FeelMyFaith.com

Creative Biblical content at the intersection of life and faith.

Word # 4 in Your Financial Turnaround - GIVE and that = TRUST

Word # 4 in Your Financial Turnaround - GIVE and that = TRUST

This week I am giving you four words that are the keys to your financial turnaround.  So far you have BUDGET, WORK and SAVE. If you want to read those posts, click here for BUDGET, here for WORK, and here for SAVE. Otherwise, here is your final word.

Give - Malachi 3:8-12, 2 Corinthians 6:6-9

Money decisions are not based on amounts, but on affections.  The Bible often uses your willingness to give as a tangible test of your affections.  Jesus stated it plainly, “You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).”  He also stated that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34). 

We give obediently and generously.  Out of obedience we bring the Lord our tithe, or the first tenth of what we make.  I believe in a practice traditionally known as storehouse tithing as taught in Malachi 3:8-12.  For me, the storehouse is my local church.  I give to the local church because it is a place of regular collection, accountability, and faithful distribution for missions and ministry.  We see this practice in the early church, Acts 2 and Acts 4.    

Out of generosity we bring the offering.  An offering is what one brings to the Lord above the tithe.  We obey in the tithe because our God is the Lord and He is right.  But we also bring Him the offering because our God is Savior and He is good.

I also believe that because the Bible teaches that tithing is an act of obedience, that we have yet to give an offering until we have first brought the tithe.   

The Bible talks also about the generous giving of alms, or the gifts we give to others to help meet their daily needs.  Because the Lord has helped us, we look to be helpful to others. 

As good as it sounds to give, it is counterintuitive to our nature to actually let it go.  If we are working hard to budget and save, how can we afford to just give it away?  My answer would be that we can’t afford not to give.  

The Bible is filled with God’s promises of reaping and sowing.  With the measure that we give, it will be measured back to us (Luke 6:38).  This could be said of any of the big 3 matters of our stewardship, TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE.

Why does giving work?  The simple answer is that God blesses it.  There is no way to calculate on paper the blessings of God, but it works.  In Malachi 3 God invites His people to “put me to the test, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

In the same passage God also says that one of the blessings will be that he will “rebuke the devourer for you.”  In an agricultural society the devourer is all the small things that threaten to destroy the harvest.  In the broader application I believe the devourer is all of the little things that add up to major expenses.

Giving works because of God’s blessings, but the practical answer is that giving works because generous people are good stewards of their resources.  They are not wasteful.  They pay attention to what they have and how best to use it and it multiplies to their benefit. 

_____________

Those four words: BUDGET + WORK + SAVE + GIVE are the keys to financial blessing.  The truth of the matter is that none of them are new.  There is nothing here that is profound.  These four words, when it comes to our money, truly are timeless.  The problem is not in the principles, it is in the practice. We do not need anything new, we just need to practice some self-control and discipline and do what works.

Those four words, practiced well, working together, will equate to a financial turnaround 100% of the time, but in actuality these four words BUDGET + WORK + SAVE + GIVE = TRUST.  

The end of the matter in all things is that we must trust and obey the Lord.  The money is not ours, it is His.  We are His stewards and He is a good and benevolent master who seeks to multiply His graces in His people.  He has given us everything we need to know about how to handle the money He gives us in His Word.  Work HIS plan!  God is an an amazing financial advisor with a proven track record.

Before you go, maybe there are other Biblical principles that you have found helpful in handling finances.  Please share them with me.  I am always eager to learn more about what God’s Word says about money.  

Continue reading
704 Hits
0 Comments

Word #3 in Your Financial Turnaround - SAVE

Word #3 in Your Financial Turnaround - SAVE

This week I am giving you four words that are the keys to your financial turnaround.  I have given you the first two: BUDGET and WORK.  If you want to read those posts, click here for BUDGET and here for WORK.  Otherwise, here is your third word.

Word #3, Save - Proverbs 6:6-8

Once you start budgeting and working you can begin saving.  Maybe you are already budgeting and working, but saving . . . not so much.  Why not?  Probably because the budget is too tight and there is nothing left over to save.  And there’s the problem.  Savings don’t come off the excess, they come off the top.  Saving money must be intentional, not accidental.

Making room for savings is critical.  For one, you never know what a day may hold.  We all need an emergency fund.  An oil change every few months won’t break the bank.  Replacing your AC unit in July will!  Save for it.  Life isn’t perfect.  Things break.  People get sick.  You may miss work.  If you have money set aside for such a time as this, you have immediately eliminated a great deal of worry and stress.

Another important aspect of saving is learning to pay with cash.  In a consumer driven economy it is easy to throw down a piece of plastic and get what you want even if you can’t immediately afford it.  

