Financial Basics - The Magic of Giving
My children's father dumped us with no money. I had $7 and gave away 70 cents the first chance I got. I believed in God and was afraid and desperate. By the grace of God, we've been able to continue that practice for nearly all of the past 20 years. I've never regretted it. Our financial picture has steadily improved and our giving has increased. God challenges people to try this concept in Malachi 3:10
I remember the very early days - the kids never missed a meal but our living conditions weren't so hot. We had a roof over our head and lived in East Tennessee. It was okay until it snowed and the pipes burst. I cried, prayed and wrote in a journal all day. My car wouldn't start, the phone was dead, there was no running water and I had four children - three under the age of five! I prayed for a car so I could get to work and wrote it down. The thought "you need to pray for decent housing" kept coming in my head but I resisted it. I kept thinking "there is no way! I'm asking for too much!" I couldn't push the thought away thinking my kids need simple basics like running water. I wrote it down adding "decent housing" to my list as I contined to pray. Somehow we made it through that day. Six months later I found that journal and was stunned as I read those prayers. By then, we were living in married student housing (that's where single mothers were also housed) at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I had a small dependable Honda Civic. I was in college making the dean's list!! I just wept as I saw how God was answering our prayers - He is real, alive and actively cares for us. But I also believe His answers were a direct result of giving. All the dynamics of our situation changed as I gave a small portion of everything that came to me. I was enpowered and not a victim. I was a giver and encouraging other people. Any time now that I'm asked to talk to a single mom, I start with giving. It sounds cruel but it isn't because God honors His Word. If you want your financial picture to improve, that's where to start. If you feel overwhelmed, start with just a little - keep track of it and just start trying.
You do have a responsibility to give to God's work. Please don't just pick out a TV preacher and start sending them your money. You need to start by supporting your local church. If you don't have a local church, maybe you should consider visiting one! The point is you need to be involved, you need to know where your money is going and you do need to give. If you are in much difficulty, start with a little and then increase your amount as your situation improves. Write down what you do and write down your prayers! Get prepared to see God move!!
I have to say my prayers (then and now) were not just about money. I'd ask God to show me what I needed to know and what to do. I'd ask Him if I was measuring up. I'd ask Him to check my heart. And many, many times I'd forget to pray or crowd that out by the everything else I was doing.
Now I'm amazed to see that virtually every secular book on finances recommends giving to charities. Many of them recommend giving generously. Pick one up next time you are at the book store and see if you can find something on giving.
There are so many scriptures about this. I believe those scriptures are promises and that God keeps His promises. I believe these promises are general principles like you reap what you sow. I don't believe they are contractual agreements to provide me with a Benz just because I give 10%. (I always think of a Mercedes, I guess, because I liked that song by Janis Joplin when I was in high school! He didn't owe me a Benz but I am fortunate in that I own a nice car.)
Crosswalk.com has tools to research any word in any version of the Bible. It's amazing to see how much Jesus talked about money. Try doing a search on some key words concerning money and see what you find!