The Bible on Money

The Bible on Money

“And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.

  • Exodus 23:8 (NKJV)

Turning back to Jesus’ final days on this earth, remember the role that bribery played. How so? Judas.

As one of Christ’s 12 disciples, Jesus spent a lot of time with Judas Iscariot. He followed Jesus, fellowshipped with Him and shared the Last Supper with Him. So, how could it be that, after spending so much time in proximity with our Savior, Judas could even think to betray Him with a kiss?

No one can say for sure, of course, but Judas would have likely stayed loyal to Jesus had 30 pieces of silver not been offered by the priests (Matthew 26:14-16). But before and after this betrayal, Jesus, having served, loved and performed miracles on others, was vilified (Isaiah 5:23). And Judas’ guilt consumed him when it was all said and done (Deuteronomy 27:25; Ezekiel 22:12-15).

This isn’t to say Jesus’ crucifixion would have never happened, had Judas not been offered silver in exchange for leading the Romans to Jesus. God sent His Son here to rebuild our connection to Him. To give us another chance for salvation. But Judas knew Christ. He spent time with Him. He learned from Him. He watched Him. He broke bread with Him. And the only explanation for his betrayal is bribery. 

“A bribe blinds the discerning,” it says above in Exodus 23:8. What’s clear and unconscionable without the presence of a bribe becomes unrecognizable once it’s placed in front of your eyes. 

Let us use Judas’ actions as a lesson. Even when we know the truth, once we entertain a bribe, our eyes will no longer see it. At that point, we are blinded by greed. 

They say the way to someone’s soul is through the eyes. It is not a coincidence that, once your eyes are clouded, so then is the heart, followed by the ability to discern what’s right and what’s wrong (Ecclesiastes 7:7).

Our Heavenly Father loves us so much, that He sacrificed his Son for us to be able to receive eternal life. All of us, without exception. For He is just (2 Chronicles 19:7). We were bought at a price. Our ultimate duty here on earth is to serve Him, to love Him, and to follow Him… with our hearts, simply because we desire to do so without coercion. He did not bribe us with anything for the cause. He did not bribe us to love Him. Instead, He chose to give His Son… so that we could make the choice for ourselves; the choice to accept eternal life (Proverbs 15:27) and forever drink from the fountain (Isaiah 33:15-16).

God is pure and righteous. We cannot bargain with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17). May we follow the Father’s example. When we move for a cause, we won’t taint our words with the action of bribing others who are already unwilling, even if the cause is good. We won’t marry honesty with dishonesty. And may we serve freely. No stipulations. No conditions. No bribes. Because Jesus paid it all.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”

  • Proverbs 21:5

There have been so many times that we’ve stumbled over our words, because our thoughts were not clear. We couldn’t see them on paper, because we never took the time to write it down (Habakkuk 2:2). Can you think back to your wasteful moments? Simply because you did not take the time to lay out what needed to get accomplished during the day. There was no plan.

The same concept goes for money. Without a plan, we can find ourselves wasting the resources God has given us. Because we weren’t paying attention, we weren’t reflecting and we weren’t planning.

Before going any further, don’t let the word “budget” scare you away. All a budget does is account for the money that comes in and the money that goes out. It’s not so much a math thing as it is a behavioral thing. How we handle money is 20% knowledge and 80% behavior. You control your budget. Your budget does not control you. It is a roadmap, a guide, a plan.

When we think back to the times we had no sense of direction… being all over the place with no order, we realize it was probably because we did not first sit down and count the cost. Our God is not a god of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Sometimes, you have to tell yourself: “You will never get to where you’re going, if you don’t first know where you are” (Luke 14:28-29).

A budget helps us stay the course. See, when we operate without being intentional, we become empty. When we bring our tithe and offering to the Lord without thanksgiving, without praise, without taking hold of the promises He made to us, then it’s just another ritual leaving us hungry. 

As followers of Christ, every step we take must be intentional. Our diligence leads to outcomes and abundance. But our impulse and lack of planning leads to loss (Proverbs 21:5). And it’s no different when it comes to our personal finances. Be intentional about what you’re bringing in. Be intentional about what you’re spending and why you’re spending it. Because the times of abundance will not last forever. What we do while we prosper will dictate how we get through the trying times. When we know the state we’re in, we prepare for the state we want to be in, and we prepare for the state we could be in (Proverbs 27:23-27).

 One of the many things we can appreciate about the Bible is how much it applies to daily living in this century. God knows our thoughts. God knows our wants. God knows our struggles. But He also knows what we need. If we follow His word, He says He will make a way. He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. Even with the little things. Let’s follow His instruction, because no matter what… God knows.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

  • Proverbs 22:6

If you’ve ever gotten lost on the road, you know how unnerving it can be. You’re in an unfamiliar place and not quite sure how long you’ll be stuck there. These days, it’s much easier to find your way back home. GPS has become a mainstay for how we get around. But think about getting lost without that 20 years ago. Think about getting lost as your phone’s battery life is low.

Here’s a story from one of our Compass team members:

“I remember getting on the wrong bus one day on my way home from volunteering downtown. I was taken completely out of my way, it was late, and I was tired. When I first realized I was headed in the wrong direction, my mind began to wander: How long is it going to take to get home? What if the bus I need to get on is no longer in service? How could I be so foolish? Why is this happening to me right now? But after a few moments, I felt a sense of peace, and I heard a little voice that said: “Just go back the way you came from.” And I listened.

When I went back to where I came from, I then knew the way home. I knew exactly what to do. The bus I should have boarded was still in service. Of course, it was. I realized I had taken it so many times before. It’s strange that, having known the way home to begin with, I wandered the wrong way that day.”

When we think back to our childhood, we may recall the many times we “knew better” but chose differently, anyway. But maybe we can also recall the times as a child when we went back to what we were taught to get back on the right track. 

This verse (Proverbs 22:6) is not a guarantee. When they grow up, sometimes, children go the wrong way, even when they know better. 

It’s interesting that this verse comes right before “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender,” (Proverbs 22:7). Proverbs 22:6 is an instruction. When you follow it and do your part as a parent, even when children stumble and wind up on the wrong path, they know how to get back home… By going back the way they came.

Another story from this Compass member:

“I remember getting my first credit card in college. Beforehand, my mother warned me: “Do not spend what you do not have.” It was something she repeated at home for years. But after entering the real world, I did the opposite of what I knew. I spent more than I had, and the next thing you know, I was in debt. My mother did the right thing by instructing what was on her heart, what was inscribed in her mind [Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 11:18-19]. But there was no guarantee that I’d always take heed.

After willfully walking into the credit card debt my mother warned me against, I remembered what she pressed on my heart and taught me all those years before. And I went back to what I knew: Only spending based on what I had. Not falling prey to credit cards.”

As children, we don’t know to pray before we go to sleep, unless someone teaches us to, so when we grow older, we know how. See, we were taught the way, so that one day, we would remember.

We’re all children. His children. And we all have times in our life that we stumbled and went the wrong way. 

Maybe that season for you is now. Have we gone the wrong way in an area in our life? Well, today, we return to what remains on our heart (Deuteronomy 4:9), and we go back the way we came.

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

  • 1 Timothy 6:8 (NKJV)

One of the first things that comes to mind when reading this verse is that the word “content” is so seldom used in our world today. We have a lot of want—a bigger house, up-to-date phones, more clothes. The list goes on. There’s no room for contentment in our daily vocabulary, is there? We have so much want in our lives, that our wants become muddled with our needs. And when we turn around, they both mean the same thing.

If a friend asks if those new shoes are needed, the answer would be, “Yes”… all while there’s a pair in good condition right there in the closet that’ll do just fine.

Seeing others walk around with what appears to be better, newer, you fill in the blank, makes it hard for us to learn how to be content. Society says we’re not supposed to. 

But God wants us to focus our eyes on Him, not our neighbors. Whether we have what they have, more than they have, or less than they have, what should that mean? The apostle Paul laid the foundation for contentment when he said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Whether we have more than the person next door or less, we must be content; because Jesus filled us with the Holy Spirit to do many things in this life. Life is not a competition. It’s not a race for 1st Place. It’s not a fashion show. It’s not a vat we jump into for approval from others. It’s a journey we walk to fulfill the purpose the Son has for our lives: to make disciples of all nations, lay hands on the sick, cast out demons, baptize all men in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What greater need is there than that?

It’s hard to grasp this. Looking around, everyone from every corner tells us there are so many needs. Family, friends, peers, experts… They tell us, “You need to get a new car,” probably because they think the one you have is too simple for the kind of money you make, or because they think it’s just too old. We’re so enthralled in our image. As if how we look to others is any sort of indication of how much money we possess or what kind of character we have within. Who “they” say we are does not matter. Who God says we are is the only thing that does. 

Our character shall not be bound to our love of money. There are so many reasons. But for one, no amount of money in the world can give us the security that our heavenly Father can. Money comes and goes. But He will never desert us (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Living is more than the food we put in our body or what we clothe it with. Our nutrients, our shelter, our protection, our appetite… None of these is supplied by money. These needs are met by the Lord. And no matter what, as long as we trust and obey Him, as long as we seek Him, chase after Him, first and foremost, He will meet us right where we are with all these things (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31).

What we need in life is our daily bread. Not just the bread we find in our kitchen… but the bread we receive from our Father. It’s the armor the Holy Spirit who lives within clothes us with. It protects us. It guides us. It supplies us. It fills us with all we need to walk with the Lord’s covering upon us in our going out and our coming in. Our daily bread guards us from the thoughts others try to feed us with… Those thoughts that tempt us to live a life of wanting more. 

1 Timothy 6:8 empowers us to live a life of being constantly, fervently fed by the truth of the Holy Spirit, instead of the lies of my our flesh and of this world. The desire for gain, such as a higher salary or a fancy job title do not lead our life (Luke 3:14). Our heart’s only desire isn’t anything this earth can supply. Our heart’s only desire is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Contentment can now be a part of daily living because the Holy Spirit, not ambition, leads, instead. And when we are content and walking a life of godliness (1 Timothy 6:6), that’s the moment we will see more gain in our life than any salary or title could ever give. Contentment can now be a signature in our life, because the Holy Spirit has decided that we have no want, as our needs have always been—and always will be—met. We are no longer of the world. We cannot see the world for what it is through our own eyes. We remain in it, standing strong and seeing clearly, because we envision contentment as the world we live in.

So, Father, we thank You for feeding us with Your kindness, Your goodness, Your forgiveness, Your mercy, Your grace, Your Holy Spirit and above all, Your unconditional love. Thank You for clothing us with Your armor, Your anointing, Your plans, Your power and Your royal garments of righteousness. These are the representation of our daily bread. And our daily bread is all we need to be delivered from evil and not be led into temptation. We don’t desire all the extra possessions the world tries to give us. Our only desire is You (Psalm 73:25). Because our contentment comes from putting our faith in You and You alone. Nothing else, Father.

“My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, have given a pledge for a stranger, if you have been snared with the words of your mouth, have been caught with the words of your mouth, do this then, my son, and deliver yourself since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor. Do not give sleep to your eyes, not slumber to your eyelids; deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.” — Proverbs 6:1-5

“Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand… like a bird from the hand of the fowler.” That’s how serious Solomon, who wrote Proverbs, admonishes us if we want to be released from being a cosigner. And it’s also how serious we should be about not agreeing to cosign in the first place. 

Solomon was one of the wisest men to walk the earth. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned about wisdom, it’s that smart people learn from their own mistakes; but the wise learn from the mistakes of others.

Now, it may not be a sin to cosign for someone. After all, oftentimes, our heart’s in the right place. But it’s not the wisest decision (Proverbs 17:18)

Maybe our daughter or son is going through a divorce, and their credit score just isn’t good enough to walk into the home that will provide a fresh start. Or maybe our brother or sister has fallen on hard times and needs a car to get around. These are both heartfelt reasons why we may want to lend a helping hand by cosigning. But instead of forcing a square peg into a circle by ignoring the fact that this is just something this person simply cannot afford, we can listen to our Father, who only wants the best for us, and understand when He says: This is not the right time. 

His plans for us are for us to prosper. He does not want us to be afflicted by our own self-inflicted wounds, much less does He wish to see us suffer the damages caused by a friend’s errant ways.

Cosigning is like saying, “Sure! I’m so confident they will pay you back, that I’ll wager my own house (Proverbs 22:26-27).” But you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can put it on for someone else. We can help them in other ways. Maybe showing them how to save. Putting a good word in for them at your employer. Letting them move in. 

One of the things to love about God the most is that He loves us enough to show us there is a way out of the very thing He told us not to walk into. If we didn’t get it the first time, He doesn’t turn His back on us. He’s here for the third do-over… and for the 490th  as well (Matthew 18:22)

If you are a cosigner, first, pray! God is always here to listen. Second, go to the person and ask them to release you. And third, whatever the answer is, pray again! Tell Him, “God, I’m listening. What would You have me do?” 

If we are saved, then it is never too late for us. Our Father looks out for His children. So, when we are ready to come running home, He’s waiting with open arms to hold onto us, so we never go astray again.

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.”

  • Proverbs 19:20

When it comes to wisdom, the book of Proverbs, most of which is authored by King Solomon, is a go-to source. It’s one of the five “books of wisdom.” 

This verse says that the way to wisdom is through others. Seeking the advice from the godly, heeding their words, and obeying the very Provider of wisdom and understanding, our Heavenly Father (Job 12:13), who sent us a Son to imbue us with the Holy Spirit, that the ways of the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) should never be lost among us (1 Corinthians 12:8).

A good plan is made with direction (Proverbs 20:18). Direction from God and from godly people. But they become thwarted (Proverbs 15:22) the moment we rely on our own understanding. As harsh as it may sound, the reason why things don’t turn out the way God intended them to is because we didn’t talk it out with anyone or we talked to those who don’t have God in their forefront (2 Chronicles 25:14-16). But when we ask Him for guidance with a pure heart, even the ones who counsel us in err cannot deceive us (Proverbs 12:5). Their plans to harm us will only harm themselves (2 Samuel 16:20 & 23; 17:6-23).

Two sayings can sum up the punishment of not seeking counsel in a nutshell: 1) Those who don’t ask won’t get, and 2) Closed mouths don’t get fed. May we never block the blessing the Father has prepared for us, only for another to inherit it (Joshua 9:14-15). God is good, and He wants to bless us. He does not wish for us to labor in vain (Psalm 107:10-12), when, in our obedience, all He desires is for us to reach out our hand. He does not seek to harm us. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

The Bible tells us to obey our parents, no matter how old we are, and no matter how much they’ve aged (Proverbs 1:8-9). Grey hairs mean wisdom. Learning from their years of experience will do more for us than learning from our peers ever could (1 Kings 12:6-8).

We needed an example to follow. Learning to honor and obey our earthly parents is a blueprint to understanding how to obey our Heavenly Father. One cannot come without the other.

When we seek Him with our whole heart, we’ll find Him. When we ask Him, He will grant. 

He is always there when we need His counsel (Psalm 16:7; Psalm 33:10-11; Psalm 73:24). All He requires is that we love Him and take everything to Him in prayer. 

Wisdom is infectious. If you spend enough time around the wise, wisdom will rub off on you (Proverbs 13:20). Many seek and consult those with it (2 Chronicles 9:23) to rectify their plans (Proverbs 15:22), to gain safety (Proverbs 11:14) and to claim victory in their battles (Proverbs 24:6)

How many times do we step away with no clarity after reading the Bible? Some verses we’ve read several times. Yet, nothing. But then, the Lord will give a profound revelation the one time we read and interpret it with others. 

There’s something about gathering together (Matthew 18:20). There’s something about gathering together that evokes enlightenment. This is why, no matter what, we cannot forsake the assembling of ourselves (Hebrews 10:25). Coming together brings complement to one another. For iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Coming together invites the Holy Spirit in to open the floodgates of understanding into our mind.

Wisdom is a precious gift. Even the good servant and prophet Moses, who led the many, needed and listened to wise counsel (Exodus 18:14-24). And when God told the wisest of them all, Solomon, to ask, he asked for discernment and an understanding heart. Not for death to his enemies or to live long as king. Not to be rich. He told us, if we seek Him for it, we will receive it (James 1:5). So, what was Solomon granted? Not only a wise and understanding heart to deliver justice, but riches and honor, too (1 Kings 3:1-15)

Planning, experiencing and living our lives alone is not of God. He puts people in our life to be available. And He puts us in others’ lives to do the same. Let us go to them. And let us sit and talk with them. Let us seek their counsel. We do not need to be afraid, because the body of Christ is better together. There’s no need for us not to receive a lending ear or not to grab hold of a helping hand. And there’s no need to feel like we have to do everything on our own. It is a blessing to the wise when we seek their guidance. We bring them joy (Proverbs 12:20).

It is a blessing to have the kind of family… the kind of friend in our life whom we can count on when we need guidance (Proverbs 27:9). Which fork in the road have you come to in this moment? Who in your life can you say always knows just what to say? Will you call on their counsel today?

“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.”

  • 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NKJV)

“He created us all the same.”

That was one of the first thoughts that came to mind after reading this passage in 1 Corinthians. 

There is a connection between these verses and coveting here. But here’s another point, first: As Christians, sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves. So far ahead with our “righteousness”… that we leave the Kingdom behind.

This realization weighs heavy on the heart. Are we here to isolate ourselves with other believers? No. Not at all. For we’ve all come short (Romans 3:23).

That’s what these verses are telling us. 

We’re so concerned with not spending any of our time fraternizing with worldly people, that we’ve deserted them. Who, then, can introduce them to eternal life through salvation? If not us, then whom? 

Leaving someone behind, no matter what they believe, sounds a lot more like being an unbeliever, without love, than it does being a follower of Christ.

As followers, sometimes we lose ourselves in the blanket of our salvation, that we don’t see where we sin, or where we have room for correction. We lose ourselves in such piousness, that we’d rather turn a blind eye to the unfair way a Christian friend accumulated their wealth, than to eat lunch with our coworker who says he doesn’t believe in God. 

No one is holy but the Lord.

Your coworker doesn’t believe, but he spends his time volunteering at a homeless shelter every weekend. And your brother in Christ has lied, cheated, and stolen, all for the mansion on the beach he’s always wanted.

Which one can you see the goodness of God through? 

There is no salvation for us when we revile unbelievers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And there is no salvation for coveters like our friends (Ephesians 5:3 & 5)

King David said it best in the book of Psalms: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Whenever we read “shall” in the Bible, we know it is a surety that it will come to pass. It’s more binding than the word “will.” 

God cares more about our needs. And when we choose to love Him, He provides for our needs so that we shall not want

The Holy Spirit has a way of filling our hearts with joy so much that we have no room for want. And that’s why our Father commands us not to covet. Not to want for anything (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). When we leave room for want in our lives, we lose the capacity to see that we can turn to Him for any- and everything we need. When we leave room in our hearts to depend on material things this world provides, we leave no room for trusting that the Lord will multiply. And we minimize what God desires to maximize in our lives. We diminish His indescribable power and might. We lose perspective. And we lose sight of the Kingdom.

If there’s anyone in the Bible we can learn from, it’s Paul. Paul showed us that the opposite of covetousness is contentment (Philippians 4:11-12). Yet, through his contentment, he did not look after the silver and gold (Deuteronomy 7:25) and still inherited all the riches… that moths could not destroy in Heaven. (Acts 20:33)

Let us not covet and seek profitable gain. Instead, let us seek correction that covetousness blinds us from. 

And let us shine… so that all people, believers and unbelievers can see the God in us.

“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

  • Nahum 1:7

“Everything happens for a reason.” “God does not give you more than you can bear.” You may be familiar with these phrases. Maybe you’ve heard them more than you care to count. But if you’ve gone through a “storm” in your life, like a health scare, the loss of a loved one, or a lengthy bout of unemployment, maybe you had a hard time believing these statements.

 When you’re in the middle of a crisis (or even the beginning or end), it’s difficult to believe these words. Here’s a story of a man whose life was turned upside down:

 He was well settled in life. Married with about five or six children, the youngest being no more than 5 years old.

 One night, while his kids were camping in the living room and his wife was in bed, they’d hear him cough, and then start pressing on the keyboard of his computer again. This continued until 2 or 3 a.m. 

 The next morning… he was arrested for breaking into a house in the middle of the night and murdering a woman and her husband.

 “But how could that be? He was home on the computer at that time! How could he be two places at once,” his wife and children appealed. Nevertheless, he was indicted, tried in court, convicted, and thrown into prison.

 Just before her death, the woman he’d allegedly murdered called her mother to tell her he was in the house and already shot her husband. So, there was the proof.

The only problem is, the gun that was left at the scene of the crime was hers… And gunshot residue was on her hands.

 So, after years of suffering, the once convicted felon was exonerated. Yes. He was free to go. They found that the woman cut her daughter and grandchild’s visit short that evening, so she could kill her husband, herself and frame an innocent man.

 The crucial evidence in this case wasn’t discovered until a decade later.

 With the dreadful truth in the open now, the wrongfully convicted man finally came home. Home to a wife who never left his side. Home to older children. Home to grandchildren he’d meet for the first time.

 When he was asked about his ordeal, he simply said he wasn’t going to think about all the time he’s lost, but instead, he’d focus on the time he has left.

 And only a few months after being released, he was diagnosed with cancer and died. Who would’ve known that the time he had left would be less than 200 days?…

 To say this is a sad story is an understatement. It’s a true story… one that an innocent man had to live.

 One of their kids recalled being ostracized at school, his very own teachers gossiping, telling other children not to associate themselves with him because “his dad murdered somebody.” What a terrible crisis to go through as a kid.

 And his wife. A decade passed by with her husband not by her side. Years passed by… of her looking at him through glass, knowing he wanted to give her a divorce, so she could move on with her life. 

More money being spent, while less money was coming in. For appeals, for lawyer fees, for supporting herself and the kids. What a crisis she went through.

 And then, finally, her husband, the children’s father, comes home. A big sigh of relief. Tears of joy. Only for them to turn into tears of sorrow. What a crisis.

 It was a crisis that his wife and children suffered with him all those years in prison. And another crisis when he passed away. They lost him… right after getting him back. How did they feel about “everything happens for a reason,” then? Did they believe “this isn’t more than you can bear”?

 Maybe they know. Or maybe they haven’t realized it yet. But God has carried them through it all. They’re still here. Still moving on. Still living.

Whatever you’re going through, it’s molding you into someone greater. God keeps His promises, but He never said it wouldn’t be difficult to keep holding onto them.

He might not have said He would make it easy. But He said He would make a way. Even when there seems to be no way.

 It may take a very long time to believe that. To not scoff whenever you hear “everything happens for a reason.” To not ask: Can I bear this? But eventually, we know it to be true.

 Our crises look different for each and every single one of us. But the Lord cares for us the same.

 He is with you. And He lives in us. We were made in His image. Don’t walk through the storm on your own. People are in our lives for a reason. During the crisis is not the time to turn away from them. It’s the time to turn to them. And it’s the time for them to turn to you when they’re in need.

 When it comes to faithfulness, we can’t help but see how much of a Parent the Lord is. He tells us to spread across seven or even eight (Ecclesiastes 11:2), for we don’t know the troubles ahead. He tells us to owe no one anything, except to love them (Romans 13:8), and not to fall as a servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).

 Being His children, sometimes, we think that doing what He says means no harm will come to us. But if we look back at Ecclesiastes 11:2, we see He does not say that. “For you do not know what evil will be on earth.” Evil will be here. We just can’t predict it.

 His instructions for us aren’t to say that we can kick back and relax. No. He wants us to be prepared to get through the trying times when they come (Proverbs 27:12). He wants us to be prepared to travel the storm.

 It’s like a hurricane. If you have enough gas and food, shutters or hurricane-proof doors installed and batteries, will the storm disappear before it gets to you?

 The storm is still going to come. And yes, it may cause a disaster. But what would the disaster be, had you not prepared first?

 If you have faced or are facing a crisis, know that you wouldn’t be who you are, if not for it. Whatever happens to us and the people around us, the trials we face, the setbacks we’re dealt… are meant to be turned for good and to bring glory to His name.

 Everything that happens in your life is not for nothing. Whom can you share it with? Maybe that person needs to hear it and needs to hear it now. What is your testimony? How many lives would be changed if you shouted it from the rooftop?

 Take a look around. What can you turn around for good? Because He is with you. And He is for you

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” –Romans 13:8 (NKJV)

Think about this scenario:

Growing up, you’d always been taught, “save, don’t spend,” “do not spend what you do not have,” “you don’t need the name brands.”

 You did well with those principles over the years, as a young adult. 

After opening your first account in college, you avoided credit card debt, paying the balance by every due date. But you were careful to save more than you spent. And when you wanted something, you understood that you had to save for it. And you understood, you shouldn’t deplete your entire savings just to get what you want.

All that seemed to fly out the window some years later, after you bought your first home.

 Two things: Instant gratification and image. That’s how you ended up over $20,000 in credit card and personal loan debt… in less than a year. About a third of that you accumulated in just a month’s time.

 Now, the end of this story came in about three years. You made a solid plan to pay off your credit card debt, and you stuck to it when it was tempting to do the opposite. Could you say the same for the rest? No. Honestly, you didn’t have a true biblical perspective as far as that was concerned (Psalm 37:21). You had no motivation to pay off what was left. In fact, it was almost as if you were okay with that.

 This is a true story. 

And the day this person was introduced to the truth, that everything­­—money, a home, clothes, gifts, talents, dreams, family—belonged to God, was the day their heart changed.

 His word said not to withhold what is due to others when you have it. Not to delay until tomorrow to give them what they are due (Proverbs 3:27-28). And in little time, they went from being “okay” with not repaying their personal loans to developing the desire to pay back all that was owed.

 It was about more than committing to an agreement. (Although, that alone is crucial.) It was more so about only being concerned with loving others, as Romans 13:8 instructs, because we were all bought at a price (1 Corinthians 7:23).

 1 Corinthians 7:23 says, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” There is so much gravity in this one verse. But if you read the verses surrounding it for the full context, 1 Corinthians 7:22 says: “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.” So, by Jesus’ blood, as people under free will, we were paid for. But to access our Savior and our Father, we now must serve Christ. And 1 Corinthians 7:24 says: “Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.” To save us, Jesus died on the cross. So, from that moment, we’ve been called in our freedom to serve.

 It almost sounds like an oxymoron. How can one be free to “serve”? Isn’t freedom the opposite of servitude?

 But when we think of Jesus, in His righteousness, all He came here to do was serve. 

He could have done differently. But He didn’t. He chose to serve us. And this is our chance to do the same and serve Him. Because, as a child of God, our true freedom is found in Jesus. Our true freedom comes with eternal life.

 Stop and think about freedom, and realize how shackled we are by the debt we willfully walked into (Proverbs 22:7). The finances were shackled. Imagine the possibilities, had there been nothing owed. But the mind was shackled, too. Always thinking. Thinking about the “what ifs.” What if I lose my job? What if an emergency takes precedence? What if I get a cut in my salary? What if my cost of living skyrockets? We become distracted by our worries during the day and haunted by our fear while we sleep at night.

 To be controlled by debt, we are not free. The freedom that Jesus paid for, we traded in to serve our lenders. We can’t focus on caring for others or anything else because all our focus, energy and work is spent on debt. When we don’t follow God’s principles, part of our calling to Christ and others is overtaken (Deuteronomy 28:15, 45).

 In Nehemiah 5:1-5, it says the people’s very own sons and daughters became servants. But because their parents mortgaged their vineyards and houses and borrowed to pay taxes on their lands, they had no power to release their children from bondage. 

But God has a promise for us. Working our way out of our debts will be a blessing. We will rise, because nothing and no one will lord over us (Deuteronomy 15:4-6; 28:1-2, 12-13).

 The story you read earlier may be very similar to yours. Or, it may not even remotely compare. No one may know the battle you’re going through.

Whatever the situation you’re facing right now is, know that our God keeps His promises to those who love Him. He will make a way, even when there seems to be no way. Whether we have just a nickel to our name, or just oil in our house (2 Kings 4:1-7). He forgives us even our biggest debts (Luke 7:40-43; Colossians 2:14), so that we have His grace to do the same for each other (Matthew 18:21-35; Philemon 1:18-19).

 So, let us not wait for seven years to be freed from our debts (Nehemiah 10:31, Deuteronomy 15:1-6, 31:10-11). Let us be concerned to pay back what is owed, even when we haven’t the slightest clue how. Because when we do, we have the power and the heart to forgive others’ debts. To feed the poor and the needy with an open hand. For an open hand that gives will be open for our Father to release His blessings into our palm.

His blessings unlock our freedom. Our freedom to truly live life loving Him, to love others, and to give to each other.

“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.”   Matthew 26:14-15

 It is often said the root of all evil is money. This saying is a misquote of 1 Timothy 6:10 that says “For the love of money is the root of all evil”. In reality, the root of all evil is the devil and his use of our own free will against us. And sometimes, that means our love of money can be used just as a carrot is dangled in front of a horse.  

 In Ecclesiastes 1:9, it says there is nothing new under the sun. What we see in our world today can be traced back to Bible times. Money has been used for conquest (Numbers 22:7), murder (Esther 3:9-11, 4:7; Judges 9:4) and betrayal (Genesis 37:28; Judges 16:4-5, 18; Matthew 26:14-15). Money has even been used to buy the indwelling of the Spirit (Acts 8:18-19).

 But you can’t buy your way into salvation. The Lord cannot be bought (Acts 8:20). That’s what makes Him good.

 We should feel so comforted by the truth that, in all His power and glory, He does not seek to buy our loyalty. He does not seek to buy our trust. He does not seek to buy our obedience. He does not seek to buy our attention and time. He does not seek to buy our heart. He does not seek to buy our faith. He does not seek to buy our love.

 Others refuse to make a sacred sacrifice, and instead, use money to buy us. God, however, made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave His Son (John 3:16). He didn’t offer money. He offered His only begotten Son. For you and for me. Not so that we would be forced to love Him or serve Him. But so that we’d simply have the choice to.

 What kind of God are You, Lord, that we serve? We have no understanding of the price You paid for us. For me. 

We ask now that You remind us that we were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 7:23). So, whenever there are people who want to exact evil in this world, in Your Kingdom, we are given strength that only comes from You to resist their use of money in exchange for our contribution to an unjust cause.

 Search our hearts, Lord. And may we search our hearts on our own. Lift any uncleanness from our hearts and minds. And may our treasure be found in Your Kingdom… not in our bank accounts, our homes, or other material possessions that will turn to ash. Reveal our weaknesses to us, Father. So, that we yield to Your correction and embrace the spirit of contentment. Ready our hearts and our minds to chase away evil thoughts and desires. We don’t wrestle flesh and blood, but principalities of the night (Ephesians 6:12). You give us the might to trample them under our feet.

 For we were bought at a price: Jesus’ blood. You sacrificed for us lost sinners. And You didn’t have to do it. So, may our allegiance be to You alone, because it cost Jesus everything. May we be Your people. A people who cannot be bought, just as You cannot be (Numbers 22:18, 24:13).

 When the wicked try to buy me with their gold, may the price He paid lay on my heart to ask myself, “What’s the cost?”

 “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, “You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”

  • Deuteronomy 15:11

 What if we all did our part? Would there be any hunger or homelessness or lack? (2 Chronicles 31:10; Deuteronomy 14:28-29) According to Deuteronomy 15:11, the poor will always be among us. Does that mean that is a flaw on their part? Is it because, as a people, we have never been obedient enough to share?

 This verse may be interpreted differently by all who read it… But whatever the conclusion any of us comes to, it doesn’t mean we should not give.

 Jesus once said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). There are blessings for those who give with a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).

 It’s interesting. Most people may think “closed mouths don’t get fed” means that, if you don’t speak up, you’ll never be heard; or, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it (an increase in pay, a promotion, fair treatment). But this phrase so well relates to the duty of a teacher, provider and defender. Anyone who knows better, having the experience but does not share this bit of knowledge with the next person who does not know, is a closed mouth. Anyone who witnesses injustice on the innocent but does not defend, stand up or speak up for the unfairly persecuted is a closed mouth. Anyone who does not encourage their friends with kind words when they are down is a closed mouth.

 When it comes to matters of the heart, we don’t get fed until we feed others first. It says in James 2:15-16 that it is no good to have the resources to give to someone in need, and instead, say, “be warm and filled,” but walk away without giving them what they need. Maybe we walk away because we have more for ourselves if we don’t share. Cutting a whole pie to give half to someone else means less for the person sharing it. Not cutting it at all means you keep the whole thing. However, while you might not have lost any… you also will not gain any, either.

 No one can pour into you, if you remain tight-lipped (a closed mouth) about everything. We must share. If you see an opportunity to teach, share your knowledge. Nobody will teach you during the time you need to learn the most, if you don’t first teach. If you have a moment to uplift, share your words of encouragement. Nobody will affirm you, if you don’t first affirm. If you are asked to give and have the means to, share your resources. Nobody will give to you when you are in need, if you don’t first give.

