Monday, June 30, 2014

Christian Response to Poor and Needy - PM

God is concerned about man's material life and needs.  (physical well being, financial state, etc.)
hence, are many verses instructing us to assist the poor and needy  (concordance search brings up hundreds of references)

"Poor" is a relative term.  - USA Poverty level 2014 - family of 4 - $23,850, family of 5 - $27,910

We are called to identify and assist!

4 Groups of Poor Identified in Scripture!

#1.  Poor due to calamity (disaster, disease, disability) - example:  "widows and orphans" - great depression
  - through no fault of their own
  - presently incapable of supporting self

#2.  Poor due to Oppression - ( exploitation, abuse)
example:  slaves, exploited workers
Also no fault and unable to correct situation.

#3.  Poor because of sloth/laziness (indifference)
Prov. 10:4, 20:13

#4.  Poor for Righteousness' sake. - forfeited wealth and/or opportunity to serve God and man.
example:  Apostles/missionaries, etc.

Add 2 more:

#5.  Poor due to financial ignorance - maybe incompetence, maybe indifference

#6.  Poor due to long term (continual) mismanagement.
examples:  21st .Century Americans, lottery winner stats:  70% of big winners broke within 5 years.  Bigger the amount, more likely are to file bankruptcy
Prov. 21:17, 23:20-21 - continual lifestyle

Christian Response??? (not the same in every situation) to...........
#1.  Calamity/disaster?  = aid and assist - Lev. 25:35-37 - examples:  field corners left, no 2nd. picking, every 7th year = fallow year.
Matt. 25:37-40 - we have obligation to help.

#2.  Oppression/exploitation?  = aid financially, aid politically, judicially, etc.  Don't deny assistance because poor.
Deut. 24:14-15
Ex. 23:6
Prov. 14:31, 31:8-9

#3.  Righteousness' sake? - support them in their ministry  without expecting to change the situation.  (they have chosen the situation) - Matt. 10:41-42

#4.  Sloth and laziness?  2 Thess. 3:6, 10-15 - don't encourage this behavior

#5.  Financially ignorant? 
- assist if incompetent - that can't be helped
- educate if competent - BUT if indifferent - see #4.

#6.  Continual mismanagement - if because of incompetence, see #5.  If because of indifference - #4

Ongoing dilemma. 
A consideration on dealing with the continually poor and needy:

example:  Book entitled "When Helping Hurts" -

Response = Relief - Rehabilitation - Development

When in a bad situation, no matter what reason, give relief, then try to restore to original state (rehabilitation) and then try to bring to the next level (development).

BUT, helping the poor requires more than $$$.  Self-esteem, self-worth, depression, etc. Many other issues to deal with.

Age old issue:  who to help?  How?  When?  How often??
While it's not always easy to answer, we are obligated to help, and God will bless us in our efforts.
Isa. 58:5-12

Wealth and Money - AM

OT - Wealth and Money mostly viewed positively - ie:  as a Blessing from God - examples:  Job, Abraham, Solomon  Prov. 10:22

NT - expresses more warnings, stresses the dangers of wealth and money.  ie:  parable of the Rich Fool, the Rich Young Ruler - Luke 16:13-15 - have tendency to put trust in riches when are very wealthy.
There are thousands of verses about W & $ in the Bible.

So:  views of wealth and money have been varied among Christians.
View #1. - Money is Bad!  (evil and/or leads to evil)
Early Christians = A) mostly poor
                            B) often oppressed and exploited by the rich and powerful
Therefore,            C) stressed TRUE RICHES .... in Christ.

On one hand, Scripture does not condemn wealth, However, wealth and money are considered seductive and dangerous.  1 Tim. 6:9-10

One result of this view = medieval monasticism -  people gave away everything to follow Christ.  Example:  Francis of Assisi (1200 - )   Believed that Poverty - a duty and a virtue!!  Thousands began to follow him which resulted in the Franciscan Order which is still huge today.  Wealth considered a vice.

View #2.  Money Is Good.  (God wants you to have LOTS!!)
example:  health and wealth gospel.   Matt. 7:7-11   Mark 10:28-30   Rom. 8:15-17
Some of largest churches around world today follow and promote this.

