Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Are Stewards, Not Owners

God never intended for us to struggle financially our entire lives. There are seasons of struggle, however, that we all go through. Whether we’re just young and naive, or we’re a bit older and perhaps undisciplined with our finances, it’s not uncommon for people to find themselves in financial distress.
EVERYTHING that we have is a gift from God. That’s the very first and overriding principle we have to recognize. We have a tendency to act like we “earned” things, but that’s not the truth. Without the time, talents and providence of God, we wouldn't have anything! Everything belongs to God. He simply allows us the great privilege of caring for it. One of the best ways we can do that is to be thankful and not be wasteful.
Jesus taught in Matthew 25 that God will put us through “tests” to see if we can handle greater blessings.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.’" (Matthew 25:21)
God isn’t going to release new blessings into our lives until we first learn to manage the ones He’s already provided us.
Aswe learn to be better stewards with what we have, God will, little by little, give us more. When we start using the resources we have to bless others and bring glory and honor to Him, he’ll bless you with more so that His glory can multiply!
Here are 4 principles that we have followed.  I promise that you will see your financial borders begin to expand:
1.     Work for it.
It’s not likely that God is going to drop a huge financial windfall in your lap while you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Neither are you going to become financially successful if you live carelessly and pray for God to “clean up” your financial mistakes. Being financially successful takes hard work!
A lot of people want today what it took their parents years to get. They’re just not patient or diligent enough to put in the same kind of effort over time that their parents did. They end up making poor investments, trying to get rich quick, or go into debt to get things they can’t afford.
God wants us to live with excellence and integrity. Meaning that we give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay, and that we try as best we can to live within our means.
Work is good for us and it's a gift from God to be able to have jobs to allow us to afford the things we need for our families.  It also gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and is a form of service to others. If we’re obedient and work with integrity, God will bless our work. (Deuteronomy 28:8)
2.     Give Generously
The BEST way to be happy in this life is to be a blessing towards other people. Serving others brings true happiness. (Mosiah 2:17)
That’s true of how we spend our time and certainly true of how we spend our money. 
It’s definitely something I've experienced over and over again: the more you give away, the more you’ll be blessed. When God asks us to give our money away in the form of tithing or other contributions, He’s not trying to take something away from us. He is just simply giving us the opportunity to be a part of what He’s doing to meet the needs of others. 
Whatever we give up now will come back to us one-hundred-fold in this lifetime (Mark 10:29-30). I often ask God to help me to live more generously and to put people in my path that I can help..and He does just that. Every single time
3.     Save
It’s extremely important that we are prepared for unexpected expenses, like flat tires, house repairs or medical bills. When we have savings set aside for these emergencies, it will help us avoid going into debt and getting stressed out.
About a year ago, Josh and I started a year supply and little by little, we have been adding to our stock pile. We now have a year or more worth of food in our pantry just in case we need it. My sister-in-law had a huge stock pile and her husband unexpectedly got laid off. With her, her husband and five kiddos, what do you think they lived off of for 3 months? Their year supply of food.
I have also trained myself to coupon and it's amazing the amount you save when you put a little time and effort into it. I follow a few couponing websites that post what is on sale or for FREE, watch for whats on sale and then go and buy it. 
I have prayed time and time again for God to help us be more wise and responsible with our money and to help us find ways to save. It's so amazing the answers and the direction that He has given me! He is so good!
God’s promises he will send blessings on your storehouse (Deuteronomy 28:8). God wants us to trust and expect Him to fulfill His promises our lives.
4.     Spend
Here’s the awesome part! Yes, we need to spend some of our money.  
Here are a few simple tips for spending money:
·         Know what you have. Make sure that you’re balancing your account and have a budget prepared so that you know what is coming in and what’s going out.
·         Don’t buy what you don’t needThe quickest way to debt is convincing ourselves that “wants” are “needs.” If you obviously don’t need something and it’s not in your budget to afford it, then be bold enough not to buy it. I know this one is hard, but you can do it!
·         Don’t buy with what you don’t have. Credit cards aren't a bad thing, but if you can’t control what you spend with them, then using them is a bad idea. A general rule for using credit cards is to only spend what you can pay off at the end of the month. The interest on consumer debt can quickly get out of control.
·         Pay debts off immediately. Living debt-free gives us the flexibility to live more generously and more abundantly. I have always been taught to start with the smallest debt and work your way to the biggest ones.
Money doesn't have to be a source of stress in our lives. If we start managing our financial resources in godly ways, they can be sources of tremendous blessings, both for us and for others.

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