Grace in Spending

graceYour heart will be where your treasure is. (Matthew 6:21)

Ponder It.

  • What problems do you have with spending?
  • With a percentage (0%-100%), assess how much God plays a role in your spending planning and actual spending.
  • How do you see God’s grace in your spending?

Receive It. Grace provides what we need. The problem is we often define what we need differently than God does. We don’t filter our needs (and our spending) through God’s will. We prefer control. It’s as if we think that if we give God complete control, we’re only going to be living with the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. We’ll never get that favorite cup of coffee, new scarf or other accessory, or a car that does more than make it from point A to point B. We should know God better than that. When we fully submit to God’s will, yes, there will probably be times we need to trust him through some very sacrificial seasons of spending (or not spending). Whether or not we actually have the resources to spend become secondary to how God wants us to spend what we have. God blesses us abundantly, and he is not intent on ruining our fun or withholding anything and everything that is absolutely not essential. It’s just not the way he loves us. His love, and his grace, is abundant. It overflows. That doesn’t mean our bank accounts will always overflow. Besides, how he defines overflow and how we define overflow often differs. We look at the money in our hands and think of it as ours. We forget he filters it all through his hands. He knows where it needs to go, and while he often will have us sacrifice spending in the way we want for the way he wants, the way he wants is sometimes in line with what we want. He knows the trail of spending and the blessings that can come through the spending. Most important, he knows the blessings that can come through obedient spending. He knows who profits, who will honor him, who will be grateful, and who will be challenged to greater faith because of the pressures of wealth. We need to rely on God to guide our spending, because when we listen to and obey what he says about spending, his grace abounds through our obedience, including our spending.

Live It. Pay attention to every penny you spend or consider spending today. Ask, “What does God say about this money in my hand?” Then do with it what he wants.

Easier Said Than Done

mark-536“Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” (Mark 5:36b)

It’s easier said than done much of the time.

I walked by a sign the other day that said, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.” It’s not that fear doesn’t exist. We can’t just wish it away. We have to have something bigger than it, something that keeps it in check, in context, something that absorbs and handles it well.

Belief in and of itself doesn’t get rid of our fears. Some beliefs exacerbate fears. If we believe in the wrong things, undependable things, the fears are only masked, and when things are masked, they can grow in the dark where we hide them. Fears can grow and become something that they’re not.

Fears aren’t just the things we tremble about. They are also the quiet ways we think we’re missing out on something, the insecurities, the desires spurred by “what if.” Without true belief, our “what ifs” become unmanageable. We can’t control them like we thought we could, and they begin to control us. We begin to make decisions based on fleeting assumptions and feelings. We might feel certain at the time, but when we’re on shaky ground, it doesn’t take long for insecurities, regrets, and doubt to move in.

Belief isn’t easy. It’s an unrelenting effort. But it’s worth the effort in the long run.

No Fair

logo_retinaWhen I tell the righteous person that he will surely live, but he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the iniquity he has committed. So when I tell the wicked person, “You will surely die,” but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right— he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity—he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live. But your people say, “The Lord’s way isn’t fair,” even though it is their own way that isn’t fair. (Ezekiel 33:13-17)

We cannot rest on our accomplishments or convict someone on their faults. Our good deeds and faith don’t carry us through if we abandon them, just as our offenses don’t condemn us if we turn and leave them behind. God wants ongoing, respectful relationship. But we want to be able to determine just what we can and can’t do. We want some control. We want to declare what is fair and what isn’t. And when we begin to understand that following Him isn’t about fairness, we can throw our hands up and declare God is wrong to do things His way, and people are wrong to follow and trust Him, and we’re better off without Him.

No fair!

But God is beyond fair. His standards aren’t like the ones we create, where everything fits into boxes that can’t ebb and flow beyond the boundaries that comfort us the most. We like to declare, “Foul! Wrong! Good! Bad! Right!” But who are we trying to convince?

Maybe we need to be quiet long enough to let God do a little convincing of His own.

Fight for What You Want?

you-want-it-then-fight-for-itThe world teaches us to fight for what we want, not what we need.

The world certainly doesn’t encourage us to fight for what and how God leads.

Maybe it’s because seeking God and grasping His will is a bit more challenging than understanding and reaching for our own. After all, we know what we want.

But it changes.

Consider what you most wanted when you were two years old. Eight. Twelve. Nineteen. Twenty-five. And so on. Now consider what would have happened if you had actually received what you most wanted.

On the other hand, what if someone could see and understand the bigger picture and guide us, not just based on the desires of the here and now but the benefits and consequences down the road a bit?

That’s what God can do.

So instead of fighting for what we want, let’s put all that effort into pointing toward Him. He is powerful enough to fight for Himself. He doesn’t need us to figure it all out and proclaim solutions to everyone. He wants us to seek Him and trust Him to take care of all the details along that pursuit. We wants us to honor Him with grace, mercy, love, compassion, and truth every step of the way.

God’s Role. Our Role.

psalms_33_20_22_by_boughtbybloodme-d7ubuoxWe wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in Him because we trust in His holy name. May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh, for we put our hope in You. (Psalm 33:20-22)

God: helps. shields. loves. We: wait. rejoice. trust. hope.

How often do we overlook our own responsibilities and take on God’s?

Hurry Up!

Stressed business man rushing in the officeSo he gathered the priests and Levites and said, “Go out to the cities of Judah and collect money from all Israel to repair the temple of your God as needed year by year, and do it quickly.” However, the Levites did not hurry. (2 Chronicles 24:5)

Sometimes people aren’t in the hurry we wish they were. We see urgency, and we think we convey it with passion so that they’ll catch on, but they don’t.

The opposite happens, too. People move faster than we want, even though we might warn them of the dangers of hurrying and the benefits of patience.

Not that we are always right, but when we believe we’re getting clear instruction from God, we want to follow Him well and want to encourage others to do the same.

Let’s be careful. Let’s set a good example of following God well, but let’s remember that everyone is accountable to God, and He moves in different lives in different ways and timing. We can trust Him. We’re not in control, and that’s a good thing.