Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unstuck Part 2—Unstuck in Our Finances

Since “The love of money is the root of all evil” (money itself is NOT the root of all evil), and because our society has become very debt-minded, I think is a very important topic.  Our national debt is 15,000,000,000 (15 trillion), and there is  1.7 trillion dollars in consumer debt in our country.  The average household has $7394 in unsecured debt (credit cards, not including student loans).  The key for today is DEBT IS BAD.

Romans 13:8 commands us not to owe anyone anything.  God never commands us to do things that are impossible (it may be impossible in ourselves but with God’s help NOTHING is impossible), so clearly this is something God wants us to do.  It may take a while to get there, but we bring glory to God by being able to do all He wants us to do without giving an excuse “I can’t afford it.”  What we do with our money is part of what we are responsible for in the kingdom.  We want to be ABLE to hear God’s voice to do something and be able to just do it.

Here are some synonyms for debt=owe, obligated, in deficit, in default, insolvent, in over one’s head, in arrears, paupered, destitute, needing, lacking, distressed, penniless, in difficulty, a deadbeat, empty, having seen better days, bad off, hard off, beaten down, reduced to ruin, embarrassed, broke, busted.  Next to the kingdom of heaven, money and finance is the next most often mentioned by Jesus, and the Bible has 2000 scriptures that reference money and finance.

6 danger signs that we’ve got problems in the area of debt:

1) You live on credit instead of paying cash and depend on credit to maintain your lifestyle.  Proverbs 22:7 says the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is enslaved to the lender.  We should only be enslaved to Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden is light.  A bonus, if you’re ever considering loaning money to friends or family, don’t do it.  The relationship immediately changes.  If you want to help them, give to them.  Proverbs 3:27-28 says not to withhold payment on debts. 

2) Delaying payment or always paying minimum payments.

3) You’re unable to tithe, or save, or invest.  We are still robbing from God if we use it to pay a bill.  We are called to leave an inheritance to our children’s children (that means we have to leave enough for 2 generations, and train our kids well enough to handle it well and leave more to the next generation).  Proverbs 21:20 says that wise people have “choice” things and a foolish person devours all they have.  A wise man plans for the future, eats well (not a lot but healthy), and has resource.

4) You’re unable to pay your taxes.  You don’t need to pay more than you need to (the laws are there, but you don’t cheat or lie), but Jesus says to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

5)  Habitual extravagant spending.  Dave Ramsey calls this “Buying stuff you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.”

6) You’re always looking for a get rich quick idea.  This includes playing the lottery.

Steps to Becoming Debt Free

1) Commit to be debt free from this point forward.  Commit to not bring on any more debt.  If you’re forced to, do it smart.  (For example, the average millionaire buys a 3-4 year old car and pays cash for it.)

2)  Make a list of all you own and all you owe (if you’re making payments on it, you don’t own it).  Proverbs 24:3-4 is a good reference.

3) Have a sale.  This is the stuff that is sitting and not getting used.  Then use the money to pay down debt.  If our money is moving, it can do something.

4)  Start paying God (tithe) and yourself (invest in your future) first.  Live on 80% (invest 10%, tithe 10% and live on what’s left)…or better yet give an offering of an additional 10% and only live on 70%.  That employs God to multiply what you plant in the earth and allows us to tap God’s wisdom, beyond just the protection of the tithe.  With the 80/20 plan, if you’re making $60,000 starting at 40 years, by age 60, you’ll tithe  $120,000 and have investments worth over $250,000 (with modest gains). Remember, that the goal is to start doing something (you might start at 1% now instead of 10%).

5) Set up a repayment plan (realistic).

6) Share it with your creditors (really).  They may tell you all they will accept only full payment.  Take what you were going to pay them and put it in a separate account, and then when you have it pay them.

7)  Employ God, and believe God to do it in less than that time.  As we change our heart and actions, God will work on our behalf.  Proverbs 16:7 says that if we do what we know to do and trust God, He will bring us favor and bring us to peace.

8)  Make a commitment that we will NOT add any more debt.

9)  Stick to it and trust God.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getting Unstuck, Moving Beyond Mediocrity Part 1--Getting Unstuck in Your Faith

This series will be about moving from where we are to having the good things God has for us in our lives.  This sermon will lay the groundwork for the rest of the series.  We can’t get to where God wants us to be without laying a firm foundation of faith.  We started in Matthew 9:20 and following, with the story of the woman with an issue of blood being healed.  Jesus noticed her faith simply in her touching Him and told her that her faith healed her.  She began by recognizing, knowing and believing who Jesus was, AND believing that He could heal her.  Her faith resulted in the action of touching Jesus in order to be healed, despite it being forbidden for an unclean person to touch a Rabbi.  She was risking her life in order to receive healing.  Taking action before seeing physical evidence of truth is true faith. 

Matthew 9:27 and on shows the same process again with the two blind men.  They called Him Son of David, showing their faith in His fulfillment of the prophecy of the Messiah.  They came to Jesus.  He asked if they believed He could do it.  “According to your faith, it will be done to you,” was His answer.  Taking action on faith always involves a risk.  Sometimes it’s a physical risk, sometimes an emotional risk, and sometimes some other type of risk.  It’s when we get to the place where we have done all we can and put it in God’s hands to take care of it that we get to a place of faith.  Mark 10:46 and on tells the story of Bartimaeus.  He proclaimed who Jesus was and was rebuked.  He continued on with perseverance despite the rebukes and again received healing. 

Remember that faith has to be our own and not based on someone else’s faith (that would simply be presumption.  Faith is a constant process.  We are never done.  We have to constantly renew our minds because none of us has perfect faith. We will fail tests of our faith sometimes (or lots of times), but we can keep moving forward daily. Romans 1,  Colossians 1, and 1 Thessalonians 1:8 report great faith being “reported all over the world.”  Are we willing to have faith that would result in things that would be that famous?  Faith is simple:  we just believe.  Faith is also hard because sometimes it’s hard to believe. 

1 Corinthians 2:4 says our faith can’t rest on our knowledge of the Word but rests on God’s power operating THROUGH the Word.  It’s not just the words on the page but the power behind the words on the page that we are trusting.  Ephesians 1:18 (one of my favorites and something we pray over the church weekly) is Paul’s prayer for the church.  This says our faith activates God’s power, which is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and gave Him the authority He has.  Paul prays that we would know in our heart the power of God’s word.  Hebrews 11 is a chapter I challenge you to read this week.  Faith has substance and is evidence of the unseen.  It is the thing we must have to please God.  When things get rough, we close off or connect with people who are having trouble, instead of pushing in and connecting.  That’s human nature.  Instead we need to look at the people like those in Hebrews 11 who succeeded by faith.  That will encourage us to press on, take action and see God’s victory.  Read John 21 this week.  The disciples felt stuck.  See how Jesus reconnects with them when they went back to what was familiar.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit