Do You Consider Yourself a Steward?

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Believe it or not, if you are a Christian … you are called to be a steward.

You may have never realized until now that this is the job you were called to, but God takes great delight in making you a steward of His resources, and He is waiting for you to become faithful with what He has blessed you with.

Charles Spurgeon puts it this way …

“Every child of God is where God has placed him for some purpose, and the practical use of this first point is to lead you to inquire for what practical purpose has God placed each one of you where you now are? You have been wishing for another position where you could do something for Jesus: do not wish anything of the kind, but serve him where you are. If you are sitting at the King’s gate there is something for you to do there, and if you were on the queen’s throne, there would be something for you to do there; do not ask either to be gatekeeper or queen, but whichever you are, serve God therein. Brother, are you rich? God has made you a steward, take care that you are a good steward.”

If you have ever spent your days wishing or hoping for a different position in life – it’s time to stop!

God has placed you EXACTLY where you are for a reason … and He wants you to be a steward in that position.

What does this look like if you’re a stay at home mom? Or a cubical worker? Or a garbage collector?

All occupations, all callings, all lives can be lived for the glory of God – no matter where you are or what you do.

Here are 3 Ways to Become a Better Steward Today:

  1. Look for Opportunities to Share the Gospel

We are stewards of the great message that Christ has given us – the gospel! Because you have been entrusted with this, don’t be afraid to share it. Take special care of that message and reach souls for Christ when you get those opportunities.

  1. Live Your Life Out In Front of Others with GREAT Stewardship

Do you take care of the little things? The big things? People will notice. Let the words of your mouth be gratefulness, an attitude of contentment & gratitude. (Need inspiration on how to do this? Check out our last post on gratitude.) Before you know it, others around you will see the stewardship in your life.

  1. Take a Hard Look at How You Spend Your Time, Talents, & Treasures

The three important areas we are called to be stewards of is our “time, talent & treasures”. Take a look at how and where you spend your time, if you are using your talents to your full ability, and the way you handle and give your money.

Remember that becoming a good steward doesn’t happen overnight … it is a slow process that grows us to become more and more like our Savior.

Do you have ways that you practice stewardship in your life? Share with us!

– Erika from Faithful with Finances 

God As the Ultimate Giver

Have you ever thought of God as a “generous giver”?

He is the ultimate example of what it means to give generously and freely to others.

A popular verse we hear thrown around very often is John 3:16 …

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The cross was a pure act of generosity. God chose to give us His Son. To allow Him to be dragged through the mud, beaten, scorn. And He did this all for us – to GIVE us this free gift.

In James 1:17 we read “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…”

Every gift we receive in our lives that is “good” and “perfect” comes from the ultimate giver of gifts.

He specifically places special acts of grace within our lives to let us know that He cares.

Think of a thoughtful fiancé that wants to let his future wife know he is thinking of her … so he leaves a dozen roses for her to come home to after a long day at work.

Not only does God give us little gifts like this, He also gives us BIG ones …

Our family, our health, our finances, our children …

He will always be there for us, looking for ways to give us special gifts every single day.

Knowing that this is the character of God, His true giving character, how do you feel about the way you are giving back to Him?

Have you given Him “good” and “perfect” gifts from what you have?

Take this week to reevaluate your giving, and if needed, make a change to be more generous. God will ultimately reward those that will chose to let go and give in a more sacrificial way.

– Faithful with Finances

What it Takes to Live Below Your Means

loose changeYou want the hard truth? The absolute hard truth?

Living below your means is NOT easy.

You will have to make sacrifices … on many occasions.

You will feel like giving up.

You will take each purchase seriously … even when it’s your favorite Starbucks drink.

You will want to complain.

You will feel deprived at times.

But in the end … you will GROW to love this lifestyle.

You will see your bank account slowly grow.

You will feel a huge relief from stress.

Your heart and mind will begin to seek God.

You will let go of the material, and look towards the immaterial.

You will appreciate the little things.

You will care more about the people around you … not the things around you.

You will meet your goals.

You will banish debt.

You will release contentment.

It can happen to you … yes you!

The only way to start is to start today.

Think about the sacrifices you will have to make, but more importantly, think about the rewards.

– Faithful with Finances 

Giving to God First

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Many times we hear the phrase “give to God first”, yet many of us don’t realize what that actually looks like in our lives.

Giving to God first ultimately means putting Him in the “#1” position to everything you earn.

Whatever you have decided in your heart to give, don’t hesitate to make that happen right as you receive it.

