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Financial Freedom for All God's Children
By Michael Slaughter, Kim Miller
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2006 Michael B. Slaughter
All rights reserved.
A Faith-filled Focus
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life—1 Timothy 6:17-19
Money matters, doesn't it? While televisionevangelists have long-abused the word pros perity, it is still true that God desires success for all God's children. I am passionately convinced that every person will experience transformation in their life when they put their faith into action by practicing the timeless principles addressed
Think about how much of your energy each week is tied in some way to money. The prime time of our days and weeks is given to earning money. Every day you make numerous financial decisions. Everything costs money, from food for your family, to gas for your car, to the roof over your head.
Our finances are unstable at best, because every part of our life is tied to economic forces that are much bigger than any individual. Consider the impact of September 11, 2001, the day that a war began, when so much changed. It was the official end to the boom of the 1990s, during which the economy grew rapidly and the stock market appreciated at a reckless pace. The average person lost 40 percent of his or her financial investments or retirement funds as a result of 9/11.
Beyond the hard facts about our finances, money matters take an emotional toll on our lives and in our relationships. The Gallup Poll verifies that 56 percent of all divorces are the result of financial tension.
All God's children can be free from financial worry, however, because God gives us biblical principles to open the doors to financial freedom. Whether as debt-ridden adults or credit-tempted students, there can be no better time than right now to experience transformation in our money matters.
As we build a platform for wealth in every sense of the term, we should begin with the understanding that we have a powerful parent. If you and I as humans are willing to go to such great lengths to be with and provide for our children, how much more God? This parental promise Matthew 7:7-11:
Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (NRSV)
I had a toy not too long ago, a 1960 Corvette with silver coves, a white soft top, and nine perfect chrome teeth in the front. There is a special connection between men and their toys. Often I'll call a friend's house and his wife will answer the phone and tell me that my friend is out in the garage. Women seldom go out to the garage just to look at their car or motorcycle or whatever's out there, but men can be caught just opening the door and sighing! The number one question I'm asked is, "Why don't you have your Corvette anymore? What happened to the car?" Only one thing could cause me to give up that car: a child, a child who needed to attend college. And here's the sad thing: I'll probably never be able to buy another Corvette because already that car is worth three times what I paid for it. I knew when I let it go that I was letting it go for good, but the heart of a parent does whatever is required for the sake of the child.
Notice the authority of Jesus' teaching, because Matthew is very intentional: "your Father in heaven." That's not merely a title; it's a position. God is in the all-powerful position to back you with all the resources of heaven. God is in the position to back God's promises. I saw how this analogy works when a family friend from our church was in Philadelphia and called my son's apartment to take Jonathan out to supper. This man wanted to stop by the college bookstore on the way to the restaurant to buy his wife a University of Pennsylvania sweatshirt. The three of them went to the bookstore to buy it, and Jonathan said, "You don't have to worry about paying for that. We'll just put it on my bursar account and let my dad pay for it." It didn't matter that my son had no resources to his name, because Jonathan knew that his father was in a position to back him!
"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." —Jesus, Luke 12:7
There are many things you can control in your life, but ironically you have no control over God's love for you. There is nothing you can do to change God's love, no matter how badly you mess up. Jesus told us that God even has the hairs on your head numbered— he knows the exact number. If an earthly father would get involved with a passion for a a piece of steel that was made in 1960, only to give it up for his child, how much more your heavenly father?
The Promise of Provision
As we're building a platform of financial freedom into our lives, the amazing truth is that we not only have a powerful parent, we have a powerful parent who has given us the promise of provision. "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
The Bible offers one narrative after another that illustrates how no need is too great for God to meet. When the Israelites were out in the middle of the desert without anything to eat, God provided manna and quail. When there was nothing to drink, God pulled water out of a rock. When the only available resources to feed 5,000 people were a few dry fish and five loaves of bread, Jesus multiplied them to feed the multitudes. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) If God was willing to give Jesus to die for you, does not everything else pale in comparison to Love's ability to provide for your every need?
Financial freedom is based in trust; that is, in building a trusting relationship between you and God. Life is not about frantically pursuing money and possessions, because God's already promised all we need. Life is about pursuing a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. We begin to build a lifetime of financial freedom by readjusting our priorities. Jesus put it this way: "But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." —Matthew 6:33 NRSV. I don't have to worry about multiplying wealth because God has promised that to me. All I need worry about is staying in a right relationship with God, making sure that God is first.
The Principle of Biblical Prosperity
I don't know any parents who want their children to make average grades in school, who hope their kids will struggle their way through life, and who dream of their children growing up to be poor. All parents desire the best for their children, and our heavenly parent is no different. Despite the fact that God loves you and has promised to abundantly meet all of your needs, financial freedom is not going to merely "happen." Thinking that success comes solely by being under God's covering or protection is one of the biggest mistakes that the people of God can make. In the Old Testament, the Israelites sometimes felt that they were blessed just because they are the children of Abraham. As Christians we also often make the mistake of expecting that we're going to be blessed just because we're redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. No, we must submit ourselves to all of the laws and principles of God. Ephesians 5:17 says "Do not be foolish but understand what the LORD's will is." You must understand the will of the Lord and submit yourself to it. This is the beginning of developing a healthy biblical perspective about wealth.
