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There are two seas.
One is fresh, and fish are in it.
Splashes of green adorn its banks.
Trees spread their branches over it and
stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.
Along its shores the children play, as children have played for 2,000 years.
The river Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills.
So it laughs in the sunshine.
Men build their houses near it, and birds their nests;
and every kind of life is happier because it is there.
The river Jordan flows on south into another sea.
Here is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf,
no song of birds, no children's laughter.
Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business.
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.
“Twenty-five years ago most churches just taught people how to handle 10 percent of their income-the area of giving-and left the other 90 percent un-addressed. As a consequence, many Christians suffer financially because, by default, they adopt our culture’s perspective of handling the rest of their money.” Larry Burkett
Developing Biblical Financial Skills
Skill # 1 EARN
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to people, no, we command them; settle down and get to work. Earn your own living.” 2 Thess. 3:12 (NLT)
Some practical Principles of Acquisition:
- 1. Be diligent
2. Be ethical
3. Be wise
4. Be intentional
5. Be careful
The Bible does not minimize the importance of economics. The Garden of Eden makes mention of gold and precious stones:
"The gold of that land is good." Genesis 2:11-12.
Jesus used money as a teaching device in many of His parables. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church, Panorama City, California, said that
16 out of 38 of Christ's parables deal with money; more is said in the New Testament about money than heaven and hell combined; five times more is said about money than prayer; and while there are 500 plus verses on both prayer and faith, there are over 2,000 verses dealing with money and possessions.
One of the criteria for leadership in the church is based on how a man uses money (1 Tim. 3:3). This includes management of his own household (v. 4). As Christians we have no biblical warrant to avoid the topic of money, investments, savings, and inheritance. A case could be made that an elder who does not have money to manage is not a good candidate for the office. And what applies to church government should apply as well to civil government. One of the reasons our economy is in a mess is that most of the men and women holding office have never owned a business. Economics is a biblical word rich with meaning.
The word economy comes from oeconomia, a combination of two Greek words, oikos (house) plus nomos (law, rule). The root meaning of the word, is the frugal or economic management or government of a family or the concerns of a household. The study of economics (household management) now includes larger units than the household: the business firm and its complex relationships with suppliers, customers, and other firms with which it competes; and even the conglomerate mass of such relationships within entire nations, and even between nations.
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.
1. A budget is nothing more than a plan for saving and spending money. It includes where the money will come from and how much to expect, as well as what expenses that same money will be used to meet. A good budget takes care of all the regular and important bills — like rent or mortgage, utilities, food, gasoline and insurance — and allows for the unexpected or occasional expenses.
2. With budgeting, when the paycheck comes in, the family already knows how much of this check needs to be set aside to meet the bills coming due, and how much is available for extras — perhaps dinner out and a movie. Everything is planned for and covered.
3. To live without a budget often leads to short-sighted decisions:
"If I have money right now, I can spend it right now. So if I want new clothes today, and I have the money today, why not spend it? The rent isn’t due until next week, so I’ll worry about that then.”
There is an old proverb which says, "We would all be rich, if we didn't have to eat." This is simply another way of saying that we all have priorities, and we make our choices in terms of them.
Some men choose to be miserly on food, clothing, and shelter, because they value money so highly. They may like their family, but they love money more, and so they sacrifice everything to accumulate money. Others sacrifice for their children, and everything else takes second place in their lives.
Many other examples could be cited, but we can summarize it thus: we are always making choices, consciously or unconsciously, in terms of what we prize or love the most. Our choices reveal our faith.
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 . . .