REVERENCE OF GOD


By Eddie Hedges

WAKE UP PEOPLE!  The alarm is going off.  Look at where we are as a society today.  A lot of people with influence—politicians, celebrities, entertainers, athletes—are openly supporting and saying things that are evil are good, and things that are good are evil.  Isaiah 5:20 KJV, “Woe unto them who call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 

Accordingly, my comments are not a political statement but a spiritual statement.

So here is my question.  Have we lost a reverence or fear of God?  Have we let society dilute our morals and our sense of right and wrong?  Do we no longer stand in awe of God as God Almighty, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lord’s?  He is our God, our Creator, our Savior and Redeemer, our Teacher, Counselor, Comforter.  He is the Heavenly Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit—all worthy of praise, honor, and glory.

So what does it mean to show reverence?  Reverence is defined as deep respect, profound adoring, awed respect, awe, fear, and honor.

When Moses approached God in the burning bush, look at what God said to him, Exodus 3:5 NIV, “Do not come any closer,” God said, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”  This shows God demands and deserves our respect.

I believe that we have become too casual in our relationship with God.  In our churches, our families, at work, in our recreation, and in our daily walk with God.  Do we truly stand in awe of Him?  Do we show Him deep, profound, adoring respect and honor?

In David’s writings, he states in Psalms 89:5-7 NIV, “The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too; in the assembly of the holy ones.  For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?  Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?  In the counsel of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.  O Lord, God Almighty, who is like you?  You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.”  If God is feared and reverenced like this in heaven, should we have any less respect for Him?

Let me challenge you to read all of Psalms Chapters 86 and 145.  Read them deeply and meditate on what each verse is saying and then stand in awe and reverence of God, our Creator.

I am so thankful that God loves me and wants the best for me.  I praise Him that I can go to Him in prayer in worship and praise and lay my requests before Him.  But I also stand in awe of Him as God Almighty and Almighty God.  Psalms 86:12-13a NIV, “I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me.”    

The name of our God is worthy to be reverenced.  May we stand in awe of Him!!!

FINDING THE WAY

By Eddie Hedges

Can you recall the darkest place you have ever been? When our children were young, we took a family outing to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The tour guide took us to a place deep into the cavern and then turned out the lights. I must admit, it was kind of scary. There have been times since then that I thought how it would be if the lights didn’t come back on. How would we be able to find the path back to the surface?

With that thought in mind, let’s look at Psalms 119:105 KJV, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” This is one of those verses of Scripture that I have read many times and always thought about how God gives us guidance and direction so we can make wise decisions. But, I would like to take that thought and expand on it somewhat. God loves us and He wants us to have and live an abundant life. Jesus says in John 10:10 KJV, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is filled with God’s instructions and guidance on how we can live life on this earth and live it more abundantly. To the fullest, if you will. His word is truly a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path. God gives us guidance in all areas of life. It lights the way and directs our path in life.

For example, have you ever studied the Ten Commandments and questioned why God gave them? Is He trying to restrict our life or enhance our life? If you look at each Commandment in depth you will find God is trying to protect us. If you violate any one of them, do you have inner peace or inner turmoil? Are you constantly trying to cover up your sin? If it was good for you, why would you not do it in the open and before others? Instead we try to hide and cover up our sin. God is actually trying to enhance your life. He is shining light on your path as well as warning us of danger if we stray and do not obey His guidance. Proverbs 3:18-19 NIV, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness, they do not know what makes them stumble.”

Consider also how God tells us how to relate to our fellow man. How many verses of Scripture and Parables does God give us in the Bible where He tells us to take care of each other? He wants us to build up and not to tear down. This applies to any type of relationship. God wants us to make the lives of others better. A quote that I love from Leadership expert, John Maxwell is “Your candle loses nothing when it lights another.” I believe we, in fact, gain when we “light” another person’s life. And it often compounds and grows as they share and add to another person. Proverbs 11:23-25 NIV, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” How awesome is this principle? We lose nothing when we help others with our time, talent, and resources.

