Management 5

Proverbs 22:26-27

There are few things in my life that are more reassuring and more personal than my bed. My bed is where I sleep each night, finding a wonderful place of relief and security. My bed is where I lie when I am sick or just need a break from the tensions of life. My bed represents the most intimate and private part of my life, and also the source of the most comfort and security.

In these two verses from Proverbs we have mention of a bed. What should we not do? Why not?

This wise saying is a caution against risky business dealings. It is a warning against over-extending yourself, your finances, and your credit. Don’t enter into pledges and promises that put your possessions at risk. Don’t borrow so much money that all you own is used as collateral.

Our current culture is one in which indebtedness is the norm. Most people are involved in some form of debt. Most people owe money on their homes. Many owe money on their cars. Some have debt owed on medical expenses or perhaps investments.

It is not uncommon to have some debt and there is nothing really wrong with having some debt. Debt on housing and automobiles can be expected. But this is reasonable debt, and usually debt which can be managed.

Problems arise, however, when people get into serious debt with every day living. A large problem in our economy is the fact that so many people are deeply in debt - $20,000 to $50,000 – for such things as clothing, food and vacations. And this debt is owed through credit cards with high interest rates.

What could happen? Creditors could literally foreclose and take away your possessions, even your very bed. On a less literal level, such debt takes away that sense of comfort, ease and security a bed might represent.

If we can honestly assess what we have and what we can afford, if we can put God first and then be certain we are providing for the NEEDS (not the wants and luxuries) of our families, if we can control our desires to want more and more and more, finding contentment in what God has provided, we will more likely avoid the troubles of losing all we have, even the very personal and secure parts of our life.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to begin reducing your debt?

Management 4

1 Timothy 5:8

I recently attended a Gideon dinner and we are planning on having a Gideon speaker at our church soon. The Gideons are wonderful at getting copies of the Bible into the hands of a lot of people, and discussions of their mission fields involve many places – eastern Europe, South America, the Far East, and especially Africa. The Gideons are good examples of people doing great ministry.

Not everyone is cut out to do mission work all over the globe. This passage from 1 Timothy shows us that we can do ministry in our own household. We must provide for our relatives, and especially for our immediate family. But the passage is more than just a suggestion that we lavish our families with luxuries and extras, filling their lives with abundance.

It seems clear that being a Christian involves providing for our families, and I believe one of the things we are to provide is a secure home where there is no fear of money problems – bankruptcy, eviction or imprisonment. Providing for our families means to give them a financially stable home. It means establishing a workable budget and living within that budget.

A stable home may require that fewer risks are taken. It means providing your family with the security of a steady income. It means paying off any owed debt in a reasonable timeframe. It means paying taxes and bills and functioning within the rules of society.

I believe it also means being an example to your family by remaining financially sound. You may need to sacrifice your desires so that money can be spent for real needs and not fanciful luxuries. You may need to pass up a “dream job” that carries some real risks, and instead assume a more stable job.

And I also believe that providing for your family and being an example to them includes being an example of faith. Establishing a budget that includes a tithe and charitable donations demonstrates your faith and trust in God. It will provide your family with the spiritual stability that makes them strong.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How do you rate yourself as a “provider?”

Management 3

Luke 14:28-30

Not far from our home is the partial framework of a home that was started a few years ago. The corner posts were set up; a few rafter beams were added, and then nothing. The boards stand as a constant reminder that this project either ran out of money or was simply abandoned.

Without planning and honest assessments of our situations we may find ourselves in financial trouble. If we enter into service and ministry in areas where we are not called or skilled, we can end up with a failed ministry.

In this passage Jesus is talking to people following him about what is required to truly be a disciple of Christ. What analogy is presented? What lesson is taught?

Being a believer in Jesus and managing your personal finances can be similar in many ways. If you will manage your money properly it is wise to examine exactly how much you have before moving forward. If you will be a follower of Christ it is important to know what your abilities are.

