Biblically Based Evaluating

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Pastor Mark Mikels – July 26, 2009
“BIBLE-BASED EVALUATING”
(Proverbs 27:23-24)

Intro … Several weeks ago I preached a message entitled “Bible-Based Giving” in which we identified three main types of giving: Tithing, Free-Will Offering and Need-Generated Responding or Benevolence Giving.

Last week I followed up that message with one entitled “Bible-Based Financial Planning” which was really just part two of the first. Last week we identified some Key Principles of Bible-Based Financial Planning.

There were four to be exact – popularly expressed principles:
“Spend Less Than You Earn”
“Seek To Live Debt-Free”
“Save A Pre-Determined Amount Every Month”
Sensitively Invest Your Surplus”

Both of those messages are available in printed form this morning on the counter in the foyer and, of course, at our Sonlife Community Church website. They are available in audio form at the website as well. Sometimes we need to hear a thing more than once if we would have its truths really sink in.

Today’s message is now part three of that same message and once again the previous week’s “Final Thot” has given rise to this week’s Key Concept …

TODAY’S KEY CONCEPT …

Biblically-Based Financial Planning will eliminate much
EARTHLY STRESS and guarantee much HEAVENLY REWARD.

Today I would have us focus upon the first part of that re-titled “final thot” …

“Biblically-Based Financial Planning will eliminate much earthly stress.”

ELIMINATE EARTHLY STRESSES LIKE:

* The Stress Of DECIDING Every Month WHAT To Do With My MONEY.

Living according to these Biblically Based Principles will keep us from having to just “make it up as we go along”, financially speaking. When, in fact, our finances are “up for grabs” every month, everyone in the family will tend to get in on the “grabbing”. Our spending becomes a way of affirming who’s most important or who’s not. Unprincipled spending leaves the door wide open to selfishness and manipulation and emotional bingeing.

* The Stress Of WONDERING Every Month If I Will Run Out
Of MONEY Before I Run Out Of MONTH.

This is commonly called “living paycheck to paycheck” … meaning that the only money I have to live on is the money that came in my last paycheck. I exhaust my paycheck every month and if anything unexpected comes up I find myself having in fact “run out of money before I ran out of month”. I have no reserve – I live with a knot in my stomach most months – especially as the end of the month (or week) approaches.

* The Stress Of Never Really Knowing The Answer To The Question:
“CAN We AFFORD It?”

You see, there’s a difference between “Can we find a way to make the payment” and “Can we actually afford it”. Anyone who has ever “signed papers” with a knot in their stomach knows what this stress is like.

Those who follow a Biblically-Based Financial Plan always know the answer to that question. Can we afford it means …

“Do we have enough margin in our monthly operating budget
to take on this obligation or do we have enough stored up in
savings that we can make this purchase outright without
jeopardizing ourselves?”

* The Stress Of Never Being Either In CONTROL Or At PEACE.

Not being in control creates tremendous stress in our hearts and in our homes … Feeling like we are living at the mercy of others, especially with regard to our financial lives is particularly stressful.
That’s why young people should be financially independent before they decide to get married – it’s a stressful thing to only appear to be “grown up” when in fact you are still living under someone else’s jurisdiction and provision.

How many men or women have been able to endure a difficult job situation just because they know that if they reached the point where they just “couldn’t take it any longer” they had enough set aside that they could quit.

As I said last week … there are few pressures in life quite like financial
pressure … financial pressure is a real “peace-stealer”.

This final stress that I mention this morning is one that uniquely affects Christians and is perhaps in many ways the worst of all.

* The Stress Of Feeling That I/We Have FAILED The Lord FINANCIALLY.

Every believer intuitively knows and over time gradually learns that His/Her Commitment to Christ involves every aspect of life.

Believers come to understand that the Lord counts on His People to provide the means for His Work to get done in this world.

Depending on their particular environment, he or she will become more or less familiar with God’s Plan for Giving and Living that we are presently discussing.

And the realization that one is falling short can be most stressful – has even caused some no doubt to drop out of fellowship altogether.

Stress –Stress and more Stress …

These are the kinds of stresses that can wear us down and wear us out. However, these are the very kinds of stresses from which Biblically-Based Financial Principles can and will deliver all who follow them.

What we need is … A PLAN OF ATTACK to get us from where we are to where God would have us be … I’m suggesting this morning a SIX STEP PLAN …

Buy yourself a pad of yellow paper and prepare to go to war!

* DETERMINE Your Actual INCOME

How much are you really making? That’s not the same as “How much you are bringing home?” List every source of income – get it all down on your pad right at the top.

* IDENTIFY Your Set OBLIGATIONS

Begin with what’s deducted from your paycheck … Can any of that be altered? If you get a good size tax refund every year, then you are allowing too much to be taken out of your pay. That’s money that you could put to use every month rather than spending it like a Christmas Club once a year.

Secondly list all your monthly bills – those with set amounts like mortgage or rent and car payments and those with varying amounts like utilities and credit card bills. Be sure to include those bills that aren’t monthly like insurance premiums and perhaps property taxes. Get it all down in front of you. Total it up.

* TRACK Your Non-Obligated SPENDING

Answer the question …
“Where does the money that is under my/our control go?”

Do this for three months – Pretend that you’re a private investigator and it’s someone else that you are tracking. Be prepared for some surprises. Organize these expenditures into general categories … Groceries/Automobile/ Entertainment /Clothes/Gifts/Vacation etc.

* PRIORITIZE Your EXPENDITURES

What are the things that you could get along without or with less of? What are the things that are absolute necessities – What are the things that are definitely not – don’t leave anything out.
Example: which is a higher priority – having a home to live in or everyone having his/her own personal cell phone? Prioritizing is not easy but instructive … All who provide income should share in the process.

(step five) * PICTURE A Biblically-Based SCENARIO

What would your household budget look like based upon Biblical Principles?
Follow the following formula using your own family situation.

FORMULA: Total Income minus Tithe/Taxes* minus Savings
minus Set Obligations = DISCRETIONARY Income.

* remember that the moment you begin to tithe, your taxes will go down – somewhere between 10 and 30% of the amount of your tithe.

Most likely it will appear to be ridiculous … you’ll probably wind up with what appears to be too little “discretionary income” – at least for the current lifestyle that you are living. But look at it anyway. That’s your current situation with Biblically-Based Values plugged in.

Now that you’ve actually seen it ..

* EVALUATE the POSSIBILITIES

What would it take for us to make that biblical-based scenario a reality in our home? What would it be like for us to have adequate savings and be faithfully tithing and be living debt-free?

What could be changed? Can income be increased? Can expenses be cut? Which is more important “tithing or saving”? They are both important.

I would encourage you to start on a path in the direction God would have you go. Tithe 5% and Save 5%. And spend the rest of your money wisely – allocate increases equally toward tithing and saving until they are both 10%.

It’s a lot of work to do this but it’s necessary and God-Approved work.
Here’s God’s word on the subject … Proverbs 27:23-24

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

Final Thot …
Those who FAIL to PLAN are PLANNING to FAIL!

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