★ Thought for the Day – God Owns It All! ★

My wife sent me this meme that is just plain hysterical!!

Every year around this time I get so frustrated with the excessive consumerism and rampant disregard of civility.  There are so video clips of people beating one another just to get the hottest Black Friday deal all in the name of saving money!  It got me thinking about this image that I saw from Tony Evans:

“The money you have came from God’s trees.  Everything you have belongs to God.”

Have you ever thought of that $20 bill in your pocket comes from trees that the Creator of Heaven and Earth spoke into existence?  (See Genesis 1:9-13).

I know I haven’t.  This image reminds me a lot of Psalms 24:1 (NASB)…

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.”

And as Tony Evans stated it…“fear produces poor stewardship.”  When we fail to understand “Who’s the owner,” we get into trouble and fail to “Be a good steward” which is Biblical mandate!  As I was mulling this over, I got excited to resurrect a post called ★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 3 ★ which was part of a 4-part series to help spouse understand how to have unity in our Finances.  Today I am going to cover the major points of contrasting what are the common views of money that people have vs. God’s view of money.  Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount gives a perfect outline how our finances and possessions should be handled from God’s Perspective.  For simplicity’s sake I will refer to it as “Man’s View of Money,” but obviously that goes for the women as well.

Did you know that 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?  In today’s culture of instant gratification and entitlement.  It seems that ought to learn what the Bible has to say.  So, let’s start off with Matthew 6:19 (NASB) in which Jesus started off the teaching on money and possession saying:

“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 The world aggressively markets us that we no longer see debt as a problem which is how fist fights break out in Walmart on the day after we “Give Thanks!”  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.”

In the past I struggled big time with this, I was not content with waiting to have what I wanted and as a result I brought a lot of pressure into our marriage.  As a result of not being content with what we had, my wife and I have accumulated consumer debt that we have had for years because we did not wait to save up.  And I have to say it has frustrated me so much to be limited in what we can do because monthly credit card minimums.  Have 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?  Proverbs 22:7 is so true, debt really does make us a slave to the lender, this is another great way to view it!

“The Decision to go into debt alters the course condition of your life.  You no longer own it.  You are owned.  Dave Ramsey

Amen?!  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, Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19 (NASB) about God’s Provisions,

“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 - Tithing

All of these comments under “Man’s View,” I have thought at one time or another in my life.  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 which is actually the minimum required by God.  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.

Robert Morris made this great point…

“Tithing is believing God can do more with 90% than you can do with 100%.”

Rather than gripping about ““losing”” 10% we should be happy that we get to keep 90%!  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.  Robert Morris also:

“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.  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.  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.  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?”

Okay, 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 part that you have been dying to get to – NOT!  Hahaha!  The budget is the absolute key to winning at money.  John Maxwell put it this way,

“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 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 stress and help control you to control your spending.

 

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

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.  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 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

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.  And at the risk of making this post a little longer, I wanted to let you know that applying these principles contained in this post will change your life!  We are living proof of it!  For years now, my wife and I have applying ourselves, being a good steward, tithing consistently and working to eliminate the consumer debt and I am thrilled to report that as of November 19, 2019 we are Debt Free!  (…Everything but the house.)  I cannot tell you how liberating of a feeling it is! 

To go along with that thought, I wanted to share an amazing sermon series called Beyond Blessed, in which Robert Morris unpacks what the “Bible says about the importance of wise stewardship and how it’s God’s perfect plan to overcome all financial stress.”  I would like to close with this final thought…

 “God blesses us because He loves us, and He also blesses us so we can be a blessing. Living beyond blessed isn’t about what we’re able to receive; it’s about what we’re able to give. It’s then that we can truly live beyond blessed.”

I pray that you receive that today and that you will commit to “Be a good steward!”  Nothing changes if nothing changes.  I hope that this post is a springboard for you to start your journey to expand your Biblical Worldview of Money and begin to adopt God’s View of how we handle our Finances and Possessions!  May God richly bless you as you trust in Him completely!

