★ Back to the Basics – Just Believe! ★

I have been having conversations with a friend of mine who has been haunted by the sins of the past and the mistakes that seem to be preventing him from moving forward in his walk with God.  He in Jesus and is actively pursuing a relationship with Him through prayer and reading the Bible but yet there’s something holding him back.  Maybe you can relate to this today?  Do you find yourself wanting to grow in the truth of God’s Word and to feel clean from your former way of living BUT yet you just can’t seem to overcome the guilt and shame of what you did?  Well I have some good news…

First of all, you are not alone, everyone at one point or another have felt this way, that is the Devil’s way of derailing you from your faith growing.  It’s much easier to destroy something its infancy stage BEFORE it has a chance to mature and get strong.

Secondly and most importantly, God has already taken care of the guilt and shame over 2,000 years ago when He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (see John 3:16).  Here is the antidote to the poison that the Devil has been injecting into our minds which is found in Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)!

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” 

 

That’s you.  That’s me.  Everyone who has ever lived, is living or will live has sinned and fallen woefully short of what God requires of us.  But the miraculous thing is, He did not leave us in this fallen state.  He sent Jesus in the flesh to face all the temptations and struggles that we do, to live a perfect sinless life and than die in our place!  Wow!  In verse 24-25 it says:

“Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. 

Forgive me for interrupting verse 25, but go back and read that last sentence…seriously go back and read it. God sacrificed Jesus for our sin and we are made right with God by “all the work we do?”. Nope.  “By cleaning up our life and becoming perfect through white knuckle will power to not repeat the same mistakes?”  Nope.  We are made right with when we “believe!”  That’s it.  Just believe and you are made right with God!  Okay let’s get back to verse 25…

“This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

Jesus was the PERFECT sacrifice who died ONCE as the PAYMENT for ALL of mankind to cover EVERY sin that has been committed, is being committed or will ever be committed.  Talk about Amazing Grace!! Before I close this Thought for the Day, I want to offer to you a choice.  If you have not received the gift of grace from God through belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior or if you are not sure if you did today if you would go to heaven, then here is a simple prayer that I posted years ago in the ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that you can pray to make that decision today…Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and change my life.  I confess I have made mistakes and acknowledge that I am in need of a Savior.  I want a relationship with you.  Please forgive me.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Today I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you truly prayed that prayer, then welcome to the family of God!  Here is the truth for everyone who had believed in Jesus from Romans 1:16-17 says:

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.””

Regardless of the poisonous guilt and shame that you have been attacked with, once you have believed in Jesus you are made righteous (which just means in right standing with God,) and have the same power in you (the Holy Spirit) which raised Christ from the dead!  No go out in faith and just believe!

Want to dig deeper?

To help you in your next steps check out this 4-part series of posts that I wrote to help you connect God through these (3) Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #3 – Adoration That Matters ★

 

And here is a powerful sermon series called “Grace Like a Flood” from Michael Todd, Transformation Church.

Understanding the mystery of God’s Grace!

‭‭

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

My pastor shared this quote fro102 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - A Good Fatherm Billy Graham last Sunday for his Father’s Day message…

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

It was a great introductory quote to engage all the Fathers in the room for sure, (I know I was…)  He went on to say that we need to be intentional in our own spiritual growth, intentional in our instruction/discipline, and intentional in our affection towards our children.  He also said that we need to be “Marked by God’s Word!”  Now if you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve been talking a lot about reading the Bible and pursuing God so it should not be a surprise to any of you that this resonated with me; but it also got me thinking about that statement…“Am I really marked?'”  I think that it’s a good thing to step back and do an honest self-evaluation when you are given a challenge like that.  I love what our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt said in regards to honest self-evaluation…

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Amen?  I love that so much!!  Not only for the sarcasm but also the truth!! How would things be different if we would stop and take a moment to “think” before we “put our f102 - Daily Dependence - Self-Evaluationoot in our mouths” and make a mess of things?

In two months I will be required by my company to do a task that I absolutely hate…the dreaded self-evaluation.  I know that the purpose is to give my supervisor an understanding of what I believe I have accomplished in the past year but it feels so much like “tooting my own horn.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I do avail myself of the opportunity but I attempt to be honest in the evaluation which leads me to the muse for this Thought for the Day”…

Romans 12:3 (NLT) says…

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are.  Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

102 - Daily Dependence - X_ (1)It’s time to get honest…so what do you think of that?  Be careful how quickly you answer…Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) sheds some light on how good we are at evaluating ourselves…

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?”

When I think over my life and of all the mistakes I’ve made, the careless words and foolish choices that could have gotten me in much more than some hot water, it’s hard to believe that I am the same person.  There is so much I regret, but that makes me also so grateful for the life that I have as a born again believer in Jesus.  I truly am a changed man as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

102 - Daily Dependence - New Creation - 2 Corinthians 5-17 - New Creation - Copy

But even after walking with the Lord for the past 18 years, I still find myself saying and doing things I wish I wouldn’t.  It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 (ESV)

“For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

That unfortunately is the human condition…we are all sinners and fall short of what God desires for our life, (see Romans 3:23).  The key is not to give up chasing after God, even after we fail to the right thing.  My wife an expression she always says that we need to 102 - Daily Dependence - Strive for Progress Not Perfection“strive for progress, not perfection.”  The reality is we can never achieve perfection this side of heaven but if we are always striving for progress, our life will be in an upward curve.  Even if we stumble, as long as we pick ourselves up and get back on track pursuing God’s desire for us, we will always be improving.  And we need to be very careful not to allow the enemy to get a foothold in our minds that we will never change.  Romans 3:24 (ESV) piggybacks on the fact that though we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” with this beautiful truth that we…

102 - Daily Dependence - License to Sin“are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

Of course this is not a license to sin!  Too often people try to play the “Grace card” as a way to justify continuing to sin.  That is not what Grace is about!  Grace is a gift to overcome sin not to justify it!

