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The Year is now 2021 – the Year then was 1929

I have a treasured book in my library. It is a compilation of stories gathered by the children and grandchildren of people who lived through the Great Depression. The title is “We Had Everything But Money”. I have read this book several times and am rereading it again. Why? For two reasons: for the money saving tips contained within and for the uplifting accounts of how real people made the best of a bad time.

We are not in what has been defined as “the Great Depression”, but we are possibly headed for another one. The stark differences between the culture then and the culture now are disturbing to me. The truth of every story in this book is that people helped people. They looked for ways to help. They were doing whatever they could to stay away from government assistance. The creative ways these dear people had for keeping their families together and feeding them was nothing short of miraculous. Even the children were actively involved and their memories of that time was good.

Obviously, not everyone was kind and helpful during the Great Depression. There were indeed suicides and much hopelessness and sadness. For those who lived in loving families, however, the parents endured the pain, doing their best to ensure that their children had what they really needed – their love.

Examine some of the ending remarks of the writers of these accounts:

  • “The only thing we have to fear,” the President [President Roosevelt] said, “is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
  • The helping hands that assisted my parents encouraged them to keep farming, and they stayed at it for many more years.
  • As we look back now on those long-ago years, we realize they weren’t all so bad. We not only survived; we may well have become better and stronger people for the experience.
  • In both good times and bad, our parents always had time for us. We never had much money, but we had all the love any parents could possibly give their children.
  • None of these jobs [WPA] paid more than a few dollars, but they did offer the dignity of work for pay, and proved to be the salvation of many.
  • Still, thanks to the generosity of those who shared their food with us, I can honestly say I never went hungry.
  • My grandparents taught me a lot about life. They taught me not to judge a book by its cover, and that money means nothing compared to decency and character.
  • I was only 9 years old, but I learned several lessons from these wanderers that have stayed with me all my life: keep your pride, be grateful for gifts, and use your initiative and skills to provide for your family.
  • There may have been a shortage of money, but there was never a shortage of love and caring, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
  • And many, many more.

There are many things we can learn from this period in our history. If our culture now was the same as it was back then, it is evident that there would be a lot less complaining and a heap more ingenuity. I pray for that.

Is There Hope for 2021?

What a year 2020 has been! There is no one who would argue that it has been an incredibly hard year – not only in America, but around the world. We made it through it, but do we have hope for any good changes in the year ahead?

None of us can predict the future, but what we can do is do today what is necessary to make 2021 the best year we can. How can we do that? I believe that is through personal stewardship. Stewardship is the responsible and careful management of something entrusted to your care. What DO you have control over? Are you a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a responsible citizen? Many people lost their jobs and/or their businesses in 2020. Despair, discouragement and a feeling of hopelessness would be natural in that circumstance. But those feelings can be overcome by looking to God for help and guidance.

On my other website, http://www.onefocusministries.com, I just posted a devotional that I would like to share with you, hoping that you will find encouragement in it. Look under “Reflective Focus” to see that post – “Claim God’s Promises in 2021”.

This, however, is a blog designed to help you stretch your money. How can you do that when you don’t have any money to stretch? How many times can you be told to reuse, recycle and make it yourself?

The key to good stewardship is to think about what you have already and how you can use those things to help your family, your neighbors and your friends. What have you been entrusted with? On http://www.onefocusministries.com, on the home page, there is a search feature. If you query “stewardship”, you will pull up everything written on that site about the subject. In 2020, it is possible you may have lost some possessions or a job or even a home, but you did not lose the ability to start the new year with the right attitude.

Flowers still bloom in the spring, birds still sing in the morning and God is still on His throne!

May God bless you and guide you as you enter this new year.

Christmas Gifts That Don’t Cost Any Money

I just had a birthday. At my birthday party, two of my special gifts were from my granddaughters. They spent time designing a card for me. One of them even wrapped up additional artwork with her homemade card on top. These gifts are treasures. I also opened some wonderful gifts that had been purchased for me and was touched by the thoughtfulness of each gift. My family gave a lot of thought to the party and the planning for each gift. After I had opened all of the gifts, I asked one of my granddaughters what her favorite was. She thought for a moment, and then said, “The picture I made you.”

This is 2020. This has been a most unusual year and many people are out of work or have had their income drastically reduced. Yet Christmas is right around the corner. Although I don’t think Christmas should be about gift giving (I am a Christian and know that the real gift of Christmas was the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ), I am also very aware of the fact that families traditionally exchange gifts in order to celebrate His birth.

