November 6 – The Poor Millionaire – The Good Life

Read Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 10:24 and Galatians 6:9

What is “The Good Life?”  

I suppose if you asked 100 different people you would get 100 different answers. However, probably all of the answers would involve personal happiness, things, and wealth.  

What does your answer include? Luxury cars, a life of leisure, lots of money, a beautiful home, or well-behaved children?  

Maybe you look at famous people and think, “Wow, they sure have the good life!” 

But . . . do they?   

A closer look at their lives, behind the cameras or away from the microphones, often tells a story of drugs, alcohol and misery!

When I think of defining “The Good Life” my mind goes to one of my favorite movies . . .

It’s A Wonderful Life.   In it, George Baily thought that his good life would include traveling to foreign countries, far away from his hometown of Bedford Falls.  In his mind, he couldn’t possibly find happiness, stuck in this little town working in his father’s building and loan. But every time he thought he could finally escape his present life, something would come up and he would find himself giving up his dreams to help someone else. It wasn’t until an angel named Clarence showed George that, in spite of still remaining in Bedford Falls all his life, George had really had a wonderful life.  He had a life of service to his neighbors and even several times literally saving the other person’s life! 

Without knowing it, George was the prime example of today’s verses. Clarence helped George transform his mind from what he wished for to what really could give him happiness.  All his life he had given up his own good for the good of others. Clarence also encouraged George to not grow weary of doing good!

In contrast Mr. Potter, who to the world should have had a good life because of all the money and power he had, was actually living a miserable, unhappy, LONELY life!

George had invested in the lives of others, while Mr. Potter invested only in himself. 

If Jesus, not “Clarence”, came to visit you, what would you be able to show Him about your life?  Could He take you back to events where you sacrificed your own welfare for the welfare of others?  Times you visited shut-ins, helped a hurting child, went out of your way to make someone’s day?  Maybe you had to miss a party or a get-together because someone needed you? Or would He find you so wrapped up in accumulating wealth or power for yourself? Would He find that you might be rich in monetary wealth, but poor in friendships and true happiness?

Where are your life “investments?” Are they in things that can rust and be stolen or in the lives of others? The first leads to “The Miserable Life”. While the second leads to not only “The Good Life” but “The Wonderful Life”.  

Choose wisely!

Pat Arnold

November 5 – The Poor Millionaire – Rich Toward Others

Read Luke 16:19-31

Eternity is a difficult concept. We tend to live our lives hour to hour, day to day, week to week.  Our fragile emotions and sense of belonging all seem to ebb and flow with our present circumstances.  Perhaps there is some wisdom in this… “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day”!  On the other hand, Jesus rarely looks at things this way. He always seems to take an eternal perspective. 

Perhaps we should take something from that!

In today’s passage, we see Jesus teaching the disciples, using a parable about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus.  We only know a few things about Lazarus: he was “covered with sores”, and had received in his lifetime “bad things”.  The rich man was “clothed in, “fine linen” and “feasted sumptuously every day.” Upon their mutual death, the rich man ended up in Hell, and Lazarus was comforted in Heaven, next to Abraham. We aren’t told why they ended up this way; we just know there is a chasm that prevents them from crossing . We know the rich man was in anguish and longs to warn his five brothers about his fate. 

Sadly, he is unable to do so. 

This is Jesus’ eternal perspective. One verse stands out above all the rest. When the rich man begs for mercy, he is told by Abraham:

“Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”

Let’s personalize that!

Imagine if your loved family member or friend is the rich man! Brothers and sisters, let that move us to action! If we are rich toward others, we will not be obsessed with silently building up our own fiefdoms!  People that live to serve others don’t have time for empire-building; they are far too busy meeting the needs of the “least of these”.  (Matthew 25:31-46).  It is an uncomfortable reality that Jesus repeatedly warns against excessive material wealth (Matthew 19:24).  To put our material wealth in perspective…the global median income is around $2100 per year.  The vast majority of Americans rest comfortably in the world’s wealthiest 10%.  That should make us praise God and should also come with a hearty swallow, once we understand the responsibility we bear as Christ-bearers to a lost and needy world.  

Let’s change the narrative; let’s be RICH TOWARD OTHERS!  Our material wealth can be an attribute when it is leveraged for the Gospel. How can you use your blessings to invest in God’s Kingdom? Time, treasure, talent… all belong to HIM who saved us from our sin, and all need to be prayerfully and intentionally devoted to godly purposes.  If you are not sure where to start, look no further than the many ministries and missions undertaken by Grace Church.  Pick one, and let’s go! Let’s live our lives as if we will be judged tomorrow, for all of eternity, based on who we serve today!

Craig French

November 4 – The Poor Millionaire – Giving

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-11

It’s always awkward to talk about giving in the context of a local church. It seems that once you bring up the idea of asking people to donate their hard-earned money to a church, walls get put up and you can feel the tension growing. When you ask people to excel, as Paul states in our reading, in the giving of their money and not just be generous in spirit, it’s a tough ask.

I have been blessed to have a behind-the-scenes view at Grace Church for many years now. For the last several years being on staff, I have the privilege of seeing the life change happen constantly as a result of the faithful giving here. I see the blessing that we are in our community and the needs that we meet as a result of faithful giving. I see families healed and people walk through painful seasons of their lives, surrounded by faith friends, as a result of faithful giving. I see generational curses broken and kids, weekly giving their lives to Christ as a result of faithful giving.

When you give to a local church, you fund life change.

In our reading today, Paul brags to the Corinthian church about Macedonian and how, in the midst of severe trial:

“…their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”

Generosity is a lifestyle. Giving is an action.

Paul continues:

“But since you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you-see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

What does it look like to excel in giving?

The first way to excel at giving is to do so faithfully. I know there are many things that you would rather do with 10% of your income, trust me, the thought crosses my mind often. However, God commands us to give 10% back to the church as a tithe. This goes above generosity and into giving.

There have certainly been times where finances have been tight with Kelly and I. I remember looking over our budget and thinking of ways that we can save money but, no matter what, I knew that our tithe wasn’t going to be touched. It simply cannot.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Kelly and I give faithfully because we see the fruit of our giving.

Secondly, excel at giving by doing so above and beyond when you are able. Just the other day, I had a conversation with Kelly about our financial dreams. Being in the middle of Financial Peace University, we are dreaming of what it would look like to be outrageously generous. We are setting ourselves up for financial freedom so that we can give above and beyond when we are able. Kelly and I both cannot wait for that!

Are you faithfully giving to your local church? If not, simply put, you need to. Your giving funds life change.

Are you in a position where you can give above and beyond? Outside of your tithe, what are some opportunities that you have to be generous in your giving?

Jake Lawson

November 3 – The Poor Millionaire – Rich & Poor

Read Luke 4:14-19

How do you convince people who have comfortable lives that they need to rely on God for daily living? 

It’s a tough question for me as an American.  You see, I have a pretty physically comfortable life.  By earthly standards, my wife and I are rich people. We make more money, eat more food, have a bigger home, and have more clothes than most other people in the world. By American standards, my wife and I are middle class. We make “middle class” money that allows us to have access to food, clothing and shelter beyond what we just need.

By Jesus’ standards, the only ones that matter, what is my true financial status?

Luke chapter 4 puts everything in perspective.  Jesus has yet to have one disciple who followed and was definitively driven by 40 days in the desert where Satan provided plenty of temptation, all revolving around earthly and national comforts and even basic human physical need.

The funny thing about Luke 4, is that it is a direct contradiction of my American “wealth” because of Jesus’ words when returning to His hometown, fresh from the desert. Jesus makes it clear in 14-19 that He has come for the poor, the oppressed and the broken. I often wonder: if Jesus has proclaimed that He has come for the poor, then why do we try so hard to be rich?

What if we could flip the script?

Jesus came for the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned and the broken. We should too.  There is nothing about His affect, words, or being that sends a message of promised prosperity for following Him.  For those of us who are prosperous, our challenge is clear:

What are we doing with our wealth and who benefits from it?

What is the purpose of Jesus’ ministry and what is the purpose therefore of ours? How do we engage the community, region and world around us in light of His words and what satisfaction do we really seek with our prosperity?

