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Friday, September 28, 2018

Use My Money to Invest in Character, not Comfort

In review of 2 Peter 3:18 it says, ”Grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (TLB).

Today’s verse is 2 Peter 3:18. It comes at the end of Peter’s 2nd letter. In it Peter tells me to let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help me to keep on growing.

The sinful world I live in will always compete and challenge my faith. I need to pursue getting to know him better and better and drawing closer to Him every day, so that I can be prepared to stand for truth in any and all circumstances I will face and be tempted with.

God wants me to grow up spiritually and become more like Jesus Christ. How do I do that? By taking some of my money and investing it in myself and my personal growth. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:18, “Grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (TLB).

I grow in spiritual strength by using my money to develop skills and educate myself, to become a better leader, speaker, prayer, or just a better person.

Ultimately, I will not be taking my car, house and savings account with me to heaven, but I will be taking my character. While it may be tempting to use my money to invest in my comfort and enjoyment, God wants me to use my money to invest in something that’s going to heaven: my character.

That means anytime I use my money to buy a Christian book that helps me grow, I’ve invested in God’s “Growth Fund.” Anytime I use some of my money to pay for a retreat or a conference that helps me improve my life, I’ve invested in the Growth Fund. Anytime I spend money on a class that helps makes me more of what God wants me to be, God smiles and says that’s a good use of money.

The Bible says, “Why spend my money on something that is not real food? . . . Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good; your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies” (Isaiah 55:2 NCV).

I can spend my money on “junk food” or “soul food.” I need to choose to spend my money on things for my soul that will help me grow spiritually.

Bottom Line:
Grow in understanding of Jesus, his character is an example for our growth.

What this means to me:
I need continue to grow in the grace, knowledge and understanding of Jesus my savior. This will help to build my character, which is more important than my comfort.

In summary, let the kindness and understanding that come from Christ help me to grow. There are things in this life that will compete with and challenge my faith. I can combat this by getting to know him better day by day. I can grow by taking some of my money and investing it in myself and my personal growth. Ultimately the only thing I will take with me into heaven is my character. So use resources I have today to help me grow my character.

My character is the most important thing. It will remain with me, so I need to help it grow and become more like Christ. I choose integrity, humility, generosity and purpose as high values in my life. I pray this morning Father that I can see things from your perspective and grow my character by modeling Jesus, especially as I face tasks, decisions and leading others. I ask for your continue wisdom and guidance in decisions I make. Help me to be loving in my responses to others. Help me to value others today. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Using My Resources to Encourage God’s Family

In review of Romans 12:10 it says, ”Love one another with mutual affection” (NRSV).

Today’s verse in Romans 12:10 tells me to love others with genuine affection, and to take delight in honoring them. This form of love means to show genuine affection and to give brotherly love, and show warm devotion to others. It’s taking delight in honoring them, above myself. With an eagerness to show them respect.

I can honor others in one of two ways. One involves selfish ulterior motives; such as honoring my leaders so that they will reward me, or my team so that they will work harder, rich so that will give to me, powerful so they will use their power for me. However the other way, God's way, involves me showing and displaying genuine love. As his follower I give genuine love and honor to others because they too have been created in God's image, because they are my brother or sister in Christ, and because they too have a unique contribution to make to Christ's church. So instead of competing against, my only competition should be to out do others in showing honor. Put others first!

God wants me to invest in other people in God’s family. An interesting word for this would be “Mutual Fund.” The Bible says in Romans 12:10, “Love one another with mutual affection” (NRSV).

How can I invest in this Mutual Fund? By using some of my money to encourage fellowship, to build relationships, and to demonstrate love.

Anytime I give my money to God, it draws me closer to God. Anytime I give my money to someone, it draws me closer to that person. When I give money to people in my small group or invest in my small group, I grow closer to them. Anytime I write a note of encouragement, I’ve invested in the Mutual Fund. Anytime I prepare or buy a meal and take it to somebody who’s sick, I’ve just invested in the Mutual Fund.

Anytime I open up our home to a small group and we provide refreshments and that costs us, we’ve just invested in the Mutual Fund. Anytime I provide a babysitter for somebody who needs to go to a conference or retreat, I’ve invested in the Mutual Fund. When another believer is discouraged and needs somebody to talk to and I take that person out to lunch and pay for the meal, I’ve just invested in the Mutual Fund.

I can give to God, and God says that’s storing up treasure in heaven. But I can also give to other people. God says that when I do that as an act of love, it’s like banking it in heaven. Anytime I use my funds to show love to somebody else in the family of God, I’m investing in the Mutual Fund.

Why should I do this? Why should I give to encourage fellowship? The Bible says, “This service you do not only helps the needs of God’s people, it also brings many more thanks to God. It is a proof of your faith. Many people will praise God because you obey the Good News of Christ—the gospel you say you believe—and because you freely share with them and with all others” (2 Corinthians 9:12-13 NCV).

I can give without loving, but I cannot love without giving.

Bottom Line:
Love genuinely, be eager to give and show honor to others

What this means to me:
I am to genuinely to love others, taking delight in honoring others more than myself.

In summary I am to love others with genuine affection, and to honor them above myself. My motive should not be for selfish gain, rather because they have been created in God's image. Anytime I give or invest in them, it draws me closer to not only them but to God as well. It helps build his Kingdom.

Today’s verse is a good reminder for me to continue to invest in, help, encourage and honor others. I had grown greatly by others investment in me. This morning Father I pray that you help remind me of this as I interact with others. Help me to recognize the opportunities I have to invest in others. I also ask for your wisdom and guidance in handling responsibilities and tasks face today. Help me to lead others well in accomplishing the task. Help me to respond in a loving and caring manner. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Kind of Giving Is Worship?

In review of Proverbs 3:9 it says, ”Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income” (TLB).

Today’s verse comes from Proverbs 3:5-10. In verse 9 it says to, honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.

This is the practice of giving for God's use, the first and best portion of my harvest or income, and not the leftovers. One of my highest values that I want to shape is to give God the first and best part of my income. Doing this puts into practice that God, not material things, have first place in my life. It also helps me realize and recognize that all of my resources belong to him (I am only a manager or steward). Giving to God first helps me to conquer my greed and helps to manage God's resources. It opens me up to receive God's special blessings.

There’s nothing I can give God that he needs. But when I give him an offering, I’m saying, “God, I love you. I’m thinking of you. I want you first in my life.”

The Bible says, “Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income” (Proverbs 3:9 TLB). This is also called tithing. Tithing actually means 10 percent, and it’s the first part of my income.

The practice of tithing in my life doesn’t just honor God. It is also an act of worship. But the Bible says that not every kind of giving is an act of worship. So what kind of giving is worship?

On every Lord’s Day each of you should put aside something from what you have earned during the week, and use it for this offering. The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you earn” (1 Corinthians 16:2 TLB).

Worship giving is undesignated. It means that I don’t control it, I don’t direct it, I don’t tell God what to do with it.

Worship giving is given when and where I worship. I give the first part of my money on the first day of the week and say, “God, you’re first in my life.”

Worship giving is planned. I don’t just give spontaneously. I think it through.

Worship giving is proportional. If I didn’t earn anything this week, I don’t give anything. If I earn a little, I give a little. If I earn a lot, I give a lot.

God wants my heart more than anything else. He doesn’t want my money; he wants what it represents. The most sensitive nerve in the body is the one that goes from the heart to the wallet.

Bottom Line:
Honor God with your wealth and with the best part of what you produce.

What this means to me:
I put God first in my life by giving the first and best part of everything I produce and have.

In summary, one of my highest value that I want to shape is putting and giving to God first. In putting Him first with my income I demonstrate that I want him first. I don't direct what I give, I just give. It's a form of worship for me. I think it through and do it with a purpose. I recognize that God doesn't want or really need my stuff. What he wants is what it represents.

Father thank you for the reminder that in everything I do, I need to put you first. My income is a great way to demonstrate it, but I can also put you first in my life by keeping you at the center of anything I do. Today I pray for your wisdom and guidance for my day and the decisions I need to make and in how I lead people. Give me a heart for responding to them in a loving and kind manner. I want to serve and make a difference with my life. In your Son Jesus name I pray, Amen!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Serve God by Serving Others

In review of Ephesians 2:10 it says, ”God . . . has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others” (TLB).

Today’s verse comes from Ephesians 2:8-10 where Paul explains my true identity in Christ. In verse 10 he says, It is God himself who has made us and he has given us new lives from Christ Jesus; this is something that he planned long ago, such that we can spend our lives helping others.

I became His child through his unmerited grace, and this was not a result of any effort, ability, or act of service on my part. Therefore out of gratitude for this free gift, It is my responsibility to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness. While there is no work or action I can take that will help me obtain salvation, God's intent is that my salvation result in acts of service. For I was not saved merely for my own benefit, but rather to serve Christ and build up His church. I am God's unique masterpiece. My salvation is something only God can do. It is his powerful, creative work within me.

God did not put me on Earth just to live for myself. He wants to use me to help make the world a better place! If I’m not fulfilling my purpose, then I’m missing the whole point of life.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “God . . . has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others” (TLB).

There’s a word for this: ministry. Every Christ follower is a minister. Not every Christ follower is a pastor, but every Christ follower is to be a minister. That means I use my talents and gifts to make a contribution in life, to be a giver, not a taker.

The Bible uses a lot of “one another” phrases such as: “Love one another.” “Care for one another.” “Pray for one another.” “Encourage one another.” “Help one another.” “Counsel one another.” and “Support one another.” And the list goes. It is the mutual ministry of every believer in the family of God to every other believer in the family of God. That’s the way God meant for it to be.

Serving God by serving others is not always easy. There will be times when I get discouraged. So when discouragement comes, I can remember two things.

First, remember that I’m going to receive a reward that’s going to go on for eternity. The Bible says that God “will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers” (Hebrews 6:10 NLT). I’ll one day be rewarded in heaven.

Second, I can remember that God uses every little thing. Nothing is insignificant when I serve God. None of it is in vain. “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58 GNT).

Bottom Line:
It is God who makes us. He gives us a new life from Christ. It's is all part of his plan.

What this means to me:
God has made me what I am, and through my union with Christ, he has created me for a life of good deeds and services, which he had planned for me long ago.

In summary, God has made me and given me a new life from Christ such that I can now spend my life making a difference in others lives by helping them. Out of my gratitude for his unmerited grace, I help and serve with kindness, love and gentleness. After all, I'm not here for my own benefit, but rather to serve Christ and build his church. I am to make the world a better place. If I don't then I'm missing the whole point of life. If I ever get discouraged, remember that I will ultimately receive a reward in eternity and God will use everything I do.

Monday, September 24, 2018

God’s Gifts for Now

In review of Ecclesiastes 5:19 it says, “If God gives us wealth and property and lets us enjoy them, we should be grateful and enjoy what we have worked for. It is a gift from God” (GNT).

Today’s verse is from Ecclesiastes 5:8-20, Where Solomon speaks of the futility of wealth and his conclusions. In verse 19 I’m told that it's a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To be able to enjoy my work and accept my lot in life, these are all indeed a gift from God.

I believe that God wants me to view what I have (little or much) with the right perspective; that my possessions are a gift from Him. Although they are not intended to be the source of joy, they are a reason to rejoice because every good thing comes from the Lord. And my focus should be more on the Giver than on the gift. I can be content with what I have when I realize that with God I have everything I could possibly ever need.

I’m reminded of the verse from 1 Timothy 6:17 that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (NIV). That’s the kind of God I serve. He gave me the world for my enjoyment! But here’s the problem: I can get so busy getting more that I don’t enjoy what I have. Rick Warren explains that one of his favorite things to do is watch the sunrise from the slope in his yard. He put a deck chair out there a long time ag. It’s not expensive. It’s faded, and a couple of its slats are broken. However, he loves to sit in that ratty, old chair and watch the sun come up. It gives him great pleasure!

Would he have any more joy watching the sunrise if he were sitting in some expensive barcalounger instead of a ratty old chair? No. It would not increase his joy. In fact, there is an advantage to not having an expensive barcalounger. It’s better to have a ratty chair on the slope. Why? Because nobody steals it!

Today I need to consider, “What am I not enjoying right now?” I can easily get into a “when and then” thinking, “When this happens, then I’ll be happy.” The truth is I’m as happy as I choose to be.

Happiness is a choice! If I’m not happy now, I’m not going to be happy later. Happiness has nothing to do with my circumstances. It has everything to do with my attitude. If I’m not happy living on what I’m living on right now, I’m likely not going to be happy with any more. Because I’m always going to want a little bit more.

Therefore I should remember that happiness is a choice. Choose to enjoy what God has given me right now for my enjoyment!

Bottom Line:
Enjoy what you have, including your lot in life. Then enjoy your work. This is God's gift to me.

What this means to me:
I need to enjoy what I have today, including my lot and role in this life. Enjoy the work I have. All of this are gifts from God.

In summary, It's good for me to enjoy what God has provided me with, (my wealth and my health). To be able to enjoy my work and accept my place in life. These are all gifts from God. This means I need to view what I have with the right perspective, they are all gifts from Him. Allow my focus to be on the Giver and not the gifts. The truth is that I'm as happy as I choose to be. Happiness has nothing to do with my circumstances. It has everything to do with my attitude. Happiness is a choice. Choose to enjoy what God has given me right now.

Today I thank you for Father for the reminder and right perspective, one that is content with what you have provided me and the ability to enjoy it. I can and will choose to enjoy your provision. I also pray today Father that you will infuse me with your wisdom and guidance in handling the things I have in front of me. Help me to be of service and lead those around me. Help me to be loving in my interactions with others. Help me to not get easily upset with things are against me on not coming to me fairly. These things I pray in your Son Jesus Christs name, amen!

Whatever I Do, Do It as a Ministry

In review of Colossians 3:17 it says,   “And whatever you do or say , do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus , giving thanks through h...