This is not the first time that people have struggled to come up with gift ideas that don’t cost any money. History is full of those times – the settling of our country, the Great Depression, the 2008-2009 financial crisis and many more. I recently watched “The Diary of Anne Frank” and was touched by the way Anne came up with a special Christmas gift for each person. It was her thoughtfulness and creativity that was so appreciated.

So, what are some practical ideas for gifts when you don’t have any money? The investment of time is a wonderful gift to someone you love.

  • Make gift cards for each person with a redemption value, such as: 1 back rub, planning and cooking dinner, raking leaves, vacuuming, baby sitting, laundry, a car wash, etc. Use your imagination for this one as probably every one in your family would appreciate a vacation from a chore. These make great stocking stuffers. You can even make them very attractive using some of the templates with your document programs.
  • How about a memory book for a friend or relative? You can fill it with pictures and special memories that only the two of you have. You don’t have to buy the book. Be creative and make one.
  • Recipe cards and a recipe book can be another very personal gift. Even though we tend to look online for recipes, there are still many good old recipes that haven’t made their way online. A lot of us still enjoy using the old beat up cookbooks that our mothers/grandmothers had.
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with wrapping up a gift that is something you already have. My husband’s grandmother used to do it all the time. She did put a lot of thought into each gift. Maybe someone has mentioned something you have that is very special to them. If you can part with it now, gift it with a special note about how you love passing it on to someone who likes it as much as you do.
  • This year unusual items have been requested as gifts. I remember a news report this year about someone who had survived a hurricane. The only thing she wanted for her birthday was toilet tissue! If you know someone who came up empty handed when they tried to buy toilet tissue or cleaning supplies because of an event like that or the current Coronavirus shortages, gift them with some of yours.
  • Do you have a skill that you can offer as a gift – maybe a coupon for a free haircut, oil change, cutting wood? It may be a skill that you use in your job or a hobby, but as everyone has different skills and talents, someone you know and love would appreciate your making their life a little easier.
  • If you have a movie in your DVD collection that you know someone else would enjoy, why not gift it? You could include a note, “I really enjoyed watching this and thought you would enjoy it as well.”
  • A food dish can also be a special gift – especially one that takes a lot of effort. I bake homemade sourdough bread and often give this as a hostess gift or take to someone who has been in the hospital. If you have a speciality dish that you know others have enjoyed, they will really appreciate it.
  • If you play a musical instrument, maybe you can make a recording for your loved ones.
  • Better still, write a song for the loved one and sing it, play it or record it. That’s what Bing Crosby did in “Holiday Inn”. The name of that song was “Be Careful. It’s My Heart”.
  • I received a wonderful gift from a friend. She took the time to paint a jar and then fill it with scripture verses and meaningful sayings. I cannot imagine how long it took her to hand write every entry, but I love it! I’m a collector of quotes, so this was a very special and thoughtful gift.
  • If you are talented like my friend, you can come up with a host of ideas. If you do woodwork, you can build something out of your scrap lumber, like a birdhouse or a doll bed. If you are a gardener, you can divide your plants and give them as gifts. You don’t have to have a fancy pot to put them in. I save all my glass containers – including the ones that hold candles. Many of these can be used as a planter. If you sew, the possibilities are endless and the web is full of free patterns for potholders, etc. where you can use up your scraps.

Gift giving is only as limited as your imagination. Instead of being down because there is little or no money to spend, make your memories of this Christmas extra special because of the thought you put into your gifts.

I started this post by telling you about my birthday party. Everyone there was focused on making sure that this birthday was my best birthday ever. It was. Christmas is a time when we, in essence, have a birthday party for Jesus, the Son of Man. Since He knows our hearts, He knows whether we are sad or celebrating. I choose to celebrate His birth because it has made all the difference in my life. Focusing on the joy of knowing Him can indeed make this the best Christmas for you as well.

I think that if we were to ask our Father in Heaven what His favorite Christmas gift is, He would respond much as my granddaughter did with, “The Gift I gave to you.”

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

A Gift For You – Merry Christmas!

A few years ago, I put together a collection of everything I had written for the Christmas season. This year, I have updated it and renamed it. Feel free to click on the image below, download the PDF, print it and give as a gift this Christmas. May God make this your most meaningful Christmas ever!

