Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Different Approach to Personal Finances

I have written about the financial situation on several of my blog post of recent weeks. I have written how some individuals such as George Soros are willing to bring a nation to it’s knees for his own gain and that of his agenda. I have posted articles showing of one of the ways that the housing and financial market has fallen into this mess. We have watched as the Federal Government has attempted to bail out these banks and insurers just as they have attempted to bail out companies over the past 15 years or or so and with very little positive results. It seems that we have depended on the Government or man to straighten out our finances for us. To tell us how to spend our money, when to spend our money and where to spend our money.

Man/government has failed. Perhaps now it the time to look and see what God has to say about our finances for we have otherwise certainly failed.

Many folks only associate what God has to say about finances with preachers sermonizing on tithing or raising money for a need within the church, the community or the world but that is not the point of this. You see God feels very strongly about how we manage our finances and about money. You will find over 2300 verses about money in the Scriptures . Two thirds of the parables given in the New Testament by Jesus are about money. Given that it must be an important message that God wants to be delivered. I have found that when God says something one time it certainly is important, when he says it two or three times it is real important. For Him to stress something so many times it surely is of utmost importance.

The Spritual Side of Money is shown in Matthew 6:24 where the scriptures tell us: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Romans 12:2 shows how some are Set Up for Failure and how we can avoid it for certainly when it comes to finances failure is not good . This is what it says:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Conforming to the pattern of the world would seem in todays world to spend all we can , while we can and borrow when we can and this my friends is why not only our country is in trouble but why so many families in this country are living from paycheck to paycheck and from credit card loan to credit card loan. They have leveraged against their homes and now are faced with foreclosure. They have overbought without counting the cost and the Scripture is very clear about this situation as well. In Luke 14:28 we find these words written: "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

Finances are the biggest competitors for our heart so we must have a Chazown for our finances. What is a Chazown or what does it mean? The word chazown is Hebrew for a vision or dream. The Bible says, "Where there is no vision (chazown), the people perish" (Proverbs 29:8)

We need to have a vision or dream, a plan for our finances. Believe me if you do not have a plan for your cash, someone else certainly does have a Chazown for it. They will do anything possible to separate you from your cash and destroy any Chazown that you may have had if you do not have a secure plan . God has a dream , a Chazown for His followers to live free from debt. Part of that plan for Getting There is by Giving: Acts 20:35 speaks of it this way: In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'

Ah, but now you say I knew it came down to getting my money in someway or the other. That is not the purpose of scripture quoted in Acts at all. First of all note that the writer is saying, In all that I did I showed you that it required hard work. In the previous verses Paul is telling the Ephesian Elders that I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

And he is saying that this required hard work and from the fruits of his toil and labors he helped others who were less fortunate than he. I know some are asking , how am I to help myself if I help someone else first. Well that is all part of Gods plan or Chazown for Getting There. The last part of the sentence in which Jesus said” It is more blessed to give than to receive” is all a part of the plan and I will attempt to show this as I go along.

The next part of Getting There is Getting Help: Proverbs 11:14, while addressing a nation , it also speaks to us as individuals. In Proverbs we read: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” We can certainly see how this has speaks to this nation because the nation has not sought the guidance and advise in the right places, depending on their own knowledge rather than seeking the knowledge of the Almighty as the founders of this country did. So in order not to fail we have to learn that we must “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5

There are many who offer good sound Godly advise on finances: A few sources are: Financial Peace and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey;

Master Your Money and Taming the Money Monster by Ron Blue; and The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn.

The next step is Eliminate Debt: Proverbs 22: 7 says: The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. We have choices, Spend less or earn more or both. The books above have been a great help to many.

The next step is to plan for the Future: Proverbs 21: 20 says: “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has”. Too many have proven to be foolish as I pointed out in the early paragraphs by borrowing, spending and living above their mean and now find themselves in dire straights. This country has done the same thing. We have had Congress after Congress that has failed in it’s duty to the people who elected them. They have chosen to do what is politically expedient rather than what is wise and good for the nation and now we find ourselves at the mercies of other countries from whom we have borrowed and at the mercy of those who desire to bring the economy to it’s knees. I have made no secret of what I have discovered about George Soros and his ilk. They are determined to bring the economy of this country to it’s knees. They are able to do so because the people of this country have not held their elected representative responsible and they have not taken on responsibility for their own financial well being.

To Get There requires planning. We need to plan for emergencies. Most recommend that we have three to six months savings in reserve to cover emergencies such as loss of job, illness and such. Most people have ZERO savings and some part of this lies in the fact that the banking industry has not made it attractive to save and people have not heeded the warnings given in God’s Word, instead we have been “leaning on our own understanding” and that has failed.

We should plan for future purchases such as Christmas , birthdays, anniversarys etc but instead we haul out the plastic and go ahead and “play now and pay later”. That is not part of the Chazown of God.

We should plan for college , at least those who have children who will be going that way in the near future. Cost are increasing constantly and the resources for paying for college are getting fewer. Of course some are recommending that the Federal Government pay for the privilege. Remember it is a privilege, not a right. No where in the Constitution does it guarantee anyone an education. Others in the government see it different and therein lies more of the same problem.

Yes, we even have a need to plan for death for it comes to all of us. It cost money to die, unfortunately for some it cost some more die than live. I can not stress the importance of having a will so that the unexpected does not take it’s toll.

Too many fail to plan for retirement as anyone can see. Social Security will not provide the lifestyle that most are use to in this country. Planning, saving and investment is of the utmost importance. One financial advisor has offered this advise. Pay yourself first!. They recommend that one put aside 10% and not touch it. I say in the realm of Getting There we should Pay God First for he says to “bring all the tithes into the storehouse.” The tithe is 10%, that is our minimum. To truly give it should be more but that is up to your Chazown .

There is a price to be paid: Proverbs 30:25 reflects such: “Ants—they aren’t strong, but they store up food all summer.” As the ant stores up food all summer for the winter so should we plan in order to Get There.

In conclusion consider this question. Where are you headed with your finances? Take time to read the Parable of the Talents as recorded in Matthew 25: 14-30 as you attempt to answer the question and set, hopefully , a Chazown for your financially future even among uncertain times.

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver[a] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![b]

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

*** All scriptures used are from the NIV.

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