April 30, 2004

Encouragement for Today

 

Investing in Eternity

Mary Southerland

 

Key verse:

 

Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  Luke 6:38 (NIV)

 

Devotion:

 

Howard Hendricks, a great Bible teacher, was having dinner with his wife at the home of a very wealthy man. Their host was a man who came from a very prestigious family yet seemed surprisingly down to earth. As the Hendricks were leaving, Howard asked the man, “How did you grow up in such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?” The man’s reply was profound. “My parents taught us that every possession was either an idol or a tool.”  What freedom that perspective offers.  In fact, it sounds a whole lot like God’s viewpoint.

 

We live in a “stuff” driven world where it doesn’t matter what we possess; it is never enough!  We are told that the more we have - the more successful we are!  We frantically accumulate materialistic idols and false gods to which we sacrifice contentment and peace.  Greed has become the driving force behind much of what we do in life and is an unrelenting enemy of contentment.

 

We must not only recognize money for what it is - a resource loaned to us by God - but we must also adhere to the absolute principle that when it comes to financial gain, our only responsibility is to manage and disperse that resource in Kingdom giving. The reality is that our Father wants us to have wealth.  We just have to be careful not to settle for money! 

 

Calvin Miller says, “The world is poor because her fortune is buried in the sky and all her treasure maps are of the earth.”  The Apostle Paul warns, “Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.”  1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT)

 

We all want to live a life of “enjoyment”.  We want to make a difference.  We want our lives to really count.  In order to live a life that matters, a life of “enjoyment”, we must not only understand Kingdom giving, but Kingdom living as well.  Everything we are or have belongs to Him and comes straight from His heart of perfect provision.  It is His hand that opens the door of opportunity. It is His plan that orchestrates the minutes and circumstances of each day to accomplish His will in our surrendered lives.  It is His perfect gift of Jesus Christ that made a way for unholy people to enjoy an intimate relationship with holy God. 

 

The reality is that in every area of life – we simply cannot out-give God. When we devote time or talent to service, we soon discover that we are blessed more than we bless.  As we surrender our heart to Him in obedience, He fills it with peace and purpose.  When we give financially, He meets our every need.  A generous and loving Father, God longs to pour out His vast and immeasurable blessings on those who are willing to invest in eternity.  No – we cannot out-give God – but it sure is fun to try!

 

My prayer for today:

 

Father God, right now I lay down everything I am – everything I have at your feet.  I want my life to make a difference in eternity.  But Lord, I am greedy.  I cling to my possessions and stockpile life resources.  Today, I choose to become a Kingdom giver!  Help me to give with joy and invest in others what you have invested in me.  I love you!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

 

Application steps:

 

** I must understand that greed will destroy my peace and contentment.

 

** As I examine my life, I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every area of greed.

 

** I choose to confess my greed as sin and guard against it.

 

** I will begin today to look for ways to practice “Kingdom” giving.

  

Reflection points:

 

How does greed affect my peace and contentment?

 

What are the idols and false gods in my life?

 

What does Luke 6:38 mean when it says that whatever I give will be given back to me?

 

How can I become a disciplined giver?

 

Power verses:

 

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  (NIV)

 

1 Timothy 6:18-19 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.  (NLT)

 

Proverbs 28:25 A greedy person causes trouble, but the one who trusts the LORD will succeed.  (NCV)

 

Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.  (NIV)

 

Luke 12:15 Then Jesus said to them, "Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. Life is not measured by how much one owns."  (NIV)

 

Additional resources:

 

Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/life.html

 

Til Debt Do Us Part by Julie Ann Barnhill

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/debt.html

 

The Power of a Simple Life by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/simpleset.html