfill the pens ultimate created purpose of communication. That is to say, we can not understand the purpose with out looking to the cause. Even in nature we see things have purpose, * to use an example, from Thomas Aquinas, poppy seeds always grow into poppies an acorns into oaks. Now nothing, Aquinas reasons, that lacks consciousness tends toward a goal unless it is under the direction of someone with consciousness and intelligence. An arrow can not hit a bulls-eye unless aimed by the archer. Therefor, everything must be directed toward its goal by someone with intelligence. we call that someone God. (* restated idea from “Reasonable Faith” by William Crane)

With people that purpose may be harder to define than that a poppy seed, as people have consciousness and intelligence ,our greatest purpose can only be truly defined by looking at origin. If our origin is an accident of nature, we have no purpose. If our origin is an intelligent God, he created us for a purpose. Our purpose collectively and individually can only be defined by our creator. He is the potter we are the clay. Our ultimate purpose is to share in the joy of the knowing and being known by our God. This truth is played out differently with each of us, as God has created us all to enjoy him and his creation differently with our own likes, dislikes, and talents. Let him reveal to you how he would have you share in his joy and be obedient and you will live a life abundant and fulfilled as promised in his word. He has a plan for each one of us, listen to the still soft voice of the Holy Spirit as he tells you where and when to go. As we do, we will reflect his light and joy in a dark and dying world.