A Gift from a New Friend

I would like to share with you a website that I have enjoyed reading that has many great hints on it – many that will stretch your money!

Although we have yet to meet (this side of Heaven), I consider Karen a new friend. She has agreed for me to share her latest blog post where she offers a free gift to her readers.

You will find her gift here: https://ayearwithoutthegrocerystore.com/my-free-gift-to-you/. I encourage you to go to her website and read her story. As I mentioned to her, I love her easy-to-understand writing style, her compassion and her resourcefulness. If you appreciate what she shares as much as I do, email her. You will get an immediate response.

These are interesting times we find ourselves in and there are many ways we can help each other, even if not face-to-face.

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Forced Savings and Good News

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When I wrote Money, How to Be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today, America and most of the world had just come out of the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and people were still struggling with how to make ends meet after losing jobs and investment money.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has yet again forced us to think of ways to cut corners. Many have lost their jobs. The hope is that those jobs will be recovered, but unfortunately, not all will. Even those who have not lost their jobs have realized that staying home can be a money saver. The most economical meals can be those you prepare at home. Leaving your vehicles in the garage saves gas money and wear and tear on the cars themselves. Only shopping when necessary cuts down on that usage. Not wandering through malls or favorite brick and mortar stores prevents impulse buying. Many have discovered new ways of creativity – in connecting, entertainment, learning, cooking and even worship. Thankfully, we have the Technology of Today to aid us in our learning and our sharing.

Often we only think of ways of saving money when we have to – when bills pile up, when we lose a job or when a crisis happens. The reality is, though, that good stewardship is never a bad idea. Those who had the ability to “save for a rainy day” are better off than some others but even savings can get used up quickly.

The encouraging thing about this current crisis are the stories of people helping people. On April 14, 2020, The New York Times published an article by Taylor Lorenz entitled “The News is Making People Anxious. You’ll Never Believe What They’re Reading Instead”.  She said that “google searches for ‘good news’ spiked about a month ago and have only continued to rise.” Her article also included the following.

David Beard, the executive director for newsletters at National Geographic, said that the demand for good news right now is unlike anything he’s seen before. “People are looking for a reason to go on,” he said.

The New York Times article focused on “good news” newsletters, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, instagrams and blogs. It is certainly refreshing to read about good things that people are doing during this crisis but as a Christian, I know where the real good news is. It’s in God’s Word. It’s the gospel which literally means “good news”. The good news is the story of Jesus’ birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, His resurrection and His offer of salvation to those who ask Him to forgive their sin and trust in Him. The good news is that He is right now interceding for those who do trust Him.

What does a pandemic, forced saving and salvation have in common? The forced quarantine has not only given people new ways of thinking about saving money, but it has actually given people time to think. Period. When you have time to think, you often do a self examination. You consider what is important in life. The most important thing in life is what you do about the gift of salvation that God has offered through Jesus Christ. Looking for a reason to go on? God loves you. Are you a believer? If not, you can trust Him today. If you are, know that He will give you guidance for every decision you need to make.

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ONE FOCUS: A Daily Encouragement to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

I have just published my third book on amazon.com in both paperback and kindle. You can find it here:

https://www.amazon.com/One-Focus-Daily-Encouragement-Jesus/dp/1484997182/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476721825&sr=8-1&keywords=ONE+FOCUS%3A+A+Daily+encouragement

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The daily entries have been taken from this blog, my One Focus blog as well as the Bible studies and devotionals on my One Focus website.

Since this blog is designed to save you money, I am including the link to my table of contents so that if you want, you could actually query each day’s entry on the left hand side of the One Focus website with the daily title and have your daily devotional that way. With few exceptions, the daily entries are on that site.

https://onefocusministries.com/one-focus-a-daily-encouragement-to-keep-your-eyes-on-jesus/

How to Manage Money: Conclusion and Powerful Illustration

This is the last post of what was originally going to be seven posts on how to manage money by my guest blogger Richard L. Blake. This eighth post presents a conclusion and a moving illustration. For the other seven posts, begin with 3/11/2016 with “How to Manage Money.”

FINALLY . . . .

We have considered the foundational biblical principles that God owns everything, and that we are his stewards who will one day give an account. The practical counsel offered is consistent with those biblical principles. Now is the time for an examination of your own stewardship. Are you ready to give account? Remember, the landlord in the Parable of the Talents came at an unexpected time and demanded an account. Wouldn’t today be a good time to ask the Lord to show you ways you can be more faithful with the assets he has entrusted to you? God is telling us to prepare for a long tomorrow by using our short todays to exchange earthly treasures for heavenly ones. Resolve now to build those riches for eternity.

 

I want to share with you the story of a man who did just that. In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. For his graduation present, his wealthy parents gave him a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the need of the world’s hurting people for the Gospel. Finally, Borden wrote home that he desired to spend the rest of his life as a missionary. Upon hearing the news, one of his friends expressed disbelief that Bill was “throwing himself away as a missionary.”

William entered Yale University and soon began a small prayer group that gave birth to a movement that eventually spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshmen were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups. His father passed away during his years there, leaving him the vast family fortune that came from silver mining and real estate. Upon his graduation in 1909, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers, not because he was a wealthy heir but because he was still focused on fulfilling his missionary calling.

Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he followed through with his plan to sail overseas in obedience to God’s call on his life, and in 1912 he set sail for China. Because he was hoping to work there with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted cerebral meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

Was Borden’s untimely death a waste? Not in Heaven’s perspective. When the news of Borden’s death was cabled back to the United States nearly every major American newspaper reported on it. As stated in his biography, “A wave of sorrow went around the world . . ..” Borden had walked away from his earthly fortune to take the precious Gospel of Jesus to the nations of the world. Most regarded it as a tragedy; however, God took the tragedy and did something far greater than Borden could ever do himself. When thousands of young men and women read Borden’s story in the newspapers of America, it inspired them to leave all they had and give their lives to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Borden left an extraordinary legacy, one that extended beyond his brief life and example, as he bequeathed $1 million to Christian missions (equivalent to $24 million in 2016), including the China Inland Mission (CIM) that he was joining, Moody Bible Institute and Moody Church, Princeton Theological Seminary, several Presbyterian mission boards and other Christian agencies. CIM established and dedicated the Borden Memorial Hospital to ministry in Lanzhou in northwest China, an area populated with Muslims like those Borden hoped to serve. In her introduction to his biography, Mary Taylor wrote, “Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice.”

When Borden’s family was given his Bible, they found three statements he had penned inside the cover. Just after he renounced his fortune to go to missions he wrote in his Bible the words, “No Reserves.” Originally, his father told him he would always have a job in the company, but at a later point he told him he would never let him work in the company again. At that time Borden wrote in his Bible, “No Retreats.” And then below those two statements his family read these words written shortly before his death in Egypt, “No Regrets.”

No reserves; No retreats; No regrets.

Borden’s story exemplifies the biblical teaching of stewardship of all of life’s resources. And it humbles me. We must continually evaluate our lives by the teaching of sacred Scripture. We are all challenged to keep eternity’s values in view in the investment of our time, our talents, and our treasures. If we will do this, we too can live without reserve, retreat, or regret. Will you join with me now in humble commitment to this standard?

—Richard L. Blake, President, Xtend Ministries International

 

How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel: Get Out of Debt, Save, Invest

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction to this seven part series (this is part seven), see 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”.

Get out of debt

         This is part of the matter of budgeting and spending control but I mention it separately because debt is a particular problem for many. I want to plainly state that you should avoid debt. It is not that debt, per se, is sinful, but that it is burdensome. Proverbs says, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (10:22). Debt and payments are sorrowful; they are a burden, not a blessing.

The primary pathway to indebtedness for most people is using credit cards. In the United States in 2015, for example, the average household credit card debt was $15,355. Here in Poland the average debt per card is $1,675, much better than the U.S. but still a threat to financial peace.

Credit cards facilitate impulse buying, typically for unnecessary and self-indulgent purchases. When using credit, consumers buy more, buy what they don’t need, and pay more for it.

The “buy now, pay later” mentality brings people into debt that often entails exorbitant interest. People decide to buy on credit, thinking they can afford to make the payments. A person who carries a $2,000 balance (at 19.5 percent interest) is told he can pay just $75. But he doesn’t realize that the first $32.50 of that $74 is interest! And if you carry a $7,000 balance on an 18 percent credit card and pay the 2 percent minimum payment each month, you’ll end up paying more than $20,000 for that $7,000. That’s selling yourself into slavery!

