Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
Suppose you were sailing on a boat and you saw someone drowning. You want to save him but the only way is for you to jump into the water and save the drowning man. What would you do? That’s exactly what God did in order to save us. We were drowning in sin, and God did what only He could do, which is to bear our sins and die in our place, so we could be saved. How many of you have been saved here? Shout a Hallelujah!
The bad news is that even though we are all saved most of us are still drowning. We are drowning in debt and going under financially. One of the main weapons the devil uses to stress out believers is money troubles.
HF: This morning we are going to see the principles of biblical financial management.
My aim in bringing you this message is mentioned in what Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Church: Philippians 4:16-17 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. As I bring you this message it is my desire that you be blessed financially.
For today’s devotion, let us turn our attention to Nehemiah 5 where the Israelites were in financial bondage and let us see how Nehemiah dealt with the whole issue.
Nehemiah and the people of Israel were rebuilding the broken walls around Jerusalem. The work invited opposition from Israel’s enemies but in chapter 5 the work stopped because of problems within. Let’s see the problems they faced.
Nehemiah 5:1 Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. The people who were building the walls are now fighting among themselves. If you look closely, they are fighting over money.
Nehemiah 5:2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” They have shortage for basic human needs and are fighting just for food.
Nehemiah 5:3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Just to eat three square meals a day they have to sell their necessities of life. Oh my God, survival was very difficult. People were selling gold, closing all the savings just for survival.
Nehemiah 5:4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Now they are borrowing money just to pay their taxes! They are borrowing from one person to pay the other creditor.
Nehemiah 5:5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.Their children have been sold into slavery simply because the parents could not afford to buy food. The same is happening in our country today. Parents are unable to save for their children. Parents are procuring loans which the children repay. Parents taking education loans to teach their children where by enslaving them for the next 20-30 years just because they failed to save for them. Do you know as parents you are to save even for your grandchildren?Proverbs 13:22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.
The Israelites were struggling financially, taking every penny out of their house for survival. Now, these are God’s people in our text. They are called by God, living in a land flowing with milk and honey, God is their King, chosen and redeemed but in financial bondage. Many of us are saved, baptized, spirit-filled, having good jobs but still living in financial bondage. We are drowning and asking, “Somebody save me.” Are you sitting here in financial bondage today or do you feel you are okay?
SYMPTOMS OF FINANCIAL BONDAGE.
1. Using credit to pay your necessities.
Do you use credit for groceries, petrol, clothes, etc., knowing that you won’t be able to pay it off with your present month’s salary?
2. Borrowing money to pay fixed monthly expenses.
Fixed monthly expenses are your rent, house and car loan payment, phone, internet, your child’s school fees etc which are fixed every month. Do you borrow money to pay these expenses? Proverbs 22:27b The borrower is slave to the lender.
3. Creditors calling you for their money?
Do your creditors call you for their money? Are you avoiding people because you owe them money? Somebody said if there’s a person in your life you’d like to never see again, just loan them some money!
4. Dishonest with money.
Are you tempted to be dishonest with money? Not paying your bills on time. Thinking about cheating on your tax? Temptation to do something dishonest or unethical when it comes to money?
5. Not tithing regularly.
Do you ever say, “I can’t afford to tithe?” Are you tithing? Do you bring the Lord’s tithe 10%? to the Lord’s house on the Lord’s day so the Lord’s work can be done in the Lord’s way? Failing to tithe is a clear symptom of financial bondage.
6. Arguing about money?
Do you argue too frequently about money? It may be with your spouse, parents, children, or friends. Arguing often about money is a clear indication of financial bondage.
Joke: One guy said, “My wife and I never argue about money. His friend asked, “How is that you do not argue about money?” “We made an agreement years ago, that I would make all the big decisions about money, and she would handle all the little ones. It’s worked out great, we’ve been married 30 years and there hasn’t been a single big decision made yet!”
Joke: A couple are having severe financial difference and are arguing about money. Finally the husband exploded, “If it weren’t for my money, the house wouldn’t be here at all!” Yes said the wife. “If it weren’t for your money, I wouldn’t be here at all.”
7. Do you know how much you really owe?
Do you know the exact amount of money you are due to pay back for your loans you have taken? Do you know how much your credit card is due? Do you know how much you are to give back to your friends?
Many people know they are in financial trouble, but have no idea of how much they really owe. They sweep it under the carpet and try not to think about it.
8. Do you know what your monthly expense is?
Do you know your gross monthly expense and daily expenses or do you take money out of bank and just keep spending? Many people just put their salary in the bank and start writing checks and doing ATM withdrawals. By the 15th they have exhausted all their money. Then they borrow, loan, or use their credit cards.
God has told us to be good stewards of what He has given us. He expects us to know our income, expense, and debts and then spend. Proverbs 27:23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.
KNOW YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSE.
Make a list of all your bills, necessities of life. Put God right on top, give Him the tithe, offerings, and first fruits first! Then, don’t leave anything off the list which is a necessity. Now compare your expense with your income.
If your total need is Rs. 15000/- and your income is Rs. 13000/-, you’ve got a problem. That means all that you are arguing about money is for the Rs. 2000. The rest of the money is already your necessity.
Now, what if your expenses are more than your paycheck? That means every month you are minus even before you buy anything you want. That means you cannot do anything other than your necessity and have absolutely no money for emergency. As long as we do not have the shame of borrowing money from people and as long as banks are willing to credit us money, our loans will add on from month to month and will never come out of financial bondage until you take a concrete step. Such people have a problem at hand and you need to fix it.
How can you fix your problem? There are only 2 possible solutions: Decrease your outflow and increase your inflow. Decrease you expense, increase your income. Be content, downsize.
Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
If you are content you can really do some downsizing. The problem with expense is that the more you earn the more you want. The more you get the more you raise your standards to meet that income. Downsize!
Now when I am talking about downsizing and budgeting do not think that I am just talking to the poor or the low-income people. You may have a fat salary, lot of property, gold, and you may be rich but you can still be in financial bondage.
Nehemiah 5:7 I pondered them (He was thinking about the problem of the people.) in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them. Now, the nobles and the rulers were the rich and wealthy Jews who were taking advantage of the people. They were charging exorbitant interest rates, unethical means of earning money, injustice in handling money which are all symptoms of financial bondage.
Some of you sit here and think that you are not having enough money, your salary is not enough, you are in loans. It is a clear indication that you need help and are in financial bondage. Yet some others here are thinking you are doing ok. Are you good stewards of what God has given you? Is your money handing clear and transparent? If not you too are under financial bondage and need help.
PRINCIPLES OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM
1. Put God First.
God must be more important than your money. If you put God and his principles before your money you are on your way to financial freedom. Listen, Nehemiah put God before his money.
Nehemiah 5:14-15 Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.
Nehemiah is saying, “I was in charge and could have easily taken advantage and filled my own pockets, but I didn’t because I feared God!” God in your heart should be greater than greed. God should be the first priority in our life, not making money.
Now, I have come across people who are very stingy on spending their money but when it comes to others money they are very lavish, they want all comfort. Nehemiah never took advantage of his allowances or lavished on others money, whereas he gave his money and supported others. Never love money.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
There are many things in life more important than making money. So put God the number one priority of your life.
Illustration: We have brothers 2 brothers (Ravi & Prashanth) who were working in different places where the staff and boss practiced unjust means of handling and making money. Both of them quit their jobs because it did not suit Christian values. They were unaware of their future but God was faithful, God provided them with better jobs.
I know many believers whose conscience made them quit working a Sunday job or whatever was getting in the way of them putting God first, and they all have been blessed. It is said the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It would also be good to say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wealth. Fear God and make him the number one priority of your life.
2. Work Hard.
If you want financial freedom you need to work and hard work is needed.
Nehemiah 5:16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work. Nehemiah could have just supervised, but he got his hands dirty and set the example by working.
Many people are itching for things but are unwilling to work. We need to work, or not eat! There are some who are obviously disabled and need help, but if you are healthy and able there is no excuse from working.
I have heard people telling they just want to quit their job and rest. Some people wait for their retirement to rest. I appreciate our retirees, but for God there is no retirement age. If you are retired and free then it is time to take up some volunteering work for God. I praise God for the volunteers here at City Harvest.
God wants you to work. Never want to get to the place where you no longer have to work for God! We think of work as a curse, but God told Adam to work before sin ever came into the world. After the fall God said, “Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” So God’s order for man is to work and it is the sluggard or the lazy who does not work.
Proverbs 6:6-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
You see, the people who are lazy and do not want to work come up with 100s of excuses not to work. They will blame the boss, the distance, the work, their health and stay back home. We are living in a time where both the husband and wife need to work to meet our needs. If you are qualified, if you have the opportunity go out and work. God will bless the work of your hands.
Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
Proverbs 20:13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Proverbs 28:19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
Some people do not want to work but want to get rich soon. They go for this meeting, that meeting, trying to make people under their chain, but no time for Christian meeting. ‘Vain persons’ are the people who come with the get rich quick scheme. You can’t get something for nothing. We need to work!
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Some talk, some work.
Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Titus 3:14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
For all those who are working, work honestly. Proverbs 13:11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. You may have a small salary. But if you work faithfully God will increase you. Many people quit their job and stay back at home because their salary is less. But do you know that all big salaries began with a small salary? So do not despise your salary, work faithfully, it is God who gives the growth.
Listen, even though we work we depend on God, we trust in God. God gives the increase.
Proverbs 11:28 Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Proverbs 28:25 The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper.
We will be continuing this series next week. I want you to come back with your outlines and notebooks so that we can free ourselves from the financial bondage that we have got into. For today let us examine whether we are living in financial bondage, ask God to help us through this series that we come out of it. Give God the first priority of our life and decide to work hard. God will bless you.