Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Disciplines 6 - 10

I'm going to crack on into the last five disciplines...

6. YOU SHALL GIVE REGULARLY TO YOUR CHURCH

"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
2 Corinthians 9:7

For this discipline Elizabeth asks us to ask a very important question to ourselves. When was the last time you have money to your church, and how much was it for? You don't have to tell anyone, but think about it and think about what that shows you about where your treasure lies. We have to make sure above all things that we give back to God. He is our provider and gives us all that we need, but He blesses us even more abundantly when we get this one discipline right. 

At the moment there is a bit of financial 'thing' going on - I don't know anything about the economy but I do know that people are finding it tougher than it has been in a long time, and when we lose a wage or we have to tighten our belts, the first thing that looks as if its 'expendable' is our giving. But this is where you need to STOP! No matter how much or how little you get in your pay-packet and no matter how far you have to make it go, the FIRST thing you must do is give to God. Mostly this is done by giving to your local church, but I know very godly men and women who split it between their church and charities or missionaries. I'm not here to argue over whether your full tithe (10%) should go to the crack or whether you can split it - I am here to remind you that you need to take that 10% and give it to God before you pay any bills or do a anything else... I know you may be struggling and think that that extra money will feed your family at the end of the month, or buy the oil needed to heat your home, but trust me when I say that I have lived this and when you are faithful and give to God, He will give back ten-fold, sometimes even more so, and He will supply everything you need. We have safe-guarded our giving every time we have someone take a look at our finances because its the only way we will be able to rest assured knowing that God will always be there to bless us, because we chose to be faithful and give Him what is His. Just take a minute and think about it... Makes total sense doesn't it!! :)

7. YOU SHALL GIVE GENEROUSLY

"Let’s build a small room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by.”
2 Kings 4:10

The Bible is full of examples of people who gave generously and sacrificially, from the Proverbs 31 woman who helped the poor and the needy (Proverbs 31:20) to Dorcas who used her skills and possessions to make coats and clothes for the widows living near her (Acts 9:36-39). The verse above comes from the story of the Shunammite woman who lived during the time of Elisha. She invited him into her house for a meal, and then every time he passed that way, he would stop by and eat with them. He knew he had a house where he was assured of a good welcome and some good food. But because she recognised him as a man of God, she went above and beyond normal hospitality. She had her husband build him a small room at their house so that he could stay comfortably with them. It wasn't just a 'clear out a guest room' - this was a purposeful act of love and kindness - going to the trouble of building him a room. How many times do we give that generously of anything - our time or our money or our possessions or our hospitality? Just something to think about!

8. YOU SHALL KNOW YOUR FINANCIAL CONDITION AT ALL TIMES

This was something I definitely had to come to terms with. I was definitely in the part of the population that liked to bury their head in the sand and hope that maybe if you didn't look at the bills they would fade away to nothing! I would check my balance only when I needs to get money out of the ATM, to make sure it didn't eat my card, and only sat down to work out my money when things were desperate. 

Now things are very different. Now I can tell you how much is coming out and when, and how much is going in and when! I know the state of my bank account and our support account to the penny and I am sure at any stage in the month that everything is going ok and that we're not going to be thrown into difficulty because of a stupid purchase.

But it takes time, effort and self-discipline to be like this. It didn't happen over-night but it was well worth the effort. You have to take the time to find out your financial condition, because if you don't, you run the risk of running yourself into even more debt and causing all sorts of problems for yourself and your family. And if you do have debt, take a moment and work out exactly how much you owe. This may seem like a scary thing to do (been there and bought the t-shirt remember!) but it is the first step in acknowledging that you may need help and that you do owe money. When you get an idea of how much you owe, then you can work out the best way forward. Dave Ramsey is a great speaker on getting out of debt and there are plenty of other great organisations that can help you, like CAP. Take e first step and find out your financial condition today.


9. YOU SHALL HAVE A RESERVE

"She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard."
Proverbs 31:16

Every one of us has had a 'rainy day' moment when we wished we'd put just a little away for a rainy day... when everything is going wrong, everything needs fixed at the same time and you've no money to do any of it. This discipline is about that exact moment. No one knows when something like this is going to hit, or we'd all be very well prepared in advance! But what we need to remember is that it always pays to be prepared. When that appliance needs replaced, how wonderful would it be to go into your reserve and be able to just go get one without impacting your monthly budget? Or to be able to just go and order oil when you need it most, because you put that little aside each month for it? We need to think about it now - not when the disaster happens. I know that if you are in debt it's crazy to be thinking of starting a reserve, but it may be the best thing you can do, if it stops you getting into even more debt when things go Wong. Just take a moment and think if there is any way you can start to create a reserve to use on a rainy day. 


10. YOU SHALL PRACTICE SELF-CONTROL

"So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves."

Galatians 5:16

This is the key to managing your finances!! It isn't enough to be debt free but we need to make sure that in all things and in all our spending, we practice self-control and don't give into the temptation of buying things we neither need nor afford. We caribe into  ladies and get on top of this area of our lives once and for all. 

Tomorrow we'll have a little test that you can look at to see how you are doing in this area. So until then - thanks for reading this and keep shining...

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