Can God Bless Your Financial Planning? 11/15/98

Malachi 3: 9, 10
Page 1403 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST loves you and is compassionately concerned about your welfare.

Do you believe that?

Scripture assures us of His empathy: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

Jesus Christ is aware of you and your life-situation and wants to provide for you.

Do you believe that?

Scripture assures us of His commitment to us and our needs. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10: 29 & 31).

Jesus Christ can be trusted. He is worthy of your trust and obedience.

Do you believe that?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Our loving Lord has designed for us an opportunity to demonstrate our trust and dependence. It is a grand test designed to afford you a tangible way to show your love and faith.

First, He gives us the capacity to earn wealth. “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

What ever your earning capacity God has given it to you. Have you ever thanked Him for that ability? It is a gift. Therefore, all you earn is a gift from God. Have you ever looked at your pay check as though it is gift wrapped? It has the signature of the person representing the firm for which you work but it comes from God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

Summarily that means we are dependent upon and indebted to God.

Regarding money we play the “I wish” game.

I wish the credit card had never been invented.

I wish I had started saving for retirement sooner.

I wish I had invested more wisely.

I wish I had planned better for my children’s education.

I wish I had not gone into debt so heavily.

I wish I had bought less and saved more.

I wish I had started tithing and giving more to the cause of Christ before now.

All of these areas relate to a phase of stewardship. Stewardship involves your saving and investment plan, planning for children’s education, providing for retirement, avoiding improper debt, as well as giving to the cause of Christ. Too often the message of the church regarding money just relates to giving to the church. Many folks are so unaware of God’s design for over all stewardship they get their finances in a big league mess.

In an audience of this size there are persons from every strata of wealth ranging from poverty to significant wealth. Some of that which is to be shared will apply to each segment. Many of the illustrations won’t relate directly to everyone but the principles illustrated will. Learn the principles and don’t be preoccupied with whether they relate to rich or poor. Biblical principles relate to all of us regardless of our financial position.

Some He trusts with wealth. Some He trusts with little. For each there is a burden, a challenge, and an opportunity. We would do well to pray the Proverb: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8,9).

What are you going to do with what He has entrusted into your care. The word for it is stewardship. It relates to everything He has put in your trust. Everything! It doesn’t refer to simply one tenth. It relates to ten tenths, that’s 100%.

What are you going to do with it?

-Some people evidence selfishness and either spend it upon themselves or some one or thing they like. Provide for your own. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim 5:8).

However, if you properly budget you won’t have to rob God to do it. Don’t spend God’s money at your own discretion. “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

-Some want to get all they can and can all they get. Saving is proper by God’s standard. We have a classic example: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6 – 8).

There are plenty of ants to model for us. It is estimated there are 7,600 types of ants constituting a world population of over 5 quadrillion. They all have the habit of thrift and savings in common.

It would amaze most people to total all the money that passes through their hands. Your income is likely more or less than $50,000 annually. Therefore let’s use a hypothetical income that represents no one. If a 40 year old husband and wife have an annual income totaling $50,000 more than $2.5 million dollars will pass through their hands by retirement age.

How much of that will you invest in the cause of Christ about which you feel passionately? How much will be frittered away?

Findings noted in “The Millionaire Next Door” indicate we would be better off it we developed the mind set of a millionaire. The authors found that most millionaires had rather have wealth than the appearance of wealth. 36% of the millionaires own a car that is more than three years old.

50% of them had never spent more than $29,000 for a car.

Seven times as many millionaires own a Sears card than an American Express Platinum card.

More important than how much you make is how you manage it. One person said my problem isn’t overspending but under depositing.

It is Biblical to wisely save to provide for your future. Don’t be selfish.

“There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt” (Ecclesiastes 5:13).

-Some persons in their haste to get more money violate a warning found in Proverbs 28: 20, “A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” A modern English translation makes it easier to understand this passage: “Avoid get rich quick schemes.”

Don’t rob for your own benefit. Next to robbing God robbing Billy Graham would be next.

Reputedly, Dr. Graham came down from his mountain home near Black Mountain, North Carolina to pick up a few items at a grocery store. As he was coming out a would be robber held a gun on him and demanded his wallet. As Dr. Graham handed it to the robber it fell open exposing his drivers license with his name and photo.

The robber looked at it and exclaimed, “Are you Dr. Graham, the real Billy Graham?”

Upon hearing a yes the robber handed it back saying, “Here Dr. Graham keep your wallet, us Baptists got to stick together!”

-Some want to save it and let those they love inherit it. Some deprive themselves of comforts in order to have a better inheritance. That is admirable to a degree. Because of the aging of one strata of people and the emergence of another over $10 trillion will be passed on to a younger generation within the next 10 years. Two things will likely result.

Estate taxes will eat up much of it. In 1932 when the laws regarding estate taxes were passed President Franklin Roosevelt said, “Estate tax is a means of the redistribution of wealth.” That means the government takes a large part of a person’s estate and gives it to who or what ever they desire.

Part of Christian stewardship goes beyond the grave. Estate planning can enable a person to save dramatically on inheritance tax and give more money to the cause of Christ. By virtue of being on the board of a large national Christian organization, I had occasion to be with a group of millionaires hearing an estate planner lecture. I guess I was there because they wanted a token not wealthy person present. After the lecture one multi-millionaire privately asked the estate planner can you show me how to give more money to the cause of Christ?” They can.

Let me share a word of caution regarding a second thing. Wealth without a vision is a burden. If persons inherit wealth without knowing how to manage it grief results.

Get this, 95% of those who inherit great wealth die poor.

Solomon amassed a fortune. His great fear was his heir would not know how to manage it. Sure enough in one generation one descendant squandered his entire fortune.

“For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (II Corinthians 12:14).

Leave your heirs a proportionate inheritance but don’t rob God to do it.

-It is estimated by retailers that the average teenager spends $90.00 a week of discretionary income. It is hard to conceive of that as reality when so many have so much less. However those who target teens as a market have studied the issue thoroughly. Teens, it is a blessing to have such discretionary funds, funds you can spend any way you want. However where ever you fit in the $90.00 a week scheme don’t spend God’s money on yourself.

-One of several reasons God instituted the tithe is to give us occasion to prove to ourselves and to Him our unselfishness. How are you doing?

Our government has set a poor model for us. As a result of their deficit spending every child is born with a $64,500 tax debt. That is derived at by dividing our government debt by the number of people. They have spent money they didn’t have and built this enormous debt.

In our rush to have things before we can afford them we have done the same. Financial advisor, Larry Burkett said, “Credit has become a means to push God out of His place in helping us make decisions. As long as you can rely on credit, you don’t rely on God and the result is almost always a disastrous plunge into debt.”

Most of us have to use credit. How it is used is important. Avoid using it for items that depreciate. When it is used for an item that appreciates it is an investment.

A recent Gallup Survey noted that 56% of all divorces result from tension over debt. Don’t put your marriage under this undue stress and tension.

A recent Wall Street Journal described money as “an article which may be used as a universal passport to everything but heaven, and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.”

Exercise self-control regarding things you want. Galatians 5:23 lists “self-control” among the fruit of the Spirit.

According to Malachi 3: 10 there are three pragmatic reasons for tithing:
-PROVISIONS. “That there may be meat in My house.”

It is to provide for the cause of Christ. Are there ministries unprovided, materials unavailable, and messages undelivered because God money intended for those purposes was spent by you for what you decided to use His money?

The cause of Christ is retarded by our failure to fund it. Among church attenders, those who attend weekly contribute 3.4% of their income to charitable organizations. Those who attend only a few times a year contribute 1.4% of their income.

-PROOF: “I will … open for you … and pour out a blessing…”

It is as though God is challenging us to test Him.

Conversely, verse 9 says there is a “curse” on those who don’t obey His command. That in part is what is wrong with America, some churches, and a lot of individuals. This is a part of the text often skipped.

-PROFESSION: It shows our confidence in God as our provider. It reveals we are willing to relinquish part of what He has provided us with back to Him as an indication of our trust of Him.

If you do not know Christ as Savior and Lord this message may well have seemed secular and even carnal. Trying to get your financial profile right with God before first getting right with God yourself is unreasonable. As the Scripture notes: “I do not seek yours but you” (II Corinthians 12:14). Before following God’s plan for your finances declare your desire to follow His plan for your life.

Years ago a Native American heard this explained and responded. “I see that your God does not want my beads, blankets, and horses but me. Your God is very wise for when He has me He has my beads, blankets, and horses.”