Monthly Archives: November 2014

Financial Freedom Principle #16: Contentment is the key

One of the most popular verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” People use this verse in various situations they encounter.

  • “I am having a bad day but I can endure it because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • “I have a crummy job and a mean boss but I can keep working here because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • “I have just received some bad news but I can make it because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

How many people stop to consider the context of this popular verse? The context is Philippians 4:10-13; notice the words. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

We see here Paul learned contentment. Contentment is being satisfied with what we have. Contentment is something that he learned in the process of spiritual growth as he walked with the Lord. Paul said he was content whether he had a little or a lot; whether he was brought low or held in high esteem, hungry or full of food. Consider this Proverb: “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15:16-17

Notice some of the other contentment verses in the Bible.

“Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; 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 30:7-9

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked.” Psalm 37:7, 16

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

“Likewise, the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.” Psalm 73:25

“Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself), He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.” Psalm 49:16-19

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:31-34

“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

By reading these and other verses on contentment, we can see how contentment is the key fits into the whole picture of financial freedom. Financial freedom is not having a bunch of stuff or making a lot of money. It is being content with what God has entrusted to us at this moment in life. He may choose to entrust us with less or more. However, in whatever He chooses, we are content.

Financial Freedom Principle #15: Steady plodding is the right strategy

Most, if not all of us, are familiar with the fable The Tortoise and the Hare. The hare (a fast animal that resembles a rabbit) thought he could beat the tortoise with little effort. He would run for a while and make much progress, but then he would rest a while. He thought he had plenty of time. In his thinking, there was no reason to stay focused on the task at hand. He decided to take a nap.

The tortoise, however, just kept plodding along. He remained steady and persistent at the task of winning the race and that is exactly what he did. When the hare awoke from his nap, the tortoise was walking across the finish line. The tortoise, a much slower reptile, beat the hare by steady plodding.

Steady plodding is a strategy that has been tried and proven over again but it is amazing how few people put this strategy into practice. Steady plodding works when …

  • Trying to pay off credit card debt,
  • Saving for a big future purchase, or
  • Paying ahead on a mortgage.

These are just a few examples where steady plodding works. Anyone would like a windfall gain or be able to make a big dent in a debt situation. But, most of us are not so fortunate as to be able to make such monumental strides. Once again, we need to remember, steady plodding is the right strategy. When we practice steady (persistent) plodding, we will be victorious; just like the hare. As we close this principle, consider these two renderings of Proverbs 21:5.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (NKJV)

“Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” (TLB)


Financial Freedom Principle #14: Saving is not hoarding

Many people do not save any money either because they feel they cannot or they have chosen to not save. A good practice is – whenever you receive an income, the first check written should be to the Lord. The second check should be to yourself (placed in safe place as savings). In Discovering God’s Way of Handling Money, the definition of saving is “to forego an expenditure today so you will have something to spend in the future.”

Some people equate saving with hoarding. Others say saving is a demonstration of the lack of faith. Still others say saving is a wise thing to do. What is the truth? Does the Bible have anything to say about saving and/or hoarding? Yes it does.

In Proverbs 21:20 we find, “There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.” The Living Bible translates this, “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.”

Probably the best example of saving in the Bible is when Joseph saved grain in view of the fact that God told him a famine was coming. In Genesis 41: 34-36, we have a brief account of Joseph’s words to Pharaoh. “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” The wisdom God instilled in Joseph spared millions of people from starving to death. When the famine came, he was ready to supply the people with grain.

Hoarding, however, is keeping a large quantity of something hidden in a secret place. Joseph refusing to make the grain available to the people, during the years of famine, would have been hoarding. Hoarding is often a sickness that needs some biblical counsel.

Probably the best example of hoarding in the Bible is Luke 12:16-21 “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

There are several lessons in this parable. One is to avoid the idea of self-sufficiency. Another lesson is that about hoarding. If he had shared his abundance with others, he would not have needed those new larger barns.

The fact is, under the Lord’s leadership we can spend money any way we want to, but once we have spent it, it is gone. We would be wise to save some money for future needs. We should also seek the Lord and learn from Him when our saving becomes hoarding.

Financial Freedom Principle #13: Giving to others in the right thing to do

Giving to others is fun when done with the right heart under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God. It is fun when you give. It is really fun when you are in need and the recipient of the gift. Consider this personal story drawn from my soon to be released book, Unlocking the Giver’s Heart.

