Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cutting Back and Stewardship

In these financially difficult time, I am constantly asking the Lord to give me wisdom as to where I can cut back on my household budget. I've tried many thing. When cooking, if time permits, I try to make everything from scratch. I make bread, rolls, buns, tortillas, potato chips, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, sauces,etc. I even tried homemade pasta; wasn't too good. If there is a way to make it myself, I will try it. I'm even using less meat in our meals, which is a big deal for our family. I do the same with cleaning supplies. I've made homemade laundry detergent and have a list of others cleaners I'm going to make as soon as I've used up my store bought ones. I'm patching holes in clothes that I would have, in the past, thrown away. I'm washing out freezer and storage bags, depending on what was in them in the first place. Yesterday I read about a lady who was turning off her hot water heater at night and her freezer and refrigerator for 2 hours every day. I'm considering the freezer and the hot water heater. Not sure how I feel about turning off the refrigerator for 2 hours every day. I quit using the heated drying cycle on the dishwasher and my wonderful husbands is going to construct a clothes line for me (soon, I hope :). If it's hot outside, I keep all the blinds and curtains closed. I promise I do have a point to make and here it is. I may have started cutting back out of financial necessity, but through this process God is teaching me to be a better steward of what He provides. Now, my desire to be frugal is not only to save money, but for the Lord to be pleased and glorified in the way I am using His provisions.

For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. (1Cor. 9:17) This does not indicate that Paul was unwilling to obey but that his will had no part in the call itself. Since it was God's sovereign choice and call, he received not a "reward", but a "stewardship" (a valuable responsibility or duty to be carefully managed). (John MacArthur)

...assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you...(Eph. 3:2) "Stewardship" means an administration, or management. Paul did not choose the stewardship of his apostleship or ministry. God had sovereignly commissioned him with the calling, spiritual gifts, opportunities, knowledge, and authority to minister as the apostle to the Gentiles. (John MacArthur)

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Contented Heart - Part 3

Are we content in going God's way?

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1-6

When we allow God our shepherd to guide us, we will have contentment. when we choose to sin, however, we are choosing to go our own way, and we cannot blame God for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Our Shepherd knows the meadow grass and quiet streams that will restore us. We will reach these places only by following him obediently. Rebelling against the Shepherd's leading is actually rebelling against our own best interest for the future. We must remember this the next time we are tempted to go our own way rather than the Shepherd's way.

Be content because God will never leave you.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" Heb. 13:5-6
Contentment is not found in money or material things.
Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. Psalm 17:13-15

Humility brings contentment.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131:1-3
Be content with what you have.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matt. 6:25-35

Contentment comes when you put Jesus first.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." John 1:29-34