Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Believers Answer to Money

Scripture: Matthew 6:20
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

Insights: God’s retirement plan is—Invest in ME, you won’t be sorry!  Yesterday, I referenced an article from Crown Financial Ministries.  Let me return to it again and give you a Believers answer to money.  “The first is an obvious one -- stop borrowing. ‘The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is gracious and giving’ (Psalm 37:21). Borrowing isn't God's best for His people.  Next, start saving. ‘Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man consumes them’ (Proverbs 21:20). Today, spending and borrowing are promoted, and saving is discouraged. God's principles promote saving for future needs, not borrowing or using credit.  Then, avoid hasty decisions, and ignore the ‘buy now, before it's too late’ pitches. ‘The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless only becomes poor’ (Proverbs 21:5). One of the best disciplines parents can teach their children is to work and save to reach a goal.  While these are simple steps, often excessive indebtedness makes life difficult. That's why it's so important to develop and live by a budget -- a financial plan. ‘Poverty and disgrace [come to] those who ignore instruction, but the one who accepts rebuke will be honored’ (Proverbs 13:18).  Christian families that live by sound biblical financial principles will demonstrate financial freedom for their children and help them grow up with the knowledge of how they should live by God's principles.  With consistent teaching and discipline it could take less than a generation to break the financial bondage under which so many Christians live. And, it would free them to fund the work of the Lord. After all, that's what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6:33, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.’”  Did you catch the line about funding the work of the Lord?  Why do you think God gives you pay raises and good jobs?  Is it really for you to buy the next greatest toy?  Obviously not!  He desires you to surrender your heart to Him and serve Him with your finances.  God wants His money to go toward the evangelistic pursuits of His heart, which are reaching the lost for Jesus.  Beloved, SERVE HIM!

  1. Are you on an intentional plan to become debt free in order to be a better steward for God with His money?
  2. If I were to look at your bank transactions, would it be a testimony for you as one who is choosing the believers answer to money?
Prayer: Lord, You are the Owner and I am the steward.  Work within my heart to make it properly desire You and Your will as opposed to my selfish, self-seeking will.  Let me start today to honor You with my finances.  Amen.

The Worlds Answer to Money

Scripture: Matthew 6:19
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Insights: First, let me apologize for getting this Monday Scott’s Thoughts out to you on Tuesday.  Second, we are continuing our look at perseverance and sacrifice in regards to our faith.  This week we are looking at our finances.  In today’s verse we see the worlds answer to money—get all you can NOW!  We live in a consumer driven culture with advertisements like: “Get it your way,” “Obey your thirst,” and “Just do it.”  There is little regard for questions like, “Ought I to really being doing this,” or “Are my desires really going to honor God?”  Sunday, I read a lengthy article from a 2007 publication from Crown Financial Ministries.  Here is a portion of that article, “Some estimates tell us that the average American household with at least one credit card has more than $9,000 in credit card debt.  Sadly, most people are oblivious to the tremendous cost of excessive debt.  For example, if you wanted to stop using your credit card and pay off a $1,000 credit card debt making only the minimum monthly payment, it could take seven to eight years!  That’s because, even though the principle is slightly reduced every month, the interest clock keeps ticking.”  Because the worlds answer to money is get all you can now most American families are in tremendous debt.  As a result many of those in debt are “Christians.”  Many of these individuals that profess to be followers of Christ are not tithing to God in an act of worship.  Many more are giving nothing or mere tokens to God.  So, what are these individuals doing, exactly what verse nineteen states—storing up for themselves treasures on earth.  They can’t take these treasures with them and typically their children do not appreciate what sacrifices their parents had to make in order to pass these treasures on to them.  There is one last paragraph from the Crown article I wish to share.  It reads, “In an 1865 address before the British House of Commons, Benjamin Disraeli said, ‘What we do and allow in moderation, our children will allow and do in excess.’  That’s an accurate description of the primary cause of the downward financial spiral of many American families today.”  Beloved, our answer to the money question really tells us where our heart resides and unfortunately for many, it is with this world.

  1. In comparison to the national credit card debt of America, how are you doing?
  2. If I were to look at your bank transactions, would it be a condemnation against you as one who is choosing the worlds answer to money?
Prayer: Lord, You have called me to be a steward of Your resources.  Forgive me for the times I have been a bad steward.  Help me to have a biblical perspective and approach when it comes to finances.  Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sacrifice of Emotion

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:28-30
Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.

