Summary: As we look at how to be a better steward with our possessions, we need to manage our money

Money! Money! Money!

November 4, 2018

In 1991, James Peterson and Peter Kim co-authored a book entitled The Day America Told The Truth. The book was the result of surveys that were given to 2,000 people who were asked to answer a number of moral and ethical questions in complete honesty — with a guarantee of absolute anonymity.

One question was "What would you be willing to do for 10 million dollars?"

In response to that question ~

25% would abandon their family (spouse, children, or parents)

23% said they would become a prostitute for 1 week

7% said they would be willing to kill a complete stranger

Those are pretty astounding statistics. I wonder what they would look like in today’s world?

This shows the kind of power money has on so many lives. It's amazing what people will do for it.

Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6 ~

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. – 1 Timothy 6:10

He never said, as some people think - - that money is evil. He never ever said that. He said the LOVE of money. Yet, we need money to survive, to live and provide for our families. We need money to function in this world. How else are we going to pay the utility, phone bills, car payments, house payments, insurance, food, gas, clothes, not to mention to contribute to the church?

We’ve been talking about what it means to be a good steward in our lives. To be a good manager of all that God’s given us. Today, we’re looking at what it means to be a good manager with the money and possessions God’s given us.

This isn’t an annual money sermon, and yet it is. I’m not here to tell you what you must do, but to help you be more successful at managing your money and honoring and glorifying God. I know most people don’t like to hear about money in sermons, yet you might not realize it, but - - - you may not have realized that

16 of the 38 parables focused on how to handle money and possessions.

In the Gospels, 8% of the verses deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible has 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. So, you can see the importance of this topic, whether we like it or not!

The consequences of mismanaging our money can be devastating. According to Social Security, 85 out of 100 Americans will have less than $250 to their name when they reach 65. Only 2% of Americans reach age 65 financially independent.

The average American household with debt owes $172,806. This includes all credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and other types of debt. The average household that carries credit card balances owes just over $16,061.

Now most people assume their money problems stem from not earning enough. The truth is, most of us earn a good enough living to meet our needs and afford many of the things we want. In fact, a family which earns $50,000 per year will make about $2,000,000 in their lifetime. The problem for most people is not how much they earn but how they manage what they earn.

So money is significant for us simply because we exchange it for what we value. What you do with your money shows what you value with your heart.

We value our taste buds, so we give money for food. We value education, so we give money for books and tuition. We value entertainment, so we give money for cable TV, Netflix, sporting events, concerts and more. We value the ministries of the church and the spread of the gospel, so we give money to the church and other ministries. And that list of what we give money to can go on and on for each family.

Jesus said in Luke 12:34 ~

34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:34

Now, some of you won’t like this - - I’m just being real. Listen carefully, because - - where your money goes, signifies the movement of your heart. Where your money goes, your heart goes. You exchange money for what you value, for what you treasure.

If you value going to the movie, that’s where your money goes. If you value going out to eat, then that’s what you will do. If you value smoking or electronics or books or whatever it is, that’s where your money goes. If you value the church, your money goes to the church. If you value Habitat for Humanity, your money goes there. That’s kind of logical.

So, money can be hazardous and helpful. You can show that you value things more than God (which is hazardous), or that you value God more than things (which is helpful). Ultimately this is expresses the treasures of your heart.

NOW, I’m not saying you can never go out to eat or to a movie, or buy a book, or anything like that. But when lots of our money goes to these things, that is an indicator of where our heart is.

So, how do we get a better handle on our money? Glad you asked! For most people and most families, we never make a budget. We just spend until we realize we’re in trouble.

Proverbs 21 tells us ~

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty. – Proverbs 21:5

A budget can be intimidating. But, it doesn't have to be that way.

A budget is simply a written plan. You don't have to be a financial wizard. All you have to do is honestly write down on paper what your income is and what your expenses are. You designate a certain amount of money for food, housing, phone, insurance, automobile, church, and the rest.

This can be so enlightening. When people do that, they realize they’ve been spending $50 a month buying Starbucks coffee. It's not a sin to drink coffee, but it’s important to be aware of how your money is being spent. Maybe that’s too much money for that person, but until you know, you can’t make a determination.

And it’s easy to mess up keeping to your budget if you’re not realistic and if you’re not willing to follow it.

Track your spending, see where your money goes, decide where you want it to go, and establish a budget. If you’re struggling with what to do and how to do it, there are people at the church who can help you. Just ask me, and we’ll get you set up.

Next, we need to save for the future.

In Proverbs we read ~

11 He who gathers money little by little makes it grow. – Proverbs 13:11

20 The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends everything. – Proverbs 21:20

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about this, but it’s to ask yourself the question . . . “Am I saving any money?”

It's been said that the majority of Americans are only 2 missed paychecks away from bankruptcy. If disaster strikes — if a person gets laid off or gets sick — it’s impossible to recover from the setback unless they’ve prepared themselves for that possibility.

Making sure to save a certain percent or dollar amount from your paycheck may make the difference at a later time in your life.

So, make a budget, save money and avoid debt.