Joe Rubino

November 2 – The Poor Millionaire – Contentment

Read Philippians 4:12 and Hebrews 13:5

Jake and I are two weeks removed from finishing up Financial Peace University and it was such an eye-opening experience doing it alongside my husband. We considered how much we were spending and I was specifically convicted by the Lord regarding my discontentment.

I grew up in central Florida with a single mom (me being the youngest of 4) who worked for the state and we were in the loooowww middle-class income bracket. We didn’t have a lot but we always had enough. Mom never complained but always prayed. She depended on God for it all and we were blessed with a great village of people who cared for our needs when my mother’s income couldn’t.

Looking back, the 10-year-old Kelly was selfish and mean, wanting the newest and best outfit because my friends did. When it came to comparison, I was beyond discontent to the point where my heart would grow calloused and mean. 

I believe this is where the root was implanted. 

I’ve said this many times before, but the enemy’s number one goal is not for you to walk away from the Lord but to forget WHO He is. When our hearts become discontent, we begin to believe that what we have been given simply isn’t enough.

Now, you can have a nice car, house and consistent vacations but, if your heart’s motive isn’t rooted in contentment, you’re walking down a scary slope that will quickly lead to discontentment. 

Too many times in my life I have been in a discontented place with this past summer being a recent example. A lot was going on within our family with Jake’s health and restrictions we were facing. Because of it, my mind turned to social media to escape from it all. For a week I just sank into a place where I would compare, judge and envy things from others thinking that would make my life better. 

When really, all I needed was Jesus.

After that week, I sat with the Lord and wrote this piece:

“I found myself to be a person I do not recognize

Where insecurities transformed into pride

Where loneliness and jealousy met hostility

I found myself to be a person I do not recognize

Where heartache and sadness scream in despise

Where happiness is met with a smile in disguise

So, what is there to do?

The only answer is

…and always will be


Where I’m broken, He picks up the pieces

Where I’m sad, He shows me Joy

Where I’m weak, He holds me up
Where I’m lost, He leads me back

Take me back

Back to your Throne room

Where I surrender all.”

You see, we may think we know what is good for us but the Lord knows what’s best. We may look at someone else’s life and think “I want that” but the truth is the Lord would NOT be able to use YOU in YOUR LIFE the way He does if YOU were in THEIR life.

I challenge you: go before the Lord and ask if there is any discontentment sprouting in your life and surrender it to the Lord.

When this happens, you can move into a place of contentment!

Kelly Lawson

November 1 – The Poor Millionaire – Rich Toward God

Read Luke 12:15 and 1 Timothy 6:6-10

In surveying high school students about their future and dreams, it is interesting to note that many of them said they want to be rich and that it would make them happy and successful. However, not all sophomores in high school said that. Some of them said they want to do something excellent and try to improve the lives of others while others said they want to make a difference in this world for good. Some even said publicly that they want to honor God in whatever they do. But over half of the surveyed students said the number one goal was to get rich.

I wondered how they developed these goals? Was it the media? Or friends or maybe their parents?

1 Timothy 6:9-10 discusses the lust for money. Putting money as the number 1 priority in life above God, family, and friends can have negative consequences.

Have you considered that?

Making money is necessary and important in the world we live in. Earning money and managing money are subjects that we all need to know more about. Many churches, ours included, offer classes on money management for this very reason. The Bible refers to money, integrity and thrift often, but the “love of money” appears to be a big problem.

Contentment is the goal.

By asking God for contentment, perhaps that can replace a love of money. The secret to contentment is summed up in this phrase:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart”Proverbs 3:5

In 1 Timothy 6:10, there is a statement that reads:

“…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

Not money, but the love of money. Have you considered if you worship money more than God? Do you maybe have a lust for money?

Worship and love God, our creator. Avoid being a person who lusts after money (1 Timothy 6:3-5). Treasure God above all that money can buy. If a restaurant overcharges your bill, are you going to point that out to the waitress that you are paying too much? Of course, you are.

What about if you are undercharged?

“What you do with your money shows what you value with your heart.”

John Piper

You will encounter many people in your life who have the love of money above their love of God (Matthew 7:13-14). Look for God’s guidance to find and stay on the narrow road that leads to life.

