October 22, 2007

Sprittibee's Monday Devotional: Finances and Faith

Psalm 37:25 ~ I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

The TEACHER OUT OF SERVICE day is going well. There has been no argument (other than over sorting laundry this morning when we first woke up). There has been a lot of housework done. The kids have actually enjoyed themselves while doing it all! I even heard them singing together while they did our lunch dishes. We warmed up leftovers from Mexico, Italy, Japan and Madagascar in the microwave. All but the Mexican tasted much better the first go-around. The vanilla fruit-salad from Madagascar was getting a bit 'strong'. We threw out the last bit that wasn't eaten. Mommy has been upstairs doing bills, checkbook and laundry... and soon some school plans for tomorrow. Later I have to go return our library books and go to the bank to get an ATM card.

This brings me to my blog topic today: Finances and Faith. No one wants to talk about money (at least those who don't have much of it). Money tends to be a really personal topic and everyone has an opinion. However, money is a necessity - just like food and water... because without it, you don't have food or water!

Why am I going to get an ATM card at the bank if I don't have much money? The answer is simple: ATM cards make it much harder to accumulate overdraft fees! We are going to really buckle down and try and prevent the needless fees (late fees, bank overdrafts, ATM fees, library fines, etc) that tend to bleed our account dry needlessly.

After moving back home, we realized that the raise my husband was getting would only cover our medical expenses (because his company changed his health plan and is taking an additional 250$ a month out of his check for it). We doubled our housing payment by purchasing a home, too. Even though we don't have state income tax here in Texas, we pay a pretty penny for property taxes (to the tune of nearly 5K a year)... so we actually are not coming out ahead. It does cost a tad less at the grocery store here than it does in Arkansas (we don't have produce taxes in Texas)... and we have a lower sales tax and restaurant tax than the county in Arkansas we lived in. However, the fact remains that we added bills and didn't really increase our pay like we had anticipated. Thus the crunch is on to find a way to budget where there's not any left-over. I'm sure there are many of you out there in homeschool land who are in the same shape. I'd love to hear your tips on how to get it done without having to move out of your house and under the nearest bridge.

Since we moved, we have been really slow about tithing. In fact, we have decreased what we normally would tithe by perhaps 85-95%. I justified this off by saying that "surely God would understand if I am 'moving' and in a state of flux with my bills for a while". Strange thing was... I still had guilt. Not guilt because of our church... but guilt because I know that tithing is an issue of FAITH and TRUST in God. My guilt was based on my responsibility after reading God's scripture. In fact, the only place in the Bible where God asks you to TEST Him is Malachi 3:8-12, and it happens to be about TITHING.

Malachi 3:8-12 ~
8 "Will a man rob God?
Yet you rob me.
"But you ask,
'How do we rob you?'
In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.

Ouch. And I knew this verse... before I justified not giving what I should. So I guess a panic attack over lack of funds to pay bills isn't such a harsh punishment for poor stewardship. After all, it is His money, not mine. Maybe (as a brother in Christ said last night in our small group Bible study) we should not ask how much we should give back to God... but how much of HIS should we keep for ourselves.

So today was bill-paying day. Normally, I would leave myself enough to get by for two weeks (until the next payday). Even if sometimes the 'enough' is still very slim. But this time, I stood on the cliff of faith and jumped. There wasn't enough to tithe my 10%. I did it anyway. Amazingly, the panic is gone and I feel peace instead. I'm not sure how less than 100$ can last for 14 days with two kids to feed and a vehicle with only 1/2 tank of gas... but I know that with God all things are possible.

I know that he filled the widow's jar of oil and did not let it run dry (1 Kings 17)...
I know that he fed the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish (Matthew 14)...
I know that He turned water into wine (John 2)...
...and I know that He created the universe from nothing (Genesis 1).

I'm going to have to just believe that He's got this whole thing worked out for us... in advance.

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I don't think that believing is going to be hard. I have seen Him working in my life for such a long time now. How could I not believe? And why should I worry? Read below what God has said about worrying about our provisions:

Matthew 6:24-34:
24"No one 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.
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I can't wait to tell you about how God managed to keep us in the black in the next 14 days. I'm sure He's got another miracle up His sleeve for me.

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Rhonda said...

My mom told me this story years ago.

