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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back From Class

It's so good to be home! Got home Friday. Have had computer troubles (which aren't all over yet) so I haven't been able to post.

Class was awesome for the second week--too much good stuff to write about now. Hopefully, I'll be able to publish some snippets in the coming weeks.

Next: Post-course assignments (4 big ones) then 2 qualifying exams, and then a long stretch of working on my applied research project. My tentative topic: Gossip.

Thank you to all who have prayed me through this.


Bettler Hall, Home of CCEF


My fellow students from around the country. A class with class.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bumping Back and Forth

Great week at school, headed back now in a few minutes (this time, with a new computer so that I can take notes and stay up with things--last week I only had my old Compaq (circa 2000) running Windows 98! It didn't have network card or anything).

Last week had so many good things to it, too many to report.

But here are some pictures taken at a party that CCEF threw for the D.Min students. You don't have to look too closely, I seem to have gotten into a lot of the pictures.

Thanks to all who are praying me through this. I have experienced SO MUCH GRACE!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Bumpkin Returns to Philly


My books are read, my pre-course papers are written, and my bags are packed. I'm headed back to Philly to take two more weeks of classes from the faculty of CCEF and Westminster Theological Seminary.

Last year, I got pretty lost on the way, but I think I know what I'm doing this time. Still, if you read this, please pray for safe and boring travel between 4 and 8pm today.

And pray for Heather as she holds down the fort (not literally) and keeps the home fires burning (literally). She's the best!

[Matt's Messages] "Poverty & Riches"


“Poverty & Riches”
In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
August 16, 2009
Proverbs 30:7-9

This is the last message in our Summer Series titled, “In God We Trust – What the Bible Says About Money.” And we haven’t said everything that the Bible says about money, but we’ve covered a lot of important ground.

Let’s take our last Pop Quiz to remind ourselves what we’ve learned.

Question #1. Money is what? [Profoundly Spiritual.] Money is profoundly spiritual.

We do not give in to the “Pie Chart Fallacy” that our spiritual life is just a little sliver of our total life and that our finances have nothing to do with our hearts.

Our finances have everything to do with our hearts. Jesus said, “Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Money is profoundly spiritual.

If you don’t remember anything else from this Summer, remember that.

God cares about what I do, what I think, and how I feel about money.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Question #2. Who owns all of the money in the world? [God does!]

“The Earth is the Lords’s and all that is in it.” Everything in our accounts, wallets, and purses. God owns.

And Question #3. What does that make us? [Stewards! God’s financial agents.]

And that means that we must give an account for what we do with God’s money.

There will be a heavenly audit!

Question #4. How many masters can you serve? [Only One.]

Only God or Money. God or Mammon.

We must choose. Once and for all and every day.

Question #5. What are the four main ways that we are tempted to serve money?

1. Worry About Money.
2. Steal Money.
3. Hoard Money.
4. Crave Money.

Question #6. What is the opposite of worrying about money?

[Trusting God.] Written on all of our money here in the United States (whether we heed it or not)? “In God We Trust.”

Not in money.

#7. What is the antithesis of stealing money?

[Working and Giving]

#8. What is the antithesis of hoarding money?

[Being generous! Sharing it.]

#9. What is the antidote to craving money?

[Contentment in Christ.] Keep yourselves free from the love of money and be content with what you have–the Lord Jesus.

Question #10. What is the New Testament percentage that the Lord requires of His children for their giving? Answer: There is none.

We are to give generously, sacrificially, cheerfully, and expectantly–expecting reward.

Question #11. How much should we pay back in loans and pay in taxes? [Pay what you owe.] Now, do we have to do that cheerfully? One of you asked me that.

No. We don’t have to like it, though we are to do everything without grumbling or complaining!

Question #12. What are the three actions of a biblical marriage as it relates to money? [Leave, Cleave, and Become One.] Married couples are co-stewards, co-managers of everything that God has entrusted them.

Good job! We’ve been learning a lot.

I’d be interested to hear what you’ve learned this Summer.

And how God has been blessing you as you grow as a biblical steward of what God has entrusted to you care.

I know that it’s sometimes one step forward and two steps back.

You’ve probably picked up by now that I’m no expert at money management. Just this week, I got a notice from the bank that I did it again–another speeding ticket. Another bank overdraft.

Rats! You’d think that a guy who is preaching a series of messages on money would be careful not to fall into that trap during the series!

I still have a lot to learn here. But God has been teaching me. And He has been faithful all of my life in this financial and spiritual arena.

Here’s another testimony from one of you:
I’ve got three testimonies about God’s providence.

Each one is how God provided for me (and later, our family) when I was laid-off.
In every case, God provided for my needs.

The first time I got laid off, God provided a new job (that I loved) the same day I was let go. It was fun job, with a Christian boss, who knew this was a temporary job for me, and didn’t mind me taking time off for interviews.

The second time I was laid off, God provided enough freelance work, that I had more money in my bank account when I went back to work than I had when I was laid-off. And I was called back to my job after a couple of months.

The third time, I was able to do freelance work for the company I was laid off from, while still collecting severance pay! And my severance continued after I found a new full-time job. So for a while, I was getting 2 very good pay checks. Taxes were a killer the next year, but we paid what we owed.
Praise God?! Yes! He is faithful.

Now, today, I want to wrap up this series by thinking about the two extremes on the money continuum. The two extremes of “Poverty and Riches.” Poverty and Wealth.

There is a prayer recorded here in Proverbs chapter 30, verses 7, 8, and 9.

It’s a prayer by a man named Agur son of Jakeh and that’s about all we know about this guy. He has a number of excellent proverbs in chapter 30, but we don’t know much about Agur.

But he has this double prayer request in verses 7 through 9 that we want to look at today.

“Two things I ask of you, O LORD [He’s got two requests]; do not refuse me before I die: [Request #1] Keep falsehood and lies far from me [Agur wants a life without deceit. That’s a great prayer request!]; [Request #2] give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

This second request, of course, is the one that has to do with money.

Agur prays that the LORD would give him neither poverty nor riches.

He doesn’t want one or the other. But instead, he prays that God would give him his daily bread. Or if you have the King James Version, “food convenient for me.” New Living Translation, “Just enough to satisfy my needs.”

