All posts by John (Manager)

Reconcile with Both God and Man

Our culture emphasizes selfishness and coveting what others have so much, it becomes quite easy for many to rationalize taking advantage of others financially. Some may steal outright. Others may borrow and not pay back. Still others may just deceive someone for personal gain. As followers of Christ, we do not want to follow these practices. If we find that we have done so, let us make haste to reconcile with both God and man.

We have been called to love God and love one another.

Matthew 22:35-40

35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

If or when we find we have sinned against someone with regards to finances, let us take action to reconcile with them and with God.

Leviticus 6:1-7

Guilt Offering

      1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 3or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 4then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, 5or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering. 6“Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, 7and the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.”

If you have sinned against someone in this way, first stop sinning. Then do not delay in reconciling with both God and man.  This will move you forward into a deeper relationship with the Lord even if it causes you to face some uncomfortable accountability for your past actions.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Guidance Does God Provide for Finances?

God has a lot to say about wisdom and folly, righteousness and wickedness in His word. Proverbs, in particular, is filled with wisdom that applies as much today as it did when Solomon wrote it thousands of years ago. Human nature has not changed and neither has application of God’s word for how we are to deal with our fellow man.

Let us explore some of what God has said in Proverbs 11 that pertains to finances. I have included a link to reference to the whole scripture but pulled out some selected verses that are more directly relevant to finances. We can walk through them together.

Proverbs 11

1A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.

God clearly calls us to be treat one another as we would want to be treated. Be just and fair. Note the emphasis revealed through scripture… God is not just academically identifying right and wrong, but actually considers one an abomination and the other to bring delight! It matters to God and thus it should matter to us.

2When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.

Let us not act in such a way as to honor ourselves or make ourselves feel better than others, but rather seek humility and seek to honor the Lord and treat others with respect.

3The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Knowing and following God’s way provides a clear path to righteousness. Temptation of the flesh often tempts us to go the way of the world, but God wants us to live His way. When we pursue deceit and treachery, it will consume us and we will find no lasting satisfaction or joy.

4Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.

There is no amount of riches that will mean anything when it is time for us to leave this world and face judgment before God. Only our right relationship with God will matter. Why give that up just to try to get a few dollars more or even a lot of dollars more?

5The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

6The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

In business as in life, a righteous lifestyle of godly attitudes and behavior will take us closer to God and bring much success. Greed is an empty pit which can never be filled, it will consume you and dominate your life if left unchecked or worse, embraced.

14Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

In personal finances, whether budgeting or reducing debt or investing, do not try to do it all alone as if you have all the answers. Seek good counselors to help you! Seek firm guidance from God and those who have already experienced and overcome the challenges you face today.

15He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.

It is unwise to be a guarantor for someone you do not know. How can you trust them? Do not lend what you are not willing to give.

17The merciful man does himself good,
But the cruel man does himself harm.

18The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

Show mercy to others as you would like to receive yourself. Avoid cruelty. Treat others as you would like to be treated. You may think you get ahead with deceit and wicked schemes, but it brings much emptiness and trouble along with the ill-gotten gain.

24There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

25The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.

26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

Be generous in helping others and give the glory to God. Bless others in His name and watch as the blessings flow into your own life. The blessings will almost surely outweigh what you gave, though it is not necessarily dollars that God gives you but rather joy and closer relationship with Him!

28He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.

Trust not in money and wealth, but in God, Himself, and you will flourish.

It is not right or helpful to say “I was born this way” as an excuse to continue in wickedness or foolishness. To remain in foolishness does not improve our situation, does it? It does not help us manage our money or our lives more effectively, does it?

We are all born to sin and selfishness. No one needs to teach a child to grab or demand something for themselves or hit someone when they are angry, but we certainly need to teach them to forgive and share and think of others. We can say that an alcoholic may be born with a tendency to become addicted to alcohol but do we not encourage them to turn from it and overcome that sin rather than embrace it and accept it? Of course! So it is also with other sins.

We must be careful to look to God’s definition of sin, of right and wrong, rather than the world’s definition. If we follow a broken compass, will we not get lost?

