Friday, August 21, 2015

A 5 Step Equation To Grow Your Wealth


Last Sunday was my last sermon on Proverbs. I'll miss those sermons as they were always so relevant and practical. Digging up the right application was easy, it just jumped off the page at you. I'll close this sermon series by posting some thoughts from today's proverb. Chapter 21 has much to say about wealth. These are five simple truths which will enable anyone to have more tomorrow than they do today.

Wealth doesn't just happen, it is the result of planning ahead.
Winning the lottery is a poor strategy for growing wealthy. Proverbs 21:5 says, "Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity." Set income goals and work hard to achieve them. Create spending guidelines and are disciplined enough to stay within them. Today may not be easy, but tomorrow will be secure.

Shortcuts rarely get you where you want to go.

The only people who get rich from "get rich quick schemes" are the original schemers. There are no shortcuts to wealth. About those who try to take shortcuts, Proverbs 21:5 says, "everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty." Plan ahead, work hard and be patient.

Deceptive practices always come back to bite you.

It might be tempting to fudge a little or tell a "white lie" here and there in order to get ahead. Although massaging the truth might prove effective for a while, the longer one weaves a web of deceit, the worse they are when the truth comes out. Proverbs 21:6 says, "A fortune gained by deceit is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare." Honesty may set you back for a time, but in the end, it's the only way to stay ahead.

The pursuit of pleasure leads to poverty.

You've probably seen the stories of professional athletes who earn millions of dollars while they play then file for bankruptcy shortly after retirement. What happens to all that money? Proverbs 21:17 says, "He who loves pleasure will become a poor man." Self-control is the key to earning and retaining wealth. Learn to deny yourself immediate pleasure and you'll discover lasting contentment.

If you don't save for the future, you'll have nothing when you get there.

Our family socks away all our change. Every couple years, we pull out our change collection to help pay for vacation. We are always surprised at how much we have. Proverbs 21:20 says, "The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down." Establish the discipline of consistently saving as much as you can. You'll be shocked down the road at what you've "earned."

Monday, August 17, 2015

16 Principles of Effective Communication



Pause before you speak to be certain you are using the right words at the right time with the right tone.
The right words are always true.
False words may provide temporarily feel good but they have no long-term benefit.
Some words are true but are not appropriate for every situation.
The truth and power of your words can be lost if your tone isn't helpful.
Every word you speak carries incredible potential.
Your words can be weapons of mass destruction.
Your words can be tools of monumental construction.
Kind words can encourage those who are unsure of their own ability.
Attractive words can empower those who are under-performing.
Pleasant words can heal wounds from the past.
In marriage, kind and gracious words are a deposit which builds a healthy marriage.
Angry and destructive words are withdrawals which bankrupt relationships.
Your children need to know that you are their biggest cheerleader.
Corrective words can be attractive if they are the right words at the right time with the right tone.
Use your words to encourage those around you and you'll find yourself being more encouraged than anyone.

These are taken directly from Proverb 16:24. "Kind words are like honey -- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."

Monday, August 3, 2015

3 Habits to Help You Resist Temptation


Yesterday I talked about temptation. The primary point was that Contentment is the antidote for temptation. One idea I didn't get to talk about (time constraints) was the role discipline plays in our battle against temptation.
Discipline is not just punishment for wrong-doing. Discipline is the creation of positive habits which help to form us into the person we want to be (or that God created us to be!). The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
"discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness."
Those who follow Christ should discipline themselves for the pursuit of godliness. These habits are God-centered disciplines. They are not me-centered. Our aim should not be self-centered but God-centered and Christ-exalting. When discipline becomes a measure of "how I am doing," it is no longer a spiritual discipline. The more we focus on honoring God and becoming Christ-like, the more victory we will have over temptation.
Below are three "spiritual disciplines" I would recommend to every Christian. These not only aid you in walking the path of life, they will provide the training you need to resist temptation when the time comes.

Bible Reading/Study

If we are to "discipline [ourselves] for the purpose of godliness" we have to know the God of Godliness. The way in which we know God is by His Word. He has given us direct information about His holiness, love, wrath, grace, mercy, patience, etc. If we are to know God and what it looks like to live in obedience to Him - we must read and study the Word.
This morning I'm waiting expectantly for an email from my bank. I hope it will give me instructions to help me solve a problem I've had with the on-line portal I use. Until I receive this email, I can't take any more steps to solve the problem.
I don't have to wait for anything from God. He has spoken, and He has given me everything I need to live for Him. The message God already sent is the Bible - the full and complete Words of God to us. If we are to be disciplined for the purpose of godliness we must read and study the Word.

Prayer

This discipline blows my mind. The very God of the universe who created everything and knows our days has provided a way in which we can communicate with Him. Philippians 4:6 says:
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Why does Paul start by saying "do not be anxious about anything?" If we are pouring everything out to God in prayer (and trusting Him to hear), there is no need for anxiety. The open channel to communicate our needs, desires, fears and praises to the God of the universe should calm our deepest anxieties - and God has invited, actually, commanded that we pray.

Service

The natural response to the above should be service. As believers we are a body or a family of people. We were not saved by God to live in isolation. We are meant to be in relationships with each other. In the context of these relationships, we have the opportunity to serve.
1 Peter 4:10-11 says:
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever."
New Christian or old Christian, it doesn't matter - you have gifts to use. If your intent is to "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness," then you must be good stewards of God's grace by using what He has given you to serve Him by serving others.
Contentment is the antidote to temptation.
Contentment is cultivated by discipline.
Commit yourself to the discipline spiritual habits which will enable your growth and empower you to resist temptation.