Sermons

UNCOMMON CENTS:

What The Bible Says About Saving

Pastor Terry Inman

11-10-13

 

I was only four years old and my brother was seven the first Christmas after our return from Japan. My father was speaking at churches, telling our missionary stories and teaching people how to share their faith. My Dad was a great evangelist and a great salesman. 

To make ends meet he was always selling something good that people needed. He sold the first “talking bible” the audio scriptures on long play records. After that he sold great study bibles. With the Pastor’s permission the church where he was speaking became a fertile market.  

Christmas was coming and we didn’t have enough money for a Christmas tree let alone presents. So Dad found a great deal on beautifully framed prints of Jesus holding the lamb and leading the sheep with Psalm 23 printed over the graphic. 

My dad sent us boys out two by two, door-to-door in to the towns we visited selling these framed prints for a 50 percent mark-up.  He told us we could save the money up for our own Christmas presents. 

I rang the door-bell, a nice lady would answer and I would say, “Do want to buy some picsirs so we can have some quistmas pwesents?” They would buy two or three of these things and give us more than they were worth. Not only that but we would get invited in for milk and cookies! 

That Christmas my brother got an electric train set and I got some really cool Tonka trucks that I still have.  But we worked and we saved for it!  

I learned very early in life the value of earning and saving. I also learned about giving. My Dad insisted that we put the first dime of every dollar in the offering plate. We got in some serious trouble for selling on Sunday!  

Today I want to make some UN-COMMON CENTS about saving.  

Point one: JESUS SAVES! Seriously, Jesus invested his life in us. He was not a consumer he was a lifesaver. The bible says, The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matt. 20.28 (NIV) 

Jesus spotted an unscrupulous tax agent who was up a tree. Zacchaeus was not saving he was hoarding ill-gotten gain. He squeezed people for more than they owed in taxes and padded his own savings account. 

He was curious about this Messiah who was attracting huge crowds. He was too short to see over the masses and too unpopular to be seen.  

Jesus invited himself over to this detested sinners house. Zacchaeus was overwhelmed with Jesus’ saving grace and offered to quadruple his victim’s tax returns. The story ends with Jesus telling the scandalized crowd, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19.9-10 (NIV) Jesus Saves! 

Before I get into the subject of saving money I just wanted to remind someone here that no matter what you have done you are worth saving! We are being saved up for a hope-filled life now and in the future. 

I saw a bumper sticker on an expensive motor home that said, “We’re spending our kids inheritance” Jesus is saving ours!   

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”  1 Pet. 1.3 (NIV)   

Jesus saves--if we put our trust in him we will have a secure future. But what about now, is it OK to save our financial resources. The bible does teach us to be wise managers of what God gives us but we are never to be so overly anxious that we neglect to support kingdom work. Jesus was talking about how God feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. Then he said, 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matt. 6.31-34 (NIV)

Jesus was not saying don’t plan for financial security, he is telling us not stress about finances. Plan for tomorrow but don’t fret about tomorrow. 

The annual “Stress in America” survey by the American Psychological Association reveals a nation struggling under a heavy load of tension and anxiety. Last year, 7 in 10 Americans say stress levels interfere with their physical and mental well-being, causing irritability, anger, fatigue, feelings of being overwhelmed, sleep loss, and eating problems. The biggest sources of stress they report are money, work, and the economy.   

If we put God first with our finances he will calm the fear and provide the funds and the wisdom we need to manage those funds for future security. 

Our first investment needs to be banked in heaven. In that same discussion Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustdestroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matt. 6.19-20 (NIV) 

We invest in things like stocks and bonds, real estate or other interest bearing savings. In that ancient culture they invested in expensive fabrics, and because they did not have banks they buried their treasure. Fabrics were vulnerable to moths, precious metals could rust and mud-brick houses were not good safe-deposit boxes. 

Jesus is not forbidding investment savings; he is simply stating the obvious. No material investment is as secure and spiritual investments. So should we not bother with saving for a rainy day or retirement? 

Saving is an important part of Christian stewardship or management of the resources God gives us the ability to earn. Saving is simply conserving and multiplying our earnings. 

There are three reasons to save, for a rainy day fund for future retirement and for financial growth. In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. Prov. 21.20 (NIV). Someone said, “Never eat your seeds!” 

We live in a consumer culture. We live paycheck-to-paycheck, consuming all we get. Very few people plan for lean times like illness or joblessness. When emergencies come we have to load up the credit card and contribute to someone else’s corporate profit. 

The bible is not against reasonable borrowing. In fact lenders are admonished against high interest rates. But borrowing can be become bondage. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Prov. 22.7 (NIV) 

A rule of thumb in retiring debt is to pay off the highest interest rate first. Then sparingly use credit cards when it is necessary to pay for a purchase over a reasonable time. Some people say they use credit cards to get free travel miles. Those miles aren’t free if you are paying prolonged interest. 

Savings is delaying your pleasure or your purchase and paying yourself the interest. Savings can also be used for deferred maintenance on your house or autos. Here at Harbor Light and Fremont Christian School we are striving to build our cash reserves or rainy day funds for planned and unplanned maintenance costs. 

Americans have a difficult time with margins. We need physical margins. (Rest) We need spiritual margins. (Worship) We need time margins to reduce stress. I used to arrive at the airport just in time. Now I plan a margin and it really reduces the stress. If you plan to arrive at work on time you will always be late. We need financial margins. (Extra funds) Living on margins simply means allowing room for things to happen. Is that fear? No, it’s planning to reduce your anxiety. 

Joseph could have easily grown up with a poverty complex. He was one of the youngest in the family. He has great dreams but his brothers abused him and sold into the slave trade. He was falsely accused and imprisoned. 

The road to his destiny and dreams was perilous. But his wisdom and dependence on God landed him the office of prime minister in a foreign nation. He was an incredible manager. 

He created a long-term agricultural policy and monetary infrastructure that pulled the nation out of poverty. He saved the nations resources for the rainy day of famine. During seven years of abundant harvest, Joseph had the grain stored in cities. 

During the seven lean years that followed, Joseph dispensed grain to the Egyptians and other people who were affected by the widespread famine. There was enough in the king’s storehouses to feed even his own betraying and beleaguered brothers in Israel. Gen. 41:48-49 (NIV) 

Here are some take-aways from Joseph about planning rainy-day savings.   

  1. Pray for discernment regarding the future so that you can make wise plans.
  2. Commit yourself to God first and then expect him to direct and establish your plans.
  3. Be grateful for the gifts and provision God has given you.
  4. After giving to God, save for yourself and your family by setting aside reasonable amounts.
  5. Seek the good of others, knowing that God has given you resources to be a blessing.
  6. Generously extend your resources beyond your borders, regardless of what you think of people or nations.    

I love Psalm 112 "Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,who finds great delight in his commands.His children will be mighty in the land;the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house,and his righteousness endures forever.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. 

Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor."

Another good reason for savings is for a reasonable retirement. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”  Psa. 37.25 (NIV) 

Social security was supposed to make it mandatory that we have adequate income in our non-earning years. However the government has not managed our contributions well and we are now forced to supplement our retirement with investment plans. 

When I was growing up in church many thought Jesus was coming back in their lifetime. Consequently many Pastors and church members didn’t bother with retirement plans. That was a mistake. I have seen so much unnecessary suffering especially by ministers who had very little to live on when they were no longer receiving a regular income. 

Harbor Light provides me with a generous retirement contribution as part of my salary. Mary and I also invest a portion of our income in a qualified 403b retirement fund that helps the Assemblies of God finance churches. 

We are not getting rich but hopefully we will be able to continue to serve God without financial hardship as long as we have breath. I want to encourage young families to start or contribute to a work retirement plan. The earlier you start the more it will grow. I got started way too late! 

Finally we need to save for future growth. I have a couple things in mind here. With the cost of college and weddings these days we definitely need to plan ahead. You can pay interest on your college loans now or it would be much cheaper to earn interest and pay ahead of time. 

Those are challenging discussions you need to have. But the other growth savings I am talking about is investment income that grows your wealth so you have more resources and freedom to give. I am not talking about high-risk investments. Only invest what you can afford to lose. 

Growing our wealth is not so we can increase our standard of living. It is so we can increase our standard of giving! 

Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to be generous. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. 2 Cor. 9.10-11(NIV)

Would you like to be generous on every occasion?  Save to give!  Jesus saves!