Good morning everyone! We’re in part two of a four-part message series called Making Change, and we’re talking about, how do we manage our resources in a way that can honor God and actually change our lives? If you missed last week, we’ve got four big themes, “Less is More”, “Stress is bad”, week three, we’re going to talk about, “Giving is good.” Then, we’re going to talk about, “Tomorrow matters.”
Stress… With a show of hands, how many of you would say that sometime in the last month you’ve been stressed? How about sometime in the last week? No one will be surprised to hear me say that stress is bad! And yet, that’s what I’ve titled today’s message… because it’s something we know, and yet, it is something that we have a hard time dealing with.
Several years ago, I had some significant health problems which landed me in the hospital for a week. After treatment, and ridding my body of the infections, the doctors began to probe and test to see what had caused this issue. I’ll never forget sitting on the paper, with my doctor saying, “let’s not forget that you have a stressful job. You need to take into account the stress that you’re line of work puts on you.” What she ended up telling me is that stress was making me unhealthy.
We have all felt stress in one degree or another. We get tension headaches from stress. We have pinched nerves, or tightness in our neck and shoulders. We binge eat on things like donuts, and chocolate to manage stress. Or for me, it’s chips and salsa… WHEW! LOOK OUT. Your boy can handle some tex mex! Anyone else STRESS EAT? You’re not even hungry… but you’re just eating your feelings away.
We know that stress is bad, and we treat the symptoms of stress, but what if we got down to the root of the issue and dealt with the cause? Stress Is Bad! And some of us have put ourselves in a position that is causing us stress. Like my doctor telling me, take into account the stress of your job. Today, we need to take into account the stress of finances.
I have never, ever heard anybody in my entire life say, “Ever since I got into debt, my marriage has been so much better. Back before we had payments, we fought all the time, but now that we have payments, we never, ever fight, because we’re in debt.” I’ve never heard anyone say, “The massively high rate on my credit card improved my love life.”
You know people, and I know people, and many of us have said things like this. “I wish we could give more to help people who are in need. We’re just not able to do that right now. I wish that one of us could stay home with the kids, but that’s not even close to being an option. We’re fighting all the time. I wish we could travel, but that’s not even something we can consider. Why? Because we have financial stress, and financial stress is bad.”
Financial stress, financial debt can leave us feeling helpless, and hopeless. Today I’d love for you to pull out your bibles and let’s find a way to get down to the root of the issue and live free from financial stress.
Turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 22:7. That’s found on page 453 in your Bibles.
Proverbs is written by King Solomon, who was blessed with tremendous wisdom, and he writes down these incredible statements. In fact, there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and if you’re looking for a great way to get back into reading your Bible, or maybe you’ve never done this before, you can read one chapter from Proverbs a day and in a month, you’ll have gone through the entire book! Give it a try.
Look what Proverbs 22:7 has to say about financial stress!
7The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
The borrower is a slave to the lender. UGH… no one likes that kind of language. The borrower is in bondage. When we owe, we’re actually in bondage to the one that we owe. That’s why we don’t just say that less is more, we say financial stress is what? It’s bad. We don’t want to be in bondage to someone, and that’s why, as your pastor, I’m going to beg you to plug in, stay engaged, have an open heart, do something about this. I believe with all of my heart God wants something better for us than for us to always be in financial bondage.
I want you just to imagine, if you will, what it would be like to be free of financial stress. Think about it. Imagine if something breaks and all you do is pay for it to be fixed. That’s it. You don’t freak out. We go, “Ah!” You just pay for it. Imagine if you want to buy something, and what do you do? You pay cash for it. Not payments over time with interest. You just pay cash for it. Imagine if someone you know is in need, and guess what, you go, “I can help. We can help. We’re able to do this.” Imagine if you got a week off on vacation, and guess what your biggest problem is? You can’t decide where you want to go. You’ve got options. The mountains, or the beach? You can’t decide. Why? Because you’ve got options.
If, the practical side of this doesn’t motivate you, for those of you who are Jesus followers, I pray that the spiritual side will. Jesus tells a story to his disciples about a Master who distributed his wealth to some of his servants to invest and care for while he was gone. Two of the servants invested the money and made more money. While one of the servants buried the money and did nothing with it. Two people made the wise choice, and one made a poor choice. Look at what Jesus says to the ones who made a wise choice!
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.”
Jesus is the one who said that if you’re faithful with a little, he will trust you with much.
The way that we treat money, and the value that we place on money is a deeply spiritual issue. In fact, today I want to give you three prayers that I hope will become a part of your relationship with God, and help us be faithful with the finances that God has trusted us with.
The first prayer is this: “God, give me self-control.”
Why is this so important? Proverbs 25:28 tells us this.
28Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
If you’re a city without protective walls, guess what you are? You are massively and completely vulnerable. You vulnerable to the attacks, vulnerable to the outside forces getting in. You’re vulnerable if the walls are broken down, without self-control.
Now, the problem is that all of us, living inside of us, we have a two-year-old little kid. You know the kid I’m talking about. Some of you, it’s your kid right now. We’ve all seen that kid in the grocery store that wants a toy or a candy bar. What does a two-year-old kid do? “I want it! I want it!” I once saw a little kid running through the aisles of the store grabbing whatever they wanted and throwing it in the cart… and the poor parent just looked totally defeated. That’s why when my kids were little, I didn’t even let them out of the cart! Now when they get thinking that they’re gonna ask for something… I just throw them in the cart so they can’t grab whatever they want off the shelf. J I’m kidding… but some of you need to put yourself in the cart. You need to climb into the basket, slip your legs through those two holes and sit there and let someone else push you around the grocery store because you have no boundaries, no discipline…
Which is why the first thing we should pray is “God, Give me self-control.”
Ladies, I’m just gonna say it. I’m just gonna put it out there… I have one word for you: TARGET. You walk in, and that dollar section of target is calling your name. Then you come home and tell us what a deal you got on it all. It’s nickels and dimes… A little here, and a little there… ” God. Give me self-control.” Ladies, you can Nickel and dime your financial stress. You sink the ship. God, give you self-control.
But Men, we don’t have this problem, do we? We can walk right through TARGET unphased. In fact, Chris Janson, has the man’s mindset towards finances nailed. (PLAY BUY ME A BOAT CLIP) Men we don’t nickel and dime the ship… You just blow the ship up all at once. That’s the way we do it, right men? Now is when we need to say, “God, give me self-control”. My life does not consist of the abundance of stuff. Give me self-control.”
So, it’s no secret, I love Apple products. I am a huge fan… I was an early adopter of just about everything Apple. Well you guys remember when the apple watch came out? I thought to myself, I’ve just got to have one. I was like that toddler in the grocery store. We could walk through the mall, and I would end up drooling at the Apple Display case of watches. I just had to have one. There was one problem, I didn’t have the cash to afford an apple watch. I remember throwing a mini tantrum and deciding that I would set aside some money, and save any birthday money, Christmas money, to be able to buy an apple watch. It was a year later that I walked into the store and this time walked out with one. Stress free!
“God, give me self-control.” You’ve got to get your inner toddler under control. What we need to do is learn to say no. Everybody say, “No.”
We’re going to learn to say no for a little while. Why? So we can say yes for the rest of our lives.
I don’t know how this will play out for you, but it will somewhere. You might like to get your nails done every week or whatever, so we’re going to say no to getting our nails done. I know I’m meddling in all this kind of stuff, but ladies, you get your nails done for other ladies anyway. Guys don’t care. You know it. I’ve never heard a guy go, “Dude. Did you see the set of nails on that babe? Woo!
Guys, you may love to play golf twice a week at the nice country club. What do we do? We may say no for a little while, and play for once a month at the less expensive place so we can play later anywhere we want to play. We may say no to $5 coffee for a little while, say yes to grocery store brand for a little while, then one day you can drink whatever kind of coffee you want.
Your 12-year old’s demanding an iPhone? I know today it’s considered child abuse not to give an iPhone to your 12-year-old, but we may say no for a little while so we can say yes for the rest of our lives.
God, give me self-control. Help me, God, to recognize that less is more, stress is bad, giving is good, and tomorrow matters.
The second prayer we’re going to pray is this. “God, give me understanding”. Let’s be honest, so many people just don’t understand how numbers and debt works to hurt you. In fact, Hosea 4:6 is really clear. Hosea says,
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6
We could loosely apply that verse to, say, “People are hurt financially because we don’t have a working understanding of money.” What’s the challenge? In our culture today, when someone’s buying something, generally people ask two questions. What they want to know is, they want to know how much down, and how much a month. What they’re not asking is, “How much is the real cost? How much does this really cost?”
And by saying yes to something you are saying no to another thing.
I did some research, and of those people who have credit card debt, so excluding those who have no debt, the average amount of debt today for people who carry credit card debt is just under $16,000. Some of you feel a lot better. Some of you are like, “Help me, Jesus.” That’s the average. We need UNDERSTANDING!
Now, I’m a pastor. I’m not a financial expert. But I do know that we have the ability to understand what is going on. We can recommend some resources to help you financially if you need that. We can set you up with some people who can help you develop a budget. This is why we pray and say, God, give me self-control. God, give me understanding, because there’s so much that I don’t know yet, and I want to learn so I can honor you with what you trust me with.
Then, number three, our prayer is this. “God, give me a plan. Without a plan, you plan to fail. Proverbs 21:5 says,
5The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
“The plans of the diligent,” what does it lead to? “The plans of the diligent leads to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” The plans of the faithful, the diligent, it leads to profit. You do better, you get ahead, as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Here is what we need to recognize, and don’t miss this. You need a plan. You can wander into debt, but you never wander out of debt. You can mistake your way into debt, but you never mistake your way out of debt. That’s why we need a plan, and this is spiritual, it is scriptural. The plans of the diligent lead to profit.
6 years ago, Tiffany and I took a financial peace class by Dave Ramsey. Some of you are familiar with this. In this class Dave taught a plan… Here’s the plan. We learned, first of all, to have an emergency fund. We’re going to sell something. Sell everything. Sell the kids, if they’re acting up. We’re going to take another job or whatever, and we’re going to put away $1,000 into an emergency fund. Then, we learned very practically how to start paying off debts, and then once we pay off some debts, then we’re going to learn to put aside an emergency fund for three to six months’ living expenses. We’re going to learn about investing, and guess what?
What are we going to do? What are we going to do? We’re going to say no for a little while, so we can say yes for the rest of our lives. This is spiritual.
God, give us the wisdom to have self-control. Give us understanding, and God, give us a plan.
I know this morning there are some of you here who are saying, “Oh, I wish I hadn’t,” and, “Oh, this is so tough,” and, “Oh, maybe she looks down on me because of this,” and, “Oh, we’re fighting about it.” I hate that pain, and I know that pain is so real, but I also know we serve a very good God.
Whenever we start to do what’s right, to pursue Him, to put Him first, to seek Him and to work His plan, it’s amazing how He honors our faith. It’s amazing how He blesses our faithfulness. It’s amazing how fast our God can begin to bless our wisdom and our right steps, and we can see significant change take place.
We will be faithful to our God, because he’s been faithful to us. He gave us his son Jesus that we could live eternally, therefore our only reasonable response is to give our whole lives back to him.
We’re talking about stress being bad. Stress is bad. Debt is painful. There’s one type of debt that’s worse than any other type of debt in this world, and we would call it a spiritual debt. Our sin debt. If I can be really, really honest with you, this is what scripture teaches us, that all of us have sinned. All of us have sinned, and fallen short of God’s standard. We have a sin debt, that guess what? We do not have the ability to repay. This is why the story of Jesus matters so much. In our Christian world, we call it the good news, or the gospel. The good news is this: That God recognized our sin debt, and he sent his son, Jesus. Giving is good, for God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son. He sent His son to pay the price for our debt. Jesus was without sin, therefore he was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus died on a cross, in our place, so that our sin debt could be forgiven.
There are those of you, you recognize, “Yeah, I’ve done some bad things. Really bad things.” You feel the weight of your sin. You wonder, “How would I stand before God?” The reality is, if you stood before God on your own, you would not qualify for eternal life. That’s what the good news is. Jesus took your place. When you call on Him, He will hear your prayer, forgive every sin that you’ve ever committed, and made you completely brand new. Honestly, that’s why many of you are here today. Why? Because you’ve got a sin debt you cannot repay, and today by faith you’re going to call on Jesus. He will hear your prayer. He will make you brand new, and you will never be the same again.
This morning you might say, “Yes, that’s me. I’m ready. I need His grace. I need His forgiveness. Today, I surrender to Him and give my life to Him.”
If this is you, you can pray right now, pray, “Heavenly Father, today I come to you and give you my life. Jesus, save me. Forgive me. Make me new. I surrender my whole life completely to you. Fill me with your spirit, so I can follow you every day of my life. My life is not mine. It’s now yours. Thank you for new life. In Jesus’ name I pray.”
As a church family, today we are going to celebrate communion together. We are going to come forward in just a few moments to celebrate and remember what Jesus did on the cross for you. That your debt has been paid. That your sin has been forgiven. Some of you came here today hoping for financial help, but you’re going to leave here spiritually filled and cared for. In fact, God is going to wipe the slate clean for some of you today.
I believe that this moment was meant for some of you right now. To pause and ask God to forgive you for you sin, for your self centeredness. And to follow God’s plan for your life. But for others of you, you are going to pause and remember and celebrate all that God has freed you from! And freed you for!
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he was sitting with his disciples sharing a meal and he took the bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take and eat; this is my body. Then he took a cu, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
We celebrate this today. Our debt is paid… We can experience freedom because of God giving His son for you and me.
Let’s receive communion together.