Category Archives: Finance

Including God in Everyday Living

While sitting with Jesus yesterday, we began to talk about the importance of trust. He and I talk about this often, probably because I desperately need to be reminded of it every single day. And I do want to include God in everything; I’ll take the path He leads me down over over the crooked mess I can make of my life by leaning on myself every day of the week.

Proverbs 3:5-6 reveals a ton about the nature and character of God. As we see in our dissection of verse 5 in yesterday’s post (“Trust in God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”), leaning on our own reasoning alone really isn’t a wise thing to do. More importantly, we also see that God truly is interested in the details of our lives. Because He is asking that we depend on Him and include Him in every part of our hearts (the core of our being), He goes on to attach a promise in verse 6:

“…in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

 Just as we did with verse 5 yesterday, we will break down this line of scripture word by word:

“…in all (in everything) your (personalized, individual responsibility) ways (decisions, courses of life, methods, manners, processes, plans, habits) acknowledge Him (recognize, include, and seek God) AND He will (God promises to) make (create, shape, alter) your (He is talking to YOU) paths (decisions, circumstances to decisions, direction of life, priorities, focus) straight (to be pure, just, proper, and honest).”

Also interpreted as….

“In every area of my life, including my plans concerning my present and my future, my habits in the way I spend my time, and my decisions, I will include God. By doing so, He is going to alter my very life circumstances to be right, in order, and incredibly fruitful.”

Wow. When you really dive into this scripture, you can begin seeing why including God is so important. Not only does He want to be involved; we actually need Him to be involved. We can’t make our paths straight; only He can. For me, this verse has been an extraordinary epiphany by revealing when and how I think I should include Jesus in my life.

What I find most interesting about this piece of truth is that it completely (not partially, but fully) rejects our modern approach to Christianity. In our fast paced world, even those with heart-felt devotion to Christ can find it easy to merely include God on Sunday, but then live for themselves the rest of the week.  Monday is when we return to work, and mixing Jesus and work can be complicated. We start thinking that we can handle our jobs, and that we only need to include God in the more “spiritual” areas in our lives.

Yet God cannot be compartmentalized, beloved. When we apply scripture to our lives (through His grace), we can no longer divide our load between what God controls and what we control. Because He is God, He needs to be treated like God. He deserves everything that we can give Him. After we surrender our life circumstances to Him first, and then we can see how our decisions will best be handled.

Such a mindset is really the manifestation of the statement “Jesus is my Lord.” Jesus is more than the Savior that died on a cross; He is a leader and a guide for every aspect of our lives. By willingly choosing to include Him every single day, we come to truly recognize Jesus as Lord. As you seek Him, beloved, you will always find Him. Always.

May your heart be encouraged and challenged to include this Righteous King into your everyday world.
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A Simple Call to Trust

While sipping on my hot green tea and basking in the morning sunshine as it gently filters through the slits in my living room blinds, I’m reminded of a simple nugget of truth. It’s a passage of scripture that I hope to cling onto for the rest of my life and pursue with ferocious intentionality.

Like me, you have probably read this passage time and time again, but today my eyes have been opened to its one, true  meaning. Allow me to both briefly share what God is whispering into my heart this morning and encourage you in purposeful meditation on the power of this passage.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5

Here’s how I interpret this:

“Trust (rely, depend, hope, expect, fully rest in, be completely assured) in the Lord with all (whole, entire, full, completely) your (emphasizing importance of individual, personal responsibility) heart (the core of who you are)…”

Allow me to break this down a little bit more:

As individuals, we should be fully and completely assured by taking full confidence in the Lord (instead of people, circumstances, or tangible items) with the entire core of who we are.

You see, God does not long for just a portion of our hearts; He wants it all. What does this mean for us as modern-day believers? For starters, He wants us as His children to trust Him for our eternal salvation. But it goes even further: God wants us to trust Him in everything. Everything.

That means we can take full confidence in God’s ability to help us with our jobs, our marriages, raising our children, our finances, our health conditions, our friendships, our callings, our personal hobbies, our education, our businesses, our decisions, our homes, our cars, our mission work, our relationships in all areas (work, ministry, business,etc), our hurts, our beliefs, our fears, our longings, our desires, our addictions, our sin, our past, our present, and our future. God wants it all. And I believe this is the statement He is conveying here, because of these two words: “trust” and “all”.

Let’s continue through the passage:

“…and (indicating a direct link between this clause and the prior) lean not (do not shift weight, turn to, or depend) on your (once again indicating personal responsibility) own understanding (the reasoning, perspective or comprehension that you possess).”

Our understanding is finite, while His is infinite. God isn’t telling us to stop thinking or reasoning; after all, He created us in His image with these abilities. Rather, He is cautioning us against becoming so confident in ourselves (finding assurance in what we know) that God becomes neglected and not depended upon. Without His leading in our lives, He knows that we’ll end up making dire mistakes. In His love, He wants us to avoid those.

God also knows that trust is required to form deep, mutually-loving relationships, which is what interests Him the most. He created us to be in a relationship with Him, not merely to do things for Him. In fact, because He is God, He doesn’t actually need us to do anything for Him. God doesn’t need our works. Yet, when works flow naturally from a heart that is trusting and abiding in Him, they simply become a form of beautiful worship, rather than the focus of the relationship.

In order to work for Him, we don’t necessarily need to trust Him fully. But if we desire a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus, there’s no other way around it: we must trust Him with all our hearts and allow Him to be Lord. By not leaning on our own understanding, we are giving Him permission to faithfully guide us in the way we should live.

This post is written for the glory of the Lord. Jesus Christ deserves all the honor and renown as the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Great I AM. May His spirit instruct you as you read this today, and may you be blessed with a deeper, more abundant walk with our Sweet Savior.

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Don't Push Integrity Aside

“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” Zig Ziglar

I often declare that integrity is the act of doing what is right when no one else is watching. And it’s one of the greatest marks of good character.

However in more recent times, integrity often seems to be pushed aside as moral absolutes have become optional. The need to get ahead supersedes the conviction to work wholeheartedly and in truth.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

So, let’s talk about what integrity is.

According to Wesbters, integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole. People with integrity do not compromise, they remain undivided. They don’t say one thing and do another.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 ESV

Allow me to share a personal story with you. May you learn from my erroneous ways and may God alone be glorified. 

As some of you may know, for the past year I’ve taken a series of business certification courses for nonprofit management. Upon entering each class, I would park my car in a close-by lot and pay for a three-hour term (since it would cover my total class time). However, I’d generally think twice about the decision knowing that I’d probably have to dash out to my car in order to arrive before the pass expires. However, for the sake of frugality I often justified not spending the five extra dollars to allot myself more time (knowing that the class could run over by 5 to 15 minutes).

But, one afternoon it all changed. I was ten minutes late, and as I approached my car I noticed there were two yellow boots fastened around my tires. I was booted, and there was no mercy for my error. After paying the fee of $75 (with several failed attempts to negotiate), I jumped into my car, drove off, and just cried. I knew I had deserved the punishment, and after asking the Lord to forgive me for my mistake, I proceeded to move forward with the rest of my afternoon.

Yet, as the day progressed, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to seek the Father. And after taking a walk with Him, the Lord began to reveal that although I was simply “five minutes later here, and twenty minutes late there”, I was stealing from that parking lot. And He was not pleased. I wasn’t being a woman of my word and leading in integrity. As a Christian, I am called to be honest in everything – the small and the large, and so are you.

It would have been a much better choice for me to have trusted God for His provision in paying the extra parking fee, and to allow myself more margin not to rush. While I was trying to manage business expenses well, it just wasn’t the wisest decision because I was stealing and sinning against God.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22 ESV

I want to encourage you today, that while others may not see the small compromises we may be making  each day, God does. And it does matter to His heart. As Christians, we are called to walk in truth because integrity is not situational, it’s concrete.

“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:16 ESV

Here are a few additional examples of areas where integrity is needed: 

•Refusing to put an item back where you first retrieved it. For example, you borrow someone’s stapler at work, but fail to return it. Or you decide at the last-minute to not buy that carton of ice-cream, but leave it at the checkout line to melt instead of taking it back.

•Fudging a number on your tax return, in order to avoid paying a higher rate, or including items that should not be included.

•Promising a gift, yet never following through on the promise.

•Taking an extended break during work hours (because you deserve it) and neglecting to include it on your timesheet.

•Using a neighbors free WIFI, simply because there is no password, and well, it’s free. Nothing in life is free, someone somewhere has had to pay some sort of price for what you are enjoying.

If we desire to grow and mature in the Lord Jesus Christ, yet fail to honor Him in the smallest of things, how then can we truly be entrusted with larger things? We cannot and we will not. We must be faithful in the small, knowing that God honors those who honor Him by obeying His word.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10 ESV.

Application Question

1. As you read today’s post, were there any specific areas that came to mind concerning your own life and small compromises that may be being made? I encourage you to surrender these to the Lord, ask for forgiveness to the Lord (and if necessary other parties), pay restitution (if necessary), and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to believe and obey His word concerning integrity.

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