 A Surprise in the Mailbox

During my first pastorate in Northeast Tennessee, money was tight to say the least. Pat needed some dental work and the costs were high. Going to the mailbox one day, Pat received a note from a friend. To Pat’s surprise, here is what the note said, “The Lord impressed upon me to send a check to you. I don’t know why and I’m sorry for not sending it sooner.” She did not know our specific need, but she gave as our Lord directed.

There are several key passages of Scripture that speak to the blessing of giving to others. Here are a few.

Proverbs 3:28: Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you.

Acts 2:44-45: Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Acts 4:32-35: Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

One of the blessings of knowing where you are financially is the ability to give. When we do, we are channels of the blessings of God. He gives to us. We save a little, we spend as we have needs, and we give some away. That is God’s way.

Financial Freedom Principle #12: We are accountable to God

This principle is read as a positive or a negative; depending on where you are with the Lord. The fact remains, everyone is accountable to Him.

When we were children, we were accountable to our parents. When employed, we are accountable to our superiors. A soldier in the military is accountable to his commanding officer. These and other situations of accountability can change but our accountability to God never changes. In Hebrews 4:13, we find these words. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” See also Romans 14:12.

If you are a Christian, you (and I) will give an account before our Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Notice these important words in 2 Corinthians 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

If you are not a Christian, you will appear before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. Notice very carefully these words in Rev 20:11-12. “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. If you have the courage, go the Rev 20:13-15 for the rest of the story. You will want to avoid this judgment.

Our lifespan on earth is like the timeframe of a master away on a long journey. As stewards, we will give an account to our Master when He returns. In Luke 12:42-43, Jesus said these very important words: “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” See also Matthew 25:14-29.

Notice these words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” As the common proverb says, “A word to the wise should be sufficient.” We would be wise to remember that all of us are accountable to Him. Let us all desire to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Go to Principle #4 if you need to review that one.

Financial Freedom Principle #11: Tithing is an essential element

One of the favorite verses of those who participate in Bible Drills, is Malachi 3:10. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Tithing is the practical and consistent acknowledgement that He owns it all and all that we have He has entrusted to us. Tithing is not something we work up to over time as if it were a goal to achieve. It is actually the starting point to grace giving.

When I say tithing is an essential element, I do not mean it is a law we are required to keep or a legalistic requirement we must fulfill to remain in relationship with God. It is essential for all the lessons it teaches and the blessings that follow. Read that verse one more time in this way.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,

That there may be food in My house, 

And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts,

“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven

And pour out for you such blessing

That there will not be room enough to receive it.

He is ready and willing to give you blessings. In what form these blessings will be is His to decide. Our part is to acknowledge it all belongs to Him, it all comes from Him, and we acknowledge that in tithing.

Financial Freedom Principle #10: God has the power to generate wealth

We see that plainly stated in Deuteronomy 8:18. “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth …”

In James 4:13-16, we have the situation of a person who has decided to go into a certain town, spend some time there, and make some money. As soon as he decides this, an admonition rings forth. Follow the truth in the following words. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Many of us work hard, work smart, and some are in charge of many people. But remember, it is God who gave you

  • Eyes to see
  • Ears to hear
  • Hands to work
  • Fingers to point the way and press a button
  • Feet to go from one place to the other
  • Legs to stand for several minutes or several hours
  • Arms to hold something or someone (especially grandchildren)
  • A brain to design, create, invent, plan, decide, and process information

No doubt in that list each of us would have one or more handicaps or limitations but the truth remains, He has the power to get wealth. Give Him praise today.

Financial Freedom Principle #9: Operate on a spending plan

For many people the “b” word is a bad word. They see a budget as retraining; as choking their lifestyle. However, one of the most freeing tools at your disposal is a budget. For those who do not like the word budget use the phrase “a spending plan.” We could also call it a saving plan or a giving plan.

Basically, there are three things we can do with money. We can spend it, save it, or give it away. Giving away money is a fun thing to do; more about that later. Saving (investing) money is a wise thing to do. Spending money is what we have to do or want to do. In order that we may do all three of these in a Christ honoring manner, we need to know our income and our expected outgo. Thus, the need for a spending plan.

There are many spending plans you could use. For sure, all of them should have the goal of fulfilling the biblical admonition found in 1 Corinthians 14:40. There we find, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Without a workable and useable plan, we will find the words of Proverbs 23:5 coming into play. “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven. Another way to say that is, if we do not tell money where to go, it will disappear. Many of us have started the day with a certain amount of money in our possession, by the end of the day, it is gone, and we do not know where it went. It just flew away like the Proverb states.

Think of a spending plan like an email address or mailing address on an envelope. You would not send one of these without an address. You want it to reach it’s intended recipient. Likewise, a budget is putting an address on the money entrusted to you. You are telling it where to go (how to save it, spend it, or give it away) even before you receive the money. You do not want it to just disappear into thin air.

A budget is a plan. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. Proverbs 24:3-4 says, “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” 

Proverbs 20:18a says, “Plans are established by counsel.” Let me know if you need help setting up your budget plan. There are several ways to track your spending using tools available to you on your computer or with some inexpensive financial software. For some financial consulting and coaching, send me request here: Have a great day!

Financial Freedom Principle #8: Avoid entering into surety

Surety means to braid; to intermix; to be security for another; for the debt of another person. When we serve as surety, we are co-signing our name to the debt. We are vowing that we will pay the debt if the other person defaults. The Bible has several very clear statements about financial surety.

  1. God views a person as senseless if he enters a surety agreement. A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, and becomes surety for his friend. (Proverbs 17:18)
  1. We should despise surety. Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; If you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you? (Proverbs 22:26-27)
  1. We should not enter into surety for a stranger. He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, but one who hates being surety is secure. (Proverbs 11:15)
  1. If we have obligated ourselves, we should get out of it if we can. My son, if you become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; for you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler. (Proverbs 6:1-5)
  1. If we cannot get out of it now, we should get out of it as soon as possible.

To help us see how serious this matter of surety is, consider three non-financial ways surety is used. By understanding these examples, we can see our Lord’s perspective on surety.

Example #1: In Genesis 43:9 and 44:32, Judah became surety for Benjamin. Judah made a promise he did not have the personal power to fulfill.

Example #2: In Ezra 9:2, it was used to speak of the Israelites who mingled with heathen cultures. They became so intermingled and connected with these cultures that it had long-term consequences.

Example #3: In Hebrews 7:22, our Lord Jesus is described as surety of a better covenant. Through His sacrificial death, we have a binding eternal relationship that will never be undone; and I am so glad that is true.

This is why God discourages and even forbids financial surety agreements. When we enter into them, we are binding ourselves to fulfill the agreements of the loan if the borrower defaults on the loan. We are putting ourselves under the bondage of another person. See Financial Principle #5 for some review. That principle reminded us to be free of debt. If we enter into surety for another person at that moment, we are no longer free of debt.

Financial Freedom Principle #7: Be a person of integrity

The definition of integrity is: the quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole; an unimpaired condition. Deep inside the heart of every Spirit-filled believer is the desire to be a person of integrity. I know that is true for me. I want to believe the same is true for you. Situation ethics, the enemy, and peer pressure are just three of the many dynamics that can lead us to compromise our integrity. As we look into Word we see:

  • Jesus is the perfect role model of honesty and integrity

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

  • The Holy Spirit guides us to be honest and true

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 1 John 5:7

  • There are many warnings and reminders about honesty and integrity. Here is a small portion of those.

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:10-11)

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight. (Proverbs 11:1)

The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight. (Proverbs 12:22)

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1)

In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble. (Proverbs 15:6)

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1) I thought we needed to see that one again. 🙂

When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves. (Proverbs 28:12)

When it comes to finances and financial freedom, integrity is an integral part of the whole picture. When we sign our name on a loan or a credit card receipt, what are we doing? It is as if we are raising our right hand and saying, “I solemnly swear I will pay you the money under the terms of our agreement.” When we sign that document we are putting our name (and our integrity) on the line.

Things can happen. Life happens. Emergencies happen. These are just a few of the reasons we should enter into debt with eyes wide open and conscious of the possible consequences.

Living a life of integrity is a daily thing. If your integrity has lapsed, you can begin afresh today. Commit to our Lord that from now on you desire to be a person of integrity. Then, fulfill your commitment today. If you should be so fortunate as to be here tomorrow (and I fully expect you will be), then live a life of integrity then.

The blessing of a clear conscience is one of the many benefits of being a person of integrity. Thanks for being on this journey with me. In Financial Freedom Principle #8, we will see another important truth. Take care