31 Days of Proverbs: Day 3

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”

Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)

Over the past few years, I have embraced the mindset that my finances are not my own. My finances belong to God, and He has appointed me as a manager of what He has blessed me with. When I view my resources as His, I am able to rest in knowing that He will provide. When I have little, and when I have much, I am able to trust that God will faithfully take care of me.

The same God who cares enough to clothe the lilies in the field will also take care of you. By giving God our firsts, we are showing Him that we honor Him. He doesn’t need our money; it is incomparable to all that He owns. We definitely cannot even begin to repay Him for all that He has done. But when we honor God with the first of our finances and our time, it is an act of faith that shows our trust in Him and the value of our relationship with Him.

It is dangerous to hold so tightly to something that you are unwilling to give it back to God. Think about the things and even the people that you cherish the most. Would you be able to give that – yes, even that – back to God if He asked for it? Are you willing to give Him your firsts?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

Matthew 6:28-30 (NLT)

Mini-Trip to New Orleans! [$120!!!]

Spring is here and it’s time for another road trip! This Sunday I decided to take a one-day trip to New Orleans. The last time I visited Nola was in 2012, and I traveled by train with my family. This time, I took the 4-hour drive alone. My budget for this trip was $120!

First, I toured the Garden District. I’ve always been fascinated with beautiful homes. I felt as though I was walking through a magazine.

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My next stop was Seed; a plant-based restaurant that prides itself in local, natural ingredients, and giving back to the community. I decided to order from the brunch menu! I got tofu scramble, seitan, and wheat toast with vegan butter. I also tried a mango smoothie to go along with it. All for $18 😀

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The most awaited part of the trip was the swamp tour! Did I see alligators? Did I get bored by the tour guide? Was it everything I expected?

The swamp tour was much more than I expected… it was my favorite stop! Not once did I get bored by the tour guide. Captain Allen was hilarious, very down to earth, and knowledgeable. I learned so many new things. Alligators can go 6 months without eating, the temperature at which their eggs are hatched determines the gender of the alligator, and they also need warmth in order to digest their food.

I had never been on a swamp tour before, so I had no idea what to expect. The weather was actually pretty cool because of the rain storms on the previous day. And although we were able to see plenty of alligators up close, I had no idea that there was one on the boat the entire time! I was so afraid to hold him on my own, so I held his tail while the lady next to me held his head/mouth (which had tape around it). His belly was surprisingly smooth, and he didn’t try to bite my arm off. Yay!

I ordered my ticket with Cajun Pride Swamp Tours online, and it was $21. The tour lasted an hour and a half. It was a memorable experience that I will always cherish 🙂

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Just a little joke! Fun Fact: gators and crocs are two completely different species.

I wanted to visit Audubon’s Insectarium and Butterfly Garden ($23). Two years ago I toured the Butterfly Garden at The Chattanooga Aquarium, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. However, the Insectarium is on the edge of the French Quarter, which is always super busy. Plus, there was a live event going on, which meant that it took me an hour to get through all of the traffic.

Once I finally reached the Insectarium, I could not find a parking spot for miles. I had also wanted to try a West African Vegan restaurant in the French Quarter. At this point I was a bit frustrated and I really wanted to get away from all of the chaos. So, I went back to Seed for dinner (where I spent $21 on my meal).

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I tried the vegan chili cheese fries and the vegan chicken nuggets. They were absolutely, amazing. In fact, they were so amazing that I accidentally left my to-go boxes inside the restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late. I was already on my way to do a little shopping on S Claiborne Avenue. I used the money that I would have spent at the Insectarium, plus money that I had set aside in a separate shopping budget.

Finally, I stopped by the gas station to fill up ($40) before heading back. Overall, I spent about $123 (does the extra shopping really count? 🙂 ) I truly enjoyed my trip to New Orleans. Although I’ve visited before, this time I had a new experience and new adventures. Perhaps next time, I will make it to the Insectarium, and maybe even a Pelicans game! I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with the opportunity to explore what He has created. Now, where to next?

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Faith and Finances: Introduction

God has truly blessed me with the gift of budgeting and being able to spend money wisely. You may be wondering how faith and finances go together. Well, I believe that God is my ultimate provider, and that I am a manager of what He has blessed me with here on this earth. Meaning, that I should be wise with what I’m spending, and how I’m spending. God desires to be glorified in all areas of our lives, including our finances.

Back in the fall of 2014, I attended a Bible study at a campus ministry that I went to once a week. On this particular night, there was a guest speaker that shared with us the importance of tithing, and giving our finances to God. He spoke of how he had prayed for certain things, and God answered. He went from not having much, to eventually getting numerous promotions at his job. I noticed that not only was he surrendering his finances completely to God, but he was also praying God’s Word over his finances.

10c781b96ae9c77494b8d0398a70ac0aSo, I decided to do the same thing. I wanted to test this practice out. I began to see God’s favor in my finances, and it became normal for me. There have been times where I needed a specific amount of money, and God will either use someone to bless me with that exact amount, or He will bless me with an opportunity that will allow me to make that exact amount of money. There have also been times where God has exceeded my expectations and blessed me with much more than I prayed for.

 

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

 

I was having a conversation with one of my [former] co-workers a couple of years ago. She told me about some things that she was going through, and how someone had asked for prayer for something that she thought was so miniscule. “I just don’t feel like God cares about little things like that,” she said. I told her that the same God who knows the number of hairs on your head, cares about that too.

I know this because like I said, I tested it. I went through a time where I gained 10 pounds in just a few months. I welcomed the weight gain, but I was no longer able to fit most of my clothes. However, shopping was not in my budget! So, I took it to God. I prayed about something as “small” as clothing, because God said that He clothes the lillies in the field, and that He will also take care of me (Matthew 6:28-30 – NLT). I prayed for a specific amount, and God faithfully blessed me with even more than I prayed for, just a couple weeks later.

He used this situation to build my faith and to show me that He truly is concerned with our concerns. Even with all that is happening in today’s world, and everything else that I could have prayed for, God still answered my prayers about things that others would consider trivial.

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Have you ever felt like my coworker? Like perhaps God doesn’t care about something that you deem as small? He’s not too busy. And He’s not too far away. God genuinely cares about every detail concerning your life, just as a loving parent cares about their child.

If a child could no longer fit their clothes, a loving parent would do what they could to provide for them. They would starve before they allowed their child to go hungry. Whether that child broke their arm or got a paper cut, a loving parent still cares about how their child feels in that moment, and wants to be there for them.

In the same way, God cares. His plan is not to allow you to go on suffering and struggling, but to give you an abundant life! It says it in John 10:10 (KJV):

“The thief cometh not but to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Don’t be afraid to tell God about whatever is on your mind. He is listening. He’s not too busy to provide your need or to give you your desires. In what ways can you trust God with your finances? Is it believing that He will continue to provide for you? Are you searching for a new job? Do you desire more?

When you begin to view your finances as God’s finances, and His gift to you, it becomes more natural to surrender. If your money is really God’s money, then you can have peace in knowing that He will continuously take care of you and not allow you to fail. If your money is God’s money, then you will be more willing to use it to bless others, and to give back to God’s Kingdom.

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Stay tuned for more ways to practically surrender your finances to God! And in the meantime, study what God has to say about finances. The promises in His Word apply directly to you! 🙂

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

Malachi 3:10 (NLT)