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Summary: How many credit cards are in your wallet? And is debt a good thing for Christians?

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OPEN: How many of you have at least one credit card in your wallets or purses?

How many have 2 credit cards…

How many have 3?

According to one of the most recent reports the average American household holds 12 Visas, MasterCards and various other cards. Credit card companies send out more than 1 billion new credit card offers every year.

Back in 1972, Walter Cavanagh and a friend bet a dinner to see who could accumulate the most credit cards. Eight years later he won the bet - and broke the world record – by applying for and getting 1,003 credit cards, weighing 34 pounds and entitling him to $1.25 million in credit. His ultimate goal: 10,000 cards.

It’s illegal now, but credit card companies used to mail credit cards to people who hadn’t even applied for them. It wasn’t always good business: In 1966, five Chicago banks banded together and mailed out 5 million cards to people who hadn’t asked for them. But the banks had been less than cautious in assembling their mailing lists.

Some families received 15 cards.

Dead people got cards

Babies got cards.

And a dachshund named Alice was sent not one - but four cards - one of which arrived with the promise that Alice would be welcomed as a ‘preferred customer’ at many of Chicago’s finest restaurants. (Information gleaned from “Uncle John’s Legendary Lost Bathroom Reader”)

APPLY: We are a credit-based society. And that’s not entirely a bad thing.

After WWII, VA loans were made available to returning soldiers to make it easier for them to obtain their own homes. The resulting housing boom was so impressive, that FHA loans were created to help 1st time buyers purchase their first home. Without those kinds of loans, many people in America would be renters, not owners of their homes.

And there are credit cards that offer money back for your purchases. I have in my wallet a credit card that gives between 1% and 4% on various purchases I might make. I know that at the end of the year, I will have a check giving me money back on my purchases.

Diana and I also make use of our credit card to help us keep records of our purchases for tax purchases and tracing our buying patterns. But we pay off our balance every month.

But there are definite disadvantages to depending upon credit.

On average, consumers spend 23% more money with credit cards than when they pay cash. Credit card companies know this and that is why they press so hard to have you sign up for their cards. This is definitely a money making proposition for these companies because many people never pay off their balances. According to one report I read recently, at the end of 2003 – for those who carried a balance of debt on their cards – the average amount was about $7,520 per household on their credit cards. Credit card companies depend on those individuals to make their cards profitable. In fact, Credit card companies have a name for those of us who pay off our balances on time: “Dead beats.” We “rob” them of the interest that they depend upon.

In addition, many Christians struggle to give gifts and offerings to God and to reach out to the poor because they are in debt.

I. Now God has an objective: God wants His people to be in a position where they aren’t engulfed in debt.

Look again with me at Deuteronomy 28:12

“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations BUT WILL BORROW FROM NONE.”

God apparently has NEVER wanted His people to live in a constant state of debt. In fact, He asked Israel to set their economy up on a 7 years cycle. In Deuteronomy 15:1-3 God commanded His people:

“At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you.”

This is such a powerful concept that one of our nation’s laws is based upon it. Does anybody know which law that is? Bankruptcy. Chapter 11 is based upon the Biblical teaching here in Deuteronomy 15 and it is based on a 7 years cycle.

II. Why would it be important to God for His people to be debt free?

1st- Debt puts someone other than God in the position of being our master.

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