Monday, September 16
Theme for the week:
Disciples Make Disciples

When it comes to being disciples of Jesus, it is unhealthy (and ungodly) separate your financial life from your faith life. A life of discipleship includes submitting your finances to Jesus’ mission as well as the rest of your life. Over the next three weeks we lean into Scripture to shape a financial vision of discipleship. It is not intended to be a comprehensive view on godly stewardship, but to focus on a few keys areas – to inspire and inform. This week focuses on using what you’ve been given – including taking risks when appropriate. Here is our identity-in-Christ statement:

• Because I am already rich in Christ, I am willing to put God’s money to work for Him, even if it means risking it for God.

1 Peter 4:7-11

7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

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Pondering Point

Before we go anywhere with this, let’s celebrate two things:

1. God’s grace already poured out on you through Jesus Christ, who died to forgive you of your sins and who brought you into fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

2. God’s grace also poured out through you so that others can know this same gift of grace in their lives also.

God’s grace poured through you clearly includes gifts of the Spirit as referenced in 1 Peter 4. But as Jesus announces in Luke 14:33, unless we are willing to give up everything, we cannot be His disciples – and to follow our theme this week, that includes giving up your way of handling finances for His. If you are not willing to candidly face this part, the rest will not matter.

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Prayer

Father God, knowing that I am to use whatever gifts I have received to serve others, help me become a faithful steward of Your grace. For the benefit of others, build in me a financial vision of that honors You. Amen.

Tuesday, September 17
God’s Mission

Luke 19:11-27

The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

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Pondering Point

A mina has been valued at three month’s wages, so ten of them is significant money. So what does that mean? This soon-to-be-king is investing significantly in his servants.

By comparison, Jesus says that God has invested significantly in us – with a desire for us to “put to work” what we’ve been given. Here is where this financial risk-taking factor arises – and is celebrated (and even rewarded!).

But the financial risk-taking, as in the parable, is to be for the benefit or vision of our Master. Is God the master of your money or are you (still) seeing it as your own? In the parable, those who took risks in putting the money to work saw return – and the approval of their master.

The one(s) who took no risk (simply putting the money away) saw no return – and disapproval of their master. The parable is meant to lead you to assess your own attitude about money and God’s kingdom. Are you listening? Make sure that you are and then share the prayer that follows.

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Prayer

Father God, Help me listen to You – and to “put to work” for You all that you have placed in my hands. Reshape my attitude where necessary. I pray this as your grateful servant. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, September 18
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

Luke 11:9-10

I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
~Jesus

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Pondering Point

So, what is Jesus teaching? He’s teaching us to ask, to seek, to knock. He is also teaching that God wants to see those who are asking to receive, the ones seeking to find, and those knocking to experience open doors. While this lesson can apply across broad areas of life, in line with our weekly theme, we are diving into the pool of finances.

Is it acceptable to ask for more money/assets than you need? Does God want you to ask for more than you need? Does he want to give you what you are seeking? How about another get-to-the-root of the issue question: WHY are you asking for more, and what is your plan for this extra money? At first glance, asking for more seems selfish, but if the desire is to bless others, this attitude moves the financial vision into the realm of generosity. Generosity a gift of the Spirit and a mark of godliness. Oh, but that godliness can EASILY be overrun by a root-of-all-evil love of money, so it is important that our attitude remains godly – and stays there!

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Prayer

Father God, build in me a financial vision that seeks to bless others with all that you give me. Be generous with me that I might honor you with a similar generosity that blesses others to Your glory. In Jesus I pray. Amen.

Thursday, September 19
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 

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Pondering Point

In a year of immersing ourselves in praying the prayers of scripture, this is an automatic inclusion. For our ‘Prayerful Re-centering around God,’ we are focusing on the petition Give us today our daily bread.

Often Christians share of prayer of thanks at mealtimes. Here’s one:
Bless us Lord for these gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Help us be mindful of all our blessings as well as the needs of those who have less. Amen.

The reason I highlight it for our devotions is that it keeps an eye on other’s needs -- and hopefully helps address them as we are able.

Review the week

Do you see your finances as belonging to God? Do you ask of God for specific blessings in order to give to others?

Do you have a financial vision? – And is it part of your life of discipleship intended to honor God?

Repent (if necessary)

If necessary, repent over selfishness that has not looked to help others with your God-given resources. Repent over a poverty-mindset that never asks for more than is needed for yourself and family. Repent for not implementing a godly financial vision.

Return (as necessary)

Pray the Lord’s Prayer, but pause at the “Give us today our daily bread” petition. Dedicate anew (or for the first time) your finances to God for work in His kingdom. Ask for insight from His Holy Spirit about how to re-orient your life to live out a godly financial vision. Then when moved to do so, finish Lord’s Prayer and anticipate answers from God as you move forward.

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Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen

Friday, September 20
Discipleship Point and Prayer

Some of you reading this have been given gifts, and you are, with false humility, saying, "Oh, no, I don't think I can do that". Is that any different from the wicked servant who buried his talent of money in the ground? (Matthew 25:18). Outwardly, that man may have seemed to be humble and self-effacing. He was not. Jesus found him to be disgusting. Jesus never used the word "wicked" lightly. Humility in his case would have meant embracing responsibility, not hiding what had been given.

p.144, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

O Lord Jesus, preserve me from any “wicked” use of that which You have put in my hands. God Forbid! Instead let me honor Our Father, hallowing His name in my life here “on earth as it is in heaven.” Whether with money, assets, abilities, or experience – may I produce good and faithful fruit as His servant.

Discipleship Point about Ministry Gifts

How can we know what our part is in the body of Christ? The Holy Spirit graciously gives ministry abilities, "spiritual gifts," so that every Christian can make a valued contribution to the health of the whole body. The church actually operates as the body of Christ when each person seeks to know and function in accord with their role assigned by God.

~ Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 186
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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, not all contributions can be seen by men, but all is seen by You. Lead me to be unconcerned about my perceived value in the eyes of others, so often based on contribution. Yet build in me a desire to be a faithful contributor in Your eyes. Help me make it so in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Saturday, September 21
Scripture's Story for the Week

Luke 19:11-27

The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

Jesus uses this parable to describe faithful and unfaithful servants. Some servants put the Master’s money (“talents”) to work and bring back a big return with what they invested. ANother does nothing and suffers an inglorious encounter with his master.

Go through the parable mentally as the first risk-taking servant and imagine the emotions and thoughts you would experience while having this conversation with your master. Don’t envision the master as Jesus, just the newly-crowned king in the story. Continue the mindset as you see the master deal with your fellow servants. Note your reactions. Then go through the parable again but seeing yourself as the unfaithful servant. Again note your reactions to the master’s treatment of the those faithful servants building up to your unfortunately encounter. Let it sink in. Then have a conversation with the author of this parable (not Luke but Jesus)

Sunday, September 22
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

This is clearly one of those “blessed to be a blessing” times. What is prayed for is a blessing to be equipped to do God’s will, having Him work in us whatever pleases Him – and to permit it all happen through Jesus so that the Godhead is glorified. Let it be!

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Prayer Prompt

Dear Lord,

I am providing these comments about the website and devotion to increase your greater glory.

Amen.

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