Posts Tagged ‘James 1:17’

The Burden of Debt

February 25th, 2015

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the debt to love one another.” Romans 13:8 NIV.

Love prompts more love just as debt provokes more debt.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the burden of debt.”

A father gave his son this advice, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” (Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602). That is sound advice still today. Debt has become a way of life. National economies depend upon increasing consumption, continually persuading and pressuring people that debt is a small price for gratification. You can resist; and you should. It’s simple really, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 NIV.

Marketing feeds the appetite for more, and newer, and bigger, and better, therefore more expensive. Actually, your needs are not more but your wants are. Credit cards have made debt difficult to resist, motivating the consumer economy and growing a staggering personal indebtedness. Debt can be described as, “Buying things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people who don’t care.” Debt merely begets more debt, adding more worry from a growing weight of debt.

I grew up in a modest but comfortable, mid-western family. We never had too much, but we never seemed to have too little either. I was taught that what you earn and all you have comes from God through His blessing on your honest labor. See James 1:17. Therefore, the first portion is given back to God as a tithe, in recognition of His benevolence and in obedience for His continued blessing. Read Malachi 3:10-12. After that, everything you have is a matter of stewardship, not ownership. 1 Corinthians 4:2.

From my Dad, I learned a useful, financial principle. “Never spend all that you earn, and you will always have something extra when needed.” That became a rule of personal economy that I still follow today. Most importantly, that works. Life is simpler; worries are less; greater freedom is enjoyed. Debt results from trying to provide for yourself what God has not yet made available.

The Bible says, “Give everyone what you owe him . . Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law . . whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor.” Romans 13:7-10 NIV. That verse seems an unusual pairing of financial debt and a loving lifestyle, teaching that financial debt is not advisable; relational debt is not avoidable. One you are told to avoid; the other you are taught to fulfill. Here’s how I think they relate and differ. Both are responsibilities to which you obligate yourself. Financial debt is about you and your wants; relational debt is about others and their needs.

Financial debt preoccupies you more with yourself and with less thought and available means to serve others. Financial debt concerns you with satisfying your wants, paying your bills, while absorbing any extra. Relational debt redirects you toward others, giving instead of getting, meeting their needs before your wants, and sharing the good you have received. Love prompts more love just as debt provokes more debt. God’s way is always the right way.

Today, my prayer for you is that you realize that debt trades the ultimate for the more immediate.

P.S. Yes, the above comments were previously posted. In upgrading the website this week, this devotional, “The Burden of Debt,” was inadvertently deleted from the archives, and had to be re-sent in order to be included in the archives with other previous EDL postings.  Thank you for your understanding . . Christian Communications, Inc

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October 14th, 2013

“Stir up the gift of God which is in you.”  2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV.

The purer the gift of God within, the more humble the heart and life possessing it.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “gifted.”

You have seen gifted people. They work with ease and assurance. Things seem to happen more effortlessly and successfully for them. They learn to expect success. Our son, Bruce, is an example; he is a master craftsman, building custom homes and church facilities large and small. The same task would baffle me. Bruce reads the plans, “sees” the structures as intended, understands the necessary engineering, and knows what building materials and skills are necessary to accomplish that. He is talented and experienced, but more. He is spiritually and naturally gifted with talents and skills that time and diligence have further developed.

God also designed your spiritual life to operate out of giftedness, both sovereign and supernatural. “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV. God has placed gifts in you equal to the calling and purpose He intends for you. Do not allow them to reside dormant and unused.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Differentiate gifts from God for your personal blessing and edification from those gifts of God for your effective service. The Kingdom of God does not succeed because of your natural talents and human abilities; the best of those will ultimately be inadequate to His exceeding and eternal purposes. His Kingdom flourishes by the dedicated efforts of spiritually gifted people, submissive to Lordship and serving within His anointing.

The Apostle Peter wrote, “As each one (that means you) has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God . . Do not neglect the gift of God that is in you . .” 1 Peter 4:10/1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV. The more you recognize and respond to the God-given and Spirit-anointed gifts within you, the more confidently and effectively you will serve God.