 Everybody wants to be around a person who gives (Proverbs 19:6). Reflecting on Jesus’ time on earth, He spent most of His time surrounded by others. When he was just a boy preaching at the temple. When He was sleeping on the boat during a storm and the disciples woke Him. When He feed the 5,000 and the 8,000. When He cast evil spirits out of a woman. When He raised Lazarus from the dead. When He made the blind man see and the man who was crippled walk.

 Why so much time with others? Because they knew what He would give them.

 Remember, giving isn’t always about money. We can give the gift of Jesus, that is within (Acts 3:2-6). Jesus’ blessings and miracles did not come from His pockets. They came from His healing hands and unbridled heart. He gave His time. He gave a lending ear. He gave words of wisdom. He gave His parables. He gave healing. He gave mercy and forgiveness. He gave Himself. He gave an example.

 Jesus gave with a purpose. He gave most of His time to His disciples. And then most of that time, He gave to three. 

So, how should we give? With priority and purpose. We give to God first (Proverbs 3:9). We provide for and give to our families (1 Timothy 5:8; Mark 7:9-13). We give to the people in the ministry and those who teach to support their calling, their work and obedience (Galatians 6:6; Nehemiah 12:47). We give as God puts it on our heart (2 Corinthians 9:7), and we do it at the first opportunity (Ecclesiastes 5:4). We give without recognition, because no one else needs to see our heart but God (Matthew 6:1-4).

 So, let us walk with an open hand. An open hand that gives to meet a need. An open hand that receives. An open hand that grabs hold of another to walk alongside someone who needs a friend.

 Before you go any further in your day, think about how you can give. Do you need to give up your control and let someone else make the decision? There is blessing in stepping back and allowing others to shine. Do you need to give your time to a cause? Do you need to give more than you save? Our security is not in the money we amass. But in Jesus Christ and the Lord, our Provider (1 Timothy 6:17).

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” ­

  • Matthew 25:34-40

 In all His glory and righteousness, Jesus identified most with the poor. Think about that for a second. If you had all the power, would you or anyone you know come so humbly? No one in His place would. Not any of us.

 As normal human beings, we would come to earth with pomp and circumstance and no intention of serving others. But Jesus was born in a manger. And He washed His disciple Peter’s feet (Matthew 13:1-16).

 If we could only use a few words to describe what Jesus did on this earth, here’s what comes to mind: Jesus served. Jesus saved. Jesus gave.

 He set an example for us. And in Matthew 25, He clearly says giving to the “least of these” is like giving directly to Him.

 We don’t look down on the people who cannot afford a place to live… who cannot afford food to eat… who cannot afford water to drink. We’re all on the same level. And, quite frankly, those who can’t afford a roof over their head, food or water are closer to touch Jesus than any of the rest of us will ever be.

 Life is not about our worldly accomplishments. And life is not about our worldly failures. Life is not even about the people we meet or the families we build. Neither is life about the things we accumulate. Money and material possessions mean nothing if we don’t do with it what glorifies Him.

 As believers, life is about following Christ. Life is about honoring Him (Proverbs 14:31). Life is about sharing (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-33). Life is about investigating the case (Job 29:16). Life is about softening our heart and opening our hand (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). Life is about how we treat others. Life is about Whom we made them see: The Lord. Life is about how we made someone else feel.

 With giving comes salvation (Luke 19:8-9). So, how can we give in a way others can see Christ in us? How have we treated our families? How have we treated the strangers we meet? What will they say when God asks them about you? 

May we treat others the same. May we treat them the way we would like to be treated. When they give an account for our deeds, may they say, “They made me feel like I was the only person in the world.” Because that’s how Jesus made us feel.

 “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

  • 1 Chronicles 29:11

 All things.

 It’s hard to grasp the extent of God’s ownership at times. We work for the things we get. The house, the car, the clothes, the money. It’s easier to see that a home or car may not be truly ours, because many of us take out a loan to buy them. But how about the things we bought with cash? Those are ours… right?

 It’s always the better decision to buy with cash than to borrow. God wants us free to serve Him, and He does not wish for any of His children to be lorded by anyone or anything (Proverbs 22:7). But He controls it all (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).

 Not only did our Father create the heavens and the earth­­­—and everything in the earth—but He also created us and the animals, too (Psalm 24:1).  If we think about a child two parents had, that’s still considered their child, no matter how old their son or daughter gets. Think about an invention. Thomas Edison patented the light bulb and called the invention his. No matter what happens afterward, it’s still his. That’s how it works with God. He gets the credit for everything. He was the Maker and forever will be the Owner. That goes for our children and our inventions, too. He created us. So, whatever we create is His.

 “You are the Author, I am the clay. Mold me and make me.” It’s from an old hymn, and it shares how big a role God plays in our lives: the ultimate role. Our gifts, our talents, our achievements, our money all comes from the Lord. And it’s not by accident. What we receive from God and what we do with it all comes from Him by design. He gives and He takes away (Job 1:21).

 The house, the car, the clothes, the food. The Lord provides. Even the job. He is our Promoter. He can also demote us, if and when He pleases (Psalm 75:7). Think back to the kings in the Bible who so easily lost their kingdom and were replaced with another (1 Samuel 15). And think about how many battles were won by people who, logically speaking, should have so easily been overtaken. David versus Goliath. God gave David the ability to defeat the decorated warrior (1 Samuel 17). Solomon was born, having no direct way to the throne. But the Lord gave him the City of David and its people (1 Kings 1:15-30). And He gave Solomon the wisdom to know right from wrong (1 Kings 3:5-14).

 Nothing we do or say is above the Lord’s control (Proverbs 16:33). If He so pleases, He can harden our hearts or choose to soften them (Exodus 14:4; Deuteronomy 2:30). What a Master… That He would take the time to fearfully and wonderfully make each one of us. Yet, at the same time, He took the time to carefully place the gold and silver in the earth (Haggai 2:8). It’s only right that we give Him the thanks and praise for how He provides for us in our lives.

 Because He took the time, let us take the time, as well. To give Him the glory for the things He has done. To give Him credit for the gifts He has given us. To give Him praise for the strength He has instilled in us. To give Him the first fruits of what He has put in our possession. For He is worthy to be praised.

“The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.”

  • Psalm 115:16

 The verse is a good example of the meaning of authority. Authority is typically the right that is given by someone else. A city mayor may be elected by the voters; and is then given the authority of that position. A chief financial officer may be chosen by the employer; and is then given the authority of that role to be in charge of the corporation’s money.

 In these examples, authority was given to someone by people who had the power to make that decision. The Lord created the earth. Then, He gave us the authority over the earth (Psalm 8:6). Now, we have the authority of a manager.

 He is not a God that seeks to control everything. And that is clear with His allowing us to govern the earth. He wants us to be fruitful (Genesis 1:28). He wants us to have responsibilities. He wants us to prosper. He wants us to be good stewards of what He has given us (1 Corinthians 9:17).

 It’s amazing that, even though it’s all His, He only requires the first 10%. In light of that, we have a misunderstanding that only the 10% is His. But all of it is. All of it belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1).

 What does He want us to do with the 90% that’s left? 

Yes, He has given us authority over that portion, but He wants us to be good stewards of it. And when He comes to take an account for what we’ve done, how unimaginable would it be to hear the words “Well done” (Matthew 25:21).

 We do our part so that He can do His. He doesn’t tell us He’ll make it all easy for us. But He does tell us that He’ll make a way (Isaiah 43:16). If we love Him. If we choose to obey Him. If we are faithful.

 When we follow God’s Word, He will prepare us for the battles—and victories—ahead (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). He blesses those who bless Him (Proverbs 28:20).

 We must always remember that, to lead, you have to first be willing to serve (Proverbs 22:4). Many before us did it. Robert K. Greenleaf… Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… Mother Theresa. 

And the Son, Jesus Christ, did it (Matthew 20:28). What happened with Him? Because He only considered Himself to be from God but never on the same level, His Father exalted Him (Matthew 23:12). And He sits at His right hand.

 When we put our wants last and His will first, not only will our Father reward us by providing for our needs, He’ll also give us our true heart’s desire (Deuteronomy 7:12-13; 2 Chronicles 31:20-21).

 The Lord says if we are faithful in little, we will be faithful in much (Matthew 25:23). And if we are unfaithful in little, we, too, will be unfaithful in much (Luke 16:10). May we be found faithful with little—the 10%. And may we also be faithful in much—the 90%.

 Lord, from the very beginning, You knew that the things of this world would tempt us (1 Timothy 6:10). You knew that the shiny gold would try to lure our eyes. You knew that we’d seek comfort in the material things of the earth. How can we be content and do what You will with the money and earthly possessions You have made us stewards of? How can we remember that our security does not come from these things, but from You (1 Timothy 6:17) and You alone? How can we build what moth cannot destroy? (Matthew 6:19-21).

 Give us clean hands and pure hearts, Father. That we do not lift our souls to any false idols. Let us be the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). Let us worship You and not fall servant to the glitter of gold. Let us build our mansions in Your Kingdom.

“Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

  • Luke 12:15

 Don’t ever let anyone tell you that being frugal is your problem.

 Oftentimes, we take the words “frugal” and “stingy” to mean the same thing. But let’s look up the definition of each one. Frugal: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources. Stingy: not generous or liberal; sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending. That’s according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

 Being frugal means to be mindful in the spending of the resources you have. Like, not spending more than you should on produce at the grocery store, buying clothes at stores that aren’t as costly, not wasting food, choosing between wants and needs.

 But being stingy means to be unwilling to spend where, maybe, you can or should. And being unwilling to give or spend on others.

 Why are we unwilling to give? Is it because we want to keep more? Is it because we don’t feel comfortable with the thought of not having enough? Is it because we’re only concerned with ourselves?

 Stinginess is oftentimes the symptom of greediness. So, it’s not our frugality that’s the problem. It’s our greed.

 Sodom was destroyed because its people were blessed with abundance, but they chose not to help the poor and the needy (Ezekiel 16:49). They had all the food and riches they could ask for, but their possessions could not save them. Rather, the security they found in their possessions was the very thing that condemned them.

 The Lord is so gracious. He only requires us to give 10% of what He has given to us. If we had the same power that God has with us with the stewards of our own money, we’d probably require 99.9% (or all of it) back. But God knows our heart. Those who sow sparingly shall reap sparingly. But those who sow generously shall reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).

 Idolatry is not just worshipping statues (Isaiah 44:9). It looks different for each of us. For one, it may mean worshipping themselves. For someone else, it may mean putting their family’s desires before God. And for another, it may mean worshipping money. But Colossians 3:5 tells us to put our ways to death. We can overcome greed if we choose to desire our Lord Almighty, instead. If we desire Him, He will take away our desires for earthly things (Psalm 73:25).

 None of the things we acquire here on earth can buy our way into Heaven (Ephesians 5:5). So, don’t allow false teachers to convince you otherwise (2 Peter 2:1, 3). The riches will never make you happy. Neither will you ever be satisfied. The more you get, the more you’ll want to take (Proverbs 30:15). And it will not save you any more than it saves them.

 It’s okay not to gain all the treasures of this world. It’s okay if you don’t feel like you have enough money saved. We’re human, and we do have fears. But God did not design us to have a spirit of fear. Being fearful means we’re not trusting Him to provide for us. He designed us with a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). A power that assures us we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). A sound mind that trusts Him with every aspect of our lives to provide for our needs and give us our heart’s desire. A love that transcends limitations, lends a helping hand, and gives freely and openly to others. For God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

  • John 8:32

 If the truth will make you free, then what will a lie do to you?

 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And there’s only one way to the Father: through Him. 

Jesus made it very clear that the truth saves us (John 8:12). His word was what gave us access to His Father (John 8:31). And now that we are here to do His work, by bringing others into the Kingdom, that means our word is also the introduction to someone else’s salvation. Lies and deceit not only harm us, but they harm them too.

 God is not One that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). And we were created in His image. So, we should not lie, either (Deuteronomy 5:19). Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s painful. Even when it’s ugly.

 The truth is like light. It’s revealing. Although what it reveals may not be pretty, continuing to conceal ugliness only allows it to spread. So, it is our job to be the light in the world, revealing truth (Philippians 2:15)

It is His will that shall be done here on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). We don’t need to wait for the Kingdom to come to earth. While we’re here, we should live in the Kingdom. The Good Book says everyone outside of Heaven loves lying (Revelation 22:15). But loving and practicing truth is being the light in the world (Matthew 5:14) that shines in a way that those who do not know God can see it, too. Instead of being the blind leading the blind (Matthew 15:14), we choose to be honest and fair to our brothers and sisters in Christ and to our neighbors who do not believe. Because we know truth being light can set our path straight (Proverbs 4:24-26). Our honesty may become a good influence on those around us… Just as allowing those who lie to negatively influence and corrupt us.

 Think about a time someone you know was living a lie. You may have given them an opportunity to tell the truth, but they chose to avoid it. They act differently. They flee and hide, and you can’t seem to get in touch with them like you used to. Their life may have taken a turn for the worse. It starts to unravel, and from the outside looking in, it’s disheveled. They’ve now even had to tell more lies to cover up the ones they told in the beginning. At this point, the lie has consumed them. 

Maybe you’ve lived this way, too.

 But how many times have you seen that telling the truth lifts the burden off your shoulders or the other person’s?

 Yes, there may be repercussions for confessing a lie. But what are the repercussions for not confessing it? (Proverbs 6:12, 15; 19:9) 

 Lying is one of the seven sins the Lord especially hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Even in the lie of omission we must be careful. It’s a form of deceit, which, too, is a lie (Leviticus 19:11). For example, leaving out the details of the harmful side effects of the medication a doctor prescribes to a patient not only is deception, but it is deception for monetary gain (Proverbs 10:2).

His Kingdom is not built on lies, but on truth, righteousness and love. But the devil’s pit is built on lies (John 8:44). And it’s our choice where we choose to dwell.

 A lie is never worth it. The lies we tell affect more than our own lives. They affect our families, as well (​​Proverbs 15:27; Micah 2:1-3). If you get rich off of a business scheme, no matter how good life may feel, no matter how long, the day of reckoning will come. And the money will dwindle (Proverbs 13:11). At that point, it has affected your livelihood and the livelihood of those around you. Even if no one depends on your income… Do we not associate family with one another?

 Living in the Kingdom requires being honest in every aspect of our lives. Our mission is to breathe life into others and love one another as He loved us. And if we’re not completing this mission, no one else can witness the love our Father and the Son have for us all.

 Whom the Son sets free is free, indeed (John 8:36). So, let’s be honest with each other. Let us speak and seek the truth. Because the truth shall set us free.

“But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry.” – Luke 15:22

 

The story of the prodigal son speaks to inheritance in many ways. First, the younger son knew he had an inheritance coming to him from his father. So, he asked for all of it in advance, and his father obliged. Second, the older son, who stayed home, did everything his father told him to and never asked for his inheritance, still had access to the inheritance from his father (Luke 15:25, 28-31). His father said to him, “You are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” But the third is the most precious of them all.

 

When the younger son squandered his inheritance and left home, he regretted what he did. He realized life on his own was nothing compared to life in his father’s house. So, he returned sorrowfully. And when his father came out to meet him, he said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” And even though his son was ungrateful, foolish and frivolous with the money he gave him, he was just happy to have him back home… in his house. He quickly draped a robe around him, placed jewelry on his hands and prepared a feast to celebrate. Not because his son made the right decisions when he left home. But because his son, who was once lost, finally found his way back home.

 

As children of the Most High God, we wander off into the wilderness, making the wrong turns left and right. For days. For weeks. For months. Even years. Clearly, we’re not perfect. But God never asks us to be. He’s just glad when we come back home. To His house.

 

There’s always a place for us in His house. Even when we know we have gone astray. Even when we know we have been selfish and ungrateful. Even when we know we have been impatient. Even when we know we have been a bad reflection of Him. And even when we are unworthy to be called His child.

 

Through our Father, we have an inheritance to the Kingdom. It’s the greatest inheritance there is, where neither moth nor rust can destroy the treasures inside (Matthew 6:20). But sometimes, we get so used to living on this side of Heaven, that we forget about our rightful claim to what’s in the Kingdom and chase after the material possessions here on earth, instead.

 

Yes, God wants us to be prosperous. He is more than willing to bless us with an inheritance here on earth (Psalm 25:12-13). He is a generational God who wants to pass the land He gave to our fathers down to us, our children and our children’s children (1 Chronicles 28:8). And although it’s not good deeds that save us, but Jesus’ blood, rather, He is watching what we do on earth. 

 

He wants us to provide for our children and our families. For, if we don’t, we’re worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8; Ecclesiastes 5:13-14; Proverbs 13:22). And He wants us to provide for them wisely. A child is still just a child, until old enough to make big decisions (Galatians 4:1-2). Giving anyone more than they can handle is more of a curse than it is a blessing (Proverbs 20:21)

 

He loves a hard worker. But working hard to the extent that we only care about the temporary rewards (the nice car, the big house, the fancy clothes, the inheritance), is not His desire for us. We can’t take any of it with us (Ecclesiastes 2:18).

 

No matter what we inherit on earth, however much, it says nothing about our life (Luke 12:15). Living by His commandments says it all. 

 

Our parents do the best they can to provide a good life for us. Whether it’s because of mistakes, strife, trials, tribulations or hardships, we’re not always left with an inheritance. So, what are we living for? Are we living for our inheritance here on earth? Or are we living for our inheritance in the Kingdom? Because, no matter what our mother and father were able to leave us with, our Heavenly Father has always promised us an inheritance, because He is more than able. He is our inheritance (Numbers 18:20; Ezekiel 44:28).

 

He’s just waiting for us to turn away from the things we can only inherit on earth. He’s just waiting for us to seek the only treasures neither moth nor rust can destroy. He’s just waiting for us to come back home. Because, in our Father’s house, there’s always a place for us.

“But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry.”

  • Luke 15:22

 The story of the prodigal son speaks to inheritance in many ways. First, the younger son knew he had an inheritance coming to him from his father. So, he asked for all of it in advance, and his father obliged. Second, the older son, who stayed home, did everything his father told him to and never asked for his inheritance, still had access to the inheritance from his father (Luke 15:25, 28-31). His father said to him, “You are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” But the third is the most precious of them all.

 When the younger son squandered his inheritance and left home, he regretted what he did. He realized life on his own was nothing compared to life in his father’s house. So, he returned sorrowfully. And when his father came out to meet him, he said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” And even though his son was ungrateful, foolish and frivolous with the money he gave him, he was just happy to have him back home… in his house. He quickly draped a robe around him, placed jewelry on his hands and prepared a feast to celebrate. Not because his son made the right decisions when he left home. But because his son, who was once lost, finally found his way back home.

 As children of the Most High God, we wander off into the wilderness, making the wrong turns left and right. For days. For weeks. For months. Even years. Clearly, we’re not perfect. But God never asks us to be. He’s just glad when we come back home. To His house.

 There’s always a place for us in His house. Even when we know we have gone astray. Even when we know we have been selfish and ungrateful. Even when we know we have been impatient. Even when we know we have been a bad reflection of Him. And even when we are unworthy to be called His child.

 Through our Father, we have an inheritance to the Kingdom. It’s the greatest inheritance there is, where neither moth nor rust can destroy the treasures inside (Matthew 6:20). But sometimes, we get so used to living on this side of Heaven, that we forget about our rightful claim to what’s in the Kingdom and chase after the material possessions here on earth, instead.

 Yes, God wants us to be prosperous. He is more than willing to bless us with an inheritance here on earth (Psalm 25:12-13). He is a generational God who wants to pass the land He gave to our fathers down to us, our children and our children’s children (1 Chronicles 28:8). And although it’s not good deeds that save us, but Jesus’ blood, rather, He is watching what we do on earth. 

He wants us to provide for our children and our families. For, if we don’t, we’re worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8; Ecclesiastes 5:13-14; Proverbs 13:22). And He wants us to provide for them wisely. A child is still just a child, until old enough to make big decisions (Galatians 4:1-2). Giving anyone more than they can handle is more of a curse than it is a blessing (Proverbs 20:21)

He loves a hard worker. But working hard to the extent that we only care about the temporary rewards (the nice car, the big house, the fancy clothes, the inheritance), is not His desire for us. We can’t take any of it with us (Ecclesiastes 2:18).

 No matter what we inherit on earth, however much, it says nothing about our life (Luke 12:15). Living by His commandments says it all. 

Our parents do the best they can to provide a good life for us. Whether it’s because of mistakes, strife, trials, tribulations or hardships, we’re not always left with an inheritance. So, what are we living for? Are we living for our inheritance here on earth? Or are we living for our inheritance in the Kingdom? Because, no matter what our mother and father were able to leave us with, our Heavenly Father has always promised us an inheritance, because He is more than able. He is our inheritance (Numbers 18:20; Ezekiel 44:28).

 He’s just waiting for us to turn away from the things we can only inherit on earth. He’s just waiting for us to seek the only treasures neither moth nor rust can destroy. He’s just waiting for us to come back home. Because, in our Father’s house, there’s always a place for us.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

  • Matthew 6:19-20

 Investing is very important. For everyone, everywhere. But do we understand why that is?

 Many of us invest for security. Others invest with the hopes of retiring early. And some of us invest with the expectation that we’ll become rich. But investing isn’t about any of that. It’s about wisdom.

 Investing is about being prepared. Being diligent. Providing enough. “Enough” is to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations. To be sufficient or satisfactory. Satisfied, not full. “Rich,” on the other hand, means to have abundance in possessions. To have plenty.

 When you look at the main pitch by the investing world, you’ll see the focal point of its message is wealth. To start at Point A, nothing or next to it, and end at Point D, a lot more. In other words, a professional may tell you that $1,000 of your investment in ABC Company can grow to $4,000 in a couple years. And 10 to 20 years down the road, you’ll be rich. That’s to entice you to invest. Invest, because you’ll be rich. But our goal with investing is not to get rich one day. Our goal is just to be wise and be prepared.

 It’s difficult to not make that the key to investing. None of us has a desire to live in poverty. And our fear of not having enough, or not having that sense of security can be overwhelming. But did you know that our God provides? (1 Timothy 6:17) Did you know that our God secures?

 In Matthew 6:25-30, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about how they will find clothes, how they will eat, or even where they will sleep. Because the Lord provided even the creations of the earth, the birds and the trees. So, how would He not provide for us?

 It’s hard. We know how this world works. Nothing is free. To put food in your mouth, you need money. To put clothes on your back, you need money. To put a roof over your head, you need money. The world revolves around money. To live, you need money. But how many of us know the life we live here on earth isn’t the real life? How many of us know that true (eternal) life is in Heaven?

 However much we accumulate here on earth… whatever life we create here on earth will not last (1 Timothy 6:7). In the end, none of that even matters (Luke 12:15). It’s not about the life we live here. It’s about the life we’re promised to live in the Kingdom (1 Timothy 6:19). So, Jesus encouraged us to store up treasures for ourselves in Heaven. However much we accumulate there will last (Matthew 6:20).

 We serve a supernatural, Mighty God, who takes care of His children. We just have to seek Him first. And when we seek Him first, He will more than provide for our needs (Matthew 6:31-33). And He will give us entry into His Kingdom.

 Yes. Let’s practice wisdom with investing (Proverbs 24:3-4; 31:10, 16; Ecclesiastes 5:13-14). Yes. Let’s be diligent (Proverbs 21:5), knowing the state of our finances (Proverbs 27:23-27) and careful not to put all our eggs in one basket (Ecclesiastes 11:2). Yes. Let’s be intentional, making sure we are multiplying what we’re given to start off with (Matthew 25:14-28; Luke 19:12-24). And yes. Let’s remember that being able to provide for our families is our responsibility (1 Timothy 5:8). But let’s not forget what’s truly important: community, generosity and love.

 Community. We need each other. It’s not God’s will for us to live our lives alone or withdrawn. Don’t get so absorbed in building large barns (Luke 12:15-21), that you forget to open your door to someone else or open your heart to God. Don’t get so blinded by the opportunities in front of you to profit and expand (Isaiah 5:8), that you create an island for yourself.

 Generosity. Jesus closely identified with the poor (Matthew 25:35-40). Don’t let greed stop you from having compassion (1 Timothy 6:9). Don’t let the glitter of wealth and abundance trick you into believing you cannot share (1 Timothy 6:18). Don’t let your desire for security, comfort or even plenty (1 Timothy 6:11) distract you from seeing the needs of others.

 Love. We’re here to love God and love others. These are the two greatest commandments. Don’t let your most diligent work go toward your investment account(s). Money and material things are possessive, and so is God. We cannot give our undivided attention to both (Matthew 6:24). Don’t yield to money and the opportunities it may bring. Because one day, when the choice is between the opportunity to make more money and the opportunity to be available to a friend in need, you will end up choosing money. And the time, gift and love you could have given to your friend in need that day may have been the only form of Jesus they’d ever see.

 So, choose life. Eternal life. By investing in the Kingdom. His Kingdom. Because if God and His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, had two options to invest: 1) investing in money, real estate or their 401(k) and 2) investing in you… They’d choose you.

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

  • Luke 6:35 (NKJV)

 We know from Proverbs 22:7 that a borrower will be a servant to the lender, just like the rich rule over the poor. And some of us know this to be true all too well… More than we care to admit. But we know that God intends for His children to be the lenders and not the borrowers.

 He said we shall be the head and not the tail, lending to many nations but never borrowing (Deuteronomy 28:12-13). It’s for two very important reasons: 1) We are to live a life of owing no one anything but love (Romans 13:8); 2) one of our greatest gifts to others is to walk with an open hand (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).

 Having an open hand and a giving heart shows love in ways we may never know. But there are rewards in it. In this world, the only lenders we’ve ever known are the ones who give out loans for a profit. But bringing the Kingdom’s principles into our lives means we don’t become lenders for profit on this side of Heaven. It means we become lenders for the profits we’ll reap in eternity.

 Some in the field of journalism and communications may be familiar with the Associated Press (AP). It’s a news agency in the U.S. that also dictates proper grammar for professionals in the industry. And it has two different uses for the words “lend” and “loan.” Following the AP’s guidelines, you would use “loan” only when you’re in the act of giving out money or anything relating to it; and you would use “lend” when you’re giving out anything else you possess. So, you loan someone $10, but you lend someone your suitcase.

 A good person is gracious and lends (Psalm 112:5). Whatever someone needs, we’re to lend it to them (Deuteronomy 15:7). If you lend without interest and make no increase, you shall live (Ezekiel 18:8-9). It’s amazing that the older translations (such as the King James, New King James and American Standard) use the word “lend,” instead of  “loan,” many times, even when it involves money.

 God designed us to lend, not to loan. Whether it be giving out money or giving out a hand. All money borrowed can be considered loaned. But not all money borrowed can be considered lent. Loaning always comes from your pocketbook. But lending should always come from your heart.

 God has gifted us with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in our decision-making. He’s given us grace to practice wisdom. He wouldn’t want us to give out the money we need in the first place, if we’d be unable to fulfill our responsibilities, should we never get it back (Luke 6:35). It is not His purpose for us to give out to someone else what we could not afford to, only to go back and ask the person for it back the next day (Exodus 22:26, Deuteronomy 24:10-13). None of this is giving with love. Instead, He instructs us to give with our hearts.

 Those who make it their business to loan for monetary gain are of the world. What they profit will not last (Proverbs 28:8; Habakkuk 2:6-7). But God calls us to be in the world… not of it. Those who choose to lend walk in righteousness and shall never be moved (Psalm 15).

 Just as God has gifted us with wisdom, He has gifted us with grace. Grace that empowers us to lend to anyone who asks us for help (Matthew 5:42). Grace that gives us the ability to do it with a true heart. For the true heart will dwell in His Kingdom.

 So, how can we be lenders and not loaners today?

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

  • 1 John 2:15-17

 This passage has so much heaviness to it. Yet, there is so much freedom in it, as well.

 The heaviness. For as long as the world would have it, there has been greed, love of money and the desire of power. And many of us have been taught that we’re successful when we’ve achieved a “high” title, such as CEO, and when we become a millionaire, and when we live in a larger-than-life house. So, we spend our lives dreaming of the day we can claim a title of “respect” in our career… of the day we can move into a bigger home… of the day we become a millionaire. Because that’s what we’re told living a successful life is.

 The heaviness about this passage is that, reading it today may be the first day many of us see all the years of our lives that we’ve wasted chasing after the wrong things. Success in this world is the exact opposite of success in God’s Kingdom. And after spending a lifetime chasing worldly success, what does it give us in the end? Nothing at all (Mark 8:36).

 There is almost nothing more eye-opening than this revelation. Yes, it’s heavy. It may even be discouraging to you. But if you’re reading this, that means you still have time.

 The freedom. When we repent from our sins, God forgives us (1 John 1:9). Even if it’s the hundredth time we’ve trespassed against Him (Matthew 18:21-22), He wipes the slate clean (Hebrews 8:12).

 There is a lot of pressure that comes with chasing worldly success. Some people live a lifetime of unfulfillment in order to achieve the life their parents imagined for them. Some people live a lifetime of sadness believing that “feeling” will change when they have money. And other people live a lifetime of being lost, because they thought everything they could ever get from life ends here. But when you know that God’s plan for us is to abide in His house with riches that not even our minds can imagine, there is freedom.

 No longer is there the pressure to live a life of chasing worldly success. Because the most successful life anyone could live is a life spent breathing life into others, giving to others, and loving others. And a life spent giving it our best shot at living the way Jesus did when He walked this earth and fulfilling the purpose God has for our lives in advancing the Kingdom.

 Lord, we know now that the path to success in this world is not of You. We know now that a successful life is one that seeks You first (Matthew 6:33) and what You desire for our life. We know now that with You we are content. And we know now that if we choose to desire Your desires for Your children, You will grant us our heart’s desire.

 So, may we live a life that isn’t consumed by pleasing others, but directed by pleasing You, instead. And may our lifestyle make a difference in this world. A difference that changes others for the better. A difference that changes ourselves for the better. A difference that brings light into the darkness. And a difference that wins more souls into the gates of Heaven.

“Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.”

  • Luke 6:30

 If you’ve ever sat down and watched one of those television court shows, you may see a case where one party is suing the other for some sort of wrongdoing, and the other then decides to countersue.

 But Luke 6:29-30 says if someone takes your coat from you, don’t withhold your shirt from them. And if anything be taken from you, don’t demand it back from them.

 It doesn’t sound fair at all. It doesn’t even sound smart. The laws of the land teach us to always go after what is rightfully ours. Fight fire with fire. But instead, we’re instructed to do the opposite and concede. And to give up more, even.

 It’s not about being strong or weak. Choosing not to fight back in courts, even when you’re right, might look weak to the people around you. But it’s easy to retaliate… especially when you’re right. Choosing not to fight back when you’ve been wronged takes a great deal of strength.

 It’s not about winning or losing. When someone successfully sues, it’s considered a win. And the same goes for a successful defense. Nobody likes to “lose.” But who says “winning” in the eyes of the world is always a good thing? When we seek approval from God, instead of the world, the battle has already been won.

 In the amount of things we’ve seen in this world, we know that, just because something is legal, it doesn’t make it right. The world’s court system cannot deliver justice. Only God can.

 If we approach each other about our grievances with a pure heart, we can better resolve them without the courts. And we’re encouraged to do so (Matthew 5:25-26). Especially with our fellow brothers and sisters (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). Because family grievances cannot be comprehended or judged fairly by a judge on the outside. Lawful does not necessarily mean just or fair. Sometimes, lawful only leads to more destruction. So, as believers, if nothing else, we should take our issues to each other first, with one or two who objectively agree, and then to the church (Matthew 18:15-16).

 Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we do not wrestle flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness and evil spirits. There’s more at stake here. Let us not be distracted by the wrongs others have done to us. Before we pursue a case for money, let us search ourselves and pursue what God has for us. Just as much as others have wronged us, so have we wronged others (1 Corinthians 6:8). None of us is above correction.

 Let us turn the other cheek. And may we remember that a church is not the building. But the people inside it. We are the church. And we should depend on each other to uphold what’s right and what’s wrong. Not the outside world that doesn’t answer to authority. Turn from destruction. The body of Christ shall stand as one.

“Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands.”

  • Job 34:19

 “Be careful how you judge people based on what they’re wearing. Because you never know who has money.”

 It’s a shame that the first part of this statement is so spoiled by the last. It’s inspired by the notion that you should never make an unfair assumption of others that would cause you to treat them differently. But it’s justified by the possibility that they may be rich. The only problem with that is, the possibility that they may be rich is not the reason you shouldn’t make unfair assumptions.

The truth is, they’re human beings just like you. That’s why you shouldn’t judge them unfairly.

 The person you just met is wearing ordinary (or less than ordinary) clothes… Why does that matter?

 The world’s definition of success is to attain a career with a fancy title, own a large, extravagant house, make millions of dollars or drive a luxurious car. The world’s definition of value is to be attractive, have enough power to influence change (good or bad), achieve fame or to be polished to perfection. Only then are you finally “somebody.”

 But the moment we were brought into this world, we were somebody. There isn’t one person on this earth who is a nobody. God cares for all of His creation. He sees that the birds and the trees get fed. How, then, would He not see that we are also taken care of? (Matthew 6:26)

 We’re not supposed to be careful of how we treat people simply because we don’t know if they have money. We’re just supposed to treat people with kindness because we would want someone to do the same to us (Matthew 7:12). It’s not about what someone can do for you. Whether a rich person can change the trajectory of our life. Whether someone who is poor can afford the item we’re selling. It does not matter. What does is how much we love others as we love ourselves.

 We were made in His image. Not just him. Not just her. Not just them. Not just you. All of us. So, no one is above or below another. And that’s the beauty of our God: He sees all of His children the same. Why can’t we?

 Take the time to see the world for what it’s worth. There is beauty in it, because it is God’s creation. Take the time to see you for what you’re worth. No matter what anyone else says about you, you are somebody. You always have been, and you always will be. Take the time to see others for what they’re worth. God loves them just as He loves you. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated. Treat them how you’d want someone you care about to be treated. Treat them better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).

 Moment of Reflection: In the end, no one knows exactly when, but the Lord will take an account for the things we’ve done (Mark 13:32-37). And He won’t care how much money came into our hands. He’ll only care that we considered His ways (Job 34:26-27).

 What if the last person you had an encounter with was the person He asked to testify to how you treat others? What would they say?

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.”

  • 2 Timothy 3:1-2

 All of Heaven celebrates when one more makes the decision to believe in His name and that He raised His Son from the dead, that we can all be saved. It’s good to believe. 

 God wants us to love Him, and He wants us to love others—the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). Putting our own desires first, disrespecting authority, harming others, and trusting our money and possessions are all ways of doing the exact opposite.

 The prophecies in the Old and New Testament tell us that nothing here on earth will be able to stand against God. Neither the rich man nor the poor man will be able to hide (Revelation 6:15-16). Neither will the buyer or the seller (Isaiah 24:2-3).

 Don’t waste your years on this earth caring about the wrong things in life. Kingdoms, money and material things will perish (Revelation 17:4; 18:11-19). They come and go. But eternal life is forever.

 Spend your life living out the purpose God has planned for you. Spend your life playing your part in advancing the Kingdom. Because when all the material things pass away, what you did for the Kingdom in His name’s sake will be all that is left.

“Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.”

  • Proverbs 6:30-31

 These verses teach us three things: restitution, restoration and compassion.

 Restitution. Not only are we taught not to lie to, steal or deal falsely with one another (Leviticus 19:11), but we’re also taught that, when we do, we must pay back what is owed and then some. For an ox, it’s fivefold. For a sheep, it’s fourfold (Exodus 22:1-4).

 It’s an acknowledgment of wronging another. And an acknowledgement of what you took could have multiplied, had you not taken it. Sometimes, it’s important not just to say you are sorry for the harm we cause. It’s also important to do what we can to try to make up for it (Luke 19:8).

 Restoration. There’s freedom when we’re restored. When we make an effort to more than make up for the hurt we caused someone else, we can be restored. At first, it’s curious that for deceiving another, we pay back what is owed plus one-fifth (Leviticus 6:1-5). But Jesus paid it all. He went over and beyond what He should have, even when He did no wrong… So that we could be restored.

 When we go over and beyond, there is healing. Healing with the one we have wronged. Healing within ourselves. And restoration of our soul. We give more, because Jesus gave us more than enough. He gave us His all, to give us a chance to receive eternal life.

 Compassion. If someone wrongs us, we’re taught to have compassion. It may be wrong for someone to steal from us what is ours. But we have no idea what drove them to do it (Proverbs 6:30). It does not make it right, but it’s important that our heart is right. Because we stand on what’s inside, not by principles and legalities.

 God has shown us mercy over and over again. If we cannot show mercy to anyone else, how can we expect Him to continue to do the same?

 A thief will be required to pay back what he stole (Proverbs 6:30-31). But there is no need to add more judgment. How many wrongs have we done to someone else? Would we not want forgiveness when we ask for it? (Matthew 18:22) Would we not want a second chance?

 Through Jesus, we are made new. Through Jesus, there is restitution. Through Jesus, restitution brings restoration. Through Jesus, restoration comes only because of the compassion He has for us. So, let us show that same compassion to each other.

“This is what applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting.  But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more . . . they themselves shall do no work . . .”

  • Numbers 8:24-26

We cannot say “thank You” enough to the Lord for giving us the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us. And these verses are prime example. 

After the first read, many of us might wonder: Does that mean we should really be retiring earlier? But there is something about stopping for a moment to pray before reading God’s Word. 

When you read these verses again, it’s clear that this instruction was to the Levites

Remember, the Levites played a major part of building the Lord’s temple. They toiled, they praised, they obeyed. So, God said they shall work no more, except to minister to others’ needs. 

You can search. You can Google and Bing. And this is the only place you may find direction on retirement in the Bible. Yet, our entire life, all we’ve seen folks do is retire at a certain age. Not necessarily because they’re fatigued. But because it’s just something we do. It’s a coming of age. 

And we’ve seen stress overcome the faces of many people, because they’re nearing or past retirement age but have no clue as to how they’ll retire without the income.

But in the Bible, we discover something else: Before there was sin, God put Adam to work. Adam was in charge of keeping the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). So, work is intended to build character. It’s intended to keep us diligent. It’s intended for us to earn. From work comes abundance (Proverbs 12:11).

 People will tell you they can’t wait to retire. Why? Because they hate their job. Is that a way to live? 

God’s intentions for us to work is not for us to suffer. He establishes the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).

 Prayer: As long as I’m able, I want to work. And what’s going to get me there is the truth that I work for Christ Jesus, and not for the approval of others (Colossians 3:23). Amen.

 Reflection: What are you working for? Has this changed your thoughts on retirement?

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

  • Mark 8:36

 There is nothing more grave than the message in this verse. To work so hard for money, fame, recognition, diamonds, power… only for it to amount to nothing.

 Think about your coworkers. Do any of them spend countless waking hours at the job to climb up the ladder? Do any of them spend every moment they can in the office to earn overtime, so that one day, they’ll never have to work again? Do any of them overwork themselves so they get a raise every year?

 Think about your circle of friends for a moment. Do any of them work so much that they’re never able to meet with you for lunch? Do any of them work more than the rest of you, so they can buy a new car to keep up with you?

 Think about your family. Do they disappoint you often because they spend all their time trying to please their boss? Do they miss special occasions because their responsibilities at work required them to stay late? Do you have to defend them all the time, because they’re so busy with their all-day meetings that they can’t be there to defend themselves?

 Think about yourself. Do you find it hard to be present around others because you’re always thinking about more money? Do you feel left out of conversations because you’re always somewhere else? Do you stay home during get-togethers because you’re busy saving for that vacation next year?  Do you ever say, “I wish I had more money”?

 Sometimes, it just takes a moment for us to realize that most of our lives revolve around money. It’s no surprise. Daily living requires money. Something to eat, a place to live, clothes to wear, things to do. But the story that has yet to be told is the one of someone on their deathbed telling another that they wish they had worked more.

 When we know we’re in our last moments, our biggest regret isn’t that we didn’t work hard enough to afford a lavish lifestyle of expensive cars, clothes and homes. Instead, we wish we had more time. Time to do the more important things in life. Spending time with the people we love, cherishing them. Mending relationships that were broken in the past. Teaching others about the lessons to learn early in life. Showing friends and strangers alike that there is a God, who loves us and cares so much about us that He sent His Son to die for us.

 Your money, house and material possessions cannot save you any more than it can save the person next to you. Don’t be fooled by the lie people tell you about what living a successful life is. Because it has nothing to do with the career you achieve, how rich, famous or powerful you become; but it has everything to do with living what you believe.

 Do you believe in your heart that Jesus is our Lord and Savior? Do you believe that God raised Him from the dead? Then, that will save you (Romans 10:9).

 Do you believe God loves you? Do you love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength? (Luke 10:27). And do you trust Him to seek after the things He has planned for your life, instead of what you want or your family wants for your life? 

 Do you love others as He loves you? (Mark 12:31). Do you give freely to them, expecting nothing in return. Do you have compassion for them? Do you have a merciful heart to forgive them? 

The Bible does not tell us we do well getting rich, buying a house, a car, a yacht or diamonds. If any of those things make us happy, then we’ve lost.

 In Luke 18:25, Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom. Many Bible scholars say that in Jerusalem, there was a small gate into the city surrounded by a wall. And a camel would have to walk on its knees to get through it. So, Jesus says that is an easier task than a rich person getting into Heaven is.

 But it’s not because of being rich. It’s because the love of being rich takes ownership and distracts the heart from loving God. Many iconic figures in the Bible loved God first and still inherited plenty during their time on earth. Abraham (Genesis 24:35), David (1 Chronicles 29:28), Solomon (1 Kings 3:11-13), Jacob (Genesis 30:43). God has blessed all of them with earthly wealth and possessions, because they obeyed Him and loved Him first.

 They weren’t perfect. But they loved God first. So, he gave them wealth. 

It’s not His desire for any of us to live in want. First, have a heart that seeks and trusts Him, not money. And if it is His will for you, he will give you abundance. First, have a giving spirit that doesn’t wait for your heart to be content before giving to those who ask of you. And He will give you back more, pressed down, shaken together, overflowing so much, that you don’t know how to contain it (Luke 6:38).

 He didn’t promise that the road would be easy. He didn’t say that our lives would be painless, without want. But He did say in His House, there’s a place for us. All there is there is ours, if we just love Him and serve Him. Everything we could ever need. Everything we could ever want and beyond is there.

 Maybe being rich gives us access to perks that others could never get. Maybe riches make others want to respect us. Maybe being rich draws many friends toward us (Proverbs 14:20; 19:4). And maybe our riches do a lot of the speaking for us. But no one on this earth can give us access, proclaim our right, or speak for us when it comes to the Kingdom.

 What others think about us doesn’t matter. All that matters is what Jesus thinks about us. There’s no such thing as “having it all” here on earth. The true riches, that neither moth nor rust can destroy, lie in Heaven (Matthew 6:20). Don’t let another day go by laying up treasures for yourself in the wrong place.

The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.” 

  • Proverbs 22:2 (NKJV)

If there was a mountain to stand on… we could shout this verse from its peak. 

How many times do we hear (whether on reality television or in coffee shop conversations) others talking about someone else and how they look “lowly.” Lowly because they cycle through the same five T-shirts when they come to work every week… lowly because they live in a small home… lowly because they rely on public transportation… lowly because they’re sleeping on the concrete and bringing down the property value. As if this is something to make fun of or be disgusted by (Isaiah 32:6-7).

But the clothes you wear, the home you live in and the car you don’t drive do not make you a better or lesser person. With all the money in the world, you are still you. And without a dollar to your name, you are still you. 

Let us remind ourselves of this: 

I am above no one. Neither am I beneath anyone. I know who I am. And no money can change that. God knows who I am. And I am not fooling Him with my bank account. To Him, I am the same as the person next to me. When I call on His name, does He not answer? 

Take the richest person in the world. Then the smartest, the most famous and the most impoverished. When all four call on His name simultaneously, does He make them stand in line?

