"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, May 24, 2013

* ONE INCOME PROVISION

1 Timothy 6:17b & 18b (NIV 1984) "Command those who are rich in this present world to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share."



Over the years God has unexpectedly blessed our family in many and various ways.  Some of these include clothing for our boys, 1/2 beef, elk, fresh fish, money for diapers, beds, upright freezer, refrigerator, 1st and 2nd camcorders, television, BBQ gas grill, riding lawn mower, push mower, weed eater, home interior items, computers, printers, digital camera, ipod, above ground pool, swing set, cash, vacuum, van and a car (now those two are a story in and of themselves!  Go God!).

By sharing some of these examples with you please don't think my husband doesn't receive fair compensation as a Pastor.  The Lord does provide through his income, but like other families living on one source, and having three boys who eat like horses, I mean beasts, we have to be frugal in an effort to maintain God's desire for our family.

We knew before marriage God called us both to serve in ministry.  In order for me to be available to minister to women we try to maintain an honoring budget to the Lord.  I haven't received a consistent paycheck for 14 years, but someday I might.  We just know we need to be obedient to what God has asked of us for this season.  While I do speak periodically for various women's events and receive pay, thus far, this has yet to exceed my expenses for ministry.

Being frugal certainly makes a distinction in our lives for having needs versus wants.  He expects us to be disciplined with our budget and maintain specific boundaries with what He entrusts to us.  This means we say "no" to a lot of things in order to say "yes" to what we believe is God's direction for our lives.  We strive to trust in the Lord's provision for our family.  Even still, we have our little secret wish list.  Periodically the Lord blesses and provides us with these things too.

Awhile back we had one of those times.  A gentleman asked my husband if he knew of anyone who needed a couch and love seat that were five years old and gently used.  My husband thought, Yeah! You're looking at him!  Did I mention I have three monkeys . . . I mean, boys?  The sectional we had served its purpose.  However, after ten years it was very worn and several cushions had split open at the seams.  We accepted this man's offer.  My husband picked them up, brought them home and unloaded them.

As I walked downstairs to investigate our newest blessing, I was speechless.  I just stood there and stared.  I could not believe it.  Sitting before me were gently used, beautiful tan leather couch and love seat set.  Unbelievable!  We have never had such nice furniture.  (And, this has always been on our little secret wish list.)

The day after this happened another unexpected blessing occurred when a gentleman offered to pay for some ministry material for me.  Not long after that another family blessed us with a new vacuum out of the blue.  Crazy, I know.

We have also been the giver on several occasions.  Your examples may be different than ours, but I'm sure you have experienced both giving and receiving as well.  One thing is certain, regardless of our incomes, Jehovah Jireh is God our Provider.

If we acknowledge He is our Provider, how we view our wealth, possessions and giving will be radically different than the world's.  Selfish versus self-less.  Viewing our things/income as 'mine' will lead to a closed fist of greed.  A biblical view believes everything we have comes from God.  In addition, we accept we are the caretakers of what He entrusts to us.  Living with this mindset enables us to extend an open hand of blessing toward others.

One way I know I'm being selfish and resistant to giving is when I'm unwilling to let others borrow something of mine.  This may seem trite, but years ago my husband and I decided that we both knew if there ever became a time when we were unwilling to let someone use something of ours then just perhaps that something has become too important.  Seeing beyond ourselves means we have to work past our natural tendency to be selfish and hold tightly to our possessions.  Naked we came.  Naked we leave.  It's all gonna burn baby!

Our passage in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 is a road map for understanding riches and generosity. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

Paul delivers several commands and instructions to believers in this passage.  Here are a few items I notice:
  • How not to act because of riches: Don't be arrogant.
  • How we are to view our wealth: Don't put our hope in wealth.
  • Where we are to put our hope: Put our hope in God not riches.
  • Who is the Giver: God richly provides us with everything.
  • What we are to do with our riches: Be rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share.
  • Result if we do so: Lay up treasure for ourselves for the coming age.
This passage helps us understand God's desire regarding our wealth.  Internalizing these truths should inspire us to take inventory of our current thought processes and evaluate where we are in our effort to see the needs of others and bless accordingly.  Loving others as God intends is an expression of our faith.  Needs vary.  The point is to do what we can when we're prompted, to meet the needs of others to the glory of God.  

Working past selfishness toward selflessness will direct us to take action.  We act because we desire to please God.  To simply bless someone or try to make life a little easier for another becomes a natural response when we operate selflessly.  In so doing, we bring glory to Him and joy to the giver.  It also reflects the kind of love God desires for us to have towards others.  If we fail to see and meet the needs of people we will miss growth opportunities in our relationship with God.


Heart Work:
Ask the Lord to soften your heart to the needs of those around you.  (Don't forget those under your own roof :) ).

Ask the Lord to reveal to you an individual or family this week who may be in need.  Seek how He would like to use you to fulfill this need.

Expect the Lord to show you someone who needs an unexpected blessing just to brighten their week.  When He does show you, be ready to take action.  (It could be a meal, flowers, fresh bread/cookies, card, babysit, gift certificate to movies/dinner, pedicure, haircut etc.)


Heart Exam:
When do you find it difficult to take action in helping and blessing others?  How can you better develop a heart of compassion?

What is the difference between selfishness and selflessness?


Heart Transforming Word:
Genesis 22:14 (NIV 1984)  "So, Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.  And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.' "

Psalm 68:10  "Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor."

Proverbs 11:25  "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."

Ezekiel 18:5 & 7  "A righteous man does not oppress anyone.  He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked."

Acts 2:44-45  "All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."

Philippians 4:19  "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

1 Timothy 5:8  "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Titus 3:14  "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives."

James 2:16-17 "If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

James 1:27  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."




Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2013.  All rights reserved.