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Tuesday
Family Finances and Planning
Study 2 - Our Attitude Toward Money
(Jan 25 - Feb 1)

This study © 2000 by David Humpal

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1. How does this verse define the love of money? What happens when people are too eager for money?

This verse does not say that money is evil, nor does it say that money is the root of all evil. It says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. The warning is clear in this verse -- those who are too eager for money will have problems in their lives. They may become so obsessed with their finances that they wander from the faith -- their job or their investments become their commitment instead of their faith. Some will pierce themselves with grief -- when we are seeking material possessions, we will never be satisfied. We will always want more things that are bigger and better. Nowhere does the Bible tell us we need to abandon possessions or not earn money, but it does warn us against the danger of being obsessed with money.

Proverbs 17:16

Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?

2. What do we need to do to properly handle our finances? How do we get this wisdom?

They say that most lottery winners that choose a lump sum payment go through all their money in a few short years. What good is it to have money if we don’t know how to handle it? God wants us to be wise with the resources he gives us. In order to properly handle our finances we may have to retrain ourselves. We may need for God to teach us discipline and self-control. God does not want us to be foolish with our finances. He does offer us wisdom, but notice we have to desire it. We have to want to exhibit sound planning with our finances. Otherwise, we will continue to be foolish and probably poor because God asks us, “Of what use is money in the hand of a fool?”

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

3. Instead of searching for riches and wealth, what should we be seeking? What does this verse teach you about your own priorities?

This verse tells us we must be seeking God’s kingdom first. Too many Christians have adopted the values of our greedy, selfish society. Our priorities are on the things of this world instead of on God’s kingdom. When we put heavenly things first, God has promised to take care of us. Our priorities need to be on God and on righteousness. Only then will we find true contentment and happiness. Pursuing worldly riches and pleasure will bring us a life of frustration and confusion.

MacDonald comments, “The Lord, therefore, makes a covenant with His followers. He says, in effect, ‘If you will put God’s interests first in your life, I will guarantee your future needs. If you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then I will see that you never lack the necessities of life’.”

Mark 12:41-44

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.

42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

4. (verse 41) Why do you think the rich people gave so much? What was their motivation? Have you ever had wrong motivations when it comes to giving to God?

It is easy to condemn the rich as having wrong motives. And probably there were many who gave large amounts in Jesus’ day who had wrong intentions. But I am sure that there were some who also gave out of a real desire to serve God. Christ’s purpose of this teaching was to emphasize the one who gave little, but I think we can also learn what Jesus was teaching about our motive in giving. As someone once said, “There is no piety in poverty.” Being poor doesn’t automatically cause us to have better Christian motives than those who are rich. God looks at our heart. So no matter how much we have, we need to be careful that we don’t have the wrong motivation for giving. Perhaps some gave to receive acclaim from the people. We can be poor and do the same thing. The important thing is not how much we give, but our heart toward God. God has used many wealthy believers to be a blessing to his kingdom. Whether you are rich or poor, Christ wants you to give with the right heart.

5. (verse 42) Why do you think Jesus mentions the small value of the widow’s coins? Have you ever felt like your offerings to God are insignificant like the widow’s?

The widow’s offering did not seem very important. Perhaps you feel that what you have to give to God is not that important. But notice that Christ uses this smallest of offerings to teach us the proper way to give to God. This widow has been remembered for her offering for almost 2000 years. If every Christian would regularly give to support the ministry of the church, no congregation would ever have any financial problems. But too often we are slack in our giving. It is traditional that offerings decline certain times of the year when people are spending their money on other things. God wants us to make his kingdom a priority, whether we can give a large gift or a small gift.

The Believer’s Bible Commentary speaks of the widow’s offering, “As regards monetary value, she gave very little. But the Lord estimates giving by our motive, our means.... This is a great encouragement to those who have few material possessions, but a great desire to give to Him.”

6. (verses 43-44) What do you think Jesus was trying to teach his disciples in these verses? What does this teach you about your own giving?

