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MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR RESOURCESHOW DO I MAKE THE MOST OF MY TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY?
By Margaret Feinberg
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Margaret Feinberg
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGod as Creator
Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Deuteronomy 32:6
Do you realize the miracle in the fact that God made you? Though it may sound simple, it's actually mindboggling! For instance, people are born with 300 bones, but by the time they are an adult they only have about 206. Why? Because many of the bones fuse together as we grow older. And did you know that your thighbone is stronger than concrete? But that's not the strongest substance in your body. It's actually enamel-the kind found on your teeth!
There are no bones about it: your body is an amazing creation. Consider the following:
Your eye can distinguish around five hundred shades of gray.
Your brain has ten billion neurons.
The average human heart beats about 35 million times a year.
There are approximately 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your body.
Fingernails tend to grow four times the rate of toenails.
Take a moment to marvel at the magnificence of it all! Think about all the detail, the precision, the beautyof how the human body works. Now take a few moments to consider the countless other things God created: Mountains. Plains. Beaches. Deserts. Rainbows. Northern lights. Kangaroos. Zebras. Peacocks. Bunnies. Puppies. Flowers. Fruit. God carefully designed systems that allow each of these to exist, interact, and even sustain themselves. If you watch the sun dip below the horizon across a sea, peer from the ridge of a mountaintop to the valley below, or stare into fields as far as the eye can see, you are enjoying the marvel of God's creation.
It's easy to get so distracted by creation that we forget our Creator. Yet God is our source of everything! Nothing exists apart from Him. Think about it. Even if you design an invention that no one could possibly imagine, you still had to use things God made in order to create it (including your brain).
Indeed, our God is the Creator. Why is this so important and foundational? Because if you don't recognize God as Creator, you may be tempted to think that you're the creator. And you may take credit for some of His good work. Worse, you may be less likely to share the gifts He's given you for the benefit of others.
When you know God as your Creator, then you can walk in a rich blend of humility and strength knowing God is behind and in all things. As your Creator, God is not distant. He draws near and He desires a personal relationship with you. At times, God will unleash His creativity within us through a variety of means. We all have different talents that tap into this God-given creativity. You may design, paint, write, organize, decorate, plan, dream, or sculpt. All of these are activities that engage this creativity that God has uniquely placed inside of you. Yet even in these moments it's important to remember that creativity, too, is a gift that comes from our outrageously generous God.
1. What activities tend to unleash creativity-a wonderful gift from God-in your life?
2. Do you ever sense God's pleasure when you're using your creative gifts? If so, describe in the space below.
3. How does knowing God as Creator change your perspective of yourself? Of others? Of your material possessions?
One of the great displays of God as Creator is found in the opening chapter of the Bible. The first chapter of Genesis provides a vibrant portrait of God simply being Himself during the creation of the world.
4. Read Genesis 1. In the space below make a list of everything God created in this chapter.
Now not only was God the creator in the beginning, but in Revelation we read that God is still creating. It's part of His nature. It's who He is. The creating side of God did not shut down after the sixth day. God continues creating. He creates new hope. He creates new opportunities. He creates new portraits of redemption in the lives of His people. He also creates new things that we have not experienced yet. God is not only Creator of this world but also the world to come.
5. Read Revelation 21:1-5. According to this passage, what are some of the new things God will create in the world to come?
Though Job went through a painful, difficult trial, he never turned his back on God. Even in the midst of such difficulties, the book of Job provides an insightful look at the creativity of God and all his wonders.
6. Read Job 37:14-24. What wonders of God are mentioned in this passage? Make a list of each one in the space below.
7. How would you describe the wonders of God in your own life? Make a list of God's wonders in the space below.
As you discover God as Creator, you are better able to recognize Him as the source of all things. He is the one you turn to in times of need and times of abundance, and He is the one you turn to in moments of strength and moments of weakness. Isaiah 40:28-29 says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
8. Can you think of a time in your life when God revealed himself as Creator to you by doing something new in you-such as giving you strength, energy, vision, or hope? If so, explain in the space below.
At times we are all tempted to believe that what we produce is the work of our hands. Read Habakkuk 2:18. In what ways do you find this passage to be true in your own life? In what ways are you more tempted to trust in something if you feel like you're the one who created it?
Ponder and Pray
The opening scripture for this lesson comes from Deuteronomy 32:6, "Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?" As you go along in your daily life, do you tend to think of God as your Father or Creator or both? Explain. God has many facets. Is there anything that prevents you from recognizing God in the fullness of who He is? Explain.
Over the course of the next week, pay extra close attention to the details in God's creation. Spend time thanking God for the little things like a solitary flower, a mud puddle, a small field, or a garden. Remember that sometimes the most amazing displays of God's goodness are found in the tiniest aspects of God's creation.
Chapter TwoGod as Provider
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
Not only is God the Creator, the Source of all things, but He is also our Provider. The Israelites experienced God as their Provider firsthand! Not only did God raise up Moses as their leader, but through a series of miracles in the sky and in the land Pharaoh became convinced that God's people should go free. As they were leaving Egypt, the Israelites actually had their bags stuffed with the gold of the land (Exodus 12:35-36). Can you imagine that?
But God did not just go with the Israelites in their provision, He also went before them. God led them through a way that would allow them to maintain their courage and hope (Exodus 13:17-18) and revealed Himself to them as a pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day so they could travel around the clock (Exodus 13:21-22). When God's people found themselves pinned up against the Red Sea, God reached down and parted the sea in two halves (Exodus 14:21). The people walked through securely. Just as the last Israelite made it to the other side, the waters crashed down, destroying the Egyptian army but preserving every last Israelite (Exodus 14:28).
Shortly after God's people escaped the Egyptians, they began crying out to God because they had no food. Yet once again, God revealed himself as the Provider, giving them manna-the sweet bread of heaven-and meat to fill their bellies (Exodus 16:4). Time and time again, the Israelites discovered God as their Source. He made sure their clothes did not wear out. He ensured they did not go hungry or die of dehydration. Even when they complained, God gave them everything they needed and more, and forty years later He finally led them into the promised land.
The story of the Israelites is a reminder that God pays attention to the details. He knows your needs even before you can give voice to them. No matter what journey you are on, God does not just go with you, He goes before you and behind you. Our God is more than able to provide.
Making the most of your resources means recognizing God as Provider. While you may have a role to play in the provision, like going to work and being a wise steward, God is ultimately the one behind all things. And keeping your eyes on Him enables you to live more freely and generously with all that you have been given.
1. Which of the following do you tend to see as the work of your hand versus the work of God's generosity in your life? Draw a hand next to the ones that you tend to see as a result of your own work. Draw a gift next to the ones that you tend to see as a result of God's work.
___ Paycheck ___ Gifts
___ Rent/mortgage payment ___ Pension/Social Security
___ Verbal gratitude from ___ Dividends/interest on others investments
2. What makes the difference between the provision that you attribute to God and that which you attribute to your own efforts?
Earlier we looked at the story of the Israelites who experienced God as their Provider day in and day out. In the desert, they were completely dependent on God for everything. Yet as they entered the promised land, God issued them a stern warning.
3. Read Deuteronomy 8:11-18. In what ways can prosperity cause us to forget God as Provider? Have you experienced a form of prosperity that distracted you from God? If so, explain in the space below.
Though there may be things that you believe impossible for God to provide, Scripture gives countless examples of God doing miraculous things on behalf of His people. In Genesis 18, God promised to provide Sarah and Abraham a son though they were well "past the age of childbearing" (v. 11). And in Genesis 22, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test. In the last possible moment, He provided a substitute sacrifice and revealed himself as YHWH-jireh meaning "the Lord will provide."
4. Read Genesis 22:1-14. Have you experienced a time, as Abraham did, when God provided at the last possible moment? If so, explain in the space below.
Knowing God as your Provider means depending on Him in every area of your life, including your finances.
5. In the chart below, draw an arrow to match the instruction regarding finances with the appropriate scripture.
6. Now take a few moments to reflect on the verses in the chart above. In what ways do they confirm your attitudes and handling of money? In what ways do they challenge you to make some personal changes? Explain in the space below.
God does not just meet your needs in regards to food, water, and physical sustenance; He is also your Provider in regards to spiritual sustenance.
7. Read John 4:7-14 and John 6:35. In what ways have you personally experienced Jesus as the water and bread-that which quenches spiritual thirst and hunger?
8. If you get really honest with yourself, are there any areas in your life where you feel like God has failed you as Provider? If so, explain in the space below and prayerfully take your concerns and questions to God in prayer.
Both excess and lack can affect our understanding of God as Provider. Read Proverbs 30:7-9. What two things are requested of God in this passage? What wisdom is displayed in these requests? Why do you think excess and lack can be hindrances to a healthy relationship with God?
Ponder and Pray
The opening scripture for this lesson comes from Proverbs 11:28, "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." Have you seen someone fall who trusted in his or her great wealth? Describe. In what ways have you seen God guard, protect, and provide for the righteous?
How do you experience God as Provider in everyday life? On a blank sheet of paper, spend some time thinking about all the things God has provided for you. Record each one. Then take time to thank God for each one. Allow thanksgiving to fill your heart for all that God has done.
Chapter ThreeGod as Multiplier
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20
Do you realize the power of multiplication? It really is amazing. Let's say you share your faith with two people tomorrow. The next day, each of those two people shares it with two others. Then the next day each of those two continues the chain. Do you know how many people will have heard a faith story by the end of three weeks? 3,145,728! That's right, more than three million people will have been impacted.
That's exciting news, because God does not only create new things, but He has a knack for multiplying the old! You may think that what you have doesn't add up to very much or can't make much of a difference, but when God is involved anything is possible. Just ask the boy who offered his lunch to Jesus and watched it miraculously feed thousands. The beauty of discovering God as Multiplier is that you encounter things that only God could do. There simply is no other explanation, so you cannot help but be humbled, grateful, and in awe of all who God is and all that He has done.
Can you think of a time when you experienced God as Multiplier? Maybe you gave a party where there was more guests than food. Maybe you wondered how you were going to pay your mortgage or rent. Or maybe you just wondered how you were going to pay your bills. Yet somehow in a miraculous moment, there was enough. God sustained you by multiplying what you had at the time.
Experiencing God as Multiplier reminds us of His power and strength. It lifts the lid off of what we think is possible and reminds us that with God anything can happen. Knowing God as Multiplier brings a sense of awe and wonder into our relationship with Him. And it confirms that God truly is the creator, He truly is the provider and He truly is the one who we must turn to if we want to make the most of what we have. Indeed, He is our source of everything.
1. Have you ever done something or said something that seemed small but ended up having a huge impact on someone else? If so, explain in the space below.
2. In what ways have you discovered God as Multiplier in your own life?
Did you realize that since the very beginning, God has been in the business of multiplication? From one man and one woman, God filled the earth with their descendents.
3. Read Genesis 1:22 and Genesis 1:28. What is commanded of the animals and humans? Why do you think God began with just a few creatures and commanded them to multiply?
The idea of multiplication is not just a command; it's also a blessing! In fact, multiplication was part of the blessing promised to Abraham.
4. Read Genesis 26:3-5. How many descendents are promised to Abraham? Why do you think this was considered a blessing?
Excerpted from MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR RESOURCES by Margaret Feinberg Copyright © 2009 by Margaret Feinberg. Excerpted by permission.
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