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

In our last post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ we dug into the life of Jonah and saw through his life how God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  We also introduced that we would be doing a 3 part series of how if we would respond to God’s “Never-Ending Pursuit” of us that would result in a victorious life for us.  As a refresher the trilogy of posts will delve into these 3 Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship BannerSimple enough right?  But I know myself; in the busyness of life establishing (and maintaining) a consistent “quiet time” can be a challenge.  Not familiar with that term?  You can check out this post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★ that goes in-depth about it but in a nut shell, it is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God through prayer, reading the Bible (Word) and for me I enjoy having worship music on.  This could be at night or in the early morning, or any time in between that does not really matter, what matters is spending time with God.  The pursuit of our Father in Heaven is all He desires!  God wants a relationship with us.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer EmojiSo in our inaugural post of this series let’s talk about “opening the pipeline” aka – Prayer.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) we get a very clear picture of what God is desiring:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 Chronicles 7-14 - If My People Would Pray“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

“If my people” would “humble themselves and pray and seek” Him and turn away from sinning, God will hear us and forgive us!  Wow!  This is not an obligatory prayer before your meal, or a lukewarm petition.  God’s desire is for us to truly want to pray, to be passionate in our time with Him.  And it is not intended to be a monologue…that you tell Him all that you need and then say Amen…It should be a dialogue where you listen for a response which could be an impression you feel or something that you comes to mind.  And this is something that is developed over time.

Before I accepted Jesus as my savior and pursued a relationship with God I know I prayed many milquetoast and meaningless prayers where I bargained with Him like God let me pass this test and I’ll go to church this week, or God get me through this hangover and I will never drink again.  The problem with these prayers is that they were not sincere and were just attempts to bribe God to get me out of trouble.  Too often we pray when things are terrible for God to help us out but once that is done God gets nothing…no thanks, no gratitude even if He did everything we prayed.

There is a song by the late great country singer Johnny Cash called a “Boy named Sue.”  He tells the story about how his father named him Sue and that he spent his life fighting everyone as a result of it.  The song most certainly is fictitious but in the Bible there is a man who was the equivalent to Sue.  His name was Jabez.  In 1 Chronicles 4:9 it says that:

“His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’”

The name his mother gave Jabez literally means…“he causes or will cause great pain.”  Now that may not seem like a big deal, but in Old Testament times, a person’s name was an indication of his future.  And a name like Jabez was like a curse that would predestine a person to a life of ridicule and grief just like the “boy named Sue.”  However, Jabez rose above the curse with a very simple prayer.

In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to God saying:

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That your hand would be with me,
And that you would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain!
So, God granted what he requested.”

Jabez was a man who knew the power of prayer and is a great example of how to open the pipeline to God.  First and foremost we can learn that just like Jabez, we need to believe with all our heart that God will honor our prayer.  Now Jabez’s prayer may seem to be common sense but how many of you have ever prayed so boldly?  Most people feel that they should be grateful for whatever they have and it’s better not to press your luck by asking for more since there is so much suffering in the world.  That is completely opposite from the truth.  If you look at the first part of his prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 1 - Oh, that you would bless me indeed

Jabez is asking God to provide him with resources.  Now don’t misunderstand me, that does not mean that you can ask God for a Rolls Royce or a mansion in Beverly Hills.  As we discussed in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★, “God is not a vending machine!  Too many pastors and churches have sown into the “prosperity gospel” where you “give to get,” or in this case that you are praying for God to give you with lots of stuff!   That is not what blessing means.  The kind of blessing Jabez is talking about in a biblical sense is to ask God for “supernatural favor.”  It is asking God to bless us not with more of what we can do for ourselves, but for Him to do the miraculous through us to glorify the kingdom of God.  What a different perspective then the conventional though of our culture.  God has so many blessings for us and is just waiting for us to ask for them.  In Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV1984) it says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jabez asked and he received.  The prayer of Jabez is a special prayer asking for God’s blessings.  But something you have to realize is that God’s blessings are not always the blessings that we think that they ought to be.  The blessings that He will bestow upon us are so much more abundant than we could even imagine.  When Jabez asked God to “bless him indeed” he didn’t say “God I could use a new car, or a million dollars”; rather he left it up to God to decide how, when and where to bless him.  He prayed that God would give him nothing more and nothing less than what God had planned for his life.  The blessing can come in many different forms and for reasons that you would never expect.  In the second part of Jabez’s Prayer he asked for God to:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 - Enlarge my territory

Now when I first read that I immediately thought of real estate.  That Jabez wanted more land but what he was really asking for was more influence, more responsibility and more opportunity to make a difference for God in his life.  Asking your territory to be enlarged is a very dangerous request though.  You are saying to God give me a greater sphere of influence and more opportunities to impact people for Christ.  It is being totally open for God to use you as a tool for His purpose.  That means stepping out of your comfortable schedules and routines and being ready at any moment to fulfill God’s master plan.  It means seeing “interruptions” as “opportunities!”  This was true for me on Thursday on my flight home from a business trip in Indiana.  My plan was to plug-in my ear buds to relax with some music and write this post!  But as a man sat down next to me and proceeded to talk with me, God opened an incredible door to speak life into his situation.  Though I was exhausted from 2 days of meetings, and had other plans for the 2 hour flight, I was thrilled to be able to partner with God to share the truth from His Word to help encourage him.  It truly was the highlight of my day!

When you ask for your territory to be enlarged, it is an awesome responsibility but the rewards are immeasurable.  More than any other part of the prayer of Jabez, this concept of “enlarging my territory” has to be the most bizarre and unexpected request.  How many people do you know go up to their boss and say “would you give me more work and responsibility?”  Most people feel that whatever they are currently doing is enough and that they do not have the skills to handle anything more.

Through the Holy Spirit, He will speak the words of encouragement or healing or compassion that the person needs to hear.  That is what happened to me on Thursday!  The man in seat 16A asked me if I was a pastor but I am not, I’m an architect, and he kept saying “how is it that you know all of this?”  The answer unequivocally is God!  That is the point of this part of Jabez’s prayer, by asking for “the expansion” you are taking a huge leap of faith and trusting that when you are reaching out to people who God will give the words to speak when you are open to be used, He will break all the boundaries and restraints holding you back.  The third part of Jabez’s prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 3 - That your hand would be with meIs the equivalent of the Star Wars catch-phrase…“May the Force Be With You.”  Jabez realized that once God started to bless him with resources and expanded his territory that he was going to need help.  It is all too common for people to ask for more responsibility and once it has been given they feel overwhelmed and begin to doubt themselves.  It is at this point that we need the hand of God to carry us and work the impossible through us.  In his book “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life,” Bruce Wilkinson said that:

“The Hand of God is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of His people…As God’s chosen, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God Steps in.”

I shared some of this in the ★ Why I Do What I do ★ section of the blog, starting this blog was a huge step of faith because of the commitment level.  It takes much more effort than just throwing up a status update.  But God certainly expanded my territory through this blog and without a doubt has had his hand on my preventing epic failure.  He has equipped me with a boldness to share things from my heart and do things that I never imagined possible.  It has been an amazing experience!  The fourth part of the Prayer of Jabez states:

94 - Daily Dependence - 4 - And that you would keep me from evilThis is critical to pray.  As God blesses us, and our territory is expanded and the supernatural power is surging through us, we are most vulnerable to stumble and fail.  When you are enjoying spiritual victories and seeing God’s unbelievable plan unfolding it is easy to feel invincible and impervious to the attacks of the devil.  But, Jabez knew that once you start treading on the devil’s territory, a giant target would be placed on you.  You become public enemy #1 in his eyes.  I can attest to that fact.  With the devil’s attention focused on you like this, it’s best if you don’t try to play with temptation.  Don’t fall into the devil’s trap by testing your strength to resist from sinning because that is the quickest way to fail.  Bruce Wilkinson made this point in the book that:

“It is better to stay out of the arena than to challenge the lion.”

What is the best offense?  A good defense!  And that of course as you can already guess, is prayer!  In the book of Matthew, Jesus told the apostles how to pray, “The Model Prayer” found in Matthew 6:9-13 is often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer,” or as I knew it growing up, “The Our Father.”  The final verse shows how important to pray to God for deliverance:

“And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13

In regard to temptation it is best not to press your luck.  If there is no temptation we will not sin; so stay clear of situations that will lead you to sin or cause harm to you or someone else.

