Day: April 6, 2013

Are you slave to the lender or free to God’s economy?

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slave to debt

It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt.

Joel Osteen

Today I want to talk about Escaping the Bonds of Debt. So, if you are in debt like me It is my hope that this message helps stemulate you into becoming a steward of God’s money. We all deal with debt. Debt is common throughout our day. The average credit card debt in America right now, is over $1.7 trillion. That’s bigger than the national debt. That’s just what we owe in credit card debt. $1.7 trillion. The average credit card indebtedness by young adult households in America, is now 24% of their income. In other words, almost one quarter of the income is going to pay down debt. One survey found that debt is causing 14% of adults to delay marriage. 20% to delay having children. And 40% to delay buying a house. They graduated. If you graduated from college this past year, the average college senior, nationwide, graduated with $19,000 in debt. And if you went to Syracuse or one of the other fine schools in America, you are way above average in this area, because you probably graduated with much more debt than $19,000. So debt is a real issue. The Bible talks about debt, the Bible says that debt is a source of pain. Would you agree with that? That debt is a source of pain. It’s a pain for me. It’s a pain for you. And fortunately, the Bible has a lot to say about how we can deal with this issue of pain. As I often do, let me remind you that the Bible is a very practical book left up on a shelf that is separated from our normal, everyday lives. Instead, the Bible is a very practical book and can be applied to all the different areas of our lives. And since we all deal with money, the Bible fortunately, has a lot to say about money. As a matter of fact, next to love, it’s the most common topic in the Bible. So you can imagine if it talks about money, it talks about human frailty, it is going to talk about debt. And what I want to take you through today, is what the Bible says regarding debt and how we can escape the bonds of debt. But look at Proverbs 22:7:“The borrower is a servant to the lender.” And many of us are serving our credit card debt, or our college debt, along the way. And when we talk about debt, unsecured debt, it’s the most common type of debt, but of course, there are other kinds of debt that we may deal with as well. And I want to begin by telling you, personally, this is a very personal message that I want to deal with today. Because, I’ve had to deal with these issues of debt.

In 2001, when God called me to the ministry, to come here to California to start my life over after the military, The Journey began in May 1998. As God was calling me to start a business, shortly thereafter God placed another call on my life, and that was the call to be debt free. And I had to get together all that I owed. I had to add it all up and I found that I was about $20,000 in debt. A large part of that was credit card debt, another large chunk of that was where I was working obtaining a loan to get equipment, and I just had other little debts around. So, here I am, in the most expensive area of the country, with no money, no friends, no meeting location, no church yet, and God is saying—I want you to get out of debt. Now, I’m going to talk a little bit about my process of getting out of debt, and what God taught me as I take you through this message. One of the things that I did, is I went to talk to a pastor at the church where I was at in California. I was on staff at New Generation Church out in California, and one of the pastors there,began to speak about the relationship we have with God if we are stewards of our money that He allows us to represent Him with. And He showed me from the Scriptures some Biblical ways for getting out of debt. So a lot of what I am going to share with you, is what he shared with me. But before we jump into the process of getting out of debt, let’s see if we are trapped in debt. Let’s see if we are in bondage today. Real quickly, these are the danger signs:

1. Living on credit instead of paying cash. My wife said—you mean there is another option besides living on credit? Yes, living on credit instead of paying cash. This is when you run out of money before you run out of month, as the case might be. So you are constantly using your credit cards. It’s really easy to tell if this is a danger sign for you. You just look to see if your credit card amounts are increasing—are they going up or are they going down? If they are going up constantly, then this is a problem 2. You’re delaying payment or paying the minimum due. That’s a trap. Also, if you are missing payments. If you are making late payments. If you find yourself under tension constantly over money. If you ever bounce one credit card while paying another credit card. Then you probably have some debt. If you bounce checks along the way. These are danger signs, if you are doing this. You know, credit cards love minimum payment due. Because even if you just put on few hundred dollars and you pay the minimum, that means over the course of paying down that small debt, you will pay triple or even four times the amount of the original purchase. So, be careful of delaying payments, or paying the minimum due. That’s one of the bondages.

3. Unable to tithe or save. You get to the point where you can’t give the 10% to God. You can’t tithe, you can’t give to thyose who have need, you can’t save for your future because it’s taking everything to pay down the bills. You know, a lot of you want to give more to God. You want to invest money in eternity, but you can’t do it because you are strangled by this debt. And this is a serious issue because God says if you’re not tithing to Him, you are robbing Him. You may be robbing Mastercard, Visa or American Express, but don’t be robbing God. I’m going to talk about how important it is to put God first if you are going to break this danger trap a little bit later.

4. Unable to pay taxes. You are unable to pay taxes because of your debt. Now I realize this really doesn’t motivate you at all, as far as getting debt free, but it’s one of the danger signs, because Jesus said we should give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. In other words, don’t be afraid to pay the taxes that you owe. But being unable to pay taxes is one of the danger signs.

5. Extravagant spending. We begin to overspend and we are constantly pushing for more. We want to buy things that we don’t need to impress people that we don’t like. We do that all the time here in America. We live here in this metro area in the extravagant spending zone. And we are very image conscious and you have to spend more so that you can look like more and it’s a danger signal that you are getting into trouble, that you are getting into debt.

6. This last one may surprise you, but the last danger sign of debt is that you are constantly looking for get rich quick ideas. Get rich quick ideas. If you are not in debt, get rich quick schemes will get you in debt. If you are already in debt, then you are ripe for this. Because all of us have seen the commercials. All of us have received the stuff in the mail. We have all gotten those emails where we think—maybe this could be my solution. But before you get into a get rich quick scheme, be sure to read this verse. Proverbs 21:5. It says, “Hasty speculation brings about poverty, among other things.” So be sure and read that before you do this. But we all buy into this idea that we can get rich quick easily. As a matter of fact there is a whole system in our society based on our desire to get rich quick. You know what it’s called? It’s called the lottery. The lottery fills this idea that you never know—you might win. You might get these millions of dollars. There are TV shows about the lottery. They put the stories of the lottery winners on the top of that. But you know, there is a word for someone who plays the lottery. It’s called a loser. Because 99.9999999% of the people who play the lottery, lose. And studies have shown that people who play the lottery regularly are in debt more than four times, or are indebted more than four times more than the average person. So you are in debt four times more of being in the lottery, if that makes sense. But we like the “something for nothing” mentality. The idea that there is going to be something that is going to get us out of this bondage overnight. But it’s just not true. So what does God want you to do? What does God say about getting out of debt?

Read your bible on topics assoiciated with debt. These nine steps come straight from the Scripture and I want to walk you through this. But for every one of these, there could be four or five Scriptures. But the Bible is very clear that you can get out of debt. Now, the Bible doesn’t promise that you can get out of debt quickly. You didn’t get into debt quickly. You can’t get out of debt quickly. As a matter of fact, one of the things that God wants to do while He gets you out of debt, is He wants to develop your character because debt says there is a character deficiency. And because there is a character deficiency you go into debt. So as God lowers your debt, He has to raise your character. And character development takes time. Getting out of debt takes time. But this is God’s way of getting out of debt. Now, some of you that are really sharp in math, you have already realized that there are nine steps here, and we have already covered six steps, so this is really a fifteen point message on today’s topic. Nine specific steps that you can take to get out of debt bondage.

1. Commit to becoming debt free now. If that word is off your page, write it in. Commit to becoming debt free now. Even before you make the first financial payment, you can make the intellectual commitment. You can make a spiritual commitment. You see, debt is really a spiritual issue. When you go into debt with no reasonable time period for when you are going to pay that debt, you are going to put yourself into a spiritual condition that the Bible calls wickedness. Now Wicked maybe a really good Broadway show, but it’s a really bad place to live your life. Look at Psalm 37:21. “The wicked borrow and never repay.” It’s a spiritual issue. So you need to make a spiritual commitment. The first step is to commit to becoming debt free now. So what you do, is you say—God, I’m making this commitment with You. It’s not a commitment to me. It’s not a commitment to your friend. It’s not a commitment to your creditors. It’s a commitment to God. God, I want to do Your will and I need Your power. That’s what willpower is. Doing God’s will and getting God’s power. And you make that commitment and then God brings all of His resources into place to help you do this. So you commit to becoming debt free now. They key on this is two words—write this down, delayed gratification. It will take commitment. It will take discipline to get out of debt. It will take perseverance to get out of debt. It’s going to take character development to get out of debt. But most of all, it’s going to take delayed gratification because the reason you got into this is an issue of trust. You didn’t trust that God was going to provide all of your needs. And you realize that, right? God promised to provide all of your needs. He didn’t promise to provide all of your greeds. But He will help you along the way. So commit to becoming debt free.

2. Start paying God and yourself first. This is the principles of tithing and saving. Right off the top, whatever money comes into your life, you give the first 10% to God. That’s what a tithe is. A tithe is not any tenth. A tithe is the first 10th of what you make. So you give the first 10th back to God. And by giving God the first 10th, you get your priorities in order. So the reason you can’t delay gratification is because you have mixed up priorities. So you have to have proper priorities if you are going to pay down your debt. Proper priorities begin with putting God first. And that’s what a tithe is. Some of you say—you know, I’m so far in debt, how can I even begin to pay God? Look, you may not want to pay somewhere else, but you don’t want to not pay God. You want God to be first in your life. That’s what tithing is all about. And when you give God the tithe, that’s where you get His power. See, I’ve seen God work miracles in so many lives that I can say this over and over. It may not make sense for you to give the tithe first, but all that require faith don’t make sense. If it made sense, it wouldn’t require faith. So you have to, by faith, give God the first fruits of what you earn. You give Him the tithe. If you want to read more on that, I’ve put some verses in your notes. Matthew 3:3, I Corinthians 16. Then one verse that I printed for you from Deuteronomy 14. Let’s read this verse out loud together. Deuteronomy 14:23. Here we go. “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” So you see, when God is first in your life, then your priorities fall in order. It’s only when God is first that you can pay down this debt, because you have to get out of that spiritual state of wickedness that we talked about back in number one when you borrow with no intention of repaying. Now, you also want to learn to pay yourself. Write down this little formula just below Deuteronomy 14:23. Put down the number 10, another 10, another 10, and then the number 70. So you have written down 10/10/10/70. This is what the Bible says is the proper allegation of your finances. Now, I don’t have time to teach on this fully, but what I am going to do in the Tuesday email that you receive, This Week at The Journey or your devotion update email, I will send you a link to a whole teaching that I did on 10/10/10/70 principle. Because the Bible says there is an appropriate way to spend your money. The first 10%, that goes to God. The second 10% goes to savings. The third 10% can go to one of two places, either to pay down your debt, or it will go to long term investment. So if you pay down your debt, then you can start investing for the long term or investing in capital expansion. Then you live on 70%. So you have to learn to live on less than you make or else you will constantly be falling back into this debt trap. So that’s the principle of 10/10/10/70, of start paying God and yourself first.

My advice to anyone wanting to get into the spiritual aspects of stewardship of God’s possessions is to pray and then yield to the desire of dieing to your own agenda’s. Being a steward of God’s possessions means being content in whatever state you are in. I once felt I had to have more than the Jones next door, I had to be in the finest car, but It is not being a steward it is being greedy and a glutton to the world. I really want to leave my grand kids and their kids an inheritance because that’s what God demands. I really want to clean as much of the wreckage I created in my life of drugging, drinking, living for my own pleasures up by submitting to God and His awesome plan in the bible. We will be held accountable folks before the throne on the kids He lent us, the wife and friends, the money He gave you strength to earn. God is a real commander and chief. His ways pay way better in the long run. Lord I don’t have much now, but my offering is my desire to obey finally. To see your glory in my life and making me a gift to others. Please help me show a world of flesh your goodness while here on this earth.

Trust me once again my King to steward the gift of salvation and love, help us as a people called out of darkness to believe what your word that became flesh says. Your word is revealing itself all through our life, help us to see O’ Lord the importance of stewardship of this world, our families, our friendships, our marriages, our jobs, our health, our minds because they all belong to you Father. Live well my friends and let me know how this sets with you. Pray for my family as I will continue to press through the throng of doubters for you. I have more steps to share with you, but the prayer superceded my sharing them at this time. Just organize your bills and debt, sale what you don’t need and pay for things after you pay God with His cash He returns to you from His storehouse. He will not lie. He is faithful. I am impressed with you internet enterprises that speak of financial independence from creating your own way, but what about God? Does He get credit for your success as well? Be blessed in what you think is your fortune, It really belongs to which God? Put some thought to that and let me know what you came up with.

Are you on your post watching the signs of end time?

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wars

We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.

Robert E. Lee

The forcast is getting clear now. We see famine, contaminated food supplies, the leaders of the world trying to establish one world currancy, we see the decay of morals taking rapid efforts to situate themselves above Gods Laws. We see these third world countries brewing with the dregs of the cup of wine against one another. We see the old ways of the bible people pushing their agenda’s. We see our leaders moving with a higher regard to “Man” Laws rather than “God’s Law”. Nothing under the sun is new. We need a revival beloved of the church. The eyes of evil are asking when will they “Take a Stand”? The bible clearly interprets itself.

One question I have been continuously asked since the bombing of the World Trade Center is, ‘Do you think this is the beginning of the end?’ As we watch in shock the terrible events unfold before our eyes, who can help but wonder if this could be a sign of the times? We have all heard our leaders calling this an act of war and calling for a warring response. Who can tell if this will be a quick retaliation or the spark that could ignite a major war? Some warn that we should not attack because it will cause World War 3, others say we must react or we are opening the door to lawlessness. As we saw the fearful pictures of the two greatest icons of American achievement burning and then collapsing, we also saw comfort and security collapse with it. When America’s false sense of security was shattered, people once content and secure now feel the cracks in the foundation. I see anger and outrage, but also fear and insecurity. How does this affect the Christian? Are we at the end? Is the prophecy in fulfillment, a sign of the times, or just a tragic event?

Let me say first to be very wary of anyone who predicts God’s next move or claims to have a model of the end times. The Bible does tell us what to expect, but we are given signs, not predictions – at least not prediction that we can guess ahead of God. The purpose of prophecy is to show us that God is in control so that we are not afraid. We can see and have confidence in God. His plan does not center around our comfort, but our hope in our eternal reward. In wake of this tragedy, I feel the need to look at how the Bible tells us to view end time events and tragedies. I was in the Navy during the Gulf War and I listened to all the false predictions and all the Bible experts mapping out the events to come next. We all know how it ended. All the predictions failed and those who believed the ‘prophets’ were left wondering if the Bible is true. It wasn’t the Bible that failed; it was the misrepresentation of the Bible that failed.

What should have been an opportunity for Christians ended in embarrassment for many Christians. Does the Bible tell us to predict end time events? Does the Bible tell us when these catastrophic events will occur? No. We are given just enough of a glimpse so that we understand what God is doing. Prophesy has a three fold purpose. We will examine these and hopefully gain confidence in the midst of tragedy.

Do Not Fear
Begin by looking at Luke 21:
9 “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
11 “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.
13 “But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.

Jesus preludes His revelation by saying, ‘do not be terrified’. If our hope is in God and if we believe that He is in control, we can be confident – even in a world gone mad. When trouble strikes, our foundation is revealed. Those who build their house on sand never have peace in the storm. In our modern culture, even Christians have been persuaded to place their hope in things and circumstances instead of in God. When people lose their sense of false security, they begin to search for something stable. That is our opportunity to point to the hope we have in Jesus Christ. How proudly the enemies of the Cross have challenged Christian values. However, atheism only prevails when the sailing is smooth. You notice that in tragedy, you never see people proclaiming atheism. Instead we hear a plea for prayer and a search for spiritual help. They always search for peace and look to God or someone who knows God. Our job is to point them to the hope found in Jesus Christ. He is the only lasting peace anyone can have. Even in trouble, we have hope, security and peace. That is a powerful testimony in a world whose sense of security has been shattered.

If the Christian is in fear, where can the world turn to find hope? This does not mean that we are indifferent to world events. We feel the pain of the loss; the anger against the attackers; the fear of the tragedy. Fear is an emotion and is normal. However, when the Christian sees fear, we rest our hope in Jesus Christ. We take refuge in knowing that God is in control. Jesus told us beforehand so that when we see these things, we are not swept up in the fear of the world, but we build our lives on the solid foundation. Our rock is Jesus Christ. He said that these things must come to pass but our hope is in Him and our eternal inheritance.

Watch
Just a little few verses later, we read in Luke 21,
34 ” But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.
35 “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The person who is watching for Jesus’ return is also the person who is a faithful servant. Watching means living an active life for the Lord. Watching does not mean to sit and wait, but to be actively living in the way He has commanded. Matthew 24 makes this clear. In verse 42 we are commanded again to watch because we do not know when the day of His return will be. Verse 46 says, “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing”. Jesus made a direct correlation between watching and doing what we have been appointed by God (our master) to do.

Then Jesus makes a parallel between the person who does not watch and the one living a sinful lifestyle at odds with God. This is the same as our passage in Luke 21 where Jesus tells us to take heed not to live sinfully or in the cares of this life. This unwatchful lifestyle is a snare to the whole earth. The remedy? Watch therefore, and pray always. The reward for watching is to be served by our Lord and inherit His kingdom; He will make the faithful servant the ruler over all his goods. The faithless will have their inheritance appointed with the hypocrites and will be judged.

As we can see, Jesus identifies one of the purposes of prophecy is to remind us to watch. World events that terrify the world serve to remind us to be faithful and remember our hope. They focus our attention to actively watch for His return.

Testify
Jesus sums up His prophecy of wars, sorrows, and persecutions by saying, “but it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony”. This is the ultimate purpose of all these things. When the world is comfortable and everyone says that there is no need of God, it is hard to share the hope of Jesus Christ. Billy Graham was called by God to preach the gospel to the world. His calling began right after World War 2. As he toured battered Europe, the damaged buildings were still filled with bullet holes and bomb damage. People were seeking hope, peace and answers. The world had just been on the brink of destruction. Nothing was stable and no one was at peace. The result was an unprecedented response to the gospel.

What do we see now? Only a few countries have experienced war in the last 50+ years. Atheism is the standard of Europe. This country is racing down the same road. When prosperity abounds, people forget God. When people have no fear, they also do not fear God. When life is comfortable, God is irrelevant to most people. Jesus said that the coming of troubles will be an occasion to testify. The world will ask ‘why’ and look for hope. We may not be able to answer ‘why’, but we can answer the ‘what’. What is the meaning of life? What is our purpose? We can explain that we live in a world filled with sin and men controlled by sinful human nature. Those who hope in this world will always be disappointed and have foundationless lives.

During times of great trouble, we have the greatest opportunity to evangelize. When people are afraid, insecure and have shattered hope in mankind, we can use this as an opportunity to share the hope of Jesus Christ. The world focuses solely on the human perspective. The world focuses on prosperity and peace. When peace is lost, prosperity is meaningless. When these are shattered, the world focuses in on trouble and fear. Because Jesus Christ is our hope, our focus is never on the trouble, but fulfilling our purpose. We have a calling and God sends us out ’as sheep’s among wolves’ for the purpose of bringing people to Jesus Christ so they can be forgiven just as we have been. Only a Christian whose hope is eternal can have peace when trouble is around them. Only the one who believes in God’s promises can sacrifice comfort in order to fulfill their calling. Glorifying God and having a personal, intimate relationship with God always has been the purpose of our lives. Our calling and command is to bring others into that same hope.

When we see tragedies, instead of becoming fearful as the world is, we should focus on the Word of God which tells us the higher purpose. The world is passing away and all that is in it. Those who hope in the world will be troubled and distressed. We who hope in Christ have peace, and our peace becomes a testimony to draw others to the solid Rock, Jesus Christ.

The secret place is a healing place

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secret place

2 Kings 4:4

New International Version (NIV)

The Widow’s Olive Oil

Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

In our friendships we have to be wise that we choose godly people to be our friends. Somebody might say, well does that mean that you should never have a lost person as your friend? No, I wouldn’t say that. But you can’t have the same intimacy with a lost person that you can with a godly person in whom the Holy Spirit is living.

Charles Stanley

The widow and her two sons were to be alone with God. They were not dealing with the laws of nature, human government, the church, or the priesthood. Nor were they even dealing with God’s great prophet, Elisha. They had to be isolated from evryone, separated from human reasoning, and removed from the natural tendencies to prejudge their circumstances. They were to be as if cast into the vast expanse of starry space, depending on God alone–In touch with the source of meracles.

This is an ingredient in God’s plan of dealing with us. We are to enter a secret chamber of isolation in prayer and faith that is very fruitful. At certain times and places, God will build a mysterious wall around us. He will take away all the supports we customarily lean upon, and will close us off to something divine, completely new and unexpected, and that cannot be understood by examining our previous circumstances. We will be in a place where we do not know what is happening, where God is cutting the cloth of our lives by a new pattern, and thus where He causes us to look to him.

Most Christians lead a treadmill life–a life in which they can predict almost everything that will come their way. But the souls that God leads into unpredictable and special situations are isolated by Him. All they know is that God is holding them and that He is dealing in their lives. Then their expectations come from Him alone.

Like this widow, we must be detached from outward things and attached inwardly to the Lord alone in order to see His wonders. My wife and I have seen a very difficult time in the last year and up into this very moment. We are so thankful for them, for in them we have been able to solidify our position with Him. His new mercies and measures of grace have kept our cruse of oil full. We have been given a great revelation; It is through the most difficult trials that God often brings the sweetest discoveries of Himself.

God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
That He may speak, perhaps through grief or pain,
And softly, heart to heart, above the din,
May tell some precious thought to us again.

If you are going through the trials of life and are discouraged, if your family has acted as if you are invalid, if you have lost someone near and dear to you, if you have lost job, car, home, investments,respect, self esteem, faith, peace, love, if you are depressed beyond wanting to get up to function for the day, if you are considered a recluse among those who hold their noses up to you or puts you down, go to the secret place as we have and watch our living God move things around in your behalf. God is watching His word and those who are in position. I tell you positioning is everything with God. Prostrate your heart, let God know you are broken and without a plan to recover. Sit still and wait, when you see the willing vessel that has been sent to deliver you from your suffering be ready to receive your breakthrough. Praise God for giving us this testimony; “We lack no good thing in Christ Jesus.”