Some people use credit cards for the convenience, paying off the full amount each month so they don’t ever pay interest costs. I do this myself. While this has advantages, it also has drawbacks. Citibank, a global financial company, calculates that a consumer using a credit card will buy 26 percent more than he would if he were carrying cash, even if he pays it all off without interest charges.

Here is helpful counsel if you use credit cards:

  • Never use credit cards for anything but your budgeted purchases.
  • Pay your balance in full each month.
  • The first month you have a credit card bill you can’t pay in full, perform plastic surgery—cut your credit card in half and don’t get another one.

If debt has you in its grip, resolve right now to do something about it. Make debt repayment a significant part of your monthly budget, paying off the highest interest balances first and then adding that monthly payment to the payments you are making on other debts. Cut all future expenditures to the minimum until you have paid off all debt. And especially, do not incur any new debt. Operate on this principle: “If I can’t afford it now, it isn’t God’s will now.”

This is a complex subject that is worthy of more time than we have now. Yet you must start now dealing with this danger. Proverbs speaks a relevant word to us about this: “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (22:3).

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Image title: Marines and sailors get paid twice a month to pay their bills, necessary expenses and travel expenses, regardless if they are driving out of town or driving to work. In order to have extra spending money for holiday gifts, personal attire or video games, a Marine or sailor needs to ensure they limit themselves to how much money they can afford to spend.

 

Save

         Any money management plan must also include savings. The Bible speaks plainly at this point: “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get” (Proverbs 21:20). A good biblical example of this is Joseph, who led the Egyptians to save the produce of the ground during seven years of abundance so as to be prepared for the future seven years of famine (Genesis 41:25-57). Saving plans for an uncertain future.

Saving is good practice for at least two more reasons. First, it brings needed discipline to our lives. It helps us to say “no” to impulsive and unnecessary spending.

Furthermore, saving helps to build wealth not only from mere accumulation of money but also from the amazing effect of “compounded interest.” Compound interest means that the interest you earn each year is added to your principal, so that the balance doesn’t merely grow, it grows at an increasing rate. This is one of the most useful concepts in finance. It’s the basis of everything from a personal savings plan to the long-term growth of the stock market.

The longer money compounds, the faster it grows. Money growing at 6 percent per year will double in about 12 years, but it will be worth four times as much in 24 years.

You may think the amount you can save is too small to matter, but it adds up faster than you think. If you were to save $5 per month, at 5 percent interest compounded each month and did that continually for 10 years you’d have put $600 into savings. But the account would be worth $776. And, even if you didn’t add a single dollar, it would be worth more than $1,500 in another 15 years.

1-1204463487cJKyCredit cards and other open-ended accounts use compound interest against you. That’s why “minimum payments” are likely to keep you in debt forever. But when you save, this principle is a great help to you. Albert Einstein said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

Compound interest requires you to sacrifice today to reap a benefit tomorrow. It may be that you’ll have to adjust your lifestyle a little to save a few dollars today. But, it’s certain that the future reward will be greater than the sacrifice.

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Please note this, however. Saving should come after giving. A good personal rule is to tithe 10 percent, save 10 percent, and live on 80 percent. And that’s just a place to start both in giving and savings. John Wesley, whom I mentioned earlier, offered this wise counsel: “Make all you can; give all you can; save all you can!”

Invest

         The wise woman of Proverbs 31 “considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard” (verse 16). This is an illustration of investing. It is using a smaller sum of money wisely in order to get larger gain, or return on investment, at a later time. Sound money management would include investment of some of your savings in some venture after you have gotten your financial house in order, that is, after you’ve adjusted your lifestyle and have done all the things we’ve just mentioned.

Silver-Coins-Public-Domain-300x225Common places where you may invest your money include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and business ventures (even your own). Other investment opportunities are also available. Be on guard against supposed “great opportunities” to get rich overnight. Those are nothing more than gambling. But if you will do your research carefully, pray diligently, and be willing to wait for the return, you can help to provide for your family in the future. Your gain can also free you up for other opportunities to give and minister—to lay up treasures in heaven. That’s the ultimate investment opportunity!

Before investing in any area, make sure you get wise counsel from people who are experienced and knowledgeable about that investment product. Never trust your instinct. And the more important the decision, the greater should be the number of counselors. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).

 

How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel – Work, Give, Live on a Budget

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction to this seven part series (this is part six), see 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”.

At this point we need to look at the lifestyle of a steward. While this is not the place for technical financial advice, we would do well to consider how to apply the biblical principles we just reviewed to the matter of managing money. I want to offer some basic money management counsel consistent with scripture and sound financial practices.

Work

         This is foundational to a steward’s lifestyle. The first thing God did with Adam was to put him to work: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). And in the New Testament, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

God is surely the provider of our money and every other blessing. But he expects us to work. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (3:23-24). And Proverbs says, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase (13:11). Getting wealth is the result of faithful, diligent, hard work along with biblical management of that income.rucni-prace

Give

         While stewardship involves more than giving, it never involves less than giving. God entrusts wealth to us, not so we can spend on ourselves lavishly, but so we can give to others. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed . . . you will be enriched in everything for all liberality . . . ” (2 Corinthians 9:8, 11). Author Randy Alcorn says, “Too often we assume that God entrusts more to us to increase our standard of living, yet his stated purpose is to increase our standard of giving.”

The starting point in our giving should be the tithe, a biblical term meaning “a tenth part.” This was God’s requirement of the ancient Israelites. God made clear that the tithe belonged to him. Failure to tithe was to rob God: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed Thee?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). Notice that last sentence, “In tithes and offerings.” Giving is something that goes beyond the tithe. Since a voluntary “offering” was something God considered “due” him under the Old Covenant, why would we think it acceptable to do less under the New Covenant? Put another way, why should we do less under Grace than under Law?

Far more than mere tithing, the Old Testament emphasizes “freewill offerings” or “voluntary offerings.” These were included with the tithes: “Bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, your offerings to fulfill a vow, your voluntary offerings . . .” (Deuteronomy 12:6). The people were thrilled with giving far beyond the tithe, as evidenced in their joyful contributions toward the building of the Tabernacle: “The people of Israel—every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the Lord had given them through Moses—brought their gifts and gave them freely to the Lord” (Exodus 35:29).

Christians who consider tithing the high ground of giving are actually lowering the Old Testament standard, which merely started with the tithe but did not end there. Should the church, transformed by the redemptive work of Christ, experience such devoted, joyful giving any less than our Israelite counterparts? Or should we experience it all the more?

Remember what we said earlier about laying up treasures in heaven? Giving is one of the chief ways we do that.lossy-page1-800px-The_Child_At_Your_Door,_400,000_Orphans_Starving,_no_state_aid_available,_Campaign_for_$30,000,000._American..._-_NARA_-_512726.tiff

Live on a Budget

         This seems a logical thing to do yet many fail to employ such an important tool in money management. This involves planning and record keeping and it’s something any wise money manager should do. But before going into the specifics, some general lifestyle counsel is in order.

  • Learn to be content. The source of your contentment must never be from having more money or things because you will always require more to maintain the same level of contentment. True and lasting contentment comes from the Lord. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am . . . I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11, 13). “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). Two great threats to contentment are coveting things and comparing our lifestyle to others, so be on guard against those dangers.
  • Make an effort to live more simply. Every possession requires time, and often money to maintain. Too many or the wrong type can harm our relationship with the Lord and others. Advertisers communicate their message that you can’t live without their product—but you really can. A simple, quiet life is the best environment for us to grow in our relationship with God and with others.
  • Submit spending decisions to the Lord. When it comes to purchasing things we rarely have to do it “right now.” Major purchases, especially, should be avoided until you have prayed about it and asked God to bring clarity to the decisions. Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean God wants you to buy it. Since he holds us accountable for wise money management, it makes sense that he would want us to seek his guidance in deciding whether to spend. Remember, decisions have consequences. God will help you, but he will not eliminate the consequences of your bad decisions. Therefore, seek the Lord.

th-2While you’re working on adjusting your lifestyle, begin living on a budget. This is simply your plan for how you will allocate your income. Most people have a fairly regular monthly income. A budget is your plan to divide that income into some specific categories so that you don’t overspend. These would include things like your tithe, rent or mortgage, utilities, food, clothing and all your other regular needs, even a small amount for some miscellaneous things. The implementation of your budget requires careful record keeping for all expenditures. Budgeting and record keeping will help you get a grip on your spending. Many problems in managing money occur simply because people are not paying attention to what they are spending. Proverbs counsels, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever” (27:23-24).