Jesus is pointing out that the widow gave her all even though she was living in poverty. I have noticed that sometimes the most generous people are the ones who are not rich, but are willing to give their all to God. I believe God wants us to be willing to give our all and have the proper motives when it comes to our finances. This idea is not very popular in our culture today. But God wants us to make him a priority in all areas of our life -- our time, our abilities, and even our finances.

Luke 16:13-15

13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.

15 He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.

7. (verse 13) How would you re-phrase what Jesus is trying to teach in verse 13? How important is money to you?

In this verse Jesus is showing us that we cannot adopt the modern emphasis on material possessions and still serve God. Christ tells us we have to make a choice -- which one is more important to us? We really don’t enjoy making this kind of choice. We like material possessions. But Jesus said we must choose between God and money. When our master is God, we may still have material possessions, but whatever we do will be aimed at God’s kingdom. When we have money as our master, whatever we do will be aimed at our self-gratification.

McGee asks, “What are you doing with your money? Are you making money? If you are, what are you doing with it? This is a pertinent question. Are you using it for the things of the world? If you are, you are serving mammon; that is your master. Are you serving God or mammon? You cannot serve them both?”

8. (verse 14) Why were the Pharisees sneering at Jesus? How does our society sneer at this teaching of Jesus today?

The Pharisees sneered at this teaching because they loved money. Our society also sneers at this teaching today. We want to have both -- God and money. The problem is we wind up trying to serve both -- God and money. Jesus shows us why we cannot do that. Notice he says that we are in danger of hating God or despising God. Perhaps we will be upset about feeling obligated to give an offering at church when we really want to spend our money on other things. It may be that we don’t think it’s fair that God would ask us to sacrifice pay, or overtime, or even our dreams for the work of his kingdom. If money is our master, we will soon find that God is our enemy. But if God is our master, we will see our finances in an entirely different light.

9. (verse 15) What values does God use to evaluate people? Why is it so difficult for us to embrace God’s viewpoint in some of these financial areas?

We Americans are the same as the Pharisees -- we try to justify ourselves in the eyes of men. It is amazing how many people judge their worth and the worth of others by how much money they earn or what car they drive or what home they live in. But these are not God’s values. God’s priorities are entirely different from ours. Jesus said, “What is highly valued in men is detestable in God’s sight.” This is a strong statement and it may be difficult for some Christians to accept. We need to realize that our financial priorities must reflect God’s priorities, not those of the world which God finds detestable. When we make God’s priorities our priorities, it is amazing how simpler our life becomes.

Footnotes...

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Thursday
Receiving God’s Forgiveness
A Study of Psalm 51
(Mar 23-30)

This study © 2000 by David Humpal

We all have faced times when we were overcome with guilt and longed for God’s forgiveness. David wrote this psalm during one of the worst times of his life. He recorded this beautiful prayer so that we would understand how to receive God’s forgiveness, even when we know we are unworthy of God’s mercy as David was.

Title For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Title -- Read 2 Samuel 12:1-13. How do you think Nathan felt? How do you think David felt? Name a time when you tried to cover up a wrongdoing.

The event referred to in the title is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:1-13. The prophet Nathan comes to David with a story of a rich man who took a poor man’s only lamb for his own. The king’s reaction is recorded in verse 5, “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die’!”

After David pronounced this sentence, Nathan, in one of the most courageous acts recorded in scripture, tells David (verse 7), “You are the man.”

Instead of being angry with Nathan, David realizes that the charge is true, as Nathan related to him in verse 9, “Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?” David is filled with remorse and flooded with guilt. In verse 13 he tells Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord,” which are almost the identical words he writes in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.”

McGee points out, “All the great men of God have confessed their sin before God. Augustine wrote his confessions. But Psalm 51 is one of the greatest confessionals that has ever been written.”

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

vs 1 -- What did David pray for in this verse? David requested mercy based according to what two things? Do you feel deserving of God’s mercy?