102 - Daily Dependence - Grace is Not A License to Sin

Going back to my Pastor’s statement about being “Marked by God’s Word,” I was reading Romans 12:9-21 the other morning from the English Stand Version (ESV) Translation and it had this heading…“Marks of the True Christian.”  Check it out, it is a powerful list!  To paraphrase, a “True Christian” should be genuine in their love for others…Should hate evil and be on fire to serve the Lord even though they may go through trouble.  A “Marked Christian’s” mission should be to live in harmony with everyone regardless of what they may do to us!  Verse 21 wraps up “The Mark of a True Christian” with this…

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Not what the typical human response is though huh?  I know it’s certainly was not mine until I started walking with God in 1998.  Before that, I can testify that was not my attitude at all…I was self-centered, egotistical and lived my life with one objective…it was all about me!  If you hurt me that was it, I would cut you out of my life, regardless of your attempts to seek forgiveness…you were dead to me.  I never thought about helping others, I just wanted my needs met.  But everything has changed since accepting Jesus as my savior.  Now I look for opportunities to help others, to be an encouragement and look out for those God brings into my life.

There was a man in the early church that I endeavor to be like which Acts 4:36 (NLT) introduces us to…

“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).  He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.”

What a name!  “A Son of Encouragement!”  He is described in greater detail in Acts 11:24 (NLT)…

“Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith.  And many people were brought to the Lord.”

That is my prayer, to be “A Son of Encouragement and to be a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith,” that many people will come to the Lord as a result!”  You see after all the “evaluation” is done and I realize I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I step back and realize despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this life lesson on this verse …

“Despite the Corinthian’s problems, Paul could see their genuine spiritual gifts, their repentance, and their love for God, and he wanted these things to encourage them to further growth. Likewise, we must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him by examining whether or not we are expressing His likeness and character in increasing measure (see also 2 Peter 1:3-8).

“We must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him!”  It’s a command!  But something I have  realize and I hope you gleam this as well, I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I just need to step back and acknowledge that despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!  I will close with Acts 15:11 (NLT)…

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” 

You see there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore or any less!  Matt Redman has this beautiful song called “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” that is a beautiful reminder of how important and loved we are regardless of what we do, nothing is beyond God’s ability to forgive, no matter “how unforgivable” we may feel that it is…It is by the undeserved grace of God that we are saved!

 

 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – “Bonus” ★

73 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 4

We hope you have enjoyed our first ever “trilogy of posts” as we delved into Marriage & Money and how they go hand in hand.  As a quick recap:

So what’s next?  How do we elevate our marriages to reach unity and oneness in our finances? Through…

73 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship Banner

Prayer

  • Prayer really works.  Someone once said, “Prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.” 

Word

  • Get into the Word of God; find out what the bible says about marriage and money.  Don’t just stop at this class, dig in for yourself and continue to learn.

Worship

  • Get into the Word of God; find out what the bible says about marriage and money.  Don’t just stop at reading these posts, dig in for yourself and continue to learn.

The first step is always the hardest but Proverbs 16:3 gives us the direction,

73 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship

So if you want unity in your marriage and in your finances you need to get into the Presence of the Lord through these three areas.

Here is some Practical Application, common sense but good reminders….

 1.  Teamwork = Unity in Marriage. You are a team so you need to act like one!

  • Ephesians 4:2 (NIV1984) says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
  • James E. Hunton once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

 2.  Forgive One Another – No one is perfect and you are bound to make mistakes.

  • Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV1984) warns us that, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.”
  • And follows up in verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV1984)

 3.  Think Before you Speak

  • Proverbs 16:24 (NLT) instructs us that, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
  • And Proverbs 16:24 (NKJV) says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

 4.  Work on Budget Together = Unity in Finances will result

  • Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” 
  • The Living Bible translates Proverbs 21:5 a little simpler, “Steady plodding brings prosperity.” 
  • If you have a plan, a budget and you work that plan consistently, God promises that you will be prospered.

5.  Learn, Learn, Learn

  • The late great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said that we need to “Commit to being a lifetime learner.”       
  • You can’t just read one book or attend one class; you need to continually learn in order to be successful in Marriage and Money.  I love what Dave Ramsey said about winning in your finances,
  • “Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.”  Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover

I will close with my favorite quote from John Wooden:

_72 - Daily Dependence - John Wooden - Choices

 So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?

  • Will you chose to trust God and put him in control of your life?
  • Will you chose to change your behavior in how you relate to your spouse and your finances?
  • Will you chose to start tithing?
  • Or will you chose to do nothing at all?

“In the end, the choice you make makes you.”  If you will commit to follow God’s principle’s for our Marriages and Finances than we will have unity in both.  Remember “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

Keep an eye out, we will be starting a new segment called “Back to the Basics,” where we will be tapping into the fundamentals of Christianity, and getting back to the roots of our faith.  While you wait, you can read our very first blog post which is a great preamble to this segment, called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that really captures what Daily Dependence are all about!!

★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 3 ★

72 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 3

★★★ Attention single people!! ★★★

I know that the title of this is “Marriage & Money,” but whether you have never married, you’re divorced or widowed, every financial principle that we will outline in this post is directly applicable to you!
Please don’t skip what God would speak into your life through this.

Our trilogy of “Marriage & Money” posts comes to an end with the final installment that we will hopefully understand how to have unity in our Finances by looking into People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money.  It is also our 100th post as well!!

72 - Daily Dependence - 100th post

As a quick recap:

  • In Part 1, we discussed how not having a plan for how the family finances are going to be handled can cause problems in our marriage if not dealt with quickly.  We also reviewed God’s Plan for Marriage and how Satan attacks marriages.  If you missed it, just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ to get caught up.
  • In Part 2, we discussed the Differences between Men and Women and how Satan exploits those dissimilarities to heap on the stress to cause a wedge in our relationship.  Most importantly, we unpacked how it is paramount to have God as the center of our marriage if we ever want to have unity.  If you missed it, just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★ to get caught up.

Now that we have talked about God’s plan for marriage and the enemy’s attacks, we are going switch gears and talk about People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money and how this plays into our marriages.  When you and your spouse tied the knot and married each other you became “One Flesh” right?  Well your finances should be unified as well and when they are not all kinds of strife and enmity results.  Financial expert Dave Ramsey said,

  • “In order to have a financially successful marriage, the money has to be ‘ours’…not ‘mine’ and ‘yours’.” 