When you decide to put God at the bottom of the list, you can begin to loose sight of your priorities. Many people will pay all of their bills, their mortgage, their credit cards, and come to find in the end that there is nothing left to give.

If you are in this position, we encourage you to give to God from the “first of all your produce”. In other words – the first of your income.

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.”

No matter how small, or how insignificant it might be, make sure you give God that #1 priority spot starting today!

– Faithful with Finances

Meet Tony and Carin

 

Tony and Carin have spent most of their lives in the financial industry, and now they are reaching out and sharing their time-tested wisdom on the subject of giving and finances. Their ministry was inspired by those in the church body that needed guidance and direction on how to honor the Lord with their resources. Together they have authored the book “Faithful with Much” and continue to inspire others to cross over boundaries in their giving. Faithful with Finances is an outpouring of this same passion, a ministry born from a desire to educate the church body on what God actually thinks about money, and what He wants us to do with it. Join them on their journey by either picking up a copy of their book, or bringing their workshop to your church today. 

Encouraging Words from a Woman of Faith

Today I want to introduce you to my mom, one of the most beautiful and selfless women I have ever met. Her wisdom is absolutely timeless, and I have come to her for so many of my questions, thoughts, and doubts.

With all of these concepts of stewardship, and living out God’s will in our finances, I thought it would be helpful for you to see a woman who is actually living out these truths, and practicing them on a daily basis.

She is a great example of what it means to truly trust God with EVERYTHING, and to never look back. I hope you are encouraged by her, and you are able to see the subtle, yet unbelievable rewards that come from honoring God in your everyday lives….

1. On this blog, we are all about saving women money and helping them spend it, but do you think talking and thinking about money can sometimes become a distraction in itself?

Yes. spending, saving and tracking income and expenses can become an obsession just like anything else. There are so many people and things that can become an idol to us and that can certainly include our finances. That is not just a statement to the wealthy who have a lot to keep track of. When times are tight couponing for instance could become the idol in our lives. Seek the LORD first in ALL things including the management of HIS assets.

2. What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned with using your resources for Kingdom purposes?

I think one of the most important lessons that I have learned is “patience”. When giving to churches or organizations that are working to get the gospel out for instance…I have learned to be patient and know that I will see the fruit of those gifts in heaven some day. Those who were able to hear and accept the gospel message as a result on one of my financial gifts may reveal themselves to me in heaven. Oh what a special day that will be….so much more fulfilling than having a plaque on a wall in some stone church here on earth.

3. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with giving the control over to the Lord?

I think I would suggest that they purposely put the LORD first with their giving. Take 10% right off of each check and give it away. Immediately the LORD will be first in their financial planning. From there take small steps. Deny yourself some pleasure that is straining your budget. For example if you have a Starbucks every day…..start by reducing that to every other day for a month. Track your savings and as you see results and enjoy that you are truly putting the LORD first with your giving, you will feel HIS presence as you become more self-controlled and dependent on HIM.

4. What is the best tip you have in regards to saving and spending well?

For saving – do it with a purpose and a plan and make sure to get the best interest rate available for the amount of money you have saved. For spending – look for sales and use coupons at all times!

5. How can a women start to get involved in things like charitable giving or investing?

Women naturally have the hearts to give so getting involved comes naturally in most cases. Find a cause that you are passionate about and seek to make a difference in that area. Investing is quite a different thing. Depending on how much you have to invest always think about your risk tolerance level before investing. For instance if 1 is extremely conservative and 10 is aggressive and you rate yourself as a 3 for your risk tolerance level…. never invest in something that can be extremely volatile and would rank as a 10 on the risk tolerance scale. Much stress is added to ones life by not investing according to your own risk level. If you invest too conservative for yourself you become dissatisfied and anxious…if you invest too aggressively you worry all the time. So find the balance.

6. What is your favorite verse in the Bible on finances?

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

7. How does your testimony relate to the topics of stewardship and finances?

The LORD has given me much to steward over in this world. Because of that, I have needed to work diligently to keep an eternal perspective and to not let the “worries of this world” overtake me. Certainly, I am still a major work in process but the scripture that says “…it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…” keeps me focused on the task at hand. It is all about avoiding the “love of money” and working on growing your heavenly balance sheet as opposed to your earthly one. The wealthy need to be encouraged greatly in this because they can be used as vessels of honor or (more easily) vessels of dishonor with respect to stewardship and finances. I am running a distance race and striving for the goal and the reward just like everyone else!

 

 By: Erika Pizzo & Carin Amaradio

Why Should I Give More Than I Have To?

There is more to giving than simply an act of obedience and reluctance. Giving can bring you joy beyond what you may have ever imagined, and through giving, God can grow you in deeper and more intimate ways.

