Money Comes and Money Goes

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This week's post comes from Starla at Keepin It Real
My husband and I like to play the lottery.  So far, the most we have won is $9.  The possibility of hitting that jackpot makes it fun and somewhat exhilarating but it's not something that we put our hope in.  Truth be told, we won something far better than the lottery a long time ago when we established our relationship with God.  Christ himself is much more valuable than money.  Money comes and money goes, but money cannot give you peace, bring you happiness, or buy you love. 

 Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. Eccliastes 5:19

God reminded me that when it comes to money or anything else it all belongs to Him.  It can be here one day and gone the next but the One who owns everything will always be here.  This I know because he has blessed me time and time again, even though I never deserved it. We know that we need money to live but God is our provider at the end of every single day.  I try not to look too far ahead because when I do that's when I begin to worry about things that I cannot control.  Hmm, I just thought about something.  My current bible study is on the book of Ecclesiastes.  You know, about King Solomon and his pursuit of wealth, status and things.  The futility of labor and wisdom.   When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? Ecclesiastes 5:11  Part of me is like king Solomon in his pursuit vanity of vanities as he calls it.  I think this study will really help me bind my will to God's will concerning money and loose my will for myself concerning money.  Does that make sense?   

I learned a great lesson about value when my Auntie died over 2 years ago.  My uncle (grandma's brother) lost his sweetheart.  They were together for 53 years.  She was our family matriarch for years and years.  Both of them have always been there for everyone in our family throughout the years.  As you know, when someone dies, their material possessions are often divided. Whether it be in a will or not, some family members will always want what they think they deserve.  My Uncle told them that the most valuable thing he ever owned (Auntie) was no longer in that house.  He told them to take it all.  And he meant it.  I'm not sure what, if anything, was taken by whom or if she even had a will.  I never asked because it was none of my business and my only concern was being there for my Uncle.  He knows that he will see her again.  His faith in God is unwavering.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are heirs to the treasures awaiting us in Heaven.  18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite aka peridot, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[f] 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.  Revelations 21:18-21I can't imagine a more beautiful place myself.  Our treasures are in heaven but if we have nice lavish things on earth is that good or bad?  I guess it depends on where your heart is, and that's the bottom line.

So why do my husband and I play the lottery?  Are we putting our hope in money?  No, even though it would be nice to win but maybe not. I can come up with all kinds of excuses for wanting to win that kind of money.  But I know that God is good and has always provided our every need and even our desires according to His will. God knows what's best for us and we want His will and grace above all else.  I don't know if it's wrong to pursue money this way.  We are not extreme but the more I read about money in the bible, I realize that there are more warnings and negative things about money than anything else.
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6:19

When I wake up each day, God is the first thing I think about, not money and may it never be the other way around.  I thank Him for waking me up every day.  Then, I get ready to go to work (release me from this slavery, just kidding).  The reality is we need money and most of us have to work to get it.  That's fine by me because when we work for something we are more careful and appreciate it more.  It is by His grace that I am able to work or that I even have a job.  I give God the glory for blessing me.  We are truly rich with God's grace and mercy, family, health, love and more.   Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” Hebrews 13:5 is a great reminder for me to be careful what I wish for, including winning the lottery.  I really would rather have Jesus than all the money in the world, and that is the honest truth.

God Is My Strength

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This week's post comes from Kassie at Guiding Light From His Word

(Acts 27:13-15 NIV)
When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they
had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island.
The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind;
so we gave way to it and were driven along.

When we are hit with storms in this life, it is important to anchor our self to the One who is stable and can not be moved. It is a must for us to keep our focus on Him who calls us to "come." There is more to it than just the standard phrase of "you can either sink or swim..." Sometimes He calls us to have the faith to walk on water.

