Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

Financial Survival For Christians: “Go In The Strength You Have”

May 21, 2015

Title: Financial Survival For Christians: Go In The Strength You Have
Text: Judges 6:14
Time: May 10th, 2015

A few years back I started a sermon series called “Financial Survival for Christians” which has proven to be extremely popular; if fact, it’s the most popular sermon series I’ve ever produced based on views and feedback. Now I’m not exactly excited about the fact that a sermon series on money is my most famous series but be that as it may I’m happy that people are finding it helpful. Obviously people are looking for answers in the area finances, so I’m glad they are looking to God’s Word for help. Today I’d like to talk about how to pay your bills when you don’t see how you have enough money to pay them. In other words, you look at all the bills that are coming due, then you look at the available money to pay those bills, or even look ahead to the income you expect to receive, and the sinking feeling hits you that even then there still won’t be enough to pay them all. What do you do when you simply don’t have enough money to pay all your bills for the month? – I’m assuming you tackle your bills on a monthly basis because that’s usually when bills are due, each month. What do you do when you don’t have enough to pay them all? You have to do something. You can’t just pay them when you don’t have the money. Of course, you could try to pay them by writing out checks and sending them in, but that will only compound the problems when the checks bounce! I only recommend writing a check when the funds aren’t there presently only, and I do mean only, when you are absolutely, totally, 100% certain that the funds will be there by the time the check clears. Otherwise, you will create, like I said, a bigger mess for yourself when the checks bounce. Not a good idea. So what do you do when you don’t have enough money to pay your bills that are due? I was facing this situation one day when I happened to be reading my daily reading of the One Year Bible – which I highly recommend, by the way, to anyone looking for a way to read the Bible on a daily basis because it organizes the readings in manageable portions each day so that you can read the Bible in one year. I came across the passage in Judges 6:14 where the angel of the Lord is talking to Gideon and telling him to attack the Midianites. Gideon objects because he can’t see how he can lead the Jews to victory against the enemy, and here’s what the angel of the Lord says, “The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” How is this related to paying bills? Let me explain. (more…)

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Financial Survival For Christians — “Let Nothing Be Wasted”

October 29, 2013

 

Title: Financial Survival For Christians – “Let Nothing Be Wasted”

Text: 6:12-13

Time: October 10th, 2013

A news report appeared in the papers and on television broadcasts around the world in which the new Pope Francis reminded Christians to not waste food. When I first heard the report, I thought to myself, “Now there’s a great suggestion, but how sad that a world leader needed to remind people of something so basic.” We’re all aware by now that there is a lot of food waste in the United States and other wealthy nations; a lot of food simply thrown out or left to spoil. Now in poorer nations, that doesn’t happen very often because the people are careful to not waste anything, as their very survival depends on consuming every last drop of food. But in the U.S. and other Western nations food is routinely wasted. I’m continuing in a series today on the topic of financial survival for Christians that started in response to the so-called recession of the last three or four years here in our country. I’m trying to teach how Christians can apply the faith teachings of Christianity and the Bible in order to make it through difficult financial times. We’ve all heard of people losing their home, of being laid off work, of having their cars and other items repossessed, and so forth. How can Christians who are going through economically difficult time survive?  They can survive by faith, by believing in the promises of God found in the Bible, and by living out those promises in the real world of daily living. So in my series “Financial Survival For Christians,” I try to lay out some very practical ways Christians can make it through the rough financial times we find ourselves in. Today I’d like to turn to the whole topic of waste, or rather, avoiding waste. Not only is wasting food a problem in countries like the United States, waste in general, in all areas is a real problem as well. We waste a lot of money, for example, that really hurts, especially in financially challenging times. Waste is a problem and a bad habit. But fortunately it’s a bad habit that can be broken when we apply ourselves to eliminating waste. If we’re on a tight budget, if we are having trouble paying bills, if we are scraping by as best we can, eliminating waste is not only important, it’s essential for financial survival. It was Ben Franklin who once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” It’s still true today, and it’s something that if we took seriously would help motivate us to cut waste in our lives immediately. But eliminating waste isn’t something Ben Franklin invented; it’s something that Jesus actually taught during his ministry here on earth two thousand years ago. In connection with the Feeding of the Five Thousand, John 6:12-13 records, “When they had all had enough to eat, he (Jesus) said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gather them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” This is a great encouragement for Christians to cut their waste too. Let me explain. (more…)

Financial Survival for Christians — Using What You Already Have

July 10, 2013

Title: Financial Survival for Christians – Using What You Already Have

Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7

Time: June 25th, 2013

One of my favorite passages for finances is found in the Old Testament, 2 Kings 4, the account of Elisha the prophet and a widow woman. Why is this passage one of my most favorite in respect to financial survival? Because it shows the combination of divine supernatural assistance from God and our own human responsibility in raising the resources we need to survival financially. It combines both of these elements together to give us a great illustration how God acts on behalf of his children to provide for their needs. 2 Kings 4:1-7, “The wife of a man from the company of the prophet cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’ Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she replied, ‘except a little oil.’ Elisha said, ‘Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into tall the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’ She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’ But he replied, There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.’” It’s a short passage but it gives us all the essential elements of an encouraging example for any Christian who is struggling financially. Lots of people are still under financial pressure even though it looks as if the worst of the financial recession is over. But it really doesn’t matter what is happening in the economy in general, because what really matters is one’s own individual financial situation. Am I covering my monthly expenses, or do I have to borrow just to make ends meet? Am I finding a constant source of income, or do I have to scrimp and scrounge enough to cover costs each month? If you are financially ok, then God bless you, and you probably won’t find this message as helpful as someone who is struggling right now. If you are going through financially tough times, you’ll be particularly interested in this message because it will give you hope, and maybe even a way through your financial challenge. I’ve found this section of the Bible helpful when going through financial struggles, so I hope you’ll find it helpful too. So let me break it down into some bite-sized pieces in order to understand what God is trying to teach us. (more…)

Financial Survival for Christians, Part 8 (DIY)

December 31, 2012

Title: Financial Survival for Christians, Part 8 (DIY)

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Time: December 5th, 2012

 

A few years ago I started a message series call, “Financial Survival for Christians,” which grew into eight separate messages, and which has proven very popular on the Internet. Every time I visit my sermon series web site I see that more and more people have read and commented on this series, more than on any other messages I’ve given. So the Lord is using “Financial Survival for Christians” as a tool for helping people get through the economic recession that started here in the United States a few years ago. The series doesn’t attempt to explain how to ideally organize one’s finances, but instead focuses on surviving financial crises or setbacks in life. That’s why a lot of the material in my messages isn’t found in conventional Christian books on financial money management, or on popular Christian radio shows, such as The Dave Ramsey Show. I’m trying to help Christians through financial crises and help them survive so that at some future time they can then organize their income and expenses in a more systematic way. But in the meantime, I show how the Bible has a message for those Christians that are struggling to make it financially in these difficult times. Today, I’d like to talk about the very important principles in financial survival of DIY – or in other words, learning to “to it yourself” as much as possible. What is DIY? It’s simply the ability to tackle one’s own repair or maintenance job without needing or having to call in someone else from outside, an expert or repairman, to survive. And as we all know, to hire someone to do repair or maintenance work is costly. So in a time of financial crisis it’s important to do as much of our own repair or maintenance work as possible, in order to save as much money as possible. Now obviously, it’s easy to talk about repairing or maintaining one’s own possessions — that is, it’s easy if one has the skill and experience enough to do it. Some things we won’t be able to repair or maintain on our own because we lack such skill or experience. But the truth is, there are many or even most things that we can repair if we know how to read an instruction book and use a few basic tools. Unfortunately, we’ve grown used to having everything done for us in our modern, contemporary society. It used to be that boys were taught how to use basic hand tools, and girls were taught to use many household tools as well. But today we’ve become spoiled in our modern, prosperous age into becoming almost useless in fixing or maintaining our own possessions. It used to be the case that farmers and their families would repair and service nearly all of their farm and household equipment. But today it isn’t the case with most modern families. So we have to make a special effort to learn and gain knowledge and skill on our own. Fortunately, there are resources to do this. Today’s passage is 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” Let me say three things about this important verse. (more…)

Should Christians Accept Government Aid or Assistance?