Each of us must decide if we will take the difficult, narrow path that leads to Jesus or if instead we will stay on the wide, easy path that leads to eternal separation from God… following our own selfish desires and the deception of Satan.

I pray as many as will hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ will accept it and travel the narrow path.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How We Give Is a Reflection of What We Value

God does not need our money. It is not because He needs to buy something that He calls us to give. He calls us to give, and give generously, to challenge us to pursue God wholeheartedly. How we give is a reflection of what we value. We are to seek first the kingdom of God, rather than pursue money as priority.

Mark 12:41-44

The Widow’s Mite

      41And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

Jesus did not measure the gift by the absolute value of the coins. Instead, He valued it by the sacrifice and therefore the reflection of the heart and its priority seeking God over self.

If you have much, ask yourself if you are giving only from surplus or truly honoring God with what you have. You do not need to go give away everything you have… if you do that how can you continue to help others as you find them in need. However, challenge yourself to test your heart and your attitude as you choose to give to help others in a way that honors God.

If you have little, remember that God appreciates and deeply values when you give from your poverty to help others or serve Him. There is no such thing as “too little a gift to make a difference”. God knows all and appreciates the gift and your sacrifice.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Did Jesus Say About Paying Taxes?

What did Jesus say about paying taxes?

Jesus knew the Pharisees and Herodians were trying to trap Him when they asked Him about taxes, but He took the opportunity to deflect their trap and lay out  straightforward guidance for all of us.

Mark 12: 13-16

Jesus Answers the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes

      13Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15“Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

Clearly Jesus did not agree with everything the Romans were doing, but He still gave guidance to pay the taxes to Caesar. Some may speculate that He was just deflecting the trap question, but Jesus never provided a wrong answer just to avoid a trap. He always took the opportunity to address the trap and make a point on the right way of doing things also.

For those who need more convincing… the Bible has it.

Romans 13:1-7

Be Subject to Government

      1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

It is ok to work lawfully to reduce the tax burden. Governments usually waste money badly. Often they spend on things which may not honor God. However, just refusing to pay is not the guidance that Jesus provided for His people. Also let us not take Romans 13 out of context… we are not to blindly obey government when it conflicts with the instructions of God. There are plenty of examples, such as that of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where they disobeyed unrighteous government commands because they conflicted with God’s instruction. However, paying taxes does not conflict with the instructions of God.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Can You Find True Peace Through Wealth?

Managing our finances wisely according to God’s word is a very good thing, but we should take care to never put our faith in our finances. We can only find true peace by placing our faith in God.

Luke 12:16-32

16And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17“And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

      22And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28“But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Many prepare financially for their anticipated days in their earthly life and may even plan for some expenses associated with death and burial. They make considerations for those who will survive them. They put their faith in their money. However, the most important planning is not for expenses related to our death, but for where we will go thereafter… either to Heaven or Hell and to what legacy we leave in regards helping others and leading others to Heaven (or Hell) with us. What treasure are we storing up in heaven? In this regard, plan wisely and act now.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Start Investing In 5 Steps

For those of you who have established consistent income, a budget to control spending, gotten debt under control, established at least an emergency savings fund that is easily available to you in case you need it, and have money available in addition to that… you may be ready to consider investing.

Now you find yourself asking a common question:

“How do I get started investing my money?”

1- Establish your personal goals.

Before you start investing you should spend time clearly defining (and writing down) the objectives you are trying to accomplish.  Are you planning for college expenses for your children? a house?  retirement?

Defining your goals and writing them down helps to clarify for yourself what you are trying to accomplish with any investment, and it will help you make reasonable choices in investing to accomplish your goals.

2- Decide if you prefer to work with a professional investment advisor or go it alone.

If you work with an advisor, remember that they have other motives besides just your best interest (e.g. getting paid) and not all look out for you the way they should.  On the other hand, many of us are not prepared to invest effectively and wisely without a professional to help give us input and guidance. You are your own chief investment advisor. They provide helpful counsel, but you make the decisions. Consider verifying by researching online or meeting with more than one professional advisor separately and comparing notes.

With or without an advisor, you really need to do some homework to understand how to make good decisions.

