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Four steps to financial freedom

By Bill Buchholz

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.

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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, NLT).

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.

Bill Buchholz is founding pastor of Family Community Church (Assemblies of God) in South San Jose, Calif.

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