I Choose to Worship

Giving is an act of worship. When we choose to give, we say with our actions "God, I acknowledge that you are my source and that you have abundantly provided for me." When we choose not to give, we display actions of doubt and deny the fact that God has blessed us. Whether it's $1 or $1,000,000, the fact that we're willing to sow it unto God speaks volumes about our faith and love for Him.

At one point, I used to get caught up in the size of the seed that I was sowing. In my own mind, I imagined that God was frowning upon the little $1 or $2 offerings that I had planned to sow above and beyond my regular tithe. Even though God hadn't said it, I felt like it wasn't good enough. I guess you could say it was more like self-inflicted shame. So instead of putting my ego aside, I decided to avoid the risk of the imaginary embarrassment that I had created in my mind by keeping the money to myself. And let me tell you, God surely convicted me!

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God."

By not sowing, I was saying that wasn't blessed, I was being selfish, and giving up an opportunity to worship God. And here I was, focused on a number. Wow! The word says that God not only supplies seed to the sower, but as you sow, he will also increase the amount that you have available to give. God knows how much you have to give, because he gave it to you! He will supply, but you have to fulfill the act of giving. It is the act that brings Him glory, not the size.

From that point on I decided that I was going to lay my ego aside and worship God. I may have started off with small seeds, but God has increased them over time. From the moment that I purposed in my heart to give, I have always had something to give. I put my faith in God, believing that he would supply and kept plowing ahead. Even in the midst of financial crises I still remained faithful, as did He. Don't let your ego or self-inflicted shame disrupt your opportunity to worship God. More than anything, God wants your heart, not your money. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, even with your giving. Choose to worship, and leave the numbers to God.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

What's in it for me?

Sometimes we can be selfish, feeling that we're the ones toiling day in and day out for our paychecks, and can't understand why we have to just give money away. After all, we work hard to maintain the lifestyles that we've created! But I believe that God has designed giving in such a way that we both win. He's not some holy tax collector that's trying to take our money. Instead, he's a loving father that just wants to bless his children. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 9:6, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." So basically, the more I give away, the more I'll get back in return, but if I'm OK with what I have as a result of giving sparingly, then why should I give more? If I have a home, food to eat, a job, a car, clothes...God has obviously provided the basic needs, so I'm good, right? WRONG!

I believe there are three reasons why God wants us to give:

1. Protection: Giving protects us. In Malachi 3:11, God promises to protect the fruits of our labor as a result of tithing. In other words, tithing is similar to paying an insurance premium. That's one insurance policy that I'm willing to put my trust in over all of the man-made options that we have. I also believe that giving protects our hearts. Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. By giving, our hearts remain attached to God (the source), instead of becoming attached to money (the product).

2. Purpose: Giving is a part of fulfilling our purpose. Flat out, it takes money to do ministry. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. He designed us to function as pipelines for Kingdom wealth. As soon as we stop giving, our pipelines become clogged, and the work of the Kingdom is drastically diminished. Giving is instrumental in seeking and saving the lost. You never know, even the smallest act of kindness could be the one very thing that will lead someone to Christ.

3. Promise: Giving grants us access to the promise of provision. Proverbs 11:24 says, "One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." If we sow sparingly we'll reap sparingly, and if we sow generously we'll reap generously. The key to increase doesn't lie in continuously begging God for more, it lies in the stewardship of what we've already been given. Under God's system, we're able to give our way into abundance.

So if you currently aren't giving because you're wrestling with the whole "what's in it for me" question, I hope that after reading this, you will see that there is so much in store for you! Maybe you want to give, but don't feel as if you're in the financial position to do so. Go to God in prayer, be specific about who it is that you want to bless, and ask him to provide (2 Corinthians 9:10-11). If you're already a giver, perhaps you'll been inspired to kick it up a notch. Wherever you fall along the giving spectrum, know that you'll have more to gain in comparison to what you think you'll have to lose.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Financial Garden: Maintenance

I know that it's a while since my last post, but I was really struggling with the fact that no sooner than I became debt free, I was knocked right back down to ground zero. It was like running across the finish line only to run right into a concrete wall...OUCH! Here I was, thinking that I was scot-free to finally start building my finances, only to have to come up with thousands of dollars to replace an entire A/C unit. I had cut up credit credits, had money tied up in a CD, what was I going to do? I had kept tithing through it all...but really God? Is that my reward for my obedience? It certainly can't be. And so, for the last 4 weeks  I've just been praying and seeking God for answers. Finally, the revelation hit me. In my last two posts I talked about how debt weeds choke our financial harvests, and that we have to continue to sow while we pay off debts simultaneously in order to protect and prepare for our harvests. I had been doing all of those things, so why did this happen? God showed me today, that it's not that I've done anything wrong, and I'm not being punished, but rather I'm in the maintenance phase of growing my financial garden. Now that I've killed off all of the weeds, I have to commit to rebuilding a healthy harvest. I feel like God told me to keeping sowing, keep tithing, keep saving, and the harvest will come. I can't expect my seeds to blossom overnight. They have to germinate first, and with time I will see the fruits of my labor. So now, instead of being in a state of confusion and discontent, I'm in a state of comfort and confidence.This maintenance phase will pay off in due time.  As long as I continue to do my part, God will work this out, somehow, someway.

The victory isn't crystal clear as of right now, but I do know that since debt is no longer an option, that I have to make some sacrifices in the meantime. And trust me, it's not pretty, but this box fan will just have to do for now. I keep telling people that I'm losing weight in my sleep from sweating at night! In any event, I truly believe that God is going to honor my commitment to Him of living a debt free life. People have suggested using credit cards, taking out a loan, etc., but those are no longer options for me. It might seem stubborn or foolish, but I simply trust God and his provision.

For anyone that may be in a similar situation, be it your A/C, medical bills, car repair, etc.,  I encourage you to keep working. Keep sowing, saving, and giving. If you've given up, put your gloves back on and get back to work. Know that God can and will provide, period.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Financial Garden: Debt Weeds

I may be debt free (except for the house), but I'm not out of the woods just yet. Now that I've completed the debt snowball, I'm ready to cultivate my financial garden like never before. All of the debts that I had before were just like weeds choking the life out of my cash crop. The seeds that I had sown weren't able to flourish because my time and attention was spent on untangling, maintaining, and killing debt weeds. Every now and then I would see a sprout or two in the form of increase, only soon to be overtaken by the weeds. I was sowing seeds with the belief that they would grow and multiply, not sprout up and quickly die.

Now, I definitely don't have a green thumb, but the one thing I cannot stand are weeds in my yard and driveway. Once one appears, it always seems like they just multiply overnight. Before you know it, they can overtake everything around them. Trimming them down or simply breaking the stems only provide a temporary aesthetic improvement. But unless I kill them at the roots, they'll keep sprouting up week after week, season after season, year after year. Debt is the same way. Unless you kill it at the roots, you'll continue to put up with the same credit card charges, loan balances, and car payments, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

God wants to prosper you and make you ruler over a bountiful harvest. But, we're unable to reap much because of all of the debt that is choking the life out of our finances. The more He provides, the more weeds we put into the garden, and that ought not be. I don't know of any gardener that purposefully goes out and plants weeds. They usually aren't anything nice to look at, can ruin the crop, and are a pain to get rid of. In the same manner, as God's stewards, we should not knowingly plant debt weeds into our financial gardens. Student loans, credit cards, car payments, any type of financing...they are all weeds that WE plant!

It's time to get rid of the debt that is limiting the growth of your financial garden once and for all! No matter how bad it may seem now, keep working at it and you'll start to see results sooner than later. You will start to see more money at the end of your month, your net worth will continue to gradually increase, and your cash crop will begin to flourish! Declare with me today: "Debt Weeds Be Gone!"

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Chances Are...

Chances are you weren't one of the three winners of the Mega Millions jackpot. So now what? It's back to business as usual! The chances of you winning the lottery will always be ridiculously slim. But guess what? The chances of you taking control of your resources and maximizing them to the best of your ability will always be 1 in 1. You simply cannot go wrong taking control of your financial future.That doesn't mean just taking a gamble and letting the dollars fall where they may. I'm talking about being intentional about each  expenditure, investment, gift, saving, etc. As small or large as they may be, each one will have an impact either now or later.

Just like your chances are 1 in 1 when you're in control, your chances are least that high with God, if you believe. Most of you don't even realize it, but I would say that mustard seed-sized (maybe even smaller) faith was at work all over this country the last few days. The amount of money that people were dropping for a 1 in 176 million chance of winning was astronomical. I'm willing to bet that the majority of the same people aren't willing to  sow into the Kingdom with the same kind of faith. Why not? Are our chances of becoming rich greater with the lottery than with God?

I guess it all boils down to who you're willing to trust. Who is in control of your financial future? Is it the lottery, the media, the mall, you or God? Really think about who is controlling your finances right now. If you're not where you want to be, then maybe it's time for a new manage. Who do you want/need to be in control?  If it's God, continue to sow faithfully and your harvest will come. If you want to be in control, then do the best that you can to maximize what you have through saving, investing, and giving. If it's the media and society, just keep spending and focus on acting and looking rich. Chances are, whoever or whatever is in control will determine your financial success or lack thereof. The choice is yours.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne