Don’t Just Save For Retirement

19 Oct

John G. Wendel and his sisters were some of the most miserly people of all time. Although they had received a huge inheritance from their parents, they spent very little of it and did all they could to keep their wealth for themselves.

John was able to influence five of his six sisters never to marry, and they lived in the same house in New York City for 50 years. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. Her only dress was one that she had made herself, and she had worn it for 25 years.

The Wendels had such a compulsion to hold on to their possessions that they lived like paupers. Even worse, they were like the kind of person Jesus referred to “who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

It almost goes without saying that we should save money for our later years. God also wants us to save so that when we do come accross people in need, we will have the resources to help them. In Luke 10:33-35 we read the familiar story of the good Samaritan. Most of us know the story. The Samaritan saw an injured man on the side of the road and helped him. He bandaged his wounds and took him to an inn to recover. Here’s the key verse. “The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. `If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, `I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.'” In other texts, the amount is two Denarii. A Denarius is the equivilant of a full day’s wage. Obviously, the Samaritan was either wealthy or he practiced good stewardship. I infer from the passage that the Samaritan was not a wealthy man. I believe that Jesus used the amount as an example of the sacrifice the Samaritan was making for this man.

Think about it. Figure out how much you make in a day. Could you afford to just give two days wages away? Have you saved enough that it wouldn’t be such a burden on you?

That is the true meaning of financial freedom. When we reach a place that we are able to help people in need without restrictions.

What Will Money Buy?

18 Oct

Money will buy…

a bed but not sleep;
books but not brains;
food but not appetite;
finery but not beauty;
a house but not a home;
medicine but not health;
luxuries but not culture;
amusements but not happiness;
religion but not salvation;
a passport to everywhere but heaven.

(The Voice In the Wilderness, quoted in Discipleship Journal, Issue 53, 1989, p. 21)

Here’s a couple of quotes to ponder:

The real measure of our wealth is how much we’d be worth if we lost all our money. – J. H. Jowett

Almost half of Americans report having less than $5,000 in savings and investments, including 1 out of 10 who have none at all. Significantly, more than one-fourth of Americans did not save or invest any of their income in the past year. – Dr. Seymour Lieberman, in Homemade, January, 1985

340 Million and Counting

17 Oct

If you have been paying attention to the news, you have more than likely heard about the $340 million Power Ball jackpot. You may even have a ticket! I still haven’t decided how I feel about lotteries. I don’t go to casino’s but I’ll kick in a buck every now and then to the lottery. My name for the lottery is “a greed tax” because that is what motivates us to purchase a ticket. I don’t play the lottery all of the time. Usually, it is only when my greed over-powers my common sense. I can come up with all types of justification to purchase a ticket. Then of course, I tell God that if He would only let me win, I could financially support all types of ministries. Just think of what 10% of $340 million could do! Then I get convicted that it’s wrong and don’t buy any more. And the cycle repeats itself.

That’s the problem. If money were the answer, we wouldn’t need faith. If we had 34 million dollars to support a ministry, what would I be putting my faith in? Would others stop giving knowing that there’s 34 million in the church’s account? God does not want us to waste money. He wants us to work hard, tithe, care for the poor and save some for our later years.

Instant “wealth” comes with it’s own problems too. All of a sudden, you have more cousins than you knew you had. (And they’re all named Earl) Everyone will be asking to borrow money because – “what is $5,000 to someone with 340 million?” People will try to rip you off. You will be offered more “valuable” investment property than you knew existed! Everywhere you go you will be “stalked”. The friends you thought you had will become jealous. Most “new” friends will be your friend just because of the money.

Does that sound like it’s from God? Remember, only good comes from God. If you like to throw away money on lotteries, I’m selling tickets to the “Help David pay for his four daughters college education lottery.” The jackpot is huge and “You guessed it, you won’t win that either.” 🙂

What is your ministry?

16 Oct

Today I learned that everyone had a tough week at work last week. I’m not exactly sure of the why but I’ll tell you what I am thinking.

The one thing that I felt I had to emphasize today in class was this: We have each been given unique skills by God to use to serve each other and to serve God. As Christians, we are called a community of believers. God gave us each unique abilities and together, we make each other complete.

If you heard Bart’s message this morning, He said the same thing. Find your skills and then use them to serve God.

I really think that today’s message will have a big impact on us at Grace. I really want to encourage you to seek God and ask Him to show you how you can use your skills to serve Him. Wednesday evening is the Oasis at Grace. It will be a perfect opportunity to focus on what your ministry could be or how you can use your skills to make an impact for Him.

I think this could be HUGE. Just think of the possibilities, if everyone at Grace were to commit to use their God given abilities to serve Him. I urge each of you to pray sincerely about how God can use you and the abilities He gave you to serve Him.

Have a great week! Remember, you are working for God!

Work – Stress – Work – Stress

15 Oct

It’s been really hard to write the last couple of days. In fact, it’s been darn near impossible. Most of what I want to write would look like this:

WHY THE #**%^@ IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?
WHO IN THE #@^*@ DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?
WHERE IN THE ^&*#% IS GOD?

It’s days like today that I start doubting the sincerity of a God that says that He will provide all my needs. A loving God that is supposed to take care of me. I have been faithful – where is He?