There is such a tremendous power in prayer.  When Jesus was on the earth He was always praying to the Father.  In fact the only thing that the apostles ever asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.  Jesus’ ministry was not just about healing and preaching but about praying.  He lived a life of Prayer.  It was through His prayers that God worked all the miracles and wonders.  In the life of Jabez, here was a man who started off badly but ended victorious from a simple prayer.  And let’s not miss the final part of that prayer…

94 - Daily Dependence - 5 - That I may not cause painI love the self-realization of Jabez, to know that he is fallible and in need of God to protect him from hurting other people.

And God’s response…“So, God granted what he requested.”  I heard a missionary say once:

“That when we work, we work.  But when we pray, God works.

God will work in your life through your prayers.  When you pray, you are opening up a pipeline to the creator of heaven and earth and the possibilities are endless!!  Your pray doesn’t have to be a formal, rehearsed prayer but rather God desires it to be one from the heart.  You don’t have to have your eyes closed or be in church.  Sometimes the most powerful prayers can be in the car as you’re driving to work or school.  Regardless of what you are doing, or who you are with, God will honor your prayers and welcome the fellowship time between you and Him.  Talk to God like a friend and open your heart to Him.  The miraculous can be done with a prayer!

If you are interested, you can check out the second installment called

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

that covers the Pursuit of Feeding on God’s Word!

or

If you the introductory post, you can go here:

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

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

93 - Daily Dependence - Super TuesdayIt is hard to believe that it has already been four nights since Super Tuesday…and once again I was astonished at the results.  I will not name names, but one candidate “trumped” the others, and one was “feeling the burn” of defeat from their rival.  Before you get too nervous, this is not going to be all about politics because I think we all have had our fill over the past nine months as each presidential hopeful has made their case why they are the answer to America’s problems.  I don’t consider myself extremely political, but I do value my freedom to vote and have done my part to cast my vote this past Tuesday…And highly encourage you to be a part of the process (if you are not already) in November because if you live in the United States, you are blessed to be able to have you voice heard!  I am amazed at how hard these men and women 93 - Daily Dependence - Super Tuesday Canidateshave worked to achieve the honor to live in that big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue…enduring the time away from family, endless speeches and handshakes at town hall meetings, the character attacks and the incessant criticism from anyone and everyone with a microphone or computer.  I don’t think that I could handle that kind of life, but the never-ending pursuit for power and prestige is somehow worth the pain and public scrutiny that they will endure not only after November 8, 2016 passes and the job has been won; but for the next 4 to 8 years as every action they do, or don’t do is dissected under a microscope.

Today we will dig into this idea of the “Never-Ending Pursuit,” but unlike Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, we will unpack what really matters in this life and what should consume our time through the life of a well-known Old Testament prophet named Jonah.  You may think to yourself, Jonah?  Isn’t that a children’s story?  Yes…while it is without a doubt a common Sunday school story, the life of Jonah has many life lessons to learn from.  My wife and I have been reading the story in our quiet time and were astonished by the lengths that God went to in order to not only redirect His prophet, but also a to save a morally bankrupt people but wait, I am getting ahead of the story.  Let’s pump the brakes and start from the beginning…

93 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on JonahAs a messenger of God, Jonah delivered the Word of the LORD to the Israelites during the reign of King Jeroboam II “who did evil in the sight of the LORD” and lead the northern Kingdom to commit great acts of evil.  (See 2 Kings 14:23-25 for more on him…)  Jonah was God’s man, a light to His chosen people.  In Jonah 1:1-3 it says:

Jonah Runs from the Lord

“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh.  Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.”

Nineveh was an Assyrian city that was renowned for their brutality, but instead of heeding God’s direction, Jonah got onto a ship bound for the city of Tarshish, which you can see by the map was in the complete opposite direction from Nineveh.  93 - Daily Dependence - Map of Tarshish NinevehBut what Jonah did not expect, and what we can learn is that God will never give up on us.  As the story unfolds, God sent a mighty storm in verse 4 which threatened the ship and the lives of sailors.  The sailors went down below and woke up Jonah and casted lots to see who was the cause for this sudden tempest on the sea that was about to destroy them.  After discovering that Jonah was the reason because he was running away from God, they asked him what they should do…His response in verse 12 has always surprised me…

“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again.  I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”   

I don’t know if I would have the courage to say that but it shows what a connection Jonah had with God to know that He would calm the waters if Jonah would surrender.  Surprisingly, the sailors tried to fight against the waves but to no avail.  In the end, Verses 15-16 tells us…

“Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!  The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.”