We have focused a lot of time on marriage but that was to set the foundation for the financial side of things, because every thing that we talked about marriage also applies to money.  Remember they go hand in hand.  We are going to look at People’s view of money and Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount which outlines God’s view of Money.    For simplicity’s sake I will refer to it as “Man’s View of Money,” but obviously that goes for the women as well.

There are more than 2,350 verses in the Bible instructing us on how to handle money and possessions that God has placed in our care.  I have always found it ironic that on back of our money it says “IN GOD WE TRUST”.  That seems to be such a strange statement to be placed on our currency, especially in today’s culture of instant gratification and entitlement.  It seems that “IN DEBT WE TRUST” would be closer to the mark.  Earl Wilson said,

72 - Daily Dependence - Earl Wilson - In Love With DebtThat is a bold statement, but the simple fact is that we love our credit cards.  We are willing to go into tons of debt so that we can live in the best neighborhoods, we will work ourselves to the bone to drive nice cars and to have all kinds of nice things which ultimately leads to money problems if we are not careful.  Now let me be clear, there is nothing wrong having a nice house or cars or having lots of stuff, the key is acquiring these things by handling it God’s way and not trusting in debt.  Jesus taught that in Matthew 6:19 (NASB),

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” 

Storing up stuff here on Earth is going in the wrong direction.  Christian financial expert Larry Burkett said

  • “How we handle money is simply an outside indicator of our internal spiritual condition.” 

1.  The first view we are going to look at is Debt and Contentment:

72 - Daily Dependence - Debt & Contentment

The amazing thing is that as we are buying all the stuff on credit we never realize that we are willingly entering into bondage to the credit card company or the car finance department or the mortgage company.  I am no different from anyone else.  I grew up poor in a single parent home and once I got married I determined that I was never going to “do without.”  I am the natural spender in the marriage whereas, my wife grew up in a family that saved money so when we got married it was a challenge to say the least for her because she approached our finances as the “saver.”  Ultimately you need to have a little of both because spending everything you have is not good but neither is saving everything you make, you need to have a little fun, just have to find the right balance.  The key is to be a wise consumer and not try to keep up with the “Joneses.”  The question I have for you is…Are you content with what God is doing in your life?  I Timothy 6:6 (NKJV) says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”  See that was my problem, I was not content with waiting to have what I wanted and as a result I brought a lot of pressure into our marriage.  In his book, the ABC’s of Financial Freedom, Barry Cameron said two incredible things in regards to debt,

72 - Daily Dependence - Barry Cameron - DebtHave you ever thought about what you could do for the kingdom of God if you were not buried under credit card debt or car payments or a mortgage that you really cannot afford?  You know when I read that quote about the devil and debt; I could not help but draw the parallel to Proverbs 22:7 about being the lender’s slave which is exactly what Satan wants.  Too often we cannot say no to what marketers are selling, think about it, part of any effective advertising campaign is to make potential customers discontented with their existing product.  These feelings that accompany discontentment are enough to make people buy things they don’t need or can’t afford.  And sometimes it doesn’t even need to be a big screen TV or expensive purse it could just be eating out too much.  I love what Dave Ramsey says about debt,

  • “Debt is not the problem, but a symptom.  Debt is a symptom of overspending and undersaving.”

Debt is just a symptom of a bigger problem that we cannot say no to stuff and Proverbs 17:18 (MSG) puts a fine point on it,

  • “It’s stupid to try to get something for nothing, or run up huge bills you can never pay.” 

So how do we erase debt?  You have to choose to say no to what you want and focus on what you need.  You need to learn contentment.  Howard Dayton, from Crown Financial Ministries said:

  • “If you cannot be content with what you have, you will never be content with what you want.” 

How many times have we seen this play out with celebrities who are on top of the world and are still not happy?  The Apostle Paul knew about contentment and trusting in God’s Provisions.  When he was in prison he wrote in Philippians 4:13 and 19 (NASB) about God’s Provisions,

  • “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 
  • “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

If you look closely verse 19 says “all your needs” will be supplied.  Discontentment ignores the provisions of our needs and focuses on what we do not have and conversely on what we want.  We need to get to a place where our circumstances do not dictate whether we have joy or peace.

2.  The second view we will look at is a hot button issue and that is Tithing.

72 - Daily Dependence - TithingWhen you look at all of these comments under “Man’s View,” I have thought at one time or another.  Growing up and into adulthood, I have seen a lot of hypocrisy in the church on how they handled the money and how they would badger the congregants to give more and more.  These experiences happened in different denominations so I know that it is not based on church affiliation but on the human heart.  The simple fact is that Man will always let you down but the key is not lumping God in the same category as a church or pastor that misrepresented Him by their actions.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:20 (NASB),

  • “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;”

God does not need our money but He wants our hearts to be focused on the Kingdom of Heaven, not on stuff here on earth.  He knew that we would have an issue in this area which is why God made the requirement in the first place so that MONEY would not have a hold on OUR HEARTS.  The tithe or 10% of our income is actually the minimum required by God.  It’s comical to think that we own any of our income when you shine the light of Psalm 24:1 (NIV1984) on the issue,

  • “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” 

Rather than gripping about “loosing” 10% we should be happy that we get to keep 90%!  Malachi 3:10-12 (NIV1984) says it all,

  • “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.  “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.” 

I love this verse because it is the only place in the Bible that God challenges us to “Test” Him.  And if we pass the test he promises to throw open the floodgates of heaven (or other translations say the “windows of heaven”) and bless us so much that we will not have room enough to store it.  Now that is what I want.  He also promises to prevent pests or the enemy from devouring what we have and that is not just finances and possessions but our marriage, our children and our health.  So you see we really can’t afford not to give our tithe to the Lord.  Proverbs 3:9–10 (NIV1984) instructs us to,

  • “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” 

One thing that I have noticed is that if I do not make my tithes and offerings a priority there will always be something else that will eat up the money.  When it says “First Fruits” here it means above all things, first and foremost, Honor the Lord with your wealth which He has provided for you.  Pastor Robert Morris said perfectly:

  • “It doesn’t take faith to pay all your bills and THEN give to God. Put the kingdom of God FIRST … and see what happens to your provision!” 