Today Is the Day
We declare that today is the day of our salvation, and we keep our focus upon the devotion of our heart. We remember that we have a powerful parent, a father who is in heaven. What are parents willing to do for the success of their children? To what extent are parents willing to go? Jesus taught us to pray, Our Father, who art in heaven, because Jesus is in the position of power and authority, which means that he can back his promises. We have a father in heaven who has promised to provide us everything we need. In Jesus Christ we have all of the resources needed for financial freedom. In Jesus every promise of God for our success is "yes!"
1. Consider your earthly parents. How were they similar or different than your powerful heavenly parent?
2. Do you truly believe that "there is nothing you can do to change God's love, no matter how badly you mess up"? Financial freedom will come only as we accept God's love, care, and provision for us as God's children.CHAPTER 2
Devoted to Our Rightful Owner
Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"
Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he replied.
The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
"This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."
Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.
"Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."
Moses said to the Lord, "Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."
The LORD said to him, "Who gives human beings their mouth? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." —Exodus 4:1-12
God's intention and aggressive purpose in each of our lives is for freedom in every aspect. Sometimes it is hard to see how our financial situation is of concern to God. We tend to put God and spiritual matters in one compartment, and our financial situation in another, separating the two. The truth is, however, that God is more concerned about your financial freedom than you are. A vast number of passages in the Scripture describe God's promise of provision and God's intent for physical blessing in our lives. Consider how many of Jesus' miracles were physical. Jesus wasn't just about saving people for heaven later; Jesus' ministry was about creating freedom and health for lives on earth.
A great percentage of Jesus' teachings were about money and possessions. Twenty-seven out of forty-three parables in the Bible are metaphors for the subject of money. The Bible asserts that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It doesn't say that possessing money is the root of all evil; rather the wrong focus and corrupt financial practices will define the evil.
A Series of Conversions
I believe that there is one new birth in life, which is the time when a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit comes into his or her life, making available all the resources of heaven. There seems to be one new birth, but each of us will likely experience a series of conversions throughout a lifetime. Conversion is a point at which you have a change of thinking and a change of practice in any specific area of your life. As you learn and practice spiritual discipline, you change your thinking and behavior to conform to the perspective and renewing action of Jesus. By analogy, when Carolyn and I got married we had both experienced the new birth. We both had all the resources of heaven and the Holy Spirit. But we did not reach our potential during the first twenty years of marriage because we had not yet converted our practices into the type of marriage that God promises. We needed to practice God's perspective of marriage before the resources of the Holy Spirit could be released for God's blessings in our relationship. We were sitting on those resources for twenty years until our relational conversion.
As another example many of us presently are slaves financially. We have been born again and have all the resources of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but the resources cannot be released until we are converted. Conversion in our finances means we will change our thinking and practice to the thinking and practice of Jesus. Carolyn and I were converted financially when we married, and these financial principles have been working in our lives since day one; we didn't waste any time in this area. We have experienced the multiplication and blessing of financial freedom in our lives for more than thirty years. Remember, God is still in the conversion business even after you have accepted God's love. As you read this book you may experience a financial conversion!
The Recognition of Rightful Ownership
Financial freedom requires the recognition that God is the rightful owner of all things. Exodus 4:2 depicts God calling Moses to a place of conversion, to a higher place in his life. God asked Moses a great question.
The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" Moses said, "It's a staff." For Moses, the staff represented the tool of his trade as a shepherd. It represented his skills and talents and all of his experience, which is the package that God had given him to make a living and a life. Everything Moses needed for financial freedom and to fulfill God's purpose was already in his hand.
We typically use credit cards for what's not in our hand. We believe that to find freedom and life purpose we need something that we don't already have; we get into debt to acquire something that's not in our hand. The only thing God is going to bless supernaturally for his purpose is what you are already holding in your hand.
This is why the Bible asserts that debt is bad. Debt is not our friend. Now, you are saying, "What if I had more of ... if I only had this ... if I only had a different job." This kind of thinking is self-defeating, because you already-have everything you need. God has given you talent, skill, and experience to move you towards freedom.
I only brought one skill to the table. I wasn't a good student or athlete. I wasn't even a great musician, but I apparently exhibited the gift of bull. It was amazing how I could talk myself (and others) out of all kinds of negative situations. (Do not try this at home; this behavior was characteristic during my lost ays.) In third grade, my friend and I were down by the creek smoking. Mrs. Osterwich, who lived on my street, saw Jeff and me smoking down by the creek, so she called my father. My father was waiting with his belt off when I got home. (Parents, do not imitate this at home; this occurred during in my dad's lost days.) My dad said, "You were smoking down by the creek." I said, "Dad, we were lighting leaves, letting them float in the water, and throwing rocks at them. Mrs. Osterwich must have seen the smoke from the leaves!"
My dad bought it! That's what I mean by the gift of "bull." My dad would say to me, "That smooth talk is not going to get you anywhere." What you have in your hand, God has given you. And when it is redeemed through the new birth and released through the conversion of faith, even the gift of bull can become a leadership tool.
You may be thinking, "I'm a janitor; I have a broomstick in my hand. What can I do with a broomstick?" Perhaps you have heard of Famous Amos or eaten one of his deadly cookies? Wally Amos was a janitor, but he liked to bake cookies. He would give them to people at work. Someone said to him, "You know what you ought to do with these cookies?" And Wally Amos did it! He started a wildly successful cookie company, and has gone on to write books and speak to large audiences about the positive values he believes in. Now Wally is famous and financially free!
Excerpted from Money Matters by Michael Slaughter, Kim Miller. Copyright © 2006 Michael B. Slaughter. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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