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Archive for the ‘wealth’ Category

King Solomon said that most people striving to be “successful” are doing so because they envy their neighbors.

Simply stated, pride fuels the desire to be as successful or more successful than others.

Solomon — a king who knew something about success — said in Ecclesiastes 4:4 that this craving is like “chasing the wind.”

The king said it was much better to have one handful with quietness than to have two handfuls after the stress of combining hard work and chasing that wind.

The better course is to recognize the futility of thinking that money by itself brings happiness, he said.

Happiness instead comes from being diligent and honorable in our behavior at whatever work we do, recognizing that money is to be seen as fuel, not as a trophy.

I’ve never seen a sports car owner brag about the size of his or her vehicle’s gas tank. That’s because he or she sees the gas as fuel, not as the admired feature.

In a sense, that’s how we’re to view wealth.

It is to be a tool, not an idol.

And when we find enjoyment from our work and are at peace with God wherever we are financially, we are truly blessed.

We trust that God will never allow us to “run out of gas” before we arrive at our eternal destination.

We can enjoy our lives without a perpetually pouty face that thinks God hasn’t blessed us enough and that we’re gonna have to make up for what He hasn’t given us.

Consider these words from Ecclesiastes 5:19-20:

“…it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.”

Would I like to have a bigger paycheck? Of course.

Is my level of appreciation for God’s grace diminished because I don’t? Absolutely not.

Whatever I have is a gift from God that is not mine because of my merit but instead because of His mercy.

I am to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and then trust that He will add to my life all that is needed financially so that I can keep doing more of the same.

Even if my income drops, I’m hopeful that my love and service to Him will not.

I’m just glad to receive any blessings from God.

Perhaps you feel the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The Christian who feels he or she has lost everything should try to remember that he or she is rich beyond comprehension.

For no amount of earthly calamity can bankrupt the certainty of God’s promise to the one who remains faithful to Him in the midst of terrible circumstances.

If Christ remains on the throne of our hearts, guiding our humble words and actions, a wealth beyond comprehension awaits us in heaven.

It’s guaranteed.

And no thief, no disease, no natural disaster and no financial markets downturn can destroy that promise.

We simply have to make sure that we never deny the authority of God and His Word over our lives.

I’m reading through the book of Job now as part of my devotional time and I was moved today by a statement he made regarding his faith:

“At least I can take comfort in this:
 Despite the pain,
I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:10)

When really tough times come our way, when we’ve lost SO much of what is so important to us, let’s do our best to remember that no force in this world can take from us the fantastic future awaiting us in heaven.

As long as we don’t deny the Word of God in how we live — or in how we suffer — we have the comfort of knowing eternal comfort awaits us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We humans seem pre-disposed to wanting quick fixes.

Many want to pop a pill in order to get past a depressing moment.

Many want to dive right into a rebound relationship after a heart is broken.

Many want to buy lottery tickets rather than give more offerings to the Lord.

Many want to yell at or belittle their kids or spouses — or both — rather than calmly listen and understand how to help loved ones avoid making poor choices.

Many want to go to church a few times and say a few prayers and think that will transform the spiritually confused, compromised heart.

The only quick fix that really counts is the instantaneous justification that becomes ours when we fix our hearts/hopes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ.

Other than that, life is a sometimes slow-moving journey.

Particularly with respect to our financial status.

Patience is mandatory when it comes to financial health and God’s will.

Here is what King Solomon had to say about the matter:

“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”

No financial advisor in his or her right mind would advocate gambling as a sound financial strategy. Yet, millions of people think that buying lottery tickets or heading to the casino or bookie joint will improve their financial health.

It’s so foolish and contrary to fact.

But Satan’s lies are tasty and always have been, particularly to those not conditioned to hunger only for truth taught by the Lord.

Millions of others buy into the claim that multi-level marketing schemes are the path to affluence. For a small percentage of recruits, that turns out to be true but the reality is that most people lose money after signing up with network marketing honchos who know that most spend more than they earn with the schemes.

Here’s the reality. A stronger financial position for most people depends more on what is NOT spent rather than what is earned.

Yes, getting a better-paying job is a great idea and should always be welcomed. But many of us don’t have that option if we believe that God has us in the job where He wants us.

We can work hard to cut our expenses, though, and to pick up supplemental income here and there and to strive for saving money, both with deposits in savings accounts and by fixing or making things ourselves.

It takes time to build wealth this way, but it is a far move viable strategy than is trying to invest in just the right cheap stock that might soar in value or to invest in some alleged “can’t miss” invention that goes nowhere or to pour money into some other get-rich-quick strategy that actually turns out to be a get-poorer-quick calamity.

Let’s follow Solomon’s advice.

Patiently.

Let’s get financially richer slowly, recognizing that we’re already been made gazillionaires spiritually.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Wealthy and miserable.

You probably know a few people like this.

You’d like their wealth but you don’t want their misery.

Yes, I know that there are plenty of flat-broke people who are miserable.

But those folk typically don’t have admirers who’d love to trade places with them.

There are many, many people, though, who’d gladly accept — at least initially — misery if it came with a suitcase of cash.

The seeming presumption is that money compensates for the misery.

Yeah, right.

Is that why so many rich people have lips that are pursed even more tightly than their wallets?

Of course, like you, I’d like to have more zeroes after the number in my bank balance. It would be nice to have a mountain cabin and a beachfront villa and a private plane to transport us as desired for two-day getaways.

But I know that’s never gonna happen because I would never spend money that way even if it did come my way.

You see, knowing that I had redirected so much money toward fun rather than faithful ministry would leave me miserable.

And I don’t like feeling miserable.

King Solomon learned a thing or two during his life about being rich and miserable.

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.” (Proverbs 15:16 New Living Translation)

The choice between a frugal lifestyle with fear of the Lord OR great treasure with inner turmoil is actually a no-brainer.

With faith in God, I’m already a winner in eternity and I don’t have to worry about how tall and thick the walls of my emotions-protecting financial fortress are.

If I lose every earthly thing but still have faith, I will still be a zillionaire in eternity.

But if gain the entire world’s wealth — or just the $73 billion of the world’s richest man — and don’t have faith, I will still be an indigent pyre of pain in eternity.

Let’s be glad for the blessings we have. Particularly the one called salvation.

It’s priceless and will never lose value.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Wouldn’t it be great if we had never put our foot in our mouths?

Or thought something selfish and flesh-minded during the midst of a spiritual conversation?

The struggle against flesh never stops, no matter how active we become in personal ministry.

Even people in full-time, vocational ministry say really dumb things occasionally.

I speak from experience.

Hopefully, the frequency diminishes as the years pass but we never stop being us.

Thank God that the more we learn about Him and talk with Him and serve Him and associate with people who adore Him, the less we’ll act like the Apostle Peter did in Matthew 19:27.

It was NOT a good day for the guy.

“Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

“The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

“Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

Oops!

This was one of those moments that Peter would later regret, I’m sure.

Before he opened his mouth, he didn’t stop to think of what Jesus gave up when He left heaven and came to earth.

He didn’t think of all the promises Jesus had made about infinite blessings in heaven for the faithful.

He didn’t think spiritually but only materially and socially and politically regarding the new world.

Of course, we never think such thoughts, let alone speak them, right?

The fact is that we have had moments when we complained about doing SO much for God without seeing the payoff we wanted in the timetable we wanted.

Do these thoughts sound familiar to you?

  • “Lord, I forgive and forgive and the person keeps hurting me. This forgiving stuff just isn’t working….”
  • Lord, I’ve tithed for a few weeks now and I haven’t gotten the storehouses of blessing yet that you promised in Malachi 3:10. You know I’ve got a lot of bills coming up that have to be paid and if you don’t give me a big blessing, I’m going to have to sell something and there goes my testimony of serving a generous God.”
  • “Lord, I’ve been nice to my stubborn spouse for months now and have continued spending my “funny money” on things for him/her, yet I still get the same hassles as ever. A lot of good being merciful and generous is doing me right now….”

Listen, whether it’s material wealth or a mellowed-out relative or big-shot status in heaven or the hope that people we don’t like won’t make it to heaven, we have got to stop looking at faith as a strategy for boosting self.

We will never give up as much as Christ gave up for us. Even so, we all will gain much more than we could ever deserve as long as our hope rests in God and our greatest treasure is to please His heart.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We’ve all experienced times when our spiritual mood was being determined by our material inventory.

I’m talking about those times when we slip into a measure of discouragement, perhaps even despair, after a highly valued possession is stolen away by theft or by accident or malice of another.

I’m talking about those times when a business fails or a costly investment fails or a “gotta have it” bank account is nearly empty.

Is it easy to be spiritually upbeat at such times? Not if we’re looking at what we’ve lost.

It would be crazy for me to piously lecture you about keeping proper priorities in life while at the same time hiding the fact that I’ve struggled with disappointment during times of disappearing wealth.

I’ve not reached the point of despair, thankfully, during times when bank balances kept dropping lower and lower. I don’t take credit for being Mr. Spiritual Tough Guy, though.

Instead, I give credit to the sustaining grace and encouragement flowing from God.

I thank God for helping me to remember that all the wealth in the world is worthless compared to the promise of living in heaven forever.

In the midst of a prophetic book of judgment upon rebellious Old Testament Israelites, God placed a lovely, encouraging passage that spoke to my heart this morning and I pray that it speaks to yours.

We believers really do have something more valuable than all the material riches of the world — the promise of eternal life in heaven.

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” (Habukkuk 3:17-19)

Please join me in rejecting the “Woe is me” thinking the next time you see that your financial status is less than it was, or will soon be. And please encourage other believers to embrace this same promise so that they’ll realize that the God who loves them has the most amazing eternal retirement program in the universe.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Peer pressure pushes us sometimes toward compromises of integrity at the job, in our business dealings or even in internal family debates over how estates are divided.

I pray that you have avoided such compromises that promised the payoff of more wealth.

For you and I know that such wealth is both fleeting and far more costly in a spiritual and relationship sense than whatever tangible, temporary gain is found.

It is ironic that the wisdom of Proverbs 16:8 came from the materially richest human being in human history — King Solomon.

Yet, when Solomon wrote the words below in the winter of his life, he had learned painful lessons about the emotional and spiritual emptiness of unjustly fattened wallets.

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

Sadly, his son Rehaboam didn’t learn the lesson and that failure contributed mightily to the national split and civil war that resulted, lasting at various levels for more than 300 years.

Yes, we’re surrounded by people who have nicer stuff than do we. And, yes, some of those things — or the dollars to buy them — were obtained in unethical ways.

What’s important to remember is that any item purchased with unjustly obtained money is too expensive in a spiritual sense.

For if acquiring a certain thing requires us to forfeit our integrity before God, we’re no different than someone who buys a snazzy speedboat on credit and races full throttle toward Niagara Falls.

I’d much rather enjoy a simple rowboat that carries me slowly but surely to the other side of life’s river.

Seek God first, my friend. Pursue righteousness.

God will meet your needs in the best way.

He promised such in Matthew 6:33.

As always, I love you
Martin

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