Good financial management and stewardship involves some planning. You must take an honest inventory of your assets. How much do you have? Then look at your monthly expenses. What absolutely must be paid, and when must it be paid? What other obligations do you have, and what are the amounts you expect to spend on them? Can any money be saved?

If your income and assets are accurate, and your expected expenses are fairly close to being accurate, you should be financially sound in your living. If you budget your expenses and plan for saving, you can really have a stable financial future.

The same can apply to following Jesus. Take a look at what you are skilled at doing. What are your talents? Now decide where these might be used in the kingdom of God. Can you apply them to any ministry, and if so are you willing to do that?

I believe we are called to be sensible and intelligent in our living. Giving our money situation an honest and accurate evaluation can lead to strong financial stability and security in our lives. Giving our spiritual situation and service potential an honest and accurate evaluation can lead to strong and rewarding ministries for us all.

DAILY CHALLENGE: If you do not already have an accurate and workable budget, create one which lists your monthly income and accurate monthly expenses.

Management 2

Romans 13:7

There are occasions when the topic of Christian seclusion arises. When we see the problems and evils in society we may be tempted to remove ourselves from our community. Some people will even point to various religious groups who live in reclusive compounds and secluded communities.

This passage from Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome makes it clear what we are to do as part of society. What should be our attitude?

Many Christians believe it best to remove ourselves from the temptations of the world and to exclude ourselves from our society. But I believe that we are called to be part of our society, without falling to the temptations or involving ourselves in the corruption of our society.

A frequent perception of Jesus is that he was a rebel against the rules of society. The same thinking could apply to his early followers and the beginnings of the church. But, in fact, there is sufficient evidence to show that Jesus and those who helped establish the First Century church were actually very much in favor of a stable society. And that meant being involved in the various aspects and activities of that society.

The same, of course, is true of us as well. We are to be part of our community and our society, and that means taking part in the obligations involved. We cannot excuse ourselves from our community and refuse to support it with taxes. We should not expect everything to be handed to us freely. When we owe money, we need to pay it.

The same is true for simply functioning in our society. We may disagree with some of our leaders and we may disagree with some of the laws and rules we encounter every day. However, we are clearly called to give the proper respect and honor to those in authority. We are called to obey the rules.

To be able to function in our society we will need to establish some financial security so that we are able to pay what is owed – taxes, revenue, respect.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How are you involved in your community?

Management 1

Deuteronomy 14:22

Our current Bible study is examining how to manage money and how to deal with money in Biblical ways. At the outset of the study the author points out that there are more than 2,000 verses in the Bible that talk about money. One of the earliest comments on money is this one in Deuteronomy.

A fairly simple statement, it has deeper meanings. What is the command? What is the purpose?

If we will be successful in life we will probably do much better if we can learn to manage our money. That involves deciding how much goes to what and when it gets paid. Deuteronomy 14:22 makes it clear that we should give to God first.

Most people are familiar with the expression “I have too much month left at the end of the money” when it comes to finances. I imagine that many people also take the approach that they will give to the church or any other charity IF they have any money left over. However, this is not supposed to be our attitude.

An emphasis on offering the tithe to God should not be the church being greedy, wanting its slice of the pie before any money gets spent. The emphasis from God is that the tithe – ten percent – is supposed to honor God.

The tithe is to be taken out first, before you begin paying other bills and spending money on other needs. By setting aside this tenth of your belongings, or income, you are offering praise and respect to God. You are also being reminded that all things come from God. It all belongs to Him, He just wants ten percent back as an expression of gratitude.

Honoring God should not be an afterthought. Your relationship and praise of God should not be something that you do if you have time for it. It should be foremost in your heart and mind. God should be foremost in your life.

I know from experience that setting aside the first ten percent before beginning to deal with creditors, groceries, car payments and incidental costs can be a frightening thing. But I also know from experience that God provides for our needs and we make it through every week.

DAILY CHALLENGE: If you do not already tithe – giving ten percent of your income – you are challenged to begin doing that now. On payday set aside the cash or write the check first, before spending any money elsewhere. God has challenged us in Malachi 3:10 to test His abilities. I challenge you to let God prove His ability to provide for you.