Have you ever thought about why you give? Most American Christians give only about 2% of their income, but why do they do this? Are they giving because they think they have to? Or are they giving from an attitude of the heart?

Many Christians are only giving that 2% because they are stuck in a state of complete reluctance. They know it pleases God, yet they are not yet willing to let go of the extra cash every month.

I want to open you up to the possibilities that God has greater plans for you in this area than you think. You may be sitting there wondering to yourself, “How does God expect me to give? I don’t have anything…” or you may be thinking “I already give enough.” Whatever might be running through your mind, I challenge you to see that the Lord has said some very specific and inspiring things on this topic in His word.

Do you remember the story of the poor widow? Her gift to God was used as an example to all believers in Luke 21:1-4 where it says, “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins.  And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on’.”

This verse is a great challenge to many believers today, as well as the believers who heard this at the time. Jesus used this widow as an example because her heart was in the right place. In whatever you decide to give, it is important to examine where you heart is at on this topic. Do you give out of reluctance? Do you feel that you must write that check, that you would never give more than you “have to”?

I am always encouraged to read Paul’s delight in the generosity of the Corinthian church. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-13 we read,

6The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifullywill also reap bountifully. 7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, forGod loves a cheerful giver. AndGod is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiencyin all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

10He who suppliesseed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing andincrease the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, whichthrough us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12For the ministry of this service is not only supplyingthe needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13By their approval of this service, theywill glorify God because of your submission flowing from yourconfession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others…”

God has created us to experience His provision in this area of our lives. Do you see in those verses that the Corinthian church glorified God through their submission? Although giving can be considered a way of submitting to Christ, it is also a glorious activity that brings much fruit in your life. In verse 11, we see that they will be enriched because of their generosity, and it will all lead back to one thing: thanksgiving to God.

Giving is not an overnight process. It takes complete altering of your view of this life on earth to see that God wants much more than your pocketbook, He wants your heart.

His plan is to take your heart, and transform it to see that the things of this world are empty, meaningless, and not what we should put our time, talent and treasures into. God has a much better investment in mind for us, His kingdom.

I challenge you today to take a step towards generous giving. Make God the center of that check, not your thoughts or worries about what it will mean to your personal bank account. Maybe just give a little bit more than you did last time, let go of a few extra dollars. Start to think about that eternal balance sheet, about the significance of giving to something much bigger than yourself.

You never know what will happen next…

 

By: Erika Pizzo

 

Can Money Affect Your Marriage?

I think we all know the answer to this one, money and all the baggage that it carries can cause great destruction in our marriages, and if we are not careful, it can cause the best of relationships to fall apart.

Just last night I was with a group of close couples, and we are reading through Paul Tripp’s book “What Did You Expect”. This book has been a wonderful tool to open my eyes to see what marriage really is, two sinners trying to make the best of their circumstances before we are perfected in heaven with Christ.

Yet as I was reading, I couldn’t help but think about how relevant this is to the way we treat our spouses in the use of our money together.

Isn’t it funny how money can become both a source of comfort in our lives, as well as a source of complete heartache? The biggest problem with this situation is that we make it a source of comfort in the first place. Let me give you a quote from Tripp’s book on where our comfort should rest;

“When your heart rests in the amazing wisdom of the choices of a powerful Creator, you have given yourself reason to continue. When your heart celebrates the myriad of careful choices that were made to bring your stories together, you have given yourself reason to continue. When your heart is filled with gratitude for the amazing grace that you both have been and are being given, you have given yourself reason to continue. You are not alone. Your creating, ruling, transforming Lord is still with you.”

His point in this chapter was that life can be so difficult at times, that we find it very hard to continue. I think that this relates very directly to our money, and what life throws at us.

In going into the different churches we have been blessed to go to, I can’t help but hurt for some of the people in those congregations.

It isn’t that they didn’t work hard enough, it isn’t that they made bad financial choices along the way, and it isn’t even that they specifically chose not to give.

No, life just handed them a HORRIBLE deck of cards, and their circumstances are very broken.

What it really takes in these situations are a few different things. I will give you specific points below that will help you through all of this, but what you must keep in mind in the process is one thing, and one thing only: God is Your reason to continue.

He will carry you through whatever you are facing, and He is sovereign over your circumstances, meaning, He already knows what will happen!

Rest in the fact that He gives you a reason to wake up every morning, and whatever you might be facing at this moment financially, is small in comparison to His grand plan for your life.

Because money can affect your marriage, it is important to be equipped with the tools to handle money, and to be ready to work through your issues together.