The Bible is full of Scripture relating to money and finance, parenting, marital relationships, work and work ethic and so much more. God, through the Scriptures, teaches us how to deal with stress and the trials and tribulations we face in life.

Are not all of these life issues that God addresses in His Word? Psalms 119:89 NIV, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens.”

God also tells us how to gain eternal life with Him in Heaven, through faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 14:6 KJV, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me.” This is further supported in Romans 10:9 KJV, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

God gives us another special thought considering Psalms 119:105 and Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior. Let’s look at two parts of the verse and how it relates to Jesus. Consider, if you will, the words “Thy word” and “the light”. John 1:1 KJV, reads “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Further in that Chapter in verse 14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” The Word is Jesus. Then in John 8:12 KJV, we find “Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Look closely at how God ties this together with Psalms 119:105. Thy word is Jesus and He is the light showing us how to live life to the fullest. To me, this is amazing how God weaves His Scripture together, explaining His guidance for our benefit and protection.

God loves us so much that He tells us in His Holy Bible how we can live an abundant life. He is truly giving light to our path and a lamp to our feet. Search the Scriptures for yourself and may you be blessed as you are blessing others.

BEING REFRESHED

There is a lot of division in the world today. Maybe as much or more than anytime during my lifetime. This is especially true in the political arena, right vs. left, liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican. But it is also true in areas of religion, social issues, etc.

I personally believe there is a Biblical Principle that has a great amount of wisdom when we consider the various areas of division we face today.

Look at what God says in Proverbs 11:24-25. (NIV), “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

God also says in Proverbs 25:21-22, (NIV), “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

This is an awesome principle to live by. And it applies in ALL areas of life, not just with those we may have a difference of opinion or belief. Throughout the Bible, God gives us His guidance in how to get along with others. This is just one example.

Let’s explore this Biblical Principle and see if we can grasp only a portion of what God wants for mankind. This is only one principle in which God is telling us how to get along with our fellow man or woman. He is showing us how to live a more abundant life, on this earth.

God’s principle is to do something for others and you will be blessed accordingly. A popular phrase today is “Pay it Forward”. Someone does something nice for one person and they in return will do a kind deed for someone else. And the process compounds or continues. Leadership author, John Maxwell says, “Your candle loses nothing when it lights another”. If you are holding a lit candle and you use it to light another candle, then that candle lights another and the process continues for many more candles. But look at the original candle. Its light and glow are still as bright as it was before it lit another candle. Now you have all the candles glowing and spreading the light, not just one. Think about this principle as it applies to the Scriptures in Proverbs stated above.

When applying this principle, the more you give the more you will be refreshed. I like to call this “Spiritual Compounding”. I believe there is much more good accomplished when we try to build up each other instead of trying to tear down others. To add something positive as opposed to something negative. What if we applied this thought? What if I personally decided to use addition and multiplication to the lives of others, instead of subtraction and division? Which would have the greater and more positive results? Would it buildup relations, if I did this, or would it tear down relationships? I believe it would enhance relationships and maybe tear down some of the areas of division.

Jesus said in John 10:10, (KJV), “The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”.

What happens to a relationship when there is division and discord? It is stolen, killed, and destroyed. Jesus said we can have life and have it more abundantly, on this earth by caring for each other.

God in His wisdom tells us how to have a more abundant life–by refreshing others. And we in return will be refreshed also. Spiritual Compounding, if you will.

WHY GOD SAYS “THOU SHALT NOT”

I have often heard people say that they don’t want to become a Christian because of all the do this placed on their lives. In other words, they refuse to make God the Lord of their life. They want to be in control and do as they wish. So my question is “Why did God give us the Ten Commandments”? What about His other laws, ordinances, statues, and precepts? Are they given by God to restrict our lives?

1 John 4:8 KJV reads, “… God is love”. If God is truly a God of love, why would He want to restrict our lives with burdensome rules and regulations? Actually, I think it is just the opposite. God wants to enhance our lives through His commandments, laws, ordinances, statues, and precepts.
To illustrate this point, consider this example. Have you ever been traveling on a winding road in the hill country and you come upon a vehicle traveling at less than the speed limit. Maybe it is a truck or a recreation vehicle. Perhaps it is just someone out on a casual afternoon drive. You are in a hurry to get to your destination and you are getting just a little aggravated. You keep trying to look past the vehicle in front of you, but every time you look you see those yellow, no-passing lines. Now you are thinking that all those cars you passed are going to catch up with you and all the time you gained is being lost.

What is the purpose of the yellow, no-passing lines? Are they not there to protect you and warn you of potential danger ahead? That is what God is trying to do with us when He gives us commandments, laws, ordinances, statues, and precepts. He is trying to enhance our lives, not restrict them. Let me try to show what I mean that God is enhancing our lives and not restricting them.

Consider again the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 20:1-17). Can you state even one of the Ten Commandments that do not, in fact and practice, enhance our life? If we violate any of them, are there not consequences for our action? Do we have inner-peace or turmoil? If you steal something, do you not try to hide what you did and cover it up? If you commit adultery, are there not consequences to you and your family? When God said to honor the Sabbath and keep it Holy, was God not telling us we need a day of rest to recharge our bodies and mind? How about Thou shalt have no other gods before me. It is true that you cannot serve two gods or masters, as stated in Matthew 6:24. You are a servant to anything that masters you. You become a slave to it. That is what ultimately happens when we covet something so much that it starts to dominate us.

We could take each of the Ten Commandments, analyze them and we would come up with the same result. That God gave them to protect us and to enhance or build up our lives. He wants what is truly best for us.

Look at what God says in Psalms 19:7-11 NIV, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure, and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold, they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned, in keeping them there is great reward.”

If you will go back and slowly read each verse and carefully consider what it said, I think you will find how much God loves you and that He wants what is best for you. As He states in verse 11, He is warning us of dangers when we violate His instructions and guidance. And in keeping them—there is great reward. Our lives are enhanced. God has a purpose and a reason behind everything He says.

WHAT AN AWESOME, LOVING GOD WE SERVE.

TOO MUCH HONEY

When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was working at a gas station. I had various duties, but one of them was to balance and rotate tires on cars. Later on I had a job working in the Tire Department of a major department store and I was again rotating and balancing tires. I learned that the benefit of this would extend the life of the tires and the ride would be smoother.

Our life is similar to this vehicle maintenance practice in that we need balance in all areas of our lives. Why? So our life will be smoother and perhaps even extend our time here on earth.

Proverbs 25:16 NIV reads, “If you find honey, eat just enough, too much of it, and you will vomit.”

Honey is good for you. It has some health benefits. But if you eat too much of it, as the scripture says, you will vomit. Too much of a good thing is actually bad for you. There are consequences for your action. I believe the lesson from this verse is that we need to live a balanced life, moderation if you will.

So, what does living a balanced life mean and why is it important? Let’s look at four areas of your life and look at them if taken to an extreme—work, recreation, education, and religion.

We all know of people who are obsessed with work. They go to work early and leave late. Their family is neglected. Even when they are with their family, their thoughts are on work. Vacations and days off are never on their radar. Then, we have just the opposite. People who never work and often depend on others for their livelihood. They are perfectly content to let others provide for them. Both of these are not how life is meant to be. Work is ordained in the Bible. Scripture also says that God works. Work is honorable and necessary. But even God says to take a day off, just as He did when He created heaven and the earth. It recharges us. Jesus also spent time in the garden, on the lake, and at the mountains. We should all learn from their lessons.

The same principle applies in the area of recreation. Everyone needs that certain something in their life that helps them relax and get away from the problems of everyday life. But, we need to be cautious that it doesn’t dominate our life. You are a servant to anything that controls you. It is your master. What we need is to make things our servant and not let it become our master.

There is a News Correspondent that often appears on television. He also writes an Editorial that appears weekly in many major newspapers across the nation. I have tried to read his editorials, but he uses words that I don’t understand. They aren’t words used in every day conversation, so I have quit reading his columns. Maybe the problem is that I am not well educated. Or it could be that he applies his education in a way that is not beneficial to the general population. I have, also, seen people that continually go to college, but they never apply what they have learned. Knowledge without application is no better than not having knowledge.

On the other hand, there are people that are uneducated. Many times to the point that they are dependent upon society for their support. And they never contribute anything for the betterment of others.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am stating here. I am a firm believer in education and the pursuit of wisdom. I believe it is what makes one person more successful than another. Proverbs 24:5 reads, “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength.” There is power and strength in being educated. What I am saying is that a proper balance is needed in the lives of both of these types of individuals.

The same thing applies to religion. There are some people who flaunt their religion so much that others will avoid them. They are just not enjoyable to be around and it will even hurt their Christian witness. On the other hand, there are those that religion means nothing to them. These are also people we will avoid. Let me state, there is a great difference in being religious and being spiritual. The Pharisees and Sadducees were religious, but Jesus condemned them because their hearts were not right with God. Balance is the key.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us to not worry about what we should eat, drink, or what we should wear, because God will provide those things for us. Some people read those verses and believe they can just set back and God is going to place those things in the lap. That they have no need to work or be a good steward of what God has given them. Throughout the Book of Proverbs, Solomon condemned the sluggard. Also in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV), Paul instructs us, “For even, when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” A thought question would be, “What bring more glory to God, someone that never works or contributes to society, saying God will provide. Or the person that takes the gifts, abilities, and opportunities God has given him or her, and faithfully utilizes them to the benefit of themselves and others?”

Let me state here, that I do not in any manner profess to have any insight into the mind of God. But let me give you something to consider when studying this passage of Scripture.

The first word in verse 25 is “Therefore”. This is a key word. It takes us back to the previous words of Jesus in verses 19-24, where He instructs us to build our treasures in heaven. He also concludes this passage in verse 24 (NIV), where He says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” So often, when we read this text, we have a tendency to separate the first part about building our treasures in heaven and serving two master from the second part about not worrying about tomorrow. I think they are to be considered together as one thought. One builds on the other. One explains or gives clarity to the other. They give support to what Jesus is instructing.

Jesus concludes His teaching here when He instructs us in verse 33 (NIV) stating, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” I believe what Jesus is saying is that God wants our heart first. He is to be our Master and we are to love Him with all of our heart. He wants us to build our treasures in heaven and to glorify Him with our time, talents, money, and gifts. On a personal basis, I really don’t know what the treasures in heaven will be, but I want them.

When we take all of this passage, from verses 19-34, we must keep it all in context of what Jesus is teaching us. And a part of his teaching is living a balanced life. To keep our priorities straight and focused on serving God.

1 Timothy 6:17-20a, tells us how we can specifically build our treasures in heaven. And it concludes with this command in verse 20a (KJV), “O Timothy (substitute your name here), keep that which is committed to thy trust.” This means we are to be a good steward or Trustee of the things God has entrusted to us.

So, what does all of this mean to each of us individually? God wants our heart. He wants us to love Him and to place our lives in His hands. He also wants us to be a good and faithful servant and steward.

There are so many areas of life that can get out of balance. Accordingly, each of us has a different area of weakness in which we can have excess and the end result can be harmful. As too much honey is not good for you, we must strive to keep balance in our life as we place our focus on making God our Master and serve none other than Him.

THE GOD OF PEACE–Really?

Several weeks ago I was sitting in church and as the Preacher started his sermon, he began by reading the passage from Hebrews 13:20-21 KJV, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Have you ever had a portion of a Scripture virtually leap out at you? The phrase “The God of peace” did that to me. In the Bible God calls himself the “God of peace” and Jesus is called the “Prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6 and supported with John 14:27). As I pondered on the phrase I thought to myself, is God truly a God of peace? Actually, what does God mean when He said I am the God of Peace? After all, there is a lot of unrest, strife, turmoil, and fighting going on in the world. Even God’s children experience these things. Since the beginning of time there has been very little time of peace. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. That it applies as much today as it did when it was written. That it is true and that it is truth. So what does God mean when He said He is the God of Peace?

I began to pray that God would reveal the answer to me. I started to do research on the topic. Truthfully, the things I read did not give me clarity or inner peace. I continued to pray about the matter.

At first, I thought about the peace of God that passes all understanding, from Philippians 4:6-7. I concluded that this is entirely different from the God of peace. The peace of God is that unexplainable inner peace you get during times of adversity. You can’t explain it, but it happens. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as stated throughout the 14th Chapter of John.
Inner peace also comes from doing God’s will in your life. By being obedient to His Word and following the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only Christians can experience this peace because non-Christians do not have the Holy Spirit indwelling in them, only born again believers. All of this is the peace of God and it continues throughout our life on this earth.

Now let’s consider the God of Peace. This is what came to me about this subject and what I state may be subject of debate so I am going to state it as “what if”. What if the God of peace is actually the difference in heaven and hell? Where each of us individually will spend eternity. That is ultimately comes after we leave this earth. Think about this with me. Eternity is defined as endless or infinite time. There is no end. Hell is a place of eternal misery and damnation. A lake of fire, torture and torment. Heaven is a place of reward, peace, praising God, and no sorrow. With this in mind, which place brings peace and which place agony?

The only way to heaven, according to the Bible, is through faith in Jesus, as the Redeemer of our sins. John 14:6 KJV, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Please note that the Scripture says I (Jesus) am “the” way, not “a” way. There is no other way and the Scripture I stated above from Hebrews 13:20-21 further supports that Jesus is the only way to heaven, the ultimate place of true and everlasting peace.
We also see from this the work of the Trinity. God as the God of peace. Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, as the Prince of peace. And the Holy Spirit giving us inner peace and comfort. Each performing a different role in the life of Believers.

To me, this is what God is saying when He says He is the God of Peace.

DO YOU SEE GIANTS OR GRAPES?

Often the difference between success and failure is attitude. What determines that one sibling achieves success and another does not? Are they not raised in the same environment and have the same opportunity for success? Do they not have the same “excuses” for failure? Please note that I said excuses and not reasons. More often than not, the difference comes down to attitude and individual determination. Too often we can find excuses for our actions, but can we really find legitimate reasons?

Please permit me to give a Biblical illustration to explain my thinking because our attitude often determines whether we see things as opportunities or obstacles. From Numbers Chapters 13 and 14 we read the story about Joshua, Caleb, and the ten other men sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan, prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land. When the twelve men returned with their report, ten stated that the land did overflow with milk and honey and fruit, but its inhabitants were giants and their cities were fortified. Ten of these men saw too many obstacles to overcome. Joshua and Caleb stated that the land was an exceedingly good land and that it could be taken by the Israelites. All twelve men saw the giants and that the land was flowing with milk and honey and the fruit. The fruit was clusters of grapes so large that a branch with a single cluster had to be carried on a pole between two men. What was the difference in the ten spies and Joshua and Caleb? It was their attitude. All twelve saw the giants and the grapes. God told all of them that He would be with them, just like He tells us today. Ten saw obstacles and two saw opportunity for victory and to enter the Promised Land. Ten said, “We cannot do this.” Joshua and Caleb said, “With God on our side, the victory is ours.” All twelve had the same opportunity for victory and success. Each one of us has the ability to “see the grapes of opportunity instead of the giants of failure.” Does our attitude not determine whether we “enter the Promised Land” of our lives?

Another Biblical example would be the prophet Daniel. Daniel had been taken captive in Babylon. He was a young man in captivity in a foreign country. You would think he would be bitter and angry—and that he would work against his captors and try to undermine them. Or you might think he would do whatever crossed his mind—morally or not—because, after all, he was in a foreign country and no one would know of his actions. What difference would it make? He had been dealt a bad hand and was in an immoral environment. Who would be affected but him if he did not do the right thing? After all, it was his life and Daniel had “excuses” to not try and give his best. This is where Daniel’s attitude determines the direction of his life. From Daniel 1:8 the Bible states, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” The key word here is resolved. To be resolved means to have a firm determination to make the most of our life. It means that Daniel determined, in advance and at a young age, the course for his life.

Is this not the same for all of us? Yes, we can find “excuses” to not try and succeed. Or we can be resolved, just like Daniel, to give our best and contribute to the success of ourselves and others. To take advantage of the opportunities this great Nation presents to anyone willing to work and sacrifice. We can determine that we will be givers and not takers.
When we start to school, is it not the objective to advance and progress each year and to increase our learning? Do athletic teams not practice to improve instead of staying the same throughout the season? Why should our work and careers be any different? We should be striving to grow and advance, not to stay where we start. We should have the attitude and determination to build up and not tear down. If all workers and employers had this attitude, would it not be good for the growth and stability of our economy? Would we all not be better off and create more opportunity and success for everyone?

Consider the story of David and Goliath, taken from the 17th Chapter of 1 Samuel. A review of the scriptures says that the giant, Goliath challenged the armies of Israel to send someone to fight with him. The soldiers of Israel all heard Goliath defy them, including the King of Israel, Saul. Yet David, who was a youth and not a soldier, accepted Goliath’s challenge. David said, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who thou has defied.” Was God not the Lord of all the armies of Israel? What made David stand up to Goliath when the soldiers of Israel would not? It was his attitude and his belief that God would stand with him. Verse 47 states,”…for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” That is the way it is with you and me. The battles in our lives are the Lord’s. We only need to place the battle into His hands and let Him give us the victory over the giants we face. But it is our attitude that determines the effort we will make to achieve the victory. I wonder how different David’s life would have been if he had not accepted the challenge from Goliath. Would he ever become the King of Israel? Would God have later stated that he was a man after God’s own heart? The point I want to make is that we determine our future by the decisions we make today. Will we fight or will we run from the battle? Each time we are faced with a challenge, our faith is tested. Will we trust God to give us the victory or will we just accept the consequences? When we engage in the battle we become stronger and we start to see God at work in our life. David was able to use his encounters with the lion and the bear to prepare him for the battle with Goliath. And God will use our experiences to prepare us for future battles. Stand firm and fight the fight before you. God is with you, just as He was with David.

Can you taste the grapes?

Psalms 34:8 NIV, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…”. Continue reading

UTILIZING YOUR GIFT

I love the Book of Proverbs and I normally read a Chapter of Proverbs each day of the week. This is something I have done over the course of many years. Here is what is exciting for me. I still occasionally find a new meaning to a particular verse.
This happened several weeks ago when I read Proverbs 18:16 NIV, “A gift opens the way for the giver, and ushers him into the presence of the great.” I previously thought that meant that a gift given to another person would help get you access to them and maybe get them to do something for you. I still believe this is one meaning of the verse. But here is another meaning that came to me, even after all the times I had previously read the passage. The revelation was that if you will use and develop the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God gives and entrusts to you, that it will give you access to even greater opportunities. When you develop the gift God gives you, it puts you into a position for even greater things. It ushers you into the presence of the great, as the Scripture states. When you are a good steward of what God entrusts to you, He will do things in your life beyond what you can imagine or envision.
Look at what God says in Jeremiah 33:3 KJV, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
God tells us that when we come to Him in sincere and earnest prayer, that He will do things greater and mightier than what we thought possible.
We are to take great care to fully utilize our gifts, talents, and opportunities in such a way that brings glory to God. Think about this. What brings greater glory to God, when we are faithful and being a good steward of what God has entrusted to us or being slothful and giving little effort?
We are instructed in 1 Timothy 6:20 NIV, “Timothy (substitute your name), guard what has been entrusted to your care.” Guard, develop, and take the gifts, talents, and opportunities God gives you and let them usher you into the presence of the great, as stated in the Scripture.

Eddie Hedges is the Author of THE HEART OF FINANCIAL MATTERS, SEEKING A SERVANT’S HEART. For more information, please go to www.theheartoffinancialmatters.com.

INVESTMENT EXAMPLES

WHEN WILL YOU FUND YOUR RETIREMENT. Some years ago, there was a commercial on television. The actor who portrayed a car mechanic said “You can pay me now or pay me later.” The message was that you could pay the mechanic for normal maintenance now or if you neglect proper maintenance you will pay for major repairs later. What does this have to do with your money?  Please remember this point when it comes to your retirement.  YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR RETIREMENT SOMEDAY.  Either through systematic savings and investing OR you will have to work longer in life.  But you will pay for your retirement at some point in time, when you are in your younger years or your later years.  You have to set the priority of now or later.  I believe it is much wiser to save and invest and hopefully retire earlier, than to have to work longer in life.  Perhaps when your earning capacity is reduced.

