★ 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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★ Thought for the Day – A Season for Everything ★

89 - Daily Dependence - Ecclesiastes 3 - 1-8 - A Time For EverythingEcclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV) says,

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible he had this commentary on verse 1…

“In His wisdom and sovereignty, God sets an appropriate time for everything.  At the right time, Christ was born (Galatians 4:4); at the right time, He lifts us up (1 Peter 5:6).  Don’t run ahead of God’s timing!  His blessings are always worth the wait.” 

We just concluded a 25 day consecutive series of post looking into the “Reason for the Season” and why we should be thankful at Christmastime.  If you missed it, you can catch up by ★ Clicking Here ★.  We spent that time delving into the significance of that Season and why it was so important for Jesus to come.  On Day 01 we started off with this quote from John Maxwell,

“Reflection turns experience into insight.” 

Today, as 2015 draws to an end, let’s not get ahead of God’s timing…Before we enter into a new year with fresh opportunities and a clean slate, I thought it appropriate to take moment in this season before January 1, to share with you what I have reflected upon that God spoke to me in the season of “Advent.”  My prayer is that like me, you would gain a new insight!  This will also be an opportunity for those that missed the series to get a sampling of what we posted about through the series.  Below are hyperlinks to each day’s post and one aspect that God really spoke to me about…

★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate? ★

“Christmas is about Jesus being conceived in YOU!  It’s about Jesus growing in you and you delivering Jesus to the world around you.”  Robert Morris Senior Pastor at Gateway Church

★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★

“First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.  Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.  It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”  John Piper

★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★

“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty.  In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering.  Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★

“Celebrate Christmas with a spirit of adoration and joy.  Celebrate by stringing up twinkling lights on your front door.  Celebrate by humming the tunes of Nat King Cole and “Silent Night.”  Celebrate by giving to those in need.”  My Daughter, age 14

★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★

“For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  And then the angel left her.  Luke 1:37-38

★ Day 06 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Should Change Us ★

Regardless of whether we are just starting out in life or reaching the end, their example shows that you are never too young or too old to experience God’s promises!”  My wife’s insight

★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★

“Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs … when what you SAY and what you DO aren’t separate … it’s an INTEGRATED lifestyle.  Integrity will bring you peace.  Trust, Respect, Honor and Influence will happen for you if you walk with integrity.”  David Smith, Elder at Gateway Church

★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-Mas? – Part 2 ★

“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” of John 3:30 (NLT) 

★ Day 09 – Reason for the Season – Who Do You Belong To? ★

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★

“The beauty of the hope ushered in through Christ and made alive in us through His Spirit, is that it gives us the ability to have abiding hope, that transcends earthly circumstances and uncertainty.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)

★ Day 12 – Reason for the Season – Oh Holy Night ★

“God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children.  The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.”

“Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth.  But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.”  John Piper

★ Day 13 – Reason for the Season – The Nativity Revealed ★

“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.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)

★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  Kay Warren

★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★

“The people that men consider to be NOBODIES, God considered them to be SOMEBODIES.”  Kevin Brennan

★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★

“The true secret of life is to give rather than receive, and no greater gift has been given to us than God   giving His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us, to bring us hope and salvation.”   Chris Tomlin

★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  Steve Maraboli

★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

“Without Jesus, Christianity is just another religion among many. After all, He is the very essence of God who came not only to take away the sins of the world, but to reveal the Father to us in the flesh.”  Tony Evans

★ Day 19 – Reason for the Season – Everlasting Gratitude ★

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”  Zig Ziglar

★ Day 20 – Reason for the Season – The Father’s Love ★

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 21 – Reason for the Season – Neighborly Competition ★

“I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12b (NKJV)

★ Day 22 – Reason for the Season – Part of the Stable Few? ★

“Worship will get you through the toughest times in your life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.”  Unknown

★ Day 23 – Reason for the Season – Can Christians Condone Claus? ★

“Santa Claus may be fun at Christmas, but he pales in comparison to the One who reigns forevermore. Jesus can give you what you really need.”  Max Lucado

★ Day 24 – Reason for the Season – Best Christmas Gift Ever! ★

“Status was never important to Jesus but selflessness was…Christ surrendered everything He loved in order that He might serve those He loved.”

“What did Christmas mean to Christ?  It meant giving up heaven, giving up the beauty of His home and selflessly coming to Earth.”  David Jeremiah

★ Day 25 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Isn’t the Destination ★

“Christmas doesn’t end December 25th…Its beautiful reality really should linger a little longer.”  Lysa TerKeurst


Let start off the New Year by closing out 2015 with a new insight!

 

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★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

18 - Daily Dependence - Charlie Brown - What is LoveMost definitely not an original Charles M. Schulz creation, but when I came across this comic it so perfectly captures what God wants to speak to us today that I had to use it!

As we pick back up the Christmas Story…Luke 2:21-24 (NLT) tells us that Jesus is presented in the Temple in Jerusalem eight days after His birth which was the custom.  So just after giving birth, Mary was back on a donkey heading to Jerusalem.  As we discussed in ★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★ post, I did a search and found that it is a 100 mile trek on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem…To go from Bethlehem to Jerusalem it was an additional 17 mile walk.  18 - Daily Dependence - Map of Bethleham to JerusalemWhile at the temple Luke 2:25-35 (NLT) records The Prophecy of Simeon.  He was a righteous and devout man, “who was waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.  The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” (Verses 25-26)  Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit and was led to Mary and Joseph and took Jesus in his arms and praised God saying,

“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him.  Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him.  As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce your very soul.” (Verses 29-35)

I like how Luke record what Mary and Joseph were like…they “were amazed at what was being said about him.”  I am sure they were, wouldn’t’ you be?  But what I think is most amazing is that through the Holy Spirit, Simeon knew who Jesus was and with full confidence proclaimed the truth to all present that the long awaited savior had come!  I want to open up today’s’ “Reason for the Season” with the question Jesus asked His disciples in Matthew 16:15 (NIV)…

18 - Daily Dependnece - Who is Jesus“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”  The answer you give will significantly influence how you will approach Christmas, and more importantly how you will live your life.  This has been a question people have wrestled with while He was on earth and ever since!  Answers range from Jesus was a good man…He was a good teacher…a Peacemaker…a prophet of old come back to life, (see Matthew 16:14,)…to God’s Son…the long awaited Messiah, the Savior of the world.  Isaiah 11:1-2 prophesies the coming of Jesus, “A Branch from David’s Line,” 

“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

You can read more about the prophesy in Isaiah Chapter 11.  In yesterday’s ★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★ post, we discussed how to manage the holiday stress and madness that results from the incredibly long “To-Do Lists” of gift buying, baking cookies, decorating the tree and __(fill in the blank)__…[ enter sigh, deep breath ], okay…Today we will look at who Jesus Is ____

18 - Daily Dependence - Jesus isMatthew 16:16 (NIV) records the answer to Jesus’ question…

“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’”

Peter declared that Jesus Is the Messiah…Who do you say that Jesus is?  David Mathis said in the preface of John Piper’s the “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,”

“the figure at the center is Jesus—the baby born in Bethlehem, the God-man in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, destined for Calvary, sent by his Father to die and rise again for His people.”

Over 700 hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied of Jesus’ birth, Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) says,

18 - Daily Dependence - Fit Family - Isaiah 9-6“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And He will be called:

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

His government and its peace will never end.  He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity.  The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor,

Jesus is a Mighty God,

Jesus is an Everlasting Father,

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

His government will be one of peace that will never end!  What a promise!!  Hillsong has an incredible song called “Unto Us” that beautifully conveys the truth of Isaiah 9:6 from the album “We Have A Savior.”

Let it play as you read the rest of this “Reason for the Season.”  I also share shared yesterday about the excitement of the opening of the new Star Wars The Force Awakens movie coming out. 18 - star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterWe were in the movie theater this morning at 9 am to watch the new masterpiece from J.J. Abrams.  I promise that there will be no spoilers in this post.  There were two characters that were quite interesting to me.  The first is Kylo Ren, a Force-wielding warrior operating under orders from powerful Dark Side figure Supreme Leader Snoke.  Trailers show him with the charred mask of Darth Vader vowing to “finish what he [Vader] started,” but there is a struggle within him of whether he can remain on the Darkside or not.  The other is FN-2187, a Stormtrooper part of The First Order.  Also known as Finn, as the trailers have shown, he abandons his post as a Stormtrooper “to do the right thing” and becomes part of The Resistance. 18 - Daily Dependence - Kylo Ren vs Finn

There is an unbelievable parallel between these two men struggling between the Darkside and Lightside…And the decision that is before all of us on what to do about Jesus.  It reminded me of this great play on words…If you Know Jesus, you will Know Peace but if there is No Jesus, there will be No Peace.  But I ask again, who is Jesus?  18 - Daily Dependence - Know Jesus Know Peace

I have always loved the Isaiah 9:6-7 prophecy and it give us some insight into who the Messiah was going to be but I think it is always great to hear directly from the person themselves.  In the book of John and Revelation, we get just that.

Jesus made these polarizing and very clear declarations of who He is….

18 - Daily Dependnece - Who Jesus IsJesus is everything that we could ever need and all we need to do is accept Him as our savior.  Tony Evans nailed it when he said,

“Without Jesus, Christianity is just another religion among many. After all, He is the very essence of God who came not only to take away the sins of the world, but to reveal the Father to us in the flesh.

Not only did Jesus come to do the Father’s will, but He came to represent God, the Father, so that we would know what it is like to have God with us, as the name Immanuel defines. In Colossians, we read, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God ….” (Colossians 1:15) In Hebrews, “And He (Jesus) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature ….” (Hebrews 1:3) And in John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us …. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:1, 14, 18)

Jesus Christ is Immanuel: God with us.”

In the ★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★ post, I mentioned about that series called “Back to the Basics” that goes back to the roots of the Christian faith.in order to understand who Jesus is.  I also shared on Day 15 how you can accept Jesus as your Savior if you are ready to make that decision today.  I will close with this encouragement from John 14:27 (NLT).

18 - Daily Dependence - John 14-27 - Peace I leave you

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Simeon – The Voice of Peace.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Simeon’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 19 – Reason for the Season – Everlasting Gratitude ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 107 - Daily Dependence - Reverend Fun - Stable HomeI love the cheesy humor in this comic.  I resonate with this pun from Joseph consoling Mary as he tries to make the best out things after finding out there is “no room in the inn,” as this is how I tend to bring levity to bad situations.  But today I want to look into the life of a man who does not get much coverage in the Christmas story but yet his influence was great.  When you think of the major characters in the Christmas Story, who comes to mind, other than Jesus of course…The Angel Gabriel?  The Virgin Mary?  The Angel’s announcement of the Birth of the Messiah to the Shepherds?  Or perhaps the Wise Men from the East? What about Joseph?  You know Mary’s husband…In all the Hollywood movie adaptations, Joseph does not get very much attention and so we will remedy that and be focusing on the character of this mighty man of God.

Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT) is told from Joseph’s point of view about Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  (If you missed ★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★ we looked into Luke 1:26-38 which is Mary’s point of view.)  As a husband and father of two daughters, I would have found it very difficult to be in Joseph’s position.  Not only trusting that the child is indeed from God but also to endure the daily judgement and speculation of who’s the “real” father’s identity is that must have been pervasive in the small town of Nazareth.  Gossip isn’t a new thing and you know how news spreads in a small town…everyone knows everybody else’s business.  Joseph was a man who clearly thought of others above Himself.  When faced with the betrayal of Mary’s pregnancy, before the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to confirm the truth (see Matthew 1:20), but right before that verse 19 gives us some insight to his character…

“Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.”

Amazing!  “He decided to break the engagement quietly,” and by deciding to do that, Joseph would have never ended the scrutiny or dispelled the rumors of whose child it was.  You know it would be one thing to make that decision after the dream, but to decide that beforehand shows what an incredible amount of integrity Joseph possessed.  In Matthew 1:22-25 (NLT) it says,

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.  But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born.  And Joseph named him Jesus.”

This furthers the point that Joseph was a man above reproach, because not only did he have an unwavering acceptance to being part of God’s plan for Jesus’ arrival on Earth, and took Mary as his wife, but he abstained from having sexual relations with “his wife” until AFTER Jesus’ birth.  Joseph was an ordinary man who trusted God so much that he was willing to believe the extraordinary and walked it out!  He is a model of integrity and I pray that we would all grab hold of this attitude to accept whatever God’s Will is.  I had heard a sermon some years ago from David Smith, one of Gateway Church’s Elders and he said this about integrity…

“Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs … when what you SAY and what you DO aren’t separate … it’s an INTEGRATED lifestyle.  Integrity will bring you peace.  Trust, Respect, Honor and Influence will happen for you if you walk with integrity.” 

It is certain that long before the news of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph was already living that “INTEGRATED lifestyle” in which he had peace in his life and was probably a trusted, respected, honored man who had influence within the community that made him the ideal candidate to participate in God’s plan…To be the stepfather of the Son of God.  Joseph must have had unparalleled confidence and trust in God to walk the path that was laid out before him, which could have only resulted from knowing His character and understanding God’s love for Joseph and the children of Israel.  We posted recently this ★ Thought for the Day – Confidence IN WHOSE You Are ★, if you want to learn more about how you are the Apple of God’s Eye, just like Joseph was!  God will take you and me exactly how we are (see Romans 5:1-8 for further evidence!)  I saw this image and it got me thinking…

07 - Daily Dependnece - What I Want for Christmas“What I Want for Christmas is someone to say ‘come as you are’ and mean it.” 

Every one of us wants to be accepted regardless of the baggage we have from past mistakes.  Today I want to speak on behalf of God and say there is unwavering acceptance from your heavenly Father; He will accept you just the way you are!  And if you have accepted Jesus as your savior but you still feel unworthy because of the lies of Satan, Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) says,

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

That is the truth that Joseph walked in as well!  Though he probably received much condemnation from the people around him when he chose to take Mary as his wife and be the father of Jesus, Joseph was confident in whose he was and that was enough.  Tony Evans talked about what is available to you if you have faith in God, he said,

“God will often wait to do His big thing until you have done what He has asked you to do.  He does this because He wants us to see Him in a way we’ve never seen Him before.  He wants us to experience Him in a way that we’ve never experienced Him before.  He wants us to see the connection between our act of faith and His deliverance.  He wants to be more than just a Cosmic-Santa Claus with a pocketful of miracles to throw down.  God wants a relationship with you.”

Amen?  If you are reading this and you have not trusted Jesus to be your savior, you can develop a relationship with God through Jesus today!  Go to ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★, which will lead you on how to make that decision today.  I am so thankful that God uses ordinary people to do the extraordinary and for Joseph’s example to spur us on to have unwavering acceptance of God’s providence in our lives!  And if you too want for “someone to say ‘come as you are’ and mean it,” then here it is from Jesus who said in Matthew 11:28 (NASB)…

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I will close with this song from Crowder that echoes this truth, aptly names “Come As You Are.”

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Joseph – The Voice of Reason.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Joseph’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here… ★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-Mas? – Part 2 ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

 

Here is a follow post on the life of Joseph called: 

★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Harden Your Heart ★

 

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★ 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.

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★ Thought for the Day – Keeping up with the Joneses? ★ 

I am about to date myself…Do you remember the TV series “Home Improvement?”  It aired from 1991–1999 and was one of the most watched sitcoms in the American market, winning many awards.  Each week, I looked forward to seeing what mess Tim Taylor would get himself in to.  As the clumsy, uncoordinated TV show host of “Tool Time”, Tim Taylor (who was played by Tim Allen,) would get himself into hot water all the time, either with his wife, his kids or the flannel sporting co-host, Al Borland.  After each fight, Tim would find himself in the backyard looking over the fence for his neighbor Wilson to get some sage advice and wisdom.  And all the time, Tim would walk away with a new perspective on the circumstance.  Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to tidy up our mess in the span of 30 minutes?

As we delve into this Thought for the Day, I think many of the messes we find ourselves in, are actually a result of looking over the fence.  Unlike Tim Taylor, when we are looking over the fence at what other people possess, we can set ourselves up for trouble.  When I was in college, any class that I took that dealt with Marketing was always a favorite!  It continually amazes me how a slogan, TV commercial or catchy jingle can move people from not even being aware of a product, to absolutely having to have it…But consumers need to be aware and understand the power that marketing has on our buying decisions.  We need to be wise and avoid “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

68 - Daily Dependence -Keeping up with the Joneses

Let me ask you…Are you content with your life??  Or what I really want to know, are you content with what God is doing in your life?  Let that permeate your spirit for a moment and be honest with yourself.  If you answered no, then you are not alone, I have struggled with this myself so many times; not being content with the speed of paying off debt or building up of my savings or that the process is so hard.  This has led me to get so focused and consumed that at times I lose sight of my peace and joy.  I heard a great message from Dr. Tony Evans a while ago called “Reversing the Financial Curse”, he said:

"The greatest truth I can give you is that God is your source.  No man is my Source, on his best day, he is a resource.  Don't treat the resource like it's the source."
“The greatest truth I can give you is that God is your source.  No man is my Source, on his best day, he is a resource.  Don’t treat the resource like it’s the source.”

We all want to be financially stable and have some margin between us and life.  To be able to have more money at the end of the month than bills and to even be able to enjoy life a little but we need to learn contentment when things do not happen as quickly as we would wish.  Speaking from experience, I want to encourage you that as you are working on achieving Financial Peace, by building some cushion in your finances, a.k.a. an emergency fund, DO NOT let that become your “source” of security.  Remember that God is the source, and the emergency fund is just a resource.  It is important that we build an emergency fund, as financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches, but do not treat God as a resource to get a larger emergency fund…understand that HE is the source.  Trust in Him to be your provider and not on yourself, your bank account or your 401K.  To read more on this, check out a previous post called…★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★

Charles Stanley’s “Handbook for Christian Living” has some about great insight about contentment and trusting in God’s Provisions.  He talked about Paul’s imprisonment and quoted Philippians 4:10-13:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Charles Stanley put it this way, that “Paul learned the secret of being content in and through circumstances. It wasn’t the secret of changing – or getting God to change – his circumstances.  Paul meant I can endure any circumstance without losing my peace and my joy because of the strength I gain through my relationship with Christ.”

According to Dr. Stanley there are 3 truths to have contentment:

  1. Contentment hinges on what’s happening inside us not around us. When we become discontented, the first two things we lose are our peace and joy.  But the bible teaches that peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit.  As long as our contentment can be destroyed by a change in our environment, we can never be content in any circumstance.
  1. Contentment is need, not want oriented.  God will meet our needs; He is going to take care of us.  Much of our discontentment stems from not getting what we want.  God has not promised to meet our wants but our needs.  He goes on to say, ask yourself this question: Is God meeting my needs?  If the answer is yes, stop and thank Him.  Don’t allow your emotions to attach themselves to your wants.
  1. Contentment is trusting God even when things seem out of control.  Discontentment on the other hand, is really a lack of faith in God’s love and concern for us.  Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  When things around Paul fell apart, he kept trusting God.  And consequently Paul was content.

He went on to say, if you look at the flip side of contentment that is Dis-contentment. Discontentment clouds our decision-making process, making it almost impossible to wait.”  The emotions that accompany discontentment are so strong that they often override reason.  People in marketing understand this all too well. Just 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.  Dave Ramsey made this hysterical statement,

“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” 

Keeping up with the Joneses is futile and can steal our peace and joy.  Dave Ramsey teaches in his Financial Peace University class that we need to develop the “power over purchase.”

“You can buy FUN but you cannot buy HAPPINESS.  Happiness is contentment where you are right now.”

If we could grasp this, we would be happier, and would have more peace and security.  Sometimes though, it’s not just about wanting as nice of a car as your neighbor, but rather, the fear or anxiety of keeping a roof above your head and food on the table.  Whenever I have seen Hebrews 13:5 quoted, it is always the second half of the verse (see the underlined portion below), but it is interesting to see the first part in context.

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said,
I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.’”  Hebrews 13:5

Context is everything!  Could God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit be trying to convey a spiritual truth that we can trust Him in our finances?  Most definitely yes!  When we love money and are NOT content with God’s provision, only trouble will result, replacing peace and joy with anxiety and fear.  Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says,

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

Steven Furtick made this profound statement about this verse…

“One of the reasons we’re so anxious about what’s coming, is because we’re not thankful enough for what we have.  And so Paul says if all you ever pray about is what you need but never stop and thank God for what you have, you’ll always be anxious.” 

Verse 7 of Philippians goes on to say,

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We all want the “peace of God” in verse 7 but to get that, we need to first go through verse 6, and be thankful for what God has provided for us.  It is all about having the right perspective with our priorities aligned with God’s.  Proverbs 30:7-9 (NLT) is one of my absolute favorite verses on this subject.

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.  First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! 

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”  And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

How different would our lives be if we embraced this wisdom?  Do you know who is the wisest human being that ever lived?  No, it is not our president or any other modern-day leader.  It is not Dr. Phil or Oprah or any other celebrity.  The wisest man who ever lived was King Solomon.  His Wisdom is described in 1 Kings 4:29-30 (NIV1984)

“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.”

So if the source of his Wisdom is from God, then he must have some good advice when it comes to contentment right?  Look at what the wisest man has to say Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 (NLT)

“I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards…I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women…I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces…I had everything a man could desire!  So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take.  I denied myself no pleasure…But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind.  There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”

Wow!  That is an eye opener…Look at that underlined part…Solomon “had everything a man could desire!”  And in the end he concluded that accumulating possessions was “meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

And the reason being is what Howard Dayton said,

No amount of stuff is going to give you contentment or fulfillment.  Do you want to know what is the antidote is to discontentment?  Helping others!  Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)  says,

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

So the next time you are looking over the fence, look at how you can help your neighbor, instead of coveting their possessions, because God desires our priorities to be in alignment with His…It’s the people in the big houses that are important not what’s in it.  1 Timothy 6:6 gives us this promise,

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

As you move further along on the journey, keep these thoughts on the sticky side of your brain so that when the enemy rushes in with his lies, you can combat him with the truth which Proverbs 3:5-10 so perfectly reminds us…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Keep pressing on and looking up, to “THE ONE” who will help you reach Financial Peace!  God Bless!

If you are interested in learning more about managing your finances God’s way, check out this post called…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★.

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