Imagine you receive a postcard that says, "Congratulations, you have been selected to become a slave. Just fill out the enclosed card and return it in the pre-paid envelope and your slavery will begin on the 15th of next month."

That's what's written in invisible ink on all of those credit card offers that come in the mail.

Again, Proverbs tells us ~

7 The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a slave to the lender. – Proverbs 22:7

A USA Today article stated that the United States Census Bureau reported 109 million Americans used 957 million credit cards (that's almost 9 cards per person) to buy $430 billion worth of goods, causing them to fall $207 billion into debt.

You’ve heard of Ashley Furniture, right? I saw a Veterans Day ad online and followed the links for their special offers and financing. The interest rate for you to borrow money on their credit card was 29.99% interest.

Let me give you a full example about debt. There was a furniture store which stated you could get a new living room set for only $59 a month, with no payments until 2019. Sounds like a great deal. I would only have to make easy payments of $59 per month for 5 years or 60 months. And that great $1,500 living room set would be mine.

So, let me show you exactly what you just got into . . .

You are paying $59 for 60 monthly payments. And in the end you will have paid exactly $3,539.79. Yup, you bought 1 living room set for the price of more than 2. You would have paid 40.87% interest. And if you miss a payment, there’s an extra fee tacked on for good measure. That’s why paying interest on our debts is not a good thing. Read the small print!

And I don’t know that I’ve every made an easy payment in my life. They're all hard. And when you begin to realize you're paying $3500 for $1500 worth of furniture, it gets even more difficult.

In the end, we’re better off to avoid consumer debt altogether.

I read about a financial counselor make this suggestion: Put all your credit cards in a bowl of water and put them in the freezer. When you have the uncontrollable urge to use them, you have to wait for them to thaw out, and you may change your mind.

It's not a sin to have a credit card, but you have to use one wisely. I would suggest~

Never buy with a credit card that you can't pay when the bill comes in. When the bill does come in, pay all of it. If you've already amassed a huge credit card debt and cannot pay the entire bill right now, then pay more than you have charged on that card in the previous 30 days. This way you can whittle down the balance until it is paid off completely.

Now, we’re coming back to talking about what you treasure. Remember, your money follows what your heart values.

The ultimate goal is to put God first in your finances.

Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller his secret of success. He said, "Save 10%, tithe 10%, and live on the rest."

We read more in Proverbs ~

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

10 then your barns will be filled with plenty. – Proverbs 3:9-10

Have you noticed that stingy people never have enough? They tend to be unhappy and self-absorbed. On the other hand, generous people never seem to go without. They're characterized by a joyful, loving spirit.

The Bible says that is exactly how it works.

24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. – Proverbs 11:24-25

I read about one businessman who said, "I'm generally a cheapskate, but there are 3 areas where I’ve learned that you have to be generous: paying taxes, paying tithes, and paying employees. If you try to cut corners on any of those it will come back to haunt you."

When the church uses the word tithe, that word simply means 10%. It’s what is often spoken about in the OT.

Why should we tithe?

Out of gratitude for the past. This is an attitude that says, "God, I realize that you have made it possible for me to earn a paycheck. You’ve given me this job and the skills to do it. To show my appreciation for all that you have done for me, I want to give back to your church."

To keep our priorities straight today. The purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first in every area of your life. We give God the first, not the leftovers.

When you give an offering, it should be with joy, it’s not a bill or a 60 month payment. It’s a reminder that God is first in your life.

We tithe as a demonstration of faith for tomorrow. This attitude says, "God, I trust you to take care of me, and to provide for me. Rather than keeping this money to myself, I'm giving it to you."

I can say more, but I’ll save that for next year!

Understand that money is not going to make you happy.

Even though we "know" money won't buy happiness, we think we'd be the one exception to the rule — if we could just earn more we'd be happier.

But it doesn't often work that way. Solomon discovered this for himself. He said...

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote about trying to buy his happiness. In essence, he said,

4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.

5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.

6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.

7 I bought male and female slaves. I also had great possessions of herds and flocks.

8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces.

I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.

9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.

10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.

I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.

11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it,

and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Solomon tried it. He had it all. He thought money and possessions would buy happiness. But he realized, even with all he had, he was still unhappy. In the end, he felt like all of his efforts gained him nothing and it was like chasing after the wind. And you cannot catch the wind.

Friends, as we consider our situations in life, we may not always like it, we not have as much as our neighbors, but look at God for the blessings you do have. Give thanks in all circumstances, even when it’s not what you want. And when you look at your finances, know that Jesus is there for you.

Look at some of the practical things we’ve talked about this morning. It’s all from God’s word to you and I - -

Instead of looking to wealth for fulfillment, we should look to God.

1. Live on a budget.

2. Save for the future.

3. Avoid debt.

4. Put God first.

5. Don't expect money to make you happy.

This comes down to a matter of controlling the money you have, instead of being controlled by the money you don't have. Make sure your heart treasures God, not the things of the world.

In the end, follow God’s ways! He loves you, you’re His child. Never, never forget that!