Prayer Based Planning
Dr. Charles Stanley
In Luke 14, Jesus' example of building a tower shows the importance of planning and using resources wisely. Otherwise, money may run out before the work is done.
Any financial plan should be covered with prayer. First, ask God for the wisdom to understand His teachings about money and how they apply to your situation. Next, pray for clarity about all details—including how much is earned as well as how much is spent.
One final step is to seek the Lord's guidance in assessing whether spending habits are in line with His priorities. In evaluating this, it is helpful to divide expenses into categories, including:
1. Giving to the local church, missionaries, and other organizations
2. Basic needs—food, clothing, and housing
3. Insurance, retirement plan, savings
4. Debt, such as second mortgages, loans, and credit cards
5. Personal spending on entertainment and extras—cell phones, Internet, cable TV, eating out, vacations, etc.
Some of us will discover that our finances are not in line with scriptural principles, which may be discouraging. If this is true of you, turn to the Lord, confess what has happened, and pray for the strength to handle your God-given resources His way.
Financial discipline is a learned skill. It requires a commitment to live according to Scripture, persistent effort to change bad habits, concentration to develop new ones, and faith that we can learn to live according to God's priorities. We're blessed when we practice prayer-based planning.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
The Core Motivation for Giving
I want to return one last time to Mark 12:41-44 and have you consider one final thought about giving...
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
In Phillips' translation of these verses, it says that Jesus sat opposite the temple alms box. In other words, where people gave their gifts for the poor. This courtyard area, referred to as the treasury, actually contained thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles for giving. Some of them were for specifically designated purposes, and one of them was for giving alms to the poor.
If the Phillips translation is right, it makes the story all the more amazing. This poor widow, with less than a penny, put it in to help the poor.
She gave it to touch the life of another. Which is why I hope you will give.
Heaven is too real, hell is too hot, eternity is too long, people are too lost, and life is just too short for us not to be actively engaged—through our giving as well as other means—in reaching people. The only thing we take to heaven with us are the precious souls we reach for Christ.
That ought to be the core motivation for us to give to God's work.
Visit the Answers with Bayless Conley website for more ways to Connect with God
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands" (2 John 6).
A distinguished Indian evangelist named Sadhu Chellappa was on a mission trip to a village north of Madras, when in the middle of the night he suddenly sensed God speaking to him: "Leave this house quickly and run away!"
Not exactly a convenient thing to do. But Chellappa was accustomed to accepting even strange instructions from the Lord without debate, so he dressed quickly and ran into the darkness.
After a while, he was in open country. As he passed beneath a large tree, he felt God tell him, "Stay here and start to preach!" Now, even for an experienced evangelist, this was puzzling--because there was no one to be seen. Why did God want him to preach to an empty field in the middle of the night? But he stopped under the tree and began to preach the gospel.
Finally, he reached the point at which he called on his unseen listeners to give their lives to Jesus. He was surprised to hear a voice from the top of the tree and see a man climb down, crying. The man tearfully gave his life to Jesus. When Chellappa asked why he was in a tree out in the middle of nowhere, the man admitted, "I came out here to hang myself."
How is your obedience quotient? God calls us to be obedient to that small voice inside that can direct us to sometimes do strange things. Jesus was obedient in ALL things. "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19). God can do exceedingly great things through one man or woman who is willing to be obedient to God's voice. Ask for His grace today to be obedient to His voice.
Dear Father in Heaven, praise be to your name in all the earth! Thank you for the years of good health you have given, and for walking me through the times when I have been ill or faced physical problems. I pray that I, and every Christian, will always be mindful of the fact that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We want to keep ourselves clean, pure, and as healthy as possible, for we need to be good examples and have good testimonies before others. We need to honor you and your Spirit through our bodies, as well as our minds and actions. Please give us wisdom and knowledge of right things to eat, the right ways to exercise, and motivate us to do what we must to stay in shape and be healthy. So often we get busy and have so much to do, that we do not make time to take care of our physical bodies. Open the door, give us the desire, and show us the way. May we take care of what you have given us. In the name of the Savior I pray, amen.
Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.
By SIMPLY DIVINE LOVE on Saturday, February 05, 2011