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Money, Bible Studies
The character, Gollum, in J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," is a study in addiction and its pitfalls.
This creature was obsessed with the powerful properties of a much-desired ring. Transfixed, he often referred to it as "my precious." This preoccupation, over time, led to his changed, grotesque form; it also contributed to both his torment and his tragedy.
The story portrays Gollum as a struggling being who had "come to love and hate the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself." His unfortunate fate inevitably followed. Upon finally seizing the ring, he fell into a volcano's fires. Both he and his "precious" were destroyed.
Now, how's that for a cautionary tale?
“Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” Haggai 1:9
Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses.
Our God has a method in providence by which he can succeed our endeavours beyond our expectation, or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of his hand he can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the liberal and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding tendeth to poverty.
In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have been always the most happy, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the liberal giver rise to wealth of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous churl descend to poverty by the very parsimony by which he thought to rise.
Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; he gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed the Lord makes the little much by the contentment which the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which the tithe has been dedicated to the Lord.
We are deluged with pictures of parties, frivolity, and laughter... in commercials and advertisements. Everyone seems so happy! And all because they bought ___________ (fill in the blank). In other words, they had money. And because of the money, they had friends.
Wealth brings many friends,
but the poor are left friendless. Proverbs19:4 NRSV
Proverbs confirms it. Money brings friends. But what kind of friends? More importantly, what will happen to those friends when the money disappears?
Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin. Proverbs 18:24 NRSV
A person who is my friend because I have the money to entertain them or to give them isn't really my friend.
A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
If someone is truly my friend, she will be there even during the hard times.
But this proverb is more than just about friends. It's about money and how we desire it in order to change and control our lives. We think that with money life will be easier; things will be better. We might even be more popular. The Lord Jesus talked about money:
From that magical moment of birth, we all set out on a life consuming quest to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for fulfillment. It was then that we filled our little lungs with air; oh, what an overwhelming experience that must of been! In fact, we loved it so much that we have never intentionally stopped doing it.
Then came our need for nourishment and comfort, which in turn triggered a God inspired train reaction of magical events We instantly learned a beautiful reality, which was that the inhaled air (filled with oxygen) in our lungs not only insured a healthy body, but we could use the exhaled (void of oxygen) air to stimulate our little vocal cords and have our needs met. David the great Psalmist of Israel was so right on when he pinned this revelation of his God and maker:
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully made; Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
You see, it only took a mere whimper and our world stood at our command. Mom would come running into the room and filled our empty tummies or some one would answer the call and have our soiled diapers changed, and to add icing on the cake, the louder we cried, the higher people jumped. It seemed that life couldn't get any better.
THE WORLD WAS OUR STAGE
Then it did get better; can you remember your adolescence years? You know, the year when mom & dad were placed on the back burner and now it was all about that prince charming/goddess who sat next to you in class. Wow, if I could just get her to notice me and maybe fall madly in love (our limited knowledge of it) with me. Then this unquenchable thirst would be filled and for a season it did just that. But sadly, some one ended up with their first broken heart and OUCH, it sure did hurt.
A generous person will be enriched,
and one who gives water will get water.
The people curse those who hold back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.
A generous person will be enriched . . .
We are living in a times of great need. Government leaders from all over the world are scrambling, doing what they think they should to stop imminent economic collapse. Unemployment is soaring. Housing prices are plummeting.
A generous person will be enriched . . .
"My Yoke Is Easy."
What do you think Jesus wants you to do?
I'm not thinking of specific choices like whether to have pizza or turkey for lunch (I don't think He cares). But in terms of overall life choices and directions, what do you think He wants? There are probably a lot of answers to that question, but I'm thinking of one right now that I'll bet nobody else mentioned.
I think He wants me to quit. (It's okay if you're surprised.)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The scripture above is one of the most well-known passages in the bible. It's a source of comfort to folks who are buried under the weight of illness, despair, and impossible expectations. But it's even more comforting when we understand the historical context.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run into it and are safe.
The wealth of the rich is their strong city;
in their imagination it is like a high wall.Proverbs 18:10-11 NRSV
America is imploding on itself. And, unfortunately, as America goes, often goes the rest of the world. Home foreclosures are up; unemployment is up. Institutions that were reliable are shaky, at best. While it's important to be prudent, there may soon be no good choices left that provide for a stable economic future . . . except obedience to the Word. As believers, we always have a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11) because our trust isn't in the institutions and economy of this world, but our hope is in the Lord. The apostle Peter wrote:
He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.,/span> 1 Peter 1:3b-4 NRSV
Positive things you can do:
- Face your situation
- Set a Goal (make smaller goals in manageable steps to achieve it)
- Seek wise counsel
- Recognize that your choices matter and are significant
- Work Hard. Do not give up!
- Learn to be responsible
- Be committed to your family
Biblical principles of Money Management and Giving
You can learn more about these Biblical principles in Randy Alcorn's books:
Then Samuel told the whole house of Israel, "If you're returning to the Lord with all your heart, then remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, direct your hearts back to the Lord, and serve him only. Then he will deliver you from the control of the Philistines." 1 Samuel 7:3, NET Bible
I have to look seriously at who – or what – I am serving. For I can be easily deceived if I am not regularly submitting myself to the Lord my God.
There are many things I can serve in this world, none of which honour Jesus: I can serve money, other people, addictions to various substances or activities – I can even serve an addiction to people if what they think of me, or if their opinion, is more important to me than His opinion or what the Lord thinks of me.
Something else that I can become a servant to is my emotions. It is so easy for me to become overwhelmed by my feelings, and when I do, I can begin to quickly bow down to them. When anger rears its ugly head in me, it is all too natural for me to lash out at my husband or the nearest loved one to me. However, the Lord says in His Word:
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1, NIV84
When I feel discouraged and overwhelmed by a task that is before me, it is simple for me to say, "I just can't do this!" But the Word of the Lord speaks differently:
When I was growing up, there was a TV show that my family watched called "I Dream of Jeannie." In this show, an astronaut (Tony) found a bottle and in it was a blond-haired genie named Jeannie. Tony would wish for something (or Jeannie thought he did), his wish would be granted, and then the problems began. Of course, like all Hollywood sitcoms, all came out well in 30 minutes (or less). But I wonder how many of us wish we had a genie’s three wishes . . . and if we did, what would we wish for?
1 John 2:15-17 NRSV