Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals for September 7-15 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church (S. F.).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 Kings 16: 5-9 (NIV)
Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him. 6 At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the people of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day. 7 Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. 9 The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.
Believe it or not, in 1994, shock disc jockey Howard Stern tried to run for the governor of New York! Stern is probably best known for his obnoxious, vulgar, and crude antics on his radio and television shows. He had been fined a total of $1.5 million in FCC violations from his show. Yet when Stern found out that running for governor would require him to issue a public financial disclosure statement, he withdrew his candidacy. His reasoning: a person’s financial affairs is a private matter that should not to be made public. What an irony it is that a guy who regularly described his drug use and sex life in vulgar details over the airways, felt that money was such a personal issue that it was inappropriate to discuss in public.
The reality is that most people aren’t all that different from Howard Stern in their discomfort about talking about money. Most of us want to keep our income, our spending, our giving and our assets a private matter. Let’s face it: money is even hard to talk about with people whom you know and trust, even those in the church. A study by Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow found that 95% of Christians never discuss personal finances with other church members. It’s a topic that’s off limits.
However, the Bible speaks frequently and very candidly about money. Malachi 3:8 tells us that when we withhold our tithes and offerings, we are actually robbing God. We may read in horror that Ahaz stole money from the temple in order to buy help from the king of Assyria, but are we that much different when we fail to give because we feel like our financial security is threatened?
Jesus reminds us that where our treasures are, there will our hearts be. This isn’t preaching against prudent saving for a rainy day (Prov. 6:6-8) or our children (13:22), but a reminder that nothing we do with our finances should come at the expense of being generous toward God. This morning where is your heart? Is it in the security that money seemingly buys or in the love of Christ that cannot be purchased?
Lord, remind us again that you love us more than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, that we don’t need to worry about our daily provisions because you care for us. Give us wisdom in how we are to steward the financial resources that you have given us, and also the courage not to put our hearts’ desire on earthly treasures. We lay all of our anxiety and stress upon the cross and ask for your peace in return. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 18
Lunch Break Study
Proverbs 30:8-9 (NIV)
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, ’Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
Questions to Consider:
- What are the dangers of riches?
- What are the dangers of poverty?
- What are the blessings of moderation?
- The author of this proverb knows that being wealthy is filled with temptations. When people get rich they build an illusion of self-sufficiency around them. They fail to acknowledge God’s work in their lives because they’re lulled into a sense of independence. This is why Jesus said it’s so hard for wealthy people to see their need for salvation, harder in fact than stringing a live camel through the eye of a needle. Even though the writer is completely committed to God, he knows that given enough money, he’d be tempted to forget God.
- The author also acknowledges that poverty has its own temptations. He sees that being in a desperate situation might lead to sin that he’d otherwise never consider committing. When your stomach is growling and your children are shivering cold, you find yourself thinking about doing things that you’d never considered before.
- The blessing of moderation is the ability to experience contentment. We learn moderation when we decide ahead of time what income level we’d be comfortable with. By deciding ahead of time, we’re less likely to keep climbing and climbing, for no other reason than to climb higher.
The eighteenth century preacher John Wesley summed up his attitude toward money with this saying: “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” That’s a pretty good summary of what Proverbs says about how to be wise with our personal finances. We are to avoid being lazy but also to be aware of being consumed by money. Tonight, reflect on your attitude towards money, how you have been earning it, how you have been spending it, and how you have been glorifying God with the financial resources He has given you.