When I was little, money was really tight. Daddy was a teacher. Mom was a secretary at the school. Neither one made a lot of money. They had two children (my older sisters) in college. I can remember all kinds of things that, looking back, I know Mom did to try to save money.

One month she was paying the bills and she told my dad, "I just don't see how we're going to make it. There's not enough money to pay the bills." Dad said, "Increase our church contribution." Mom said, "Did you hear me? We don't have any money." Again, Dad said, "Increase our church contribution." And they did.

That year, their school district gave the biggest raise in the history of Texas. :)

Trust God and do not be afraid to be very specific in what you ask for. Remind me to tell you sometime about my brother-in-law and the car.

Melody said...

I'll be very interested to hear how this turns out. I've heard this preached over and over, and I do believe it, but whenever I've tried to pay the tithe when there wasn't enough money, I've just bounced checks and ended up with a ton of bank fees. Of course, it made me feel that I just didn't deserve his provision in the circumstances, but honestly, do we deserve any of what He gives us?

ANYWAY, I'm really anxious to see how He provides for you! Perhaps I'll get the nerve up to test the theory again myself! LOL!

Insignificon said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. Love your blog. I just wanted to say God bless you, dear. I know your faith will be rewarded. I've been in the very spot you're in, and you will make it. God always makes a way.

"My Little Wonders" said...

This comes at a perfect time for me, our income has just been cut in half. Thank you for this great post. I am trusting in God.
Blessings Lori

Terri said...

I'm glad you shared this. I've actually been reading some of these very verses. We are at a point where we are struggling to decide if we should buy a house or continue to rent. We found a great house, but the house payment would be just about double what our rent is, but we would have no other debt besides our car payments. I'm confident God will carry you through. There is a verse, I believe in Psalms (or maybe Proverbs) that says, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread." I take comfort in this promise.

Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home said...


Your trust is well-founded. I've got some stories about finances and God's blessings that would amaze you! I've got to get to bed now, but I'm saying a prayer for you, sweet sister!

groovyoldlady said...

We have always tithed (for 25 years now) and God has ALWAYS provided, even when we had 2 youngsters and Mulletman was only making $10,000 per year. Even when Mm went to college fulltime and only worked 20 hours a week at Pizza Hut and I did a few odd jobs (decorating cakes and house cleaning for 2-3 clients). In fact, we came out of college DEBT FREE. We did not borrow and we did not spend excessively, but it was GOD who provided so bountiously for us.

You can trust Him, my dear. He WILL NOT fail you!

sara said...

*hugs* God always provides. There have been plenty of paychecks that paid for a tank of gas and bills. Yet I (when I was single) and we (as a family) always mad(k)e it to the next pay period. It's not unlike Jesus feeding the 5000 :) I'm not sure how it happens, but it does.

Gayle said...

I have so many stories where our finances looked hopeless and through a cheerful heart during tithing,(even when it seemed more logical to use that money for something else) groceries would show up on our doorstep, rebate checks would arrive that we didn't even know we had coming, free things would be dropped in our laps and all kinds of blessings occur. Now I what with anticipation when money seems tight because I know He's going to show up!

keri said...

"Malachi 3:8-12"...
It speaks to my heart.
I also 'justify' why NOT to tithe when financial issues arise.
Thanks for posting.

Gwendolyn said...

We have been on the "Dave Ramsey" plan for several months. Having money already "spent" when you get it helps. Having it in CASH, divided into envelopes is even better. Then I know exactly how much money I have. I have also found that when we are obedient with our tithe, God makes a way. It is hard, though. I struggle not to worry and have to remind myself that worry is a sin.

Sprittibee said...

Rhonda... I knew that everyone would have stories for me. :) You can feel free to email me more if you want! I hope that Kev's company gives good raises this year, too... but I'll have to see what happens in March. Sometimes they get bonuses also... but that depends on how well the company does.