God accepts the responsibility to provide you with what you need to do His will effectively, then instructs and directs you in their application. You are to accept the responsibility to discover, develop, and then implement your spiritual gifts and natural talents, “If anyone ministers, let them do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ . .” 1 Peter 4:11 NKJV. The ultimate goal is to exalt God, the Giver of gifts, not the gift nor yourself.

Paul’s message to the Christians at Rome is good counsel for us as well: “For I say, through the grace of God given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them . .” Romans 12:3/6 NKJV.

Here is what I have observed about gifted people: the purer the gift of God within, the more humble the heart and life possessing it. Young Timothy received good advice, “Do your best to win full approval in God’s sight, as a worker who is not ashamed of his work . .” 2 Timothy 2:15 TEV. Desire God’s approval above all else.

My prayer for you today is that you accept giftedness with neither boasting nor apology.

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March 20th, 2013

“God created man in His own image.” Genesis 1:27 NIV.

God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices.

My thoughts and comments today are about “creativity.”

I admire people who understand and consecrate their creativity. Every person is gifted by God with creative abilities and potential, and that includes you. All persons are innately gifted in a diversity of ways and measures. On this, the Bible is clear.“God has given to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT.

I read an interesting quote about the creative process, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Safely in God’s hands, you do not fear your mistakes. Creativity is so much more than the expression of one’s native talent, brilliance, or artistry. Creativity is the profound submission of yourself as a simple vessel through which the genius and greatness of God can flow. God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices. The more prepared and diligent you are as you offer yourself to Him, the more creative you become.

Giftedness may differ in its nature or expression, but God is the source and origin of all gifts, and their best and fullest expression is with His empowerment and direction. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Some use their giftedness constructively and profitably for the common good and well-being of themselves and others. “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 NKJV. Others leave gifts undiscovered or dormant, or use them selfishly and destructively.

God is the Creator. The Bible begins with the establishment of that truth, and underscores it in the New Testament. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . God created man in His own image . . all things were created by Him and for Him.” Genesis 1:1/27/Colossians 1:16-17 NIV. How then could you have been “created in His image and in His likeness” without potential for creative expression? Creativity should be more natural to us than is often the case. Creativity has to be valued and nurtured. As children, teens, or adults, some are praised and encouraged to cultivate their giftedness, while others lack necessary reassurance or opportunity to discover and develop latent gifts.

Among family and friends, I marvel at the unique expressions of Godly creativity. Often I see something as ordinary while they see extraordinary possibilities awaiting their touch. My wife is creative in so many ways, but especially as a hostess who makes anyone feel special; our son is an artistic genius at design and construction of homes and churches; our daughter sees beauty in people and loves them until they see it in themselves. (And talking about the grandchildren’s variety of interests and abilities, well that might just sound like bragging.)

Our friend, Jill, is masterful at managing people and administrating projects with skill and efficiency. Devi is a gifted author, teacher, and interior decorator. Ken, a pastor and church builder, is a creative force of unlimited ideas to reach and serve people. Rick and Andrew express exceptional creativity in sharing Biblical insights and teaching clarity. Rod has more stories, ideas, and images in his heart to communicate with children than he has time to fully pursue. Michael is an unbridled reserve of energy with wide-ranging, artistic creativity. Paul’s decided, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us . . use [your] gift in proportion to [your] faith.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV.

Pray as did Jabez, “Bless me and enlarge my territory.” Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV. Creative potential is unlimited, unless you accept boundaries or allow others to impose them. Unwise comparisons with others will undermine your own God-given gifts and your confidence in using them. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV. Be inspired by others’ gifts, not intimidated; share your gifts freely, not sparingly. He gave them; glorify Him with them.

My prayer for you today is this: serve God and others well with the giftedness He gives.

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Change Happens

October 11th, 2011

“I am making everything new.” Revelation 21:5 NIV

“As you are, you are incompatible with God. God will not change; you must!”

My thoughts today are that “change happens.”

When you are eager for something – or yourself – to change, there are times that it feels like change will never come. Other times, change seems to be happening faster than you can cope. Whether you are eager or reluctant, change happens! Where there are no changes, there will be no growth, development, or increasing fruitfulness. And God is the greatest initiator of change in an individual’s life; maybe the only truly effective enabler for lasting change. In the Kingdom of God, change happens naturally unless you resist, not because you wish it so but because God wills it so and works to achieve your “being changed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” See 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV.

Genesis opens with cosmic change and Revelation concludes with eternal ones, where God is described as, “He who was seated on the Throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelation 21:5 NIV. God’s story is the story of irrepressible change to restore a fallen creation to its original intent. God is committed to that redemption and restoration, of Whom it is written, “For I am the Lord, I do not change . . the same yesterday, today, and forever . . in Whom there is no variation nor shadow of turning.” Malachi 3:6/Hebrews 13:8/James 1:17 NKJV.

Am I the only one amazed that God, who is eternal and never changing, is always effecting change in all of us? This is exactly because, as you are, you are incompatible with God yet He desires fellowship with you that would otherwise be impossible. How does God accomplish this you may ask? By every means possible, I would reply! “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Romans 8:28-29 NIV. God will not always cause the things that happen to you, but He will use any and everything that happens to you as His opportunity to impact your life with necessary and positive change.

The best and most enduring change begins with your personal relationship with God. That’s where the first and most consequential changes must occur. Your best efforts to change will be merely cosmetic and temporary, apart from a current and vital relationship with Jesus. “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. Let us open our hearts to God in Heaven and pray . .” Lamentations 3:40-41 TEV. All change requires the power of God to accomplish and demands your letting go of the past. What you cling to, when contrary to what you know to be right, has the power to control and shape you in ways you might not anticipate.

My prayer for you today is that you embrace any change with God’s fingerprints on it.

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Source and Supply

June 6th, 2011

“I have commanded a widow . . to provide for you.” 1 Kings 17:9 NKJV

“God is the origin of all that is good!”

My thoughts today are about “source and supply.”

You may not always know how or from where God chooses to supply your need, but you can be sure that God will. The promise to do so is clear, even though the process may be a surprise to you. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. There is only one source; God is the origin of all that is good! “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.“ James 1:17. The point of supply varies; the Source remains constant – “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

Before you know there’s a problem, God has already made a plan. There was a lengthy famine in Israel that would eventually last three and a half years. God directed Elijah to go to the Brook Cherith, where “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” Read 1 Kings 17:8-24. Ravens? Are you kidding me? In a severe famine, God chose the most unlikely means of supplying Elijah’s needs. Can you imagine the level of trust it takes for such an act of Elijah’s obedience? Do what God tells you and go where He sends you; that’s when and where God provides for you. It would seem that often it is not as hard to trust God to meet your need as it might be to accept the way He chooses to supply.

The problem comes when you confuse Source and supply. “And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain.” God’s provision now does not mean there will be no problems along the way. There still was a drought and the resulting famine, and then even the creek dried up. This is a critical time when you may be tempted to start looking out for yourself, as though God has not or will not provide for you. Circumstances change; God doesn’t. When your present supply runs out, don’t panic. Your Source remains the same! God is ever faithful.

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, ‘Arise; go to Zarephath and dwell there. I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. So he went to Zarephath.’” It’s a waste of time telling God how to provide for you. How God meets your need will rarely, if ever, be the way you want or forecast. Expect the unexpected every time! If not careful, you could miss God’s provision altogether.

God is the great economist. He used a widow to meet Elijah’s need in order for her act of faith and obedience to be His means of using Elijah to miraculously meet her need for the years of the famine. “She did according to the word of Elijah and she and her house ate for many days . . the flour was not used up according to the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” Her faith may have exceeded Elijah’s. He heard God directly; she had to trust what Elijah told her. Again, let me remind you, do what God tells you and go where He sends you; that’s when and where God provides for you. While God is meeting your need, keep your eyes and heart open for ways God might use you to bless someone else in the process.

My prayer for you today is that you have confidence and certainty in God’s faithfulness to provide what you need.

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