Tip 1: Work together to create a savings plan.

You may be married to a spender, or you yourself might be a spender, but either way, you must begin to work together to start saving for your future. Sit down and talk about your future goals, don’t be afraid to put it all on the table, and begin to work towards a savings plan that will help you achieve some of those goals.

Tip 2: Look at that person through the eyes of Christ.

At every opportunity, show love to your spouse. They will fail, they will let you down, and they will ultimately hurt you, but your response in these moments is crucial. Look at them in a way that Christ would look at them, with compassion and grace, knowing that they are trying their best to deal with the sin that is in their lives. Love them despite their sin, because you know what, you have quite a bit of sin yourself!

Tip 3: Pay off your debts as soon as possible.

Everyone knows that debt is a huge weight on marriage. One or both of you are CONSTANTLY thinking about it, and it weighs heavy on your heart. Don’t forget to give your concerns over to God, and actively pursue paying off your debt as soon as you can. This WILL make your marriage easier, and will probably eliminate a lot of small and meaningless fights. For more tips on paying of your debt visit my latest post.

Tip 4: Be on the same page.

Make sure that you are your husband or wife’s best and most helpful accountability partner. Don’t let this lead to more fights or heartache, but rather seek to make that person what they are meant to be, a beautiful reflection of Christ. Have weekly or monthly meetings on your budget, see how you are doing, and enjoy the time you have to be together and talk through these issues. You are growing, and that is a beautiful thing.

Tip 5: Give together on a regular basis.

For awhile, I was writing the checks to give to our church, and I didn’t really give that much involvement to my husband. In this way, I was robbing him of a really great inner joy! It wasn’t until tax time that he really realized what we had given, and it almost came as a surprise to him. I realized that if I had included him more, this would have caused him to be more grateful for what God had provided for us this year. Include your spouse on the giving process, and do it together. Even find a ministry that brings both of you great joy and excitement, and let that drive you to continue to give more and more.

 

My final point is to encourage you that money is temporal, it won’t last, but hopefully your relationship that reflects Christ will last. Seek to serve your partner in the way you handle the money in your household, and God will be smiling down from heaven saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

 

By: Erika Pizzo

Make Your Dollar Grow

God has specifically chosen us to be His “money managers”.

By now, you’ve probably realized that we don’t own ANY of it! It’s all His! And because we are His servants, Christ expects an exceptional life from us, including the way we handle His money.

In Matthew 25:20-21,  we are given a glimpse of what our Master expects from us;

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”

If you happen to have a lump of cash lying around, you better be doing something with it!

God does not accept laziness, and He wants us to look for ways to grow His resources. In the parable of Matthew 25, we are given a real picture of what it means to trust God with everything He’s given to us. If we multiply His resources, He blesses us. If we hide it away and sit in fear, He curses us.

So let’s look at some ways that we can begin to venture out into the world of investing…

Here is a helpful graph that shows what were to happen if we invested $5,000 over different periods of time.

Let’s look at a period of 10 years. Column one illustrates what would happen if you left your $5000 in a local bank, one-tenth of one percent is the current going rate. So at the end of ten years…a whopping $50 dollars gained!

Now let’s say that you were able to invest the $5000 and earn 5%, in ten years you would have $8,144 – a bit better than the bank!

Finally let’s see what would happen if you invested your $5000 in a professionally managed account (which we do at SPM) that earned 7.2%.  At the end of 10 years your money has almost doubled! Which one of these would earn the remark “Well done good and faithful servant”?

When you starting thinking about investing, make sure you have as a starting point, a cash reserve that equals approximately 3-4 months of your monthly bills.  Beyond that, seek a professional to help you identify suitable investments that will help you achieve your short and long term goals.

If you have already become an investor don’t become complacent. Review your rates of return, check on the progress you are making as you save for college funding or retirement.  Analyze your real property – did you know there are very creative ways to charitably gift an appreciated asset in a tax-favored way?

And finally, always review the status of your giving.  Make sure that as you become more “profitable” you continue to increase your giving accordingly.  Self-centeredness has a unique way of creeping up on us and causing us to spend on meaningless, empty, material possessions.  So invest and invest wisely but constantly remind yourself that these are not your assets but they belong to the LORD.  Your attitude with respect to your financial resources will indeed reflect the level of your faith!

Radical Giving

When most church-goers think about giving, the first word that typically pops into their mind is “the tithe”. This is what most people feel is their duty, and often times, they will faithfully give that 10%. Yet, we see throughout scripture that our Lord calls us to give with our hearts, and this can sometimes mean stepping out of that 10% boundary in BIG ways!

