Devotion, Fasting, Finance, peace, Personal Growth, Series, Uncategorized

Day 9: “Peace. In Your Finances.”

Mortgages and rent. School fees. Rates. Insurance. Groceries. Clothing and food. Debt. Utilities.

Fun money? Travel? Shopping? How? When?

Everyday expenditures and financial responsibilities weigh you down. Figures and dates spinning around in your head, a merry-go-round of digits. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Saving, Spending. Saving, Spending. Saving, Spending. Round and round you go.

According to a 2018 study of 1000 U.S. adults, worry and stress over money is one of the leading causes of divorce (behind infidelity). There’s no question that the way you handle your finances becomes a lens by which you look through life with either enthusiasm and generosity or dread and greed.

No one wakes up planning to be greedy or selfish. However, when you are not financially healthy and living within your means, you begin to hold on tightly to that which you have. You strive to gain more for fear that what you currently possess will run out, disappearing like sand through your fingertips. Nothing of substance to show for your hard work.

When you are balanced in your approach to money, patient and prudent with spending, generous to the local church and towards others, you can loosen your grip and suddenly the heavenly perspective of a God who owns the universe brings a shift. You understand that everything you have comes from the One who gave you your very life and breath; your daily provision and future allotments are subsidised by an endless account.

Ask yourself whether your priorities are in line with God’s. Make a plan for getting out of debt, for saving, for benevolence. Discipline yourself with the practicality of self-restraint. And, let go. Trust your Heavenly Father to provide for your every need. Pray and seek wisdom while pursuing financial peace.

“The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.”

Psalm 37:23-26 (NIV)
Devotion, Fasting, Love, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Love Lavishly.”

love-deeplyAs you continue to spend time in prayer and fasting, your relationship with your Heavenly Father is deepening. The closer you are to him, the more clearly you hear his voice, the more secure you feel about your circumstances, your family, your work.

Now, it’s time to look outside of yourself and begin to see how you can impact your surroundings. Look at the encouraging words of Peter:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes.” (1 Peter 4:7-11 MSG)

Practise prayerfulness.

Love lavishly.

Give generously.

Communicate kindly.

Help wholeheartedly.

Fasting, Series

Fasting Devotion, Day Eleven

(Post submitted by Pastor Greg)

Psalm 95:1-7

A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most powerful traits every Christian should embody. It’s actually a characteristic of faith that is often forgotten or overlooked. We can easily get caught up in what we don’t have or what someone did to us that was wrong. Sadly, we harp on things that annoy us or gossip our negative opinions more easily than we give compliments.

When we live our lives overwhelmed with contentment and gratitude, we have an abundance of peace, blessing and the favour of God.

Thankful people are worshippers. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Enter his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4)

Thankful people don’t get offended. We can forgive others when we remember the forgiveness God has extended to us.

Thankful people are humble. The Apostle Paul models this as he celebrates other people’s success.

Thankful people are full of peace. They trust in an Almighty God who will provide them with supernatural peace in every situation.

Thankful people are “others” focussed. They see the value and potential in people because they understand how God has used them. Thankful people want to see others blessed and prospering.

Thankful people are generous. A spirit of thanksgiving produces a generous spirit because we recognize everything we have is a gift from God.

Lord, when I look at my life, I truly have so much to be thankful for. You have blessed me in many ways. Help me to focus on this more heavily than the struggles I face. Thank you for your word which brings life and direction to me. I want my reputation to exemplify the qualities above. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Australia, Contentment, Uncategorized

Content Now?

Ever since I got a paid gig writing blogs last month, my own blog has suffered.  As Ecclesiastes says, “there’s nothing new under the sun;” the same feels true as I update you all on what’s going on here in Australia.  Our furniture FINALLY arrived after three long months of waiting and we have been unpacking and trying to organize our belongings all day everyday since then.

It’s interesting to see what’s inside each one.  I thought I had de-cluttered like nobody’s business.  I sold what felt like half our belongings and what remained was only the most loved outfits, personal effects that are irreplaceable, and items that would be too expensive to replace here.  Interestingly, after living out of six suitcases with only the necessities for a couple of months, I now realize 42 pairs of underwear and socks and 25 coffee mugs aren’t really that important after all.  I can’t tell you how many hangers and shoes I have no room for in my Belmont North rental.  And, that pile of paperwork that sat on my Lynnwood desk needing attention is now outdated and has no value nor importance in the Southern Hemisphere.

Although beds and outfits make life comfortable and I am certainly happy I can serve my neighbors dinner without washing dishes midway through the meal because I now have enough plates and silverware, I have come to appreciate how little we can live on if we really must.  I know, I know… everyone says it.  Missionaries live it.  Starving kids in Africa play with sticks all day and seem perfectly content.  Less is more.  I’m not saying anything new.

The trick for anyone who has experienced an adjustment to having less than what she used to is to stay balanced in the long run.  How do we remain generous with our money and possessions if we don’t have any?  Yet, once we do, how do we live comfortably, but not extravagantly?  Solomon wrote about a man who might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment.  He says “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content” (Ecc. 1:7-9).

Yet Paul contrasts this with saying in Phillipians that he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  He knew what it was “to be in need,” and what it was “to have plenty.”  He said he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Contentment is sourced by our heavenly father when we are at peace with Him.  Only God can supply all our needs “according to his riches in glory.”  I used to think that meant material needs (and maybe it does) but the older I get and the more “stuff” I accumulate, I realize God supplying ALL MY NEEDS is much deeper than anything we can purchase in dollars.  Contentment means resting in peace when working really hard to pay the bills.  Contentment is enjoying the moment with my kids when dishes and laundry need to be done.  Contentment equals taking a back row seat in somebody else’s church so I can get fed and my kids can be in church even though God has called us to lead a large influential church ourselves.  Contentment means hanging onto my dreams even though they seem so far away.  Contentment when releasing control to understand unfair circumstances and grief.  Being anxious in NOTHING but by prayer and supplication, presenting my requests to God.  He promises to give peace that surpasses understanding.

Contentment means confessing John 6:35

Jesus is the Bread of Life.  I come to him and I am never hungry.  I believe in him, cleave to, trust in and rely on Him.  I am never thirsty at any time.  I am fully satisfied.

When I can confess this daily and mean it no matter my surroundings or circumstances, I have reached contentment.  In the meantime, I will enjoy my old recliner and photo albums.  And if you come to visit me, I will give you my California King and make you dinner in my Texas sized pots and pans.