Monday, June 24, 2013

Who is your Master?

These are notes taken from a sermon given by my pastor, Randy Nation as few months ago.  These are mostly his words with some of my own added.  His message was entitled “Debt or Freedom”.  I call it “Who is your Master?”

Our Mistake:

Have you ever bought something you wished you had never bought?  As most of us do at times we buy because get talked into things we think we need or should have.  That happened to us a few years ago when we went on a vacation get-away for only $69.  It sounded like a good deal.  We went to beautiful Sedona.  It was breath-taking.  When we arrived, we were told we had to sit through a short sales pitch with no obligation to buy.  Right!  We left with a Time Share.  They made us think this was something we must have and we were convinced.  Bad mistake! 

Yes, we used the time share points each year and had great family vacations.  However, every time we arrived at our vacation resort we had to sit through another boring time consuming “update to our time share account”.  Each time they tried to talk us into upgrading to a bigger and better time share.  Of course we would say no thank you but received a free dinner coupon for our trouble.  Also we received numerous sales calls at home – at least 3 a week wanting to rent our points, give us another free vacation because we were an owner, buy our time share, or something.  This was very aggravating and they would not stop!  I think our time share people put our names on a list and all these calls were from others who wanted to benefit from a sucker like us.  Also, did I mention we had yearly maintenance fees that went up every year?  My advice is NEVER BUY A TIME SHARE!!

Several times we tried to sell it, but all the companies seem to be a scam.  They all wanted money to try to sell it for us.  Finally, we did sell it and took a huge lose.  I guess we learn by our mistakes. 

What is debt?

Debt is not a tool – People say it’s a way to use other people’s money.
Debt can be an idol – An idol is where we spend our energy.  Our credit card can be our idol.
Debt plays to our weaknesses – We don’t have self-control.  We are a slave to our Master Card.
Debt is our master – we can’t say “no”.

The world says we are who we hang out with, where we live, what kind of car we drive, etc.  We want to keep up a good appearance so we buy what we want when we want it.  Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” 

There are 2 kinds of slavery: (1) Imposed – we didn’t volunteer; (2) Selective – we volunteered to be under someone.  This is what we’ve done.  We sacrifice our family for debt by arguing about money, worrying about money, and working more to pay on the debt.  Instead of saying, “Do I need this or how much does it cost?” we say, “Can I afford the payments?”  Debt is a cruel master. 

Do you serve God or Money?  The Bible says we cannot serve two masters.  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.”  There is freedom in Christ.  Which master do you serve?  Credit cards are deceptive.  When you make a purchase, they don’t remind you will get a bill at the end of the month.  It’s liked being chained up.  It controls you like a weight around your neck.  Believe me there is grief when there is debt.

There are 4 aspects of debt:  (1) Mentally it says I will never be free.  (2) Physically says I desire it.  (3) Emotionally says it will make me happy. (4) Spiritually it says God isn’t taking good care of me.  People want to give more generously to others, but there are tied up financially and mentally.

We need to wait on God if we can’t afford something.  The average family debt is $8,000 – $15,000.  After paying the interest, you’ve paid it back 3 times over.  Americans have an average of 3 ½ credit cards.  The divorce rate is 52% and divorce in the first 7 years of marriage is 90%, because of money. 

What can you do?

Romans 13:7-8 says “Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect then respect; if honor, then honor.  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”  So bankruptcy is not the answer.  One debt you won’t have to pay is the debt you owe Christ.  What happened to that?  The debt of sin had to be paid and Jesus paid it for you.  You can’t pay that debt, because God is good! 

We could be victorious and do something about it.  1 John 4:4 – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  We have freedom in Christ.  He paid our debt and will help us manage our finances, if we will let Him.  Just say “I will do something about this” and ask God to help you.  How can you fail?  He will give you strength and wisdom.  Why is it important?  You can give to people in need and spend your money on whatever you want.  We own him our allegiance.  Allow God’s Holy Spirit to control us.  That’s the master we want.

There is also Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University which is usually is offered in churches for a small fee.  Dave also has many books on the subject of debt and how to get out of it.  He teaches you exactly what debt is, how to get out of it, how to make a budget, how to save money and how to build wealth.

We need to be content with what we have.  Contentment is real financial freedom.  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…” – Hebrews 13:5.  Jesus talked more about money that He did heaven or hell.  There are over 700 verses that talk about money in the Bible.  Financial freedom is found as you apply the biblical principle of work, investing, budgeting and avoiding debt in your life.  Every financial decision is a spiritual decision and obedience in giving to God helps us remember to keep God first in our finances.  It’s not our money; it all belongs to God.  Make Him your master.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who Is God?

By ourselves we can never discover God.  We could never know Him unless He revealed Himself.  Has God revealed Himself?  The Bible says yes!  From cover to cover, the Scriptures are filled with insights into His character.

God exists as three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  God exists everywhere.  He knows everything.  He has all power and authority.  He is just, loving, truthful, holy, compassionate, merciful, and shows us grace.  God judges sin, but also offers forgiveness.

God created the universe and everything in it.  He is executing His eternal plan that involves the redemption of man from the curse of sin and death by drawing people to Christ.  God in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ became human and bridged the gap between God and man.  It is through the Son that we can have forgiveness of sins and be reconciled with God.  Jesus offers us eternal salvation and all we have to do is believe and trust Him.  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”John 4:3.  Jesus also said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

What is God like?

Some of the names for God recorded in Scriptures are:
“God Almighty” - Genesis 17:1; “the Lord our Maker’ - Psalm 95:6; “Father” - Luke 11:2; “Ruler”, King of kings and Lord of lords” - 1 Timothy 6:15

Read Isaiah 45:18-24 for a list of truths about God.  We also discover more about Him in Isaiah 40:28“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power to the weak.”  John 4:24“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

God is all-powerful (omnipotent) – Rev. 19:6
God is all-Knowing (omniscient) – Heb. 4:12-13
God is everywhere (omnipresent) – Ps. 139:7-12
God is eternal – Ps. 90:1-2, Deu. 33:27
God never changes (immutable) – Mal 3:6, Heb. 13:8
Deuteronomy 7:9 – Know that He is God and is faithful and keep his promises.
Psalm 119:37 – He is righteous and His laws are right.
Psalm 130:3-4 – He keeps no records of our sins.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – He is holy.
1 John 1:5 – He is light.
1 John 4:15 If we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, He lives in us.

Psalm 90:2“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Jeremiah 32:17“You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you.”
James 1:17“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
1 John 3:20“For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

One of the most comforting truths in Scripture is the sovereignty of God.  He is in control of everything.  These verses affirm the sovereignty of God:  Proverbs 21:1, Isaiah 14:27, Acts 4:26-28.

What does God do?

God knows what is going on in the world today.  2 chronicles 16:9“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

God is the ultimate judge.  Psalm 75:6-7 –No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man.  But it is God who judges:  He brings one down, he exalts another.”

God loves us.  Jeremiah 31:3 – “I have loved you with an everlasting love…..”.  Ephesians 3:19, and John 3:16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God is there to help us.  Psalm 46:1“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

What does God expect from you?
Where do you turn for help when in trouble?
Do you turn to God first or as the last resort?

What does God expect from us?

Psalm 46:10“Be still and know that I am God;”
Psalm 95:6“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.”
Luke 10:27 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.”
Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men!”
Romans 2:13 “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
John 14:15“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
John 15:10 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
1 John 3:14“Those who obey his commands live in him and he in them.  And this is how we know that he lives us:  We know it by the spirit he gave us.”
1 John 5:2 “This is love for God:  to obey his commands.”
Matthew 28:19-20“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Do you believe that God is the Creator?
Do you love God?
Do you find it hard to obey God’s commands?
Do you ask Him to help you to obey?

Why should we know God?

The following references explain some of the essentials in knowing God.
Deuteronomy 10:12 - "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your."
Psalm 100:4 - "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who come to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
What was David’s counsel to his son?  1 Chronicles 28:9“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understand every motive behind the thoughts.  If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

Do you teach your children to serve Him?
Do you live as an example for them?

God is our Guide

Ex. 33:13-15 – God is always present with His people.
2 Sam. 22:29 – God is our lamp who turns darkness into light.
Ps. 5:8 – God leads in His righteousness.
Ps. 23:2-3 – God leads to places of quiet rest and righteousness.
Ps. 25:5, 9 – God guides the humble according to His truth and way.
Ps. 27:11 – God leads in a straight path.
Ps. 31:3 – God’s guidance is for the sake of His name.
Ps. 48:14; Is. 58:11 – God always guides His people, even to the end.
Ps. 61:2 – God guides us beyond ourselves to Him.
Ps. 139:24 – God helps us identify sin and leads us to repentance.
Is. 40:11 – God guides those who have young.
Is. 42:16 – God guides through unknown, unfamiliar, dark, and rough places.
Is. 57:18 – God comforts as He guides.
Luke 1:79 – God guides us into the path of peace.
John 10:3-4 – God goes before His people to show the way.
John 16:13 – God guides into all truth.

Do you read your Bible daily? 
Do you look to God as your guide?
Do you pray and if so, How often?

How can I get to know God and how can I apply the Bible to my life?

You can’t apply it, if you don’t read it.  The goal in reading is to get to know God and learn His ways and understand His purposes for you and the world.  When reading the Bible, you can see what a Christian life should look like.  Not only do you need to read the Bible, but you need to study it.  How do you study it?  To study it means to prayerfully devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge on a particular person, subject or passage in the Bible.  Psalm 1:2 says anyone who meditates on God’s Word is blessed – “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”  Rev. 1:3“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
There are many helpful study guides available as well as many Bible studies.  One of my favorites is attending Bible Study Fellowship International.  BSF is an in-depth, interdenominational Bible study with classes in 38 countries with people of all ages and cultures.  BSF walks you through a book of the Bible, verse by verse and gives you application questions to think about.  This study draws you closer to God and gives you a better understanding of God and His love.  To find out more about BSF, just look on the internet - for more info on a study near you.