Melody... I'm interested to see how it turns out, too! ;) I'm sure there will be a good story. It isn't like I wouldn't deserve some overdraft fees, though. Being a poor steward is supposed to have its consequences. However, I'm banking on God's unfailing love and grace that He will pull me through for my faithfulness.

insignificon... I hope you don't feel insignificant (by the sound of that name). :) You are a daughter/son of the King! Thanks for the blessings and for the comment. I like to hear from the people who pop in here to read so I know I'm not talking to my own router. ;)

Lori... sorry to hear this. We have had our share of those days. Kev made quite a few job changes due to the field he is in and companies buckling over the past few years. Most of the changes were not his fault, but we did have some months where we weren't able to survive without help from his parents and mine. Somehow in all those months of famine, we made it! God is always faithful. That is why it is not as hard for me to step out in faith now. God asks you only once in your life for blind faith. The rest of the time, He gives you proof by His goodness that you are making the right choice in following Him.

Terri... It sounds like you are doing well without debt. With the world in such a chaotic state and foreclosures and interest rates the way they are... the only people left standing in the future may be those who DON'T have any debt other than their house. We are slowly working our way out of debt. We have a school loan, a flood loan (from when we had a home flood on us and the govt. loaned us money to replace things), and a few small credit cards to pay off. Our problem is that we have TWO car payments and our house payment at the same time. It is nearly impossible to pay all of that without running into the red each month. Hoping that this year our tax refund will help us pay off at least one biggie and a few small loans. We have already cut our cards up (one of them we never even carried - it was just for a lawn mower at Home Depot and we have no interest or payments until 2008).

Dawn... :) I'd love to hear your stories, sweetie! Please email them to me! Hope you are feeling better.

Groovyoldlady... Amazing that you lived on 10K per year. My mom has been living on less than that, though... so I can see God working in her life, too. I believe God won't fail me. :)

Sara... *hugs* back atcha. If I had more gas money, I would be over there hugging on my little niece more often! I hope we can make it to the birthday party next week. Maybe you can go through some of my baby items and see what you need... I found a box of clothes from Kaden and Morgan that I saved. You guys should come over for dinner before then. ;)

Gayle... I would be amazed if groceries turned up on my doorstep. :) I actually did have a sweet friend bring us dinner when we lost the baby in September. That was a God-send. Thanks for your stories. They are encouraging. I do kind of feel excited to see how God will work this out. I guess that is the "joy of the Lord" that keeps you grinning in your trails.

Keri... I love the verses I posted, too. We have been a paycheck-to-paycheck family since I stopped working to homeschool. It was a hard decision since we were used to being able to go to the grocery store and not even READ the prices, go Christmas shopping for everyone in our family, take vacations, loan money out, and buy big ticket items such as fancy cameras and electronics. Now, those things are a pipe dream... but our kids are THE MOST INCREDIBLE REWARD for giving up the material life. There's just nothing that is as rewarding as pouring your life into your babies.

Terri Sue said...

Thank you for writing this. We are also discussing what we talked about at small group!

God will provide!

AllyJo's Mama said...

I've been where you are at today (still there) and it's like Christmas. You wait to see what presents you'll get. :) I hope you'll update and share any news. Blessings to you.

Beans and cornbread are very healthy. :)

My Boaz's Ruth said...

BTW: If you pay the tithe first, then there is no temptation to "Skimp" on it because "there isn't enough money"

That's what I (try to) do. Tithe is not paid at the same time I am doing the bills. It is written based on the amount of the check, first thing.

Linda said...

1st timer here--you have a very sweet spirit about you. Your obedience is inspiring.

Llama Momma said...

I have been there.

And all I can say is that God's Math just doesn't always make sense...but I've been amazed by His provision.

Not always the way I would choose, mind you. But He provides nonetheless.

Blessings on your journey.

Sarah said...

I'm an admitted lurker to your blog- but I have to comment today! We live month to month like this- praying that we'll make it on...?!?
But somehow we always make it.
We have tried to justify NOT tithing in the past and our struggle seemed so much greater and the hardship was intense! But after making the decision that our tithe was the FIRST "bill" we paid each month- despite being in the negative OFTEN- we knew God would take care of us. And He has!

I appreciate your circumstance and perspective & cannot WAIT to see an update on your situation!


Sprittibee said...