You may not have the the $1100 for that 4K flat screen you really want for your Super Bowl party, but the retailer has made it easy for you to have it now!  Buy it now - pay later.  $35 a month.  You budgeted for it.  You can afford it.  Why not?

The problem is in what you REALLY pay.  In a standard consumer credit deal at 18% interest, your $1,100 4K TV will actually cost you $1,431!  Stores don’t extend credit to you to make it easy for you to get a TV from them.  They extend credit to you so that they can make it easy for them to get more money out of you.

Saving money, SAVES YOU MONEY!  Saving money eliminates stress!  How much would it ease the burden on your mind to have a few thousand dollars set aside in the bank?  How great would it be to go on vacation in June and not be paying for it until December?  How merry would your Christmas be if you were not paying for it until April?  

If you budget, work, and save - you pay for what you need and truly enjoy what you want!  

 So now you have three of the four words.  BUDGET + WORK + SAVE + _______ = your financial turnaround!  Tomorrow, we will finish the equation.  Until then, share with me; what is your biggest hindrance to saving money?  Do you put away a little money each week for vacation or maybe for Christmas?  What is something that you saved for that gave you great satisfaction when you bought it?

Recent comment in this post
Brian Branam
My biggest hurdle to saving money was not budgetting every cent and putting realistic deadline to pay my debts. Once I've decided ... Read More
Thursday, 26 January 2017 12:22
Continue reading
705 Hits
1 Comment

The 2nd Word in Your Turnaround - Work!

The 2nd Word in Your Turnaround - Work!

This week I am giving you four words that are the keys to your financial turnaround.  Yesterday I gave you the first one, BUDGET.  If you want to read that post, click here.  Otherwise, here is your second word.

Word #2, Work - 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Proverbs 13:4

In 2 Thessalonians Paul was addressing a small group of Christians who thought that if Christ was going to return soon, why work?  The problem is that the longer the return of Christ lingered, they became an increasing burden on the church.  They felt as if it was the obligation of the church to provide for them during their time of elective unemployment.  Paul sent them a very clear message, you don’t work, you don’t eat.  Your choice!

There is no way to justify lazy.  People who elect not to work place undue burden on people who do.  Why?  Because everything costs something.

Budgeting works best when there is a healthy income stream.  Cutting wasteful spending is critical, but budgeting also helps you see that with a better cash flow your situation may be able to change quickly.  You may become more motivated to work harder for a promotion.  You may see room to take on a side job or two to help fill the gap.  

Work the plan and plan to work!

Furthermore, there is a dignity to work.  The Bible says that when God created the earth, that he put man in the garden to tend and to keep it (Gen. 2:7ff).  A lot of people misunderstand the creation and fall story in Genesis 1-3.  Work was not the curse.  Man was given work to do before he was cursed in sin.  Harder work, work that doesn’t work, working and it not working - that’s the curse (Gen. 3:18-19)!

The Bible places a dignity on work.  It is right for us to contribute to our society whether it be by making high level decisions about the economy or serving tables in a restaurant, there is dignity in all of it.  There is no dignity in deciding to be dependent if one is able to work.  It is a part of our purpose to be the images of a God who is always at work.  Let’s go to work!  

Now you have the first two words of the equation.  BUDGET + WORK + ________ + ________ = your financial turnaround!  I will give you word #3 tomorrow.  Don’t miss it.

 

Until then, answer me this.  What motivates you in your job?  Do you enjoy what you do?  Why or why not? Please scroll to the bottom of the page and share your thoughts.

Recent comment in this post
Brian Branam
The asnwer is not glamourous. What motivates me at my job is, in order, the little energy I need to do my job well, the money and ... Read More
Thursday, 26 January 2017 12:12
Continue reading
602 Hits
1 Comment

The First Word to Your Financial Turnaround

The First Word to Your Financial Turnaround

There are four simple words that are the keys to a financial turnaround in your life.  You need these words and they will work!

A survey of people in 16 countries found that their top source of stress was money.  Anxiety over money can can cause health issues, marital problems, loss of sleep, and an overall miserable life.  The Bible says it like this:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

Are you tired of the pangs of money being your greatest concern?  If so, then this week I am going to give you the four words you need for peace of mind when it comes to your money.  Each day I am going to give you a new word to add to the equation to relieve the stress and make progress towards greater financial success.  _____ + _____ + _____ + _____ = a financial turnaround in your life.  Are you ready?

Word #1 - Budget - 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-21

You either make a decision for a dollar or a dollar will make the decision for you.   Budgeting is making decisions for your dollars.

Budgeting is simple.  Spend less than you make.  

The problem is that most people have some idea of how much they make, but have no idea of how much they spend.  

It is a proven fact that people who budget have better financial success for one simple reason, they know where their money is going.  Because they know where their money goes, they are able to eliminate frivolous spending.  People who budget don’t buy on impulse, they buy on plan.

Impulse buyers spend what they have.  Budget buyers are better able to make controlled decisions because they know what’s in front of them may not be as important as what’s coming next week, or even next month.  

Budgeting helps us practice self-control and learn contentment (Philippians 4:12).

Budgeting will go a long way in helping you to eliminate the stress of always coming up short.

There are many great tools and apps that can help you budget.  I use the Mint money manager (https://www.mint.com/).  If you need motivation, training, and accountability to start budgeting, I would recommend finding a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class in your area.  The class costs $93 and many people object to paying almost 100 bucks for a class on finances, but I would tell you its worth every penny.  Why?  Because 1)  you won’t do what you don’t invest in.  You do better when it costs you something.  2)  We have hosted the class 3 times at our church and have seen on average a $3,000+ financial turnaround in 90 days with every faithful participant.  Why would you not invest $93 in something that could not only pay for itself, but may help you put $3,000 in your pocket in 90 days - and even more over the course of your life?  DO IT!

So there’s the first word, BUDGET.  Tomorrow I will give you the next word to add to the equation.  BUDGET + ______ + ______ + _______ = your turnaround!

 

Until then, what budgeting tools work for you?  If you’ve budgeted before how did it go.  What works and doesn’t work in your spending plan?  Please scroll to the bottom of the page and leave a comment.  I want to hear from you!

Recent comment in this post
Brian Branam
Thank you Pastor Brian for this awesome series! I use two tools : an excel sheet that a friend created and the budgetting app th... Read More
Thursday, 26 January 2017 12:04
Continue reading
688 Hits
1 Comment

Death by Devotional

Death by Devotional

I am about to sell you something that will kill you. I stand at the head of the line of a long list of professionals that should also admit the same. Alongside of me should come Mr. Mayfield ice cream man, the guy who sold you your car, the cashier at your favorite sporting goods store, and a vast number of servers, cooks, and clerks at your favorite restaurants and leisure spots; each of us a testament to the adage “too much of a good thing.”

Ice cream, good. A gallon a day, bad.

Your car, good. Your car going too fast while texting and driving, deadly.

All the stuff you can buy and do at the sporting goods store, fun. Any of it crashing upside your head, concussion.

Food and fun, always good. Living only for food and fun, always bad.

So what is it that I am selling you to death? A devotional!  

A devotional?  

On my website I have listed the Grace, Hope, and Love Daily Devotional. I think it is a fantastic collection of Scripture and applicable stories that would be a blessing to anyone who reads it, but I am warning you not to misuse it. Too many people misunderstand the intent of a devotional book. For them, something that was written to help their spiritual walk has become spiritually crippling.  

So that your devotional reading can be a blessing and not a curse, here is a list of cautions and encouragements when it comes to using devotionals.

A devotional book is not a devoted life.

The word devotion in Scripture is a powerful one. In the New Testament it is often translated from a word that entails three concepts; to beware, to believe, and to apply. This should be a daily expectation of the disciple seeking counsel from God’s Word. We need God’s Word to reveal, redeem, and repair areas of life of which we need to beware and/or be-aware. We need our faith informed so we may more strongly believe. We need God’s Word applied so we may obey.  

A devotional book is purposed to help you with this endeavor in a daily, structured way. But devotional reading is not a devoted life. The word devotion in its strictest sense speaks of what you give yourself to. Devotion is not a something you read, it is something you do. We do not need a Bible reading plan as much as we need a Bible doing plan. Just because you are reading a devotional book does not mean you are giving yourself to the Lord in a devotional life.

A devotional book is a start not a stop.

Many great pastors and Christian thinkers have written devotional material to help shepherd and feed God’s people. There are many notable ones in churchdom, but one of classics is Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. The title reflect a constant theme in Scripture. In the creation week there was evening and morning.  David called for those who were truly devoted to God’s Word to meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1). Morning and evening, evening and morning is the the rhythm of creation set in motion by God.

Many people purchase devotional books that they use either first thing in the morning to get them going, or perhaps they use them at night as they seek to still the busy mind. I find no fault with either.  Yet the concept of morning and evening as devotional reading is not meant as a discipline of consideration - as in to make sure you do it daily, but as a discipline of meditation to make sure it guides your thoughts throughout the ENTIRE day; as in starting with the morning and keeping you throughout the evening.