Not poverty, not riches, just enough to satisfy my needs. Somewhere in between the extremes.

Now, how much is that? Does he put a number on that?

It doesn’t say, does it? It doesn’t put a number on that here.

And nowhere in Scripture does it put a number on that. That number is going to be different for different people in different locations, different cultures, different periods of history, different socio-economic situations.

And this is not a call to judge other people. “Oh, they are too rich!”

It’s a prayer request for the human soul.

Agur recognizes that there are dangers inherent in both extremes on the money continuum. There are dangers lurking in both ditches of having money and not having money. And so he prays that God would help him by His grace to stay on the middle road of neither poverty nor riches.

He says the danger of having money (v.9) is that we would forget God.

Agur prays, “I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’” Forgetting that everything we have belongs to God. And beginning to arrogantly put our trust in money and possessions. That’s the temptation we titled, “Hoarding.”

When we hoard, we forget God, and money becomes our god, and we lose our way.

In the other ditch, there is the temptation to steal. V.9

“Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

If you are poor, and you can’t feed yourself, and you can’t feed your children, you are tempted to become a thief. It’s easy to look down on theft until you see someone starving, and then you understand how tempting it would be to take what someone else has.

There is nothing glamorous about being poor.

This prayer is a prayer for contentment. It’s not so much a prayer that God would limit His gifts to us as that our hearts would be content with what He has given.

And that if that takes limiting his earthly gifts to us so that we don’t fall into the trap of forgetting God, then do that, Lord. Because I don’t want to disown you!

Neither poverty nor riches.

The best book I read this summer on money has that as the title. It’s written by Craig Blomberg a graduate of Trinity and a professor at Denver Theological Seminary. “Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions.

If you want to know in comprehensive summary everything the Bible teaches about money, this is the book for you. And it does it systematically, going through the Bible from Genesis to Reveleation. An excellent study. I’m done with it now, you would be welcome to borrow it. “Neither Poverty Nor Riches.” Highly Recommended. [Audio Summary]

Blomberg says that the Bible argues that there are extremes of poverty and wealth that are both in and of themselves intolerable.
There is a kind of crushing poverty that is just plain wrong and must be alleviated. And there is a kind of wealth that is just plain wrong and must be countered.

Especially, in the soul of the Christ-follower.

Agur’s prayer, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” Is that your prayer?

Of course, the Bible has even more to say about poverty and riches than that.

I’d like to mention a few others.

First, about the poor.

We need to care about the poor.

Because God does. Do you remember when we studied Exodus together? There were whole chapters in the Law that dealt with how to care for the poor of Israel.

Leave the corners of your fields for the poor to gather from.

Don’t charge the poor interest on their loans. Don’t take advantage of the poor!

Don’t take a man’s livelihood from him when as security on a loan–never take the upper millstone from a man–he couldn’t do his work if you did.

Slaves get freed every 7 years. Kinsman redeemers buying poor family members out of debt.

The book of Ruth is beautiful description of these laws in effect.

God loves poor people. He cares about what they are going through. And He cares about whether or not we care.

Listen to these proverbs that talk about how our relationship with the poor affects our relationship with God!

Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Proverbs 19:17 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

Proverbs 21:13 “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”

What do you think of that?

This is picked up in the New Testament in the book of James and 1 John.

1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

What are you doing to relieve the crushing burden on the poor?

In 1999, our first child died in the womb. We were devastated.

And one of the things we decided to do in the midst of our grief was sign up to sponsor a child through Compassion International.

We got a little girl who is now a young lady named Christine Fenelon. She lives in Haiti.

We correspond with her several times a year, send her Christmas presents, and pictures of our growing family. And we pray for her and get a pictures of her once year–a growing, beautiful girl.

That’s one small way that Heather and I have responded to the need of the poor.

How are you doing it? There are two main things in the New Testament that we are supposed to give towards. One is gospel work and gospel workers. The other is meeting real, tangible, needs of the poor and hurting.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Sometimes, what the poor need the most is not a hand-out but a hand-up. They need justice, new laws to protect them, micro-loans to start businesses, and other social services that help to build wealth.

This book, I read this Summer, “Money, Greed, and God” argues that often the thing most needed to truly alleviate the suffering of the poor is good business. [Author Interview with Kevin DeYoung]

I agree. Business is a good thing. That’s the argument of this book by one my old professors, Wayne Grudem, “Business to the Glory of God.” This book argues for the moral goodness of business. Business is not bad, a necessary evil, it is, in fact, a good thing given by God for this age and meant to be done to His glory.

If you are in business, I highly recommend reading this book. [Audio Lectures on the Same.]

Because we need to truly care about the poor and do what we can and what is right to relieve their burden.

The new EFCA Statement faith says it really well in the new point #8: “We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed.”

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Here’s a second thing that the Bible tells us to do about the poor:

We need to learn from the poor. That’s surprising isn’t it?

It isn’t that the poor are glamorous, but sometimes they have something to teach us that we never would have thought of on our own.

Often the poor are the most generous. Remember the widow who gave her two pennies?

In Scripture, the poor are often presented as a model of how we ought to be as Christ-followers.

Luke’s version of the Beatitudes begin, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of heaven.” Not “poor in spirit.” That’s Matthew’s version. “You who are poor.”

Now, I think he’s driving at “poor in spirit” because I don’t think that God thinks that poverty is somehow innately more spiritual. If He did, then Agur wouldn’t pray in his inspired proverb, “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” He’d just pray, “Lord, make me poor! I want to be blessed!”

But I think that financial poverty drives us to our need for help. Our dependence upon God. And so financial poverty becomes a driving picture of spiritual poverty. We need God. We need help. We are in debt. Help!

That’s why James says in chapter 1. “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. [The rich need to learn this from the poor because it doesn’t seem like it.] For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”

We need to learn from the poor that we are poor and needy.

Needy of Christ.

The people of Jesus’ day thought the exact opposite. And there are many that think the same today.

The thinking is that if you are rich, if you have possessions, then you are blessed.

And probably that also means that you have a direct line to God. You are more holy, more faith-filled, more godly than someone who isn’t blessed with money and possessions.

Nearly every television preacher seems to have the message.

[I know that there are some good and godly exceptions, but this seems to be the teaching of most television preachers.]

God wants you wealthy, healthy, and prosperous. And if you aren’t, there is something wrong with you and with your faith.

That’s a lie from the pit of hell.

Jesus was poor. Did you ever think about the two doves or the two pigeons that Mary and Joseph gave at Jesus’ dedication at the temple? That was the poor-man’s sacrifice.

Paul had been rich and he had been poor. If Christ-followers are supposed to been rich if they have faith, then Paul was a failure.

It’s actually the opposite in this life. Riches are more dangerous that poverty to us spiritually.

That’s what Jesus was telling the Rich Young Ruler. His story is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Jesus told that man to sell his possession and give to the poor and follow Him.

But the young man walked away said because he had great wealth–actually great wealth had him!

And what did Jesus say? “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” And, friends, you and I in this room have riches that that young man couldn’t dream of! Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

What a great word picture. Can imagine a great big camel and an itty bitty needle? I can’t even thread a needle, much less, “camel a needle!”

And that turned the disciples’ world upside down.

“You mean being rich isn’t being godly?

Riches are dangerous?”

The disciples were astonished and they said, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Salvation is a work of God. And He does it irrespective of money and possessions.

God does the impossible in saving us.

Jesus died on the Cross to save us from our sins.

He paid the penalty. He paid the debt and redeemed us from our sins.

And He and he alone gives us salvation.

Trust Him for salvation through Jesus Christ!

But money is no barometer of godliness or faith.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

“Lord, Give me neither poverty NOR riches.”

This book, “Beyond Greed” by Brian Rosner, is an excellent and easy to read book about greed and money-loving, and it has a good chapter exposing the heresy of the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel that is so much on television here in America. I recommend it, especially chapter 2.

Money is no barometer of godliness or faith.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

“Lord, Give me neither poverty NOR riches.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that riches are bad, does it?

No. Again and again this Summer, we’ve seen that riches are a good thing. They are, especially in the Old Testament, a picture of the blessings of the age to come!

And God owns all of the wealth in the world. And He’s not tainted by it.

No, money is a good thing. Riches are a good thing in their own place.

But you CAN have too much of a good thing.

What if you do have money? What should you do? What if you do have riches?

Turn with me to 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 17. This is where we’re going to end. I

Here’s where Paul tells Timothy what to tell rich people (like you and me). Let’s read it. 1 Timothy 6, verses 17 through 19.

“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.”

A couple of things for the rich:

#1. Be Humble and Hope in God.

“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...”

If you have anything in your wallet, remember where it came from.

It’s not because you’re so great that you own this or that.

And don’t hope in it, because it won’t satisfy. It’s here today and gone tomorrow.

But God is trustworthy and is not going anywhere.

And #2. Enjoy Your Money With Thankfulness.

V.17 again, “[Put your] hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

I don’t know if I’ve said this enough during this series, but if you have something, that’s not bad. That’s good! He’s given you that, at least for a time, to be enjoyed.

We tell our kids every day that God has given us good gifts in toys, money, houses, vehicles for two things: To ENJOY and to SHOW LOVE with it.

If God has given you something, then enjoy it!

I’m headed for Philadelphia today and going to be away from my family for five nights. Then home for two nights and away for five nights again.

And this week, God provided for Heather and me an amazing date night with dinner at a great restaurant, tickets to play, babysitting, and trip to Cook Forest. It was awesome.

And then also this week, God provided the funds for my whole family to go together to the Curve game yesterday with the Men’s Ministry Family Outing to the ballgame.

And we all got eat a picnic at Schiefers’ and then watch our hometown boys play at America’ Past-time.

These were gifts from God.

What should I have done with those gifts?

Well, I do need to think about it. Maybe that money should go to something other than myself.

I am in a war, and need a war-time mentality.
There are gospel workers who need funds.
And there are poor people who need cared for and lifted out of poverty.

But, if in faith, I can use those funds for those enjoyable things, then I should do it WITH THANKFULNESS IN MY HEART to God. Who, verse 17, “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

When He does give riches, then I am to thank Him for it, enjoy it, and use it, as I can show love to others. That’s the last bit here in verse 18.

#3. Be Rich in Good Deeds and Invest in Eternity.

V.18 “Command [those who have riches] 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 [does that sound familiar? That’s Jesus in Matthew 6 again! Treasures for themselves] as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

If you have riches, then use them in love. Be Rich in Good Deeds and Invest in Eternity.
"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."

The Prayer of Agur - Proverbs 30:7-9

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Family Finances"


“Family Finances”

In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
August 9, 2009
Genesis 2:24, 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 6:4

We’re coming to the end of our Summer Sermon Series entitled: “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.” Next week will be our last message in this series, and then we’ll be picking up the book of Luke.

I hope this series has been helpful to you. A number of people told me that they have been helped by this series–that’s encouraging to me as it has been one of the hardest sermon series for me to prepare message for. Maybe because it has been so personal and I need so much work in this area, and maybe because there is so much information in the Bible, it’s hard to synthesize it all for you. But I’m glad that it’s been helpful you. I got a note this week from someone who reads the sermons online, and he said that he had been convicted to amend his tax return based on last week’s message. Praise God!

Because what we do with money is not just financial. It is profoundly spiritual.

God cares about our financial life.

Today, we’re going to talk about our money and our families. “Family Finances.” Money and family.

Now, I told you when we got started that I am no expert in finances–and that’s probably become obvious to you by now.

So, this is not going to be a practical, 7 step, “how-to” talk on family finances. You don’t want me to deliver that one! This message will be practical, but it’s not a “how to” talk by a financial expert.

Let me recommend a few resources for you if that’s what you need right now.

My mother-in-law gave me this book when I married her daughter. It’s called, “The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples” by the late Larry Burkett. Excellent little book for those who are just getting started (and for those who need a refresher course in making financial decisions).

If I officiated at your wedding ceremony, you already have one of these. I require all of my pre-marital counseling couples to buy one. I don’t require that you read it, but I figure if you bought it, you might. Highly recommended.

We gave this book away in June to all the men. We still have a few copies of it on Free Resources table in the foyer. “How To Survive the Economic Meltdown” by Patrick Morley. This book is practical deeply spiritual at the same time. It’s great if things are really hard for you right now. Get it out and read. You can read it in a couple of hours, but it will help you for a long time.

Many of us have read, “The Treasure Principle” by Randy Alcorn. The subtitle is “Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving.” We talked about giving a couple of weeks ago. I think that every Christian ought to read a book like this.

Alcorn’s bigger book on the subject is really helpful. It’s called “Money, Possession, and Eternity” and it goes into things that I don’t have time to get into in this series. We haven’t talked about investing, insurance, retirement, and those sorts of things. Last week, we talked about danger signs for borrowing. Alcorn goes deeper into all of those things. And it’s very readable. I recommend it for your family.

And last for this week [Next week, I’ll recommend a few more books as we end up this series, the last for this week] is “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. Now, Ramsey is not trying to teach biblical principles. He is a Christian, and I think that most of his stuff fits with a Christian worldview, but he’s more of a self-help kind of motivational speaker with pretty good advice. Some people don’t like him and his approach, but it’s been helpful to me to motivate myself towards good financial goals. We also have audio CD version of this in the church library. You might want to check it out or check out his radio program or website.

Okay, have you found Genesis chapter 2, yet? ☺

Why do you think I’ve taken you here?

It’s because in Genesis 2, we have the first marriage.

And it gives us the divine pattern for marriage–what marriage is and what it should look like. What we should strive to make our marriages to be.

And while it doesn’t mention money, it has profound implications for Money in our marriages.

Let’s read verses 15 through 25, but we’re going to focus on verse 24.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’ [That gets us set up for chapter 3, doesn’t it?] The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, [!] ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ [And here’s our verse:] For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Does money affect marriages?

You bet it does! Money is often near the root of the problems in most troubled marriages.

That’s because Money has become tainted with sin (introduced in the human race in the next chapter, Genesis chapter 3). All of the temptations we talked about in July of Worrying About Money, Stealing Money, Hoarding Money, and Loving Money creep and crawl their way into marriages and come between couples.

And because marriage is such a powerful thing (doesn’t it sound powerful from the description here? “It is not good to be alone...This is now bone of my bones! They were both naked and felt no shame!” Marriage is such a powerful thing.

And because it is so powerful, when sinful hearts get tied up with money in the wrong ways, it is bound to create problems for couples.

But God doesn’t want us to fail in this area. That’s why He’s given us the Savior, the Lord Jesus, to forgive us our sins in this area and to give us grace to enable us to change. And He’s given us His clear Word on marriage so that we can follow it, by faith, and have our marriages glorify God–even in this arena of Money.

Now, you may not be married right now and think that this doesn’t apply to you.

But maybe someday you will be married, and you’ll want to know these things.

Or maybe you will never be married or never married again, but you will want to pray for these things for the marriages in our church and in your family that you care about. So, stick with us.

But many of us are married here and this is God’s word directly to us today.

Now, I want us to look more closely at verse 24. What I love about this verse is that it gives a definition of marriage, a description of marriage, and it does it BEFORE THE FALL. Before sin entered the picture. So, it’s a picture of what marriage ought to be like. A pre-fall marriage before sin. The picture of ideal marriage. “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” There was nothing to be shameful about.

Now, you and I won’t achieve this ideal, this side Genesis 3. We are sinners now and we will continue to mess things up until we go to Christ or He comes for us.

But this is the ideal to which we are supposed to strive by faith. And God is restoring His children, piece by piece, bit by bit, day by day to that pre-fall ideal.

Look at verse 24. This is after Adam realizes that Eve was made just perfectly for him. And Moses says, “For this reason [because man and woman were made for each] a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Now, what does this say about money?

In one way, nothing. It is about marriage, not money.

But because it’s about what marriage is supposed to be, it has big implications for our “married money life.” And that’s what I want to explore with you.

Notice that there are 3 actions in the verse to describe biblical marriage:

Leave
Cleave
And Become One

First, Leave. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother...”

Isn’t that interesting? Who were Adam’s parents? He didn’t have any. No belly-button, right?

But Moses is saying that this is the pattern created by God. The first part of marriage is leaving your primary relationships. And most often that’s Mom and Dad.

You need to leave them in some important ways.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you leave them in every way. The Bible doesn’t teach 100% separation from your parents, “Sorry, I can’t see you any more...”, but there is a significant pulling from your primary relationships. For #2:

CLEAVING. Verse 24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife.”

I like the old King James word for “united.” Most of us don’t what it means to “cleave” but it rhymes so nicely with leave. Leave & Cleave!

I’ve said before that this is the Hebrew Word for “Crazy Glue.” A man leaves his old primary relationships and forms a new primary relationship. Leave and Cleave.

And that leads to number 3. Become One. Moses calls it (very evocatively!). “One flesh.”

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

They begin a new life as a couple. A one flesh, one new entity, united life.

Now, let’s talk about money and marriage.

First, you have to leave. You have to leave Mom and Dad.

And that includes financially.

Marriage involves breaking the financial strings between you and your parents.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have financial dealings with your parents.

You can still do all kinds of things with money with your parents. Gifts, loans, borrowing, trading–all of those things are still possibilities.

But they can’t continue to be your primary financial consideration.

Your spouse does.

You leave and cleave.

Your spouse becomes your primary family. And that includes your money.

I struggled with this greatly at first in our marriage.

My dad has always been wise and given me good counsel. But you when you’re a young man, it seems like Dad doesn’t really know that much all of a sudden?

Well, I had been making a lot of my own choices for 3 years before Heather and I got married.

But the second I got married, all of a sudden, I had all of these new decisions to make about money and I felt woefully inadequate. And you know what, Dad, all of sudden, seemed so wise! And had so much to offer in the way of advice.

So, whenever I had a financial decision to make, I would call Dad. And we’d talk about it, and then I’d tell Heather what we’re going to do!

What’s wrong with this equation?

Is asking Dad for counsel wrong? No. He’s wise. I need wisdom. It’s good to ask.

Was it in taking the initiative with the money? No, I’m the husband, I need to lead in this area.

What is wrong?

My money is no longer about me and my parents. It’s about me and my wife.

Probably, before I talk to Dad, I need to talk to Heather. And after I talk to Dad, I need to talk to Heather. And Heather and I need to make the decision.

Leave and Cleave.

Is there an area of your financial life that is too tied to your parents, especially at the expense of your marriage?

I can think of all kinds of deals where Mom and Dad are too mixed up in their kids finances.

Now, Mom and Dad, you can make this a lot easier by helping them to leave.

But Guys (notice it says that a man will leave, the wife does, too, but the emphasis here is on the guy), you are called to leave. Leave and Cleave.

And become one flesh. This is a very rich expression, and I wish I had time to talk about it at length, but we’re focusing here on money and marriage.

And what this means is that you and your spouse are now ONE. It’s a mystery how it works. It’s not like you disappear into one another. It’s not like you become 50% a person and so does he or she. But there is new union between you that makes you ONE.

And that oneness should be reflected in your finances.

You should strive to be on the same page financially.

One.

For example, I recommend that husbands and wives pool all of their money.

One account.

Or if you have lots of accounts, both of your names are on all of them. Same thing with titles and deeds.

One.

The only exception to this is if you are trying to keep something out of an estate so that a widow or a widower isn’t hindered by the estate having to clear to have rightful possession of some asset. But even then, you need to think of yourselves as sharing everything.

Sharing everying.

That is not his truck and your car.

That is not her account and your account.

You are one flesh.

God says you are one flesh. So, you share everything.

Now, what I just recommended is just that, a recommendation. The Bible does not stipulate that you have a joint account on your money.

But I think it flows out of this description of what a marriage ought to look like.

Leave, Cleave, Become One Flesh.

Sharing everything.

Now, of course, if you do something like that, you are going to think of some things as more hers or more his. That’s natural and normal.

But at the heart, you share everything.

Responsibility for debts. Shared.
Assets? Shared.
Decisions? Shared.

Yes, even decisions.

Here’s where a lot of couples go wrong. They begin to think of their money as just theirs and not only do they not factor in that all of the money belongs to (Whom?) God, but they forget that they are co-stewards of all of the money (and possession) that they have right now.

If you got married, you agreed to become one flesh with this other person. And that means that you share everything.

Now, I know that that is the ideal and not everyone can live there in this fallen world, with our fallen hearts, and our fallen marriages.

But that’s the ideal that we’re striving for.

Oneness.

So, let’s talk about decisions.

You and your spouse should strive to agree on all financial decisions.

For some of you that sentence sounded like just common sense.

For some of you, it sounded like I said, “You and your spouse should turn into purple bunnies and fly to the Moon.”

But it’s what you should strive for nonetheless.

You and your spouse should strive to agree on all financial decisions.

You are co-stewards of those funds! And you ought to be both signing off on all of the choices that you make with them.

Now, I don’t mean that you need to talk with each other about every decision. You don’t need to get on the cell phone and call each other, “Should I buy a stick of gum?”

In most marriages, there is a threshold for what kind of decisions one spouse can make without consulting the other. It’s what you are both comfortable with.

For Heather and me, it’s about $50. If the expense is unbudgeted, we are both pretty comfortable about spending $50 without consulting our spouse. But we’ll pretty quickly tell each other about that $50. Probably it’s more like $5 that we might not even mention.

Now, for you, it might be $50,000. I’m not saying that $50 is the perfect number. But the point is that you are both comfortable with it.

You are in a one flesh covenant. And that means that your money is shared.

Now, what if you can’t agree?

Guys, you are called to lead. The Bible says so. And probably means that a lot of financial decisions will rest on you. But you are called to lead in such a way that you die for your wife in love. Read Ephesians 5 and see what kind of dying you are to do.

So, if you have to make the final decision and break a tie, make sure it is for the best interests of your family, especially your wife whom you are to love like you love your own body. Or you will have to give account of that to the ultimate owner of those funds!

And wive’s you are called to follow. But to follow in such a way that you never follow your husband into sin. So if he wants to rob the bank, you can’t go there. If he wants to never give to the Lord’s work, you need to find a way to obey the Lord’s command to give. I know that’s easier said than done, but the Lord will help to do it.

But what you should both strive towards is being on the same page with your money.

Leave, Cleave, and Become ONE.

If you do that, you will experience amazing blessing on your marriage.

And if you don’t, you will experience trouble.

Because this is the ideal: “[A] man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Now, in the time remaining, I want to think beyond the marriage into the rest of the family, especially parents and children.

Turn with me to Ephesians chapter 6.

While you’re turning there, I should probably mention 1 Timothy chapter 5, verse 8.

One of the chief responsibilities of a godly man is to provide for his family.

1 Timothy chapter 5, verse 8 says: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Those are strong words, aren’t they?

Men, here’s God’s word to you about your family finances. Be a provider.

I’ve seen so-called Christian men in other churches that aren’t really willing to work. And they expect other people to pick up the tab for them and their family.

I’m not saying that to not collect welfare if you lost your job and need help getting back on your feet.

But don’t stay there.

Work to provide for your family. If you don’t; if you aren’t willing and striving towards it, the Bible says that you are denying the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.

And, I think that includes taking a job you don’t like.

Sometimes, we say that we’re willing to work, but we don’t want to flip burgers or do something really demanding.

Men, provide for your families.

Now, do you have Ephesians 6?

I want to focus on verse 4. But I’ll read 1-4.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [Every parents’ favorite verse!] ‘Honor your father and mother’–which is the first commandment with a promise–‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ [But Paul doesn’t just talk to the kids. He talks to the parents, through their fathers. V.4] Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Let’s talk briefly about money and parenting.

V.4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

That exasperating part of the verse is a kids’ favorite Bible verse!

“[B]ring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

What does that say about money?

Well, of course, it doesn’t say anything explicitly about money.

But like Genesis 2:24, it has all kinds of implications for money.

Money is profoundly spiritual, right?

So, parents (Dads especially), its our job to train and instruct our kids in the godly use of money.

Everything we’ve learned this Summer. (Did you notice we didn’t take a Pop Quiz this morning? I’m saving the last one for next week on our last Sunday on money!).

Dads, everything we’ve learned this Summer are things that you need to train and instruct your kids in.

“[B]ring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

King James: “[B]ring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

From when they are little to when they are ready to leave and cleave.

Now, this is common sense in one way. Everybody knows that parents are supposed to teach their kids stuff. And money would be one of them.

Not all parents do, but that’s a reasonable assumption.

Saving, spending, buying, budgeting, making choices, etc.

But Christian parents have an added resonsibility.

We can’t just teach our kids about money.

We need to teach them about God’s money. About Christian stewardship.

Money is profoundly spiritual.
All of the money belongs to God.
You are God’s money manager.
You can only serve one master: God or money.
Don’t worry about money.
Don’t steal money.
Don’t hoard money.
Don’t love money.
Giving is a beautiful thing.
Give cheerfully to gospel work and to the poor.
Pay what you owe.

These things (and more) are what we must teach our children or we aren’t obey Ephesians 6:4.

There is a reason why Proverbs 22:6 is followed by Proverbs 22:7.

22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Do you think that maybe 22:7 is the kind of thing that 22:6 says we should train our kids to understand?

I’ve tried to give you some examples this Summer of things we’re trying to do with our kids at the age that they are. Your kids might be at a different age or you might use another way of teaching.

But we need to do it.

I’m happy to announce that we reached our goal and purchased our goat yesterday from World Vision to go help some needy family somewhere like Africa.

I’m also happy to say that Peter got his cap gun. Paid for it with his own money that he earned by hard work.

I’m also happy to say that Robin and Drew borrowed money this week to buy things at a garage sale. 25 cents and 10 cents. And when they got home, they immediately got their money out to make sure they settled their debts.

Yes. I’m sure that I’m not teaching them everything that I should.

They see me overspend my money.

And they see me worry about money.

I have a long way to go in being a training example.

But, I am committed to Ephesians 6:4.

“Fathers...bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Our homes should be training centers for growing disciples of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fear of Man

Chris Brauns on the fear of man.

I was especially interested in his list of possible fear of men behavior. Important to think about.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Pay What You Owe"


“Pay What You Owe”

In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
August 2, 2009
Romans 13:7-8

Our Pop Quiz last week went so well, that I feel like doing it again! So, let me ask you these questions about what the Bible says about money.

#1. Money is what? [Profoundly Spiritual.] Money is profoundly spiritual.

Now, one of you asked me this week what I mean by “spiritual.” Because often in the Bible “spiritual” means spirit-filled or godly or spiritually mature.

Am I saying that money is spirit-filled or that if you have money you’ll be spiritually mature? No, not really!

What am I saying is that we can’t give in to the Pie Chart Fallacy.

You see this pie chart? We often think of our lives this way.

“My Social Life, My Business Life (work takes up a lot of my life), My Personal Life, My Family Life, and My Spiritual Life.” And we might add slices to the pie of our life.

And we feel good if our spiritual life gets a big sliver.

However, that’s not the correct way of thinking about our lives.

Here is the biblical view:

The whole pie is my spiritual life! I live out of my spirit. I live out of my active heart.

And my so called “financial life” matters to God.

My finances whether for good or bad are tied to my heart–the control center of my life.

The Lord Jesus said that where my treasures are there my heart will be also.

God cares about what I do, what I think, and how I feel about money.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Question #2. Who owns all of the money in the world? [God does!]

“The Earth is the Lords’s and all that is in it.” Everything in our accounts, wallets, and purses. God owns.

And Question #3. What does that make us? [Stewards! Money Managers! God’s financial agents.]

And that means that we must give an account for what we do with God’s money.

There will be a heavenly audit!

Question #4. How many masters can you serve? [Only One.]

Only God or Money. God or Mammon.

We must choose. Once and for all and every day.

Question #5. What are the four main ways that we are tempted to serve money?

1. Worry About Money.
2. Steal Money.
3. Hoard Money.
4. Crave Money.

Question #6. What is the opposite of worrying about money?

[Trusting God.] Ever since I started this series on money, some of you have been slipping me these $1,000,000 bills. Thanks!

They look like money, but they are actually gospel tracts for handing out. If any of you are interested in having some for giving out, you can have a few of these.

What is written on all of our money here in the United States (whether we heed or not)? “In God We Trust.”

Not in money.

#7. What is the antihesis of stealing money?

[Working and Giving]

My son, Peter, has been working hard at this. He still wants that cap gun really badly. And he said to his mom this week, “I need a job!” And she promised him that she would line some jobs up for him so that he can work to get that thing he wants.

And as he earns money, he’s return a portion of those earnings to the Lord. He gave a proportional amount of his earnings to the Lord this morning.

Way to go, Peter!

#8. What is the antithesis of hoarding money?

[Being generous! Sharing it.]

#9. What is the the antidote to craving money?

[Contentment in Christ.] Keep yourselves free from the love of money and be content with what you have–the Lord Jesus.

And question #10. What is the New Testament percentage that the Lord requires of His children for their giving? Answer: There is none.

We are to give generously, sacrificially, cheerfully, and expectantly–expecting reward.

I got two great testimonies on these survey sheets from you folks. Let me share them with you.

“While Brian Catanzaro received some support for his mission trip to Africa, he used approximately $2,500 of his own money. After committing to this, he received a promotion at work and a 13% raise in salary. God provides for Brian. Brian uses his money as a steward for God, and God continues to provide faithfully.” Amen!

Here’s the other one: “Trust. When my husband was laid off and then return to work his employers had overpaid him. So they took money off of his check. [A real hardship.] I continued to pray and give my offering and God was so gracious and wonderful as he provided for us.” Amen and Amen.

And I’m sure that those testimonies could be multiplied again and again in this room.

Giving is a beautiful thing. And noone does it better than our Lord!

Now, this morning, I want to talk about our spiritual life with money once again, but not giving this time, but paying. Paying what we owe.

The sermon title is “Pay What You Owe” and it comes from Romans chapter 13. Do you have it in front of you?

In this chapter, Paul is talking about the Christ-follower’s submission to the governing authorities. We are supposed to submit and obey the government that we find ourselves under.

And in these two paragraphs about the role of government and our obligations to it (my friend Byron Harvey just recently preached a good message on this section entitled, “What We Owe Mr. Obama.” It’s very good. In these two paragraphs about the role of government and our obligations to it...), the Apostle Paul brings up the subject of taxes and other things that we might owe someone. Let’s begin reading in verse 6 and read through verse 10, but we’ll focus on verses 7 and 8.

“This [submission to authorities] is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. [Here it is:] 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. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Now, it doesn’t sound all that spiritual. In fact, it sounds commonplace and commonsense. And it should be.

But here it is. We need to hear it. It’s in God’s word. V.7

“Give everyone what you owe him.”

King James, “Render therefore to all their dues.”

The English Standard Version, “Pay to All What Is Owed Them.”

Pay what you owe.

God is saying that to you this morning from the pages of His Word: “Pay what you owe.”

#1. PAY WHAT YOU OWE ON YOUR LOANS.

Now, this passage itself doesn’t talk about money that’s been loaned to you. It has more to do with the government–though our government is very much in the business of loaning money.

But the rest of the Bible is very clear on this fact–if you borrow money, then you should pay it back promptly and on time.

When it says in verse 8, “Let no debt remain outstanding...” it doesn’t mean that you can’t borrow something. The King James sounds like it, “Owe no man anything...” but what it means is that if you have a payment due, you pay it. You don’t slack on paying your debts. You don’t just do it when you feel like it.

Pay what you owe on your loans.

The opposite, the Bible says, is wicked.

Psalm 37, verse 21. “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.”

Proverbs chapter 3, verses 27 and 28, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later. I’ll give it tomorrow’–when you have it with you.”

“The wicked borrow and do not repay...”

Pay what you owe on your loans.

Now, before we go any further, we should probably establish this: is borrowing and lending good or bad?

Borrowing and lending are very good things!

They are distinctly human activities that reflect the image of God.

Let me show where I get that.

Let’s take money out of the equation for a second.

How many of you have ever borrowed a tool? Or a vehicle? Or a book?

Isn’t that great? We don’t think about it that much but that’s a great thing to be able to do! To have the temporary use of someone’s else thing.

Borrowing is really cool. I think more of it should be done.

So, what does that say about lending? Well, if borrowing is good then lending must be, too!

Releasing control of something for a temporary period of time so that someone else can get benefit out of it. Lending a tool, a vehicle, a book, whatever.

That’s awesome that we can do that!

I think it’s something that we can do that highlights what God is like! Remember, He owns everything and we’re just stewards of it while it’s in our hands.

Giving, I think, is even greater than lending. But lending is pretty cool!

I am so thankful for libraries!

The same psalm (37) that says that the wicked borrow but do not repay also says the righteous “lend freely.” Lending is a righteous thing to do.

And not just tools, vehicles, or books–possessions, but money, too, the currency of exchange.

Now the problem tends creeps in when we add the item of...what? Interest.

The Bible is very wary of lending at interest. Or paying rent on money.

There are several places in the Old Testament that forbid charging interest on loans to fellow Jews. The Jews could lend at interest to the pagan countries around them, if they could trust them, but they weren’t to lend at interest (often called usury) to each other.

That’s not to say that they couldn’t invest in each other and lend each other money with the expectation of a return–but it had to be a different kind of contract than just, “You rent this money from me for this period of time and promise to repay it with this amount on top.” It had to involve more risk for both parties.

The Old Testament, especially, is wary of borrowing money, especially at interest. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” There is a kind of slavery that enters into the relationship when money gets borrowed, especially at interest.

The Proverbs warn again and again against putting up security for someone else–co-signing loans. That’s a trap!

And in the history of the church, for more than 2/3 of the church’s history, lending money or borrowing money with interest was forbidden or frowned upon by the church. It was really interesting (no pun intended) to read the history of biblical interpretation of the matter of interest.

I studied it for about month before we began this series. I wanted to make sure that I was representing the Bible well to you. I’d be glad to loan you the resources to study it yourself. [Here is one.]

After a lot of study and thought, I think that the Bible gives a cautious permission for Christ-followers to borrow and lend money, even at interest. (I’m sure that Keith, Becky, and Matt back there are glad I said that!)

I think there is something to the Old Testament’s economic system that, if we followed those principles more closely, we might have a much more just and secure and communal financial system.

But I don’t think that it was intended to be replicated wholesale in our modern world. Israel’s was an agricultural and theocratic nation whose laws were tailor made for their situation. And while the principles may still be helpful, I don’t think there is a binding command here.

And, I really don’t think that the prohibitions against interest in the Old Testament were meant to rule out all commercial loans where there is equity to back up what is borrowed and two equal business partners use interest as an economic tool.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with putting our money in the bank and expecting the bank to pay us interest. That’s actually a loan, too, isn’t it?

Actually, I think the point of those prohibitions was not take advantage of the poor.

The poor, those affected the most by poverty, are most vulnerable to interest bearing loans. They are at the mercy of the lender.

That’s why Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

I got an invitation in the mail a couple of weeks ago to come to a special meeting in Bellefonte where they are giving away money for only 18% APR!

Who falls for that? People who are desperate for money. 18%!

We’re going to talk more about the poor in two weeks, in our last message in this series. But the point I’m making here is that lending money to the poor at interest, especially any kind of significant interest is sinning against the Lord!

And that’s what the Old Testament is most concerned about.

And yet, it’s still very cautious about borrowing, in general. It assumes borrowing. It expects borrowing. I don’t think you can really get through modern life without some level of borrowing–at least on the front end of life.

But it calls us to be cautious about borrowing. I’d like to talk more about that, especially the danger-signs. The book “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn talks about that. The Bible studies by people like Crown financial ministries talk about it, too.

Last week, our church family approved the borrowing of money to finance the facilities and equipment project here at the church. I think that the whole process has been conducted with appropriate caution and prayerfulness.

And two of the things I know about this church that give me great confidence are that #1, this church will give towards these projects because they trust their leaders and they believe God is at work here and #2, this church will pay off its debts.

Because the point this morning, is that if you have borrowed money, pay what you owe on your loan.

Pay what you owe on your loan.

That includes paying your bill, too. If you have work done or you have a service provided for you and they are going to send you a bill, you’ve borrowed money from them. They are floating that money for you.

Pay them back.

It’s spiritual to do it!

God cares about whether or not we pay our bills!

It’s a mark of discipleship if we do or a mark of wickedness if we don’t.

Pay what you owe.

I know that for many of us, this is just obvious. Anything else would be terrible to think of.

But not in America in general today! I’ve seen late night commercials that explain how you use “this service” and get out of paying your bills! We cut our debts in half by using this team of lawyers. Well, no you didn’t. You just figured a way to trick them out of their rightful money.

Pay What You Owe.

Pay Your Loans.

And #2. PAY WHAT YOU OWE IN TAXES.

Now, that’s what this Romans 13 passage is emphasizing. Look again at verse 7.

“Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

Now, I’d like to talk about respecting and honoring Mr. Obama, but that’s another sermon. God’s word in Romans 13, verse 7 says to pay your taxes.

Pay What You Owe in Taxes.

Is that spiritual? You bet it is.

It’s a matter of obedience to the Lord. He sets up rulers and governing authorities, and as we obey them we are obeying Him.

Pay What You Owe in Taxes.

Now, wait a second, Pastor Matt. Even if I don’t like what my government is doing with those taxes?

What if they are paying people cash for clunkers? And I don’t like it?

What if they are socializing health care? And I don’t agree with it.

What if they are subsidizing abortions with it?

God’s Word says to pay your taxes.

Now, we live in a great republic that allows us to voice our opinions about what the government does. We are a government of the people by the people for the people, right? So we have a say.

That’s a lot more than most people in the world do!

And Paul says that regardless of whether we like it or not, we are to pay our taxes.

Who was the ruler when Paul wrote Romans?

It was a Caesar, right?

It was probably Nero. If you know anything about Nero, he was a terrible ruler.

He was evil. He was anti-Christ. He was anti-Christian. He did terrible things with the tribute money that was paid into his coffers.

But He was the ruler.

And Paul said, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

And you and I can do it, too. With joy in our hearts to the Lord.

Pay what you owe in taxes.

All of it.

Every once in a while, I’m talking with folks and they tell me about a great deal that they got, and they lower their voice and they tell me how it was “under the table.”

And they’re kind of proud of it and yet lowering their voice at the same time (ashamed?).

If you owe it, pay it.

If you register a four-wheeler that you bought a few years ago and the box on the form asks how much you paid you paid for it–not how much is it currently worth, but how much did you pay for it? Then put down how much you paid for it and pay the appropriate taxes.

Pay what you owe in taxes.

Jesus did. Well, at least, when the temple tax collectors came around, he arranged for Peter and his taxes to be paid out of the mouth of the first fish caught! Remember that story?

Why is this important?

Well, for one, it’s keeping your promises. God keeps His, He wants us to keep ours.

It’s being true to our word.

But here’s where Paul goes with it. Look down at verse 8.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”

Paying your debts is LOVE!

We need to keep paying our debts, but we’ll never pay our way out of the debt of loving others.

And as we do, we look more and more like Jesus.

Now, there is another lesson to learn about paying taxes isn’t there?

Remember that story [it’s in Matthew, Mark, and Luke,] about when the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus and get him in trouble with the authorities?

The asked him, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

And Jesus saw right through them.

“Does anybody have a coin,” He asked?

Does anybody here have one that I can borrow? Lending is a great thing!

Toss it up here.

Jesus asked, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

Here it’s George Washington.

There it was Caesar. “Then he said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And that silenced them.

Give to Washington what is Washington’s.

But give to God what is God’s.

Whose image is stamped...on you?

Have you given yourself to God?

He has every right to you.

Pay what you owe to God.

And that’s not 10%!

That’s all of who you are.

> Worship at the Lord’s Table

There is something even greater to say this morning than anything I’ve said so far!

I’m emphasized today that God wants His people to pay their debts.

Pay what you owe on loans.
Pay your bills.
Pay your taxes.

Pay what you owe. That’s God’s word to you. Hear it.

Make every effort to make good on your obligations.

That message runs through the whole Bible.

But there is another and deeper message that runs through the whole Bible, too.

And that is this. There was a debt that was so great that we could never repay it.

We should. We are obligated. We incurred the debt!

But it is greater than the national debt. It is greater than the debt of all of the nations right now.

It is the debt of sin.

Sin is often cast in financial terms as a debt–we took something from God!

We didn’t live up to our obligations.

We have incurred a sin-debt that is cosmic in proportions and absolutely unpayable!

The Bible says that it must be paid. But we can’t pay it.

There is only One who could...

...And He did!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is another theme running through the Bible and that is the theme of debts being forgiven.

A sabbath year every 7 years in the Old Testament law when debts were forgiven and the poor slaves set free. And every 50 years a Year of Jubilee when all of the debts get forgiven again and all of the land returned to its original owners.

And a kinsman-redeemer. A family member who would take on the debt of another family member and pay it to free them from that debt.

That theme runs through the Bible like a roaring river!

And it climaxes at Calvary!

Where the richest person that ever was paid the greatest debt–with His own blood!

When He cried out from the Cross, He said, “It is finished!” He was saying, “The debt is paid!”

For you and for me.

So all we have to do is receive the gift of forgiveness and then live out a life of faith-filled thanksgiving for it.

Thank, Jesus! For paying our debt. Jesus paid it all.

As the men come to pass out the elements, I urge you, if you have not, to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He paid the debt to set you free. Receive His forgiveness and trust in the total payment He made.

If you have not yet received Him, then please let the bread and cup pass you by.

If you know Jesus, then use this time to thank Him for paying the debt you never could.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Byron Harvey on Romans 13

I'm in Romans 13 right now for tomorrow's sermon. Here are a triangle of messages from Byron that get to the heart of the matter:

What We Owe Mr. Obama

The Unpayable Debt

Wearing Jesus


The Only Safe Rule Is To Give More Than We Can Spare

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.”

C.S. Lewis