Harvest Times

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Lessons on Money

 

When it feels overwhelming to look at your budget, your wallet, your bank account, or your bills in general, keep the following things in mind:

  1. God is in control. It bears repeating that no matter what kind of a mess you have made out of your money, God sees it and knows what you have done. He knows what it will take to bring you back to a place of financial stability and freedom, and what must be done in order to achieve your long-term financial goals. Stressing over it and giving yourself an ulcer will not bring you one cent closer to financial peace, but trusting that God will help you through it as long as you obey His commandments will let you sleep at night.“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
  2. You cannot fix it overnight. It took longer than a day to make the financial debt, and it will take longer than a day to fix it…unless you are one of those insanely lucky people who inherit millions and get out of debt instantly.
    “Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” ~ Thomas Carlyle
  3. God’s promises are never lies. If you find a promise in the Word of God, you can rest assured that it will not return void. There is absolutely no chance of God reneging on something that He says that He will or will not do, so trust Him implicitly. Even when what He has commanded seems outrageous or downright foolish, do it; you will never be let down by the results. However, I cannot stress enough that you must seek God and be sure that you are hearing His voice…if there is doubt, seek counsel from a Godly person that you trust, and if it goes against His Word in any way, it is NOT God.“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? “Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.” ~Proverbs 23:19-20
  4. You might mess up sometimes. In fact, I can almost guarantee that there will be a setback or two (or ten) in your journey to financial freedom. We are human, things break or need replacing, and sometimes things just change. Most of these situations we cannot control, but that is what your emergency fund, savings account, etc… covers. If you do not have one yet, do not panic. Just do your best to get back on track, keep focused, and dedicate every expenditure to prayer until you are once again meeting your goals.“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~Maya Angelou
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Learn to Know His Voice

“…and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name … and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”. John 10:3-4 NIV

How do we learn to “know his voice”?

First we expect God has something to say to us. As parents we always have something to say to our children and the same is true of God. Often it may simply be the assurance of his love and care.

Not only is expectation necessary, but also a desire to hear from God. Jesus often said, “whoever has ears, let them hear”. This phrase speaks of deliberately tuning in to what God is saying.

Sometimes I find myself reading the Bible, yet my mind is elsewhere. Even in church I can be singing and yet my mind is far away. Lately I have been challenged to pay attention and focus on God. It’s not always easy. I may not want to listen to God for fear of what he might say. Yet I know, and remind myself, there is no need to fear him who loves me perfectly.

God speaks in many ways. Through reading the Bible, praying and other spiritual disciplines we prepare ourselves to listen. Sometimes words will grab our attention in a way they haven’t done before, or an impression or a desire comes to us after prayer, or maybe an idea drops into our mind that we know is not our own, but is it from God?

It takes preparation and practice to “know his voice” but it will happen as we make the effort to listen.

Meditation by  Susan Barnes

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HE is FAITHFUL

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised us is faithful. ” (Hebrews 10 : 23)
Jesus was faithful to his Father. He was faithful to his disciples. He faithfully completed His mission at great cost to Himself. He is faithful to His followers in the present age.
How reassuring to know that He is faithful to us. “He will remain faithful ” (2 Timothy 2 :13). “But the Lord is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you. ” (2 Thessalonians 3 : 3).
Jesus commended faithfulness. On more than one occasion He told parables in which a master commended his servant with the words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.
We, His followers, are exhorted to be faithful to our Lord. It is a great encouragement to know that He is faithful to us. Jesus said of His followers. “I know them and they follow Me… no-one can snatch them out of My hand. ” (John 10 : 27-28).
Faithfulness brings its own rewards. “A faithful man will be richly blessed. ” (Proverbs 28 : 20). And we are helped in the knowledge that Jesus was and is faithful. “God who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. ” (1 Corinthians 1 :9).

Lord when we try your patience sore.
As we’ve so often done before.
Do silly things You can’t ignore,
You’re still our Faithful Lord.
We are but sheep, Great Shepherd King,
And prone to go a-wandering.
Your voice is heard gently calling
Good Shepherd, Faithful Lord.
We would be faithful Lord to You.
There’s so much work for us to do.
You help us to be faithful too.
You’re still our Faithful Lord.

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The High Priest

“When Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak unto Him (God), then he heard the Voice of one speaking unto him from off the Mercy seat” (Num. 7.89).

Do we believe with all our hearts that by learning that secret of hearing and discerning the Voice of God, we can have all our questions answered and all our problems solved?

We read in Num. 7:89 that the Voice of God came only when the work of the tabernacle was finished by Moses and had been carried out according to the pattern shown to Moses by the Lord on the mount. In Exodus 40:34 we read that God’s glory filled the tabernacle, and His voice began to be heard from between the cherubim in the most Holy Place. When any man wanted to find the will of God, he had to come to the High priest, and the high Priest had to hear the Voice of God speaking from the most Holy Place. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is our everlasting heavenly High Priest, and those who accept Him as their personal Saviour are indwelt by Him. Their bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit.

There is no need now for anyone to go to an earthly High Priest. Man can speak to God Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ, the High Priest, and get an answer and hear the Voice of God daily. But one thing is necessary. All those among us who desire to hear the Voice of God, must be sure that they are indwelt by the Spirit of God. God is Holy and before He can come into us, He has first of all to cleanse us by the precious Blood of Christ. It is only sin that will prevent us from feeling His presence, but sin can be forgiven again and again, and cleansed by His precious blood.

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The Perfect Weed Control

I shook my head in disbelief at the weeds that had managed to come up in our flowerbeds. They were green and disgustingly healthy looking, more so than the flowers we had planted in the spring. I knew these weeds would have to be taken out by the root if we were to be rid of them.

