steps to financial freedom
The end of the money arrives before
the end of the month in all too many homes. It’s becoming a daily dilemma,
hitting more and more people. Single or married, male or female … financial
stress is no respecter of persons.
What does Scripture say? “Yet
have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his [God’s] seed begging
bread” (Psalm 37:25). Sounds great, but what do I do when I get a notice
that says I’m part of the “Workforce Restructuring Program”
for my company? That’s 21st-century lingo for pink slip. Laid off. Downsized.
I remember when I was just 28 years
old and lost my ministry job unexpectedly. I’d done nothing wrong, but
my boss had. His errors led to my being unemployed. I had options. I could
cry about what I had lost or do something with what I had left. I knew God
would provide, but I had to do my part too. I pursued a lead and sure enough
it worked out. I was employed again at a local school district. Looking back,
I believe my remedy was tied to my lifestyle during times of plenty and to
the attitude with which I faced my time of job loss. Seed had been sown. My
wife and I had always tithed, even when it seemed we could not afford it.
Malachi 3:10 says God wants us to test Him in this area of life and see that
He will open the windows of heaven to meet our needs. He does not say when
He will do it, but He promises to never be late.
In that same year the church I
now pastor was birthed in our living room. A small group of people started
meeting and God showed up. It was not long until I lost my job again. This
time it was my choice. I had to quit my “day job” to keep up with
the demands of pastoring a new church that now has thousands of people in
it. But every minute of every day, then and now, has been made possible because
of God’s faithfulness. He is dependable even when we are not. I have
learned about trusting God during times of poverty and plenty.
If you are in the midst of a financial
trial, consider the following four steps.
Freedom —Seven Secrets to Reduce Financial Worry
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1. Don’t give
up, look up.
Elijah got depressed after fighting
the prophets of Baal. He had just won atop Mount Carmel, but somehow he did
not think God had enough game left in Him to provide power and grace to contend
with Jezebel. God’s word to Elijah is the same for you: He’s got
others in the same situation and they have not given up on God. Don’t
you give up either! Trust Him!
2. Refuse to be limited to what
you are familiar with.
I’ve heard it
said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll
always get what you’ve always got!” What does that
suggest? Think outside the box. Bounce your ideas off friends
and family. Write things down. Pray. Let God speak His wisdom
into your heart. Lack wisdom? James 1:5 says God will give it
to you if you ask. Sometimes by speaking to your mind with a word
from His heart to yours. Sometimes by sending someone your way
to bring His answer.
You must start expecting God to
speak, and then listen for truth that will move you from the fear of failure.
Get familiar with the sense of God’s remedy. Then act on faith that
is coupled with wisdom.
3. Keep an eternal perspective.
Jesus Christ said, “To whom
much is given much is required,” and that a servant who got talents
was supposed to multiply them. He never said to stockpile this world’s
goods and admire how much we have. He said if you are blessed financially
to use those resources as a steward, knowing that they are His, not yours,
and that you will give an account when you stand before God of how you invested
His money in things eternal. He has no problem with your enjoying earthly
goods if an eternal perspective drives your every decision. That’s the
teaching of Paul to Timothy, his son in the faith. “Tell those who are
rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which
will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly
gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do
good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those
in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.
By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation
for the future so that they may take hold of real life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19,
4. Accept God’s answers.
Sometimes God’s way of answering
prayer is by saying “No.” We don’t like that one, but He
knows best and we do not. So when He chooses a plan for us that’s different
from our design, we must submit and accept the direction. He withholds or
supplies bounty. Maybe you should not go on that missions trip. Maybe you
should take what you would have spent on your own ministry and give it to
someone else. Don’t be afraid to let God say “No” as a means
to answering your prayer for guidance.
Your financial state can change
quickly. Predetermine in your mind that, regardless of your economic status,
you will always trust in God and operate your life on biblical principles.
Most people cannot handle success.
It is harder for a wealthy person to give 10 percent than it is for a poor
man. Yet the wealthy should give much more than 10 percent, for “to
whom much is given much is required.” All too often people are blessed
by God, then change their theology. They believed it was appropriate to give
to God when they felt they needed His blessings to survive, but not when they
got enough to trust in their riches. Oh, the folly of such thinking.
I have watched selfish visions
of grandeur and self-sufficiency ruin families and destroy the
divine potential that God has freely bestowed. Never forget the
mandate of Matthew 6:33: Seek first the Kingdom and all you need
will be added to you. Then lay up treasure in heaven, not on earth.
Those principles, when heeded by a follower of Christ, will result
in genuine financial freedom.
Buchholz is founding pastor of Family Community Church (Assemblies
of God) in South San Jose, Calif.
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