December 31, 2012

Title: Should Christians Accept Government Aid or Assistance?

Text: 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Time: November 30th, 2012

 

We’ve passed Thanksgiving and we’re headed towards Christmas for this year, but before I get into my usual holiday message series I’d like to speak on a subject that has been in the news a lot this year, particularly with the presidential election and the ongoing debate over the role of government. Today I’d like to talk about the question of government aid or assistance – should Christians seek it, should they receive it? The question comes up a lot in relation to the role of government – should it play an active or passive role in our lives? The President believes in an active government, or in other words, a big government that touches the lives of nearly everyone, every day in some way. While the Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney, talked about limited or small government that focuses more on the really big issues of defense, security, and the more traditional role of authority and power in society. The President wants to increase government assistance in our country, like an expanded food stamp program and extended unemployment benefits. He has a more socialist vision, like more of what we see in Europe and less of what we’ve historically known here in the United States. While Republicans generally favor limiting government to a few key essential roles, while promoting personal self-reliance and self-responsibility among citizens. But as it turns out, it’s the President’s vision that seems to be winning out gradually in our country, as the last election showed. People seem to be learning more and more in the direction of European socialism and less and less in terms of the original vision of our nation. So then the question becomes, “What’s a Christian to think? What’s a Christian to do?” Do we join the crowd and begin to think differently about the role of the state? Do we join the bandwagon towards increased government intervention into our lives on every level? Should we take all the government benefits we can get, like most people seem to be doing? Or should we stop and consider other possibilities? Well, it’s my firm conviction that as Christians we need to think long and hard before we buy into the vision of big government and the expanded role of the state into every nook and cranny of our lives. Even if we qualify for some or many of the government benefits included in relief, assistance or aid programs we shouldn’t automatically sign up to receive them. There are certain principles we must follow in thinking about whether we should apply for and, if we qualify, whether we should receive government aid – first, is this an emergency situation? Second, is this a last resort condition? Third, will this situation only be temporary?  We need to think through these issues and not just follow the crowd in turning to government for help. Let’s look at these three things. (more…)

Financial Survival For Christians, Part 7 (Church)

August 5, 2010

Title: Financial Survival For Christians, Part 7 (Church)

Text: 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Matthew 5:42

Time: July 23rd, 2010

So far I’ve talked about how we can survive as Christians in an economically hard time by standing on the promises of God and through prayer. But today I’d like to explain our relationship as an individual Christian to the corporate Christian church in times of economic recession. What is our relationship to the Body of Christ – on in other words, the Christian community, the church? How should the church respond to us? How should we respond to the church? To begin with, it’s a little difficult to talk about “the church” in general, because there are so many different aspects to defining the church. Are we talking about the denominational structure, such as the American Baptist Church or the United Methodist Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, for example? Or are we talking about the local church – the First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN or the First Assembly of God in Erie, PA, for example? So we have to be careful in talking about “the church,” that we’re talking about the same thing, otherwise, we’ll misunderstand ourselves and miscommunicate something. For this message I’ll be limiting myself to the local church, the one we normally attend on Sunday, the one we go to hear God’s Word taught, where we worship through song and prayer, the one we participate in fellowship, where we give financially also. What is our responsibility to the local church during financially hard times? What is the church’s responsibility towards us in economically tough times? Throughout this message series on surviving financially through hard economic times, I’ve mostly addressed our role as individuals responsible for our own money matters, but today I’d like to talk more in terms of our role in community – how we should be functioning with others in the church during financially challenging times. Obviously, if everyone in a community is hurting financially, the church community as a whole will also suffer, because the combined impact of everyone giving makes up the church budget. Churches going through a building campaign or facility expansion might have to put that on hold for a while until the economy turns around. Church communities in heavy debt load might have even bigger worries to think about, especially if the loan comes with higher interest. I haven’t heard of many churches going bankrupt, but I’m sure it happens from time-to-time. I have heard of denominational structures going bankrupt – for example, the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, I think it was, filed for bankruptcy, not the local churches but the overall Diocese of Boston. Hopefully, local churches can weather the economic storm just like individual church members without going bankrupt. But the question remains, “How can the local church help us during our struggle through financial problems?” What is realistic help coming from the local church to individual members? Let me list three ways. (more…)

Financial Survival For Christians, Part 6 (Finding Work)

August 3, 2010

Title: Financial Survival For Christians, Part 6 (Finding Work)

Text: Matthew 7:7-12

Time: July 22nd, 2010

While our nation and the world is still in an economic recession, I’ve been taking about ways Christians can survive in the midst of financial difficulties by standing on God’s promises found in the Bible and by prayer. I’ve covered many different ways we can get the most bang for the buck, so to speak, and stay alive financially even in troubling times. Today, I’d like to talk about a related topic – employment, namely, finding work. One of the components of this current recession is unemployment. Companies are laying-off works in order to implement budget cuts. And companies are reluctant in hiring new workers out of fear the recession isn’t over, or even that it might get worse. So there’s a lot of unemployment these days – which has a direct influence on one’s personal finances. If we aren’t working, we aren’t earning a living wage. And if we aren’t earning a living wage, we’re going to fall behind in our finances. Some people are losing their homes, not only because of rising interest rates on their mortgages, but also because they’ve been laid-off from work. For some, there are at least unemployment benefits for a while, but for others there isn’t even that. What are we supposed to do as Christian if we are laid-off work, or if we’ve moved to another location looking for a job? Is there anything unique a Christian can do in searching for employment? It’s a very discouraging and depressing job market out there at the present moment. Like I said before, most companies are not hiring right now, some are only hiring part-time workers, and still others may be hiring once-in-a-while but paying very little wages. What’s a Christian to do? Are we supposed to respond to the present economic situation like unbelievers? Is there no difference between how a genuine Christian approaches employment in a tough economy versus how a non-Christian approaches the same challenge? Yes, there’s a big difference. As Christians we have God and God’s promises to stand on in our job search. In economically hard times we have the Lord to lean on in prayer. We don’t have to resort to doing what the unbelievers are doing to provide for ourselves, because “the pagans run after all these things” (Matthew 6:32) – jobs, food, housing, clothing, resources, for example. But as Christians we know “[our] heavenly Father knows that [we] need them” (Matthew 6:32) – the necessities of life. We are encouraged in the Bible to trust in the Lord for everything during hard times. But what does that exactly look like in searching for a job? Has God given us any instructions in searching for work? Yes! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets,” Matthew 7:7-12. Here’s encouragement and practical helps to anyone searching for employment. Let me explain. (more…)

Financial Survival For Christians, Part 5

July 21, 2010

Title: Financial Survival For Christians, Part 5

Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7

Time: July 20th, 2010

We’re continuing our study of God’s promises for financial survival. I’m still in the Old Testament story of Elisha the prophet and the widow woman because it contains so many examples and plenty of encouragement for people going through money problems. Today, I’ll continue drawing out helpful examples of how God provides for his people in times of need. I mentioned this before but I want to touch on it again, especially for those of us going through financial challenges – and who isn’t during this recession that has lasted now at least two years? It’s important we take stock and appreciate what we already have so that we know how to go forward to get what we need. I’ll explain further. Here’s the passage: 2 Kings 4:1-7, “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’ Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a little oil.’ Elisha said, ‘God around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’ She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’ But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.’” The key verse today is, “Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’” Why is this verse so important? Because it draws our attention to an important principle in surviving financially tough times – know what you already have and use what you already have. In other words, before looking for more resources, utilize what resources you already possess. Why does this need mentioning? Because we all have a natural tendency to think we have no money or resources, but upon closer examination we find we do have some money and some resources. And it’s important that we use what we have, use what we find ourselves with already, use what God has already given us, before we go searching elsewhere. When we are operating under normal financial circumstances we might not feel the urgent need to take stock in what we already have because when things are going well we don’t have to count every penny and try to save every little bit to make it. We can afford to be a little more loose and casual about our financial income and our outgo. But when things get really financially tight, when it looks like we are in jeopardy of not paying our bills, when we are sinking deeper into debt or even when we are at risk of losing our house in foreclosure or losing our car or some other possession in repossession, then we need to be more careful with our finances. That starts by taking inventory and examining where we really stand financially, not guessing, but making a sober evaluation. Then we’ll know where we stand – and how far we have to go to make ends meet. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself as you enter financially challenging times.  (more…)

