Money – Living and Giving

Readings for this week Jun 6 – 10
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Money Booklet cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1  – Bigger Barns

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 12:13-19

Jesus had plenty to say about money. He did not teach against money as such, but did examine how it was acquired and the owner’s attitude towards it.

In this story about a greedy farmer the man is faced with a dilemma because of an unexpected bumper crop. The Message describes well the attitude that Jesus is targeting in his story. The farmer “talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest…Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’” Several things are wrong with this picture.

1.  There is no hint of gratitude on the part of the farmer. Had he really caused such a prolific crop? Was he not the beneficiary of blessings outside his control? Yet his attitude is, “Self, you’ve done well!” God is forgotton.

2.  No other parable is so full of “I” “my” “mine”.  The story is told of a small schoolboy who was adked, “What parts of speach are mine and my?” He replied, “Aggressive pronouns!” We may smile but a worldview framed by “I” “my” and “mine” forms a pretty small picture.

3.  The rich man could not see beyond himself. In his unexpected windfall there is no thought of including others in his blessing. Those things God gives us, whether material possessions or abilities and talents, are to be used beyond just our selves. Within the Old Testament laws there was provision made for those who had more to bless those with less. Famers had to leave the edges of their fields unharvested for the poor and the foreigner. Olive trees and grape vines were harvested only once, leaving something for the needy.

Questions to Consider
Do I acknowledge God’s part in all that comes my way?

What does this parable tell us about God’s attitude to community?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me take seriously your expectations around caring for others through the many ways that you have blessed me. Show me anywhere that greed is creeping into my attitude towards money and possessions, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2  – Beyond the Barns

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 12: 13-21, 34

Not being aware of God’s generosity and not considering sharing the abundance of what he had received was certainly central to Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool. But it goes further than this. Not only could the rich man not see beyond his own comfort, and consider blessing others around him, but his vision was only for this life. His world consisted of what he could see and experience right now. His goal was “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” Yet in a single moment his life was at an end and all that he relied on was taken away. The next life, and the things that last beyond this world did not figure in his master plan.

The Message puts it, “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” Jesus contrasts hoarding things for ourselves with being rich toward God. He is challenging our vision and our priorities and the need to set our hearts on treaure that will last. What might this “treasure in heaven” look like? Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, California, suggests God has five ‘Investment Funds’

1.       Invest in what will grow godly character

2.       Invest in what will encourage fellowship in the Body of Christ

3.       Invest in serving others in need

4.       Invest in God’s Global fund – seeing the Good News spead to all people

5.       Invest in God’s Treasury fund – tithes and offerings as an act of worhsip

“‘Treasures in heaven’ are things of worth in God’s coming kingdom, such as justice, opportunity for everyone to be productive, provision for everyone’s needs, and respect for the dignity of every person. The implication is that we would do better to invest our money in activities that transform the world, than in securities that protect our accumulated surplus.” www.theologyofwork.org

Questions to Consider
What will outlast me?

What things of true worth am I prepared to invest in?

Prayer
Father God, you are a faithful God who provides for your people. Expand my vision to value the things you value, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3  – Fuss Less – Trust More

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 12: 22-34

The title given to this passage in The Message is ‘Steep Yourself in God-Reality’. If you have a copy of this translation, take the time to read this passage again. It’s wonderfully refreshing and encourgaes us to take ourselves a little less seriously. Jesus has been addressing issues of greed and generosity and vision for those who have much. Now he adds something for those who feel they haven’t much. And it’s a simple message; Don’t Worry!! At least it is simple to grasp but often so hard for us to do.

Jesus talks about clothes and food and ravens and wild flowers. But behind all these things he is trying to get across the heart of his Father. Ultimately, it is only trust in, and experience of the nature of our heavenly Father, who knows our needs and delights in taking care of us, that will free us to be the lighthearted and generous people we were created to be. Worry seems to be the norm in our society; but it is not God’s intention for us. This is why we have to take conscious steps to immerse our minds and hearts in God-Reality.

At the recent Neighbourhood Core Camp one of the highlights from our speakers was the challenge to ‘Engage the Resistance.’ This basically meant that when a challenge or invitation or worry meets with an intial reaction of “No” it is worth pausing and beginning a dialogue, first with ourselves and perhaps with others, to examine what is causing this resistance. Go a little deeper and discover what fears or doubts, insecurities or selfishness, may be stopping us at least considering a “Yes.” Releasing our money for purposes beyond ourselves may well cause a moment of resistance. Commit to examining this a bit closer.

Questions to Consider
What does it mean to say I trust God?

Share in your small group times God has provided. Encourage each other.

Practice going beyond a knee-jerk “No” reaction and Engage the Resistance.

Prayer
Gracious Father, you know the things in my life that cause stress and anxiety. Help me to bring these to you and choose to trust you in them. Please help me to examine stumbling blocks to trusting you more fully, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4  – The Wesley Way

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 6: 25-34

John Wesley, preacher, and founder of the Methodist movement grew up in crippling poverty. His Father was an Anglican priest in a low-paying parish and was rarely out of debt. Entering the ministry also, John initially taught at Oxford University earning a good wage, and lived in relative prosperity. However, over time as his heart was moved by the poverty around him he began to limit his expenses. From his 30 pound income he lived on 28, giving away 2. The next year his income doubled but he still managed to live on 28 pounds, so had 32 to give to the poor. He believed that with increasing income, what should rise is not the Christian’s standard of living but the standard of giving. By the time his income had risen to a little over 1400 pounds he lived on 30 so was able to give away over 1300 pounds. The philosophy he taught may surprise some: Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.

Earn all you can – work that is profitable is to be pursued, but not at the expense of our health, our mind, or hurt to another.

Save all you can – not greedy accumulation for yourself, but rather to live modestly and carefully so as to have more to benefit others less fortunate.

Give all you can  – as much as possible, do good to the household of faith, then to all who are in need.

“I entreat you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, act up to the dignity of your calling! No more sloth! Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might! No more waste! Cut off every expense which fashion, caprice, or flesh and blood demand! No more covetousness! But employ whatever God has trusted you with, in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree, to the household of faith, to all men! This is no small part of “the wisdom of the just.” Give all ye have, all well as all ye are, a spiritual sacrifice to Him who withheld not from you his Son, his only Son: So “laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come that ye may attain eternal life!”

Question to Consider
How do I assess my attitude to money according to Wesley’s three statements?

Prayer
Loving Father, speak to me about how to earn, save and give. May I be open to hear your voice and ready to obey, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Play Your Part

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica concerned that some people, expecting Jesus to return any day, had given up work and were not being productive members of the community. He was critical of their idleness, relying on others in the community to support them. Idleness in turn led to sticking their noses in the affairs of others. Paul isn’t talking here about those who, for whatever reason, are not able to work, but rather people who refuse to work.

NT Wright commenting on this passage says that Paul is calling each person not to step out of line. He sees it rather like a beautiful dance routine where each dancer plays their part, keeping in time and participating in the choreography that results in a spectacular performance. Yet it only takes one or two to step out of line, fail to play their part, and the whole is spoilt.

Paul commends hard work, and more than that he points to his own example of not relying on the resources of others to provide for his needs. Throughout his ministry years Paul worked at his trade, tent making. The word he repeatedly uses for those not playing their part means ‘to play truant’; in other words running away from your responsibilities. There were also consequences for not being an active, committed, contributing member of the church. Viewing the church as a ‘body’ Paul knew that the health and effectiveness of the whole relied on the cooperation of all the members. As the believers pulled together, each playing their part, sharing resources, nobody missed out (Acts 4:32). And the result was a visible message that spoke to the society surrounding them.

Questions to Consider
Does this passage show the value and worth of hard work?

Am I tempted to undervalue my contribution, seeing it as not important?

In what ways is a faith community greater than the sum of its parts?

Prayer
Gracious God, thank you that you call me to play my part, using the gifts and abilities and energy that come from you. Guide us in working together in ways that benefit others, and that witness to your love and generosity to us, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)