This psalm starts off with David’s admission of his need for God’s mercy. We are all like David. We need God’s forgiveness in our lives. David realized he could not ask for forgiveness based on his own actions. His sins were reprehensible and he was no doubt overwhelmed with contrition. So he asked for God’s mercy based, not on his own goodness, but on God’s unfailing love and great compassion. Do you realize that God has unfailing love and great compassion toward you? He does, and he will forgive you as he did David. Not too many people have committed sins as bad as David’s. He murdered Uriah, committed adultery with Bathsheba, and tried to hide his sins behind a mask of deceit. In spite of David’s great sinfulness, God was compassionate toward him. God will be just as compassionate toward you.

2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

vs 2 -- What two things does David ask God to do for him in this verse? Why do we feel so dirty when we have sinned?

When confronted with his sin, David cries out in verse 2 for God to wash him and cleanse him. He sees the wickedness of sin in his heart and he desires it to be removed. Only God can remove sin from our lives. Try as we might to rationalize our guilt away, it will continue to gnaw away at our soul and eat at our spirit until we allow God to wash us and cleanse us.

What sin have you been carrying with you all these years? What guilt consumes your thoughts from time to time? Go to God and allow him to wash you clean with his tender mercy and his compassionate love.

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

vs 3 -- What do you think David meant by “my sin is always before me”? Describe how sin has tormented you.

When we have sinned, we suffer under the burden of our transgressions, as David writes in verse 3, “my sin is always before me.” Sin will eat at our conscience and destroy our happiness. Our life will be twisted and tormented as long as we carry that sin with us. That is why we are in such need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

McGee writes, “Sin is always complicated. It never is simple. ... The experience of David is that he has come under deep conviction of sin. You and I cannot enter into the horror of the guilt of David. To him his sin was repugnant. He hated it, and he hated himself because he did it. He felt dirty all over.”

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

vs 4 -- Who did David say he sinned against in this verse? Who had he actually sinned against? Why do you think he feels this way?

We think of sin as wrong actions or bad thoughts. We think of it as harming others or being immoral. But the correct view of sin is rebellion against God and his commandments. David acknowledges this when he confesses in verse 4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” Of course David had sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, against his family, and as we will see in verses 18-19 even against his nation. But the greatest sin he committed was disobeying God. Whenever we break one of God’s commandments and harm someone else, we are sinning against God. If we would think of that a little bit more, maybe the pleasure of sin would not seem so pleasant to us.

Poteat remarks, “It was a marked advance in moral thought that represented man’s sin against his fellow as a sin against God. For this important idea we are indebted to the deep insight of some of Israel’s thinkers. The sinner shared it in this anguished moment....”

5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

vs 5 -- What does David mean by this verse? Was his mother an evil person? In what areas of your life do you have to battle sinful thoughts?

David acknowledges that he was born in sin. He is not saying his mother was an immoral woman. In fact she was a virtuous woman, but as Matthew Henry tells us, “...for though she was, by grace, a child of God, she was, by nature, a daughter of Eve....” Although we think of children as born innocent, it does not take long for them to display their natural traits of selfishness, stubbornness, and getting into trouble.

David is admitting his natural bent to sin. As Job 5:7 says, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” We must realize we are hopelessly wicked in ourselves. It is only with the Lord’s help that we can overcome.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

vs 6-9 List all the things David prays for in these verses. What do you think he means by “inner parts” and “inmost place” in verse 6?

In verses 6-9 David is crying out for inward cleansing. Notice in verse 6 he says, “you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” David recognizes what sin has done to his spirit and wants to be cleaned on the inside. Perhaps he has already thought he was clean outwardly. Maybe he had made some sacrifice or done some good things for Bathsheba and Uriah’s family to make it up to them. He had performed outward motions of freeing himself of this sin, but the transgression was still haunting him in his heart. So he cries out for inward cleansing.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

vs 10 -- Why does David pray for a pure heart? What do you think he means by a steadfast spirit? List 5 impurities in your heart that you would like to see God remove.

The psalmist realizes his shortcomings. He pleads with God to create a pure heart within him. He now sees how his mind is filled with lust and evil and wickedness. He wants a new heart, a pure heart from God. And he realizes that the problem is his own spiritual weakness. So he prays that God will renew his commitment and give him a steadfast spirit able to resist temptations and stand firm in the faith. If we were to honestly examine ourselves, we would also realize the darkness in our own heart and the weakness in our own spirit. Perhaps we have not done such great wickedness as David, but we also need to ask God to create in us a pure heart and renew in us a steadfast spirit.

Taylor comments, “The psalmist is aware that he needs more than forgiveness. ... The clean heart which he wants must be a new creation. The effect of it will be manifest in a steadfast, unvacillating loyalty. ... Such a spiritual condition needs to be sustained by the holy Spirit, which will strengthen the good will of his heart for holy living; and a willing spirit, a spirit of nobility and willingness, and inclination of easy obedience.”

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

vs 11-13 -- Have you ever felt cast from God’s presence? Why would David pray that the Holy Spirit would not be taken from him? How does God give us a willing spirit to sustain us?

In verse 11 David cries to not be cast from God’s presence. The awfulness of his sin makes him realize how angry God must be with him. He probably also realizes why he has felt so far from God, for he says don’t “take your Holy Spirit from me.” When we are faced with sin in our lives, we realize how much we have offended God and his holiness. But David also understood God’s mercy. That’s why he could say in verse 12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” He wanted that joy in his spirit that he had experienced before but was now missing. Has sin robbed you of your joy? Cry out to God for forgiveness as David did, and your spirit will be changed into a “willing spirit” as David prayed.

David realized that when he was restored, he would share what he had learned with others to warn them against the dangers of sin. That’s why he proclaims in verse 13, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways.” Have you experienced God’s forgiveness? Then share it with others so they too can experience the joy of deliverance!

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

vs 14-15 -- How could David speak of declaring God’s praise? Do you need to spend more time praising God for his forgiveness?

David realizes the extent of his sin when he asks for God to save him from his bloodguilt. This Hebrew expression damiym indicates a crime of blood which required the guilty party to die. When David cries out to God, he realizes that there is no payment or sacrifice for his sin short of his own life. So he places himself on the mercy of God. David has seen God’s hand of forgiveness before, and he acknowledges that God’s inward mercy causes outward praise.

That’s why in verses 14-15 David states that “my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,” and “my mouth will declare your praise.” When we understand the depths of God’s mercy, we can do nothing less but sing and declare God’s praise. If God has forgiven you, perhaps you should spend some time singing of God’s righteousness and declaring his praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

vs 16-17 -- What place did sacrifices and burnt offerings have in the life of the Hebrew? What does verse 17 mean to you? In what areas of your life should you be more broken and contrite?

In a very unusual statement for a Hebrew, David declares in verse 16, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.” We know that it was the sacrifices of animals that Moses commanded the Jews to make for remission of sins. These sacrifices were the ones that pointed to the true sacrifice of the lamb of God Although it seems the Jews could not possibly understand the significance of this sacrifice, here we see David with knowledge of the real purpose of the sacrifice -- God’s forgiveness!

David realizes that outward sacrifice is not as important as inward repentance. A sacrifice we give to God must reflect a “broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,” as David tells us in verse 17.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

vs 18-19 Why would David pray for Zion? Why would David be concerned about the walls of Jerusalem? How have your sins affected your family? your church? your community?

From verse 18, it seems David understood that his sin had affected the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. He asks God to “build up the walls of Jerusalem” indicating that David may have considered the city vulnerable because of his sin. And he prays “make Zion prosper” as if he understood that the nation might be in danger from his sins. The Living Bible renders verses 18-19, “And Lord, don't punish Israel for my sins -- help your people and protect Jerusalem. And when my heart is right, then you will rejoice in the good that I do and in the bullocks I bring to sacrifice upon your altar.”

Our actions affect more than just ourselves. They affect our family, our friends, our church, our community, and even our nation. Whenever you decide to do something immoral, you are affecting how others view morality. Whenever you stop caring, you are affecting the attitudes of others. Whenever you cheat and cut corners, you are influencing others to do the same. Sin is never isolated.

David understood how, as leader of Israel, his sin might affect the entire nation. So he pledges in verse 19 to offer sacrifices to God to obtain God’s mercy. When we come to God for forgiveness, we are changing our society in some small way. Many people making small changes can transform our nation from one of selfishness and violence to one of love and compassion. God, let it be so.

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