STAYING FAITHFUL TO GOD IN CHALLENGING TIMES
A note from Central London SDA Church Stewardship Ministry – March 2020
The Bible record in 2 Kings 4:42-44 leaves us with a short but very relevant story for the times we live in. This Elisha story focuses on his miracle of multiplying the 20 bread loaves and new grain to feed a hundred prophets. But even more impressive is the oft forgotten story of the man who brought his first fruit offering to the priest, Elisha, during a time of famine in the land.
The man could have withheld this using the famine as his excuse but he remained faithful. We also know that he came from a place called “Baal Shalisha”, indicating that he was probably surrounded by unbelievers and others who didn’t practice faithful returning of tithes and offerings. Yet he remained steadfast in obeying God’s principles.
While the story doesn’t tell us anything about what happened to him, we know what impact his faithfulness had on God’s people. Worth keeping in mind that when life gets tough and we are tempted to withhold our tithes/offerings/first-fruits from God, we should know that “God is not mocked; we will always harvest what we plant” – Gal 6:7. Staying faithful gives God room to show Himself strong on our behalf. Let’s just do our part and trust Him come what may. This is a chance to practice true living faith, which we should be longing to seize!
• We can find reassurance for these times in 2 Cor 9:6-10: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures
forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,”
Practical tips for these challenging times
1. Study your Bible. Pray. Praise God. Daily.
2. Stay faithful to God. When you receive your paycheck, before doing anything else, return your tithes and offerings (Prov 3:9-10). Also set aside what you intend to save, invest, give to/help the needy (1 Tim 6:17-19), to support your parents (Matt 5:3-9) and support immediate family (1 Tim 5:8). Then cater to your expenses / enjoyment.
Basically the Biblical order is: God >> others >> ourselves. (1 Cor 10:24; Phil 2:3-4)
o If you have no income, God isn’t expecting your tithe / promise offering, though you could decide to give out of faith like the poor widow – Mark 12:41-44. You can also help others in non-financial ways.
3. Get on top of your expenses. Do you know all your direct debits? Are there some you can revise or cut or suspend? Look at places where you can make practical adjustments to your way of living. Little changes here and there add up over time. Download sheet!
4. Everyday think and write one idea down somewhere, on a sheet of paper or app, of practical ways to make additional income, legitimately. Challenge yourself, study, think. One idea, every day. Regularly review and refine your ideas and start creating a shortlist that you can realistically start working on. TIP: Do this after you’ve studied your Bible in the morning and asked God for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
5. As the economy weakens, there is a higher likelihood today of job losses. Hence the importance of saving and having that buffer fund (i.e. at least 3 months of your monthly living costs stashed away). If you ever have to tap into your buffer fund, it means your life is now in emergency mode so you must also make drastic and sometimes uncomfortable changes to your way of living. It’s about surviving.
o When perplexities arise, and difficulties confront you, look not for help to humanity. Trust all with God. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you. Take the word of Christ as your assurance. Never allow yourself to talk in a hopeless, discouraged way. If you do you will lose much. By looking at appearances and complaining when difficulties and pressure come, you give evidence of a sickly, enfeebled faith. Talk and act as if your faith was invincible. The Lord is rich in resources; He owns the world. Look heavenward in faith. Look to Him who has light and power and efficiency. – EGW, Prayer, Chapter 31.
6. If you are in personal debt (credit card, mortgage) or business debt, get ahead of it, quickly, and focus on building cash balances to help you service your obligations and survive this period. Also talk to your bankers as they could be willing to adjust payment schedules given what they will acknowledge is a more difficult environment.
7. For those running a business, please read this for some instructive advice about what you may want to be thinking about: https://medium.com/sequoia-capital/coronavirus-theblack-swan-of-2020-7c72bdeb9753
8. Study NEWSTART to help keep your health in top shape and get tips for daily living.
9. Finally, as we are all social distancing and cannot make it to Church to return our tithes and offerings, please see below all the different ways you can pay.
In these times, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.