Support Your Fellow Christians

But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

The above verse is one that is familiar to most Christians, but I wonder how many think about exactly what it means to “seek first the kingdom of God.” I think the most obvious interpretation of this is that we should be seeking, first and foremost, to be more like Jesus. This involves surrendering our will to His and learning what He desires of us. One area that I think is hard for a lot of people to surrender is that of finances.

With the ever-rising popularity of places like Walmart and Amazon, many “mom and pop” companies have gone by the wayside. We see fewer cottage industries because everyone knows that they can’t compete with companies that have a large enough bank account to buy products for next to nothing and then sell to the consumer for less than you or I could sell them for.

I am not saying that it is wrong to shop at big stores and save money. I like to bargain shop myself. And, if we are talking twice the price or more to order from a Christian company, my budget would probably not allow me to spend that much. However, I have found instances where the savings is only a few dollars, and this is where I would much rather support my fellow Christians or local businesses.

One reason this is weighing heavy on my heart, besides the fact that I just started my own online bookstore, is that I travel the country setting up booths to sell books for Family Renewal and Master Books. These companies spend a lot of time and money to go to conventions where people can look through the books to decide what they would like to purchase. Then many times they go home and order from Amazon or another discount seller, leaving us to pack up the inventory and take it back home. No wonder conferences are dying left and right as exhibitors are no longer covering their expenses.

What many don’t realize is that, when you purchase that really cheap product from a discounter, the creator of the product gets very little from that sale. If you buy a book on Amazon, for example, the author probably makes less than $2/book. Less than $1 in some cases. Most authors are happy to get books into people’s hands so they would rather folks buy from Amazon than not buy, but if you want to support your favorite author and help him or her to be able to continue to write and, in some cases, support their families, then it is much better to purchase directly from the author or another Christian distributor that doesn’t discount very much.

As Christians, we are to be good stewards of the funds God has given us, but we also need to pray about where to use those funds and who He desires to bless through our purchases. It is His money after all.

God Lifts the Needy

“[The LORD] raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor” ~ 1 Samuel 2:8.

As I read this prayer of Hannah this morning, I thought how God did this very thing for me. At times, growing up, we were very poor. There were some winters we couldn’t afford heat, and at least once, we were homeless for a time. During those days, we attended church occasionally but the extent of my prayers were for God to get us out of trouble or protect us, and I never read my Bible … at least not regularly. I am thankful that God looked down and saw how needy we were, and He decided that He could use me anyway.

I was a teenager when my mom truly came to know the Lord. Although I grew up in church, we didn’t really have relationship with God prior to that time. After that, I could not deny the peace that filled Mom, such as I had never seen in her before. Our lives radically changed and, although at the time, I wasn’t sure I liked the changes, they ended up being for the better, and God continued to call out to me until I decided to follow Him as well. That was over 20 years ago now, and I can truly say that I don’t regret one mile I’ve traveled for the Lord. This world is getting scarier every day and yet I still hope God gives me many more years to serve Him. When He has finished using me, I will be very happy to go Home.

I’ve never sat with princes but I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with a number of Christian leaders, and I have found that they are just people like you and me. They still have trials and struggles, joys and heartaches. They may be better known than you and me but they are merely people who have said “Yes” to Jesus. A willing heart is what He is searching for. You don’t need to be smart, well versed, good looking, or anything else. If you are willing to surrender your whole life to the Lord, He can and will use you. You may not see your rewards on earth but Revelation 2:10 tells us that, if we are faithful to the end, we will receive the crown of life.

Hope in God

If you are needy today, rest assured that God has not forgotten you. He hears your cries. Our timing is not His timing, and the things we think we need are not always what we do, in fact, need but He will not forsake you.

If you are like me and you remember a time when you were needy and God rescued you, take time to thank Him again. I can’t praise Him enough for His faithfulness. All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Him. To God be the glory!