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In step

Discussion in 'Discussions about Religion.' started by RiverOL, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Riches or Poverty - So What?
    For reading & meditation - Philippians 4:4-13
    "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any ... situation ..." (v. 12)

    Here is another step that can move us from financial bondage to financial freedom. Recognize that you are only free when you are free to use either poverty or plenty. There are two ways in which men and women try to defend themselves against financial disaster.

    One is by saving as much as possible in an attempt to avert it. The other is by renouncing money or material things entirely in order to be free from their clutches. Both methods have disadvantages. The first, because it can cause miserliness and anxiety, and tends to make a person as metallic as the coins they seek to amass.

    The second, because it seeks to get rid of the difficulty by washing one's hands of it entirely. In each case, there is a bondage - one is a bondage to material things, the other a bondage to poverty. The man who is free to use plenty only is bound by that, while the man who is free to use poverty only is also bound.

    They are both bound. But the person who, like Paul in the text before us today, has "learned the secret of being content ... whether living in plenty or in want" is free, really free.

    While waiting for a train in India, a missionary got into a conversation with a high-caste Indian. "Are you traveling on the next train?" the missionary asked. "No," he replied, "that train has only third-class carriages. It's all right for you, because you are a Christian. Third class doesn't degrade you and first class doesn't exalt you. You are above these distinctions, but I have to observe them." Lifted above all distinctions!

    Prayer: O Father, what a way to live - lifted above all distinctions. Plenty doesn't entangle my spirit, and poverty doesn't break it. No matter how I have lived in the past - this is how I want to live in the future. Help me, dear Lord. Amen.
     
  2. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    A Need or a Want?
    For reading & meditation - Philippians 4:14-23
    "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (v. 19)

    Today we look at yet another step that will help us overcome financial disaster: (4) Learn to differentiate between a need and a want. Your needs are important, but not your wants. God has promised to supply all your needs, but not all your wants.

    What are our needs? Someone defined it like this: "We need as much as will make us physically, mentally, and spiritually fit for the purposes of the kingdom of God.

    Anything beyond that belongs to other people's needs." If this is true, then how do we decide what belongs to our needs? No one can decide that for you; it must be worked out between you and God. Go over your life in God's presence and see what belongs to your needs, and what belongs to your wants.

    Let the Holy Spirit sensitize your conscience so that you can distinguish the difference. A fisherman tells this story: "Yesterday on the lake I let my boat drift. As I looked at the water, I could see no drift at all. Only as I looked at the fixed point of the shoreline could I see how far I was drifting."

    It is a parable! It is only as you fix your eyes on Christ, and watch for His approval, that you will know whether you are staying on God's course - or drifting away from it. One more thing: keep your needs strictly to needs, not luxuries disguised as needs. If you eat more than you need, you clog up your system. It is the same with other things. Needs contribute; luxuries choke.

    Prayer: Gracious Father, bring me under the sway of Your creative Spirit. Sensitize my inner being so that I might hear Your voice when I am about to go off course. This I ask for Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.
     
  3. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Promises! Promises!
    For reading & meditation - Proverbs 20
    "...'it's no good!? says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase." (v. 14)

    We continue following the steps that help us become strong at the broken place of financial disaster: (5) Ask God to help you resist the powerful pressures of this modern-day consumer society.

    I once listened to a sermon in which the preacher likened Satan's conversation with Eve in the Garden of Eden to the subtle tactics of modern advertising. The main point he made was that if Eve could become discontent with all she had in that lush garden called Paradise, there is little hope for us unless we identify and reject modern methods of alluring advertising.

    What exactly is alluring advertising? One definition puts it like this: "Alluring advertising is a carefully planned appeal to our human weakness, which is designed to make us discontented with what we have so that we can rationalize buying things we know we do not need and should not have."

    Not all advertising, of course, falls into this category, but much of it does. Charles Swindoll, an American author, claims that some advertising is not just alluring, but definitely demonic. I agree. He says that he and his family have developed a simple technique to overrule television commercials that attempt to convince us that we need a certain product in order to be happy.

    He describes it like this: "Everytime we feel a persuasive tug from a television commercial, we simply shout at the top of our voices: 'Who do you think you're kidding!'" He claims it really works. God expects us to discipline ourselves in relation to many things, and not the least is the discipline of spiritual "sales resistance."

    Prayer:
    Father, help me, I pray, to see right through the alluring advertising of today's world, and develop within me the wisdom and strength to build up a strong spiritual "sales resistance." For Your honor and glory I ask it. Amen
     
  4. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Be a Generous Person
    For reading & meditation - 1 Timothy 6:6-19
    "Command them ... to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves ..." (vv. 18-19)

    We have been discussing the steps we need to take to become strong at the place where life breaks us through a financial disaster. The sixth and final principle the friend I previously referred to used, and which we need to practice too, is this: (6) Become a generous person.

    Look again at the text at the top of this page. It is so clear that it hardly needs any explanation. Woven through the fabric of these verses, as well as in many others in the New Testament, is the thought: give, give, give, give, give. When you have money, don't hoard it, release it. Let generosity become your trademark.

    This is not to say that you have to give all your money away, but give as much as you can, and as much as you believe God would have you give. Jesus once said, "If your eye is generous, the whole of your body will be illumined" (Matt. 6:22, Moffatt).

    What does this mean? If your eye - your outlook on life, your whole way of looking at things and people - is generous, then your whole personality is illumined, lit up. Jesus had little to give in terms of finances, but He was generous toward all - the sick, the needy, the maimed, the sinful, and the unlovely.

    His whole personality was full of light. So be like Jesus - begin to see everybody and everything with a generous eye. Don't be a mean person. One of the greatest definitions of Christianity I have ever heard is simply this: "Give, give, give, give give...."

    Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me this day and every day of my life from now on, to make generosity the basis of all my dealings with people. Make me the channel and not the dead end of all Your generosity to me. For Your dear Name's sake. Amen.
     
  5. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    When Evil Thoughts Oppress
    For reading & meditation - Matthew 15
    "For out of the heart come evil thoughts ..." (v. 19)

    We turn now to focus on yet another place where life can break us - through the affliction of evil thoughts. I am thinking not simply of an occasional wrong thought popping into one's mind, but of those situations where people become oppressed by thoughts which are obsessive and repetitive.

    A letter I received some time ago said, "My private discussions with Christians of all denominations has led me to believe that more are afflicted and oppressed by evil thoughts than we might imagine." When the late Dr. Sangster, the great Methodist preacher, once visited Bexhill-on-Sea, he found a lovely avenue of trees.

    A nature lover to the core, he walked admiringly up and down the avenue, and then noticed a strange thing. Two of the trees were dead, and not only dead, but dismally and evilly offensive. Frost could not account for it; their neighbors were all healthy. He made inquiries, and found out that the gas main which ran underneath them had been leaking!

    Everything on the surface had been in their favor - the sea breezes, sunshine, rain ... but they had been poisoned from beneath. There are many Christians like that. Perhaps you are one.

    The circumstances of their lives all seem in their favor - a good job, a happy family, a pleasant environment, a fine church, yet their lives are mysteriously blighted by evil thoughts. Who can help us when our lives are spoiled by continual and oppressive evil thoughts? Jesus can! Christ can not only heal the brokenness but also make you strong at the broken place.

    Prayer: O Father, I am so grateful that You are showing me Your indomitable way. You can do more than sustain me in my weakness; You can turn my weakness into strength. Make me strong in this area. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
     

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