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Finding Financial Freedom PART 3

Finding Financial Freedom PART 3

How Can I Be Rich Towards God…
I. Consider God First.

I like this money story:  “A torn and ragged one-dollar bill discovered that it was about to be retired from circulation. As it slowly moved along the conveyor belt to the shredder, it became acquainted and struck up a conversation with a fifty-dollar bill that was meeting the same fate.

The fifty began reminiscing about its travels all over the country. Life has been good,” the fifty exclaimed. “Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas, the finest restaurants in New York, political fund raisers, and I just returned from a cruise on the Caribbean.”
The one-dollar bill said, “You’re fortunate to have been able to visit all those places.”
So where all have you been in your lifetime, my little friend,” said the fifty?” “Well, I’ve been to the Methodist church, the Baptist church, the Episcopal church, the Presbyterian church, the Lutheran church, the Catholic church, the Salvation Army church, the Orthodox church, the Assembly of God church, the Brethren church, the Quaker church, the Pentecostal church, the Charismatic church, and the Church of Christ.
“Excuse me,” said the fifty, “but what’s a Church?”” -Min127
• First Fruits. Proverbs 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine _________________:
• First Withdrawal.  Have a thought-out plan.  Schedule Tithing, giving, saving, etc. These disciplines should be habit. They are not based on how I feel. You may not feel like brushing teeth or cleaning your clothes but you do it. 1 Timothy 6:7-8 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith ____________________.

II. Consider Savings Second
Have a Savings Strategy.  Have long term planning.  Save up a short term savings for emergencies. Start with $1000 in emergency cash.  Follow your budget. Have one.  Find Ways to Save Pennies. Delay purchases one more month. Wait. Don’t buy things you will seldom if ever use.

BTW: It does not matter if it is a good deal – if you do not need it – don’t buy it.  Avoid the sales pressures of “Buy In next 15 minutes or you will lose the sale.”  Walk away.  Avoid the Checkout Lane items.
BTW: Many people in perpetual poverty are the fastest to buy on impulse the items at the checkout lane. Higher priced stuff. You get more product for less at the back of the store.

Here are some ideas to stretch your dollar farther…
o Keep using appliances till they die.
o Buy cars slightly used. Saves thousands on depreciation.
o Pay off the credit card each month. If you struggle to be disciplined, cut the card up, pay the rest of the bill. Use cash or debit.
o Take less vacations until house is paid off.
o Visit family for vacation. Go camping.
o Use Coupons. Mom used to save $10,000 or more with them.
o Learn the “art” of cutting your kids hair.
o Lunch not dinner at restaurants.
o Limit gift costs. Have discipline.
o Smaller birthday parties. Events should not be hundreds of dollars.
o Pay extra on principal not interest

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be _____________________ with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 

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Finding Financial Freedom PART 2

Do you ever find that you have more month than money?
• Would you like to get out of debt?
• Would you like to not have credit card payments hanging over your head and dragging out for months or years?
• Would you like to be able to buy anything you need at any moment?
• Would you like to be able to help others in need ($1000) as soon as you see the need?
• Would you like to be able to retire from “income work” and have time to do “ministry work” in your retirement years?
What is your story concerning finances?
Personal Financial Discipline Honors the Lord.

We need Principles of Stewardship instilled in our financial and living choices.
Principle #1. “It all Belongs to God.”
• Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for ________ the earth is mine:
• Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Principle #2. “I Am A Steward.” 1 Corinthians 4:2

  • Be Faithful.
    Luke 16:10 He that is ____________ in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
    Steward = oikonomos, oy-kon-om’-os = a house-distributor (i.e. manager), or overseer, i.e. an employee in that capacity; by extension, a fiscal agent, treasurer.” -Strongs

God trusts us to some things in life. He adds more to those who are more trustworthy.

BTW: Not all blessings are measured in tangible physical things.

  • Be Fruitful. Tithe.
    Giving to God first is like planting finances to grow for the future.  This is an Old Testament concept that pre-dates the Law. Malachi 3:10 _____________ ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a _____________________, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

When we believe principle #1 – “it all belongs to God” it is easier to practice.
Malachi 3:8 Will a man ________ God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In _______________ and offerings.

BTW: We still follow the civil law of the OT. The ceremonial law, and the laws indicating salvation, we do not follow. The practical law still works.

  • Tithes are Expanded on in New Testament
    Matthew 5:21. Hate is like murder.
    Matthew 5:28. Lusting is same as adultery.
    The idea is that the “Spirit of the Law” and the attitude with which one follows the Bible teaching is more important than the “letter of the Law.”  That would indicate that 10% is a great place to start with the “spirit of tithing and giving.”

That is why 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a __________________ giver.”

Principle #3. Money is Temporary.
Take a moment to read Matthew 6:19-20.  1 Timothy 6:17 says, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in __________________ riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

Principle #4. Eternal Investments Can be Made.

God Does Not Need Your Money.  Please read Psalm 50:7-13

You Need the Financial Discipline that Tithes and Offerings Provide. Psalm 50:14-15.

There is a difference between controlling your money or allowing money to control you! God does not reprove His people for bringing the offering, but for thinking that they were doing God a favor, or helping Him out with the offering. God does not want your money – He wants your heart! Love Him more than money!  We bring tithes and give offerings, not because God depends on us – but because we depend on God!

“The story is told of a man who was asked, “Are you a believer in the Christian religion?”
“Oh, certainly!” “You are a member of some church, then, I suppose?”
“Member of a church? No, indeed. Why should I be a member of a church? It is quite unnecessary; the dying thief wasn’t a member of a church, and he went to Heaven.”
“But of course you have been baptized; you know the command—”
“Been baptized? Oh, no; that is another needless ceremony! I am as safe as the dying thief was, and he never was baptized.”
“But surely, since you will not join a church or be baptized, you will do something in acknowledgment of your faith. You will give of your means—you will help the cause in some way?”
“No, sir; I do nothing of the kind. The dying thief—”
“Let me remark, my friend, before you go any further, that you seem to be on pretty intimate terms with the dying thief. You seem to derive a great deal of consolation from his career. But, mind you, there is one important difference between you and him. He was a dying thief—and you are a living thief.”” -Min127

Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Check out Luke 12:13-21.

 

The Window to the Heart

The Window to the Heart

Starvation. Hunger. Disease. Devastation. Death. Jeremiah’s heart was broke.  As he was looking around at the war-ravaged city of Jerusalem he saw pain, sorrow and suffering.  His eyes perceived the damage the Babylonian siege had caused.  His heart was impacted by what he saw visually with his eyes.  It is against this background we have this verse: Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city. (Lamentations 3:51)

In the middle of Jeremiah’s lamentation, he shares a universal truth that can be applied to every area of life.  IF you are blessed with eyesight, the application of this verse can change your life.

What we look at impacts our heart.  What we gaze upon influences our brain.  What we stare at informs our decisions.  The human eye can be the window of the heart. Here are several examples:

  • If I constantly “window shop” my heart will grow discontent with what I do not have – yet.
  • If I continually scroll through Amazon, my heart will desires things I may never truly need.
  • If a look at a beautiful person is nurtured and cuddled in my mind, it could become lust in my heart. Longing for someone that does not “belong” to us is sin – according to Jesus.
  • If I watch lots of TV or are constantly online, my eyes will see thousands of commercials that are designed to “pull at my heart strings” to cause me to buy their product. I tend to chuckle when I see doctor commercials: “Get sick so you can see me.” Or funeral home ads: “If you die, we can help!”
  • Media studies suggest that Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day. (redcrowmarketing.com) “Mine eye affected mine heart” is a truth believed by advertising agencies. They have believed it for years.
  • Have you ever become hungry after seeing a commercial for a restaurant, soda, or chocolate?  It could be be after all your meals for the day, but the impact of the eye affects your heart – and your stomach.

What are you looking at?  Who are you looking to?  Where you keep your eyes focused is eventually where your heart will lead you.  That is why it is paramount to keep your eyes on Jesus.  As Hebrews 12:2 says, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Keep you focus on Jesus.

  • Do you find yourself unsatisfied in life? Look to Jesus.
  • Do you find yourself “wanting more” things this world offers? Get your eyes off the stuff and look to Jesus.
  • Do you find yourself without direction and purpose? Stop looking at the wrong things and get your eyes on Jesus.

Let what you look at impact your heart to cause a better view of Jesus.  Clean up the windowsill of your heart.  Guard your eyes.  Be disciplined with the TV.  Direct the eyes of your kids. Set Jesus in the window of your life (your eyes) and let your heart follow Him.

Find contentment in Jesus.

 

 

 

Developing Character at Christmas

Developing Character at Christmas

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

In a day of extreme excess and people forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, Christian people must purpose in their mind and be deliberate in their actions to accurately portray Christmas to the family and to others.

The American Research Group reports: “Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $929 for gifts this holiday season, up from $882 last year according to the 32d annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group, Inc. Planned gift spending for 2016 is $47 above spending in 2015 and it is the first time planned gift spending exceeds $900 since 2006.”

Black Friday, and Cyber Monday were again record breaking days in the number of sales and dollars transacted.

I like the choir song: “Much to do no time to do it, I can’t get it all done at Christmastime…”

With our schedules and minds being pulled in so many different directions, sometimes we forget the real purpose and meaning of Christmas!

Here are some ideas to help build character in yourself and your family members.

Emphasize Giving, Not Getting.  In Acts 20:35 Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

  • Encourage kids to give outgrown cloths.
  • Encourage the family to give unused toys (Even the tools and toys the men may have).
  • Exemplify giving to others in more need. Find someone to give food or essential items. Give things that you enjoy that others may enjoy them too.
  • Enjoy sharing a meal with others.
  • No matter our age, occupation, or financial status, each of us are in a position where we can give something to someone else.

Encourage Moderation, Not Excess.  Philippians 4:5 declares: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

Moderation means appropriate and mild.  When the wise men celebrated Jesus, they did so with three meaningful gifts:  “gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

The gold was worthy of a King, the frankincense demonstrating His purity, and the myrrh represented His purpose for coming, to die on the cross.  Most of the time a few quality gifts mean more.

Joseph was able to take baby Jesus to Egypt and escape the murderous plot of King Herod to kill all the baby boys age 2 and under.  Joseph left his job and had the ability to move because of these meaningful gifts.

With our children we have purpose behind each gift.  We give…

  • An item they were hoping for. An item that would be on a “Wish list.”
  • An item they share with others in watching or listening to. An old TV show or movie that does not take away but contributes to godly character.
  • An item they can play with others. A board game, basketball, or even a video game would work here.

Cloths are a necessity so we do not include them as an item.  Three gifts are all we plan for.  Be purposeful with your gifts.  You may have some priorities that are like the above suggestions.  Whatever you do – have a purpose of some kind behind each one.  Be generous – with purpose and meaning.

Enable Simplicity, Not Busyness.

The church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2 “left their first love.”  How can that happen?  Because of the excess, commercials, and lustful society we live in – it is easy to get caught up with material things and business too.

Proverbs 4:23 instructs: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  In order to keep safe our heart – we must have a greater purpose and plan.

Sometimes we are so busy we do get anything done.  Many of us do not accomplish anything that is worthwhile even though they have stress, work, and all the other symptoms of being productive.

SELAH – Stop and Think – is a needed practice at Christmas time.  Here are some suggestions to help you not be so busy that you forget what Christmas is really all about.

  • Read the Christmas Story in Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
  • Go to and participate in special church programs, but lesson your overall commitments of time and energy to things that have less than spiritual purposes.
  • Turn off the tv during the days off school. Our kids should not sit in front of a tv from 8 am to 3 pm.
  • Tune up beautiful Christmas Music. There are many wonderful Christian radio websites that will encourage you.  Please see the other postings for their addresses.
  • Go Christmas Caroling.
  • If you do watch a Christmas Movie, do so together as a family.

Be Purposeful – to Develop Character at Christmas.  Since Jesus Himself is the gift of Christmas, the things we do and give should reflect Him.  After all – It is His birthday we are supposed to be celebrating.