3- Diversify your portfolio to manage risk and potential gain.

For example, let’s consider two cases:

Jack wants to invest and prepare for retirement. He is starting early and has time on his side. Jack wants to limit his risk exposure for his investment losing value and will be satisfied with a moderate return on investment.

Joe has a higher risk tolerance and is willing to consider more risk to achieve higher return on investment.

Diversify your portfolio consistent with your personal goals and personality. You need to be comfortable with your investment decisions. If you are nervous or lacking in confidence you may make poor decisions when unexpected events happen (e.g. 2008/09 stock market crash) and may make poor decisions. If you had a lot of your portfolio in U.S. stocks and then sold when the market bottomed instead of riding it out… you are really hurting.

4- Get Started.

Do not wait until you have perfect clarity on exactly what you will need to spend 20 years from now or more.  Do not be discouraged from starting because you think you do not have enough to make it worthwhile. Even if you are starting small, you are going to gain knowledge and experience along the way.

Set aside some designated funds to start investing toward your objectives. Open an account at a reputable broker or financial institution. Begin the investing journey.

5- Steward your investments regularly.

Verify your portfolio is on track to deliver your objectives. Make adjustments as needed consistent with changes in your plans or the performance of the investments. Continue on a schedule of investing additional funds consistent with your long-term goals.

Do not be afraid to admit you made a mistake and get out of an investment, if warranted. Establish conditions ahead of time that would indicate when you should exit an investment if it does not go well. Our human tendency is to hold on to our bad investment decisions too long hoping for them to turn around.

If you are uncomfortable getting started, begin with a small investment that you are not afraid to lose. Invest wisely and you will soon see a return on investment that will encourage you and give you more confidence.

Remember, choosing not to invest is also a decision… and it may cost you a lot of lost opportunity to grow your money over time.

Bring your finances and investments before God and ask for wisdom and blessing. Seek Him in all you do, and He will make straight your path.

Proverbs 3:5-10

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

8It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.

9Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;

10So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

 

Do You Prefer a Roller Coaster or a Carousel?

Do you prefer a roller coaster or a carousel? This seems an unlikely question to be asked in an article about managing finances, but let’s consider it a bit further. Do not worry, we will come back and tie it in to financial investing in a short while.

Both a roller coaster and carousel provide the same basic concept… provide an enjoyable ride for those who choose to get onboard.  One is predictable and steady, relaxed pace and still enjoyable… delivering a pleasant experience and fulfilling its purpose for those who ride it. The other can be exhilarating, bringing forth strong emotions ranging from joy from an adrenaline rush to fear about what comes next. There are unexpected turns, it goes up and down sharply, and sometimes it seems as if the bottom may just fall out. It is important to know which ride you prefer for your personality and for both rides it is important to get on and off at the right times. (For a literal example here, I suggest when the ride stops moving.)

We have a similar choice to make as investors while we manage the money and other resources that God has provided to us. We have to decide where to invest… in bank accounts paying sometimes low interest or in stock markets… how much in each if we properly diversify to match our specific investing goals? For the money we invest in stock markets, are we investing in a long-term horizon of several years and satisfied with low risk and perhaps lower returns? or are we trying to trade in and out of stocks on a short-term horizon to embellish our returns?

For most of us, we would be well served to invest for longer term based on market and specific business fundamentals. That is a bit more like the carousel. Yes, it is important to know when to get in and when to get out, but you can sit back patiently and try to enjoy the ride… hopefully collecting dividends along the way.

For those who decide to trade… “please hold onto the bar”. The market may make sudden and inexplicable moves that you do not anticipate. It can be a real rush and it can be frightening. You must be disciplined and specific about your goals… about why you trade in a particular stock and re-evaluate your thesis if the situation changes. You must avoid the emotions of holding onto a losing position hoping it will become a winning one, but also avoid just getting out at the first sign of trouble. Many who are not ready for this step, and many even professionals who think they are, end up selling low when fear kicks in and buying higher when everything seems to be going well. This is most certainly not the strategy anyone would devise ahead of time… buy high, sell low.

The moral of the story… understand which ride is better suited for your personality… and with what percentage of your diversified portfolio. If you want to invest or trade… do your homework and set up specific investing or trading theses, or why you are getting in and why you would get out of a particular investment. What would change your mind? If you choose frequent trading… please hold on to the bar and try to calm your emotions… or you may just try to get off the ride at the bottom, while it is still moving.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Don’t Let Money Keep You Apart from God

Let me preface this article by highlighting that God does not call all of us to part with all our money. He does not need our money, but rather He wants our heart. Some He may call to give up their money, in particular if they are placing it as an idol in their life that keeps them separated from God by taking His rightful place as Lord of their life.  What He calls you to do individually… by all means do it. God’s specific direction to you in your life trumps the general biblical advice we share through this ministry. Sometimes He has something specific in mind that is more important than the general wisdom He has provided.

However, take caution that you are hearing from Him properly. He will never contradict Himself. Thus, if He asks you to do something, pray over it, ask for confirmation, seek trustworthy Christians you know to help validate what you are hearing and make sure you are not acting inconsistent with what God teaches in the Bible. Most of all… ask God to help you clearly understand and obey.

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This question is incredibly important, and those who ask it genuinely seeking an answer have already started down the right track. They have acknowledged there is eternal life and not everyone gets there. Some will have eternal suffering instead. Let us review how Jesus answers this question when a rich young man asks Him.

Mark 10:17-31

The Rich Young Ruler

      17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19“You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’” 20And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

      23And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25“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.” 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

      28Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31“But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

The rich young ruler was not far from the kingdom of heaven. He knew the commandments and he knew Jesus was the right person to ask. Clearly, he did not fully understand the significance of obeying the commandments, as he felt that he had obeyed them sufficiently well throughout his life. None can truly accomplish this, when we fully consider how to apply this law according to Jesus, Himself (Matthew 5:21-48). However, he was looking in the right places for the answer.

Jesus did not even break stride in the conversation to explain what it means to truly follow the full standard of God’s commandments. He already knew where the man was failing in his devotion to God. For this specific individual, it was love of money. Jesus never called everyone to give away their money, it is not required. He knew this individual had that as his primary remaining barrier to following God. Sadly, the man went away grieving rather than following after Jesus.

Jesus, never wanting to let a teaching opportunity be wasted, spoke further with His disciples on the subject. He pointed out how hard it is for many that have money to choose to serve God instead of money. We cannot serve both (Matthew 6:24). However, there is hope. No matter what personal obstacle stands in our way, we have hope with God that we can overcome it and follow Jesus.

27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

We can also be encouraged that whatever it is that we give up in order to follow Jesus, we will not regret it so long as we submit to and trust Him.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Increase The Money in Your Pocket Now

I know people are in a range of different places with regards to their finances. Those that have a solid foundation already are optimizing spending and debt management and looking for investment opportunities to grow their finances.

However, many simply feel like they are running as fast as they can to just stay in place… never making progress toward their goals. Long term job selection and career or skill development seem far off objectives.  They want to know how to get more money now.

There are at least two very effective ways to get more money in your pocket quickly.

For those of you who have jobs that are commission or “tip” based or those who have the opportunity to work overtime, simply working hard and working longer hours can be effective short term to generate more income. Of course, that effort may not be sustainable long term without detriment to your personal or family life. It ultimately only bears meaningful results if you take that money and pay down debt or create savings or investment funds. If you work harder and then just buy more stuff you “want” but do not “need”, then it has not accomplished anything substantial.

The second approach is undeniably effective, if done in meaningful way. Reduce your spending! You not only keep the money you have earned, but do not forget that you have already paid taxes on this money. A dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. It really is yours to save and invest… so long as you do not spend it. To be most effective, start by challenging everything you are spending money on, starting with larger expenses first. Differentiate true “need” from “want”. Aggressively reduce spending on “wants”. Yes, it will feel uncomfortable and force you to change your behavior. But it absolutely generates cash in your pocket at the end of the month.

Want to see how much impact you can have on your finances? Just commit to yourself to test for a month saying “no” to any discretionary spending. In other words, really distinguishing “want” from “need”. Take the extra money you save at the end of the month and put it aside to pay down debt, start an emergency fund, or start preparing for investing. See how quickly you can use this simple approach to get your finances under control. If you are not confident you can commit to this challenge for “no” discretionary spending, then simply set up an assigned dollar value to spend toward your “wants” for the month and track even your small expenses to avoid exceeding that target. Try reducing that target next month. See how much you are actually spending on “wants” and “convenience” vs. “needs”.

Yes… buying that morning coffee from the coffee shop instead of brewing at home counts as “want” and the added cost does matter over time.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How Do We Deal With Those We Cannot Trust?

How shall we deal in business with those we know we cannot trust or even perhaps just those we are not sure we can trust?  We stand firm to the principles and values inherent in God’s word. Even while we work diligently to ensure others do not take advantage of us, we hold ourselves accountable not to take advantage of them.

Let us consider how Jacob prospered, documented in Genesis 30:25-43. Remember that Jacob was a relatively new believer at this point while he labored under Laban. Jacob was living his life committed to God but doing so imperfectly… like all of us who try to serve God.

As we read this scripture, remember that Laban was certainly not one to be trusted. He deceived Jacob quite significantly, in tricking him to marry the wrong daughter after seven years of work. Laban was looking out only for Laban. So, too, we can remind ourselves that Jacob was also not one to be trusted before he committed to follow God on his way to Laban’s. Prior to that, Jacob actually deceived his own father and brother to steal Esau’s birthright from him. However, here we see Jacob is maturing and learning to do things God’s way… hard work and honest accounting with the flocks.

Jacob Prospers

      25Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. 26“Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.” 27But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the LORD has blessed me on your account.” 28He continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” 29But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. 30“For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: 32let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33“So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.” 34Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.” 35So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. 36And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

      37Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. 38He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink. 39So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41Moreover, whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods; 42but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.

Laban realizes that he is blessed because of association with Jacob, who serves God. Jacob, despite his mistakes, has been a witness to Laban and Laban wishes him to stay. Before we give Laban too much credit, though, his reason for wanting Jacob to stay is selfish and greedy. He has financially prospered with Jacob. Laban shows no interest in worshipping or serving God or even thanking God.

Jacob, however, also realized that he needed to begin investing not only in Laban’s flock but also in preparing for his own household for the future.  Jacob was willing to leave without pay other than the wives (and children) he had agreed to previously… even though Laban’s flocks have clearly prospered under Jacob’s care. Jacob demanded nothing extra, and was willing to leave with only his agreed upon wages (e.g. his wives and children) and God’s promise. He did not demand more than he agreed to just because Laban had prospered. He did not resent Laban and wish him ill because of his success.

However, God made a way for Jacob to prosper from his hard work helping with Laban’s flocks for those fourteen years. When Laban suggests Jacob name his price, Jacob finds wisdom in a solution that meets both his need and Laban’s, so he stays. Jacob tends the flocks and prospers exceedingly.

Each of us should consider:

  • Am I planning responsibly for my future needs and those of my family similar to Jacob?
  • Do I trust God to provide for me, adhering to His principles and values?
  • Do I keep my word and live up to my agreements? or do I demand more from someone just because they prosper from the work I agreed to do?
  • Do I resent someone else’s success or am I satisfied with the wages I agreed to?
  • Of course, it is also acceptable when our agreements have concluded to negotiate for better terms in the future based on the quality of our work. If all parties agree, we have a new agreement. If not, we should not resent the other, but just make a different choice to pursue our goals… just as Jacob was willing to leave. At no point did Jacob perceive Laban to be his enemy or adversary.
  • Do I recognize that if / when God blesses his people in financial matters it seldom comes overnight or without hard work, faith, and planning? Jacob, like Abraham before him, trusted God and worked hard over many years to generate his wealth. God blessed his hard work and it was fruitful. God does not reward laziness or lack of faith.

Prayerfully consider how to apply these lessons to both how you generate your income as well as how you fairly deal with people you may not feel you can trust. We have the opportunity to represent God to those who do not know Him. Imagine their surprise when we deal fairly and unselfishly with them! Plan and prepare and work hard and trust God by doing things His way, rather than the way of the world.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .