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Being purposeful with finances 3



'The godly love to give!' Proverbs 21:26 NLT

The level of blessing God's prepared to trust us with depends on: (1) Our maturity to handle the blessing. (2) Our willingness to sow it into the Kingdom. (3) Our level of generosity. God knows we can't all give the same amount. Jesus honoured a widow for giving her last two coins, saying: 'Others put in what they had to spare of... she, poor as she is, put in all she had' (Mark 12:44 GNT). On the other hand, businessman Barnabas 'sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet' (Acts 4:37 NIV).

The more God blesses us with, the more he holds us accountable for. Jesus said, 'When someone has been given much, much will be required in return' (Luke 12:48 NLT). We're not all called to give equally but we're all called to sacrifice equally. Ever visited a friend who doesn't have a lot, but their hospitality is so amazing that we feel like royalty? That's because they were willing to share whatever they had, even if it meant giving something up. In order to be really generous, we usually have to sacrifice.

When God trusts us with blessing, his heart is for us to give out willingly and generously. So, let's learn to be generous with whatever he entrusts us with, and sow it back into his Kingdom.

So what now? In what area you could be more generous? It may not be financially, but could you give more of your time or encouragement to a friend or good cause?

Soulfood: Gen 32-34 Luke 9:46-56 Ps 145:14-21 Pro 4:23-24,

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Being purposeful with finances 2



'Gather...in the good years...Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.' Genesis 41:35-36 NLT

Joseph gave Pharaoh some great advice when Egypt was facing a famine: 'Gather all the food produced in the good years...That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come...Otherwise this famine will destroy the land' (Genesis 41:35-36 NLT). The value of this advice was recognised: 'Joseph's suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials' (Genesis 41:37 NLT).

This idea of preparing for the bad times during the good times is something to apply to our own lives, especially when it comes to managing our money. It can be tempting to spend any money we have straight away. But we won't always have a warning, like Pharaoh did, that difficult times are coming. So it's wise to prepare for whatever may lie ahead.

Here are a couple of ways to be prepared: (1) Start saving. Discipline yourself to save regularly. It doesn't matter if it's only a small amount at first, just get into the habit of putting something away regularly. (2) Pay off any debt, as soon as you can. Have you borrowed money, or is your credit card bill growing bigger? Debt is like a huge weight on your back that stops you moving forward freely; regularly putting money aside to pay it off will help to lessen the load.

So what now? Ask God to guide you in deciding on a regular amount to set aside as savings. And ask him to give you wisdom to clear any debt as soon as you can.

Soulfood: Gen 30:25-43 Gen 31:1-55 Luke 9:37-45 Ps 145:1-13 Pro 4:20-22,

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Being purposeful with finances 1



'The wise have wealth...but fools spend whatever they get.' Proverbs 21:20 NLT

It's important to be wise about our future, and to develop good habits. One of the things that's important for us to learn to manage well is our money. Proverbs 21:20 says: 'The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get' (NLT). God isn't against us having wealth and possessions, but he is concerned when we don't use them well. In the proverb, those who planned well and saved are described positively, but those who wasted their resources are harshly described as 'fools'.

So does that mean we should hoard as much as we can? No, because one of the ways we can use our money (or any of the resources God's blessed us with) is to use it to help God's Kingdom. God doesn't demand that we give a certain amount. 'Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV). It's about finding a balance - we need to work out what we need to live on, what to give, and what to save. And to do that, we need God's wisdom.

If you need financial wisdom, remember this: 'If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you' (James 1:5 NLT).

So what now? Is there something you do regularly that you could give up (a cup of coffee, a movie, a takeaway) and use the money for a worthy cause, or save it towards something special. Be purposeful about your finances.

Soulfood: Gen 28:1-22 Gen 29 Gen 30:1-24 Luke 9:28-36 Ps 141 Pro 4:18-19,

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Ferocious faith in your lungs



'Straining toward what is ahead, I press on.' Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

Remember how terrifying swimming lessons were at first? Well, developing your faith can be a very similar process. Fear's like water. If you let it, it will take you under. Faith is the air in your lungs. It will sustain you and keep you afloat if you just relax.

Sometimes we despair and say, 'I'm just keeping my head above water,' and that's okay, as long as we keep taking strokes and pressing on. It's in those times when we feel backed into a corner, with nowhere to turn, that we have to take hold of faith in God to keep moving forward. We must be relentless and fight our way through, confident that God's on our side (Psalm 56:9 NIV). The water we're in doesn't determine our destiny; it either carries us to it, or it takes us under. It takes faith to keep going. When we quit, God can't do anything more for us; we've taken ourselves out of the game.

