Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pay Attention To Your Walk

Photo by enggul
People Are Clueless

We live in an ADD (Attention Defecit Disorder) culture. I don't think there's any shocking news there. We have a tendency to bounce around from one interest to another. But, who can blame us? When you've got iPhones, iPads, WiFi internet, TVs, Wii's, music playlists, Kindle's, and many other things that pull us in different directions, we're going to get distracted in life.

The problem is that we can get so distracted by these other things that we stop paying attention to some other more important parts of our lives; things like our physical health, mental health, rest, relaxation. Author Stephen Covey would call these areas "Sharpen the Saw." They are not urgent, emergency areas, but they are vitally important to our overall well-being.

Our spiritual life should be included in this list as well. This is an area that has a tendency to get neglected by Christians. Because the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life are important but not "urgent," they get pushed to the back burner for a more convenient time. The problem is that in most cases, there is no other "convenient" time. If it's truly important but not urgent, we have to make our spiritual lives a priority. We have to work Scripture reading, prayer, church attendance, and so on into our schedule.

Time To Get A Clue

This problem even existed in the days of the Apostle Paul. In Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV), Paul wrote:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Paul encourages the church at Ephesus to be careful to live a wise life. Because our time on earth is so short, we need to make the most of every opportunity that the Lord gives us. When we have a good understanding of what God's will is for our life, then we can walk in wisdom.

In order to do this, though, we have to pay attention to our walk with Christ. If we're truly believers in Jesus, then our relationship with Him is going to become a high priority.

Ways To Get A Clue

So, if you're having difficulty paying attention to your walk with Christ, what are some ways in which we can start paying attention? Obviously, God's Word is going to be our guide, our roadmap if you will, on how to live a life full of wisdom. God speaks to us through the Bible, so we have to read it to hear Him speaking to us through it.

Also, we need to be sensitive to the speaking of the Holy Spirit in our life. Through our study of the Scriptures and communing with God in prayer, then the Holy Spirit can reveal truth to our spirit.

Finally, having a close network of a few friends that can help you get a clue by keeping you accountable in your walk with the Lord. These friends need to be "true friends" that are willing to speak the truth to you in love when you're acting foolish and not wise as Paul talks about in these verses in Ephesians. Being active in your church each week is a first great step to building relationships with fellow believers with whom we can be accountable to one another.

Are You Clueless?

So, Christian, have you been clueless and not really paying attention to your walk with Christ? Have you been living foolishly and letting really great opportunities to live out your faith slip right through your fingers?

Maybe it's time to finally get a clue and make your walk with Christ a higher priority. I would encourage you today to reprioritize the daily disciplines of your walk with the Lord. So, don't put it off. Today's the day to start paying attention.

Also check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking Pleasure In Problems

Photo by bunchofpants
Roll Around In Your Mess

Okay, I know this sounds gross, but stay with me. There's a point here. Have you ever seen a dog go number two and then flip over on his back and roll around in his own mess? Or, have you ever been on a farm and seen pigs that are wallowing around in filthy mud? Why do these animals do that? Don't they realize how gross and disgusting that is? While we may never know the true answer to why animals do strange things like this, they obviously get some kind of weird animal pleasure from their experience.

The Apostle Paul was a Christian who understood problems while living out the life that God had called him to live. He had been beaten on several occasions, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, tired, hungry, and lacking clothing (2 Corinthians 11:22-27). If living the victorious Christian life was all about the "health and wealth," prosperity gospel, then the Apostle Paul was a complete and miserable failure! In fact, dare I say that the prosperity gospel preachers of today would say that Paul wasn't even a true believer. I mean, how could he be when he wasn't experiencing the hand of God's blessing on his life?

Paul had a completely different view of all of these problems in his life. He actually took pleasure in his problems. I think he even liked to "roll around" in his messy situation.

Take A Different Viewpoint

Check out what Paul wrote about regarding the difficulties he experienced in living out his journey of faith in Christ in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (MSG):
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, 
My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. 
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
As we can see from this passage, Paul first looked at his problems as a demonic attack. He prayed to the Lord on three separate occasions to take away a physical handicap. And when the Lord answered his request with a firm "No," Paul started to get an understanding of why he had problems. First, his physical handicap was given to him so that he would not become prideful. There were so many ways that Paul could have taken pride and gotten a swelled head for his own calling as an apostle. His handicap, though, put him in his place. It kept him in touch with his own limitations.

Second, his handicap pushed him to his knees. You know, severe problems have a way of causing us to fall down before the Lord in prayer like nothing else. If you want to recalibrate your worship with Almighty God, then all you need to do is go through a major life problem that you can't fix. God and prayer become our only option.

Third, the Lord revealed to Paul that His grace was enough for Paul's handicap. God's amazing strength was revealed in Paul's weakness. Through all of his problems, Paul realized that the weaker he got, God actually made him stronger.

Once Paul was able to get to the place of understanding these three important distinctions, he was able to get to the place of taking his problems in stride. He could actually be happy with his difficulties. He reveled in his problems. He rolled around in his mess.

So, What's Your Problem?

So, Christian, what are you facing in this life right now that has completely humbled you? What difficulty has driven you to your knees in prayer, asking God to provide a solution to your unique situation? Have you even gotten to this position, or are you still mad at God for allowing this stuff to happen in your life in the first place?

Honestly, I can't say that God is going to answer your request in the way that you may think is best. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He may have a totally different plan for your life that doesn't "fix" your problem, just like the Apostle Paul.

So, what in the heck do we do if that is God's answer to our problem? All I can say is take the same approach as Paul. Enjoy the journey. Roll around in your stinkin' mess. Allow God's grace to grow in your life. When we're weak, God becomes even stronger in our lives.

This is an awesome thing, so don't fight it.

Also, check out these related posts:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Limiting Choices Is Not The Answer

Photo by Harry Brignull
A TED Video Provokes My Thinking

I recently watched a TED talk video on YouTube that caused me to really consider if this paticular speaker had a valid argument. If you're not familiar with TED, TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then, its scope has become even broader. For more information on TED, check out its website at:

So, back to my story. I watched this TED talk video by Barry Schwartz titled "The paradox of choice." Schwartz has also written a book by the same name. Before you continue reading this post, I would encourage you to watch his video here. It's an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking talk, but I also believe there are a lot of inherent flaws in Mr. Schwartz's final conclusions.

Here's a quick synopsis of the video: Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Schwartz's Solution Is Flawed

On many levels, I do agree with Schwartz that our western, affluent society has created a number of challenges for those of us who do live in an extremely wealthy society. We do struggle with depression and other psychological problems as a result of too many choices. Because of our great wealth, we get fixiated on the accumulation of money and stuff, thinking that this will buy us happiness. In the end, no amount of money or material goods can ever make us happy.

The biggest problem, though, that I had with the talk was his conclusion. It made me want to jump up on my home office desk and yell "WRONG ANSWER, BUB!" Mr. Schwartz's answer to the problem was income re-distribution. If he were given the power to fix western, affluent society, he would take a lot of our western wealth and spread it around to those other parts of the world that have less wealth and fewer choices. The main problem with this solution is that it has been tried before around the world and failed miserably - communism. Here in the United States, we've also tried and failed in this income redistribution experiment and have created a poor, dependency class as a result.

The purpose of this post is not to discourse in a political debate, but rather to encourage better thinking in this area. Wealth redistribution does not work from both sides - from those handing over their wealth to those receiving the wealth. Here's why. When people educate themselves, work hard, and begin to accumulate assets, they resent others forcing them to hand over what they have accumulated, involuntarily. As this happens more over time, people have less incentive to create wealth in the first place. Why should they "bust it" when they're going to be forced to hand it over to the government or other entity? They will automatically seek a level of work where they are getting maximum payoff for minimial effort.

On the other side of the problem, just handing wealth over to other people groups or nations that have less choices is definitely not going to solve their problem long-term. Why work hard and achieve anything if people are just going to hand money and resources over to me for free? I'll take it easy and just let others do the hard work for me in order to give me a few additional choices in life.

Laziness, less wealth, and fewer choices will be the ultimate result on both sides of the equation.

A Better Solution

I would like to propose a better alternate ending to Mr. Schwartz's TED talk. People in western, affluent society have failed miserably at teaching the important concepts of thanksgiving, contentment, and generosity. I don't think we need another government program to accomplish this, either. If parents would take their role seriously, our society would not be so wrapped up in the pursuit of wealth in order to give us more choices in life. If we were truly thankful and content for those things that we do have, we wouldn't be as interested in the accumulation of more stuff. We would understand that money and stuff can never buy us happiness in this life.

And, if we coupled thankfulness and contentment with generosity, I think western, affluent society would be in a lot better place than it is, today. Since these are primarily Christian concepts, the universal church needs to do a better job of teaching these three concepts to the Body of Christ. Mature believers in Christ also need to do a much better job of living out thankfulness, contentment, and generosity in their everyday lives.