Could you imagine what that scene must have been like?  To see a raging squall become still in an instant.  I love the next verse, “The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.”  Isn’t God amazing?  The storm that was intended to re-direct Jonah back to the mission he was given, in the end touched the lives of these sailors who in return vowed to serve God!  Verse 17 however is what we all remember, and is probably one of the greatest cliffhangers in the bible to end a chapter!

 “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”

Three days and three nights in the belly of a fish!  What must have that been like?   Complete darkness, extreme cold and probably rancid odors.  But worse than being swallowed whole by some monstrous fish, I believe is surviving the trauma knowing that you are there because of your own disobedience!  Chapter 2 recounts the amazing prayer that Jonah pours out his heart to God.  Within those 9 verses, he recognizes his mistake and repents of his disobedience.  And…in another phenomenal ending to a chapter, verse 10 gives us God’s response from Jonah’s prayer:

“Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.”

The New American Standard Bible translation gives a little more description…

 “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto dry land.”

Jonah repented and God instantly released him to return to the mission he was called to do initially.  We will not go through the rest of the story but I encourage you to go read the whole story of Jonah by clicking here…(it’s only 47 verses so no excuses…hahaha!)  There are two things that we need to put on the sticky side of our brains…First and foremost93 - Daily Dependence - God is the God of Second ChancesGod is the God of Second Chances!  Nineveh was a wicked city, worthy of destruction…but God sent Jonah to preach to them about their coming destruction instead of just wiping them from the earth.  As a result of Jonah’s preaching, the Ninevites fasted and repented and God spared the city.  He forgave Jonah in the belly of the great fish…He extended mercy to the Ninevites…And He is ready to extend grace to you and I regardless of whatever we have done in the past…There is nothing that God cannot, or will not forgive!  All God wants is a relationship with you and I.  In Titus 3:3-5 (NLT), the Apostle Paul gives us this powerful truth!!

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.  We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.  Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.  But — When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

The second truth to gleam from the life of Jonah is that God will move heaven and earth in order to pursue you and me!  You see the “Never-Ending Pursuit” has nothing to do with us but rather how God is always coming after us.  There is a song we have been singing on Sunday mornings in Church by John Mark McMillan called “Heart Won’t Stop,” which so beautifully captures God’s pursuit of us…

There is not a man or a beast, nothing on the land or underneath, Oh nothing that could ever come between, the love you have for me

I could lay my head in Sheol, I could make my bed at the bottom of the darkness deep, Oh but there is not a place I could escape you

Your heart won’t stop coming after me, Your heart won’t stop coming after me, Your heart won’t stop coming after me

Nothing will stop God from pursuing us…so what should our response be?  1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) says:

93 - Daily Dependence - 1 Corinthians 9-24“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.”

Charles Stanley had this commentary on this verse…

“We must not stop pursuing and obeying God.  We will not accomplish much if we do not embrace the Lord’s purpose for our lives and carry this purpose out with consistency, dedication, and discipline.”

Our purpose in life should be to live a life of dedication and discipline in response to God’s “Never-ending pursuit!”  We should pursue and obey God and attempt to reach as many people as we possibly can for His kingdom!  To run the race or live the life impacting those God has placed in our lives!

Before we did the 25 Days of Thankfulness in December, our longest stretch was a four part series called “Marriage & Money” which if you are interested you can check out the first installment by clicking Here.  In the final post called ★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Bonus ★, we shared about the secret to success, which are three simple actions that have tremendous power…Prayer – Word – Worship.

93 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word WorshipIn the coming weeks we will have an emphasis on each one of these worthy pursuits that we help us understand that we need to keep Praying, keep reading the Bible and keep Worshiping that will help us to run the race!  I will close with this beautiful promise from Lamentations 3:22-25 (NLT) that God is faithful if we will pursue Him…93 - Daily Dependence - Lamentations 3-23

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in Him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on Him,
to those who search for Him.

 

 

If you are interested, you can check out the first installment called

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

that covers the Pursuit of Prayer!

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s Rubbing Off On You? ★

Yesterday was the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death.  We never had a good relationship until a year and half before his death when we reconnected and I was privileged to partner with God to lead him to accept Jesus as his savior before he passed.  There was a father wound that lasted fo92 - Daily Dependence -Family at the Crossr good chunk of my life as a result which I believe is what motivated me to be the best father that I could be to my two daughters.  If you are just tuning into our blog in the new year, we have delving into the idea of Leaving a Lasting Legacy…how to become the man or woman that will not only have a positive influence on those around us but have an impact on future generations that will be directed towards God as a result of what you are investing in today.  Today I want to piggyback on a “Thought” that we posted last year called ★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★ which is based on Ephesians 5:1-2 that we should “be imitators of God,” and that we need to be leaders, not followers…to be the one influencing others, not allowing ourselves to be negatively influenced by today’s culture.  1 Corinthians 15:33 says:

            “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad Company corrupts good morals.’”

92 - 1 Corinthians 15-33 - Bad Company Corrupts

This is something that my wife and I have tirelessly tried to pass on to our daughters.  As one is now a freshman in high school and the other in middle school, we see how very, very important this really is; and how critical it is to be praying for our children’s protection.  Every day we pray that they will be a light in this dark world…to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Just like 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns, we need to be very careful about who we associate with.  In a message called They Had Been with Jesus Marty Collier preached on Acts 4:13 (ESV) which says,

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

In the sermon, he made these four observations…

“When we’ve been WITH Jesus…

  1. Others will NOTICE
  2. Our confidence will be in Christ, not CREDENTIALS
  3. We will have BOLDNESS like never before
  4. We will be unable to stop SPEAKING about the power of Jesus”

Peter and John, two men who walked alongside Jesus, who spent day and night with Him, who were uneducated fishermen, spoke with such authority and boldness that “astonished” everyone.  What is amazing is that if you read the previous 12 verses, you will see that the events of verse 13 were preceded with Peter and John being imprisoned for preaching the truth of Jesus Christ and after a night in jail, they were brought in front of all the rulers, elders and scribes with so much boldness that people took notice.  Peter and John are great examples for us that when we stand with Jesus we will have confidence to stand up for what is right.  They did not allow the circumstance of being imprisoned to deter them from their mission.  I love that last part, “they recognized that they [Peter and John] had been with Jesus.”  Charles Spurgeon made this great statement which as follower of Jesus we should consider our rally cry… 

92 - Daily Dependence - Charles Spurgeon - Recognize That You Have Been With Jesus“Live in such a way that men may recognize that you have been with Jesus.”  

This got me thinking…What characteristics do we need to embody in order that people would “recognize that you had been with Jesus?”  The answer can be found in Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV) which outlines the “Character of the New Man”…and I believe you could extend that to cover women as well…

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

We started off with this question…what’s rubbing off on you?  Well here are some Characteristics of Jesus that I believe we need to have rubbed off on us if we want to be men and women who will be world changers for the Kingdom of God!

  • Holy (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)
    • The New Living Translation says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
  • Humble (see Matthew 11:29 and Matthew 20:26-28)
    • The New Living Translation of Matthew 11:29 says “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
    • The New Living Translation of Matthew 20:26-28 says “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Meek (See Matthew 5:5)
    • The New International Version says “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Why do you think this is?
    • “In biblical usage, meekness is that attitude of mind that is opposed to harshness and contentiousness, and that shows itself in gentleness and tenderness in dealing with others.” Rick Reinckens
    • I love how Grady Scott described Meekness:
      • “Many associate meekness with an attitude of allowing everyone to run over you because you are afraid of them. This is not meekness. In fact, some of the strongest men who have ever lived have been meek.  A good working definition of biblical meekness is Strength under control.  Jesus could stand up to the winds and the waves. He also chased the moneychangers out of the temple twice with a whip made out of chords.”
  • Compassionate (see Mark 6:34)
    • Throughout the gospels it says that Jesus “had compassion on them,” or “was moved with compassion for them” regardless of whether he was tired or not, Jesus made time for those in need.
    • “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
    • But if we back up just 3 verses, it says “Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”  He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 31:34)
    • To put this in context in Verse 41 of Mark chapter 6, Jesus feeds Five Thousand Men.
  • Loving (see John 15:13)
    • The New Living Translation says “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
  • Forgiving (See Luke 23:34)
    • The New Living Translation says Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”
    • Regarding the “Character of the New Man”, the New King James Version (NKJV) says “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Now that you have sped through this familiar list of characteristics, go back and look at them again, but first pray for God to show you in what ways you are excelling and what areas you need to work on more.  I will close with this great encouragement from Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible:

“God has chosen the specific era, location, and giftedness with which you would exist for the purpose of serving Him.  You are not a mistake – your strengths, weaknesses, and situation in life are part of His plan to be glorified through you.  Your ministry does not start sometime in the future when your circumstances change. It begins the moment you believe in Christ.  Serve Him obediently with this in view.”

What’s rubbing off on you?  What area do you need to work on?  God can use you wherever you are at, you are not a mistake.  He loves you so much that he gave His Son for you and I to be reconnected with Him…The choice is yours!

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★ Thought for the Day – Living A Lasting Legacy ★

90 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars The Force AwakensThree weeks ago, as part of the “25 Days of Thankfulness” series I shared about my experience seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in the ★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★ post. and promised no spoilers at that time.  Well…The Force Awakens’s current box office totals worldwide have reached $1.73 billion (at the time of this post,) placing it third on the all-time list so I feel like it is safe to share a major SPOILER, especially since #HanSoloDies was a trending topic the weekend the Hollywood blockbuster opened up.  Yes it’s true, a major anchor to the Star Wars Universe has been killed off in one of the worst ways imaginable…by his own son,  Patricide is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, throughout history and in the Bible records of this heinous act, but I think there is a powerful lesson played out from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and it’s sequel that is now breaking box office history.

90 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars - Generational Curse

In the climax of the 1983 trilogy film (Return of the Jedi,) Luke Skywalker helps his father take off his mask so that he can look on his son with his own eyes.  In a beautiful moment of redemption, Anakin Skywalker ceases to be the Evil Darth Vader and finds peace in the sacrificial act of saving Luke from being killed by the Emperor.  Fast forward 32 years…The Force Awakens shows a powerful scene of Kylo Ren speaking to the charred remains of Darth Vaders infamous mask while donning one of his own.  Unlike his Uncle Luke, there is not a battle raging within pulling him to the Dark Side, but rather to the Light Side.  In the moment that Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), kills his father Han Solo, the last emotional tie is severed ushering him to fully join the Dark Side.  To me this was great depiction of the warning between God and Moses when the second set of the Ten Commandments was completed.  Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV) records,

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Luke may have escaped of his father’s iniquity or sin but the generational curse continued to his grandson Kylo Ren who embraced the Dark Side and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Last year we kicked off the year with this ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, which was all about stripping away the unnecessary junk in our lives and pursuing God in every area including reading His Word, the Bible.  This year, God has been speaking this into my Spirit about “living out a lasting  legacy.”  I read this a long time ago and it has always remained with me…

“You didn’t bring anything into this world and you won’t bring anything out.  What will you leave?”

Legacy is not a new concept to me…it has always been part of my DNA markup, but this year I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit to devote myself even more to it.  If you have been following this blog, you may recall that 2 part series that we posted called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★ about learning from King Solomon’s failure to overcome temptations and 90 - Daily Dependence - 2015 Washed Away★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★ about handling money God’s way.  If you are starting this year out like most people, making resolutions, whether it is going back to the gym to lose weight or committing to living on a budget, both these “Thoughts” can be an encouragement to motivate you to that end.  Today’s “Thought for the Day” however is going in a different direction.  I want to delve into the opposite of generational curses…to focus on how we can have a positive impact on others…If you will indulge me for one more Star Wars parallel…how to avoid Kylo Ren’s downward spiral to the Dark Site and embrace the Light Side as Luke Skywalker did.

As a husband and father of two daughters, I can tell you that “providing” for my family is a top priority in my life.  We have been blessed that my wife has been able to be a stay-at-home mom, (…which I might add is a much tougher job then mine…) but that obviously has resulted in sacrifices that we have made being a single income family.  There is also another force that comes against us, (Star Wars pun intended,) which is the continual comparison or pressure to “Keep up with the Joneses.”  I would be lying if I said that it did not bite us every now and then.  The spirit of “Mammon” or devotion to wealth building pervades our culture and no matter how content we are with what God has provided it does not make us immune to the effect the Spirit of Mammon can have on us all.  People spend so much time working hard to climb the corporate ladder, to live in the right neighborhood, to drive a nice car, to be a success…but should that be our focus?  Robert Morris spoke about this in the sermon called “Breaking the Spirit of Mammon“…

“Jesus said, ‘You can’t serve God and mammon!’  What is mammon?  It’s the prideful, arrogant spirit that rests on money that hasn’t been submitted to God; but money that is submitted to and serves God is blessed by God!”

If you want to delve deeper into how to handle your finances God’s way, check out the posts we have group together called “Building Your Money Muscle.”

Regardless of your age or gender, we all have the same amount of time in a day to set our priorities and decide how it will be spent…Will it be spent on self-centered activities whether it be on social media, gaming or working 60-70 hours a week to get that promotion…OR will it be spent on things that really matter?  The people in our life should be or focus.  I read this quote the other morning and thought it was not only great insight on what legacy is but also a great visual!

"Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you."   Shannon L. Alder 
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”   Shannon L. Alder 

Having proper time management is key!  It reminds of this great 1998 country song from Billy Ray Cyrus called “Busy Man,” which had this powerful hook in the song…

“Have you ever seen a headstone with these words
If only I had spent more time at work”

This is something that I wrestle with all the time!  Balancing the demands of work and making sure that my family does not pay the price.  I shared this quote in the ★ Thought for the Day – What Does Your Schedule Look? ★ from Bill Hybels that really brings it home for me…

“My schedule is far less about what I need to get done and more about what I want to become.” 

I could not agree with that more!  We all have to decide for ourselves, what will our schedule look like, because in the end what you choose to allow to dominate your schedule will affect everything and everyone in your life whether you are teenager, married or an empty nester.  The time you take, your example and character can forever change a life and your family’s legacy forever!

“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind.  Will you be missed?  Don’t waste your life, invest it!”  Jack Graham

That is so powerful…“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind.”  I also love what Andy Stanley had to say on the subject…

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” 

My constant prayer is to be an Ephesians 5:25 husband, a Deuteronomy 11:18-19 father and a Colossians 3:12 servant to all!  I want to love my wife better…love my children better…and love others better.  Until I am on the other side of heaven there will never be a point that I am not working on becoming a better man.  I fully believe what Mark Batterson said in his Draw the Circle devotional…

“The greatest legacy a person can leave is a complete surrender of their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on us. Take God at His promises as expressed by the psalmist: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” [Psalm 84:11]  And these good things will pass from generation to generation and become great things.”

As we kick off this new year, just 13 days in, I want to encourage you to put God first and foremost!  Then your family next and after that all the people in your life…friends, co-workers, acquaintances…”Be present” and involved in their lives and I promise you will leave the lasting legacy that really matters!  No this is not “popular,” or “normal” in our culture or in the workplace, but press on nonetheless and you will never be disappointed!  Psalms 39:4-7 (NLT) has some great insight of setting the right priorities!!

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.  We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.  We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.  And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you.”

My hope and prayer is that I am making the most out of my “brief time on earth,” that I will make an impact on the future generation, not just for my children but my children’s children!  I want to be a “real man” in God’s eyes rather than the world’s eyes!  I will close with this thought from John Maxwell…

“We can choose today what we want people to say about us tomorrow at our funeral…If you want to really visualize your legacy tomorrow, value it today…Do the things today that you want them to say about you tomorrow because today determines that. What’s wonderful about your legacy is that… You can start working on it this very moment.”

What Will Your Legacy Be?  What has God been speaking into your spirit?

Here is my prayer for you…

“[I] pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9b-10 (ESV)

 

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★ 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,

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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!!

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