View #3.  Between =  a)  Money is neither good nor bad.
                                  b)  can be a great blessing or great curse
                                  c)  makes wonderful servant, but terrible master.
Protestant/Reformed view - Calvin, Luther, Puritans.

The oddity:  the practitioners know as "non-worldly", BUT tended to accumulate wealth!!!
(example: Quakers/Amish/Mennonites, etc)
So, a look at  a few of their interpretations/ ideas.  
Particularly their Practices - (practical application)

#1.  Hard Work - considered part of their "vocation" or "calling from God" - Gen. 2:15 (hasn't changed)
We ought to:  work hard, work well - Col. 3:23-24 - do it well as unto the Lord.
They believed 2 Thess. 3:6-10 - a) given to Christians  and b)  applied to Rich also!!

#2.  Simple lifestyle - relative term but, live well but don't live high.

To them this didn't mean "live within your means", rather meant "live beneath your means", which lead to

#3.  Good Stewardship (management) - from Greek word meaning house law
- household manager, management - Example:  Joseph for Potiphar

       Which included:
       A)  Paying attention to business - Prov. 27:23-24
        B) Living off the gain (providing for the family) - 1 Tim. 5:8
        C) Using gain for good - giving/sharing/assisting
                 a)  helping poor, needy, unfortunate - Prov. 19:17
                 b)  building community - love neighbor as self
                c)  building Kingdom - education/missions - they believed tithe was bare minimum - that were robbing God if only giving 10%

       D.  Saving for hard times - Prov. 21:20

       E.  Investing the profit - idea was not "make profit, now can consume it", but "made profit so now can employ it"!!
They felt responsible to put profit to work!!! = Capitalism! - they didn't do this because wanted to make money, but as good stewards of what God had blessed them with.

      F.  Leaving a financial legacy - giving children, grandchildren, etc. = "leg up"

     G.  Being honest & fair in all financial dealings. - believed no profit in being dishonest and God would not bless that!

#4.  Practiced Contentment
1 Tim. 6:6-8   Phil. 4:10-13   

Their Point was NOT about wealth, but about pursuing God/Godliness/living out faith/building the Kingdom

The summary = Matt. 6:31-33

Monday, June 23, 2014

Finances and the Christian Marriage

When people asked, "what caused your marriage to fail?", four answers surface:
communication problems
sexual incompatibility
in laws
financial issues

The leading factor?  financial issues
80% of couples divorcing before 30 cited financial problems as THE primary cause of the divorce.  (are additional things as well, but this = primary)

Therefore, continuation of the Marriage and Family Series.
This week - "Finances and Christian Marriage"
Next week - "Biblical principles of Finance"

Steps to Strengthening and Improving your marriage in the arena of money and finances.

The point today is NOT how to improve your finances.  It is how to improve your marriage by means of your finances.

(Obvious extension --- if improve your marriage it will naturally improve your home/family)

Step #1.  Make Jesus LORD of your finances.   Matt. 6:24, 33
1st - make Him LORD of your Life, then be sure that includes your $$$.

Observation by Martin Luther - "3 conversions necessary for a believer - conversion of the heart, conversion of the mind, conversion of the purse!!"  This is very difficult to accomplish because finances are a very personal issue.

#2.  Learn what God has to say about finances.
ie:  Biblical principles of acquiring, spending, saving, investing, giving

There are thousands of verses in the Bible about money.  Only the Kingdom of God has more verses about it. 
Survey:  Americans who own a Bible (in their household) - 88%
             Americans who consider themselves knowledgeable about the Bible - 82%
             Americans who can name the 1st. 5 books of the Bible - 43%
A)  this = (important) moral issue
B)   Bible has given us a lot of information
C)  bottom line is NOT $$ in the bank, = better marriage, better witness, better peace, better harmony - "well done"

#3.  Talk about finances with one another
when asked, "what caused marriage to fail?" - answer = financial issues
BUT, when asked "what would make relationship successful?" - answer = communicate

Best time to talk about this - before the wedding.  (and almost nobody does it)

Next best time - NOW!!

This is not always easy because is VERY personal and potentially volatile!

