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Summary: Money and Marriage. there’s 3 major reasons couples get divorced: communication problems, infidelity but money tops the list

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Counting the Cost of Finance

Acts 4:32-37

Dave Ramsey tells the story of feeling as lost as a ball in tall weeds. He felt that life was out of control, he had no sense of power and there was a deep sense of dread creeping over him like shadows on a cold wintry day. He found himself sitting at his kitchen table paying bills with “too much month left at the end of his money.” He was very afraid, afraid of this month’s bills, this month’s mortgage and absolutely terrified when he thought of the future. They had too much debt, too little savings and no sense of control over their life. No matter how hard he worked, it seemed he couldn’t win. The next car purchase, the next house, the kid’s college seemed out of reach. The hopelessness was overwhelming. And every time he and his wife talked about money, they ended up fighting. “I felt like a gerbil is a wheel- run, run, run, no traction, no ground covered…All the money came in, all the money went out…Oh. Some months everything seemed to work, and I thought we were going to be OK….but deep down I knew we weren’t….I was good at real estate but I was better at borrowing money…Then we went through financial hell and lost everything over a three year period of time.”

$11.83 trillion - that’s not our national debt, that’s the total U.S. consumer debt, including mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and student loans. The average person is carrying $7,281 in credit card debt. Only 41% of families spend less than they earn. Over 60% don’t pay the balance each month on their credit cards. With an average interest rate of 13.02%. Americans have a debt problem. And making more money isn’t the answer. Here’s a brief list of celebrities who made 10’s of millions and some 100’s of millions only to declare bankruptcy: NBA star Allen Iverson, Billy Joel (3 times), Kim Basinger, MC Hammer, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, Nicolas Cage, Terrell Owens. And a whopping 70% of lottery winners go broke.

Why bring this subject up as we conclude a series on marriage? Because there’s 3 major reasons couples get divorced: communication problems, infidelity but money tops the list. In fact, one study found that 70% of divorces were directly or indirectly caused by financial issues. It’s like the vows have been changed to “Til debt do us part.” Our culture tells us that money and material possessions are the key to happiness and that all we need to do is make more. But God has a lot to say on this subject of money as well. The Scriptures talk about faith over 700 times throughout the entire Bible, while on the other hand, money is talked about over 2,100 times. Jesus spoke more about money than He did about heaven or hell combined. Eleven of 39 parables are about money, and 1 out of every 7 verses in the Gospel of Luke talk about money. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spends an entire half chapter on money (Matthew 6), while only spending a few verses on every other subject.

Now here’s what often happens in church - sometimes you’ll hear a message about how we need to tithe and give God 10% because Deuteronomy 14:23 says, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your life.” Tithing isn’t about giving money to God. Contrary to what many of the TV preachers say, God isn’t broke and heaven isn’t in foreclosure. Tithing teachs us to put God first in our life. Why? Because our spending reveals our values. But what about the other 90%? Our Scripture today is a very odd story in the New Testament but within it, we’re going to ask 4 financial questions that could save your marriage. First, who does this money belong to anyway? (v. 1-2) I believe if you want God to bless your finances, you need to honor him with your finances by first recognizing that everything comes from God. That means putting God first in your finances. This is what the Old Testament says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” Proverbs 3:9 To give God the first fruits means to give God the first of what you earn. If we give back to God from what He has given to us, we will break the cycle of greed and possessions that so marks our culture.

And amazingly, God promises to bless those who obey Him. In fact, he wants us to test him in this promise. God calls us to step out in faith and see if he’ll follow through on his promises. In Malachi 3:8-10, God asks: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:8-10) This is God’s challenge - to test Him in the area of our finances by putting Him first through tithing. In all my years of ministry, I have never had one person who tried tithing for 3 months and doing finances God’s way and then stopped. Why? Because they experienced God’s blessings and the fulfillment of His promises when they tithe. There are tons of followers of Christ who have decided to trust God with the tithe and would never dream of not giving God 10% because He has a way of making 90% last longer than 100%.

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