The challenge here is to think of giving as a journey, not a destination. Your giving should continually reflect the attitude of your heart, and your dependence on the Lord.

When we first become believers, at some point, someone has instructed us that giving or tithing was required, or the right thing to do.  Chances are, we began with an attitude of reluctance.  I remember as a child growing up in the Lutheran church. They would pass around the wooden offering bowl that had a red velvet lining on the bottom.  My mother would instruct me to place my quarter in the tray, and I did so, but with reluctance. My heart wasn’t necessarily in the right place, I was just giving because I had to.

As faith grows, you begin to acknowledge that what we are really doing is returning a portion of that which belongs to the Lord. Therefore, our attitude changes and now becomes one of obedience, and reverence to our Lord. At this point in the journey, we are usually still calculating a percentage and faithfully and obediently giving. We must become careful, because many get stuck here in their giving journey without venturing any further.

At some point in your life, someone might begin to challenge your thinking to step out of the obedience box and really get a hold of the concept that ALL of what you have belongs to the Lord, and the freeing part of the journey begins when you begin to give more than a calculated percentage. You venture into the area of giving beyond what may be considered “normal”. When you take this serious step of faith, you will experience joyful giving.  It’s a sort of emotional high from becoming part of the financial leg of a ministry or church relay team. You are no longer concerned about percentages or calculated tithing; it’s more about joyfully helping and using your financial talents to serve.

Soon – almost automatically, you become passionate in your giving journey. No longer does that cap on the deductibility of charitable giving matter as your accountant prepares your income taxes. You begin to see things through different, heavenly- bound eyes. You are a “cheerful” giver (Greek translation, HILARIOUS giver) enjoying the process no matter how upside down it may seem to the world – and oh, does God LOVE a cheerful giver.  You consider your earthly balance sheet and compare it to your heavenly one. The heavenly one must be stronger. You start to think about the amount of inheritances to be left to family members. You sense the urgency of God’s work in this world, and you act to help get it done!

So I challenge you ladies the “purse strings” and the “heart strings” are in your hands. Get control of your spending, save and invest wisely, and ultimately accomplish great things in the area of Passionate Giving! Your Heavenly Father can’t wait to tell you, “well done…good and faithful servant”.

By: Carin Amaradio

Does God Even Care about Money?

Money can be so…filthy.

How could a God that is so involved in the immaterial have any concern with the filthy material? Because money says a lot about the condition of our hearts, and the way we deal with it shows how much we have given over to our Lord, and how much we might be holding back.

Consider for a moment that there are over two thousand references to this topic in the Bible, compared to a mere five hundred references on the topic of Faith. How about the fact that sixteen of Christ’s thirty-eight parables speak about how people should handle their earthly treasures? One out of every ten verses in the Gospels deal with this area of Money and Stewardship…are you convinced yet? In fact, our Lord taught more about such stewardship than about heaven and hell combined!  Why in the world would God spend so much time on this topic when…

 Isn’t money the root of all evil?

 Isn’t money one of the leading causes of divorce and family strife?

 Isn’t money the thing that distracts us from pursuing God?

It isn’t money itself that causes all of these problems, but rather the love of money. Something that starts within our own hearts. 1 Timothy 6:10 states “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Because the Bible is filled with so much instruction on this topic we can assume that:

Our creator KNEW that we would need a TON of guidance in this area.

 He no doubt KNEW that this would be an area filled with great temptation.  

He also KNEW that it would be an area that could be used to bring Him MUCH glory!!

So now it’s time for us to consider…Who’s money is it anyway?

So often we get caught up with that over-possessive attitude as we consider spending and saving. We don’t even stop for a second to think about who gave these things to us, or what He has to say about them…

“It’s MY house, It’s MY savings account, it’s MY 401-K, it’s MY mutual fund, its MY income”…

And then when things take a negative turn, we start to question God…

“Why did God take MY job?”; “Why did God take MY home?”; “Why did God take away MY financial security?”

Of course, these are the wrong questions to be asking. When we start to look at our finances, we need to change our heart-perspective, our view of who even owns it. Take time to reflect on the verses below:

Haggai 2:8 – “The silver is Mine, and the gold in Mine’, says the Lord of hosts.”

Psalm 24:1 — “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”

I Chronicles 29:11-12 — “For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours….both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all.”

Deuteronomy 8:18(a) “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…”

So the proper perspective is that GOD OWNS IT ALL.

As you go about your day today, think about what you might be holding on to. Lay out all of your possessions at the throne of God, and DON’T hold anything back.