#4.  Recognize your spouse's legitimate views on money.  (a different view is not necessarily a wrong view)
Some books dealing with money:  "Four Money Languages" - Dr. Kenneth Doyle, Financial Psychologist - U. of MN
                                                   "Five Money Personalities" - Scott & Bethany Palmer

Point:  Money means different things to different people!!
examples:  significance - (proves I'm somebody"
                 security - (protects my future)
                 enjoyment/pleasure - (satisfies my hungers)
                 love/affection - (makes people love me)

Simplify:  SPENDERS and SAVERS.  Which is legitimate?  Which is needed?  Which is healthy? 
Answer = BOTH!!
Simple formula = Save Some - Spend Some - Share Some

#5.  Approach financial issues as partners (equals)
One may MAKE more
One may have more interest, savvy, ability to handle
BUT, one should NOT have more say, more control

"God's plan for marriage = 1) Companionship and 2) PARTNERSHIP
Therefore, Share - the money, burden, strain, responsibility, goals, harvests, abundance

Point = share all liabilities AND Assets
            share all decisions on liabilities and assets.
Luke 11:17

#6.  Agree to live within your means.
2 parts to this:
A)  "live within your means" - if you spend more than you make??,  if you don't save some??, if you borrow more than can pay? - NOT living within your means!   We are notorious about living above means.
Average American = $225,000 debt and less than $500 savings.

B)  "Agree to Live" -  examples:  Spendthrift vs. tightwad

Additional:  C) Agree to give - IF not giving, then NOT practicing Christian financial principles!!

#7.  Create a Positive Christian financial legacy
Doesn't mean leave behind money, inheritance
Means leave a model, trail, teaching - something your kids and grandkids and great-grandkids can see and understand and embrace and practice and, therefore, AVOID some of your struggles!!!

Point of all this is NOT to improve your bank account.
It is to improve your marriage, family, home

Beauty of it is that you CAN HAVE BOTH!!!   So, next week - "Biblical Principles of Finance"

Luke 16:10-13 - Choose!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Marriage and Family - Core Doctrines

Materials for Marriage and Family - good but need to be built on solid foundation of Scripture (Systematic Theology).   These are the doctrines on which the teachings of Marriage and Family rest.


I.  Creation and Design -
   A.  We are created and designed
   B.  Marriage and family are created and designed.
   C.   function BEST when practiced according to that Design!!  (example:  your plan for marriage vs. His intent.  - we don't know as much as we think we do.  He DOES!!)

II.  Sin - "if marriage and family designed .... why do they fail so??
Answer: = Sin - which = acting contrary to God's will, intent, design
Example:  #1 effect of Sin = Alienation - schism, break in harmony

POINT -  understanding Christian Marriage and Family at superficial levels is practical and helpful
BUT, when you grasp CORE DOCTRINES on which they were built, much more effective!

So, today = 3 core doctrines (that affect your marriage and family)

The Doctrine of:
#I.  The Indwelling Holy Spirit

#II.  Sanctification

#III.  Redemptive Suffering

First:  Definition/Description of these Doctrines.
#I.  The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
ie:  when you receive Christ, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell, reside within
John 14:16-17  1 Cor. 6:19
How?  What manner? = mystery - Col. 1:27

But, regardless of what you feel, sense, are aware of,
He is WITH you in a very PERSONAL and POWERFUL way!

#II.  Sanctification = the ongoing process of becoming what you were created to be and saved to be!

3 tenses of salvation:   Justification - when accept Christ, placed in a right relationship with Him
                                  Sanctification - present - process of making you holy
                                  Glorification - future

#III.  Redemptive Suffering - ie:  Christ suffered for you and your benefit (immensely, eternally,) from His sacrifice.  1 Pet. 2:24, 3:18

Now, simple application of these core doctrines to your marriage and family life.

I.  The Indwelling - the Holy Spirit indwells you TO
    1)  reveal (show) - God's will for yr. life
                               - your behavior (what I am) - John 16:8 - so can turn to what should be
    2)  enable - you to do His will - instead of "couldn't" do that, = "won't" do that!
    3)  effect change - in you, your thinking, your philosophy, etc.
              Better Person => better Partner => better Parent

II.  Sanctification - the process is:
      1)  Gradual - immediate change only happens occasionally
      2)  continual - ie.  you have not arrived - therefore, should NOT stop!!  - as long as you live, should improve
      3)  a cooperative effort - 2 Pet. 1:2-4 - His part
                                            2 Pet. 1:5-8 - Your part

III.  Redemptive Suffering = as Christ sacrificed, suffered to MAED (make an Eternal difference) - so can you!!  Eph. 5:25-29  Can do for other people.

We can't sacrifice all things all the time,  (have physical, emotional, relational needs),
However, most could improve on sacrificing OWN SELFISH DESIRES.
1 Pet. 2:20-21 - doesn't mean He wants us to suffer.
BUT, He wants us to achieve, accomplish, effect - sometimes we're called to bear unjust load for the benefit of spouse, family, others..

                                      Marriage & Family Books & materials
                                            D O C T R I N A L     S T U D I E S
                                                  JESUS CHRIST - 1 Cor. 3:11

On one hand, nothing wrong with starting at the top and working way down.  But note where that will ultimately lead you!!  - To Christ

Monday, June 2, 2014

Marriage and Sin - Effects & Results

Gen. 1:31 - Marriage good in first 2 chapters.
Then, Gen. 3:1-24 - 'The Fall"

1)   Marriage = designed - has divine Designer (God)
2)   Marriage = designed to produce/ bring about ... companionship (way beyond friendship),  partnership, courtship, "Godly offspring", melding, staying lifelong (some purposes marriage designed for)

Question:  IF it is so designed, why not Producing more????
Quote from acquaintance years ago, "problem is not with the institution, the problem is us!!"

BUT, what about us????   Biblical Answer = SIN

Definition of sin = any attitude or action contrary to God's will, desire, design for us.  - Commission or Omission.

First instance of sin (in human race) - Gen. 3

Results?   Consequences?  
 #1.  Alienation  
#2.  Perpetuation
 Prior to the fall, everything was in harmony.

I.  Alienated from:
 a) God - "hid selves"
 b) Nature/Creation - "thorns and thistles"
 c) One Another - "fig leaves, covered "selves"
d) Themselves (self) - ashamed of nakedness, battle/struggle within

II.  Perpetuation of  this flawed nature - Rom. 3:23 - "all have sinned"

So, now any marriage involves 2 seriously flawed people.
Any family consists of seriously flawed people!

How much does this sin principle/presence affect your marriage?  family? 
Answer:  A lot!!  Too much!!!

Is there a remedy?  Can the harmony (unity, tranquility) be restored?
Answer = Yes ---- BUT!!    It can never be restored without Jesus Christ in life as Savior and LORD!

On one hand, the Christian is Positionally restored at salvation.
However, we still live amidst the presence, power, pervasiveness of Sin 
Example:  Present/Future Salvation   - Present/Future Kingdom

So, 1) Sin still exists
      2) we still tend toward it
      3) it still has Negative consequences!! - Gal. 6:7-8

So, what can I do to better my marriage and family - in light of Sin?
Can't eliminate sin, it's presence, it's effects..

Some things to consider that WILL make a difference!

#1.  Recognition and Admission  ie:  R & A
A)   Your need for reconciliation - To God, through Christ
B)   Your degree of imperfection - 1 John 1:8
C)  Your spouse, kids etc. suffer from the same malady

#2.  Submission (ie:  a yielding, surrendering)
A)  to God/Christ - as BOTH Savior AND Lord!!
B)  to His Revealed Will (His Word)
C)  to Your role within in the family - ie:  male/female, husband/wife/ father/mother, etc.

This is NOT a one time surrender!!

#3.  Instruction and Correction - primarily from Scripture, but also books, DVDs, speakers on marriage
can't do Right if don't know right!!!!

#4.  Discipline - (continual application) 
The battle doesn't end when you accept Christ.  The process doesn't end. 

#5.  Apology - which = admission of wrong and request for forgiveness - there is tremendous power in apology.

#6.  Forgiveness - Let it go!!! - Col. 3:13  - sometimes before and without a request!!!

#7.  Support - Eph. 5:25-27 - "build up" - Prov. 14:1

When we come to a point or recognition of the power of sin in life, then can begin to move up the other steps listed.