The stock market is down. Credit is tight. We are in a recession. With all the bad news, it is enough to cause even the strongest individual to be concerned.
During times like these, we need a compass, a direction to follow. Everyone is searching for a sound investment. I've often heard it said, "Don't let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case."
We all encounter trials. However, the task for us is not to figure out how to avoid the difficult moments,rather, it's what to do with those moments once they come.
God has a plan for the lean times - a plan that survives economic downturns and plows through a recession. It is giving. God's strategy is based on multiplication. If you give Him your time, He multiplies it. If you give Him your money, He multiplies it. If you give Him your energy, yes, He multiplies it!
Whatever you give God, He multiplies. Talk about a good investment strategy!
It is the same principle as planting seeds. II Corinthians 9:10 says, "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." (NKJV) Think about that: God will increase the things you do that have His approval.
Farmers know that a seed must be given away for it to provide increase. If you keep seed in a sack, it does not do any good. But when you plant a seed, it flourishes. Also, when you plant one corn seed, do you get one kernel of corn in return? No, you get hundreds of corn kernels.
Remember, the person who sows only a few seeds will have a small crop, but the one who plants many seeds will have a large crop. God loves the person who gives cheerfully. Why? It is because God gives cheerfully, and He wants us to be like Him.
One of the wonderful lessons my wife, Gayle, and I have learned is that you cannot out-give God. We learned this one Christmas while in a personal recession. God told us to give fifty dollars to a young man trying to get home for Christmas. Money was scarce, but we obeyed. The next day God doubled our gift unexpectedly, by allowing us to find an unclaimed one hundred dollar bill on a family outing. He continues to bless us beyond our belief.
Another lesson He has taught us that His timing is perfect. In 1992, just before my daughter, Dallas, was born, I was in school and needed a full-time job because of added expenses and our desire for Gayle to be home with the baby. However, nothing was happening, even after our continual prayer. Then, on Aug. 31, I was offered an excellent job that would allow me to continue in school and better prepare me for my future in ministry. Dallas was born the next morning.
The Bible is clear. God is interested in the lives of His children. No one who has sacrificed for the sake of the Kingdom of God will lose out. It will all come back, multiplied many times over, now, and in eternity. Luke 18:29-30 says, "So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life." (NKJV)
Luke 6:38 instructs us with these words: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (NKJV)
Like you, I have anxious moments. That is why I have chosen to invest in the eternal work of the Kingdom of God, in addition to my earthly investments of retirement and savings. A slowdown in the economy is an opportunity for me to check my faith. Do I really believe God will take care of me if I obey Him?
It also helps to remember that tough times are only a test. They are a tool provided by God to help us grow in our daily walk with Him. I find great comfort in knowing that the difficult times are not meant to destroy me, but to mature me.
An investment in the Kingdom of God never diminishes; it survives even the worst economic times. The days ahead are predicted to be difficult. Are you up for the challenge?
The next time you feel like you are in the frying pan, consider it a gift. Thank God for the opportunity to grow, and ask Him to help you see the lesson. God desires for us to be mature, and is willing to let us go through "the stuff" to make it happen. I'm just grateful that He says, "When you do not know what to do, ask Me."
Rev. R. Chris Reynolds is pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Christian Academy in Jonesboro.