The love of God includes the fact that the local church is crucial for God’s work in the world and that people – the church – will support God’s church. We can honor Jesus with how we handle money. This way, we can experience the blessing and joy of being generous toward God.

How do you balance the challenge of making money with the importance of being rich toward God?

Tom Weckesser

October 31 – The Poor Millionaire – God or Money?

Read Luke 16:1-31

While attention will be given to vs1-9; the completion of the entire chapter is needed to understand context.

“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

Mark Twain

The words quoted from Mark Twain are some of the first ones that I think of when reading vs 1-9.  What in the world was Jesus saying? He just finished the parable in chapter 15 of the Prodigal Son (a story that we all love to reflect on when considering the need for forgiveness), and He immediately tells this crazy parable about two money guys, both as dishonest as the other.  Is He saying that this is how we should live too?

Is this what it takes to get into the Kingdom of Heaven?

The ironic thing about Jesus’ parables is that those in His audience were a mixed group of society’s social classes. Among them, a class of people were called the Pharisees. These people can be better understood to be the religious leaders of the day; wealthy, authorities and keepers of the law.  When I think about the impact of Jesus’ words in a story about dishonest people, the Bible highlights their response:

“The Pharisees who loved money, heard all of this and were sneering at Jesus.”

Why would they sneer? Perhaps, their own hard hearts were exposed through the story and the subsequent follow through that drove home what it takes to really thrive in God’s Kingdom:

  1. Jesus convicts us (yes, each of us can be Pharisees too) as He uses the story to make the point that, if you can figure out how to be trusted to handle a little bit for the Master, then you can be trusted to handle much more.  We can thrive in God’s Kingdom, but only after being trusted with a little!
  1. Jesus immediately connects the imaginary story to the reality of those who love money.  Keep pursuing what matters to people to find value and you will always come up short!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”v. 13

The parable of the shrewd manager is not an example for how we should emulate greed.  It is a reality that reveals the condition of the human heart.

Joe Rubino

October 30 – The Poor Millionaire – Stewardship

Read 1 Peter 4:10

I once saw a picture online that read, “I know they say money doesn’t fix all your problems. However, part of me wants to come to that conclusion on my own.”

Money is one of those hot topics that can make or break a person, couple, nation…etc. It remains one of the biggest areas of tension for couples and many people, myself included, have dreamed of the day that they cash in a big paycheck and many of the obstacles in their life fade away.

I praise God that I was raised in a modest household. We didn’t have a lot but we had enough. We never had the nicest things and we all were totally okay with it. As I grew up, I remained a frugal person and married a spender who will quickly tell you likes the finer things in life. We learned that we needed to meet in the middle. I shouldn’t be afraid to spend money while she needed to learn how to wisely spend money. Even now, we are still working out our dynamic.

Regardless of any dynamic, one thing is apparent and even a command from God: we need to be wise stewards of what He has given us.

As Kelly and I looked at our budget and where money was going, we knew we weren’t being morons with our money. At the same time, we wouldn’t say we were being “wise stewards” of our money. We weren’t going above and beyond to honor the Lord through how we handled what He entrusted to us.

Kelly and I are blessed with incredible people around us who encourage us to be wise stewards of our finances. At the time of this writing, Kelly and I are among the many people taking Financial Peace University here at Grace Church. Currently, we are working on paying off debt but we have caught the vision for what can happen if we stick to the proven plan and are diligent.

I know, for many, money stresses people out. Trust me, I know. When we would spend $25 as a family at Chic-fil-a, I would cringe at the thought of the money being spent. Don’t get me wrong, I call Chic-fil-a “The Lord’s Chicken” and I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bible that the Love Feast will include Chic-fil-a. Regardless, we all need to be involved, knowledgeable and honoring with our finances.

As you look over your finances, where do you stand? Are you living cautiously? Do you have a plan? A vision?

What steps do you need to take to honor the Lord and be good stewards of your money?

Depending on when you are reading this, I would suggest checking out Financial Peace University.

Get a plan! See the vision and potential and take steps to honor the Lord through your wealth!

Jake Lawson