HOW? – 6. HOW CAN I FOLLOW GOD’S FINANCIAL PLAN?

May 12, 2013

Jesus says that the way that you handle your money determines how much God can bless your life - the way that you handle your money is the evidence of your spiritual maturity. If you don’t manage your money well God is not going to trust you with the responsibility of true spiritual blessings - Luke 16: 11 - Jesus said “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth who will trust you with true riches?” 

The wisest man in the world was also the richest – Solomon - wrote down God’s financial principles in Proverbs. Look at 5 most important financial principles. Just because you may be saving, doesn’t mean you’re doing the others - you may be tithing but you may not be doing the others. You’ve got to do all 5 things in order for your finances to be in the way God wants them to be and you to be financially free.

They are habits - you don’t just do them once and that’s it. You’ve got to make them a part of your lifestyle.

1. EARN AN HONEST LIVING - principle of WORK.

We were created to work - first command of God - we’re made in God’s image and God is a worker. 2 Thessalonians 3: 12 - “earn” - first principle of financial freedom is you’ve got to earn a living.

Sometimes meet some of these passive but super spiritual types - “I'm just waiting on God to provide for me.” “Get a job!” God provided for you when He gave you a brain, 2 hands, a back and feet to get to work. Don’t just wait around. God gave you what He wants you to have in order to provide for yourself.

Sometimes meet entrepreneur types - sitting around waiting for the next big deal to happen, “I'm waiting for my ship to come in.” Don’t wait for it - get to work.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 - “If a man won’t work, he shouldn’t eat.” That doesn’t say if he can’t work because sometimes you can’t. It says if he won’t work. If it’s a matter of character – if you’re just lazy - you shouldn’t eat. God wants us to earn an honest living.

2. PLAN YOUR SPENDING - principle of BUDGETING.

You’ve got to set some financial goals. Don't just drift around, spending, guessing, not really knowing where your money is or where it’s going. Proverbs 27:23-24 - almost everybody had their assets tied up in flocks - sheep, cattle, goats - so he’s saying know where your assets are. Today Solomon would say, “Know where you’ve put your money. Know where it’s going.”

Starting point: Keep good records - keep track of your finances - be aware of how you use your money. Have you ever said, “I just don't know where it all goes.” If you’re saying that, that should be a warning light. People say, “Money talks. It says goodbye.”

You have to plan your spending but in order to plan your spending you have to keep good records. If you don’t, it’s like a river with no banks. It just spread out all over and it’s diverted and all gone – quickly! Proverbs 23:23 - be realistic about your finances. You need to ask, “How are we really doing?”

Simple equation: Ignorance plus easy credit equals disaster. If you don’t know where you’re headed in your finances, you’re not keeping good records and you’ve got credit cards, you’re already in trouble. You’re putting debt on that you can’t afford and you don’t even know you can’t afford it. Ignorance plus easy credit equals disaster. You have to be up on where your money is going. You have to plan your spending. 4 things you need to know:

A. “What I own” - your assets - Make a list.

B. “What I owe” - your liabilities, your debts - how much debt.

C. “What I earn” – your income - many people don’t know.

D. “Where it’s going” – your spending.

Say, “I don't have time to do all that - to write it all down.” Do you have time to worry about your finances? If you’ve got time to worry, you’ve got time to write it down. If you’d write it down, you’d have a whole lot less to worry about. This is a principle that’s in God’s word. First, earn an honest living. Second, plan your spending and keep good records.

Proverbs 21: 5 - Financial freedom is not determined by how much you make - determined by how you spend it. If you don’t have a plan, your yearning will always exceed your earning and you’re always going to be in debt. No matter how much money you make, your expenses always rise with income.

When you go out shopping, you fall prey to a very important trap – Pr. 21: 5 - “act too quickly” - impulse buying - “I see it, I’ve got to have it! You see the sizzle of the steak, you smell it, you look at the car…” Every advertisement is made to encourage impulse buying - don't want you to think about it - don't want you to plan your spending because when you plan it you realize you can’t afford it. So what they want you to do is not think. They want you to make a decision based on emotion - stir up your emotions by the lighting, the color, all the sex appeal and everything in it just to make you have impulse buying. Have you ever bought something that you later regretted buying? Yes. We’ve all done it. “Why did I buy this? I can’t afford it - can’t make the payments - can’t do the upkeep.” You made it on an impulse.

Thinking that you’re saving money by buying something now is faulty kind of logic. The Bible says if you don't plan your spending you’re going to give into this impulse buying.

Proverbs 21: 20 - God’s IQ test - if I spend my money as soon as I get it, I'm a fool! Stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it. Spending can be an addiction. One lady worked out a creative way to stop it. She takes her credit cards and freezes them in ice so that when she has the urge to spend she had to wait until it melts. Some of you are already thinking, “Microwave!” One guy heard that story he took his wife’s credit cards and buried them in cement - on the card he wrote, “Because ice melts.”

You need to plan your spending. How do you break the habit of impulse buying? How do you spell relief? BUDGET! What is a budget? - simply planned spending - telling your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went. You’re saying, I want it to be spent this way. If you don’t do that, it’s just going to go all over the place. If you want to control impulse buying, you’ve got to nip it in the budget.

I want you to go home and make a little budget, if you don’t have one. First, put down how much you pay for rent or house payments, how much you pay for light and water, how much you pay for petrol and food… how much do you have left over? Nothing - spending more than you really make - go back and start cutting. To get to financial freedom and enjoy the fruits of financial success - have to learn to live on a budget.

3. SAVE FOR THE FUTURE - principle of INVESTING.

Proverbs 21:20 - Bible says it is wise to save. We’re not very good at this. The average Japanese saves 25% of their income. The average European saves 17% of their income. The average middle-class South African saves less than 5% of our income. Study after study shows that we are going to be broke in retirement. Why? - we’re not saving anything - not nearly enough for retirement. We live in this “Spend it now, live for today” mentality - don't follow God’s principles to save for the future.

Proverbs 13:11 - little by little - saving it. You need to set 3 kinds of financial goals: Saving, spending, giving. You need to know those and be clear about them.

The Bible has a lot to say about investing - more than we can cover today. Proverbs 6 -“Go study little ants. They store up food in the summer so when the winter comes they’ll be well taken care of.” The reason we don’t do that is we want everything now. Those of you who work on commission know that it can be feast or famine. Your income varies - goes up and down from month to month. You know how difficult it is to establish a repayment plan and get out of debt. You didn’t get into debt overnight. You’re not going to get out of it overnight. But if you’ll apply these 5 financial principles, you can do this. Earn an honest living (Principle of Work), Plan your spending (Principle of Budgeting), Save for the future (Principle of Investing)

4. RETURN 10% BACK TO GOD - principle of TITHING.

God says the first 10% of all that I make goes back to Him to honour Him as number one in my life. Malachi 3:10 - Tithing means 10%, not 5%, 2%, 12% - means 10. “Test Me” - This is the only place in the Bible where God says, “I dare you! This is how you can prove that I exist. You can prove it by tithing. You put Me first in your money, give Me the first 10% back, and see if I don't bless your life. Test Me. I dare you. Try it out!”

The truth is He owns it all. We don't really own anything. You get to use it for 60, 80, 90 years and then you give it back. You didn’t bring any money into this world and you’re not taking any out. You only get to use God’s money while you’re here and then somebody else will get to use it and God will let them use it. Everything comes from God. Why do I tithe? 3 reasons:

A. Out of gratitude for my past.

God obviously doesn’t need our money. So why does God say do it? Because He wants what it represents - your heart. People are more selfish about money than anything else. We get nervous when we talk about giving. Some of you are nervous right now. The most sensitive nerve in the body goes from the heart to the wallet. God says, “I know that you spend most of your life revolved around money – thinking about it, spending it, saving it, earning it, using it, investing it, worrying about it, paying it, repaying it.” So He says, “I want to be number 1 in this primary area of your life. So 10% comes right back to Me.”

When I give my tithe to God, I'm saying, “God, I realize that I wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for You. You gave me my mind, my health, my body, the clothes on my back. I'm just saying here’s 10% back to You out of gratitude but I know that it all came from You in the first place.”

B. It’s a priority statement in the present

“God, it proves that You’re number 1.” You can say that God is number 1 in your life but if you’re not tithing, you’re fooling yourself. God says, “I want to be number 1 in your time, your money, your relationships.” I can do lip service, saying, “Jesus is number 1 in my life.” But if I'm not tithing I really don’t trust Him. I don’t believe He’ll do what He says. So it’s saying in priorities, “God, You’re number 1. I give you the 1st day of every week (Sunday), I give You the 1st part of my day, I give you the 1st part of my money.”

C. It is a statement of faith.

You say, “I'm in debt! You’re telling me to pay God first before other people.” That’s exactly what I'm telling you! I'm saying put Him first. Because you want His blessing on your life. I want to stand before you today and say God is faithful. God has blessed my life. God has blessed my life because I have sought to follow these financial principles.

Some of you are saying, “I'm broke. I can’t afford to tithe!” Can I respectfully submit to you that you can’t afford not to? You need God’s blessing in your life to get out of debt. The best time to start tithing is when you’re in debt. It’s either you’re going to work it out on your own or you’re going to do it God’s way. Comes down to - “Do I really trust God? Do I believe He’ll do what He says?”

When do I do it? 1 Cor. 16: 2 - Sunday, when you go to worship. Tithing is an act of worship - give it when you worship. If you want God’s blessing on your finances, you need to put Him first.

Here’s the principle: whatever you want God to bless in your life, put Him first in it. You want God to bless your relationships? Put Him first in your relationships. You want God to bless your time? Put Him first in your time. You want God to bless your money? Put Him first in your money.

If you’re not tithing 10% and you’re not saving 10%, you’re living above your means. You’re spending too much money. You need to go back and get on a budget.

There are more promises related to giving in the Bible than any other subject. Why? Because God wants you to learn to be like Him and God is a giver. Proverbs 3: 9, 10 - “first part” - means right off the top. If we pay all our bills first and then put God last instead of first, there isn’t any money left. There’s too much month left over at the end of the money.

You’ve got to earn an honest living. You’ve got to plan your spending. You’ve got to save for the future. You’ve got to give 10% back to God and then the fifth principle is very important…

5. ENJOY WHAT I HAVE - Principle of Contentment.

Ecclesiastes 6: 9 - Would you agree that that verse is being violated in Wilro Park? We are not satisfied with what we have, we always want something else. People are so busy getting more and more they don’t have any time to enjoy what they’ve got.

People go out and they get overextended. They buy a house more than they can afford. They buy a car better than they can afford. They overspend, they get all kinds of credit debt. There’s constant tension, constant frustration, constant fatigue because we’re always trying to keep up with everybody around us. Pretty soon we get tired and relationships start to frazzle. We don’t have any time for each other, much less the kids because we’re always busy trying to earn the money to pay for all the things we’ve bought.

Let me say this as clearly as I can say it: Children don't need things - need parents - need attention. They don’t need quality time - need quantity time. I wonder if by our lifestyle, we aren’t teaching our kids that more is better - it’s not.

The key to all this - Hebrews 13:5 - If you feel the pressure of finance in your life, if you find yourself arguing at home over bills, if you’re saving nothing and you’re spending all of it, this is a symptom - much deeper problem than you think. Unmanaged finances represent an unmanaged life. Out of control finances are a symptom of an out of control life. You don’t need just money management, you need a life manager - His name is Jesus Christ.

Do these principles work? Absolutely - you have to do them all - you’ve got to do them in the right order.

Here is the world’s order, what most people do with their money:

1. First they earn it 2. Then they spend it all. They enjoy it.

3. If they have any left over, they repay it

4. If they have any left over after that, might save a little

5. If they have any left over after that, might give some.

Here is the order that God blesses:

1. You earn it.

2. You tithe it - put God first. “God, You’re number one”

3. You save it - God first - yourself second. It’s your money that God has given you.

4. You repay - little by little get out of debt

5. You enjoy the results of that in your life.

You will never ultimately be satisfied by things - Isaiah 55:2 - greatest things in life aren’t things. This is why you have to redecorate all the time. That’s why the car that you used to think was so cool, you’re bored with now. That’s why the computer you bought last week is already out of date. Things don’t change and people do. So you’re never ultimately going to be satisfied by things. The root of your financial problem is really a matter of values and trust. What do I value and who do I trust?

Job 31: 24, 28 - Whatever I trust for my happiness is my god.

I want to pray for those of you who are in financial difficulties - financial stress. God wants to help you get out of debt - you’ve got to do your part. Take the outline and do a little self-evaluation. Check the principles that you’re already doing. Mark the ones that you’re going to start today or this week. It’s a waste of time if you don’t act on what the Bible tells us to do on how to get out of debt and be financially free.

Prayer: Father, I don’t know the individual situations but You do. As they follow Your principles, I pray that You will miraculously turn around their finances. I know they didn’t get into debt overnight and they’re not going to get out of it overnight. But replace that debt with dedication to do the right thing. Replace the pressure with peace. Help them to get out of the hole and onto Your pathway to financial freedom and success.

Pray this in your heart: “Father, I want to follow Your financial ways. Forgive me for spending more than I make. Forgive me for unwise purchases. Help me to get back on track with Your plan. Today, I commit myself to Your financial ways. With Your help I'm going to start keeping better records. I'm going to learn to plan my spending. With Your help I'm going to save for the future. I'm going to put You first in my finances by returning the tithe back to You. Help me to enjoy what I have. Jesus Christ, I invite You to be the manager of my life. I want to trust You with my finances and with my future. In Your name I pray. Amen.”

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