“WEATHER THROUGH THE FINANCIAL STORM”     

Text: Matthew 8:23-27                                        May 10, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   An ancient time storm: One of the most cited messages Jesus had preached is the long and encompassing Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5-7. It covers many aspects on the subject of The Kingdom of God and the life of its citizens. After that successful revival, Jesus performed a series of healing miracles on a leper, a servant of a centurion, the mother-in-law of Peter and many others with various kinds of disease and demon possessed. Just as things were going so well, here came an unexpected storm that almost swallow the boat with Jesus and his disciples in it.

2)   A modern time storm: In his famous book on world economy, Of Manias, Panics and Crushes, Charles Kindleberger listed a three-step formula how the world economy spins its cycle. It starts with acts of manias in building bubbles in high tech, in real estates and in stock market. When the bubble expends so big, people and business riding on dreams of prosperity, they ignore the “Murphy’s Laws”: anything that goes up must come down. That’s the beginning of the worldwide financial tsunami. It began with the bankruptcy of mortgage companies like New Century and American Home Mortgage in 2007. Then the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch and AIG in 2008. Stock market tumbled from historic high of 14,000 in 2006 to new low of 6,400 in early March 2009. Everyone suffers tremendous financial loss.

 

GOD AND YOUR FINANCE:

1)    God owns everything: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) Whatever financial possession we may have, they actually belong to God. No one has ever created anything, owned anything or possessed anything. It is important that we recognize the real ownership. Since God is the owner of all things we see, touch and enjoy, he knows what to do with his possession.

2)    God provides ability: “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deut. 8:18) It is very important for all of us to recognize that God gives us strength, opportunity and wisdom to produce wealth. Without any of the above three elements, we cannot produce anything. It is never our own plans, wisdom and strength that make us rich.

3)    God assigns our share: “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)Whatever God entrusts to each one of us, we are his stewards and are to be faithful in handling His trust. God has the absolute right to give whatever amount He deems right. There is no need to ask, beg or question God’s decision and wisdom.

4)    God acts for our good: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called with his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)Whether God is giving or taking it away, money or anything else, he has a purpose in it: for the good of us if we truly love him. The object of our love is God, not God’s blessing or his treasures.

5)    God above all things: “Therefore seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33) The primary pursuit of Christian life is not material possessions but a close relationship with God. He will never forsake the righteous nor allow their children begging for bread. (Psalm 37:25)

 

YOU AND YOUR FINANCE:

1)   You need to be faithful: “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with real riches?” (Luke 16:11)God demands that we be worthy of His trust, in this case, our finance. We need to be diligent, wise and hard working to manage financial resource God has entrusted us.

2)   You also need to be wise: “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off to a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13)To squander means to spend money without giving any thought. Here are some important suggestions we all need to follow to manage our finance the right way:

a)    Live within your means: Control your spending within your income. Do not spend money you do not have.

b)    Do not borrow if possible: Besides the need of dwelling and transportation, never buy things you can’t pay with cash. Buy the least expensive house and cars you can afford comfortably. Never buy luxury items on credit.

c)    Use credit cards wisely: Use credit cards only for security and convenience purpose: never carry a balance. Pay in full every month. If you can’t pay, then don’t buy.

d)    Save for rainy days: Life is full of unexpected. No one can guarantee your job, your health or the economy. Save 10% or more from every paycheck. Keep at least enough cash for all expenses you need for at least 6 months or longer.

e)    Never compare with others: The temptation of comparing to others often times drives us to spend way out of our means. God doesn’t give all of us the same amount of resource. It is a never-ending battle to fight if we compare our resource with that of others.

3)   Your life and finance: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matt. 6:25) Jesus was trying to remind us what is really important: it is the life, not finance or anything on the outside. Do not spend your life worrying, working hard and accumulating wealth that you never pay attention to your life, physical and spiritual.

4)   Your faithfulness in giving: “Bring the whole tithe into the store house that there may be food in my house,” God said in the OT through Malachi 3:10 on the faithful giving to God. In giving to help the people and ministry in God’s church, Paul said, “On the first day of each week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in proportion with his income, saving it up when I come to collect.” (1 Corinthians 16:2) Christians who manage their money well should be faithful and generous in giving back tithes to God’s church and offerings to help the poor and needy.

 

LESSONS FROM THE STORM: (Matthew 8:23-27)

1)   Storm in following Jesus: “Then he (Jesus) got into the boat and his disciples followed Him.” (8:23) Some may wonder how can there be any storm when we follow Jesus?  Please remember that Jesus is not in insurance or security business. To have storms at the Sea of Galilee is a normal phenomenon.

2)   Storms come unexpected: “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake so the waves swept over the boat.” (8:24a) Right after a very successful ministry, something very bad happened. Bad things may come without warning especially when you think you are successful and very safe.

3)   Storm at wrong time: “But Jesus was sleeping.” (8:24b)We can understand the need of Jesus to sleep after busy ministry. But why must he in sleep when we are in a furious storm? Did he know what was coming? If he did, why can he fall in sleep?

4)   Storm calls for prayer: “The disciples went and woke him, saying: Lord, save us! We are going to drown!” (8:25)That is a good step to take: come to Jesus and ask for help in time of need and fear.

5)   Storm, test of faith: “He replied: You are of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (8:26) Why are we so afraid when we know Jesus is with us or had promised to be with us in whatever situation may be? Do we really trust Him, believe in Him that he is able to handle everything and anything?

6)   Storm listened to Him: “Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (8:26b)God is more powerful than any furious storm, hurricane or typhoon. He is the Lord of the universe. Nothing is too scary for our God.

7)   Storm brings Him glory: “The men were amazed and asked: What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey Him.” (8:27)This event happened very early in Jesus’ ministry. It is important that his disciples recognized that Jesus is not just another rabbi. He is the Son of God, creator and sustainer of all in the universe. This brings Him much glory and honor.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    Storm comes in many forms: Storm may come as crashes of financial disasters. It may come as serious illness or death. It may also come as marriage difficulties. It may also come in business failures or loss of jobs or career. When God allows storms to come to us, He has good purposes in them. He intends for us to build our faith in Him instead of in circumstance around us. It is “IN GOD WE TRUST,” not in thing we trust.

2)    Storm comes for our own good: Success and smooth ride may numb our spirit and create false security and pride. Storms take away our pride and push us back closer to God. When we have nothing to hold on, we have to hold on to God. Make use of stormy experience to realign your priority, direction and value system of life. Be thankful to God for the storms He sent.

3)    Storms and shelters: No one may avoid stormy days in life. But all of us may prepare shelters for storms. No man-made shelter is strong enough and lasts long enough than that built by God’s hands. See Him and ask Him to enter you heart. Surrender your life to Him and let Him save you from all kinds of storm and give you eternal life in His kingdom.

 

NOTE: (Words from Our Daily Bread, April 24, 2009)

     Our strength for today and hope for tomorrow are not based on the ability of our perseverance nor the stability of the economy but on the fidelity of our God. No matter what we may need, we can count on His faithfulness.