If you do that the blessings will overflow!!  If you are not already tithing, I urge you to start and I promise you will never regret giving the Lord.  In Luke 6:38 (NIV1984), Jesus said,

  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Your level of giving will be measured against you on what you receive.  My absolute favorite question is…”Is the tithe based on the gross or the net”?  I have asked this question myself and the best answer I have ever heard was, “What do you want to be blessed on??”  You see it is all about the motive and the heart of the giver and how much you trust God.  Rick Warren said,

  • “God’s BLESSING on you is always in proportion to your DEPENDENCE on Him.  Great anointing is the fruit of great trusting.” 

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV1984) says,

  • “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 

If you heart is not in the right place, you will not please God with you giving, you can read about Cain’s unacceptable offering in Genesis chapter 4.  We don’t have time to go through the story but the very first murder resulted over tithing when Cain killed his brother Abel because God found his offering acceptable and not Cain’s.  God knew what hold money and possessions would have on our hearts and that is why so much teaching in the Bible deals with this.

3.  Stewardship is the next view we will look at. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

  • the office, duties, and obligations of a steward – I always love how they define a word with the same word, I thought that was not allowed. A Steward (is defined as a fiscal agent or manager). 
  • the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

So when we talk about Biblical Stewardship, we are talking about management of money and resources for God.  This however is not the conventional wisdom of this age.  So let’s take a look at the different views that exist…

72 - Daily Dependence - Stewardship

We need to understand that it is not our money.  God is the owner and we are His managers entrusted with His affairs and His possessions.  So if Jesus spoke so much on the topic, don’t you think it may be important for us to understand what we are expected to do as managers of the resources God allows to come into our hands?  I love how Robert Morris makes the point,

  • “Many believers aren’t aware of this, but EVERY time you get paid, you are facing a test.”

The test is, whether we can be trusted to be a good manager.  Luke 16:10-11 (NIV1984) says,

  • “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

So then how do we handle money as faithful managers?  I will give you a hint, it is the B-word of finances….You guess it the “Dreaded Budget”.  Yes we have finally gotten to the point of the class that you have all been dying to get to.  The budget is the absolute key to winning at money.  John Maxwell said,

  • “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”  

Dave Ramsey suggests using a “Zero-Based Budget.”

  • The “Zero-Based Budget” approach which is where the Total Expenses = Total Income. Every dollar is spent on paper before it is actually spent.  If done this way, when you work through every category on your budget sheet you should end up with a zero (no extra money left over or extra money spent). 

It always amazed us when the checking account was empty and we had no idea where the money went.  Though we did not spend large sums of money on expenses items, we were $20 and $50 ourselves to death.  One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is:

  • “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Trying to manage your finances without a budget, without a plan is the very definition of insanity because you will never know where the money went and in most cases you will end up with “more month” then there is money to go around and I don’t need to tell you what a breeding ground for conflict that causes.  The budget is paramount to reduce strife in your marriage and help control you to control your spending.  In his “Financial Peace University” class, Dave Ramsey said…

  • When you agree on your spending…
    • you are agreeing on your value system,
    • you are agreeing on your goals,
    • you are agreeing on your dreams,
    • you are even agreeing on your fears
    • the ‘Budget’ takes all the knots out of your marriage
    • and you will get oneness in your marriage and unity.”

And that is the whole point, right?  For is to have unity in both our marriage and finances!

4.  The number four view is Idolatry and Greed.

72 - Daily Dependence - Idolatry & Greed

Money and possessions cannot make you happy or fill the void, it cannot buy happiness.  Jesus furthers the point in Matthew 6:24 (NASB) when He said,

  • “No one can serve two masters; (the Message translates this as ‘two gods,’) for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.” 

Money can become an Idol and if we are not careful, it can replace God.  And no discussion on greed can be complete without us mentioning one of the most famous scriptures from 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT),

  • “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 

This is one of the most famous and most misquoted verses.  Many people say “money is the root of all kinds of evil” but if you look carefully it says “for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  And that love of money can cause us to wander from the faith and cause many problems in our marriage and finances.  It is all about the heart and until you have that right, you will continually spin your wheels and never please God.

5.  Worry is number five.72 - Daily Dependence - Worry

In this day and age with unemployment rates at all time highs, there may be some reading this post that have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own so I want to be careful in how I pose this section contrasting Man’s view with God’s view.  But what Jesus is saying here is that we need to put out trust in Him and not be troubled but the nightly news headlines because He is in control.  We need to rely on God and God alone.  Take a look at this cartoon;

72 - Daily Dependence - The Bible is the Manual To Live ByI love the punch line from the man’s wife,

“Why don’t you stop wondering what is wrong with the world and just read the manual”.

The bible is the one and only manual that will point our lives in the right direction.  As we place our concerns in God’s capable hands, we find a quietness that only He can provide.  God gives peace to those who are quiet before Him as Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) reminds us

  • “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

And Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says we are to,

  • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

Boy that is a hard one for me sometimes but the longer I walk with God the more I realize when I just put in his hands (and leave it there), He will take care of my every need.  I am not the provider for my family, God is the provider.

6.  The final view we will look at tonight is Legacy.72 - Daily Dependence - Legacy

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the National Debt has continued to increase an average of $2.34 billion per day since September 30, 2012.  As of 3-15-2015, the national debt is $1 8 , 1 6 0 , 6 6 6 , 5 5 2 , 0 3 1 . 6 8 !  That is staggering to think of all that we are passing onto future generations!!  I saw this comic, and though it is funny, it is also quite sobering!

72 - Daily Dependence - Mountain of Debt ComicBut Jesus made God’s view clear in Matthew 6:33 (NASB) which says,

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

God should be ahead of everything else, if we do, everything else will be added to us.  It should be a great concern of ours about the debt just continuing to grow with no thought of the future.

1 Timothy 5:8 (NASB) says,

  • “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

If you are not thinking about the legacy you leave, you are considered to have “denied the faith” and are “worse than an unbeliever!”  To add to that thought, Proverbs 13:22 (NIV1984) says,

  • “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

How much would people change their spending habits if they thought about providing for their “children’s children”….if they thought generational?  One of Dave Ramsey’s most famous quotes is,

72 - Daily Dependence - Dave Ramsey - Live Like No One Else

How we live now will greatly affect how we will live in the future.  So what’s next?  Well just like in any trilogy of books or movies, there is always “BONUS” material so click here for some Practical Application!!

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★

71 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at how people get married with no understanding of how the family finances are going to be handled and how that can cause problems in the marriage if not dealt with quickly.  We also reviewed God’s Plan for Marriage and how Satan has been attacking marriages and that the importance of marriage has been sharply declined over the past 50 years.  If you missed it just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ to catch up.

Part 2 of our trilogy of posts will delve into how to have unity in our Marriage by discussing the Differences between Men and Women and how our enemy, Satan exploits those dissimilarities.  Tony Evans made this point…

71 - Daily Dependence - Tony Evans - Satan Wants The Family

Satan hates God and he hates us and thus comes at marriages with great ferocity that is why it is so important for us as Husband and Wife to be aware of the battle we are in and to try to understand who the person is that we have become one flesh with.  Jesus said in Mark 3:24-25 (NASB):

71 - Daily Dependence - Mark 3-24-25 - House DividedAnd Amos 3:3 (NKJV) says:

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

Amen?  Do you see that as being true?

Without agreement, it is impossible to move forward.  Men and Woman are different and with those differences can conflicts can arise.

Someone once said that:

  • “‎90% of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice.”  Unknown.

Instead of battling our spouse, we should see Marriage for what it is, a gift from God and a special covenant with each other.  If we could all grasp that simple concept to approach our mate with love and respect, then perhaps “‎90% of the friction could be eliminated.”  Colossians 3:18-19 (MSG) says


“Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master
[other translations say “the Lord”]. 

Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.  Don’t take advantage of them.”                                                                                      

Now you may have noticed that the verse in the image of Colossians 3:18-19 is reversed, but that is intentional to get the men seeing their role first because this verse has been taken advantage of by men who use it as a tactic to control their wife.  I love how the Message translation says before the word “submit” to “support” your husband.  God knew that Men needed help and He blessed us with the perfect companion.  In Genesis 2:18 (NKJV) God said “I will make him a helper comparable to him.”  Submission does not mean less than, our wives are comparable or equal to us.  God set the man as the head of the household but he knew that the man was going to need help, for all aspects of our lives including the finances.  We need to work as a team loving and respecting one another.

In Ephesians 5:24-25 (NIV1984) the Apostle Paul says it a little differently comparing our actions to that of Christ,

  • “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” 

The Greek translation for Love here is agape, which is a spiritual love, not sexual.  It is by definition a selfless and unconditional love that is not based on what the other person does for me but instead it is about sacrificing yourself for your spouse, just like Christ did.  When we submit and love each other as the Apostle Paul instructs, we are being sanctified and made ready to be the bride of Christ.  This of course is not what the enemy of our soul wants at all so he twists and distorts God’s Word to see submission as negative.  The reason for this is clear in James 4:7 (NIV1984),

  • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

There is power when we submit to each other and especially to God.  Submitting or humbling ourselves eliminates the sin of pride, if we don’t then Satan wins and we lose, just like in the Garden.  Husbands we need to love our wives as we love ourselves just as Christ loved the church, which he laid down His life for.  And wives part of the submission is respecting and supporting your husband.  You know the old cliché that “it takes two to fight?”  Well it’s true.  The key is getting to the root problem of why we fight and try to understand the other spouse’s point of view.  In 2010, Author of the best-selling book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, John Gray released a follow-up book called: Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance – the Key to Life, Love & Energy.  In the book he discusses that,

  • “The Difference between the sexes and how they relate to one another is biochemically based and can be found in our hormones.”

71 - Daily Dependence - John Gray - Difference in Sexes Found In Hormones

Gray talks about the unique ways that each gender deals with stress and how the stress hormones harm our health and complicate our ability to relate to one another.  What I found most interesting about the book was how polar opposite Men and Women really are.  The Hormones of Fire and Ice or Men and Women are Testosterone and Oxytocin. In the book, he explains when a man springs into action and solves a problem, he releases Testosterone to deal with stress and as he acts he feels competent and powerful but then soon after has to rest to rebuild his Testosterone levels.  A woman on the other hand needs to share herself 71 - Daily Dependence - John Gray - Hormones of Fire and Icein nurturing situations to release Oxytocin but then afterwards she needs to receive nurturing and understanding herself to rebuild her hormone levels.  The wisdom to understand here is that relaxing on the couch is crucial for a man because he is rebuilding a vital hormone to deal with stress.  Conversely getting nurturing support reduces the stress for a woman so Men, she needs to share her feelings and we need to be available because this is vital for her to be able to deal with stress.    That is where the analogy comes from that Men are on Ice because they need to shut down and go into their “cave” while Women are on Fire needing to communicate and receive love and support; to deprive either person of this only builds stress in them and ultimately in our relationship.

So why am I mentioning all this? Because the same hormones that help to alleviate stress are also the same hormones that connect us romantically.

These two critical hormones not only help us individually but also relationally.  Gray also cites in the book findings from the Researchers at the prestigious Schupps Clinic in San Diego, who concluded that:

  • Heart Disease is most often triggered by unresolved emotional issues like financial stress, Divorce, loneliness or an inability to effectively communicate with a child or Spouse.”

3 out of the 5 items cited in this finding are exactly what we are talking about.  When I read this statistic it was a huge red flag that “unresolved emotional issues” can cause Heart Disease.  We need to recognize the stressors and help not only ourselves but our spouses to deal with the stress.  The symbolism of “Men are from Mars” and “Women are from Venus”, two entirely different planets is great to make the distinctions between the sexes but God made us just the way we are and if we want unity in our marriages then we need to accept one another just how He made us.  Psalm 139:14 says:

Men and Women are different and that is a good thing, the question remains though “How do you achieve unity in your marriage?”  Well the answer may seem obvious but HE is often not engaged when problems arise, the answer is….”God!”

This is the key to everything in life.  It starts as individuals, (hopefully when we are young) and then continues into our marriages as adults.  Having God at the center of our hearts and our marriages will not only help us relate to one another but also in our finances.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) says,

“A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  I did a little research on this and found that people have incorporated this scripture into their wedding ceremony by braiding three colored cords, Gold for God, Purple for the Groom and White for the Bride.  What a beautiful way to publically declare that God will be interwoven in your marriage.  With God is at the center of our marriages, Satan does not have a chance to break us up because when a Husband and Wife are bound together in Christ, they are stronger than as individuals themselves.  By keeping God at the center, His love will continue to bind the two of you together as one throughout your marriage and you will truly be “One Flesh” not knowing where you and end and where the other begins!

If you would like to read the next post that wraps up the “Marriage & Money” Trilogy, click here.  We delve into People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money to understand how to have unity in our Finances.

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★

70 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 1

When you made the decision to marry your spouse, what were your expectations about how the family finances were going to be handled?  Did you even have any?  Marriage and money go hand in hand.  When there is unity in handling money God’s way, it helps lead to unity in your marriage as well.  Whether you are a newlywed or married for 50 years, it is critical to learn what the Bible says about handling money God’s way and the importance of this in our marriages.

I am a firm believer that “the burnt hand teaches best.” Experience, especially the mistakes are the best teachers and my wife and I certainly have experienced our fair share in our relationship.  So over the next 3 posts we will delve into “Marriage & Money” and how the two relate to one another in our relationships.  My purpose is to share what God has placed on my heart and use bits and pieces of what we have learned to help you to avoid making the same mistakes in your Marriage and Finances.

What were your expectations about how the finances would be handled in your home??

  • Were you determined to be the one in control?
  • Or did you just bury your head in the sand?
  • Or did you even have any?

People’s views of money vary considerably from those who are “Spenders” to those who are “Savers”.  When you factor that in, along with all the differences between men and women, a mathematical explosion of possibilities for conflicts can result without even realizing it.  Most people have an idealized view of marriage which starts early on in childhood that has been so ingrained into our subconscious.  70 - Daily Dependence - DisneyThe picture has been painted in our minds of the woman as a princess and that one day her knight in shining armor will come.  Through the years Disney has contributed many different movie installments with this one central theme that ultimately ends with the tag line “and they lived happily ever after….”  When you think of the constant bombardment of unrealistic fantasies, it is no wonder that the wedding day is the quintessential moment that every little girl dreams of.  Months and months are spent planning a wedding, working on the invitations, searching for the dress, the rings, the music, the flowers, and working on all the intricate details.  But what is usually left out of the equation is what happens when the Honeymoon’s over (literally).  When you think about this, it is absolutely insane, planning for months for one day but giving little thought for the future.  Now I must confess, when we got married we were no different.  The simple truth is that when a man and woman decide to “tie the knot” they typically never talk about how the finances will be handled and when that happens it will not take long for money fights and arguments to begin.

  • In a radio interview, Crown Financial Ministries CEO, Chuck Bentley stated that: “40% of people are living beyond their means.”
  • “The wall street Journal reported that “70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, one step away from bankruptcy!” and
  • According to a Markmen & Stanley Study, “The #1 cause of divorce in America is financial disagreements”

So the question is, if…

  • 4 out of 10 people are living beyond their means and
  • 7 out of 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and the
  • #1 cause of divorce is financial disagreements or money fights…

How do we get to a place of unity in both our marriage and our finances?  Many people do not realize that Marriage and Money go hand in hand.  When you have unity together in how you handle your finances, you will have unity in your marriage.

Over these posts, we will be covering these 5 areas in regards to Marriage & Money:

  • God’s plan for Marriage
  • The differences between Men and Women
  • God’s plan for our Finances
  • The differences in people’s views of money
  • How the enemy uses all these differences to attack marriages

Now it will not necessary be in this order as I will not be so linear but we will weave and blend together these 5 major points.

God’s Plan for Marriage

So without further ado, let’s start from the beginning, in the first book of the bible, in Genesis chapter 2, after the Heavens and the Earth, and everything else was made, God formed Man out of dirt from the ground.  He planted a garden in Eden and placed the Man to work the ground and keep it in order.  But God saw the man and He said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him,” (Genesis 2:18) and so God created the Woman to share life with the Man.  Verse 24 says:

  • “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24 (NIV1984)   

THAT IS IT…that was God’s plan for Marriage.  For the Man and Woman to live in paradise united together who would have fellowship with Him.  What a simple and wonderful plan but the very next chapter of Genesis recounts how that perfect plan was ruined when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”.  God had told Adam not to eat of the fruit or else he would die, so the serpent spoke to the Woman instead since she had not been created at that time.  In chapter 3, verse 6 it says:

70 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 3-6

I remember so clearly when I was at a bible study and heard a teaching on this verse and those underlined words just popped off the page…”Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her.”  I always thought that she was alone and that explained how it happened but the whole time that Satan and the Woman were having this discussion, Adam, “The Man” was standing right there and did nothing to protect his wife or stop what he knew was wrong and to make it worse he ate the fruit too!  And here is the key, don’t miss this, if we don’t work as a team, in unity we will fail in our marriages and our financesThough the timing in Genesis is unclear, the original plan for Marriage was created in Chapter 2 and destroyed by Chapter 3 as the Man and Woman fell into sin of Pride from the Serpent’s deception.  We need to understand that Satan is working in the background creating problems in our marriage, problems in our finances, and problems in our life.  Ephesians 6:12 (NIV1984) says,

  • “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  

We will delve into this throughout these series of posts but I do want to say one thing before we go any further, that the enemy of our soul is not behind every problem, there are many times that we create our own trouble by not trusting God and not following His principles.  Or not loving and respecting our spouse as we ought to or by making foolish financial decisions because of “wants” instead of be wise in making purchases of “needs” only.  Someone once said “God promised to meet our needs, not our greeds.”

But Ephesians is clear, there is a battle raging on that we need to be aware of.  Though it is not confirmed, Julius Caesar is credited with the concept of “Divide & Conquer” which is one of the greatest strategies in battle.  And that is exactly what Satan does as he attacks us in our marriages and finances by deceiving one of the spouses to doubt, to fear, to be distracted or to focus on the wrong things.  We are at war and if you do not know that then take a look at what it says just 9 verses later in Genesis, as God reprimanded the serpent, He cursed the serpent and said because you have done this,

70 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 3 - 14-15

Enmity is also translated as hostility but I love how The Message translation states it:

  • “I’m declaring war between you and the Woman”  Genesis 3:15 (MSG)

There it is, proof that we are in a battle against a real enemy, not a cartoon character with horns and a pitchfork.  Satan has many descriptions and names in the bible, he is called:

70 - Daily Dependence - The Names of Satan

Enough said??  Just like this list, Satan’s reign will come to an end.  Now I am spending extra time here, not to create fear but to underscore the importance of not idly going through life oblivious to Satan and his schemes.  The reality is that as a believer in Jesus, we already have the victory through Jesus’ death and resurrection, as it says in 1 John 4:4 (NASB):

  • “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He [Jesus] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world.”

I love how Pastor Jack Graham once said it, that “Satan is a defeated foe.” 

That is of course, when you have Jesus in you, you have the power to overcome the enemy.  There is power and victory through Jesus.  We can overcome the enemy’s attacks by calling on Jesus’ name not only for our marriages but finances too!   Jesus has a list of his own which is called The “I Am’s” of Christ:

Now I much prefer to mediate on this list for sure as there is power and victory through Jesus.

In the book of Matthew it recounts the story when some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”  And Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24 in chapter 19 verse 5 and then continues the thought in Verse 6 of Matthew:

  • “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” Matthew 19:6 (NASB)

I love how Jesus answers their question so clearly and succinctly.  He has a great way of flipping things.  If a husband and wife are no longer two but one flesh then the answer is clear.  God’s intention for marriage was to be shared between one man and one woman forever…what God has joined together let no man separate.  But as we have been discussing, the enemy has other plans to strain and tear apart the unity of marriage.  Malachi 2:16 (MSG) says,

  • “I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel…”I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.  So watch yourselves.  Don’t let your guard down.  Don’t cheat.” 

This verse is such a powerful statement from God which many people have misunderstood because they read that God hates divorce and make the jump that God hates them because of the divorce but that is a LIE OF THE ENEMY.  Look at it again, God said “I hate divorce,” NOT the “DIVORCEE.”  Divorce is real; many of you reading this post may have experienced one in your life whether it was your parents or yourself.  I know firsthand what that “dismembering” felt like, having experienced this at the age of 5 when my parents divorced.  That description is right on, it was a violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’.  I have always related my parents divorce like a chess match where I was a pawn pinned between the King and Queen who were battling one another, using me to hurt the other.  Now I don’t mention this to condemn anyone but to show what God intended for marriage and what He thinks of Divorce.

In November of 2010, Time Magazine published a startling issue, entitled “Who Needs Marriage”.  Within the pages, findings from the nationwide survey of 2,691 Americans by the Pew Research Center were presented.  The survey was conducted with TIME magazine, and an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data.  They dug into the question…“Is Marriage Obsolete?”  70 - Daily Dependence - Time Magazine - Who Needs MarriageOver the past 50 years there has been a sharp decline in marriage and a rise of new family forms of people never getting married (but still having children) and people getting divorced or separated.  In 1960, 72% of American adults were married.  By 2008, that share had fallen to an all-time low of 52%.  The Pew Research survey found that nearly 4 in 10 Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete.  It is sad to think that this survey is now 5 years old, so I can only imagine where that number is now.  It is clear that the value of marriage has been greatly diminished and who do you think is behind that movement?  Satan of course!!

In 2009, Chuck Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George, with input from over 100 Christian leaders, authored the Manhattan Declaration stating a commitment to the principles of Human life, marriage, and religious freedom.  Here is an excerpt:

“Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all.”  That is a powerful statement and I think we can all agree that the second part has plagued our world that ““Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise,” (or deviation giving rise to social ills.)  

Part 2 of the “Marriage & Money” trilogy will delve into the Differences between Men and Women and what is the answer to bring unity in our Marriage.  Click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★ to read the next installment.

 

Continue reading

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

ReEngage - Lesson 05I would like to start off reviewing Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) …

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but
Two [HUSBAND AND WIFE] can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three [WITH GOD AT THE CENTER] are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” 

When you read this scripture and look at this picture below, do you agree with it?  How can you apply this to your marriage?
Ecclesiastes 4:12 is a fundamental scripture that can be applied to marriages for the importance of teamwork, not only for husband and wife but also with God in the mix.

As we talk about forgiveness, it is critical to realize that without God working within us individually and in our marriage, we will stay in the crazy cycle of conflict.

Lesson 5 and 6 focused on this Principle:  Extend Grace and Forgiveness.

There’s that word again…If you have not noticed yet there is a running theme, Grace is a central driver in any good marriage.  This week was the practical application of how Grace is expressed through forgiveness.

In Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB), Jesus is teaching about The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant…

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

What does Jesus’ response mean to you and your marriage?  Do you think that He meant you only need to forgive your spouse up to 490 offenses or something else?  There are 3 things to gleam from this…

1.  Peter wanted to know ‘how many’ times until he could stop forgiving someone but
2.  Jesus is more concerned with the why’ behind forgiveness.
3.  “Jesus is saying: Don’t keep track.  Don’t keep score.”

The why can be summed up with this Andy Stanley

“The one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one who grants it.”  

Do you believe that?  If you do believe that there is a benefit to forgiving, then why is it so hard?  Lesson 5 was all about Forgiveness, in the book, the main idea of Lesson 5 was:

“You have been forgiven everything by God’s Grace; therefore, you are able to forgive your spouse.”

I love the definition they gave on What forgiveness is…

“At its most basic level, forgiveness is the decision to pardon an offense and give up the right to be repaid.”

In the reading they discussed “What Forgiveness is Not.”

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting.

“Rather than forgetting, forgiveness is remembering your commitment to forgive. It often is a choice you will continue to make when not if the feelings of hurt and disappointment return.”

