You cannot serve God and mammon

Luke 16:13

How can money be a tool to help you grow closer to Christ? It is important that money be at our service. We need to be trustworthy in our use of dishonest wealth as we work to build God’s kingdom because Jesus is clear – we cannot serve both God and mammon.

Money is at our service when we put God first in our finances, when we give first before any other bills or savings.

Give to charities that do works of mercy.

Give because – INYM.

INYM – The Book, Podcast 9

Hello and welcome to another podcast of It’s Not Your Money: Finding the Peace of Putting God First. It’s Not Your Money seeks to connect your faith with your financial life by exploring what God has to say about money and possessions in the Bible. You can guess that the truth in the Bible is often at odds with the advice and opinion given by respected financial sources.

Why is that? Where do our ideas of success and happiness come from? On the last cast I suggested that they come from “the World”. The World is that collection of temporal and carnal desires that become ends in themselves with no thought of God. That world is ruled by illusions that lead to selfishness, scarcity, and fear. Madison Avenue entices us with ads that drive our desire for more. Wall Street warns us that unless we invest more, we won’t have enough for the future. These worldly sources tell us what we must have and what we must do to be happy and be considered successful. Let’s consider a couple of maxims – common sayings – of the world, and compare them to what God says about it.

First up – have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says, “Whoever has the most toys, wins.”? This tells us that to have a fulfilling life, to be thought successful, we need more and better stuff. A McMansion, a luxury brand car, designer handbags, a new 85 inch curved screen HiDef TV, and how about a TaylorMade Stealth Driver for the golf bag – it only costs $580 – for one club! And that’s the thing.

The way to happiness according to “the World” is through our cash – or worse – credit cards. Happiness and success have a cost, probably a bit more than we should spend. Spending on these things may make us happy for a while. But it is fleeting, short-lived.

God tells us in Luke 12:15 to be on guard against greed, that though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions. He also tells us in Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 that if we love money, we will never be satisfied. If we long to be rich, we will never get what we want.

Here’s another maxim from Wall Street – Pay yourself first. You’ve probably heard that. It is sound financial planning advice. Have your retirement plan contribution deducted right from your paycheck. That way, it doesn’t make it into our checking account where it might get spent before you save it. This makes perfect sense – to pay yourself first before any other bills get paid.

Except God tells us to pay Him first. Deuteronomy 18:4 directs that we shall give Him the first fruits of our grain, wine, oil and shearing of the flock. Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to honor the Lord with our wealth, with the first fruits of all we produce. So, we are to pay God first. How about signing up for online giving! And then pay yourself second.

These Bible verses seem to conflict with what “the World” – our culture tells us. The Bible often  sounds counter-cultural. God asks us to be different, to do things differently than what the world recommends. And that can be challenging. But let me ask you, how is all that striving to earn more so that you can get more working out?

Find the peace you seek by putting God first in your life including and especially in your spending. When I embraced this approach to my finances, I began to realize the peace of mind that I sought. Giving to God first in my budget put the proper priority on how I spent, and eliminated the stress over where the rest of the money went. It is freeing! Learn more about this in the book. Get copies at the website www.itsnotyourmoney.org

Thank you for listening. Please share this podcast with your friends and family. And please like my FB page. And be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to you to be courageous and counter-cultural by putting God first in your finances.

Till next time, Be Well.

But, first…

How often do we respond to God’s call like the disciples in Luke 9:56-62, “Yes, Lord. But, first let me…

How do we respond when God asks us to give more of our Time, Talent, and Treasure?

  • Yes, Lord, but first let me advance my career and build my retirement plan.
  • Yes, Lord, but first let me pay off my credit cards and car loans.

Jesus’s answer couldn’t be clearer – No. Let the dead bury the dead. Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back. God is to be first in all things.

Eliminate “but, first” from your vocabulary.

Put God first and give.

Give because It’s Not Your Money.

INYM – The Book, Podcast 8

Hello and welcome to another podcast of It’s Not Your Money: Finding the Peace of Putting God First. The message of It’s Not Your Money is to help you connect your faith-life with your financial life. The first step in that journey is to trust God. You can trust God to provide.

We all know the angst we experience when striving to balance family and personal time with advancing our career and earning more money to build our investment accounts in order to buy the things we think we need now and to have enough for the future. On the last cast I proposed that to alleviate this stress and angst, we need to change our attitudes toward money and possessions by admitting that God owns everything and God gives us everything as we read in 1 Chronicles 29. Therefore, we can rest easy in the truth that He loves us and will provide for us. We can trust God at His word. Let’s consider a handful of Bible verses that encourage us to trust God:

Psalm 37:3   Trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.

2 Corinthians 1:9-10   Indeed, we had accepted within ourselves the sentence of death, that we might trust not in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He rescued us from such great danger of death, and he will continue to rescue us; in him we have put our hope [that] he will also rescue us again

Trust is one of the main attributes God asks of us. We can trust God that He will, as Paul says, rescue us. We can rely on His love and grace. We can be vulnerable with Him. This may sound a little counter-intuitive. It may be counter-cultural to trust in anyone other than ourselves to provide for us. After all, I am the one who is to look out for my needs – to follow society’s dictum to “look out for number one!” You may have heard the aphorism, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

And so we strive and stress to make more money to get more stuff. That is the way to happiness. That is the way to feel successful. That is the way of our world. How is that working out for you?

Get off that merry-go-round. Listen to what the Psalmist says in Chapter 49:6-14, “Why should I fear in evil days…Of those who trust in their wealth and boast of their abundant riches? No man can ransom even a brother, or pay to God his own ransom…Indeed, he will see that the wise die, and the fool will perish together, and they leave their wealth to others…This is the way of those who trust in themselves.”

We think we can trust in ourselves and in our wealth, and that our riches will make us happy. But, we cannot redeem ourselves. Riches are transitory. We can’t take it with us. There is now trailer hitch on a hearse.

So there seems to be some competition between what the world tells us we need to do and what we need to have to be happy versus what God says. We’ll begin to consider a handful of “World Says vs. God Says” axioms in the next podcast. Until then, please stop for a moment and ask yourself if you can trust God. What keeps you from trusting God and putting Him first in your life? Know that trust comes from faith, and like faith, the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

Thank you for listening. Please share this podcast with your family and friends. And please like my FB page. Hey – and go to my website itsnotyourmoney.org, to the “Join In” tab and share your story of how you placed your trust in God, and what happened. Do that and reference this podcast, and I’ll send you a copy of my book for free.

Till next time, Be Well.

INYM – The Book, Podcast 7 – The Ideal

It’s Not Your Money seeks to help you form the foundation of discipleship. The message is that by putting God first in your life, you gain the sense of peace and contentment that you truly seek.

On the last podcast I said that trusting God to provide, and so giving courageously demonstrates a mature faith. I asked what keeps you from doing that. What keeps you from embracing God’s way to live, God’s will for your life? Did you know that each of us is called to holiness? Sound impossible? Pope Francis tells us that holiness is the mission of every Christian. Pope St. John Paul II said there are many ways to holiness according to the vocation of each individual. So then, how do we attain holiness?

It starts with considering our Ideal. An authentic Ideal gives meaning and purpose to life. It causes us to rise above our normal self. It drives us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It gives us hope for our future. Think about what drives and informs who you are. What are your priorities? What kind of person do you aspire to be? This is hard stuff, I know, but forming the proper Ideal is vital to how we live our lives every day. And so, it is vital to our discipleship.

Stewardship is the Ideal

Stewardship gives us the perfect framework on which to build our discipleship. Stewardship as our Ideal becomes our philosophy of life – that set of beliefs that determine how we set priorities and make decisions. So as disciples of Jesus Christ, living stewardship should be our Ideal.

A Stewardship Ideal is a mindset. This mindset first admits and embraces the truth that It’s Not Mine. God owns everything! What??! I hear your push-back, “Joe, what do you mean God owns everything? I own my things.” Yes, of course we own our things. Thankfully, we have laws that govern our ownership of things in relationship with each other. But in relationship with God – He owns everything.

The Bible lays this foundation. The passage in 1 Chronicles 29:11-14 says, in summary, that “All in heaven and earth are yours, Lord. Riches and glory are from You. Everything is from You.”

So, since everything is from God, this means that God gives us everything. Every single thing we have is given to us from God. What??! You push back again, “Joe, nobody gives me anything. I earn everything I have.” Yes, of course we work and earn the money we have to spend to get the things we have. But think about it – where do you get the talent, the ability to do what you do to earn? Where do you get the time to go do what you do?

Consider one more verse with me. It is Deuteronomy 8:10-18, especially verse 18. Moses tells us to “Remember then the LORD, your God, for he is the one who gives you the power to get wealth.” God reminds us that He is the one who gives us the ability to earn.

I go into a lot more detail on this in the book. Get copies at the website www.itsnotyourmoney.org

A huge step toward being a mature disciple is to embrace this truth that God owns everything and God gives us everything. Make this the foundation of your philosophy of life – your Ideal. When I did, my mindset changed and allowed me to begin to put God first in my life, in every area of my life, including money. This was a giant step toward alleviating stress and finding my peace.

Thank you for listening. Think about your Ideal. Make living Stewardship your Ideal. Please share this with your family and friends, and your priest. Also, please share your thoughts on this with me. Do that at the website under the “Join In” tab.

Till next time, Be Well.