Financial Survival For Christians, Part 4

July 20, 2010

Title: Financial Survival For Christians, Part 4

Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7

Time: July 19th, 2010

We’re continuing our study of God’s promises for financial survival. Last time I talked about the importance of 2 Kings 4:1-7 for encouraging us in going through money troubles, but the passage is such an inspiration for everyone struggling financially that I thought I’d talk more about the verse because there is so much more to say that is helpful. 2 Kings 4:1-7, “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’ Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a little oil.’ Elisha said, ‘God around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’ She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’ But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.’” Now what’s so inspiring and encouraging about this particular passage is the creativity it shows coming from God to the people in need. God doesn’t just meet the widow woman’s financial need – he meets her need in a way that shows creativity and collaboration. God doesn’t just give her a miracle – something he could easily do, no doubt. But instead, he uses a number of different intermediary means to provide for her. He uses the prophet Elishah, who served as the mouthpiece of God, directing her in what to do and how to do it. He uses the neighbors, even though they didn’t know they were being used! They probably thought they were just giving her useless jars, or they might have thought she was crazy for wanting jars in such a desperate time! Finally, God uses a miracle by filling the jars with a continual supply of oil – although notice that the miracle comes last in order, not first. So instead of using a one-shot, sudden, out-of-the-blue supernatural miracle, which could have solved the problem instantly, God uses a long, drawn-out process that incorporates a mixture of miraculous intervention and also human effort or hard work. I think there’s a lesson in this passage for all of us when we go through financially challenging times – through a combination of God’s supernatural intervention and our own hard work human effort, God will meet our needs. He does not want to make it too easy or we’d get lazy, but neither does he want to make it too hard or else we’d get discouraged and give up. No. God wants to work his will through our lives during money troubles through a combination of supernatural assistance and our own human efforts. Let’s look closer at the passage and learn some more. (more…)

Financial Survival For Christians, Part 3

July 17, 2010

Title: Financial Survival For Christians, Part 3

Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7

Time: July 15th, 2010

We’re continuing our study of God’s promises for financial survival during economically hard times. Today, I’d like to consider a passage from the Old Testament, from the Book of 2 Kings, about a widow woman who had God meet her basic and necessary needs when everything seemed hopeless. Today, many people feel hopeless as they watch their home value drop below what they paid for it. And for many, they owe more on their home than it’s worth to sell. For other people, they’ve been out of work for months or even over a year with no sign that the employment situation will get better. Still others are making ends meet but going deeper and deeper in debt through credit card borrowing. Most people agree that this is the hardest recession they’ve experienced – and we still don’t know if the worst is over, or if we’ll go into a “double-dip” recession that makes things even harder. Is there anything a Christian believer can do, with reliance upon God, with prayer, with standing on God’s promises found in the Bible – is there anything that can be done from a faith perspective to get through financially hard times? Thank God the answer is “Yes!” The two great principles of prayer and promise – praying our way through financially tough times and standing on the promises of God – these two can get us through even the toughest recession. But just knowing about these two things doesn’t help us at all unless we are willing to use them. Of course, we should always be praying about everything, as the New Testament teaches us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Philippians 4:6. I’ll say more on this passage in another message, but I mention it to remind us all that prayer should be a normal, every day activity in the life of a Christian. But it takes on special meaning in financially challenging times, because it is in such time that we must lean on God heavily with prayer just to survive. The other key to surviving materially in an economic recession is standing on the promises of God found throughout the Bible. I’ve already talked about a couple of New Testament promises for financial survival, but now I’d like to turn to the Old Testament and review another passage that gives us hope in the midst of money problems. 2 Kings 4:1-7, “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’ Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a little oil.’ Elisha said, ‘God around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’ She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’ But he replied, ‘there is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.’” When things seem hopeless, there’s always hope with God. You may feel that there’s no way you can pay your bills or make ends meet this month, but if you stand on God’s promises you’ll be surprised, as this widow woman, how God will meet your needs. Let me explain. (more…)