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.
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.