Financial Peace: Being Crushed by Finances

Life comes at us fast and we can get hit by some really nasty surprises, including our finances. We can be crushed by financial problems. Our pastors are leading us through a five week series addressing the spiritual aspects of finances. Pastor Bart really preached a good one Sunday, teaching us some real important truths regarding our money, the most important is that we must first start with our relationship with God. By doing so, we can take the other steps of handling our finances without being crushed by them.

Here is my sermon notes first:

Matt 6:24, you can not serve both God and money. God knows this.

Who is in charge? Older, wiser, more powerful. We can not master money.

Golem, from the book Lord of the Rings, thought he owned the One Ring but really the Ring owned him and everyone else that tried to master it.

Spend foolishly or save wisely, both can feel empty when money is the master. We must serve God.

God is the only one who can master money because He is older, wiser, more powerful.

It is hard to believe we are not the master of money nut we are not.

God gives us money for us to manage. He has expectations of us with regards to that money.

Tithing isn’t giving back to God, it is giving to God’s mission – giving to the local church.

God also wants us to give our taxes, to invest in learning,, to bless others, and to meet own personal needs.

God is concerned about how we manage all the money that He has given us, all 100% of it. He expects us to manage it well.

We need to have God as our master, not money.

Matt 6:31-32. God will take care of us.

The real answer to crushing financial problems is to work on our relationship with God.

Joy and I are attending a thirteen week class at Flatland called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. We are about half way through it. Joy and I are in a financial disaster and I certainly need some peace. Although this sermon series is focusing on the spiritual truths that God has taught us in His Word, it tied into many of the things that we are learning at FPU. The sermon series really helps keep us focused on the most important aspect of financial peace, the spiritual truths and God Himself.

A couple things really stood out to me Sunday. One was the fact that only God can master money… with the running semi-joke throughout the sermon about God being older, wiser and more powerful than money. This in a sense, really frees us from a lot of money worries. How many times do we lay in bed fretting over our fnancial situation and start trying to figure out just how we are going to wrestle it under our control. By realizing and living the fact that we can’t master money, only God can, then we can start letting God take over. I am gonna try to keep saying that when I am tossing and turning fretting over our financial disaster.

A second thing was that Jesus Himself said that we can not serve both God and money, One or the other will become our master. God knows this! and He will be there to help us with our finances as we make God our master. I actually was side-tracked by this thought for a bit during the service. God wants to be our Lord. He knows that money will master us. As such, He will equip us with everything we need to manage the money He provides us. I often feel rather insecure about finances. But if I remember that when I follow God’s principles about money, He will help me.

Finally, and I am embarrased to say, I kind of rebelled when Pastor said that tithing isn’t giving back to God, rather it is giving to God’s mission in this world. I agreed with his statements to a degree. We are to tithe to help our local church and its mission God has placed on it. Tithing is all about that. Many of the offerings brought to the temple as specified in the Torah, were to feed and otherwise benefit the priests and their ministry. We tithe to build up our local church and its ministers!

However, in part tithing is truly a giving to God. What do I mean? Two things: first Malachi 3:8 says that not giving your tithes is cheating God. This speaks to me that giving tithes is giving to God even though it is in practical terms giving to the Church.

Second, there is a principle of dedication to God in the Old Testament as we see in the story of the battle of Jericho. In that story, God demanded the Israelites dedicate everything in Jericho to Him by destroying everything. This was a visual example of what it means to be dedicated to God. Dedication means that it is God’s and God’s alone. By destroying everything, no one could then posses any part of Jericho. Of course, in the story, some one did take stuff which resulted in disaster until all that which was taken was totally and irrevocably given to God by burning it up.

Tithing is dedicating a tenth of what we make to God – it is a total and irrevocable turning over to God. You can see this in some of the instructions regarding tithing, such as in Deuteronomy 12 where the tithing of grain etc was to be eaten in whole, by both the tither and by the priests. Again, yes, the purpose is to take care of the ministry of the church (as can be seen in the constant reminder to take care of the Levites). But in the end, it is dedicating to God a portion of that which God has given us. This means for those control freaks that once you give your tithes you have no say in how it is used! It isn’t yours anymore, its God’s!

Ok, to bring it back to how this sermon affected me, I will this whole week spend time in prayer and meditation releasing my fears about our financial disaster to God. Wait, let me restate that. Although this week will be a focused effort, I desire from now on to allow God to be the master of money and not try to master it myself. I will also dedicate myself to being a better manager of that which God has given us. Just because I am not the master of money, does not reduce my obligations to manage that which God has given me.

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