So, Christian, where are you at, today? Are you living out a life here in western, affluent society in the pursuit of more money, more stuff, and more choices? Are you suffering from depression and greed because you are too wrapped up in the pursuit of more money, more stuff, and more choices? I would encourage you to rethink your current pursuits. Compare what you're doing in light of God's Word. I think you will see that you need to make some major changes in what you currently hold up in life as important. King Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11,
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Also, check out these related posts:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roadmap For Living The New Life (Part 2)

Photo by Brain farts
Let's Review

In my last post, Roadmap For Living The New Life (Part 1), I opened up that post with the debate regarding the role of works in the Christian life. I asked the question if it is even possible for a believer to live out a daily lifestyle that runs completely counter to God's Word. My contention is that you cannot call yourself a believer in Christ and live in willful disobedience to the Word.

In a lengthy passage of Scripture found in Ephesians 4:17-32,  the Apostle Paul gives us a roadmap, if you will, of what a life of faith in Christ should look like. In the first three verses of this passage, we looked at Paul's insistence that we as Christians no longer live: as the Gentiles do, in the futility of the world's thinking, in ignorance, in living out a life of indulgent sin, and finally, a life full of greed.

In this post, Part 2, we will finish out this Scripture passage by taking a look at what Paul tells us that we should put off from our old life and put on in our walk with the Lord. In Ephesians 4:20-32, we read:
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Put Off The Negatives

Unfortunately, I think this is where Christianity gets a bad wrap, so to speak, but there are a lot of characteristics from our former life as unbelievers that we need to jettison. These are characteristics that demonstrate a lifestyle of living in the flesh and not a life of Holy Spirit living.
  1. The Old Self. Our old sin nature has been corrupted by deceitful desires. Through original sin by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we have inherited the sin nature. On this side of Heaven, we will never be rid of this sin nature, but we can minimize its control of our day-to-day living.
  2. Lying. We are to put off any kind of conscious and intentional falsehood.
  3. Sinning Through Anger. We cannot lose control of ourselves when we are angry. We get into trouble when we  lose control and sin as a result.
  4. Stealing. This is simply a lack of integrity by taking things that aren't ours to begin with.
  5. Unwholesome Talk. Of all things listed in this passage, I think this is where a lot of Christians get themselves in trouble. We gossip about others. We put others down behind their backs. We use language that isn't pleasing to the Lord.
  6. Bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. I see this as kind of the "catch all" phrase at the end of the list. These characteristics deal with our relationships with people and are representative of living a life in the flesh.
Put On The Positives

For all the negative stuff in the above list that we are to "put off," there is a corresponding positive characteristic that we are to "put on" as a believer in Christ.
  1. The New Self. At the point of our conversion, God gave us the Holy Spirit who dwells in the life of every believer. When we put on the New Self, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to take complete control of our lives.
  2. Truth. A key characteristic of God and His Word is truth. If we can't believe what He has communicated to us through His Word, then we don't have a very strong foundation on which to stand. Our lives should be the same, based on His truth.
  3. Righteous Anger. The Bible never states that anger itself is a sin. In fact, even Jesus got angry on a few occassions as seen in the Gospels. The key is to remain in control of yourself when you do get angry.
  4. Hard Work. Christians should be the hardest working people on the planet. We bring honor and glory to the Lord when we do our very best for Him in everything we do.
  5. Positive Speech. We should constantly be monitoring the words that are coming out of our mouths, making sure that they are words that build up and not tear down.
  6. Kindness, Compassion, And Forgiveness. As we deal with people in our various relationships, we should be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
Are You Taking Off And Putting On?

So, Christian, how are you doing with these two lists? Are you constantly living in a state of putting off the characteristics of our old sin nature and putting on those of the new self? In what areas do you need to spend time focused on changing some characteristics to look like the new nature that still look like the old nature?

Allow the Holy Spirit to take complete control of your heart, mind, and body. It's only through His power that you will be able to put off the characteristics of the old self and put on the characteristics of the new self.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roadmap For Living The New Life (Part 1)

Photo by Brain farts
Can I Really Sin All I Want?

On semi-regular occasions I have spirited discussions with certain people about sin, Biblical rules and regulations, living out the Christian life, and so on. In our modern, post-reformation times in which we now live, there is always a debate in evangelical circles regarding the role of works in the Christian life.

If we're truly saved by faith and not works as Ephesians 2:8-9 would suggest, then it would stand to reason that we can "sin all we want with Jesus' permission," right? If we take the faith versus works argument to its ultimate extreme, then we can live a life of sin in the flesh because "once saved, always saved."

So-called believers in Christ that struggle with certain sins in their lives often hold on to these specific arguments regarding faith in Christ and works. Believe me, I'm not here to judge people because I have my own war with the flesh and Spirit that wages in my own body on a daily basis. In fact, the internal battle that wages in our hearts and minds could be considered further evidence that conversion has taken place in someone's life.

But, I would also contend, though, that if the fleshly, sin nature is winning out on the majority of your battles, then there is something seriously wrong in your walk with Christ. You need to go back and evaluate if you truly even have the Holy Spirit living inside you. If there is no guilt, no shame in living a lifestyle that looks like the world, then I would question whether or not the Spirit even resides within you.

Live No Longer...

In Ephesians 4:17-32. the Apostle Paul addresses this very idea of what it looks like when believers live out the new life. He gives us a roadmap, if you will, of what a life of faith in Christ should look like in the life of a believer. Over the course of my next two blog posts, we will explore this roadmap for living the new life.

In vss. 17-19, Paul begins our roadmap with not living as the world lives:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
In this passage, Paul begins by insisting that we as Christians no longer live:
  1. As the Gentiles do. These are those who are of the world that have no knowledge of God. The Christian life should be lived out in such a way that is markedly different from the world's system of living.
  2. In the futility of the world's thinking. The way that world thinks is useless and ineffective for victorious living. It is impossible for believers to live out an effective walk with Christ if their thought patterns are the same as the world's.
  3. In ignorance. Unbelievers do not understand God and His ways. Because they do not know God or have totally turned their backs on God, they have hard hearts and have no sensitivity when it comes to living in sin.
  4. In living out a life of indulgent sin. Unbelievers have completely given themselves over to indulgent, sensual sin. They have jumped in the deep end and are loving it!
  5. Full of greed. Hmmm, something about money and possessions has to enter into the discussion of living like the world. I find this fascinating. There really should be a marked difference in our attitude and actions with money between those of an unbeliever and a believer.
Where Are You At?

Wow! This is powerful stuff on the beginning stages of our roadmap on what the new life looks like. How's your life lining up with these five areas in which we should no longer live? Do you need to confess some sin in your life? Do you need to take on a different attitude when it comes to living out your faith? Are you questioning whether or not conversion has even taken place in your life?

In my next post, Part 2, we'll be adding additional information to our roadmap. The Christian life is not all about what we are giving up, but also about what we are putting on. There are positive characteristics that we should be living out in our walk with Christ.

Also, check out these related posts:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Character Is Shaped By The Inconvenient

Photo by DonnaGrayson
Life Can Be Problem-Filled

Let's face reality. Life here on earth can be really awesome at times, but there can also be a lot of inconveniences.  This is probably an understatement. Our spouse is behaving badly. Our children are having mental-emotional problems. Work is stressing us out because the economy is in the tank and we can't hire additional employees to help with the work load. We have a mountain of debt we're trying to pay off and there seems to be no end in sight.

Whatever personal, family, or work-related problems we may be facing right now can certainly be stressful and overwhelming. When people encounter these small inconveniences all the way up to major life difficulties, they react in a variety of ways. Some may hit the bottle. Some may curl up in the fetal position. Some run into the arms of another person. And some may even choose to take a more mature approach.

Using Problems As An Avenue For Growth

I have a better idea. What if we used these life problems as an avenue to grow in our lives? We can stop, assess the situation, and choose a mature path that leads to solutions. Instead of reacting in an immature manner, we can admit we have challenges and work through them by growing as believers in Christ.

God is interested in our character. That's why He allows us to go through difficulties in the first place. He's letting various problems into our lives to find out how we're going to respond. Is Larry going to walk by faith and trust Me, or is he going to live in the flesh and make a total fool out of himself? Is he going to get in the Word and on His knees, or is he going to drown his sorrows through the ways of the world?

In James 1:2-8, 12, we read these words:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do...Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
What Will Be Your Response?

So Christian, when you come under inconvenient, difficult circumstances, what will be your response? Are you going to respond like the world responds? Are you going to whine, moan, and complain and attempt to distract yourself through other means? Or, are you going to embrace your problem and thank God for allowing these inconveniences to grow you in your walk with Christ?

Just because something is overwhelmingly difficult, doesn't mean that we should just throw in the towel, admit surrender, and give up. Ask God to help you. Seek professional help. Do whatever it's going to take to grow and mature in Christ. Allow your character to be shaped by the inconvenient problems of this world. In this way, you will have zero regrets in this life and the life to come.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

5 Benefits of Generosity

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An Apprehensive Approach

I am approaching this post with a bit of apprehension on my part. Before I even started writing it, I went through this blog looking for any past posts in which I may have even written exclusively on this subject. I found none.

When I started this blog over 3 years ago, I think I have purposely avoided this topic because those of us in the church world have been somewhat conditioned not to place an emphasis on the benefits of giving. We can't make blanket statements about God "paying us back financially" if we give regularly and faithful at the level of at least a tithe and above.

But for those of us that are regular tithers or higher-end givers, I've never met one giver that has been in lack. God always seems to honor the faithful givers through taking care of their needs and perhaps even most of their wants as well.

I believe in and have experienced the hand of God's blessings for being a giver. I'm sure you have heard of the phrase "you can't outgive God." I would venture a guess that this catchy little Christian-ese saying started from a few believers that discovered this to be completely true.

God delights in His children who are giving intentionally in order to build up His Kingdom. He is overjoyed with  believers who understand their role as His managers - those Christians who really understand the key concept that the time, talents, resources, and money that He has blessed us with are all His to begin with.

The Blessings of Giving

It's difficult for anyone to say with complete certainity that God blesses people financially for giving back to Him. But God's Word does state in Jesus' own words in Luke 6:38, "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.”

I think it's pretty clear from this verse that extravagant givers are extravagant receivers. Does this mean God is going to make you a millionaire? Does it mean that the prosperity gospel preachers are spot on in their philosophy? No, I would be hard pressed to admit these things, but I know from personal experience that God blesses generous people in a variety of ways.

Here are some specific ways that we are blessed as we give:

1. Joy. In Acts 20:35 we read "...It is more blessed to give than to receive." 2 Corinthians 9:7 states "...for God loves a cheerful giver." If you are down in the dumps and depressed, do you know what the number one recommendation therapists give to people in order to help them get over that depression? Get out and help others. Give of your time, abilities, and money to help others who are less fortunate than you. The reason: an incredible outpouring of joy floods your life as you give back of yourself to God and others. Giving brings out the emotion of joy in people.

2. Satisfaction. OK, I don't necessarily have a specific verse to point to on the satisfaction of giving and it's sort of related to my first point of joy, but being a giver is extremely satisfying. It's rewarding to know that my giving is helping build up God's Kingdom, my church, and other people.

3. Growth. I don't know about you, but I like personal growth. I like to learn and mature as a human being and as a believer in Christ. I have found that giving back to God enables people to almost jump on the "fast track" of spiritual growth. As we learn to be faithful, committed givers, we grow in many ways. We grow in our faith in God. We grow in our dependence on His provision. Mature Christians are givers. Do you want to grow in your walk with the Lord? Then start giving and watch what happens in your life!

4. Treasure in Heaven. When Jesus walked this earth 2,000 years ago, He talked a lot about money. In fact, it was His #2 preaching topic, taking a close second to his #1 topic of the Kingdom of God. The funny thing is that the Kingdom and money are both inter-related! Whenever Jesus addressed the money issue with the wealthy, He always put it in the context of giving back financially as storing up eternal treasure in Heaven. He wanted us to have the "selfish" motive of moving our temporal wealth here on earth over to a better financial, eternal reward in Heaven. "Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” (Matthew 19:21). "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." (Luke 12:33).

5. Financial Provision on Earth. This is the area many of us as church leaders have been conditioned not to put a lot of emphasis on, but I do believe that God blesses us financially when we give. This doesn't mean that as we give $100, we get a return of $100 (or more) somehow in our bank account. But, at the very least, God has promised to take care of our basic needs. "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:31-33). I've also personally experienced God's financial provision through asset protection as well as in other ways, such as getting great bargains on those things that I need. He helps me stretch my remaining budget cashflow after I give back to Him. Check out what Jesus taught in this area: Matthew 13:11-12; Matthew 25:28-29; Luke 6:38; Luke 12:42-44.

How About You?

So, how about you? Are you a regular, intentional giver? Are you giving back to God and His Church in order to build up His Kingdom through the use of the time, abilities, and money He has entrusted you to manage?

If you are a giver, have you experienced any or all of the five ways we are blessed by God as I have stated above? If so, I'd love to hear your stories. Leave me a comment below.

Also, check out these related posts: