All posts by John (Manager)

To Walk in Righteousness Is Better Than Chests of Gold

There is often a misconception that the righteous necessarily suffer in this world while evil and wicked men flourish. This is not so. It is good to pause and reflect that living righteously according to the Lord’s instruction also carries much blessing for the current life and not just for eternal life after we die. It is no guarantee for an easy life… that is not guaranteed for any. Quite the opposite. Trials and struggles are promised in this life. But how we navigate these challenges and our attitudes and values for what is important have much influence on whether we experience life with joy and peace or constant striving and struggle. In fact, attitude and values are a much better indicator of someone who will do well in life than just simply possession of wealth. Those who are filled with greed never have enough, never cease striving and find contentment and peace and joy.

It is far better for us to walk in righteousness than to have great monetary treasure.

Proverbs 11

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

     1A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.

      2When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.

      3The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

      4Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.

      5The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

      6The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

      7When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of strong men perishes.

      8The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked takes his place.

      9With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

      10When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.

      11By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

      12He who despises his neighbor lacks sense,
But a man of understanding keeps silent.

      13He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

      14Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

      15He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.

      16A gracious woman attains honor,
And ruthless men attain riches.

      17The merciful man does himself good,
But the cruel man does himself harm.

      18The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

      19He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.

      20The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD,
But the blameless in their walk are His delight.

      21Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished,
But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered.

      22As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.

      23The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

      24There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

      25The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.

      26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

      27He who diligently seeks good seeks favor,
But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.

      28He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.

      29He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.

      30The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.

      31If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth,
How much more the wicked and the sinner!

Read slowly and digest each verse for its full meaning and applicability to your life. Reread it once or twice. Pray for insight from the Spirit. Which path will you choose… righteousness or worldliness and wickedness? How will you let this validate your life choices or lead you to change some?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Trust God More Than Wealth

Abraham sets a great example of a wealthy man that served God. He trusted God and did not worship or idolize his wealth. Thus, money was a tool for him and not a master.

In Genesis 13, Abram leaves Egypt and travels into the Negev, with his wife, Lot and all they owned.  Abram demonstrates an ongoing relationship with God. He worships, trusts and obeys God. Abram is wealthy but is not greedy. He offers the first choice of land to his nephew, Lot. Lot chooses selfishly to take the best land all for himself, though that ultimately does not turn out well for Lot.

13 So Abram left Egypt and traveled north into the Negev, along with his wife and Lot and all that they owned. (Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.) From the Negev, they continued traveling by stages toward Bethel, and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before. This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again.

Lot, who was traveling with Abram, had also become very wealthy with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and many tents. But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their flocks and herds living so close together. So disputes broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. (At that time Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land.)

Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. 12 So Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. 13 But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord.

14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants[a] as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord.

This chapter starts and ends with Abram worshiping God at an altar. We can see that Abram has maintained an ongoing relationship with God. He trusts in God, not in his wealth.

In fact, God blessed Abram and those who were with them so much that they needed to spread out a bit more… a good problem to have. Abram lets Lot pick which land he wants first, when Abram could have demanded the best land and asked Lot to leave. Abram showed love for Lot and trust in God.

Lot picked selfishly, taking the best land for himself. It turns out that what looks good to man often is not good. The land was rich but Lot would find himself suffering among a sinful and rebellious people who reject God. (Interesting to note that we read Abram worshiped at the altar, not Abram and Lot.)

Abram shows no indication of holding bitterness toward Lot. He was ok with Lot having the best land. Once Lot leaves, God speaks to Abram and tells him about the plans God has for him… wonderful and great plans.

Through Abram we see the type of relationship a righteous man has with God. We can challenge ourselves to trust God as Abram did. Abram made mistakes, of course, but what a wonderful example of faith in a lifelong journey with God. Abraham served God rather than money.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Try This Simple Strategy To Eliminate Auto Loans

For many, debt is commonly used for a home or cars or other large purchases. It has become so commonplace, it is hard for some to even imagine avoiding it for major purchases. However, debt carries with it expense in the form of interest payments on the debt. These can significantly increase the expense of the item you are buying over time.

Debt also inherently carries a risk in the case that you are overextended with things like your home and car(s) you may lose them in the event of a short term income disruption or if you experience a life changing event like one that would incur significant medical cost. If you can’t make the payments monthly… someone may take the asset away from you and sell it.

Eliminating debt minimizes your cost because you don’t have to pay interest and provides some protection in case of short term loss of income or unexpected emergency expenses.

For those who are disciplined and want to avoid a major source of debt, try this strategy to start working toward buying future cars in cash… ok, you can write a check.

For those who don’t have the money just sitting around and need monthly payments to enable buying a car at this point here is how to get started.

  • Challenge yourself on the paradigm of how many cars you think you “need” vs. “want”. Not every person needs a car. Not every family needs 2 or more cars just because they have that many drivers. It is very convenient… but is it a need?
  • Control the car you purchase to a “need” for transportation and not a “want” for style  or showing off or competing with others. This can easily save over ten thousand dollars on a car purchase.
    • Buy used but reliable brand that will last but already has 50,000 miles on it. You may be surprised how much money you save. Depreciation (decrease in value) is your enemy when you buy new cars but your friend when you buy used cars.
    • Do not look for something with loaded options packages – it is transportation… not an arcade. You can save 3-5 thousand dollars in many cases. Do you “need” a seat warmer? or just “want” one because it is fun.
  • Treat your car like a tool, not a fad. Keep it until it is no longer safe to drive or at least until you have saved up money for your replacement car purchase in order to extract maximum value. Many of today’s cars should be able to go 200,000 miles.
    •  Perform routine maintenance along the way to ensure you give your vehicle the chance to last. It may be a short term expense, but it has a long term payoff in life of the vehicle.
  • If you have paid off your vehicle, or once you have… keep making monthly payments in your budget, but put them in a bank account and keep track of them (eg. spreadsheet or notebook) as funds set aside for your next auto purchase.
    • Want to pay off your current vehicle faster… pay extra toward it every month… whatever you can afford even just $25/mo
  • Do not spend this saved money on other expenses. You should already have an emergency fund and this should not be pillaged to create a vacation fund or you will not succeed. Just because you set aside money for future major planned expense does not mean you should take that money every time your base budget is tight.

You may not make it to fully transition to cash with your next car, but if you repeat the steps above, you will find yourself paying for your cars with cash you saved in advance. People will be amazed that you can do it, but it is really no different than paying monthly payments and not buying something too expensive

I have implemented this strategy myself and found it very rewarding. I think you will too.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Financial Lessons from Jacob?

Sometimes I am amazed where I find insight in God’s word for a given topic. I was reading about Jacob in Genesis. We get insight to see Jacob from beginning to end in his relationship with God. It struck me that like so many of us, as he lives out his life and grew more and more committed to God, He did so quite imperfectly… like all of us who try to serve God.  Genesis 30 documents many mistakes, and the consequences of those mistakes on Jacob and his family. God, however, has not removed His blessing or promise from Jacob and Jacob prospers financially. There are a few important nuggets to consider in his attitude during a tough spot in his life.

Genesis 30:25-43

   25Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. 26“Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.” 27But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the LORD has blessed me on your account.” 28He continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” 29But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. 30“For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: 32let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33“So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.” 34Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.” 35So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. 36And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. 38He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink. 39So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41Moreover, whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods; 42but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.

Laban realized that he was blessed because of association with Jacob, who serves God. Jacob, despite his mistakes, has been a witness to Laban and Laban wishes him to stay. Before we give Laban too much credit, though, his reason for wanting Jacob to stay is selfish and greedy. He has financially prospered with Jacob. Laban shows no interest in worshipping or serving God or even thanking God.

Jacob, however also realized that he needed to begin investing not only in Laban’s flock but also in preparing for his own household for the future.  Jacob was willing to leave without pay other than the wives (and children) he had agreed to previously… even though Laban’s flocks have clearly prospered under Jacob’s care. Jacob demanded nothing extra, and was willing to leave with only his agreed upon wages (e.g. his wives and children) and God’s promise. He did not demand more than he agreed to just because Laban had prospered. He did not resent Laban and wish him ill because of his success.

However, God made a way for Jacob to prosper from his hard work helping with Laban’s flocks for those fourteen years. When Laban suggests Jacob name his price, Jacob finds wisdom in a solution that meets both his need and Laban’s, so he stays. Jacob tends the flocks and prospers exceedingly.

Each of us should consider…

  • Am I planning responsibly for my future needs and those of my family similar to Jacob?
  • Do I trust God to provide for me, adhering to His principles and values?
  • Do I keep my word and live up to my agreements? or do I demand more from someone just because they prosper from the work I agreed to do?
  • Do I resent someone else’s success or am I satisfied with the wages I agreed to?
  • Of course it is also acceptable when our agreements have concluded to negotiate for better terms in the future based on the quality of our work. If all parties agree, we have a new agreement. If not, we should not resent the other, but just make a different choice to pursue our goals… just as Jacob was willing to leave. At no point did Jacob think of Laban as an enemy.
  • Do I recognize that if / when God blesses his people in financial matters it seldom comes overnight or without hard work, faith, and planning? Jacob, like Abraham before him, trusted God and worked hard over many years to generate his wealth. God blessed his hard work and it was fruitful. God does not reward laziness or lack of faith.

Yes, we can still get much wisdom to apply for our lives by reading and studying the Bible, all of it. I encourage you to spend time every day in God’s word. I have found it to be very fulfilling in my life and my relationship with Jehovah.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Consider The Effects of Your Choices on Others

As we read Matthew 17:24-27 we see Jesus’ response when confronted by others to pay a tax (to the temple, not Caesar) from which He is actually exempt. Jesus is very aware of creating a stumbling block for others and puts less emphasis on claiming His right to not pay.

24 On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax[e] came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house.

But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter?[f] Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?[g]

26 “They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! 27 However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin.[h] Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”

My first observation is that it appears the collectors of the temple tax wasted no time in coming to find new visitors and ask them to pay the tax. There is no record here of a welcome or greeting of any kind but rather the focus is clearly on collecting their money.

Peter is caught off guard and appears to fib when confronted with the situation, as he was not sure how to respond.  It is worth noting, that if the Bible were a false record made up just to convince people Jesus was God then the disciples and followers would not honestly document so many times when they responded in the wrong way and made mistakes. These parts of scripture actually proclaim loudly the truth of the Biblical text.

When he approaches Jesus, likely trying to figure out how to broach the subject, Jesus already knows what happened and brings up the subject Himself. Just one more example indicating He is God and not just man.

At this point it is worth noting that the temple tax was deemed a measure of atonement for sin. As Jesus was free from sin, He could have rightly refused to pay it. Additionally, Jesus makes the point that God does not tax Himself anymore than a King taxes himself and thus Jesus would again be exempt.

However, Jesus was aware that refusing to pay the temple tax may stumble some and discourage them from following Him. The greater purpose directed Him to pay the tax even though He was exempt.

We also see that Jesus could have easily paid the tax without having this discussion with Peter. We see at the end how easily Jesus provided money when needed… and in such a memorable way.  It was not about the money. Jesus wanted to use this as a teachable moment for Peter and His other disciples and eventually all who read the Bible for generations to follow.

Each of us should reflect… when we decide whether or not to do something, do we only consider what is best for us or do we also consider how it may affect others? (e.g. Jesus paid the tax not because He was required to but because He did not want to stumble others.)

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org

Do Not Catch A Falling Knife

When cooking in the kitchen we may remind ourselves not to catch a falling knife. We recognize it will cut us if we catch it on the way down. It is better to let it fall, getting hands and feet out of the way… and then pick it up.

However, sometimes it is easier said then done. Reflex kicks in when the knife drops and we reach for it. To avoid grabbing the knife as it falls typically requires planning ahead of time not to catch it and then discipline to avoid reaching for it. It is easy to make a mistake when reacting to a situation without upfront planning.

The same is true for many investments… in particular the stock markets when we see dramatic declines in a market. Sometimes the temptation is to jump in quickly to a market that is seeing dramatic declines. However, this can be a lot like trying to catch a falling knife. Sometimes the market will rebound and sometimes it continues to fall. You may want to wait to make sure it has finished falling before you get substantially in. You certainly don’t want to make that decision on a reflex or without a plan.  A market decline is one of the times that a clear, well thought out plan really helps.

For effective long term “investors”, or the “investment” section of our portfolios, a sharp decline can be a good opportunity to buy some stocks you have already researched and targeted.  An effective long term investor already had a plan for a market decline. They had cash or liquid fixed income on the sidelines they could use to buy stocks when the price falls. They have an idea of what they want to buy and for what time horizon. They have already considered a strategy to cost average in or rebalance their portfolios as the markets decline. They are less “reactive” and minimize risk of “panic” decisions because they had a clear plan.

If you are a long term investor and did not prepare for a decline… maybe your plan was just to ride out the short term storms, holding the same assets you held on the way in. While this is a long term strategy and it minimizes the chance for panic selling at a market bottom, you may want to look for a chance to rebalance your portfolio.  Are there some investments you think have a better chance of recovering quickly than the ones you are currently holding?  Do not rush into changing your strategy. Consider carefully. You may want to seek competent professional advice.

If you are a non professional “trader” or have part of your portfolio reserved for trading you want to consider a few key points.

  • You should already have a plan for this scenario. If you had a good plan you should stick to it… or at least revisit it before you start making quick decisions to buy or sell stocks on emotion or reflex.
  • If you didn’t… you are now reacting with emotion and reflex. Take some time to ensure you are calm and evaluate a strategy from where you are at the moment.
  • Avoid the psychology of holding onto a losing position… hoping it to become a winning position if you can hold out long enough.  Try to make decisions based on the facts rather than emotion.
  • If the basic reasoning, or thesis, for your trades is no longer valid you need to be willing to change your positions (take a loss if necessary) and position for recovery.
  • Avoid the assumption that you “must be near the bottom” and thus can put everything into the market. Be prepared for the market to stabilize, recover, or continue declining. Avoid “betting” on one direction.

If you are a non-professional trader and have a large portion (or all) of your portfolio dedicated to “trading” instead of a more stable approach with some dedicated to longer term “investing”… now may be a good time to reconsider. You may look at “trading” into some high quality names, perhaps with dividend, diversified across sectors and convert some of your portfolio to “investment” as diversification to your “trading” portfolio.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

An Intimate Relationship with God Exceeds the Value of Wealth and Wisdom

God blessed Solomon with great wisdom and also with wealth and fame. He was truly elevated to a powerful and glorious status among even kings and queens. It was all by the providence of Yahweh and because of the humility and righteousness of Solomon when God first asked him what he would like. Solomon chose to ask for wisdom, not for selfish reasons, but to lead the people over which God had put him in charge.

2 Chronicles 1:8-12

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom

      8Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. 9“Now, O LORD God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” 11God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king, 12wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you.”

Don’t try to trick God by faking humility and a desire to honor Him. Don’t assume wealth like Solomon’s is guaranteed for the righteous. It is not. Seek God with all your heart, submit to him, and trust what He has planned for you.

If we study  more about Solomon’s reign, we see it was a glory to behold. However, even for someone who lives in such glory as Solomon, the day ultimately comes when he or she will die. When that happens, the only thing that matters for them is their relationship with Yahweh. All the riches and fame and wisdom no longer have relevance for them.

Matthew 6:19-21

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This is not to say that riches are bad. Yahweh gave wealth to Solomon as a reward, not a punishment. Simply put, it serves as a reminder to the importance of focusing on our relationship with Yahweh above earthly riches.

2 Chronicles 9

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

      1Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with difficult questions. She had a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and a large amount of gold and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was on her heart. 2Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from Solomon which he did not explain to her. 3When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built, 4the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless. 5Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. 6“Nevertheless I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You surpass the report that I heard. 7“How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. 8“Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the LORD your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.” 9Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great amount of spices and precious stones; there had never been spice like that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

      10The servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir, also brought algum trees and precious stones. 11From the algum trees the king made steps for the house of the LORD and for the king’s palace, and lyres and harps for the singers; and none like that was seen before in the land of Judah.

      12King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested besides a return for what she had brought to the king. Then she turned and went to her own land with her servants.

Solomon’s Wealth and Power

      13Now the weight of gold which came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, 14besides that which the traders and merchants brought; and all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. 15King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of beaten gold on each large shield. 16He made 300 shields of beaten gold, using three hundred shekels of gold on each shield, and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

      17Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. 18There were six steps to the throne and a footstool in gold attached to the throne, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 19Twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom. 20All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; silver was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 21For the king had ships which went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.

      22So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. 23And all the kings of the earth were seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. 24They brought every man his gift, articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses and mules, so much year by year.

      25Now Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 26He was the ruler over all the kings from the Euphrates River even to the land of the Philistines, and as far as the border of Egypt. 27The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. 28And they were bringing horses for Solomon from Egypt and from all countries.

      29Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? 30Solomon reigned forty years in Jerusalem over all Israel.

Death of Solomon

      31And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David; and his son Rehoboam reigned in his place.

As I reflect on Solomon, I reflect on how he drifted through his life away from God (1 Kings 11). He married many women, many of whom were not followers of Yahweh. It affected him. God was angry with him. All the wisdom and all the wealth could not restore his relationship with God.

Let us each seek to submit to God. Let us remain humble, even if God provides great wealth. Let us keep our eyes on our Father. It is our relationship with Him and not our wealth and assets or importance in this world that ultimately matter. Let us remain faithful even if the LORD does not choose to bestow wealth on us. Jesus and His disciples and many prophets and servants of the LORD did not have financial wealth. Others, like Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph had wealth. Let us trust in our Father for what he has in store for us and steward it well, with a joyful and thankful heart.


Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Are You Digging a Hole, Investing, or Gambling?

There are always a lot of uncertainties in the world. Some may be global political conflict or wars or terrorism. Others may include domestic conflict between political parties with very different views. The world is still recovering from a recession with a lot of interference from central banks keeping interest rates lower than they should remain. You do not hear about it much anymore, but banks are not really back to historical interest rates, which indicates they are still manipulating the markets to the extend they can.

How do you handle your finances in a situation like this? Are you digging a hole, gambling, or investing with your finances?

Digging a hole refers to constantly spending more money than you earn. Even if you are not accumulating debt, if you are not saving money for future emergencies or future planned expenses (e.g. car, house, retirement, etc.) you are actually digging a hole for yourself that gets harder and harder to climb out of as you get older. This principle applies whether world events are volatile or calm. Remember, that if you want to retire someday or even if you have to retire due to medical issues… you may not always be able to continue bringing in new income.  That means that over the long range, you need to save ahead, not dig a hole or even break even paycheck to paycheck.

Gambling reflects those who, often driven by greed, make disproportionately large investments, or bets, on things like oil or a particular stock that they think will make them “rich” if it moves in a particular direction. This approach may be acceptable as a speculative diversification in part of an investment portfolio but the typical investor should never assume any particular investment is “fool proof” and go “all in” on it. Sometimes it will work out, but it may also result in disaster.

A wise investor instead diversifies across multiple investments. He or she is prepared for unexpected moves in value of the investments in short term and long term. The wise investor does not always make the highest return on any one investment, but instead makes a steady and predictable return on investment regardless of circumstances.

So each of us should periodically reflect… “Am I digging a hole? gambling? or investing?”

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Responding to Hostility and Jealousy

Human nature has not changed in thousands of years. When we experience God’s blessing and succeed, fools will look to  harm to us out of jealousy. The wise will instead seek to understand how we have prospered so they can learn and replicate it. In Genesis 26:12-25, Abimelech becomes concerned by Isaac’s great wealth and commands him to leave. While the situations we may face are likely to be different, the concepts are still similar.

Genesis 26:12-25

12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. 14 He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. 15 So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

16 Finally, Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.”

17 So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. 18 He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.

19 Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20 But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22 Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

23 From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, 24 where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” 25 Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

Isaac respected Abimelech’s authority and relocated to where Abraham had previously settled. When he dug wells he was met with more adversity and hostility from those nearby who challenged his rights to the water there. Isaac avoided conflict again… and again… and eventually found open space. He gave glory to God. He was not complaining about all the hostility he faced but rather thanking God for providing space for him to occupy.

Later God revealed Himself to Isaac at Beersheba and affirmed the promise to Isaac that was first given to Abraham. Isaac responded by building an altar and worshiping God.

I have a lot of respect for Isaac in that He did not try to react in this situation to hostility with violence. He sought open space to peacefully flourish and God granted it to him. While there are times when it is appropriate to fight, as Abraham demonstrated in Genesis 14,  Isaac demonstrates that there are times when the best response is a peaceful one. In this case Isaac was in someone else’s land under Abimelech and then moving into land near where others already occupied. He avoided a conqueror mentality in both cases. With his great wealth it is reasonable to conclude he could have mustered a significant fighting force. Else, why would Abimelech have been concerned?

God provides many examples in scripture where fighting is appropriate and others where a peaceful solution is best. We should be careful not to gravitate to easily toward a one-size-fits-all  solution of violence or peace and try to fit it to every situation. Instead, we should study God’s word and seek Him in prayer for wisdom in how to respond to adversity and threats in our lives as individuals, families, and nations.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This question is incredibly important, and those who ask it genuinely seeking an answer have already started down the right track. They have acknowledged there is eternal life and not everyone gets there. Some will have eternal suffering instead. Let us review how Jesus answers this question when a rich young man asks Him.

Mark 10:17-31

The Rich Young Ruler

      17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19“You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’” 20And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

      23And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

      28Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31“But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

The rich young ruler was not far from the kingdom of heaven. He knew the commandments and he knew Jesus was the right person to ask. Clearly he did not fully understand the significance of obeying the commandments, as he felt that he had obeyed them sufficiently well throughout his life. None can truly accomplish this, when we fully consider how to apply this law according to Jesus, Himself (Matthew 5:21-48). However, he was looking in the right places for the answer.

Jesus did not even break stride in the conversation to explain what it means to truly follow the full standard of God’s commandments. He already knew where the man was failing in his devotion to God. For this specific individual, it was love of money. Jesus never called everyone to give away their money, it is not required. He knew this individual had that as his primary remaining barrier to following God. Sadly, the man went away grieving rather than following after Jesus.

Jesus, never wanting to let a teaching opportunity by wasted, spoke further with His disciples on the subject. He pointed out how hard it is for many that have money to choose to serve God instead of money. We can not serve both (Matthew 6:24). However, there is hope. No matter what personal obstacle stands in our way, we have hope with God that we can overcome it and follow Jesus.

27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

We can also be encouraged that whatever it is that we give up in order to follow Jesus, we will not regret it. We will be rewarded for our devotion and loyalty to God, more than we could imagine.

[This article was developed in partnership with HearingFromJesus.org.]


Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .