Proverbs 28:27

#DailyBibleReading #BibleReadingPlan

Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.  Proverbs 28:27 NLT

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Generosity

Lessons on Generosity from Proverbs

I’m reading through the Bible using the Skövde Pingst reading plan on the YouVersion app. Click here to sign up and let me know if you are reading along. I’d love to have you join me in reading!

Most of my posts tie into what God is teaching me in my daily reading, which is also part of my S.O.A.P journal. Here are some past posts on S.O.A.P. journaling – Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer:  Reading Through the Bible and The Divine Mentor. I highly recommend making daily Bible reading and prayer a top priority.  Even if you only have 10-15 minutes a day; I promise it will be a life-changer!

Today’s reading included Proverbs 11. The Bible talks a lot about Generosity, especially in Proverbs. God wants us to give not because giving benefits him; but giving benefits us.  It changes our hearts. Where we spend our time and money is where our heart will be focused.

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Personally, I am trying to make a conscious effort to have my life focused on what matters most – my walk with Jesus, my marriage, my kids, serving others and collecting memories over collecting things.  Where I spend my money and time reflects these things.  Where we chose to spend our time and money also changes our heart to make those things a higher priority.

For example, if I am giving my money to a certain non-profit or church my heart will be more inclined to care about that church or cause.

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Generosity goes beyond just money. For me, it is very easy (and tempting) to get busy with my career and to-do list.  I find it helpful to regularly take a few minutes to contemplate where my heart is in the areas below.  If I am getting off track I need to make a purposeful decision to change my focus by giving more generously.

  • Time Generosity: How am I spending my time?  How many hours a day am I looking at social media or watching TV compared to how many hours a day am I spending doing something meaningful that has eternal value, like volunteering at a homeless shelter or praying and reading the Bible?

 

  • Attention Generosity: Where is my attention?  I often catch myself multi-talking when my children or husband are talking to me.  For example, when my daughter wants to tell me all the stories about recess I’ll often listen while also swiping through Instagram photos.  I need to stop.  Put the phone down.  Make eye-contact. Really listen.  Nod my head. Ask her questions. Have a conversation with her and give her my full attention, rather than having half my mind elsewhere.

 

  • Energy Generosity: I only have so much energy to expend every day.  Am I using it on activities that really matter? For example, how often am I “too tired” to have sex with my husband? Is my schedule so overbooked that I don’t ever have time to go on a date with my husband? Am I running myself ragged with so many commitments that my daily time with Jesus and my family get put on a back burner? These can even include good and healthy activities – volunteering, reading, exercising, cleaning, kids’ sports and activities, etc. But if my schedule is so booked that I get to the end of the day and just want to collapse into bed, I need to take a good hard look at my priorities.

 

  • Financial Generosity: In my life I know that the more I give the more I am blessed. Whether I am giving to my church, a non-profit that helps orphans or a cause that helps feed the poor; giving fills my heart. But there are times when I am looking at my budget and cringe. I don’t think I have the financial cushion to give. Giving money can hurt . . . for a season.  But I’ve never given money and then regretted it. Do your research on who you are giving to (for nonprofits you can review their financials at Guidestar) and then make a decision to give.  You will be blessed.Proverbs 11-26.jpg

 

 

Three Sources for Financial Advice

I’ve always been interested in financial management.  Even as a kid I used the envelope system and tried to get my siblings to listen to my lectures on money.  Financial management is systematic and strategic . . . and this woman loves systems and strategies!

As a Christian, here are three sources I lean on for developing financial strategies for my life.

#1. The Bible

By far, the Bible is the most important resource for advice on money.  Did you know there are over 2,000 verses about money in the Bible?   No, you won’t find specific advice on investing strategies, but the Bible gets to the most important thing – where the heart is in terms of finances.  Is my security in God or in my bank account?  Do I demonstrate love for others by how I share my resources?  Who does my money belong to?  Am I a wise steward of resources?

Jesus himself talked frequently about money  . . . so if it is important to Jesus it should be important to me.  I should be seeking biblical wisdom on how I deal with finances.  Fortunately, whether I am reading the Old Testament, the Gospels or anywhere else in the New Testament, I regularly come across advice on how to think about and handle money.

For example, if you are reading along with me through the Bible (this year I am using the Skövde Pingst YouVersion Plan in NIV – Click Here to Start!), yesterday’s reading included Psalm 49:16-20, which talked about not being jealous or greedy; wealth will fade.  I should focus more on gaining wisdom than gaining money.

  • 16-17: Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
  • 18 – 19: Though while they live they count themselves blessed— and people praise you when you prosper— they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.
  • 20: People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49-20.jpg

 

#2. Dave Ramsey

I love Dave Ramsey.  I’ve never done his Financial Peace University classes, but have heard rave reviews.  He has simple, biblically-based concepts that have worked for me.  The resources I’ve used are:

  • Radio program:  I listen on-line; usually every day.  I love Dave’s advice and the inspiring stories of people who have paid off all their debt.
  • Baby Steps:  As outlined on the website and in his books.  Simple.  Clean.  Makes sense.  And it works.  I’m on Baby-Step 5 . . . and I want to sell my house and buy a new house with the equity to fast-forward to complete Step 6.  (But I have a lot of work to get my house ready to sell!)
  • Total Money Makeover book:  quick read, great resource.  And it works if you follow it!

 

#3. Joshua Becker

Josh spoke at my church several years ago about his journey and philosophy on possessions.  It was such a different concept than the consumerism that I was caught up in . . . and it made total sense.  I follow Josh’s blog www.BecomingMinimalist.com which has great insight on topics on minimalism, getting out of debt, becoming un-busy, decluttering, etc.

His blog as great reminders on getting rid of the things that don’t matter and focusing on what matters most.

I haven’t read any of Josh’s books yet . . . but have them on my to-read list.  If you have read any, please share thoughts.  Josh’s latest book is below:

Money

October 2 ,2016 Reading

SCRIPTURE

  • Ezra 5-6
  • Psalm 138
  • Luke 16

“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.    Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?    No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:9-13 NIV


OBSERVATION

I am the oldest of five kids with a 14-year age span.  Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, but I was always interested in money management.  When I was about nine years old I developed a little program called “Money Management”.   Looking back, I have no idea what it was about, other than I remember I had an idea we should all pool our money and save for a trip to Hawaii.  After we got about $11 saved we shut down that plan.  Instead we bought my mom some clearance clothes from JCPennys.

Fast-forward to college I wasn’t so interested in the concept of managing money or being a good steward, I wanted to make money.  I wanted to make lots of money to be able to buy nice things.  I never wanted to worry about making ends meet.  I saw money as an escape and if I just had enough income, I wouldn’t have any problems.  I’d have the life I wanted.

But the more I’ve lived – with money and without – I’ve seen the truth of this passage in so many ways.  If my faith is in money, not God, I’ll never have enough.

  • “Use worldly wealth to gain friends” – this is a very interested verse to me. What is Jesus saying?  In the passage before he was talking about a shrewd (but dishonest) business manager who manipulated people with money.  Knowing the character of God, I know Jesus isn’t telling us to be dishonest, but I think the point is that worldly wealth is just that – money on earth.  We can’t take it with us when we die, but if we are good stewards it can have eternal benefits.
  • I cannot serve both God and money. My faith and security needs to be in God, not money.

Going back to the little “Money Management” program I designed as a kid, I still have a love for systems, especially systems for stewardship of money.  I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan and love his baby step program.  But ultimately I know that this isn’t MY money.  And its purpose isn’t just to provide for my family . . . but also as a tool to help me to demonstrate and build faith in God.

ACTION

Our household income has changed quite a bit in the last six months.  As we are adjusting to the change my husband and I are needing to have quite a few more “budgeting” discussion.  Which can be stressful.  Things we could easily afford before are now items that require discussion and decisions.  Ultimately I think will be a good thing, but I need to enter those discussions with prayer.  Also, I need to enter discussions with my daughters – about things we can’t afford – with some thought and preparation.  I don’t want them to become stressed about money or to think that money is the most important thing.  I need to demonstrate that I’m trusting in God and that we need to be asking God how we should be spending money.

 PRAYER

Jesus, thank you for the parables and stories you gave us about handling money.  Thank you for clearly telling us that we can’t serve both God and money.  Money is probably – at least for me – the easiest idol to create.  Please help me to trust in you with my finances.  Help me to be respectful and loving with my husband, even during disagreements about money.  Please help me to set a good example for my girls when it comes to finances– both in my actions and what I say.  And please show me how you want me to steward the resources you have given me.  And give me the strength to follow wherever you lead.  In your name, Amen.