Getting Your “Finances” Under Control

Getting Your “Finances” Under Control

Proverbs 16:33”Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”This week I am going to center around finances, the problem that we really do not have any control over. Christmas is right around the corner. Now what we are going to be looking at is not an MBA sort of thing. The important thing is getting our financial lives under control. So we are going to look at four things. Three of them are going to be just basic wise sayings that we find in the Book of Proverbs. And the fourth item is going to be a command that we find in the New Testament.{{more}}Well the first part, the first point comes in Proverbs 16 verse 3 and it says this.I. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.””Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Here is a basic bit of wisdom that says that planning is good and that as responsible Christian people our planning has done something. This is something we do under the authority of God. So we commit what we do to God and this includes our financial life. Here is the problem. We have got no financial plan, many of us and what is the solution? The solution is to prayerfully budget. In a healthy lifestyle there is always money left over at the end of the month and if we get to the end of our pay period again and again and there is no money left, and we find ourselves short again, we need to know why. We have to have that capacity to somehow analyze what’s going on in our lives and the way to do that is to start gathering the data about how we spend and start comparing that to some picture of what we should be spending to live within our income. We especially need these targets in our weak areas. We hardly need the target in areas where we are strong and have a lot of self-control already. Now God can give us insight into this, as we pray about it and ask for God to show us. We can get some insight and some sense of what would be good priorities in our lives and then we need to stick to it. Now, this is a no-brainer. You didn’t need to come to church this morning to hear this because you knew this already. But how many of us are living that way? Making a budget and then learning how to live by it.Let me go to a bit of common sense advice. It comes in the Book or Proverbs again but this time the 21st chapter. So turn a few pages over, the 21st chapter, the 17th verse.II. “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.”The passage here talks about being too interested in pursuing a lifestyle of pleasure, good food, good wine, good circumstances, and comfort and exciting experiences. Anybody who dedicates their lives in that direction is going to inevitably run into financial problems. There is an over indulgence that we can have in life and so the problem here then is overindulgence and the solution then is to simplify our lives. We live in a society that is based on overindulgence and over-consumption. That’s what our whole economy is based on. Over-consumption isn’t a matter of how much a thing costs, it’s a matter of whether we really need it or not. So we need to simplify our lives a bit and we need to slow down on replacing things that really don’t need to be replaced yet. We need to buy what we need and not just what we want and we need to discern the difference between quality and just showing off. You know, there is a lot of ego spending in the world and none of it will ever be a Christian character witness. We need to be discerning on how we spend our money. Sometimes it’s a real simple thing, as simple as eating more meals at home. There are different choices that face us, but we need to face those choices because it’s not just a matter or earning more and more money, because no matter how much money you can run into this problem. I don’t know whether you all noticed it in the paper just a few weeks ago, but two athletes both had multi-million dollar contracts, both facing bankruptcy because no matter how much they earned, they had discovered a way to spend more than they were earning. So that brings up the other bit of common sense advice we find in Proverbs. Proverbs 22, verse 7. III. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Amen!The picture here is that when you are in the situation that you have to borrow money, you pull yourself into a situation where you come under a form of bondage, but when you are in debt you are not really free in your financial life. So the problem here is debt and the solution is to cut particularly, particularly cut credit spending. Part of what God wants for us in all of life is freedom and that’s also true in our financial life. God wants us to be free to spend our money on real needs. He wants us to be free to have the money to prepare for the future. He wants us to be free from abnormal pressures and worries about money. And he wants us to be free to help other people, but to be free; we have to attack our debts. And I use that word deliberately. We need to attack it. View it as an enemy and get rid of it as fast as you can. Now that is the common sense stuff. People will agree on that, Christian or not, all through the ages there has been that sense of what common sense money management is all about.But I would like to turn to the New Testament now to 1st Timothy, chapter 6, verses 17 to 19 and now look at a command that comes in scripture. 1st Timothy 6 says, 17”Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life”.The problem here is trusting money and the solution is learning how to give. Behind the issue of controlling our money and managing our money is the issue of trusting God. Take a look at what is says in verse 17. “Command those who are rich in the present world not be arrogant and put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Now, this isn’t a picture of God giving us the absolute minimum so we somehow get by. Here is God who richly gives to us and He gives to us everything we need and God’s intention is that is not that we barely scrape by, but that we actually enjoy what we receive. God is generous. Now, it’s not all material things that God gives back to us because we are complicated beings and we have needs on all kinds of levels and God is committing himself to giveb back to us richly on all these levels as we live the life he calls us to live.The passage here also tells us that we are not supposed to put our hope in wealth. And the word hope here means the assurance that what is promised will actually be delivered. And so it tells us not to have that attitude towards money that we really believe that what it promises it will actually deliver because it does not. If we put our hope in money it means that we believe our future happiness depends on having more money. Now, if we put our trust in money it means that we believe that more money will make us happier, that it will protect us from harm that money will introduce us to the right people and that money will fulfill our hearts desire. There is an incredible amount of joy and satisfaction that comes as we free up our lives particularly in this area of finances. And we first need to do some common sense things that successful people have done. We need to set up a budget. We need to simplify our lives. We need to cut down on our debts. But as Christians there is a deeper more fundamental issue that is going on. We need to trust God. God has created us. God has created all the things we see outside around us; the abundance of things that we enjoy. God created us to have appetites and he knows what it is to have the pleasure of meeting the needs of those appetites. God knows color. He understands color and style and the joys we have about that. He knows our need for security. God knows all of these things and on top of that, he loves us enough the way that he sent Jesus Christ to take our place, to die in our place because our selfishness and the way we have hurt ourselves and other people and hurt God is so serious that that would eliminate the possibility of having a relationship with God. God took that so seriously that Jesus took that burden on himself and has become God’s solution so that despite the problems that we have had, despite the sin in our lives, we can have a relationship with God. He loves us that much and it’s this God that says that he will be our provider. Here in this life he will provide. And on top of that he is teaching us that nothing we give or sacrifice goes unnoticed or unrewarded. Again in verse 18 and 19. “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”Now we expect to get that when we go to church, where you come and somehow or another in a sermon tell you to do something good. There is no surprise there. You go to church and somewhere in the sermon, do this thing that is good. But take a look at the next verse, because it is in the next verse that we get the surprise. In this way, they will lay up a treasure for whom? Themselves!If you give, you lay up treasure in heaven for yourself. There is no loss in God’s economy. It is an investment. It might not be money. I haven’t a clue what treasure in heaven actually means, but we can trust God that it really will come across as treasure. There is no way of losing because God has promised that he notices every sacrifice of time, every time in love we stretch out to do a little more to serve. Every time we give generously, God notices and he will reward.Now if we have not given our lives to God, that’s the first step. If God loves us this much and God is willing to provide in this way and he is taken care that nothing goes unnoticed, how can we not take the step of entrusting our lives to God? He’s provided a way for us to be forgiven. And to not be distanced from God anymore, but to have a close relationship where we know we have been forgiven and we can have all that past erased and begin with a new slate and not only begin with a new slate, but begin with new internal power to live in a new way that hurts us less and hurts other people less. But if we have made that choice, there are always more choices ahead. And in this case, it is that choice to believe God, to trust him and to enjoy the freedom he can work out in our lives, even our financial lives. Now you know how to get your finances under control. Amen!