Terri Sue... Yeah, it hurt, didn't it?

allyjo's mama... I already have been seeing it! Beans and cornbread are great. I actually have quite a bit in the pantry and fridge due to my lovely mother who bought some groceries for us last week. I'm making lasagna tonight... with salad.

my boaz's ruth... My logical side has a hard time paying tithe before I even sit down with the bills to see what we have. Not sure when I can do that. I do pay the tithe first, though. :) And... I pay it on net instead of gross... which some people say isn't the way to do it. However, I'm not sure God really cares if it is net or gross. Net is what I get... and I tithe on what I get. I see the beauty in doing it the other way, though. I also think that the Govt. should not be taking more than 10% of our check anyway, so this is a huge issue for me. Income tax should be a STRAIGHT 10%. No matter if you are rich or poor. Period. I should run for office, eh?

Linda... thanks! :) It isn't always easy to obey... and I am certainly not a great example ALL of the time!

Llama Momma... God has "fuzzy math". LOL And you are so right! It isn't always what we would choose. I wanted to get out of debt a long time ago and God sent a FLOOD. I lost a LOT of stuff in 2 feet of water (1-story home)... in the heat of summer... and although insurance paid us back for some of it, I had to use the money to pay off credit cards instead of replacing lots of things. God also had been stalling on letting me find a way to sell my van that I owed 10K on. Everywhere I took it they offered me less and less... the last place only 4K. When the floods came, my insurance paid me 15K! Only God could pull something like that off!

Sarah... Glad you came out of lurking! :) It is funny how you talk about these personal things and everyone wants to comment. I didn't think I should even post it since it was a little too touchy. I guess everyone can really relate, though. I have to tell you a few things that have happened ... and I'll post about it later maybe.


I got a call from a family member who found out we were selling one of our vehicles. We had made our minds up that we weren't going to ask for money from anyone, but they called us and told us they were taking 100$ to the bank and putting it in our account. So we have an extra 100$ to last us for next week when the little that we have now is gone. :) God is good.

Christine said...

Because of how we have continued to keep me home with the kids and eat and ... ya' know, have clothing ... I have been able to teach women's conferences on budgeting.

I base so much of my teaching on the things we learned in Larry Burkett's "Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples." Doesn't matter if you're a young couple. It is the most basic of his stuff for people who are needing to start back at ground zero and build their budget.

We have gone years without cable in the past. We have downsized homes and cars. We are currently back on the envelope system (when the envelope for "groceries" is empty, we have to make due out of the pantry!).

The whole time our goal has been for tithing to be the beginning. It took us years to get to that point, but now we are able to tithe and then "give sacrificially" above and beyond that every single month.

We also actively include our children in budgeting. We want them to see and learn God's principles for His money. They already practice budgeting with us every single month, and make tithing and extra giving a priority.

It is slow steps to get to that point ... just keep taking them!!

In the meantime: biscuits and gravy, breakfast for dinner, spaghetti (without meat), meatless chili, sandwiches (grilled, chilled, sliced or diced! ha!), soup, soup and more soup (with a little bread on the side).

Barbara Frank said...

Christine is right on the money )no pun intended). Larry Burkett's work inspired us to get debt-free (including no mortgage). I would also encourage you to read Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle, and then Money, Possessions and Eternity; you will be blessed! :)

Elena said...

I'm just dropping by to give you a little encouragement, a cyber {{{hug}}} and to say this too will pass. Hang in there!

Alexandra said...

I love Matthew 6:24-34. Happy for your blessing.

jennifer in OR said...

What a fantastic post!! Thank you for sharing this, personal as it is. I can see from the many comments that you've touched on a very important subject to many of us.

all4him said...

Thank you for sharing this with us and thank you to all who posted comments about God's faithfulness. It's funny just about 2 weeks ago I posted on my blog about how God really does provide and yet I find myself worrying about our finances again. I guess that we need constant reminders that He is there and that He is watching over us. It's really comforting to know that I am not alone!


AllyJo's Mama said...

I've been thinking about you every since I read this post and had to come in and see if there was an update. It reminds me of my favorite story in the New Testament where the man born blind is healed and Jesus said these things happened that God might be glorified (something like that). God be praised and thanks for sharing your story so other people can see how great He is; so He could be glorified.

Sprittibee said...

Not only that 100$ came in. Someone gave us another 100$ as well... and I got an unexpected check in the mail for 55$. I was even able drive to my cousin's little girl's birthday party - which was a luxury in our schedule for the weekend. ;) God is more than good.

Now I hope He'll amaze me out of this week's payday check, too. It isn't as tight as last week, but there were two bills we didn't pay which needed to be paid. Tithing came first, though. I'm a believer.



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