Proverbs 21:5, 20-21 (special thanks Adam Hamilton for his book Enough)
A teenager lost a contact lens while playing basketball in his driveway. After a brief, fruitless search, he gave up, and went in their house and told his mom. His mother took up the cause and within minutes found the lens.
"How did you do that?" he asked.
"We weren’t looking for the same thing," she explained.
"You were looking for a small piece of plastic;
and I was looking for $150."
Let us pray… Please GOD, help us use the blessings we receive from you, to bless others in this broken world. Please help us use Your wisdom to be good stewards of all of our resources, including our finances…In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
WHERE DID ALL OUR MONEY GO?? Many of you know the story Jesus told in Luke 15 about the prodigal son and the loving father. Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic because it seems the misuse of money gets in our way of our relationship with GOD. We hear that the prodigal son squandered his inheritance and spent all of his money. The word “prodigal” does not mean someone who wanders away or is lost. It literally means “one who wastes money.” A spendthrift. Some of you may have been prodigals and you learned your lesson; some not.
My friends, we’re not worried about tomorrow.
We want it today! We want it right now!!
The problem with that kind of thinking is that, for most of us, the “famine” eventually comes. It comes when we have spent everything we have and even a little bit of next year’s income.
So, we use the credit card and charge it, and we go little further into debt. Finally, we come to a place where we “find ourselves,” as the prodigal son finally came to see the error of his ways. We have nothing left, not even any credit, and we can’t figure out how we are going to make it.
That’s when we return to the Father, on our knees.
As I said last week, many of you in this sanctuary have the
“Show Me State immunity.” You are very fugal with everything.
So, you are immune to this problem. You tithe, you save and then you hold on to what God has blessed you with, so that you might be a blessing to someone in need. I still want you to listen carefully, because you could take some of this information home and share it with a child, or a grandchild, or a neighbor in need. Then you could say, “That’s what the preacher said, don’t blame me.”
Yes, please blame it on me and then send them to me.
Now, for most of us, it seems, that the more financially secure we become, the less we worry about spending money here and there.
We waste a dollar on this or that, and we forget where it went. Money just seems to flow through our fingers.
We’re not as careful with our money as we should be. There are many ways we waste money, but there are two primary money-wasters that many of us struggle with. It is not necessary to eliminate these two things all together, but we should think more carefully about how we spend our money.
The #1 money waster is “Impulse Buying.”
Here are some tips for avoiding impulse buying:
· Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
· Only shop for what you need.
· Make a list and stick to it; buy what you need and get out of the store!
· THE MOST IMPORTANT WAY TO BLOCK IMPULSE BUYING—Wait 24 hours before purchasing an impulse buy.
The #2 money waster is Eating out.
The issue is frequency. The average American eats out an average of four times a week. By eating out less frequently, we will have more money to save, spend on something more important, or give it away in ministry.
Folks, those are important but now we get to the big stuff. First, we need to Clarify our relationship with money and possessions. This was really huge for Jesus.
We do not exist simply to consume as much as we can and get as much pleasure as we can while we are here on this earth.
About 27 years ago I had the very same argument with a close friend. I was getting ready to go to seminary, and he was shocked. First, because he’s known me since we were 9 years old and hanging out together; later doing stupid things in our late teens and early 20’s.
And second, because he thought our purpose in life was to have as much fun and pleasure as we can swallow. He asked, “Why would you even think about seminary with Hope, Jacob 11 and Sarah 9 years old depending on you? How about the money?”
Folks, I believe we have a higher purpose than trying to spend our money on our fun; we have a higher purpose, than trying to feel good.
I tried to explain that to my friend. We need to know and understand our life purpose—our vision, our mission, our calling—and then spend our money in ways that are consistent with this purpose or calling.
I told him Jesus preached more about money than anything else. At that time, my friend couldn’t even hear me. The world was too loud in his ears.
My Friends, you must learn to
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR PURPOSE AND CALLING!
Our society tells us that our life purpose is to consume—to make as much money as possible and to blow as much money as possible. In the original movie Wall Street, the main character Gordon Gecko said, “Greed is Good.” And in the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the same character says, after getting out of prison, “Greed is still good, and now it seems they have made it legal.”
The Bible tells us that we were created to care for God’s creation. We were created to love God and to love our neighbors.
We were created to care for our families and those in need. We were created to glorify God, to seek justice, and to do mercy. Our money and possessions should be devoted to helping us fulfill this calling.
We are to use our resources to help care for our families and others—to serve Christ and the world through the church, missions, and everyday opportunities.
We have a life purpose that is greater than our own self-interest, and how we spend our God-given resources reflects our understanding and commitment to this life purpose and mission.
SET WORTHY GOALS!
Being able to accomplish the greater purposes God has for our lives requires some measure of planning. Taking the time to set goals related to our lives and our finances is crucial if we are to become wise stewards of our God-given resources.
Each of us should think about our life purpose and goals and then identify two short-term financial goals, two mid-range financial goals, and two long-term financial goals that are aimed at helping us to accomplish our broader life goals. At least one goal in each category should relate specifically to our faith.
Earlier we heard Linde read today’s scripture from
Proverbs 21: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.…
Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling,
but a foolish man devours it.
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.”
The following is meant to be support to help us honor God with our God-given resources.
We honor GOD when we manage our money with discipline!
Understanding the necessity of a budget/spending plan is foundational to be stewards of our God-given resources.
Once we have set some financial goals, we need to develop a plan to meet those goals. A budget is a spending plan the enables us to accomplish our goals.
Some people use an envelope system to help them manage their saving and spending and stay on budget. Others use a variety of different approaches. Many people find it helpful to seek the advice of a financial advisor.
For those who find themselves in the midst of a financial crisis, a financial counselor can help to work out terms with creditors and develop a workable financial plan. Whatever approach you choose, the important thing is simply: have a plan.
The following six financial planning principles can help us to manage our money with wisdom and faith:
SIX FINANCIAL PLANNING PRINCIPLES
1. Pay your tithe and offerings first. Put GOD first in your living and your giving. Give your tithe and offering from the “top” of your paycheck, and then live on whatever remains.
If you are not tithing; strive to take a step up each few months until you reach that point and don’t stop there.
2. Create a budget and track your expenses. We talked about the need for a budget/spending plan; but you must follow that plan up, by tracking your expenses.
It’s like getting on the scales as you lose weight: It allows you to see how you are doing and motivates you to be more careful with your expenditures.
3. Simplify your lifestyle. Live below your means. Because this discipline is critical to the success of any financial plan, next Sunday’s sermon will be devoted to this topic.
4. Establish an emergency fund. The fund is an account separate from checking or long-term savings that is set aside specifically for emergencies. Experts recommend beginning with $1,000 and building that to three months’ worth of income. When you have this amount, you won’t need to use your credit cards anymore.
5. Pay off your credit cards. Use cash or debit cards for purchases, and use credit wisely. This happens as you build your emergency fund. Some experts suggest starting with the card that has the highest interest rate. Others suggest paying down the smallest debt first, experiencing that victory, and applying your payments from the first card to the second, and so on, creating a snowball effect to pay off the cards as soon as possible.
Cut up your cards as you pay them down so that you are not trapped or leveraged by your future for your present-day pleasure, as the prodigal son was. If you must us a credit card, such as when traveling or making purchases online, be sure to pay off the debt monthly. If you are unable to do this, then it is better for you to cut up your cards and stop using them altogether.
6) Practice long-term savings and investing habits. This is the number-one wise management principle everyone should practice. We do not save merely for the sake of saving. There is a word for that: hoarding. Hoarding is frowned upon in the Bible as the practice of fools and those who fail to understand the purpose of life.
Saving, on the other hand, is meant to be purposeful.
There are Three Types of Savings we should have: 1) emergency savings; 2) savings for wants and goals; and 3) retirement savings.
GOD is calling us to be good stewards of all our resources, including our money.
Let us pray… God, you know what we don’t even know. We don’t know where every dime went, but somehow you know what we did with all that we had, last year, and the years before that. You don’t forbid us from having joy in our possessions.
In fact, you delight in having joy for us. But you know is that just acquiring more and more stuff isn’t where we find true joy.
Lord, forgive us for being wasteful, for being prodigals. Forgive us for leveraging our future in order to have pleasure in the present. Please help us to be good managers, good stewards of the talents that you’ve given to us. Please help us to be generous and willing to share, kingdom-minded and focused on accomplishing your purposes for our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, together we say, “Amen.”
“GOD Be With You”