Have you ever watched a seasoned swimmer? Stroke after stroke, he takes what's in front of him and pushes it behind him, letting it propel him toward his goal. He literally takes what stands between him and his goal, and uses it to get there. So today, whether you're doing freestyle, backstroke, or some other kind of stroke that nobody's heard of - keep pressing on.

So what now? If you're fighting through today, take a moment to ask yourself this question: am I fighting from panic and in my own strength, or am I fighting from faith?

Soulfood: Isa 53:1-12 Acts 8:26-40,

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God uses ordinary people 2



'Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young' 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

Many people think that God won't use them to make a difference for him because they're too young, and therefore considered too inexperienced or incompetent. But the Bible says: 'Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity' (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV). The truth is that God can use anyone. What matters is a willing heart to listen and to do what he's asking.

When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, Jeremiah wasn't convinced: 'Then I said, "But Lord God, I don't know how to speak. I am only a boy."' But God replied: 'Don't say, "I am only a boy." You must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you' (Jeremiah 1:6-7 NIV). God calls us to things too and, whether he's calling us now, or will do in the future, let's not doubt his call.

The Bible says: 'For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do' (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). God's given us all gifts and skills to bring glory to him, to help other people know him better. Somebody, somewhere, needs what we have. If we ask God, he'll show us who they are. When he does - we need to respond.

So what now? Find an older Christian you trust and talk to them about their journey, what God's been teaching them recently, and then tell them what God's been teaching you.

Soulfood: Gen 25:19-34 Gen 26 Gen 27:1-46 Luke 9:18-27 Ps 138 Pro 4:14-17,

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God uses ordinary people 1



'You will be my witnesses.' Acts 1:8 NCV

God calls us all to be 'evangelists'. Whether it's through loving the unlovely, sharing our faith or telling how God has transformed our lives, we're all called to show others who Jesus is. But many of us don't feel qualified to do it. We think we're not good enough, or that 'evangelising' is for 'certain people', or we're afraid what people might think of us. The thing is, God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

Jesus said to his disciples, 'You will be my witnesses...in every part of the world' (Acts 1:8 NCV). His disciples were a mix of everyday people; not people of a certain IQ level, or with theological training or with outgoing personalities. They were just willing to follow him. So, if we're willing to follow, he'll use us and equip us to do what he's calling us to do. 'Few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful' (1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT).

So, we know that God wants to use us all to tell others about him. We just need to be willing to be used.

So what now? Why not say this prayer: 'God, you've called me into your Kingdom to serve you in this place, at this time, and for this purpose. Help me to share who you are with others. Amen.'

Soulfood: Gen 24:1-67 Gen 25:1-18 Luke 9:1-17 Ps 134 Pro 4:5-13,

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Why not



'Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.' 1 Samuel 14:6 NIV

Back in the early days of Saul being king, battle lines were drawn. The Philistines controlled the western border of Israel. Saul was happy enough lounging on the sidelines, but Jonathan wanted to get to that front line: 'Come, let's go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side' (1 Samuel 14:1 NIV). Usually when Israel's kings went into battle, it was because they'd got a word from the Lord telling them they'd win. Jonathan hadn't heard anything like that. He just said, 'Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf' (1 Samuel 14:6 NIV).

Sadly, many people operate from the opposite mentality: 'Perhaps the Lord won't act in our behalf.' They let fear drive their decisions, instead of faith. But God wants us in a place where we know who he is, and that he'll back us if we step out in faith. So our, 'Why should I bother?' becomes 'Well, why not try?'

So, how did the battle end up for Jonathan and his armour bearer? 'So the Lord saved Israel that day' (1 Samuel 14:23 TLB). All it took was one daring risk. That's all it ever takes. When we move, knowing God's heart, God will move on our behalf. And if we don't move, we'll always wonder, 'What if?' Our longest, saddest regrets are our inaction regrets - the things we would've, could've, or should've done, but just didn't do.

So what now? Imagine yourself with God standing behind you, his hands on your shoulders, telling you he's for you wherever you go. 'Why not?'

Soulfood: Gen 20-23 Luke 8:40-56 Ps 125 Pro 4:3-4,

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