I notice a my daily calendar on my desk. It’s one of those that has a Bible verse for every day. I haven’t turned it to the current date. I need a distraction. The day is half over and I’m #*&%@ off. I pick up the calendar, turn it to today….

I start crying…

Oh God – forgive me for being so selfish. So doubtful. How could I ever doubt you. You are my rock, my salvation. I am totally dependent in you. Please have mercy on me. Forgive me. You are my Lord and Savior! Why do I let work stress me out so much. You are my life. You will provide! You always have. Forgive me for doubting you. Thank you for showing me that you are here.

I feel much better now. Oh – you want to know what the calender said? OK.

Psalm 28

1To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

2 Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.

3 Do not drag me away with the wicked,
with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
but harbor malice in their hearts.

4 Repay them for their deeds
and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
and bring back upon them what they deserve.

5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD
and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
and never build them up again.

6 Praise be to the LORD,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.

7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

9 Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Does God Care About Our Work?

12 Oct

When we first began this study, I kept on emphasizing that the main attitude that we have to develop is the attitude that Nothing is ours – Everything is God’s. Our lesson this week is related: God Is Involved In Our Work.

In Colossians, it says (my translation), “When you work, work hard, like you are working for Jesus because, as a Christian, you serve Christ, not men.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Think about it. God gives us each abilities. I can program computers but I can’t fix a car. My brother fixes cars but he can’t program a computer! God creates us each with our own ability so that as a community, we can help each other. When we serve others, we serve God.

When we use our abilities to serve Him, he then gives us success. In the story of Joseph, it says that “the Lord was with Joseph and so he became a successful man.” (Genesis 39:2-3) Note: Success does not always have to mean material gain. I consider this website successful and I don’t make a cent on it! 🙂

God also gives us our promotions. Instead of kissing-up to your immediate superior, focus on serving the real Boss! Psalm 75:6 says “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God!”

Of course, if you are self-employed like me, then you know who runs everything. I like to say that God is my sales manager!!!

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho-It’s Off To Work I Go!

11 Oct

Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I didn’t have to work?” If you are like me, you have many interests. I wish I could spend more time doing research. Other days, I just want to sleep! (yes – I could stay in bed all day if I knew I could!) Other days, I wish I could just play. I would like to go on a long-term mission. I would like to learn to play the piano. I wish it wasn’t so hard to earn a living!

When God created this world, he made Adam to work. God created this beautiful garden of Eden and furnished it with the most luxurious vegitation and beautiful trees, like cedars, pine and plane trees (Ezekiel 31:8). God then gave Adam work that employed all his powers. He trained Adam to cultivate the garden and to take care of it. (Gen 2:15) This way, Adam is to be happily absorbed in work that makes him happy. There are no thorns or hard soil to frustrate him so that he works without any problems. He really enjoys his work! Then, since Adam is to have dominion over the whole earth, the Lord God personally trains him for this position. God instructs Adam to name each animal. He learns the particular characteristics of each one.(Gen 2:19-20)

When Adam sinned, God said, “”Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Now I know why work is so hard! Thanks Adam.

IHOP

10 Oct

Today I’m headed to IHOP to be fed. No, not the restaraunt. It is the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. It is a place that has a 24 hour 7 day a week prayer ministry. I’m calling this trip, Mt. Sinai II. I’m going to have a conversation with God, much like last February when I spent a week in prayer and study. I like what Pastor Bart told me recently, “God is omnipresent but we’re not omni-available”. We sometimes have to intentionally make a time and a space, away from our regular routine to seek God. That is what this trip today is for me.

This week’s lesson is on work. God values work. He created the Garden of Eden and then put Adam and Eve in charge of it. They were to take care of it and all that was in it. I will expand on this more this week.

This weeks memory verse is: Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

A Quiz For You!

7 Oct

Here’s a quiz for you:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Be one that cares…

Better To Give Than Receive

6 Oct

I have heard it so many times, it has become almost cliche.

It is better to give than to receive.

Where did this come from? I usually hear that when everyone else gets gifts and I don’t!

That phrase is actually attributed to Jesus by Paul in Acts 20:35. (Side note: One of the unique facts about this saying, is that it is one of the few quotes attributed to Jesus that doesn’t appear in the Gospels. The closest verse that I found where Jesus said something like this is in Matthew 10:8 where Jesus says, “Give as freely as you have received!”) Paul used this “Jesus theme” in reference to helping the weak and the poor. Here’s the same verse, found in the DIPShtick translation:

Paul said – “I never wanted anything from anyone else. You know that I supported myself and my followers by working hard. I supported myself to show you that those of us that can work hard should, and support those who can’t. Because, a person who is able to work hard, and give of himself, will gain blessing if they give freely. If you were laid up, and could not work, wouldn’t you be blessed if someone who could give, provided for you?”

Paul knew that in giving without expectation of a return, we take on the qualities of Jesus. Jesus taught personal, sometimes sacrificial service to others. In his life and his death, Jesus showed us how to give without expecting anything in return. That is the attitude we should take on. We should give personally and sacrificially to others without expecting anything in return.

With that, I’ll end this like Paul ended his talk in Ephesus. I’ll take my leave.

Goodbye is not an easy word to say.
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
I will always remember you.