Foreigners in a Foreign Land by Wendy Knutson, CPA

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We see foreigners every day. It’s easy to spot them. Sometimes it‘s big things. Sometimes the differences are subtle.

During my home-group Bible study of 1 Peter, I was struck by Peter’s use of the word “foreigner”.

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 1 Peter 1:17 NIV

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11

Does this ever happen to you? God causes a word jump out. It lodges in your brain and you can’t get rid of it.

Peter urges us to live differently. To live as foreigners in a foreign land. But our desire to “fit in”, to be “normal” makes us feel weird when we’re different. If we desire to follow God, how can we not be obedient? Why do we struggle?

God has been guiding me to establish boundaries so everything in my wardrobe brings joy. The boundary provides order and peace in my closet and budget. After abdominal surgery, the “joy” boundary of my simplified wardrobe caused me to wear the same outfit several times a week. But my desire to “fit in” challenged my obedience to the plan. Then I remembered Peter’s words. Aha! This was me living as a foreigner in a foreign land in an everyday situation.

Peter gives us a plan. Respect God and abstain from sinful desires. But how do we identify sinful desires? We ask God, “Will this cause me to sin?” “Will it cause me to stumble?” “Will it cause another to stumble?” Then we listen. God is not the author of confusion and strife. He is a God of order and peace. Peter’s warning is a strong one; war is no small matter.

Acting differently keeps us congruent with our values, commitments and obedience to Christ. When we struggle, we can rest in the assurance of being obedient to God’s will. Peter encourages us to own our differences. To embrace the weird. We should live uniquely.

They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 1 Peter 4:4

Are we living unconventionally when it comes to our finances and giving, or do we look like everyone else? Remember Peter’s words as you make financial decisions. Are your friends surprised by your faithful financial choices and church support? Are they curious about how you put God first with your money? Peter encourages us to surprise our friends. To cause their eyebrows to raise. To cause a gasp in their breath, a look of puzzlement and disbelief. Maybe they’ll even ask, Why? This could open the door for you to share the love of Christ – our ultimate calling.

I would love to hear your experiences as foreigners in a foreign land. How have you surprised others with your faithfulness?

God’s Plan for His Believers

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As I consider God’s desire in what to share on generosity this month, I’m keenly aware we face a struggle. If we put God first in our daily finances, will there be enough left?

We hear of the fulfilled Christian life and ask: “Should it be this hard?” “Should I feel this conflicted?” “Is this what God is asking of me?”

I get it. I feel your pain. As Dan and I studied God’s will for our giving, we felt scared and uncertain. Was it possible? Could we do it? But, in the midst of the struggle, God’s word guided us. He generously provided His plan for giving:

  1. Put God first.
  2. Serve others.
  3. God will provide for all your needs.

Jesus taught us the first two steps:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 NIV

God promised us step three in Malachi 3:10:

“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 there will not be room enough to store it.”

Once we know God’s plan, how can we not surrender? I want to encourage you today. If you’re looking to find peace in the struggle, live a more generous life and be a cheerful giver, just start today. Put God first in your finances. If you’re not to that point, may I share with you a few books I’ve found insightful:

“The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret to Joyful Giving” by Randy Alcorn

“How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have” by Andy Stanley

“Generous Life Journey: The Road to Financial Freedom” by Gunnar Johnson

I would love to talk with you about these resources or any others you’ve discovered on your journey. Please share with me what God is doing in your heart.