Accordingly, I thought it would be beneficial to show you the impact of constantly investing a portion of your income (10% is the goal) and letting the power of compounding your earnings create wealth.  This is the key to building financial security.  You can see the importance of starting as early in life as possible and letting your investment grow.

$50.00 monthly investment for 40 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $265,555.53.  This is on a total principal investment of $24,000.00.

$50.00 montlhy investment for 45 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $431,342.90.  This is on a total principal investment of $27,000.00.

$50.00 monthly investment for 50 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $698,354.12 from a total principal investment of $30,000.00.

$2,000 annual investment for 40 years @ 5% average annual yield equals $241,599 from a total principal investment of $80,000.00.

$4,000 annual investment for 20 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $229,100 from a total principal investment of $80,000.00.

$2,000 annual investment for 40 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $885,185.00.  This is from a total principal investment of $80,000.00.

$4,000 annual investment for 40 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $1,770,370 from a total principal investment of $160,000.00.

Often I am asked how to get a 10% annual return on investment as I illustrated in my examples. One way would be investing in the Dividend Aristocrats. This is a select group of S & P 500 stocks with 25 plus years of consecutive dividend increases. The “average” annual yield on these stocks from 1991-2017 was 12.9%. The “average” annual yield on the S & P 500 during this same time period was 10.7%. Also, the “average” annual return on the S & P 500 since its inception in 1923 has been 11.7%. Both of these returns are above the 10% example used in my article. Some years show a loss for the year, but over this time period, these are the average rate of annual returns. For the long-term investor, either of these investments would give the 10% yield. In addition, either of these investments would give the investor diversification, which is also very important. Accordingly, money invested at 10% compounded annually will double over approximately 7.5 years.

It is vital to grasp this concept if you want to build financial security.

Steps to Eliminate or Reduce Debt

An analogy to a person having financial difficulties would be a person who had a heart attack and asks the doctor for a shot or medication that will make him well immediately.  To resolve this health problem, the heart attack victim must go through a change in lifestyle and a rehabilitation program.  To resolve financial problems, you must be willing to change your lifestyle and go through a financial rehabilitation program.  Below are steps to take to get out of debt or reduce your debt.

1.  Write down all the principal balances of each debt you have, beginning with the lowest balance to the highest.

2.  Write down the current monthly payment next to each principal balance.

3.  Review your current  spending habits (financial lifestyle) for changes that could be eliminated  or reduced.  This review could include purchases such as magazines, soft drinks, bottled water, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, memberships, eating out, grocery purchases (start using coupons), travel habits, etc.  I know that this is not going to be fun, but if you are going to reach your goal of reducing or eliminating debt, lifestyle changes must be made.

4.  Cancel all credit cards except one card with a low available balance.  Retain this card only because there are some purchases  which can only be made with a credit or debit card (hotels, rental cars, etc.)  Use this card only in those situations and pay the balance in full when the 1st payment is due.

5.  Of the money saved from step 3, above, add that amount to the current payment being made on the lowest principal balance listed in step 1 above.  Continue the increased payments until the principal balance is paid in full.

6.  Now doesn’t it feel really good to have one debt paid off?  Next move to the next lowest principal balance and add the previous revised payment to the current payment and continue the revised payment schedule until this principal balance is paid in full.

7.  Ok, this has to be exciting when this second debt is paid off, so continue the process of paying off the next lowest principal balance and adding the revised payment to the current payment until you have reached your goal of being totally debt free.

The reason we use the lowest balance first instead of the balance with the highest interest rate is so we can see progress being made and not become discouraged and quit trying.

Life is about setting priorities.  You can become debt free.  When you have accomplished this, you will be able to MAKE MONEY YOUR SERVANT INSTEAD OF MONEY BEING YOUR MASTER.