One morning back in the middle of November of this last year, as I write this, I went to take my dogs out back. As I was chaining our one dog up, I felt the slightest breeze brush across my face. I remember smiling and looking up and taking a deep breath. Though the sun was shining, there was a definite chill in the air, not really cold but pretty nipping. And in the quietness of my heart I heard, "A Northeaster is blowing." I remember smiling and kinda laughing to myself, the soft breeze was nothing like a northeaster, so I chalked my thoughts up to being silly. About two hours later, I got on my computer to load the "Wednesday's with Beth" series I like to watch. As it came on, I curled up with my hot tea, notepad and Bible and got ready to be inspired. As the show Beth started introducing what she would be speaking about, and asked the viewers to turn to Acts 27 and look at verses 13-20. I hadn't quite gotten my Bible opened when I heard as she started talking about the Northeaster Storm that Paul was about to hit! Now needless to say I was speechless! I paused the program, opened up my Bible software and did a search for the word "Northeaster" to see how many times it talks about this. ONE time! It comes up exactly ONE time in the entire Bible-- and it just happened to be what Beth was teaching on this day! I got on my knees and asked God to open my ears to whatever it was He was trying to show me, and help me to understand His message He had for me. I also thanked Him for getting my attention.

Three weeks later the beginning of my storm hit, and when it did, it felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath me, and I had been hit in the gut. For forty solid days all I could do was focus on breathing. The first thing that happened hurt so much that all I wanted to do was double over. After that it was as if someone had opened up the flood gates, because everything came colliding in from all directions right on top of me. There were some days I would open up my notebook and look at some of the things I had jotted down that morning in November, and I would go back and read Acts 27:13-44 over and over again. I would go and sit in my special prayer spot and just put my head down, and try to listen to God, but it seemed like there was nothing but silence in the midst of this all. I had to remind myself that God had warned me that I would hit a storm. I had to keep going back to those notes I had taken, and the indepth study I had done on Acts 27, and the storm that Paul went through. After many days I could say I knew exactly what it meant in verse 20 when it says, "When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved."

Instead of things getting better for me, it seemed as if everything went from bad to worse. In tears I would read out loud verses 22-25,  "But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island." Also, this is where I need to state that during this time, I haven't been able to write. When I work on these devotionals, or any writing projects, I spend a lot of time in prayer and studying. It is very important to me that when I write-- it is "God's Message" I feel I am sharing and not just my own words. So you might have noticed that there have been days when I did not post a devotional, or if I did, it was something I had written before calamity struck.

It has now been three months since my storm hit. Has my situation changed? In some ways, not really. He hasn't taken the ache from my side, but in other ways I can say that the pounding waves from all directions have let up, and like Paul I think I have "run aground on some island." However, at this point, I am happy for dry land. I can actually smile now and remind myself that a few years ago while I was getting ready to start writing, "The Very Heart of Worship" I prayed that God would give me faith to walk on water. I am here to tell you, I think He heard me! Now in saying this, I know that there will be some who will say, "Well be careful what you pray for..." but the thing is when we pray according to GOD'S WILL we can know it will be done. So apparently my prayer was according to His Will, and when the storm hit Jesus said, "Come." 

The reason I share all this with you today is really NOT to depress you, but to tell you that through this all; God's Word has proven true. He really does bind up the broken hearted. He really does give strength to the weary. In the evenings I have walked up to the top floor of my office and watched the sun go down, and it is as if God has said, "I really am bigger, and I have been here before." So often in the mornings as I take my youngest son to school, and I look out at the beautiful sky, I am reminded that His mercies are made new each day. And when He says, "My grace is sufficient," I have found that He really does hold you up. And each day, I have found renewed strength to take another step. I can honestly say that I have found that when I get the to very end of me, and I have absolutely NOTHING LEFT-- I find that God is there to do so much more. And I have found hope in "That all things are possible to those who believe." God truly has been my strength to get through. My friend, He will do the same for you.

My friend, if you are reading this devotional, then apparently you are not dead. So take comfort in the fact that because you are still breathing-- no matter how hard that breath may be to take-- God is not done. He is not finished with you yet, and each morning when you rise, know His mercies are made new, and there is still hope. He will give you strength to take yet another step until He gets you where He wants you to be, and until you come into ALL that He has for you. Remember that the one who calls you is Faithful. It is by HIS power, and not your strength, that mountains will move and obstacles will crumble, and a path for you will be made.

Father God, thank You that You warn us of things to come. We just need but listen. Thank you for guiding us, and being with us. Thank You for holding us up, and seeing us through. Thank You Lord for Your strength and mercies that are extended to us each day. Lord, we praise You for  Your faithfulness and being a good God. Lord, we praise You for being our God. Lord, please be with this reader come what may, and help them to know You are by their side..
In Christ Jesus Name,

Love Casts Out Fear

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This week's post comes from Salina at State of the Heart
Psalm 29:11
"The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace." NKJV

Fear has the tendency to sweep in, curl around inside your body, and burrow deep into your mind. It takes over all normal thought processes and leaves you with a feeling so strong it can only be described as panic. This attack continues until you reach a point where you're sure your heart is going to explode, your legs might fall out from under you, and breathing no longer becomes quite so automatic.

King David was in the midst of these feelings when he wrote Psalm 55."
 My heart beats violently within me; the horrors of death overcome me. Fear and panic overpower me; terror overwhelms me. I say, "I wish I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and settle in a safe place! Look, I will escape to a distant place; I will stay in the wilderness. I will hurry off to a place that is safe from the strong wind and the gale." (55:3-8).

There are times when I understand exactly how David felt. I too would like to run away from my fears; I'd like to run so fast and so far that eventually I would outrun everything that troubles me. I've reached a point in my life though where I know fear can take such a hold of the body that if left unchecked it will carve away at your soul as though it was a cancerous growth. The more you try to run from it, the stronger that hold becomes, until eventually it will eat through every living cell in your body.

I can’t explain why fear leaves us feeling so powerless, but I guess it's one of the negative consequences of allowing fear into our lives; we start out believing we have the ability to control what happens to us, but in actuality we don't. There is only one way to control our fears. When David continued writing his Psalms, I believe that by chapter fifty six, verse eleven he discovered the way to alleviate this pain and fear. He wrote, "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:11)

I keep replaying that verse in my head and every time I come to the part that says "what can man do to me" I picture whatever problem I’m facing at the time and read it as "I will not be afraid. What can ____________do to me?" From personal experience I know how paralyzingly fear can be, but God has the cure to remove it. I don't have to fear anyone or anything, there is nothing too big for God to handle, there is nothing He doesn't understand, and He will continue to grant me all the strength and peace I need to get through each and every problem I face. I’m so thankful to have "the peace of God that surpasses all understanding to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Please pray with me:
Dear Lord;
We all experience fear at different times in our lives, but You tell us do not fear for You will bless us with peace, the kind of peace that surpasses our understanding. We may not know what the future holds, but we do know that whatever may come You will be there to give us the strength to get through it, and the ability to face it without fear.

Let's Be Salt

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This week's post comes from Dawn at The Most Perfect Gift
Last night when I called the boys to dinner my three year old immediately came running, "Dinner! Dinner! I'm hungry!" As I was getting the food to the table I noticed he was licking the top of the salt shaker. "Oh, don't do that." His reply, "I like salt!"

My 6 year old and I started talking about something and I didn't notice my 3 year old had gotten a hold of the salt. "Mama! Mama! Do you think this is enough?" Enough!?! It sure was! His fish now looked furry. He took a bite and by the look on his face I knew he thought so too.

After I de-furred his fish, I asked, "I wonder how they get the salt from the ocean? I mean, salt dissolves in water, right?" This led into a great dinner conversation and a little science experiment!

I grabbed a clear glass, added some water, then shook some salt in. Then we stirred. Sure enough the salt disappeared. So, I asked, "Well, we can no longer see the salt, but do you think the salt is still in there?" My 6 year old says yes and my 3 year old volunteers to taste it. "Yup, its salty and good!" I respond, "My goodness, you sure do like salt." Then I hear it in my heart, "You are the salt of the earth."
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless." Matthew 5:13
"Hey, you know, in the Bible, Jesus tells us we are salt. Do you know how we are like salt?" Of course, being the silly boys they are, they start saying silly things and giggle. So I quickly told them what Jesus meant before I completely lost their attention. I'm not sure if they truly understood or if they even heard me.

Tonight, as I was putting them to bed, telling them no more talking its time to sleep, my oldest says, "Let's be like salt." Okay, so they probably didn't grasp the whole salt of the earth teaching, but I think from now on every time they grab a salt shaker they will remember something about, "being salt".

Let's Pray:
Lord, we thank you for giving us these every day opportunities to teach others about your word. Even though, at times they may not fully grasp the message at first, we know You can water those seeds and make them grow into a deeper understanding. Please place on our hearts today a reminder that we are salt. That we must preserve your word and add flavor by standing out from the rest of the world. 
In Jesus' Name, Amen