Saving money puts you in control when things go bad.

There’s a really interesting scripture in the bible where we can learn about the importance of saving. It’s Pharaoh’s Dreams in Genesis 41: 15-57. Check this out…

15…Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”

16“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

17So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I was standing on the bank of the Nile River, 18and I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. 19But then I saw seven sick-looking cows, scrawny and thin, come up after them. I’ve never seen such sorry-looking animals in all the land of Egypt. 20These thin, scrawny cows ate the seven fat cows. 21But afterward you wouldn’t have known it, for they were still as thin and scrawny as before! Then I woke up.

22“Then I fell asleep again, and I had another dream. This time I saw seven heads of grain, full and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. 23Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were blighted, shriveled, and withered by the east wind. 24And the shriveled heads swallowed the seven healthy heads. I told these dreams to the magicians, but no one could tell me what they mean.”

25Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. 26The seven healthy cows and the seven healthy heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. 27The seven thin, scrawny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain, withered by the east wind, represent seven years of famine.

28“This will happen just as I have described it, for God has revealed to Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. 29The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. 30But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land. 31This famine will be so severe that even the memory of the good years will be erased. 32As for having two similar dreams, it means that these events have been decreed by God, and he will soon make them happen.

33“Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. 34Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. 35Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. 36That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.”

39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.

47As predicted, for seven years the land produced bumper crops. 48During those years, Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. 49He piled up huge amounts of grain like sand on the seashore. Finally, he stopped keeping records because there was too much to measure.

53At last the seven years of bumper crops throughout the land of Egypt came to an end. 54Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. The famine also struck all the surrounding countries, but throughout Egypt there was plenty of food. 55Eventually, however, the famine spread throughout the land of Egypt as well. And when the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, he told them, “Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you.” 56So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 57And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.

For Egypt, there were good times of abundance and bad times of famine. Conveniently for Egypt, God gave Pharaoh a heads up. Through the dreams Joseph interpreted, Pharaoh knew there were bad times ahead and so they prepared by saving 20% of their crops during the good times.

It was only through having prepared during the 7 years of prosperity that they were able to survive 7 years of famine. But not only did they survive, they also managed to feed many of the surrounding countries as well.

It’s extremely important to be prepared for the bad seasons.

God doesn’t always give us the same kind of advanced warning of bad times ahead that he gave to Egypt, however it’s safe to assume that seasons come and go and at some point there will be bad seasons ahead that we should prepare for. Just like Egypt, we know we will have good times and bad, good seasons and bad seasons.

Looking as Australia’s financial situation, a BT Australian Financial Health Index survey in 2016 found that ONE in three Australian households is living pay cheque to pay cheque and many would not be able to cover a major emergency if it happened.

The survey, which was conducted by Ernst & Young, also found:

ALMOST one in five people would not be able to find between $500 and $1000 if they needed it in an emergency.

56 PER CENT of people say they are unable to save as much as they would like to.

48 PER CENT of people say they rarely or never make contributions to a super plan.

A THIRD do not believe they will have a financially secure retirement.

Only 35 PER CENT of people have developed a sound plan to help them achieve their goals.

(Source: Adelaide Now)

The reality is if we are not prepared, bad situations will be more difficult than they need to be.

About 20 years ago when I had my first job I was catching public transport to my workplace. My car was parked at the train station car park during the day and one particular day I returned to find my car had been broken into while I was at work. The thief smashed the locks and ripped half of my dashboard out trying to get my stereo. They took about $400 worth of my CDs and made a huge mess. I claimed it on insurance but the insurance company wouldn’t give me my car back until I paid the excess which I unfortunately didn’t have at the time. I hadn’t saved any money and I wasn’t prepared. It was an unnecessarily stressful situation that could have been avoided if I had savings.

I was reading a book recently called the Barefoot Investor. At the beginning of the book the author Scott Pape tells a story about how his house burnt down in the Black Saturday bush fires in 2009. I can only imagine how difficult that experience would have been.

While Scott wasn’t expecting his house to burn down, he had savings put aside in a separate bank account specifically for emergencies such as this. He also had insurance and within days of their house burning down he was able to pay the excess and received a full insurance payout for his property.

When Joseph ordered the people to bring in 20% of their crops Egypt embarked on one of the biggest savings plans the world has ever seen.

There were significant benefits to having saved so much food.

• They survived the famine. There was enough food for the whole of Egypt.

• They had so much food they were able to be generous. They didn’t just feed Egypt – they fed other countries too.

• People came from all around to buy their grain. Because they were prepared Egypt was in a position of power and had control of their situation. Having saved so much food, Pharaoh and Joseph weren’t looking to others for help. Others were coming to them.

The scripture and Josephs example are such a contradiction to what our society teaches us. Our society is very materialistic and impatient. The world says “Why save up when you can have something now?” and “You need stuff… and you need it now. Don’t worry if you don’t have the money. Just use a credit card or get a loan.”

But who’s telling us this? It’s usually banks, financial institutions and retailers. Our banking, finance and retail sectors like to be Joseph and Egypt. They like to have the money and in turn the control. They like us to be dependent on them but we know from scripture that we’re meant to be the head not the tail.

The banking, finance and retail sectors are more interested in what they can draw out of you rather than genuinely looking after you despite their marketing and advertising claims. Their primary purpose is to generate wealth for their shareholder.

We are increasingly relying on credit. A reliance on credit makes you dependant on banks and financial institutions (not to mention adds to the cost of your purchase) and in a way you put yourself at the mercy of they institution. You could say you become a slave to them – locked in for the term of your finance regardless of your situation.

It’s important to live within your means and avoid credit as much as possible.

As we saw with Joseph… when you save, you not only have yourself covered for a rainy day but you are in a much better position – you have the power and control of your situation. It’s not left to external people or organisations such as banks or financial institutions.

In Proverbs 21:20 it says “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”

Spending is a barrier to saving and we are addicted to buying stuff.

According to Moneysmart – the average Victorian spends $1225 per week.

 It might shock you to learn that Environment Victoria says the vast majority of what we buy will end up in landfill within 6 weeks of buying it. (Source: Barefoot investor)

Think about it… Everything you spend will at some point end up in landfill.

If the vast majority of what we spend ends up in land fill we could be wasting as much as $60,000 a year just by throwing stuff out.

I’m one of those not so common guys who actually enjoys shopping. It must be a hunter gatherer thing. I also hate waste. I found the idea that the vast majority of what I spend will end up in landfill very confronting. Thinking about this concept has kind of ruined shopping for me. I question myself much more before I make a purchase these days. Do I really need this? How likely am I to use this? Is this a good investment or use of my money? Will this purchase end up in landfill soon? Am I wasting money?

We can’t avoid spending completely but we can be wise with what we spend.

What’s more, if we can get our financial affairs in order, it not only puts us in a better place for the bad season, it also puts us in good stead for the good seasons.

In Matthew 25:23 it says:

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”

It’s important to be prepared and to manage your finances well. 

There’s a couple basic things you can do to get your finances in order and be better prepared for the inevitable bad seasons before they happen:

• Have a simple budget.

• If you have debts or credit facilities, pay them off as fast as possible and close them down. Get rid of credit cards. Pay them out and close the accounts and use a debit card instead.

• Pay extra off your mortgage to get rid of it as soon as possible.

• Use your own money, live within your means and limit unnecessary spending.

Be a serial saver. Save for emergencies, big purchases and to invest in your future.

Its time to take control of your finances. What can you do to be better prepared financially?

References:

The Bible.

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/one-third-of-australian-households-have-no-savings/news-story/238931033919717be3bd1a8b1d9f046f 

https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/spending/australian-spending-habits 

Book: “Barefoot Investor. The only money book you will ever need.”  – by Scott Pape.

Being Limitless In God Requires Ignition

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If you have absolutely no restrictions or limitations and you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt there was no way you could fail – what would be your most audacious goal?

Let me tell you a story… it’s a true story… maybe you’ve heard it before.

It’s 25 May, 1961. President John F. Kennedy stands before the US congress with a bold vision. He asks congress for $531 million to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade… a seemingly impossible dream. To put it in context, that’s 3.5 trillion dollars in today’s money ($3,512,258,367). History tells us… congress said yes.

Fast forward seven years…  It’s now December 1968. The research, testing, and preparations up to this point have been immense and not without issue but NASA believe it’s time to make a bold decision and send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon with astronauts on board. It’s the first human space flight to leave Earths orbit and enter a different orbit around the moon.

Step forward a further 7 months and it’s now 16 July 1969… a little over 8 years since President Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon.

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are once again sitting at the top of a rocket at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre. Apollo 11 is a three-stage 111 metre tall rocket (363-foot) that will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history. As the astronauts prepare to launch Apollo 11 they narrate their procedures to space command.

At 9:32 am, the engines fire… “Houston… we have ignition.”

Space command begin the count down… “Apollo 11 Prepare for launch in T minus 10, 9, 8…”

The astronauts are anxious as the countdown continues… “3, 2, 1. We have lift off!”

Apollo 11 clears the tower and rockets into space. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earths orbit. After 1.5 orbits of the earth, the crew receive confirmation to begin their mission. After 3 days they enter the Lunar orbit. A day after that, on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin climb into the lunar module they’ve affectionately named the Eagle and they begin the descent towards the moon.

During the final seconds of descent, the Eagle’s computer is sounding alarms which is worrying for all involved. It turns out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once.

When the lunar module finally lands on the moon there is only 30 seconds of fuel remaining. Neil Armstrong radios back to space command – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.”

With more than half a billion people watching on television, Neil Armstrong climbs down the ladder and proclaims those historic words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It’s an historic moment and an inspirational story. Without limits man threw away convention and launched into space. They did the unthinkable… a man actually walked on the moon.

There’s one key ingredient of this story that I want to bring to your attention and that is IGNITION.

To walk on the moon… a destiny beyond our greatest limitations… man put himself in a rocket. To see the very dream of walking on a moon become alive… it took IGNITION.

I’ve been stirred a lot this year about how God is limitless and through the Holy Spirit that we too can be limitless in Him.

Matthew 19:26 says: “Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.”

Nothing is impossible for God!

Ephesians 3:20 also says: “With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”

They key to being limitless is God. We are human. We are limited. All things are only possible with God involved. So often we try to do things in our own strength or like Frank Sinatra… ‘my way’. That’s not how being limitless works… it’s God’s way, in His strength and with His plans. We are but flesh and blood but He is the God Almighty.

Acts 2:17-18 (NKJV) says: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.”

The bible tells us that God will pour out His spirit and we will see dreams and visions. Life without limits thinks beyond normal. It dreams beyond the status quo and sees visions beyond the current reality around us. When our dreams and visions come from the God of ‘all things are possible’ they are bigger than us and bigger than impossible.

Being limitless is a nice idea, but there’s more to being limitless that just dreaming about it. You need ignition.

When you think about it… if it wasn’t for ignition the Apollo 11 rocket would have never left the ground. Without ignition there’s no movement, progress or advancement. Without ignition rockets are grounded.

Without ignition the stars are still out of reach. Without action… Limitless becomes limited.

Sometimes we look at the mountain that is before us and we think it is way too big. How can I do that? I’m just me? Or I’m not good enough.  Why would God choose me to do that? There’s so many other people out there who can do this better than me? What if I fail?

We are full of excuses but why do we allow ourselves to become limited?

One of the biggest barriers to IGNITION is inaction.

Neil Armstrong did not just wake up one morning and decided ‘today is the day I’m going to walk on the moon.’ Someone had a dream. Then a lot of work was required.  Apparently there were 1000’s of people involved in preparation for the Apollo 11 rocket launch. When you think about it there was planning, training, manufacturing, research, testing and a massive amount of administration. The work behind the scenes would have been phenomenal.  But they had a dream and they took the required steps to make it happen. The thing is they had to start somewhere and it all started with a first step.

Sometimes the vision or the dreams that God puts before us are huge. They might even seem completely impossible. We ask how on earth can I do that?

You’ve heard that saying… ‘how to you eat an elephant?’ The answer is one bite at a time.

We often get distracted by the size of the dream or vision that God puts before us but we need to take it one bite at a time. The important thing is to make sure we take that first bite. The first bite is often the hardest. It’s the ignition point. Without it nothing will occur.

Once you’ve taken the first bite, then you can take the second bites. And then the next and the next… and before you know it you’re well and truly on your way to your moon landing and the dreams and visions you have received will start progressing.

There’s often more than one elephant in your life. God sometimes gives you multiple dreams or visions and there’s also many areas of our lives such as work, family or friends which are in some ways competing priorities. However if you take a bite from each one of your elephants then often then you can eat more than 1 elephant at a time. If you break it down to the next most important task for each one of your elephants you can make a huge leap forward in your dreams and visions and several areas of your life all at once.

Another barrier to ignition is doubt.

Doubt can come from from a wide variety of places. It can be triggered by people close to you, a comment from a random stranger, something you see or hear in media, previous life experiences and sometimes it even comes from within you. Everyone experiences doubts.

It may surprise you to know that not everyone was confident the mission to the moon was going to succeed.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got in that rocket… there was a very high chance they weren’t coming back.  When you think about it, the astronauts were either very brave, very stupid… or perhaps they just had the faith to believe the mission would succeed.

Which ever way you look at it there was always doubt the mission would succeed. Did you know that President Nixon had a speech prepared just in case the 1969 mission to the moon failed?  I’m not just making this up… I have proof.

Here’s the speech that was prepared:

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You would hope they didn’t show this speech to the astronauts or their families before the rocket launch. It’s a frightening thought but there was such a high level of doubt that the Apollo 11 mission was going to succeed that they prepared a speech to announce the failure to the world. The presidents office even spoke of their wives as “widows-to-be”. There was doubt. They prepared for it but it didn’t stop them from making the mission a reality.

It’s time to turn on the ignition and put all the doubt, fears and excuses behind us.

There is a song that has inspired me all year this year. It’s a song called ‘Limitless’ by Colton Dixon. I have listened to this song repeatedly because it has some really powerful faith building lyrics.

The bridge of Colton Dixon’s song says: “Doubt sees a mountain, no way around it, Faith sees a victory, no doubt about it. Fear sees a ceiling, hope sees the stars. Love (God) be the light inside of our hearts.”

The song is on youtube if you want to look it up here:

For us – as men and women of Faith – God is going to ask us to do things that are impossible. People will say “are you mad? That’ll never work. You’re going to fail at that for sure!”

We are taught to ask “what if we fail?” … but our God is limitless…. so shouldn’t we ask “what if we succeed?” instead?

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) says: “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

We can go beyond our limitations in God. Imagine what will happen if we understand the power of God and what He can do in and through us. The God who is completely without boundary, completely without limit, the very God for whom nothing is impossible is alive in us and we can overcome our own limitations through Him.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the  Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

God has great plans and purposes for you. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think yourself – there is something incredible before you. God wants you to engage with Him… to seek Him wholeheartedly… that He may be with you and within you.

We have access to the ultimate rocket fuel…. Holy Spirit rocket fuel. God doesn’t want us sitting idle. He built us like an car… to go places. We need to fuel up on Him, switch on the ignition…. rev those engines, put the car into gear and get moving.

Maybe you already have big visions or goals… Let me challenge you to dream bigger – to see a greater vision.  You might think you’ve got the biggest vision in the world… but your God is limitless. His vision, His dreams, his plans are greater. God has more for you.

Isaiah 55:9 says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Maybe you don’t feel like you have a plan or a purpose. Maybe you haven’t yet seen the dreams or visions. Let me encourage you to ask.

In Matthew 7:7 it says: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

Earlier this year I was painting our fences… all 80 metres… two coats with my Aldi spray gun. It was the most boring 4 days of my entire life. During that time I asked God ‘what is it you want me to do?’. That night I had a dream. God speaks. He hears you… He WILL speak to you. You just need to ask.

Perhaps you have dreams or visions and a clear idea of what it is you’re meant to be doing – but for whatever reason you haven’t done anything about it yet. It’s time to turn the key. Start the ignition and press the accelerator. Now is the time to take the first step.

Ignition is lighting the flame, it’s starting the engine, it’s firing up. It’s putting action to the vision, dreams, plans and purposes that God has for you.

Remember…

  • It’s the power of God alive in you that makes you limitless.
  • If you think you have a big dream or vision… it’s time to stretch… ask God for more.
  • If you don’t feel like you have a clear vision or dream ask Him to give you dreams and visions. Believe He will speak.
  • If you need to do something with the dreams and visions… make a commitment to God right now that you will do something about it.

It’s time to pick up our swords, go forward in faith and be limitless in God knowing He is within us.