Devotional books are quick reads to get you going, but the deeper call of God is for Bible intake, memorization, and study. I like to use material written by Warren Wiersbe as part of my devotional reading. He is about as meat and potatoes of a Christian author as they come. But he is not my stop, as in, I read it and now I have fulfilled the discipline. Rather, a Wiersbe’s book alongside God’s Word is my start, as in I will ingest it in a way so that I DO NOT stop thinking about it throughout the day - morning and evening!

A devotional book is text, not context.

Devotional books will often give you a verse or a chapter of Scripture to read and give you an immediate application of that passage to life. Awesome idea! In that sense a devotional provides you a text. Where a devotional fails is that it does not provide you the context.

Use a devotional, but read the Bible. Find out where those verses are IN Scripture. A devotional may tell you that this verse came from Ephesians, but what in the world is an Ephesians? Where is it? What is it about? 

Ephesians 2:10 is wonderful. Ephesians 2:10 in context is a masterpiece. 

I am a big advocate for having a paper copy of the Bible. Learn where the books of the Bible are located in the cannon of Scripture. These books form the collective story of God.  

A devotional book is a bloom in a garden. Its intent is to pluck something sweet and fragrant that will inspire you, but the greater glory is the garden from which it came. Sure, the blooms are beautiful, but if you never walk the garden you really won’t smell the roses.  

The Christian life is not meant to be lived verse by verse. We are sovereignly immersed in the story of God. Each text/verse of the Bible exists within the larger context of God’s story. Use your devotional to point you to curious places. Use your Bible to walk the garden paths.

A devotional is application, not exposition.

One of the reasons people enjoy devotionals is because they quickly get to the point. Many people find it challenging to read the Bible, understand it, and know what to do with it. Yep, me too.

Devotionals cut out the leg work. Don’t bog me down with long, arduous explanations of what passages say, just tell me what they mean.

I recently had a conversation with a doctor about feeding tubes. Odd topic, I know, but sometimes a necessary one.  

As many doctors tend to be, he is an eclectic fellow, a highly intelligent man who walks to the beat of a different drum. In demonstrating to me the ease of use of a feeding tube, he demonstrated to me how one can conveniently uncork the tube, pour in a bottle of nutrients, re-cork the tube, chunk the now empty can of nutrients into the trash and go about the day. He said, “It would save me a whole lot of time having to eat.” I assure you, he was laughing when he said it, but I also think he was somewhat serious about the prospects of installing one on himself.

Devotional books are spiritual feeding tubes. They will give you what you need, but wow, what a joy it is to chew!  Feeding tubes may be faster, but there is a flavor in food you will soon miss if you do not have to break it down in your mouth.  

Sometimes a tube is necessary, but insane if we want one merely out of convenience. God gave you a tongue, not a tube!

While it is true that what we need from God’s Word is application, there is a flavor that emerges from the hard work of exposition that helps us taste and see that the Lord is good. The Bible is not a ‘How To’ guide for life. It is a story. It is a poem. It is a command. It is a revelation. It is a multi-course meal robust with the flavor of God. Don’t forget to chew!

A devotional is personal insight, not personal investment.

One of the things I like most about the Faith, Hope, and Love Devotional is that it gives you insight into God’s Word from 52 pastors, teachers, authors, and evangelists. It is an indispensable resource full of wisdom. These people have a journey with God that is curious to me and I love hearing from them.

But wouldn’t you like to hear the voice of God for yourself?

One of the great truths of Scripture is that we have a God who desires to be with His people. The Bible is filled with image rich words that communicate the opportunity we have to be close to God. One of the words we translate as “prayer” in Scripture speaks of intimacy, not merely request.  

Prayer is not shouting aimlessly into the heavens, prayer is communing with God. Prayer is not an announcement over a megaphone, it is a conversation at the table.  

The only way to have a personal experience with God is to make a personal investment in His Word. Use a devotional book, but devote yourself to Bible study.

__________________

It is a worn out metaphor for many things, but the Christian life is not a microwave, it is a crock-pot way of living. We would like to think that a few convenient seconds is all we need to be like Christ. Devotional books ARE NOT intended to be the Bible nuked for you!

There is NO devotional author worth their salt who would ever advocate his or her book as a replacement for the Bible. Their intent, my intent, is not to replace Biblical reading or meditation. Our intent is to inspire you to start somewhere and to help keep you there daily.  

At some point the devotional book should be a gateway into something greater, not an end in itself. We have to simmer on Scripture if we are ever to truly appreciate the flavors of God that are there. There is no shortcut to the good stuff!     

 

Continue reading
877 Hits
0 Comments