God cares for all of us. And He loves us the same. Why should we not do that among ourselves? Jesus said we must love one another as we love ourselves. Living His teaching does not mean judging strangers by their appearance, their homelessness, or their lack of belonging. Or judging family and friends by their wardrobe, the size of their home, the car they drive or their career. Jesus’ expectation is that we treat each other the same. Because in His eyes… we are. 

Our judgment of others has even scared some of us from being honest. Honest with others and with ourselves. 

Ask yourself:

  • If I am living in my car, when would it be the right time to tell my family, I am not okay? Or is it never the right time because of my pride? 
  • And at what point have I reached poverty down in my soul? Is it while I am homeless? Or is it when I take my surplus to fill up my many barns (Luke 12:13-21), instead of feeding and clothing the least of these? (Matthew 25:40)

Proverbs 14:31 (NKJV) says: He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy. If you look up the definition of “reproach,” you may find the word “disapproval.” So, when we jump to conclusions about or distance ourselves from someone because of their poverty, we are literally telling the Lord Almighty that we disapprove of His workmanship. It’s scary, but it’s the truth.

Poverty has been a trial from the beginning… through the tests of time. As Proverbs 22:7 says, the rich rule the poor, and the poor have been forgotten (Ecclesiastes 9:14-16). Poverty is not an indication of laziness, ignorance, stubbornness or curse. It is a revelation of a need that those who know God can meet with the blessings He’s bestowed upon them. Only He sits high and looks low. Poverty does not push us down on the totem pole; neither does wealth elevate us to a throne. His blessings, especially the financial and material ones, are not intended to be stored or hoarded. He intends for us to use them to bless others. 

Reflect: I don’t want to tell God, “Lord, You’ve made a mistake,” by judging those who have less—or nothing at all. I want to show Him my respect for His masterpiece by doing what I can to uplift them. For we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

Pray: Lord, we need Your guidance. Give us clean hands. Give us pure hearts. Remembering where Jesus lived, the rich must have thought lowly of Him, simply because they saw nothing spectacular come out of Nazareth. But He came and changed the world. He died for our lives, even when we were already dead inside. He worked wonders and performed miracles. And He lived among the poor. 

May we see, Lord, that Your angels in disguise are among the poor. May we love them just as much as we love ourselves. May we love them the way You love us and all Your children. We cannot buy our salvation. No amount of money or possessions impresses You, Father. Rich pockets turn to ashes. But a rich soul reserves a mansion in heaven (James 2:5). So, move in our hearts that we seek out the needy, advocate for them, defend and protect them (Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 21:12). Move in our hearts, as Job said (Job 30:25), that we look for ways to serve them, give to them and help them (Proverbs 29:7). Because when I was lost, You, Lord, came searching, running, chasing after me.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

  • Romans 13:1 (NKJV)

We’ve found so much peace during chaos. It’s unexplainable. 

While others around lose sleep and worry throughout their day because of what some political leader in their town may or may not enforce, we have a sense of peace. No, not because we agree or disagree with what goes on in the day to day of government. No, not because we are unaffected. No, not because we have no sense of empathy. We have peace because we are the Lord’s.

Peace be with you, because our Father does not allow anyone to sit in a position for however many years without Him designing it that way. Tax cuts, tax hikes, tax write-offs… The trajectory of your life will not be altered because of these things. But by your faith in God. What authority says is theirs, is theirs. And what God says is His… is His (Romans 13:5-7; Matthew 22:17-21; Mark 12:14-17).

The laws and rules we follow may not be what we think are right. But God instructs us to obey. Nothing exempts us. No seat, no influence, no amount of money (2 Kings 3:4 & 15-20; Ezra 6:8).

We all do our part. When taxes are high and when they are low, we trust that God will provide for us. See, because if we go against the grain and hold onto what we think is right by evading authority, we’re ultimately telling our Father we choose not to hold onto His plan. We don’t trust His judgment, His decision to allow that person to sit in that seat. For every choice we make, there is a consequence. What good is it to do good for ourselves and harm the rest (Ezra 4:13)?

Part of living righteously means to live obediently, faithfully. And we are rewarded for our obedience (1 Samuel 17:25; Ezra 7:24).

Sometimes we have to ask: Are you “okay” because of who sits in office and you’re comfortable with how they’re appropriating the monies they’ve received from you? Or are you “okay” because you trust God will see you through? 

Do we trust our financial circumstances will be all right depending on who is in office and how they decide to tax us? Or do we trust our financial circumstances will be all right because we have the Lord providing for us?

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

  • Psalm 90:17

 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He spent six days working, putting His creation together (Genesis 2:2-3). And in the beginning, God put Adam to work (Genesis 2:15). He put him in charge of the garden. He gave him responsibilities. And this was before he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

 Once Adam and Eve disobeyed Him by eating from the one tree He instructed them not to eat from, that’s when it changed (Genesis 3:17-19). After their sin, God told them labor, pain, sweat would come.

 Many of us may believe that work is the bane of our existence. But there’s nothing wrong with working. It was never the Lord’s intention for work to be our punishment.

 Although God told Adam and Eve they’d experience labor, He still desires for us to find contentment, joy and good through our work. And He established a new covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:9). After the flood, God told Noah to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1).

 His desire for us is to be fruitful. To produce from the work we perform. Our sin created toil and trouble. But our favor with the Lord, stemming from Noah (Genesis 5:29), still gives us access to the opposite. We just have to search for it.

 If the work you do is not fulfilling, it may be that you do not have a passion for it.

 Ever thought about what you’d do if you suddenly came into millions of dollars? Ever thought about the end of your workday (or week) before it even began? Ever thought about fast-forwarding through your working years until retirement? Then maybe what’s missing is your calling.

 God gave all of us dreams, passions and purpose. No matter where you are in life, He has a plan for your life.

 “When you find something you love to do, it no longer feels like work.” You may have lost count of how many times you’ve heard someone say this. Although it may not be hard to believe, is it hard for you to believe it for yourself?

 You are not alone. Only seeing professional athletes, actors, singers and artists on TV gives us the wrong impression of what talent is. No. God did not gift all of us with athletic ability. No. He did not give all of us a voice to sing. And no. He did not give all of us artistic creativity. But He did give all of us something—many times, more than one.

 There is reward in your work, if you look to God for your answers, first. There is safety in Him (Ruth 2:12). And He puts people in our lives to confirm what He has told us again and again. If you’re struggling with what many of us have, not feeling fulfilled with your job, start by having open, honest conversations with the people closest to you. Just a few moments of transparency, sharing your thoughts with them can help you realize the passions you’ve had all along that you couldn’t see on your own.

 Don’t settle with the thought that everyone else seems to have a gift, except for you. It is simply not true. We were all made in His image. That means, we were all given gifts and talents.

 Instead, settle for nothing else but God. Seek Him, and you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). His plans for us are to give us a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). When you believe that, He will order your steps. He will show you your passion, your gifts, your purpose. Only thing left is to go claim it.

 Let no one be in charge of what God has for your life. If that means being an employer instead of an employee, let God give you that direction. And once he directs your path, always remember that any good employer serves the employees just as much as the employees serve the employer, if not more. The relationship between an employer and an employee is designed to be a mutually beneficial one. One that calls the employer to look for ways to help the employees accomplish their goals, too. The Lord blesses those who bless others. 

Want to be a good employer? Be good to your employees. There is no such thing as being above serving. The best leaders served. And the greatest example we can call upon is Jesus Christ (Matthew 20:28). Listen to your employees. There’s nothing like knowing that someone cares about your desires, your dreams, your needs and your feelings. Be the employer who cares about your employees. They will never forget that. Hold your employees accountable. Work culture trickles down from the top. Be who you want them to be and set the expectations in advance, so you have the opportunity to identify anyone who does not live up to them. Be fair. An employee you treat fairly will be fair to you. Give them what is due, when it is due. This way, there will be no grievances (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). Be intentional. Employers don’t just need employees. They need good employees. Good employees are blessed by God, and so are their employers (Genesis 39:4-5). Philippians 4:6 reminds us to take everything to God in prayer. If we’re looking for good employees, we should pray on that, too. And we can trust Him to provide for our needs.  

And if you’ve ever heard anyone say it’s best not to work for anyone. It’s better to be a boss, don’t be fooled. God did not design us all to be a boss. Whether you are an employer or employee, He is the one who gives you opportunities. He is the one who can promote and demote you. He is the one who can promote you and demote another (Psalm 75:6-7). All we need is the strength that He gives us to go forth in our path (1 Chronicles 29:12; Philippians 4:13).

Find what you love to do, then make it your life’s work. And don’t look anywhere else for it but in the Father. He will lead you.

 Help others. It doesn’t matter the order. If you’re searching for what God has for you, always search for ways you can help others achieve their goals. Don’t say, “Let me get where I want to go first, then I’ll come back and help you.” It’s okay to want to take care of ourselves first. But it is not of God to have selfish ambition or desires that blind us from seeing the needs of others around us (James 3:14-16). We’re supposed to be available to happily help each other (1 Thessalonians 4:9). We’re not supposed to be happy for one another only when we’ve achieved first or when we’ve accomplished more.

 Be fair. Know that, if you’re an overseer of others, there’s always One who oversees us all (Colossians 4:1; Ephesians 6:7-9). Be obedient (Titus 2:9-10). None of us are above correction. There is beauty in listening to authority. And there is reward in it, as well (1 Timothy 6:1).

 Do not work for anything. There is freedom in learning to be content (Philippians 4:11-13). In Luke 3:14, it says to be content with our wages. When our desire is to be content with what He provides, we don’t become led by the wrong kind of ambition that entices us to work for more (money and things). Don’t be fooled by the worldly view of ambition that God cannot and will not encourage (Romans 2:8). Ambition in this world usually means having a strong desire to gain wealth, power and high regard (Jeremiah 45:5)—all earthly things that do not glorify God (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). But we do not live for our wants. We live for what He wants for us and for His kingdom.

 Do not work for anyone. There is a special kind of joy that fills you when you know, no matter what, you work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24). He sees everything we do as we work. We don’t need our earthly boss to acknowledge the work of our hands. God sees, God listens and God remembers. You will never be forgotten for the work you do. As long as it’s for the Lord and with the right heart, you will be rewarded.

 Proverbs 10:4-5 affirms the reward of hard work. And Proverbs 12:11 tells us there is satisfaction. Don’t settle for anything less than reward and satisfaction. God knows our hearts, and He knows what can make us content. His desire for us is to have an abundant life (John 10:10). He knows our life is filled with many days of work. So, that means His plan is not to harm us with work. His plan is to show us that everything that is good can come from work (Ephesians 4:28; Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).

 God worked… to create us (Ephesians 2:10). He makes no mistakes. Don’t ever think He made a mistake with you. You have so much to give. You have so much to offer. You are a gift to the world, as we all are. Just as many before you have, you can find work that you were born to do (John 4:34).

 Remember: Walking in your purpose does not have a specific look to it. You can create a career for yourself as a professional boxer or as a postal worker… and still fulfill your purpose. Who you are is not what you do. Who you are is what God says you are. Find the purpose that He designed for your life. And find work that is good. Because He is good.