Before Jackie and I married, we participated in a Crown Financial Class at our church. It was an awesome class made even better by the great leaders we had in it. I'm so glad that I kept our books from the class and have been able to look back at the things it says about the many Bible verses where God talks about money and possessions (over 2,350 verses!) .
Flipping through it earlier this week I was reminded of several things. First of which is a fact that is all too easy to forget in today's culture--how we handle our money influences and is a reflection of our relationship with God. (Luke 16:11, Matthew 25:21). Secondly, God is the true owner of EVERYTHING. Deuteronomy 10:14 says, "Behold, to the Lord your God belong...the earth and all that is in it." Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains." Unfortunately as the Crown Financial study points out, "Christians have been taught only how to handle 10 percent of their income--the area of giving. And although this area is crucial, most have learned how to handle the other 90 percent from the world's perspective." Thirdly, God pointed out to me through the Bible study I'm participating in that He is El Elyon--The Most High. His sovereignty is unlimited and there is no place, no thing, no situation and no person to which it does not extend. Wisdom and knowledge are supremely His (Daniel 2:20-23). Life and death are in His hands alone (Deuteronomy 32:39). And earthly success, riches, and honor are at His discretion as well (1 Samuel 2:6-10). There are no "self-made men." He gives and takes away and we can trust in His wisdom for our lives without fear because all things "work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). I love this week's memory verse in Lord, I Want to Know You: "I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me." Psalm 57:2
Seminary has been a wonderful place for us experience God. Certainly not because we are somehow more spiritual or more special or different in any way than people who don't go to seminary but just because as one Facebook friend put it, "God loves to put us in situation we can't deal with on our own. It makes us desperate for Him, so we become more and more like Him as a result." There are things we have faced that we simply could not deal with alone. Sadly we have not always turned first to God and the principles He has laid out for our lives but when we have, He has not disappointed! There's no doubt in my mind that God is our provider; His loving hand is on us. (Isaiah 31:1)
Now it would be nice if God always DIRECTLY provided for us. If rent money and groceries and fell from the sky like manna, I would be tickled pink. But for some reason or other God has decided not to work that way in our lives instead using other people and resources to bless us. People who know me well know that I love the SWAP shop! It's a great resource on campus available to students. The SWAP stands for "Surplus With A Purpose." If you have something that you cannot use, you donate it to the SWAP shop and someone else who can use it can take it. Churches and individuals have also made great donations to the SWAP shop. We've gotten everything from clothes to a couch to clothes pins from there! And I always sincerely hope that the "surplus" I take in blesses someone as much as the things I've received have blessed me and my family.
Since modern-day manna isn't available, wouldn't a great "second choice" be God's needy people being provided for only by "Christian" resources? Unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way, either. I can't help but think of this cute story I read a while back in an email: