Dennis Miller | Luke 15
We were raised in homes that handled money differently. But the one thing we all have in common is the urgent need to tame the incredible power of money. Either we master our money, or it masters us!
Allow me to give you four critical financial mistakes that will take you to financial ruin.
1. Instant Gratification
A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, “I want my share of your estate now instead of waiting until you die.” – Luke 15:11
Friends, you need to know this was hugely disrespectful to say to a Jewish father in that day. No one would ever think of doing something like that. This story illustrates the incredible grace of the father at the end of the story, but I think this also illustrates the younger son’s desire for instant gratification. I want it now!
This young guy was consumed by the myth of more. He thinks, “If I could just get my hand on some cash, if I could just get some money, then my life would be great.”
“Beware, don’t always be wishing for what you don’t have, for real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.” -Luke 12:15
True riches are found in something more.
Have any of you ever been so impulsive that you just did that instant gratification thing and you bought something that now you don’t even like or maybe you don’t even own anymore, and you’re still paying for it? Yeah, we’ve all kind of done that, haven’t we?
It happens a lot of the time with guys with cars. A guy graduates from college, he has a little money. He’s tired of driving his mom and dad’s 2007 Toyota Camry so he saves up a little bit, sees this 2016 Honda Accord. He says, “I can afford that. It looks like it runs well. But on the way to go check it out, he stops by the new car showroom. He walks in and there it is! His dream car! It’s a red glistering 2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible. He begins to imagine himself and some drop-dead gorgeous model driving through the Rocky Mountains, and the rooftop is down, and the weather is just intoxicating to him. He starts to think, “You know what: if I wear the same pair of jeans for the next three years and if I didn’t eat for the next 60 months, I could swing this.” So, he does, and he leaves with his dream ride. Six months later, he’s broke, and he’s bored. His car is a mess. He’s got a payment book as thick as a Bible and he’s miserable.
Maybe your temptation is not a car but something else. How many of you have a treadmill or bowflex at home? Yeah, in the last three years, you have used it five times, but when you saw that infomercial, you just had to have it!
Maturity is the ability to postpone pleasure.
“A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst.” -Proverbs 11
2. Self-Destructive Behavior
“The younger son got together all that he had, set out for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” -Luke 15:13
Sin is costly. Sin might bring immediate pleasure but ultimate pain and part of the pain of sin is the financial price tag.
Do you ever think about how much money we squander though self-destructive behavior?
Think of the thousands of dollars spent by people who can’t control their drinking. What about those who develop a $200 day drug habit? Think about the thousands of dollars that get wasted every year on pornography that destroys the minds and families of so many people.
Guess how much money is lost on an annual basis in Las Vegas? 6 billion dollars, that’s what’s lost. Did you know that average Americans spend over $1,000 on lottery tickets a year, which is almost twice as much as they do in charitable giving?
“Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags” -Proverbs 23:21
3. Spending More Than You Have
Two generations ago, it was easier to live within your means because there was a rule that pretty much everybody abided by. When you ran out of money, you just didn’t buy anything. But we as a culture spend money that we don’t have.
“Evil men borrow and ‘cannot pay it back’! But the good man returns what he owes with some extra besides.” -Psalm 37:21
We need to live within our means
4. Being Unprepared For The Storms Of Life
“So, at about the time his money ran out, wouldn’t you know it, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve,” He was totally unprepared for a storm that would come into his life. -Luke 15:14
Storms are going to hit.
The average Japanese family saves 25% of their income. The average European family saves 18% of their income. And Newsweek magazine reported that American family savings is now in the negative category
“Stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it. A wise man saves for the future.” -Proverbs 21:10
We can’t forget that car accidents happen…that emergency room visits happen…that braces happen.
Things come upon us that we never expect.
What do you do if you’re facing financial ruin?
YOU NEED TO A.C.T.
A: Acknowledge the reality of where you are
Jesus said the son became so hungry that even the stuff that he was feeding pigs looked good to him.
The first step to recovering from anything in your life is to acknowledge the reality of what’s going on. You’ve got to say, “Man, I’m in bondage here.”
C: Create a plan of attack (Proverbs 21:5)
First, simply say, “No more debt.” Second, look for optional expenses that can be eliminated. Third, start paying off your debt, smallest to largest.
If you are married, sit down with your spouse. A Gallup poll indicates 65 percent of all married couples argue over money. And 54% of marriages that end in divorce do so over this issue. Don’t blame each other, just say, “We’ve got to get this thing under God’s control.”
T: Time is important. Start now!
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come on you like a bandit.” -Proverbs 6:10
You could make a defining decision today to begin to walk in freedom. Today you could begin climbing out of the red and into the black. But it all begins with a decision and faith.
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Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church