April 29, 2004

Encouragement for Today

 

Plunge In

Rebecca Ingram Powell, Author, Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries Writers’ Track

 

Key Verse:

 

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces.” Proverbs 3:9 (New Living Translation)

 

 

Devotion:

 

I re-read the letter from our friends Marc and Carol. It was their yearly newsletter, detailing what God had been doing through their ministry. They were serving as missionaries to students on the campus of my alma mater. Marc and Carol did an awesome job of sharing Christ with college kids and discipling them, one by one. At the time, my husband Rich and I sent them $25 every year. It wasn’t a lot of money, but after our regular tithe, we didn’t have a lot to spare.

 

I was pregnant with Danya and working a temporary job. Our plan was for me to stay home once she was born. Our tight budget was about to get even tighter, but still, I longed to give a larger gift to Marc and Carol. As missionaries, they were totally dependent on the financial generosity of others for their support. “God,” I prayed, “I want to give Marc and Carol a bigger gift this year. I wish I could give them something like $300!” How crazy was that? I guess it was just crazy enough for me to pray this: “Lord, if You’ll give me $300, I will give it to Marc and Carol.”

 

A few days later, my boss came to me with some unexpected news. For the past couple of months that I had been working at this office, my paychecks had been miscalculated. The company owed me some money. How much? Guess. You’re right. I received a check for approximately $300.

 

Now, here’s what I hate admitting. I sent that money straight to Marc and Carol, but as I was putting it in the mailbox and raising the flag for it to be picked up, I began to struggle. I thought of our empty nursery and all the things that we needed for our new baby. I thought of the doctor and hospital bills that $300 would certainly help pay. And I hesitated. Then, fortunately, I remembered: I asked God for $300 to give to our friends in ministry. He provided it. This money was never mine.

 

Money is an area that can be a source of chaos or a place of peace in your life. I believe that the key to the direction it will take for you lies in your ability to understand that your money does not belong to you. Ultimately, all income and gifts come from God. They don’t belong to us. We are called to be managers, or stewards, of the money that is entrusted to us. How could I give away money that my husband and I could have obviously used ourselves? Because I knew that the money wasn’t mine.

 

You may be familiar with the principle of tithing. God calls us as His children to give Him ten percent of what we have. A tenth, or a tithe, is to be given back to Him. Do we do this because God needs our money? No. We give back to God as a way to honor and obey Him. When we give back, we are showing our appreciation. We are recognizing that all we have comes from Him. The other ninety percent of our money belongs to God just as much as that first ten percent. We are to manage it wisely. The wise manager walks in paths of peace.

 

When Danya was born, she came home to a nursery that held in it every good thing. Rich and I were showered with gifts from friends and family in such abundance that we didn’t have to buy anything for her! Our needs were met in an incredible way by our Heavenly Father.

 

I received a letter from Marc a few weeks after I sent the check. He had been hoping to attend a conference for further mission training. He was short $300. Rather then worrying about it, he had trusted God to provide the money if he was supposed to go to the training conference. The check God had me send came just in time. When we trust the Great Provider, we, too, will walk a path of peace.

 

 

My prayer for today:

 

Dear Father, Help me to trust you with my finances. You have a plan that is best. I want to walk in every part of your plan for my life, including where my money is concerned. It’s not really my money, Lord. It’s yours. Help me to unclench my fists, opening my hands and my heart to Your desire and Your will for my life.

 

 

Application Steps:

 

Are you holding back your money from God? Do you long for the heart of a giver but find you have the heart of a Scrooge? Ask God right now to soften your heart where money is concerned. Ask Him to make you a cheerful giver.

 

 

Reflection points:

 

Some people were raised with the practice of tithing firmly in place. If you weren’t, it may take some getting used to! Are you willing to trust God with your money?

 

Perhaps you are a tither. You’ve been giving God ten percent for so long that it’s not even painless anymore. Have you ever thought about giving Him more than ten percent? What’s keeping you from giving God more?

 

Does God need your money? If He truly owns it all, then why does He ask us to give it back? Giving our money to God isn’t for His benefit. It’s for our benefit.

 

Why do people find it so difficult to obey God with their wealth? Why is that an area of life which we feel we need to control rather than surrender?

 

 

Power Verses:

 

Proverbs 3:9, 10, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.” (NLT)

 

Malachi 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD Almighty, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!” (NLT)

 

Philippians 4:19, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

(NLT)

 

Matthew 7:13 Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with sure-fire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life--to God!--is vigorous and requires total attention. (Message)

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (NLT)

 

 

Additional Resources:

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

 

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/p31woman.html