  1. Forgiveness is not reconciling.

“Reconciliation and forgiveness are two separate processes. You can forgive without reconciling, but you cannot reconcile without forgiveness. Forgiveness is instant, but trust will take time to rebuild.”

  1. Forgiveness is not condoning.

“It simply means that they no longer owe anything for the pain and hurt they have caused you.”

  1. Forgiveness is not a feeling.

“If you wait until you feel like forgiving, you never will and you won’t re-engage with your spouse and experienced a death depth and richness that your marriage can one day half.  Forgiveness is a choice you make, sometimes in spite of how you feel.”

  1. Forgiveness is not just about the person who hurt you.

“Forgiveness has limited benefit to the one who caused pain. But the longer you hold onto the hurt the longer their actions continue to have negative effects in your life.”

Forgiveness primarily benefits you, the one who has been hurt. It really is a gift you give to yourself.

What I have learned going through this book is that our childhood can have an effect on our marriage in how we interact with our spouse.  I had posted ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★ earlier about my father that you can see here, but I wanted to share this story with you in more detail.

I never really had a relationship with my father from the age of 12 years old.  I carried that hole in my life until I was 36, when God placed it on my heart to reconcile with him.

Just like we have been talking about, I had to choose to forgive him for the abuse I witnessed against my mom and choose to forgive the hurt of all the subsequent years of him not wanting to be in my life.  Though we had no relationship for most of my adult life, I am thankful that before he passed away, we reconciled and had a year and a half together.

The best part is that through God’s amazing grace, I was privileged to lead my father to the Lord 6 months before he died!  He is in heaven but that probably would not have happened if I was not obedient to God to forgive my Dad and extend God’s Grace to Him.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) says:

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

The reading made this great point that we need to always remember!

“We had a debt to God that we could not pay. Christ forgives us completely, yet we have the audacity to not forgive our spouses.”

Is it difficult to forgive your spouse? Do you struggle with this?  I love this what the Lesson 5 gave as the two options we have.

ReEngage - Lesson 05 - Fork in the Road of Your Relationship

“Each day you stand at a fork in the road of your relationship.

Your first option is to hold onto the hurt, disappointment and frustrations, which will almost always lead to anger and bitterness. This is a dead-end that will make you miserable.

Your other option is to begin to forgive and re-engage with your spouse. Left untreated, anger and bitterness often take on a life of their own.”

Do you see that as being true in your marriage?

“When we forgive and are forgiven by our spouse it helps us understand the nature of God’s forgiveness.”

In the book they made this statement:

“Your relationship with Christ and your marriage simply cannot move forward without forgiveness.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) says

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

And Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT) says:

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So if we are commanded to forgive, and we don’t, there will be consequences, we will not be forgiven.  Assuming no one wants those consequences, check out the next post from Lesson 6 called ★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

Continue reading

★ Re|Engage – Grace ★

ReEngage - Lesson 03The next two chapters focused on this Principle:  EMBRACE HUMILTY.

Lesson 3 was on Grace…The main idea was:

You are in need of God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”  

The definition of Grace as it pertains in Christian belief is:

 “The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” 

47 - Daily Dependence - Grace is the BridgeEphesians 2:8-9 (NLT)

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” 

The lesson made this powerful parallel between this verse and how our interactions with our spouse should be.

“Just as your relationship with God is grounded in grace, so must your relationship with your spouse be grounded in grace.  It’s the foundational pillar to any healthy relationship.”

Have you ever thought about extending grace to your spouse as being critical to a healthy marriage?  It spouses could grasp this concept the “self-help” industry would plummet!

“The bottom line is that we are not good enough and neither is our spouse…That’s why grace is essential to your relationship.”

What my wife and I really love about this class is how practical the counsel is and it’s application.  I love this on What grace in action looks like in action in marriage:

  • Grace does not focus on the faults of your spouse.
  • Grace is choosing to believe the best about their words and actions.
  • Grace is not shocked or angry when your spouse’s actions are not perfect.
  • Grace is not bringing up the ways your spouse has disappointed or hurt you in the past.
  • Grace responds kindly to a harsh word or a cold shoulder.
  • Grace causes you to be an advocate for your spouse rather than build a case against them.
  • Grace is loving your spouse, not because of their actions, but in spite of their actions.

And here is the flip side of What Grace is Not?

“But extending grace doesn’t mean that you grant your spouse permission to continue to hurt you.  And it doesn’t mean that the feelings of pain they have caused you are now invalid.  However, to re-engage with your spouse, you must follow Christ’s example as an initiator.  He initiates again and again because His love for you is perfect, and His love for you perseveres – even when you’re most unlovable.”

A friend of mine told me this and I will close with this…

“God is not looking for a perfect Christian but a persistent one.”  Gene Winterhalter

None of us are perfect but God desires us to chase after Him and be persistent in extending grace to the one that He blessed us with.

 

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Humility ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Extra Grace Required ★

Have you ever heard of the abbreviation “EGR “?  I just recently was introduced to the term, which is short for “Extra Grace Required.”

34 - Daily Dependence - Extra Grace Required

I did some research and found this definition…

EGR n. Abbreviation for Extra Grace Required. 

“A person in church whose ongoing spiritual and emotional needs frustrate the efforts of others to interact with that person or minister to that person.” (Source: http://www. dictionaryofchristianese.com/)

We have all met someone like this…A person who requires a lot of effort on our part to help. Sometimes, if we are being honest, it is a challenge just listening to what they are going through, but as I read the definition, I felt the Lord convict me and say to me that: “You require EGR too!”

We all do.  We are all sinners.  We all have fallen way short of the mark and we are all in need of God’s grace!  I love how Max Lucado put it about the grace that God offers us…

“He gave us grace. Not just mercy, mind you, but grace.  Grace goes beyond mercy.  Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace threw him a party.  Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim.  Grace prompted him to leave his credit card as payment for the victim’s care.  Mercy forgave the thief on the cross. Grace escorted him into paradise.  Mercy pardons us.  Grace woos and weds us.  Grace does this!  Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in his eye and an offer that’s hard to resist.”

It is all about Grace!  So before we say, “Extra Grace Required” for someone else, remember we all require extra grace!

Continue reading