Floods, Faith and Finances: A look at Proverbs

I’ve been following Dave Ramsey for a few years now and when my husband and I got married we were both committed to living a debt-free lifestyle. We were both working outside the home then, so each month we budgeted our income, and were able to very quickly pay off his vehicle, and then began to do the same with my student loan. Then, just 6 months into our marriage we found ourselves expecting, so we pushed pause on our debt-snowball (as Dave calls it, and as he recommends) and just started saving as much as we could, while still making the minimum payments on the loan. Once Cookie girl and I came home safe and sound, and the hospital bills were paid, the rest of money that we’d saved went to paying off the student loan. And then I was free to leave my job and stay home with the baby. I was nervous and excited about leaving my job to be a stay-at-home-mom.

After a few months we decided we were ready to purchase a home. Now, Dave Ramsey recommends that you save up a 3-6 month emergency fund and your 20% down payment before purchasing. Let’s just say, we were impatient, lol. We saved a couple thousand and were ready to move. We did not follow Dave’s recommendation, but we still tried to be wise in our financial decisions. We always kept a small emergency fund, refused to use credit (except the mortgage, obviously), and made sure our monthly mortgage payment wouldn’t exceed 35% of our take-home pay.

After a few months of being in our new home we’re finally back on track as far as budgeting and savings go. We’ve been putting a percentage of each paycheck in our emergency fund to build it up, and allocating money for our tithe, mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc. This means we’ve been taking some time to get our home in order, since we’re purchasing everything with cash, little by little.

The Flood…Well, a few weeks ago I called a plumber about a leak we noticed in our 2nd bathroom; the drywall was stained from moisture. He told us that it looked like the caulking needed to be repaired on the bathtub and the water was pooling in that spot. So, Saturday my husband and I went to the hardware store for items to make the repair. As he began tearing away old drywall, he noticed it was very wet. We decided we would call another plumber for a second opinion, but wanted to spray the area with a little mold and mildew remover since the area was now open. Suddenly, he heard a drip and then a pipe started spraying water everywhere! He raced downstairs to turn off the water and we called our insurance and the plumber.

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The culprit behind the leak, turned sprayer.

By Sunday afternoon, the pipe was repaired, the flooring and drywall removed, and dehumidifiers were in place. But Sunday morning, as I headed to church I was thanking God. For one, W was originally supposed leave on a work trip this weekend, and if that pipe had decided to spray when it was just me at home I wouldn’t have known how to shut the water off, or who to call for help. Second, we were home when it happened and were able to shut the water off before too much damage occurred. And third, we were able to pay for the repair using money set aside for our emergency fund.

Every day I pray over our home, that God protect it, and us; and that God give us wisdom over our household, marriage, child(ren), ministries, and finances; and I thank Him for His many blessings. Interestingly enough, I was thanking God for being our provider and helping us build our emergency fund, just a few days ago, and I noted that our emergency fund is not where we place our faith. Our faith is in God and His provision, because He gives us everything we need. And it’s our responsibility to be a good steward of these things. To plan and manage our finances according to biblical principles is to walk in obedience.

But what does that look like? The book of Proverbs is a great place to start. I want to share more on this book in the future, but here are a few financial principles you can find straight from the Word of God.

Tithe.

Proverbs 3:9 (AMP) says to “honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency and with the first fruits of all your income.”

God doesn’t need our money, it belongs to Him from the get-go. The Word says the earth is the Lord’s and everything within it (Psalm 24:1)! To give Him the first fruits is to show that we recognize that it’s God who provides, that we are thankful for His provision, and that we honor and respect Him. At least a tenth of our income should be given to establish His kingdom and do His work.

Know the value of money.

Like I stated previously, money shouldn’t be where we place our faith. It can’t save us from the grave, and it certainly can’t save our souls; it’s simply something we use. Proverbs 3:13-16 states that godly Wisdom is much more valuable than riches, and it should be what we strive for more than anything else.

While there’s nothing wrong with wealth, in itself, putting it above God is wrong. Proverbs also states that “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (11:4, NIV); “those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (11:28, NIV); and the rich man is deluded if he believes his wealth will protect him (18:11, my paraphrase based on the AMP, lol).

Work diligently.

While money and/or wealth should never supersede our obedience or love for Christ, we do need an income to provide for ourselves, our family, and in order to give. That’s why Proverbs has so much to say on this point:

  • Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth (10:4, NIV).
  • Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense (12:11, NIV).
  • Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor (12:24, NIV).
  • The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt (12:27, NIV).
  • All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (14:23, NIV).
  • Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank (22:29, NIV).
  • Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house (24:27).

The list goes on! Proverbs 6:6-11,16:26, 19:15, 21:25, 27:23-27, and 28:19 all mention work, and/or laziness, as well.

Don’t be in haste to make a quick buck.

Building wealth, an emergency or retirement fund, or paying off your home doesn’t normally happen overnight. But if it did/does, God has something to say about that, too. Proverbs states that “dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (13:11, NIV); “an inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end” (20:21, NIV); and “a faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished (28:20, NIV).

Be a person of integrity.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but being a person of integrity will go a long way in every area of life, including your finances. Proverbs has much to say regarding this as well:

  • The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him (11:1, NIV).
  • A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward (11:18, NIV).
  • Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil (15:16, NIV).
  • Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice (16:8, NIV).
  • The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice (17:23, NIV).
  • Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a [rich] man who is twisted in his speech and is a [shortsighted] fool (19:1, AMP).

Again, the list continues with Proverbs 3:33, 16:20, 20:10, 20:23, 21:6, 22:1, 22:22, 28:6, 28:8, and 29:24.

Be content with what God provides.

Being content with what God provides doesn’t mean you can’t work harder to bring in more income, what it does mean, is that we don’t covet the things others have, or live in longing, and let our want consume us. Proverbs states that “the wicked desire the plunder of evil men, but the root of the righteous yields richer fruit” (12:12, AMP); “the craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing” (21:25-26, NIV); “he who has an evil and envious eye hurries to be rich and does not know that poverty will come upon him” (28:22, AMP); and “the greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper” (28:5, NIV).

Be generous.

As Proverbs 21:26 states, “the righteous give without sparing.” The Word says that when we give it will be returned unto us (Luke 6:38). However, this isn’t to say that when we give of our finances, we’ll receive more money in return; but a few things I’ve learned about giving are: 1) We honor God in our finances (and lives) when we give, 2) When we give, the remainder of our income is always enough to meet our needs, and 3) Our hearts are changed, and we become less concerned with our needs, than the needs of others. Proverbs says that “one person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty” (11:24, NIV); “whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (14:31, NIV); “whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (19:17, NIV); and “whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered” (21:13, NIV). Other verses concerning this, are Proverbs 22:9, 22:16, 22:22, and 28:27.

Don’t co-sign on someone else’s debt.

Now, being generous does not mean that we loan out money, or co-sign on another’s loan. Being generous means we simply give, no strings attached, and no expectations of being repaid. Proverbs states, more than once, that we should not co-sign on another’s loan. I love how the amplified Bible puts it:

My son, if you have become surety (guaranteed a debt or obligation) for your neighbor, If you have given your pledge for [the debt of] a stranger or another [outside your family], If you have been snared with the words of your lips, If you have been trapped by the speech of your mouth, Do this now, my son, and release yourself [from the obligation]; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor [to pay his debt and release you]. Give no [unnecessary] sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids; Tear yourself away like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.~ Proverbs 6:1-5

The author writes like it’s a life or death situation!

Proverbs also states that whoever co-signs a loan will suffer (11:15), that only a fool (or one who lacks sense) co-signs for another (17:18), and that the creditor will be quick to take the belongings of the co-signer when the primary cannot repay the debt (20:16, 22:26-27, 27:13).

Don’t be a borrower.

There’s a saying I once heard: “Neither a lender or borrower be.” I can’t remember where I heard it exactly, but it came to mind while I was writing my notes for this post. Proverbs 22:7 (NIV) states that “the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” A slave…

Being in debt, whether to a bank, credit card company, friend or family member, etc. is like being enslaved. It’s not something we think about in that manner, very often, is it? But every month we must pay someone else our hard-earned money (plus interest!), or risk repossession, foreclosure, calls from debt collectors, being sued, or liens on your bank accounts or estate (after your passing). Without that debt hanging over your head, your income would be yours to do with as you please (or as God deems fit).

Spend wisely.

Lastly, spend wisely. Proverbs says “the plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (21:5, NIV); “whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich” (21:17, NIV); “there is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future], But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it” (21:20, AMP); and “do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (23:20-21, NIV).

If we waste all our money on things we don’t need, or that deliver temporary satisfaction, we won’t be able to take care of our every day needs. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun, it just means that we have to set limits and budget. In the last chapter of Proverbs we read about the virtuous woman (often described as the Proverbs 31 woman); in verse 16 we read about how she considers buying a field–she thinks about it before doing so–and in verse 25 we read that she’s unafraid of the future because she and her family are ready. Are you ready?

I know this was a long post, but the book of Proverbs just has so much to say about our finances and I didn’t want to leave anything out. As I’ve mentioned before, there will be more posts on Proverbs in the future. I’ve been reading it over and over again for the last few weeks, and have been jotting down notes regarding different areas of our lives that it pertains to. I’d recommend reading it if you haven’t already, or re-reading it if you have, and check back with me in the upcoming weeks. Take care and God bless!

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Tearing Down the Walls

One Sunday night, a week or so ago, during our monthly prayer service, God gave me this vision of the walls of the church crumbling. There were a couple different walls that I felt God was speaking to during this time. I’m going to attempt to unpack them below, since I feel these are for every believer.

Wall Number 1 — The Spiritual – Secular Divide

Years ago, I heard a message regarding bridging the spiritual – secular divide, and God brought it back to memory. So, what exactly does bridging the spiritual – secular divide mean?

Sometimes, as believers, we try to place God (and our faith) in this little box and take Him out a few times a week. We, in turn, keep this spiritual portion of our lives separate from the everyday, mundane, secular portion of our lives. We keep God within the confines of our churches, Bible studies, or personal prayer times; or within the boundaries of our relationships with other like-minded individuals. However, God desires to tear down these walls, and desires to permeate every aspect of our lives. And not in some weird “mystical” way that I sometimes hear used to describe the Holy Spirit, but in a meaningful, powerful, authentic manner. God desires to tear down the walls that we’ve placed in our lives; walls that we’ve built to protect ourselves, but which actually do more harm than good.

Truth be told, there should be no spiritual – secular divide! We live this one life, and have but one purpose: to glorify and make God known. If we truly believe that Christ is our Savior, this goal should excite us. His Spirit should stir us to action and prompt us to share His love wherever we go.

Wall Number 2 — That Which Separates us from the World

The Word of God says that we may live in this world–physically–yet, we are to be separated from it–spiritually (John 17:14-16). However, too often we think that this means that we must completely cut ourselves off from non-believers! Instead, we stay in our bubble of like-minded individuals, never reaching out, shining our light, or speaking truth into the lives of the people God has placed in our lives.

Yes, we are to be holy and set apart for God’s purpose, and there will be things we will abstain from and places we may avoid (John 17:17, 19; 1 Peter 1:16). However, just like Paul, when he said, he became all things to all men that he might win others to faith in Christ; we should pray about what and where God is leading us to, before immediately running in the opposite direction, and trust that He knows exactly what He’s doing (1 Corinthians 9:20-22). Jesus, himself, spoke to some of the most unsavory characters, in the oddest of places! Which leads me to the last wall…

Wall Number 3 — Prejudice

Now, with racism being a hot topic in our current culture, this should come as no surprise to you; but prejudice isn’t only regarding race. Prejudice is a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience” (according to Google); it can be positive or negative, and can be based on race, social status, sex, political affiliations, or religion, just to name a few.

Prejudice can prevent us from having relationship with another individual because they’re different (or we think they’re different) from us. Prejudice can prevent us from reaching out to another because of our own fears, preconceived notions, or opinions.

James discouraged the early believers from showing partiality towards those who were wealthy, and snubbing those who were poor, and reminded us to love our neighbors as our self (James 2:1-9). This could go either way though, we could just as easily snub those who are wealthy, and favor those who are poor. The point remains the same; regardless of the other person’s background, we are to share God’s love and truth with them.

I think the most difficult part about this is, even when we allow God to fill our heart with grace, mercy, and compassion for people who are different from us, the same might not be said for them. Usually, they too have preconceived notions about us, and are fearful, angry, or suspicious of our motives. Yet, even so, we must remain calm and genuine, and allow God to work through us. Is it hard? Absolutely! But remember…the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead is alive within us (Romans 8:11)!

Learning to Appreciate the Silence

Silence is uncomfortable. Well, sometimes it can be. I believe it’s so, because silence gives us opportunity to think, to ask questions, to contemplate the world around us; and that makes us uncomfortable. Therefore, we tend to avoid it. Instead, we fill the air with the sounds of music, television sets, YouTube videos, or our own voices, and our mindseye with images from Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram (just to name a few). We’d rather listen to (or read, or view) insignificance than be forced to ponder anything of real importance. However, as believers, it’s often in these moments of silent contemplation that God reveals to us His greatest lessons.IMG_3503

Lately, I’ve been reading “Missional Motherhood,” by Gloria Furman. In one section of the book she talks about how God created us to be consumers of His Word. However, the devil, knowing that God designed us to be consumers, works at getting us to feast on things other than the Word: on stuff. Let’s face it, between social media and television, there’s no lack of exposure to “stuff.” Whether it’s material things, relationships, vacations, children, new recipes, organizational hacks, or makeup how-tos, there’s no shortage of “stuff” to preoccupy our time, energy, or thoughts. In fact, in our attempt to avoid silence and our own thoughts, we’ve become very good at silencing and drowning out the voice of God.

I know I’ve been guilty of this. Particularly as a new mom, it’s easier to sit in front of the television with a sleeping baby, or mindlessly scroll Facebook or Pinterest while nursing, than it has been to turn the pages of my Bible or talk with the Lord. But this needs to change. If we want our children to seek the Lord, then they need to see and hear their parents seeking the Lord. If we want them to have a heart for the lost, then they need to see our heart for the lost, His heart for the lost. If we want our children to live the Word, love the Word, and be consumers of the Word, then that’s what they need to see in us!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. ~ James 1:22-25 (ESV)

Yet, let’s not stop there, the gospel message is something our children should both see evidence of and hear.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)

In conclusion, let’s not be afraid of the moments of silence in our lives. Let us instead, appreciate them, make more opportunities for them and use them appropriately. This year–and every year, for that matter–let’s strengthen our relationship with the Lord, let’s listen intently for His voice, and let’s teach our children to do the same.

God Listens and He Cares

In my last post–JOY–I alluded to the fact that God had reminded me that He cares for me, and I thought I’d let you in on what’s been going on in my life and how God has been moving.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed by my job and have been on the hunt for a new one. I was applying for everything, including part-time jobs and temporary jobs. I figured any extra income could help us (my husband and I) achieve our financial goals quicker and allow me to eventually leave my current full-time position.

So, here I sat, the day after my birthday, on my sofa, praying and journaling. I was telling God that sometimes I don’t like to come to Him with my little life struggles, because they seem so insignificant and small when I compare them to the real struggles, trials, and hardships of the people and world around me. Yet, I just talked to Him about how I’ve been feeling and how I wish I had a way out, because I felt stuck. I finally ended my journaling by just writing that I wished I just knew that He cared. All I wanted to know was that God was listening to me and that He cared.

I went on about my day, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, etc. and as I was hanging up a shirt in the closet…the phone rang. It was a reply to one of the positions I had applied for. I thought it was for a temporary position, but the manager was looking for a part-time employee. I told him my current work schedule and he didn’t think it was going to work out, so we said our goodbyes. Not 5 minutes later he called back, asked me a few more questions and I told him what was going on with my current work situation and how I eventually planned to leave; and the next thing I knew, I had an interview! You’d better believe I was thanking God and laughing after we’d hung up. God showed me very clearly that He was listening to me and that He certainly cares.
But…there’s more! The business that offered me the interview is Christian owned and operated, and during the interview process the manager told me that he’d already done all the interviews for the position, and was about to make his selection when my application hit his inbox and “something” told him he needed to take a look at it. 😀

God listens and He cares.

Afterwards, I was told that if I were to get the position I would be notified on Monday. However, Monday came and Monday went and no call. I was a little disappointed, because I was so positive that God had ordained this…

But God listens and He cares.

Tuesday afternoon, I got the call! Again, I was thanking God in my cubicle.

Oh…but wait…about an hour later, a PC notification window popped up on my work computer, letting me know of a scheduled meeting that I hadn’t even noticed before. I didn’t know what it was for. During the meeting we were surprised to discover…that our positions will be outsourced in the near future. o.o

But God listens and He cares.

So often, we think that God doesn’t hear us or that He doesn’t care…then something like this happens. God has been working behind the scenes like crazy in my life, though I couldn’t see it, and the last few weeks He has totally reminded me that He’s completely worthy of my trust. His timing is perfect and, as the Word says, He knows exactly what we need, even before we ask (Matthew 6:8; Luke 12:30).

Even as I write this, I’m thinking about that…He knows what we need, before we even recognize or are aware of our need. Wow! I’m still amazed. God knew what was coming and He made provision for me, just as He promises in His word (Luke 12).

If you’ve never fully given your life to Christ, or if you have, but you’ve been holding back and not fully walking in His will, I’m telling you, He is so good. He is so trustworthy. He is so perfect, all-powerful, and all-knowing. And He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to come to Him; yes, even with the little things! 😉 He wants you to depend on Him. He wants you to walk hand-in-hand with Him.

And tonight He wants you to know that He hears you and He cares for you…He loves you.

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

     “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

     “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

~ Luke 12:22-31, NLT

 

JOY

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!
~ Psalm 30:11-12, NLT

I recently had a birthday; and, as usual, I began taking stock of where I am in life. Feeling overwhelmed at work, cramped at home, and just overall exhausted, I was in a real funk for about two weeks.

Then, yesterday on my way home, it hit me like a warm ray of sunshine…JOY.

Where did it come from? I’m not sure, but suddenly I was giddy about some of the changes to come…a new two bedroom apartment, a new pet, a possible part-time job for some extra income. It was in that moment that I remembered: happiness is fleeting but joy is everlasting.

How can that be so? Because joy comes from a separate place that’s unrelated to my circumstances; and it allows me to be thankful in any situation. It’s funny, because I’m always reminding myself that my hope is in Christ, but I seem to easily forget that so is my joy! The prophet Nehemiah (8:10) actually says that the joy of the Lord is our strength! That means the joy we have in Christ Jesus is what carries us through when we’re feeling weak or unable to continue; just as I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks.FontCandy (9)

And what joy can be found in Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the Savior of the world, the One who suffered and died for us because He loves us and cares for us! (Yes, He does care for us. He had to remind me of that this week, too.)

As believers, we know that one day we’ll get to worship before His throne! One day we’ll get to see His glory in all its fullness! We know that this world is temporary, and that one day we’ll see the earth in all its original splendor and perfection, and live eternally with Him. But until then, we need to let the joy found in Him sustain and empower us to reach our broken world, and reach out to those without hope, without joy, and without the peace that comes from knowing Him.

Lastly, as Paul said to the Philippians (4:4), “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”

But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew
on your people in the place of the dead!

~ Isaiah 26:19, NLT

Rich in Faith

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5, NLT)

Yesterday, as we (my church family) were praying for churches that we’re working towards establishing in El Salvador and Ghana, I began thinking about the impoverished communities where these churches will be built. As I prayed, in my spirit I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 8:2 which states, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” Of course, in context, Paul was writing this to the church at Corinth, regarding the churches in Macedonia, who, though having very little, gave freely and abundantly to the believers in Jerusalem, who had even less. But I was reminded yesterday, that the believers in other nations and cities who are lacking basic every day needs, are in the same boat! They may have very little in monetary and dietary value, yet they are rich in faith and joy. How is that possible?

Well, let’s recall the Israelites in the desert, after God rescued them from Egypt. Did God not provide for their every physical need on a daily basis? Just as the Israelites were forced to a position of complete reliance on God for daily sustenance—manna, quail, water, and even clothing—these churches in nations with very little, recognize that God is the giver and sustainer of life! They have faith in His faithfulness and ability to provide for their every need, even though their current situation tells them otherwise.

I believe, in America, faith like this is difficult to obtain because we have so much! Having much isn’t a bad thing, but when we come to rely more on the things that we have, rather than the Giver who provides them, our faith and relationship with Christ are impacted negatively. Therefore, we shouldn’t hold so tightly to the things that God has so richly blessed us with, but always remain in a position of obedience, thanksgiving, joy and compassion that moves us to help our brothers and sisters in need.

Lastly, a few weeks ago, as I was helping out in the kid’s church on a Sunday morning, the speaker described a pitcher pouring water into a cup and the cup overflowing, as an example of Psalm 23:5: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” And as he spoke on this, I immediately pictured one of those fountains in my head, in which, a pitcher pours water into one cup, which, inFountain turn, pours water into another cup, and then into another, and so forth. I remembered that God blesses all His children—whether financially, spiritually, with knowledge, or other gifts—but we aren’t to keep the gifts to ourselves! We’re to allow it to pour forth into the lives of others, so that they, in turn, can do the same.

Therefore, let us remain in a position of submission to God, seeking His face daily, and allowing Him to continually pour into and bless us, so that we can pour into and bless those around us. Let our faith be not in the things we have, but in the One who gives them; and may our hearts be full of joy and faith, knowing that God is faithful and just (Psalm 111:7; 1 John 1:9), trusting that He cares for us (Matthew 10:29-31), and having full confidence that He has and will continue to provide for us, strengthen, and protect us (Psalm 31:22-24; Isaiah 40:29-31; Romans 5:17-18). In Him we place our hope!

This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. (1 Timothy 4:10, NLT)

Birthday Confessions

Carrot Cake B-day Cake

Mmm…Carrot Cake, my fave!

I don’t know about you, but it seems that about twice a year—around my birthday and the new year—I find myself taking inventory of where I am in life and where I would like to be. With my birthday just a day away, I’ve been thinking a lot about career decisions, where I want to be in five years, what my goals are, and what it’s going to take to get there. For those who’ve been following my blog so far, you know that I’m currently on the Dave Ramsey plan and have been trying to pay my student loan off as quickly as possible. I’ve actually started looking into getting a second job to work in the evenings and on the weekends, in addition to my full-time job, just so I can have some extra money to get my loan paid off quicker.

However, these last few days, I’ve been reminded that I shouldn’t become so preoccupied with paying off this student loan that my relationships with God or other people suffer. As much as I want a second job, I also want to continue serving in my church, whether on the worship team; working with the children’s, homeless, or young adult ministries; or teaching a Wednesday night Bible study (like I planned to do in the fall); I want to serve. Not to mention the fact that I currently have the freedom to meet a friend after work to study the Word on Monday evenings, attend a ladies Bible study at my friend Cori’s house on Friday nights, and spend some quality time with my boyfriend on the weekends. 😉

Now, will I continue to look for other ways to increase my income? Absolutely! But I still want to be able to serve, minister, and foster the relationships that God has placed in my life, as well. This just means that I have to trust that God will open a door and make this a reality. Trust and patience have always been difficult for control freak me. I want to devise my own plans and create my own way, but God says it’s His job to direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going or planning, or even if you’re like me–working on your debt snowball–don’t forget that all this is for His glory and we’re to honor Him in all that we do. Nothing is more important than Him and the calling He’s placed on each of our lives to point the world towards Him. Don’t let any other goals, people, or objects distract you from Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NLT)