Insights:  This week we have observed how Paul sacrificially lived.  He did not care about his own reputation.  He invested years to grow in his educational pursuits.  He resigned from a cushy job.  He gave up his freedom and literally was imprisoned.  He was literally tortured for his faith and he endured major discomforts for the gospel.  Verse twenty-eight today reveals one more area in which Paul sacrificed and that was in his emotional well-being.  Day and night he was consumed with the spiritual growth and vitality of all the churches he had planted throughout his many missionary journeys.  Beloved we ought to have that kind of burden for the spiritual well-being of those around us.  We ought to be asking them what the Lord has been showing them in their quiet times and rejoicing with them in their pilgrimage with Jesus.  There is one word that describes all of these sacrifices Paul willing gave.  That word is PASSION!  Paul had such a passionate love relationship with Jesus that every sacrifice he made was really a gift of love back to his Lord and Savior.  It was not a heavy burden for him, but rather a joyful grace that he would have chosen every time he had the opportunity to point people to Jesus.  People are passionate, but our passions are not always geared toward Jesus.  In fact, I dare say, most of those attending local churches in America are not passionate about Jesus.  Let me give you a modern day example of passion.  Today starts the summer Olympics.  These athletes are very passionate about their pursuit of the gold medal.  They sacrifice food, relationships, time and so many other things for a moment of earthly glory.  Their example to sports and Paul’s example to Jesus makes me wonder about my life.  Is there any area in which I am sacrificing for Jesus and showing my passion for Him?  Beloved, our lives ought to be a single candle burning at both ends for the glory and proclamation of Jesus. – SIDE NOTE – Happy Birthday Kristy Tharp!

  1. Have you ever been so burdened for the lost and the spiritual health of another that it affected your emotional well-being?
  2. Are you living life with this kind of passion we have been writing about this entire week?
Prayer: Lord, I want my life to be an example of radical devotion to You.  I want to go to bed thinking about You and I want to rise thinking about You.  I want to live my entire day centered in Your will and the proclamation of the gospel.  Lord, do a transforming work in my life and grant this request.  Amen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sacrifice of Excruciation and Ease

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:23e-27
beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Insights:  All one has to do is watch the news or read the newspaper and one would quickly recognize that we are living in a fallen world.  It is a world that is quickly becoming more perverse, violent and hostile.  I believe if revival and great awakening does not come to America we will see great days of persecution in our future.  The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Are we ready for such sacrifice?”  Paul’s testimony gives us great encouragement as to how to endure such tragedy.  I fear, however, the churches problem regarding future persecution is this second area of sacrifice mentioned in today’s verses.  Yesterday, we mentioned that Paul was thought to be a member of the Sanhedrin.  In this position, he had great comfort and ease.  He sacrificed all of that and endured everything mentioned in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven.  The American church is very comfortable.  We live in such great wealth in our personal lives as well in our church lives.  If you will allow me, we have become very spiritually soft.  My fear is that when true persecution comes many in the church will fall away because their faith was not real.  I think the only way we can prepare for such a future is to consistently step outside of our comfort zones.  We need to take mission trips and see how the rest of the world lives and how other Christians serve Jesus.  Beloved, Paul endured pain and gave up his comfort for Jesus.  Can we really do anything less for our Savior and Lord?

  1. Have you begun to discipline your body so that you may endure possible persecution in the future?
  2. Are you willing to give up any of your creature comforts for the gospel?
Prayer: Lord, Scripture is clear that one day there is going to be great persecution in regards to the church.  It is my prayer Lord, that You send revival first and allow a great awakening to occur.  If, however, it is Your will to allow persecution to begin, then Lord, I pray You give me the boldness and courage to remain steadfast for You and bring Your name glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sacrifice of Employment and Emancipation

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:23a-d
Are they servants of Christ?-- I speak as if insane-- I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments

Insights:  There are two areas of sacrifice being discussed in today’s verses.  First, is in regards to labors.  If church history is correct, Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of elders that consisted of seventy men.  In modern day business, Paul was a member of the board of directors or a vice-president of an organization.  The point is Paul had arrived at the top.  He was admired and respected, but after Paul encountered Jesus, he realized all this success was for nothing.  So, Paul sacrificed his career and became a laborer for Jesus.  He went on three missionary journeys.  He planted numerous churches.  He wrote long letters of theological significance.  He was a great example of sacrifice.  Second, is in regards to freedom.  Paul, was completely sold out for Jesus.  If that meant he was to be imprisoned for the gospel, so be it.  In fact, Paul probably took these times of imprisonment as an opportunity to get caught up on some of his correspondence in which he was behind.  We live in a society whose advertisements are, “Get it your way…Obey your thirsts…just do it…” and the like.  In this kind of self-centered world, the sacrifice of freedoms seems extreme.  Paul would argue a different perspective.  He would tell us whatever sacrifice was required for the advancement of the gospel would be worth it.  If that meant prison, then so be it.  Beloved, we need that kind of zeal for the Lord in the church today.

  1. Do you work hard serving the Lord?
  2. Are you willing to sacrifice your will to the Lords?
Prayer: Lord, I live in a world that promotes self and personal gain.  Forgive me Lord, when I act like the world.  Help me to understand it is not about my promotions and my freedoms, but Your will.  Let me passionately pursue You.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sacrifice of Education

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:22
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

Insights:  Yesterday we learned that Paul was willing to sacrifice his ego in order to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world.  Today we are going to see how Paul also sacrificed through education.  You may be going back up to the verse above and reading it and saying to yourself, “I don’t see anything in this verse about education.”  And you would be correct.  At the same time, Paul is emphasizing his heritage.  I encourage you to go read Acts twenty-two and get a fuller comprehension of Paul’s history and lineage.  In this verse Paul is telling the Corinthians that he is a true Jew and has gone through the most rigorous of training.  Jewish boys would start their education around the age of five and from that time until about ten they would memorize the first five books of the Old Testament.  If they were the best of the best, they would go onto secondary school.  If they were average or below, they would go and start an apprenticeship with their father or other trades men.  In the secondary school they would memorize the rest of the Old Testament.  This schooling would finish around the age of eighteen.  If they were the best of the best of this group they would then be selected by a rabbi and would follow him around for the next several years.  If they were still the best of the best they would become a rabbi themselves and around the age of thirty would start training up new rabbi.  If they were still the best of the best, they would then be selected to sit on the leading council of advisors known as the Sanhedrin.  Church history speculates that Paul was a member of this group of seventy leaders.  It is true that Paul was doing all of this educational work before he actually encountered Jesus, but the Lord knew He was going to use Paul and that Paul needed this training.  Paul was a perpetual student formally for over thirty years and a lifelong student after the formal was complete.  We can learn a great deal from Paul in this regard.  We ought to read, listen and converse continually.  We ought to be pursuing deeper understanding and truth about God.  We ought to have an insatiable appetite for knowledge when it concerns our Lord and Savior.  So, Beloved, sacrifice with education in regards to the Lord.

  1. Do you have a hunger for knowing God’s word?
  2. Are you willing to sacrifice your time in order to grow in your understanding of God?
Prayer: Lord, I want to know You more and more.  Forgive me when I allow things to distract me from You.  Give me a burning hunger to know You and spend time with You in the Word.  Grow me in grace. Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sacrifice of Ego

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:21
To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison. But in whatever respect anyone else is bold-- I speak in foolishness-- I am just as bold myself.

Insights:  First, I am grateful to be back sharing my thoughts which are derived from my sermons each week.  I have missed you all during my time of computer exile.  Second, let’s jump into today’s Thoughts by Scott.  This week’s passage of Scripture is 2 Corinthians 11:21-30.  In this passage Paul is justifying his ministry through the various areas he has sacrificed for the Lord.  Paul starts with a comment about his weakness in comparison to these other “apostles” and he concludes in verse thirty with another statement about his weakness in which he will boast.  This first area in which Paul displays his sacrifice is regarding himself.  In other words, if Paul was trying to be bold for his own reputation he would not have been in the ministry.  He was a stuttering, for all practical purposes, blind, hunchback.  He is not the poster boy of good looks and charm.  As for his stuttering, in verse six of this eleventh chapter Paul states he does not speak well.  Church history points to his stuttering.  As for his eyesight, the letter to the church of Galatia references the peoples hurt in regards to Paul’s vision.  As for his hunchback appearance, we rely on church history.  Here is the point.  If Paul cared about his reputation, he would never have been a minister of the gospel.  He has none of the natural appeal often times associated with what we would consider a successful preacher in the human sense.  Yet, Paul is declaring, I am bold for Jesus because it is not about me, but it is about Him.  It is as if Paul is saying, “If people make fun of me because I stumble into walls and stutter when I speak and look funny hunched over, then so be it, my Jesus is worth it!”  We live in a society where people make all kinds of excuses why they can’t do something for Jesus.  Paul would look at our society and say, “What is wrong with you?  Is Jesus not worth any self-reproach?  Live boldly for Him and stop focusing on yourself!”  Beloved, let us live that kind of life.

  1. Is there anything in your life holding you back from sacrificing your all for Jesus?
  2. What is the Lord telling you to do for Him?
Prayer: Lord, Paul is such a faithful example of obedience.  Thank You for the encouragement he brings into my life.  May I learn to be as sacrificial as he was.  May I walk boldly like him.  Amen.