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Posts Tagged ‘tithe’

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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Living Generously

August 2nd, 2013

“For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

Generosity resides in a heart that values people more than possessions.

My thoughts and comments today are about “living generously.”

Generosity is more an attitude than your financial ability. It is about sharing what you have generously and happily because you can bless someone. It is not primarily about dollars; it is a matter of the heart. And generosity is wonderfully double-edged, blessing the person who gives as well as the person who receives. Jesus taught, “Give, and it shall 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.” Luke 6:38 NIV. The specific context of this verse is about judgment and forgiveness, but the principle embraces giving and receiving, whatever the particular currency of exchange.

First, be generous with God. Giving is about planting a seed and planning on a harvest. God is the only one who can promise you a harvest, so that would be the best place to begin. Remember it is God who provided your seed. “Honor the Lord with 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.” Proverbs 3:9-10. A tithe is elementary, the minimum of giving. Read Malachi 3:10. Generosity only begins with a tithe, not ends there. Some people feel that they cannot afford to tithe; I don’t see how you can afford not to do so. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously . . For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV.

Secondly, be generous with yourself. By that I mean save and invest something for your future, out of what God provides you. No farmer eats or sells all he harvests. Some of a previous harvest is always kept as seed for a future harvest. You should do the same. A goal would be 10%, but start with at least something regularly however small that might seem now. The financial principle of compounding causes even a little to multiply over a long time, more than you might realize.

Then, be generous with others. An elementary aspect to generosity is paying your financial obligations to others in a timely manner,as you promised. It is not appropriate to owe someone yet continue building debt complicating your ability to repay the first creditor, or lavishing money on yourself without faithfully dealing with the debts you owe.

Secondly, generosity is helping others in practical and tangible ways when you see the opportunity and feel directed to do so. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NIV. Look for occasions when what you have: money, resources, and connections, and what you can do: talents, skills, and abilities can ease the burden and circumstance of another.

Generosity resides in a heart that values people more than possessions; it does not require wealth. Generosity is a lifestyle that you choose, rather than an obligation or occasional occurrence. Generosity is a deliberate decision you make about your stewardship of things with which you have been entrusted, neither whimsical nor subject to emotion or mood of the moment. Read 1 Timothy 6:18-19 NKJV.

My prayer for you this day is that you live each day generously.

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Economic Uncertainty

November 26th, 2012

Economic Uncertainty

Government is not the solution to economic uncertainty; God is.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NAS

Economic uncertainty seems the rule and not the exception presently. Each day’s news is filled with more bad news than good as it pertains to finances, whether on the global, national, local, or personal levels. Everyone suggests a different solution; no one solution seems effective. While political parties exonerate themselves while caustically blaming one another, the economic problems stubbornly grow more ugly and personal, and individual families suffer the consequence. Unemployment is not a percentage; it’s people. Our nation, like many other nations, faces economic challenges bigger than borrowing and spending can solve. See Proverbs 22:7 NIV. Nationally, this is not the first time, maybe not even the worst. Ask your grandparents or great grandparents.

Individually is a good place to begin, rather than nationally or internationally. I would first suggest that government is not the problem; you and I are – our incessant wants, insatiable appetites for more, sense of entitlement, and unrealistic expectation all that will be at another’s expense. The origin of the current economic uncertainty is first moral and spiritual, only then financial. As citizens, we have allowed the government to tax unfairly, spend unwisely, borrow indiscriminately, and grant government favors at public expense. But we are the government, by means of duly elected and appointed leaders. In the closing words of his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln vowed, “. . that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” 1863. Of, by, and for the people remains the guiding principle upon which any government governs.

Likewise, the government is not the solution; God is. The problem of resolving personal economic uncertainty begins with each individual. The Bible’s counsel is this: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NASV.

No one in today’s increasingly secular, materialistic society can avoid financial anxiety or be naturally content. Incessant advertising and irresistible marketing subtly erodes contentment. There is good news. Like Paul, you can say, “. . 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.” Philippians 4:11-12 NASV.

My Dad taught me simple, practical principles of money management, “Work hard. Remember, God is your Source. Tithe first. Never spend all you earn. Save some. Spend wisely.” That’s Biblical economics, wise stewardship, and sound money management. Hebrews 13:5 NIV/2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NKJV. And tithing, giving, and generosity are what God honors and rewards. See Malachi 3:10-12 NIV/Luke 6:38/Acts 20:33-35 NIV. Be certain of this truth, “My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you know the provision and blessing of God on all.

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Beyond Measure

March 15th, 2012

“To Him who is able to do immeasurably more.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV

“If you are not doing much with what you have, you likely wouldn’t do much more with what you lack.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “beyond measure.”

We are accustomed to limitations, in ourselves and others. Those limits, real and perceived, are often allowed to govern your life, marginalizing expectations and attempts, and setting boundaries. People face limitations of resource, time, energy, opportunity, talent, experience, knowledge, understanding, and more, extending to “ad infinitumto infinity/continuing beyond limits.” The only thing unlimited may actually be the extent and number of limitations with which we all deal.

Almost everyone has at one time said only to themselves, “If only I had more ______.“ Fill in the blank. The story is the same; only what you lack at that moment changes – time, money, help, education, etc. Jesus captured a profound truth in His comparison of people’s similar responses to little or much; “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Read Luke 16:10-12 NASV. Truthfully, if you aren’t doing much with what you have, you likely wouldn’t do much more with what you lack.

When you bring your life to God, the story changes for the better. “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7 NKJV. Jesus takes your meager, insufficient “loaves and fish” and blesses, breaks, and distributes a sufficiency of surplus beyond any measure imaginable. Read Mark 6:31-44 NKJV. When you think your need is more than your means and feel you have barely enough for yourself and nothing with which to share, in Jesus’ hands miracles of multiplication occur and there is plenty for yourself and all others with whom you have opportunity to share.

Resources and money go further with God’s blessings than without it; that’s why it’s wise to tithe, and to give and live generously. Read Malachi 3:10-12/2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NKJV. Time is ample because of efficiencies God provides. Energy is extended when you are doing God’s work. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV. Wisdom and understanding rise from the truth in your heart when you hide God’s Word there. Read 1 Kings 3:5-14 NKJV.

What you trust into God’s hands is no longer restricted by your previous limitations. Paul marveled at a truth with so much power to exceed every limit ever known by you: “That Christ may dwell in your heart through faith . . (through) Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV. God whose providence and power are beyond every measure or limit is immeasurable! What could happen – in your life, your marriage and family, your career and relationships – if you gave yourself entirely to God’s will and service? Read Romans 12:1-2 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you experience the immeasurable goodness and mercy of God

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