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Sunday, December 21, 2014 other day's devotionals

Today's Devotional Reading
Forgive Us Our Debt

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Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law
(Romans 13:8).

I love Christian Book stores. I can literally spend hours slowly making my way from one row to the next, studying the titles and thumbing through pages. I remember one time when I had spent a couple of hours sifting through the many selections until I had found the one book I wanted. I then made my way to the checkout only to find out that the store did not accept credit cards. I could hardly believe it. I thought everyone accepted credit cards. But they did not, and so I walked back to where I had gotten the book and I put the book back on the shelf.
It’s really kind of funny when you think about it. I did not even think for a moment that a credit card would not be accepted. I simply assumed that it would be, and because of that assumption, I spent a lot of time picking out an item only to put it back on the shelf and leave with nothing.
The mindset of our society is one that has a “Buy now--pay later,” mentality. If we want something now but have no money, “why should we have to wait?” We should be able to have what we want when we want it--right? I would not care to mention how many credit card purchases I have made, only to justify them by assuring myself that I would pay the balance off with my next paycheck. But its funny how many other things would come up and seemingly make it impossible for me to do as I had planned.
We face a time of year in particular, when it is so easy to make the impulsive buys. We find ourselves in a bind where we got to get that last minute gift but have already run out of the funds to do so. Or we had the money, but just couldn’t stay within our Christmas budget for one reason or another. And after all is said and done, we get to “enjoy” the memories of Christmas for months to come--each time the bill comes in the mail.
In his book, “Debt Free Living,” Larry Burkett offers us “three personal traits that lead to debt:” ignorance, indulgence and poor planning. The ignorance refers to a lack of understanding about the true nature of your financial situation, and sometimes a kind of “living in a dream world” approach to financial matters. False perceptions of what can be handled can get us in trouble, especially during big spending times such as Christmas.
Indulgence must obviously be one of the worse downfalls of a “fast food” society that believes they should always “have it your way” and “get it in thirty minutes or less.” We have trained ourselves not to wait if we don’t have to, and we often and easily give in to the need for immediate gratification.
Poor planning hits us at many levels, but at this time of year it is often manifested in phrases like, “I should have put something on lay-a-way,” or “If only I would have put some money aside for . . .” I use to get the biggest kick out of hearing my wife talk about starting her Christmas shopping in June or July. Because, between her and I, I am the one who would wait to the last minute and wind up pulling out the cards. But her planning and buying presents throughout the year has been a tremendous help, and besides, she always has a lot of fun when Christmas approaches as she pulls out the presents she has stored away--most of which she had forgotten she had bought.
I have since learned to encourage my wife in her early planning and buying. For though I find it amusing to some degree, I also see how it helps us to avoid unnecessary debt as Christmas gets closer.
Credit and financial responsibility is something that varies so much from one person to another. But let’s consider this: the gift of Jesus to the world was given to bring us freedom, and as we echo the sentiment of love through our own giving of gifts, may it be that it does not ever become something that enslaves us--chaining us to debts for years to come. But may we find a joy in giving of what we have--whatever that may be--and doing so debt free.

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