Summary: This message is about financial freedom and how you can achieve it no matter how you’ve handled your money in the past. God wants all of us to experience financial freedom from debt, where you are liberated from anxiety
Developing a Financial Plan
A pastor shared a letter from one that one of his parishioners sent him concerning his personal money management issues: “Of all the experiences in my life, I have yet to find one to compare to the sheer devastation of financial indebtedness. I suffered wounds in Viet Nam which made me deal with my own possible death, as well as those of the young men around me. At the age of 16, my father suddenly died. I loved him very much and there is a finality in death. I have survived auto accidents, leaving people to wonder how I could have survived. I have experienced the agony of the decentigration of a marriage and family through divorce. But recently, I suffered through the humiliation of bankruptcy. Nothing compares to that. You see, financial bondage strips us of the very thing God wants us to know about ourselves: that we matter to Him. Through the abysmal pressure of debt, self worth begins to deteriorate and feelings of remorse, self-pity and rejection come to be a normal part of daily existence. Family, church and friends tend to no longer play an important role in life because one becomes totally consumed with plans to escape death. Once the inner spirit has severely deteriorated to that condition, we become ineffective whimpering shells, feeling sorry for ourselves and wondering what we could have done to deserve such a fate. Ahead of me lies the continuous battle for economic solvency. It may be that I will continue to be plagued with the results of my poor judgment in the past for quite some time; however, I am taking stride to identify and resolve the situation. I know this is what God would want me to do.” Sobering words from a Christ follower who is seeking now to live the life that God intended for us.
Now compare that scenario to one told by financial advisor, Ron Blue. An 80 year old pastor, who had always served rural churches and never earned more than $8000 a year, requested a meeting with Ron to see if his savings would be enough to support him in his retirement. Ron feared the worst. When they began to talk, Ron asked, “Do you have any debt? “No, I never have. I could never afford to buy things on credit because I couldn't afford the interest.” That’s one positive, Ron thought. What do you have saved? “$250,000 in cash, mutual funds and CD’s, $350,000 in low risk investments.” Ron was amazed. That was $600,000 saved by a man who never made more than $8000 a year. Ron said, “Pastor, you don't need me or my advice. What you’re doing is working, so just stick with the plan cause I can’t give you one better than that.”
Two stories: one filled with regret, agony and despair and the other with victory and triumph. One is a story of bondage, the other of freedom. Today, I want to talk to you about financial freedom and how you can achieve it no matter how you’ve handled your money in the past. God wants all of us to experience financial freedom from debt, where you are liberated from the anxiety that one unexpected cost could sink you financially. It’s a financial freedom that comes from knowing that God is pleased with how you have managed what He has entrusted to you. But that kind of financial freedom cannot be attained without a financial plan. If you plan to fail, you fail to plan. Proverbs 21:5 says, “Plan carefully and you will have plenty.” Most people earn a fortune in their life. If they average $45,000 a year, they will have earned over 2 million dollars in their lifetime. The point is that with rare exception, the problem isn’t with earnings but with managing what you do make. One author said, we must concentrate less on what we earn and more on what we keep to achieve financial freedom. If all you do with your paycheck is pay your bills, financial freedom will be just a dream. So how can we receive the financial freedom God wants to experience? Three steps:
First, pay God. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” The Bible calls us to not only tithe or give 10% but to give the first 10% of what you earn back to God. Many people never understand that the tithe is packed with promise. Through the tithe, you have a tangible way to show that God is first in your life. You get to experience the joy of handling your money the way God wants you to and not just be a good steward but an obedient steward. Third, when we honor God first, God says he will supernaturally intervene in your financial affairs and will bless you. Put another way, your tithe invites God to be involved in your personal financial situation and opens the door for God to do His work in your life; work that He is not able to do if you don’t open the door by honoring Him and showing your trust in Him through the tithe. So if you want God involved in your every area of your life, including your finances, and you want to experience His blessings, then pay God first with the tithe.