Ponder and Pray

[ 0 ] March 20, 2009 |

Poignant statement: Believe in the Everlasting and Sovereign God who does not melt and is not redundant in these days of financial melting and redundancy.


 

Subject: Let enough be enough

Scripture: Psalm 30: 7-9

 

Today one of the things uppermost in the mind of the people, all over the world is financial state of affairs. They talk about financial meltdown, economic downturn, redundancy, stock market nosedive, salary cuts and soaring unemployment. The people who felt secure in jobs are biting their nails as they may be next in line to be shown a pink slip. It is one of the most volatile periods of the current economic crisis. Some say at one point in a week global stock markets declined by $7 trillion. Now a days market and financial world is a scary place to be in. There is no making of money or what you invested have become worthless in many cases.

I am touring some parts of New Zealand and in one church bulletin the pastor had the following information. Philip Yancey received a call from an editor at Times magazine. The editor’s simple question was “How should a person pray during a crisis like this” Here is the summary of what Yancey shared in response:
The first stage is simple, an instinctive cry, “Help” For someone who faces a job cut or health crisis or watches retirement savings wither away, prayer offers a way to voice fear and anxiety. I have learned to resist the tendency to edit my prayers so that they sound sophisticated and mature. I believe God wants us to come exactly as we are, no matter how childlike we may feel. A God aware of every sparrow that falls surely knows the impact of scary financial times on frail human beings.

If I pray with the intent to listen as well as talk I can enter into a second stage that of meditation and reflection. Okay, my life savings has virtually disappeared. What can I learn from this seeming catastrophe? A time of financial crisis presents a good opportunity to identify the foundation on which I construct my life. If I place my ultimate trust in financial security or in a Government’s ability to solve my problems, then I will surely watch the flood and walls crumble.

So in essence Yancey points to the fact that we need to face this situation with spiritual acumen, reflection and dependency on God and He will give us wisdom to deal with the crisis.

While in New Zealand I am going around raising support for our work in Nepal and we are finding very hard to raise even the minimum support we need. The people are really scared and they tell us that they are trying to save every dollar for any eventualities in future. All seem to feel totally insecure financially. So giving to mission is not the priority at this stage even though some continue to fulfill their obligations.

I was just praying and thinking on this issue and some of the things that came to my mind and I want to share with you.

What does the Bible say about finances and how do we interpret the teaching on finance in today’s financial downturn. Can we really see answers which will help us tide through this difficult time? The Bible has oodles of teaching on this subject but let me just quote the words of Jesus and Paul. Jesus said in Mathew 6: 19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break and steal. For where your treasure there your heart will be also” Paul said in 1Timothy 6: “10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Of course there are many passages in the Bible which talk about finances and all of them teach us the danger of misuse of money and blessing in right use of money. The teaching of Jesus and Paul tell us very clearly that we are not suppose to sell all we have but our hearts must not be in the things of this world but on God. It does not mean we should not earn, not buy insurance, save for old age and all the things we do but what it means is that the wealth must be a channel of blessing rather than curse on us. Indeed it is true ‘money is a great slave but a tyrant master.’ We all know that more people are pierced with many sorrows just because they have unhealthy understanding and use of money.

The world is full of me and me only attitude. The media talk about self gratification no matter what. Hedonism is the supreme god of this world today. It is called ‘me only’ and Christians need to be very much alert that we do not get snared into the same trap. At times I am scared of many Christians who listen or see some television programme which subtly talks and encourages people to think along the line of the prevalent world culture. When you hear or see such programme beware of them because in the name of the so called Lord and God they can take you away from the simplicity of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to emphasis that material prosperity is not a sign of the blessing of God or else Bill Gates and the likes of him would be the favourites of God. God does bless his children with material blessing but this is not exclusively the sign of the blessing of God.

I believe there is great virtue in being thrifty. I have always been very frugal and as I go older and when I go around shopping malls, I find so many things I do not need. Earning more is not the best answer but cutting down expenses is definitely a good habit. We are called not to hoard and put our minds on our treasures but we can definitely and honorably earn, spend carefully and have sensible long saving plan. Money is powerful thing which can be used for both good and bad purposes.

Financial planning is vital if we want our money to last. Even when I was really poor boy I had started to budget my meager finances and I still have the habit. This has helped to clearly mark out what are absolute essentials, what are essentials and what are non essentials. As a result of my judicious financial planning we are able to manage well. My ‘tune’ is how can I spend less rather than how much more can I earn and I think it is a good way of looking at money. See ways of cutting down your nonessential expenses and you will see your money grow.

As a man who has to raise money mainly from the West it has been a difficult time for me and many others who depend on the generosity of the Western Christians to support our programme so that we can preach the Gospel, look after the poor and just help the community with the resources we are able to gather. But I must confess that we have not first looked at the Father above but at people in affluent countries and this mentality has to change. It is said of King Asa ‘even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord but only from the physicians.’ God did not say going to doctor was bad but what God was teaching was that we must realize that He is the healer and we must first and foremost depend on Him. This is a good principle when it comes to money as well. This really calmed my heart and now if I do not get all money I need I am not going to be worried. Once again in a fresh and unmistkable way God has taught me this precious lesson. Not that I did not know but that I needed to be reminded once again.

There is a great temptation at this time to not give to God what we had been giving especially if we earn a lot more than many people as the money that goes out of our earning for tithes, offerings and charity are of higher amount. Even if we have to go hungry or drastically cut down our expenses we must never cut down what we have vowed to give to God. It will be hard and pinching but then we will have joy of obeying God. Some say God will bless the giver with more money etc. but that is not entirely true. God does bless us materially but He blesses in other ways too. We do not give to receive more but we give because we love the Lord.

Let us look beyond our miseries and see in what way we can help other people and that way we will feel less pain. As we all know there are so many people homeless, sick and have just lost hope. All through the centuries no matter what happened in the world the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has always looked beyond her need and just embraced and helped those who need our help. I always tell my poor congregation ‘Most of you are poor and no one can deny that but whenever you have even a dry chapatti and nothing else find out someone who may not have even a dry chapatti and share half of your chapati and the Lord will bless you’ Church may be poor but has learned to share even out of poverty and that has been a blessing. Remember the stories of crows feeding the prophet Elizah, the widow’s mite, the feeding of the five thousands and many such stories. These stories clearly depict to us the power of God to bless and the power of small things shared.

Poignant statement: Believe in the Everlasting and Sovereign God who does not melt and is not redundant in these days of financial melting and redundancy.


Prayer:

 

Lord, we pray for all those today who are going through hard time due to economic downturn. Meet their daily needs and also help them in these difficult times to cling to God. May they be spiritually renewed and revived.

Republished in new layout on 8/19/2013

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Category: Devotion