This is not unlike our spiritual life. No matter how God-like we want to be, a little neglect is all it takes for weeds to take root in our life. Less than Christ-like characteristics can creep in slowly with no warning. We don’t wake up one morning and decide to be bitter or angry or unforgiving. It happens from neglect of letting God lead our lives.

In today’s fast paced world, it is easy to lose patience, get angry, forego forgiveness or be extremely judgmental of people. These attitudes flourish when we don’t use God’s powerful Word as poison control to get at the root of the problem. Supernatural? You bet it is. There are no “self-help” books that can do for us what our Creator can. He made us, He understands our lean to selfish ways. He also knows how to lead us to peace and contentment.

A gentle breeze blew as if the Holy Spirit was saying, “I’m here. Don’t neglect our relationship. I am your peace and contentment. I will keep the weeds out.”

Isaiah says of God in 26:6 (NKJV), “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trust in You.” God knows all about peace. It’s paid for and He is willing to take us there and keep us there, on a daily basis.

Meditation by  Antje Hill

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Having a Christlike Attitude

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” Philippians 2:5-6 NIV

In the next verse we are told that Jesus took the nature of a servant. Servants meet the needs of others, they don’t expect someone else to meet their needs. Ruth is a beautiful example of someone with a servant’s heart. Ruth came with Naomi, her mother-in-law to Judah as a widow, but she did not expect Naomi or her relatives to meet her needs. God had told his people not to reap to the very edges of their fields but leave them for the poor (Leviticus 23:22). Ruth decided to collect this left-behind grain. God was able to bless Ruth because she had a good attitude. The extra food she received from Boaz was a blessing, not something she expected.

In the same way we don’t have the right to expect others to meet our needs. Our spiritual growth is our responsibility and we can’t expect others to read the Bible for us or pray in our place. Neither can we expect others to make good life style choices for us. It is our responsibility to collect our own spiritual food and be willing to share as necessary.

When Jesus came to earth he didn’t claim his rights. Jesus could have commanded obedience and submission but Mark 10:45 tells us Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve. Our attitude is to be the same.

Meditation by Susan Barnes

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The Least Among Us

…..So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. (I Corinthians 12:24 NLT)

God has designed the Body of Christ so that the people we might regard as less honorable to receive extra care and honor. The parts of the body that appear to be weakest and less important are the most necessary.

The Church is not a social organization with all sorts of clichés and a pecking order mentality. As a matter of fact it is just the opposite, where the first shall be last and the last first. The problem is that we value people according to their function, not their intrinsic value. People are not valuable according to what they can do, but because they are made in the image of God and bought with a price. The price was the death of God’s only Son. Why must we honor these people among us? It is because they are the most necessary. Though sometimes unnoticed or unrecognized, they are most needed to keep the body functioning as designed. Furthermore, it is the way God promotes unity. When all members care for each other equally, this fosters harmony in God’s family (v. 25). Affirming all God’s people speaks to the fact that there are no big or little people in the Body of Christ, just sinners in need of grace. The land is level at the foot of the Cross.

In any church, ministry, or Christian organization, to the extent that we love the least among us, is the extent we love Christ. It is as simple as that. Are you honoring the least among you?

Meditation by  Ken Barnes

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Hang In There

My wife and I had barely settled into our new home. We were just starting our family and there was little room in the budget for extras – let alone disaster. So we were not prepared when the neighbors sprawling 100 year old oak tree decided it had had enough, uprooted itself late one night and found a resting place on our roof – or should I say through our roof! Repairing the damage was about a four month ordeal and, believe me, seeing our roof draped in blue tarp for that long without knowing how it was going to get fixed or who was going to pay for it was an anxiety causing event.

When things go unexpectedly; when a big wrench is thrown into your life, how do you react? If you find yourself quickly mired in anger, frustration, fear or anxiety you are proving that you drink from your own shallow well of self-sufficiency. On the other hand, genuine trust in God means believing that he has allowed this to come into your life for a reason; that He is pruning you for greater fruitfulness (John 15:2); that every bump in the road brings you a little closer to who you were meant to be. Trust in God! The Spirit of God is all powerful so give the Spirit more authority than you give to your fears. This abiding faith gives God room to move and leaves the believer more pliable and useful in His hands. It is manifested in a submissive heart that leads to an all-encompassing peace of mind no matter the circumstance – proof you drink from the everlasting well that will never run dry (John 4:14).

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The Unseen Path

When the Red Sea saw You, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths…Your road led through the sea, Your pathway through the mighty waters–a pathway no one knew was there! Psalms 77:16.19 NLT

What is standing in your way? The children of Israel believed that the Red Sea was the obstacle keeping them from the promise of God. What do you believe is standing in your way?

God describes the Red Sea in a different way than the children of Israel may have. He said it was the pathway to the promise. The very thing that seemed overwhelming and impossible to deal with, God describes as a pathway. Are we seeing things the way God does? Are we looking at what is standing before us as a problem or a pathway?

What is your Red Sea? As we look at these verses in Psalms we find that what made them fearful was actually no problem at all for God. We must understand that our problems and obstacles are no match for our amazing God, either. The Red Sea saw God and trembled! Your obstacle has to do the same!

No one knew there was a pathway in the middle of a raging sea, but there was. It couldn’t be seen at first, but that is why we must see with eyes of faith. There is a pathway that you cannot see right now, but don’t let that stop you. Move forward! Boldly proclaim God’s promises for you even when things look impossible. What is impossible for man is possible with God – we can know that our God is greater than anything that tries to stand in our way.

Meditation by Stephanie White

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