These are indeed the days of Elijah where, in famine, God finds His “poor widow of Zarephath” and repositions her for great wealth.
I Kings 17  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.
Days of Recession can be days of plenty – and days of greater accountability requiring higher disciplines of stewardship. Remember, we have said in earlier posts that all worth – Net or Gross – is of God. The steward that increased the wealth of God in his hands was commended in the Bible for two basic competences. Working to increase net worth and giving an account of increase. He knew the exact sum of his gains.
Matthew 25 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
Today, if the question was asked of me, now i’m retired. What would I have wanted to do most differently in over 25yrs of my career? The answer clearly would have been to render better stewardship of that which had been entrusted in my care. I would have wished to have been better prepared not just in academic grounding but more in learning the disciplines and habits of managing the key assets of time, money, skill and opportunities on behalf of God, the Owner who rewards faithfulness. In difficult times I have been often been tempted to say like the wicked steward in Matthew 25 ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.  ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’  But his master answered him, You wicked and lazy and idle servant! Did you indeed know that I reap where I have not sowed and gather [grain] where I have not winnowed?  Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
Sometimes I wonder if God would have judged me wicked not for adultery but for hiding away in indolence. A Preacher said recently at a meeting that it seems the disciplines God commanded are today commonly set aside by saints seeking and presented with instant remedies. Today, perhaps less than 10 % of adult Christian population know their worth talk less of managing increase. Possibly even less ever balanced the family books. It is even more strange the lack of correlation between education and what I have defined as “Lifestyle Intelligence”. Lifestyle Intelligence (for the purpose of this blog) is the exercise of understanding concerning how we live our lives concerning financial matters. The Bible is full of exact measurements of weights, volumes and distances..indeed it is a book about numbers. Christians should be equallycomfortable with numbers.
I am thankful that the sudden realisation of potential limitation in the recession has brought out from inside a new lifestyle of accountability and worth management…making me perhaps a much better steward today. First, what are the lessons I would have wanted to have mastered earlier with the tools made available to me.
1. Expenditures must be much less than earnings and a proportion (after tithes and taxes) of the excess must be hallowed and set apart to increase worth. Saving requires discipline that must be taught and imbibed early, while consumption comes naturally.
2. Doing nothing is sure to result in decay as assets depreciate and lifestyle consumption swallows worth. Therefore be diligent…apply all the talents God has given . Remember 2 Thessalonians For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. So get busy. Moses started something at the age of 80 with nothing but a staff and an unstable assistant, Aaron…and God.
3. Early preparation and training on disciplines to produce an intelligent lifestyle sets the ground for wealth to grow. These disciplines do not emerge by accident or default.
I have introduced in this blog a new page Lifestyle Design where you find tools to begin afresh or just sharpen the saw. The first tool, Christian Lifestyle Intelligence Test is to help review financial habits for alignment with Kingdom culture. An abridged version is shown below.
To use the tool please reflect for a few minutes and answer all 25 questions using a scale of 1 to 5. Please ensure you double-click on the cell after the question to enter your response and scroll down to see total score after ALL questions must have been answered. Also see the impact of a different answer on your total score.
1. No, almost never…not even remotely applicable.
2. Only very rarely…only minimally applicable.
3. Yes, sometimes, but not frequently…maybe somewhat applicable.
4. Yes, quite frequently…well, almost my exact situation.
5. Yes, happens all the time…most applicable…my situation exactly.
Interpretation of Total Christian Lifestyle Intelligence Scores
60 -100 Good, prayerfully make adjustments to be closer to the 100 mark
40- 60 You have many areas to work on, though perhaps above the average
<40 Major adjustments required to approach the contented life
Please go to the Lifestyle Design menu item above for more detailed presentation of how to apply and further analyse your results and also download the full version of the Christian Lifestyle Design Tool.
The second tool is a simple income/expense budgeting/tracking and net worth tool you can use to manage your finances, understand your net worth and track and respond to how it changes. If you are in need of a tool to understand and apply budgeting and net worth concepts you can also download this easy to use Basic Family-personal Financial model (also featured on the Lifestyle Design menu item). I urge you to consider these tools and if useful commit to their use except of course you are amongst the few already savvy on financial matters. Then please pray for the rest of us.
I Cor 4:  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Read more on Lifestyle and Debt in my new book Wealth out of Ashes, and also on how to chose your bank and investments. Also see previous posts for articles related to hope and victory in Christ in a recession. If new to spreadsheets please begin by referring to these Excel Tutorial links.
Have a blessed day