What I’ve learned about finance and needs from my teachers:
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Pastor Greg Laurie…Live wisely…”Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom”— Psalm 90:12. Someone who loves you very much puts 86,400 seconds into your bank of time every day. The seconds cannot be carried over from one day to the next. You are given 24 hours each day to use as you choose. And you can choose to give that time to the Lord. The Bible tells us to redeem the time, because the days are evil (see Ephesians 5:16). That means to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity.
God sent word to King Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah, “Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die . . .” (Isaiah 38:1). Is your house in order? That is something you need to think about. There are important things to consider. Think about your legacy. Think about your life. Think about what you live for. Think about what you will be remembered for. Think about your effect on your family and on your children and on your grandchildren. Moses prayed, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Think about what kind of legacy you are leaving, because you never know when this could be your last year, your last month, or even your last day.
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Rick Warren…Life on earth is just a temporary assignment. Knowing that should radically alter our values and fix our attention on the things that are eternally important. “What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18b TEV)
As C. S. Lewis observed, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.”
It is a fatal mistake to assume that God’s goal for your life is material prosperity or popular success, as the world defines it. The abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance, and faithfulness to God does not guarantee success in a career or even in ministry. Never focus on temporary crowns.
Paul was faithful, yet he ended up in prison. John the Baptist was faithful, but he was beheaded. Millions of faithful people have been martyred, have lost everything, or have come to the end of life with nothing to show for it. But the end of life is not the end!
In God’s eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who treat this life as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity.
The Bible says this about God’s Hall of Fame: “All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth … That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God.” (Hebrews 11:13, 16b GW)
These great people died in faith, certain of a better home in heaven. Your time on earth is not the complete story of your life. You must wait until heaven for the rest of the chapters. It takes faith to live on earth as a foreigner.
But, the truth is, you will not be in heaven two seconds before you cry out, “Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time, energy, and concern on what wasn’t going to last?”
When life gets tough, when you’re overwhelmed with doubt, or when you wonder if living for Christ is worth the effort, remember that you are not home yet. At death you won’t leave home—you’ll go home.
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Rick Warren…Please God by Keeping Financial Records
Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever …. Proverbs 27:23-24a (NLT)
When you think of following Jesus, your probably don’t think about keeping good financial records, but God wants you to keep track of what you spend, what you owe, and what you earn.
The Bible says we need to watch our financial interests closely. “Know the state of your flocks …”. Today we might say, ‘Know the state of your stocks’. In other words, we need to know where our money is going. People say money talks, but actually it just walks away quietly. And you wonder where it went.
Not knowing where your money is going equals disaster. You get into debt because you’re not keeping good records that show you what is happening with your finances. As the saying goes, you end up spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need to impress people you don’t even like.
And this causes all kinds of problems in your life. When you wonder where it all went, that is a warning sign. You are already in trouble if you don’t know where your money is going because ignorance and easy credit equals trouble.
You need to know what you owe, own, and earn. If you want your next ten years to be a decade of destiny, then you have to keep good records because riches can disappear fast.
Think about this: if you spent as much time writing down your finances as you do worrying about them, you’d probably have a lot less to worry about. You need to keep good records if you want God’s blessing on your finances.
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Rick Warren…Don’t waste your life in a job that doesn’t express your heart.
Remember, the greatest things in life are not things. Meaning is far more important than money. The richest man in the world once said, “A simple life in the fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches” (Proverbs 15:16, Msg).
Don’t settle for achieving “the good life,” because the good life is not good enough. Ultimately, it doesn’t satisfy. You can have a lot to live on, and still have nothing to live for. Aim instead for “the better life” — serving God in a way that expresses your heart.
Figure out what you love to do — that which God gave you a heart for — and then do it for his glory!
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Rick Warren…Jesus teaches you can give him your worries by asking God to provide for your needs and then trusting that he will provide. For instance, we can ask God to give us the food we need each day…“Give us this day our daily bread.”
What is “daily bread”? It’s the necessities of life—our physical and material needs that we’re always worrying about. God wants you to ask him to provide those things so you don’t have to worry about them. He’s promised to provide all your needs: “My God shall supply all of your needs” (Philippians 4:19 NASB).
What do you need today? Energy to make it through the day? Finances? Wisdom? You have two alternatives: panic or pray. Philippians 4:6 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (NIV).
Do you really believe this verse? God says you can pray about everything. Nothing is too great for God’s power. Nothing is too insignificant for his care. Anything worth worrying about is worth praying about. If we prayed as much as we worried, we’d have a lot less to worry about! Give God your worries.
And when you talk to God about your needs, be specific. Otherwise, how will you know when he’s answered your prayers?
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Max Lucato: Success is not defined by position or pay scale but by doing the most of what you do the best.
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Rick Warren…James reminds us, “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The good news is that our Father in heaven knows us better than we know ourselves. His angels are surrounding us this very moment.
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Rick Warren…How Can I Know My Destiny? “Each of us, as a good manager of God’s different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift we have received from God.” 1 Peter 4:10 (TEV)
Do you know what God created you for? Do you know what your destiny is? There are four things you need to do in order to fulfill your destiny. I want to take you through those things over the next few days using illustrations from the book of Esther.
God gives you gifts
The first thing you must do is recognize the gifts God has given you to use. These are the cards you are dealt in life. They include the things you can’t control – your parents, your nationality, your race, your language. They also include your SHAPE – your spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences. These are the things that make you uniquely you. You are not responsible for the gifts God didn’t give you.
When you get to heaven, God isn’t going to compare you with anyone else, but he will compare you with yourself. What did you do with what you were given? What could you have done if you had trusted God a little bit more? Romans 14:12 (NIV) says, “Each of us will have to give personal account to God.”
God has given you gifts for a purpose. You have a responsibility to be a good steward of those gifts – not for selfish uses, but for the good of others.
To know your destiny, you have to know your talents and decide how to use them. What has God given you for good to use for good?
God will not only use your gifts to fulfill your destiny, he’ll also use your limitations. Sometimes what looks like a disaster in your life is part of a much bigger plan. But you will never fulfill your destiny if you are having a pity party. You have to realize that the unpleasant obstacles in your life are often God-ordained opportunities to make a difference.
It’s hard to see that when you’re in pain. Look at Job. He was the wealthiest man in the world and then God allowed everything to be taken from him – his family, his wealth, his health. Then, when Job starting asking God why, he was silent. Job said, “I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. But he knows where I am going … His mind concerning me remains unchanged … Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny” (Job 23:9-10, 13-14 NLT).
You might be in a situation right now where everything is going wrong and you can’t figure it out. But God knows. Nothing in your life is accidental. The pleasures and pains, the opportunities and obstacles, God can use it all. There is nothing God cannot use for good in your life if you’ll give it to him.
The second key to discovering your destiny is to identify the needs that stir your heart. What is it that upsets you? What causes you to think, “Somebody ought to do something about that”?
Does anything disturb you or is your life so insulated that nothing makes you say, “Somebody ought to do something about that”?
Isaiah 58:6-11 gives ten amazing promises to those who act on injustice. Take a moment to read it. God promises that – his favor will shine on you, your wounds will be healed, he will always be with you, he will save you and protect you, he will answer your prayers, he will turn darkness to light, he will guide you, satisfy you with good things, and keep you strong and well.
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Sometimes God has a better idea by Rick Warren
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) Have you noticed that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to? That sometimes God has a better idea?
The Bible says in Proverbs 27:1, “Don’t boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring.” (ESV) It’s okay to make your plans, but remember that life is unpredictable and God says we shouldn’t presume on it. On the other hand, we shouldn’t worry about it because God is in control.
James 4 tells us the proper attitude to have: “Now listen you who say ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money.’ Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. … Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” (vv. 13-15, NIV)
James is saying it’s OK to make plans, but just realize that ultimately God has the final word. The right attitude is to always keep your plans submitted to God. Make your plans but say, “God, if this is what You want, this is the direction I’m going to go. I’m doing this with flexible faith.”
Proverbs 16:9 says, “We should make our plans counting on God to direct us.” How do you do that? By praying. When you get up in the morning and have your quiet time, say, “God, what do You want to do with this day?” Then when interruptions come, you’ll remember God is in control. It will dramatically lower the frustration level in your life as you remember it is not all up to you.
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Greg Laurie…It has been said that you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails. I cannot control the world. Nor can I control the circumstances that come my way. But I can control my reaction to them. I can redirect my sails and adapt.
We all will face storms, difficulties, and even shipwrecks. So it is time for us to develop our sea legs and not focus so much on how to avoid storms, but on how to get through them, how to survive them, and how to learn the lessons that we can only learn in such places.
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Rick Warren…When God puts someone in need right in front of you, he is giving you the opportunity to grow in servanthood.
God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.
Faithfulness has always been a rare quality (Psalm 12:1; Proverbs 20:6; Philippians 2:19-22).
Most people don’t know the meaning of commitment. They make commitments casually, then break them for the slightest reason without any hesitation, remorse, or regret. Every week, churches and other organizations must improvise because volunteers didn’t prepare, didn’t show up, or didn’t even call to say they weren’t coming.
God has promised to reward your faithfulness in eternity. Imagine what it will feel like one day to have God say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23 NLT).
