I must confess that, these days, I haven’t been able to get a certain woman out of my mind. No, it’s not what you think. You may have heard of her. She’s known as the Widow of Zarephath and she can be found in 1 Kings chapter 17.
I can’t stop thinking about the way that God prospered this woman in the midst of a great famine – a famine to which she had resigned herself that she and her son would fall victim.
Her secret? What did she do in order to manage to prosper under those conditions? Did she think positive thoughts about money until it appeared? Did she paste pictures of money on her refrigerator?
No, none of that. What she DID do was to tend to God’s Kingdom business by taking care of His Prophet Elijah.
It appears to me that when we make His business a priority, He lovingly returns the favor.
IMPLEMENT THE PLAN!
I’ve learned from the example of several godly people, folks who haven’t worked a secular job in years, that the Father WANTS to provide for His children. It is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Lk 12:32), however, there are some Kingdom principles that we MUST practice in order to maximize its benefits, namely, the concept of reaping and sowing.
These friends I mentioned are ministers who, unlike those with which you may be accustomed, completely trust God for their providence without asking. I’ve witnessed these people NOT asking for money after they ministered and I’ve witnessed people GIVING them lots of it anyway.
I am close friends with the people of a local Simple Church group – white collar folks numbering about a dozen at most – who have enthusiastically given away over $50,000 in three years. These average (yet extraordinary) folks get giddy with excitement when they talk about it. Sure, as a Simple Church they have no building to pay for, no Pastor to compensate, but another interesting phenomenon that has taken place is this: when several needs have arisen within our community, people who wanted to ensure that every dime given to these needs actually WENT to those needs – some who no longer attend church for one reason or another - have asked this group to handle their offerings.
They trust these people.
That trust has been earned.
ME AND THE WIFE
Personally, Barbara and I like the feel of sowing seed as the Spirit leads and trusting God for the increase but we also feel an obligation to remind Christians, on occasion, that there’s a blessing in store for sowing their seed into the Kingdom. It seems only fair to us that others should be blessed as we have been. After all, if Budweiser and Burger King will interrupt my TV football games to “remind” me to buy their goods, I don’t really have a problem with reminding people about something that will only bless them if they’ll just get involved in the program.
Without boring you with the details, the recent economic downturn has impacted the lives of my wife and me just as it has many others, but we are not moved nor shaken. Why? Because our emphasis is not on US. It’s God and others. This simply MUST be the way that Christians should live for it’s the example set for us by our King Jesus. Good thing our money is not where we’d placed our hope. Had it been, we would have been hopeless.
Not only did our savings plan take a massive direct hit, but I lost the lion’s share of the businesses I was serving as a Workplace Chaplain along the way, drastically affecting my income. Despite the impact of these economic woes, though we have been blessed to own our share of material things, not once had we received threatening letters or calls from bill collectors or gotten behind in our payments. We hadn’t had a car repossessed or had a house foreclosed on, thank God, nor did we ever consider bankruptcy. Frankly, our lifestyle hadn’t changed all that much (HUGE TIP: use the envelope system for budgeting, folks; it works. Budget! Budget! Budget!). We even fulfilled a lifelong dream for us both and went to Yellowstone!
What did we do amidst this turmoil? We prayed for wisdom because God said He’d give it to us, liberally, if only we asked.
So, we asked.
We sought godly counsel.
We prayed a lot, thanking God at ALL times, declaring His favor over our lives.
We made decisions only when we were in unity. There was no fighting over finances. We love each other and we fight FOR our covenant union. If I had to choose between “stuff” or my sweetheart, I choose my sweetheart. I’ve abased and abounded and I’ve learned firsthand that Jesus is faithful to never leave or forsake us, despite our conditions.
I repositioned my ministry, re-thought some of what I was doing. I re-examined my particular skill set. I positioned myself in my market. I “branded” my product differently with a new logo, etc. I added some new things and eliminated the time-wasters that were not generating any response. The Father has since given me new revelation regarding my ministry and I’ve never been more excited about serving Christians in the workplace!
We cut back on some things EXCEPT in our giving which we often purposely directed to widows and orphans (Including single women and kids without dads).
It feels good!
By the way, we considered requesting a Bail-Out from the Government but we changed my minds.
GIVE IT AWAY!
Take advantage of this Christian Stimulus Package. If you want to stimulate your income, here’s the secret: GIVE WHAT YOU HAVE AWAY! We can never out-give our God. He can do much more with your last dime than you can but He cannot pour out His blessings into hands that are wrapped so tightly around even the most meager of possessions.
Remember: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully,” (2 Cor 9:6).
So, where do you sow your seed? Where did the Widow sow? Into God’s Kingdom, of course. No, she wasn’t paying church salaries or buying new gargoyles for the cathedral. She wasn’t paving parking lots, buying playground equipment or contributing to a new carpet. She was sowing what she had, however, including her time, her efforts, her only valuable possession and, in doing so, fulfilled the purposes of God and was, in turn, very blessed.
Ask the Holy Spirit where you should invest. Then, as Robert Fitts says, “Invest aggressively!” The Spirit will be your Guide. He may direct you to a man down the street with a broken down car and a family. It may be to a single mom in a trailer with three kids and no air conditioner. It may be to a struggling soup kitchen, an elderly neighbor, a coworker or a relative that just can’t make ends meet.
As the old song says, “be their Jesus with skin on.”
Here’s a tip...
Write it down.
“We can NEVER go wrong by investing in People.”
That was it.
Earth-shattering, I know.
Speaking of Earth, God has made us stewards of this planet; Ambassadors for His Kingdom. Unfortunately, every TV show, every house we see, every cool car, cute outfit, every bright neon light, every T-Shirt slogan, is crying out to our five senses that we need to have this or that in order to be fulfilled or to measure up. Without that “stuff,” we somehow feel incomplete, everywhere we turn seems to confirm and compound our perceived imperfections.
It’s a lie!
There’s a HUGE difference between excellence and perfection. Frankly, the One who was perfect gave His life for the rest of us who could never hit the mark.
Not in a million years.
Now, when God sees us, He sees that Perfect One. Because of the bloody Cross at Calvary, we are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). That means you are holy. It’s as if you’ve never sinned. Justified. Sanctified. Your sins are as white as sow. You’ve been bought with at a great Price.
Can’t get any better than that!
The Christian Stimulus Plan: It’s for you, from the Father, with love, for such a time as this!