By the way, faithful servants never retire. They serve faithfully as long as they’re alive. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.
Rick Warren…”Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need and he will give it to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.” Matthew 6:33 (LB)
We forget that we have a heavenly Father who already knows what we need. He’s just waiting for us to ask. He will provide. Human beings are the only things in all creation that worry. Everything else trusts the heavenly Father and creator to care for their needs.
“He gives food to those who trust Him. He never forgets His promises.” (Psalm 111:5 LB) How much do you trust God? Worry is really just a form of atheism. Every time you worry, you’re saying, “It all depends on me.” That’s just not in the Bible.
You must trust God with your life. “Don’t put your hope in wealth which is so uncertain. But put your hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17) You must always remember — your security is not in your bank account; your security is in the Lord. If God turns off one faucet, he can turn on another. If he turns off one job, he can turn on another. You must seek the Lord.
If God loves you enough to send His own son to die for you, don’t you think He loves you enough to take care of your bills? Don’t you realize that any other problem is minor by comparison? He solved your biggest problem when he saved you. And are you going to believe him enough to do what he tells you to do?
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Rick Warren…It takes patience and persistence to reach a goal. “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will sure come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (LB)
To get where God wants you to be is to be patient and persistent. Why? Because it’s not going to happen overnight. The more important your goal is, the longer it’s going to take; the more significant it is, the more discipline it’s going to require.
Nothing great is ever accomplished without persistence and patience because, in order to be successful, your dreams must translate into work. The people who succeed in life are the people who are willing to do what they don’t feel like doing. They are not mastered by their moods, they are mastered by the Master, and they establish their goals and plans according to God’s will.
Eliezer was a great example of patience and persistence. We saw his patience in choosing the right woman by making a detailed plan. He didn’t make a snap judgment. He wasn’t impulsive. The Bible says in Genesis 24:21 (NIV), “Without saying a word, [he] watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey succeed.”
Later, after he got invited to Rebekah’s house for dinner, the Bible says, “The food was set before him (Eliezer), but he said, ‘I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say'” (Genesis 24:33 NIV). Now personally, I would have eaten first. But this guy was focused.
What’s the point? If you are going to really reach your goals in life, sometimes you have to delay gratification. You have to do the tough thing instead of the fun thing, the right thing instead of the pleasurable thing.
And the reason that’s so hard is because most of us don’t want to delay gratification. That’s why we’re in debt. Our attitude is, “I want it and I want it now.” And if we can’t afford it, then we put it on our credit cards.
It’s important for you to learn this lesson because any goal that’s worth achieving is going to have obstacles in the way. You need to have a long-term view so, when difficulties come, you can persevere knowing that you are going to get past it.
I love today’s verse. It’s a great reminder that God’s timing is perfect and ours is not. When you find yourself in God’s waiting room, just be patient and persistent. A God-given vision will always be fulfilled.
Rick Warren…”At present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials. This is no accident. It happens to prove your faith which is infinitely more valuable than gold.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (Phillips)
“The things you wish were most removed from your life are often the very things that God is using to shape you and make you into the believer of character He wants you to be. ”
Life is a series of random, freak accidents. Life is not totally unplanned. Life is not without meaning. God knows what’s going on. He’s weaving the fabric in your life, and a tapestry has light and dark threads — happy and sad times — to give richness and texture and color to your life. Nothing can come into the life of a child of God without God’s permission. Everything is Father-filtered.
I am not saying that everything that happens to you in life is God’s perfect will. That’s just not true. There are a lot of things that are not God’s will. If you go out and sin, that’s not God’s will. If somebody sins against you, that’s not God’s perfect will.
But God does have a permissive will. If I go out and I overeat, I pay the consequences. If I go out and wreck my body, I pay the consequences. God does not cause evil and God does not cause suffering. But He does allow them because they have a purpose. God permits them and then He uses them.
God is an expert at bringing good out of bad. He could have kept Paul out of prison in Philippi but instead He let Paul go to prison and the jailer became a believer as a result. God could have kept Jesus from the cross but He let Him go — His own Son — He let Him suffer and die. Did He bring any good out of that? I’d say He did!
God loves to turn crucifixions into resurrections. The things you wish were most removed from your life are often the very things that God is using to shape you and make you into the believer of character He wants you to be. He wants to use that problem for good in your life. There’s something more important than your pain. It’s what you’re learning from that pain. God is in control.
So what’s the key? What’s our response? Our response is to look past the pain. “This is the reason we never lose heart. These troubles which are temporary are winning for us a permanent, a glorious and solid reward out of proportion to our pain. So we don’t look at the temporary situation. We look beyond to see the eternal benefits.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 Phillips)