Getting God's Army Out of Debt

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Chapter 2

Session 1 – God’s Plan – Your Attitude about Money


This series teaches fundamental principles and habits of financial management – from a Christian perspective. However, we are not here to preach any kind of Prosperity Gospel. (God doesn’t promise us an easy life nor worldly riches.) We are here to help you get your financial lives under control. We’re here to teach you God’s principles for being good financial stewards. We’re here to get you out of financial bondage.

We are not certified financial experts nor licensed tax advisors. We have, however, been in severe debt and survived. We have used the principles we teach. We are currently completely debt-free. It was simple, but not easy.

Perhaps you are struggling with unemployment – we’ve been there. Maybe it’s under-employment – we’ve been there, too. Maybe you have to provide for your children’s education. Maybe you’re divorced and a single parent with low income. Maybe you’ve never married. Maybe you have a single income and are trying to decide if you need two incomes. Maybe you are approaching retirement age – and you have no retirement fund. Maybe you would like to serve the Lord more effectively, but you are hindered by some poor prior decisions. All of these situations are important and potentially devastating – but they are all manageable. Your financial stewardship is fundamental to your earthly service.

First Principles

There are 4 Principles that we will focus on throughout this series:

1.      Honor God With Your Life – Live For, And Serve The Lord.

2.      Spend Less Than You Earn – Live For The King, Not Like A King.

3.      Avoid Debt – Pay Cash For As Much As Possible.

4.      Provide For The Future – Build A Financial Cushion For Your Future Needs.

Do you want to have peace? Do you want an end to fear? Do you want to end worry and doubt? Do you want to restore your wounded marriages? Then let’s become better Financial Managers. It is simple, but not easy.

a.       You will be required to keep and manage financial records.

b.      You will be asked to do simple math and arithmetic.

c.       You will have to make plans, budgets, and decisions.

d.      You will have to make changes in your current lifestyle.

e.       You will have to decide to build better financial habits.


It starts with your relationship with the Lord, and your attitude about money. How are we to serve the Lord?

(MT 22:37-40)“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

You can’t do that unless you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and by faith we must acknowledge Him as our Lord.

We are all sinners. We have all fallen short of the Glory of God. We can never attain salvation on our own – we must be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.

(EPH 2:8) – “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

It is the grace of God that allows us to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God, come to earth in the form of man, to show us the Father. He lived the perfect and sinless life. He was crucified as a sin offering for all of our sins, forever. He rose on the 3rd day to conquer death. He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God as our intercessor. He will come again, and He will pass judgment on us in the very last days. Do you know that Jesus? If not, your time may be short.

When we have salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, we must live a life worthy of our calling as Sons and Daughters of God.

(EPH 4:1) – “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you received.”

God for-ordained our lives before the foundations of the universe. Yet we have free will. God allows us to demonstrate our love for Him by how we live our lives.

(ROM 12:1) – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Our spiritual worship is how we live our lives. This means every minute of every day. Your life is your spiritual worship of God. You are not a slave to the world, but to Jesus. You are not bound by the flesh any longer. However, we are tempted by the world and everything in it. Our old self – the sinful self of selfish gratification – tugs at us during our every waking moment and during our every sleeping night. We are tempted away by our thoughts and our old desires. We allow Satan to sell us half-truths. Know the truth and the truth will set you free.

(COL 3:17) – “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Our attitude about money gets in our way of serving God.

(MT 6:24)“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

(I TIM 6:9-10) – “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

(MT 6:19-21)  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, 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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(MT 6:33)“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

(LK 18:18-25) – A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 “Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

If we confess that Jesus is our Lord, what does that mean? Is He just Lord while we’re in church or only while we around Christians? Or is He Lord of every moment of our lives? Since He is the Source of our Salvation, we must live according to our belief.

(JN 15:14) – “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

(JAS 2:17) – “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

You can pretty well tell where your priorities are by examining your life. A great reflection is found in your checkbook register, and in your calendar. How do you spend your time? How do you spend your money?

Glorify God in everything we do. What was the last thing you spent money on? Did you want it? Did you need it? How did it glorify God? When we gratify ourselves and forget to glorify God, we get into financial troubles.

(Rom 8:28) – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

God is sovereign.

If you are having trials, God is allowing or causing them. His Word is true. “… in all things, God  works for the good…

Whatever is the good in being financially troubled? I don’t know, but it is part of that all working together for good.

(JAS 1:2-4) – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing or your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

(EPH 6:20) – “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These trials and tribulations that come as we get in financial trouble are part of God’s eternal plan. Give thanks for those troubles. God said so.

Your Debt

Is there anyone else here, besides us, who is debt free? Is there anyone here who does NOT want to be debt free? Can someone tell me what that means?

·         No calls from credit collectors.

·        No credit card balances.

·        No house payments.

·        No car payments.

·        No taxes due from prior years.

·        No contractual obligations of any kind.

This is where God wants us to be…

(ROM 13:8) – “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another...”

(PR 22:7) – “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Uncontrolled debt is the number one financial problem in America today. Did you know that in a typical credit card account, if all you pay is the minimum payments, and never make any more purchases, it will take you 19 years to pay off a $1,000 balance? 19 years?!!! Is it any wonder that credit cards can kill?

We get into debt for of a variety of reasons.

1.      We want it.

2.      We want it now.

3.      We don’t know how our spending affects our relationship with God.

4.      We don’t understand how credit works.

5.      We are bombarded with easy credit and its use…

a.       “What’s in YOUR wallet???”

b.      “Cost of… Cost of the memory… Priceless!”

6.      We focus on the monthly payments.

7.      We spend impulsively.

8.      We spend selfishly.

9.      We spend beyond our means.

10.  We keep up with the Joneses.

11.  We don’t know how to get out of debt.

We will be detailing how to identify your debt, and how to get out of it. This is simple, but not easy. Managing Debt is the most critical part of your financial stewardship. But it is not the only part. We can only serve one master.

We are to be imitators of Christ. People will see Christ in us. Which picture of Christ do you portray?

Throw open your closets – your garage – your living rooms… If someone came into your house and didn’t know Christ, would they find Him there, or would they find the world?


(I JN 2:15-17) – “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

The world says “buy, buy, buy… have, have, have… indulge, indulge, indulge…” That is what we must not do – give in to worldly impulses. But it is hard. We have to give up ownership of our money – we can only serve one master.

Ownership vs. Stewardship…

What is Stewardship? The concept is used from the beginning to the end of Scripture. It means being entrusted as the caretaker of something that doesn’t belong to you. It is also being responsible for the effective use of this property.

(MT 25:14-30) – tells the Parable of the Talents. This earthly story with a heavenly meaning compares earthly caretaking with heavenly stewardship. The lesson isn’t that we should “invest” our money… the parable presumes that all who hear it would already know that… the lesson is that we should be the good stewards.

If you had an elderly neighbor, a good friend, and they asked you to please take care of their finances, you would be taking on the role of a steward. How would you spend that money? Would you say, “HOORAY! Party! Party! Party!” No. How would you make it last? How would you watch and care for the house and furniture?

What if a burglar came along – would you restrict yourself to just your duty, or would you do more?

(GEN 1:1) – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

He made it all. He owns it all. He gives us, not the property, but the responsibility to take care of His property. He entrusted its wise use to us.

How many would like a larger responsibility? The Parable of the Talents says if we are faithful in small things, we will be trusted in larger things. But, if you can’t handle what God has blessed you with so far, why would He give you more to take care of? This is not Prosperity Gospel. This is a solemn responsibility.

(I TIM 6:9-10) – “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Remember (MT 6:24)“…You cannot serve both God and Money.”


Sandi & I had huge debt. We had low income. We struggled with bill collectors and having enough to eat. But we decided that we were not honoring God. We were leaving Him out of the picture – except to plead with Him to help us. When we decided to honor Him by giving back to Him from our first-fruits, He blessed us back. I got a real job. Our income doubled. We were able to make progress on our bills and got current and even out of credit card debt. Our spiritual effectiveness increased and we were given greater responsibilities.

·                    Adam had the garden of Eden to take care of.

·                    Noah was told to take care of all the animals.

·                    Abraham was promised a great nation.

·                    Job had everything taken from him and he was restored.

The Lord owns it ALL. It is not ours.

There are 2 principles that follow from this.

1.         Honor God with your money. This is how we handle it and how we think about it. The things we buy need to honor Him.

2.         What we have is to be used for the benefit of others.

(JAS 1:27) – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

(MT 5:40)“And if a someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

(ROM 12:8) – “…if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously…”

(ROM 12: 13) – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

(JAS 2:15) – “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

Right now, in your present financial condition, could you write a check for a few hundred dollars to buy groceries for a family that lost everything in a fire or flood? Could you provide clothes and blankets to poor families in our community? Could you go if He called you to serve in the ministry somewhere else?

God has already given you all the resources to do this and much more. We were there, and we couldn’t have bought a box of Cheerio’s let alone a couple hundred dollars for someone else. But as we learned and applied those four fundamentals – Honor God – Spend Less than You Earn – Avoid Debt – Provide for the Future – we have been able to do all that and more.

Jesus said His food was to do the will of the Father. If it is God’s will that you should be doing these things – taking care of widows and orphans, going on Short-term Missions trips, etc – you should be taking care of God’s property and managing it well, so you could do His will in an instant!

How many of you have ever wanted to go into the Ministry? If it is God’s will, then you need to be un-encumbered enough to go when called. If it is God’s will that you feed a family, or take in a lost person, or give a gift of clothing or household goods – you need to be able to do it.

When you hear the term “stewardship” you probably expect to hear talk about writing a check to the Church. Yes, you should be doing that. But it is more important that you glorify God with your life. It is far more important that you love God with all your heart and soul and mind and body than it is for the Church to get a few more dollars from you.  You would not support an abortion clinic or spend your time in a bar. What should you be doing with your purchases? Do they glorify God, or do they glorify You?

But, if you truly love the Lord – if He is truly your Master – if you profess that you are a Christian, then you cannot serve two masters – it’s either God or it’s Money.

·        (Mal 3:8-10) – “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
”But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
”In tithes and offerings. 9You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it…”

·        (LK 21:1-4) – the Widow’s mite. “…but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.” The Lord was commending her for her sacrifice.

·        The Rich Young Ruler asked Jesus how he could inherit the Kingdom – Jesus said to obey the law – the Ruler said he did. Then the Lord told him to sell all his possessions and give it to the poor – he could not.

·        (MT 16:24) – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

·        (II CO 8 & 9) – Paul writes about giving generously with the right attitude.

·        (II CO 9:7) – “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

To get control of your financial lives, you must begin giving something to God – immediately. We began by giving God our entire checkbook!!! It was empty, but we gave it to Him, anyway. We dedicated our entire fortune – which was nothing – to God. Giving the Lord all of our nothing doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice, but we were broken – we had tried it the world’s way, and we got ground up. We committed ourselves to serving God – we began tithing and above. We have never done less since.

(I CO 16:2) – “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…”

You should begin doing that this very day.

You must also get good counsel in your money decisions and problems. The best counsel is the Mighty Counselor, Jesus. You need to thankfully acknowledge that you are not capable of handling your situation. Pray that the Lord will give you wisdom – that He will give you peace – that He will guide your decisions – that He will work a miracle in your lives and your financial dealings. (But why make Him waste a miracle on your poor decisions?) We will give you some good guidance during these classes, but the Lord grants you wisdom to use this and other counsel as you need. You need to pray about, and for, your financial decisions.

Homework: Spending Discovery List.

Before anyone can make changes, they need to know where they are. We’ll cover a number of tools next week to take snapshots of your situation. We’ll give you ways to record and use information about your financial plans and dealings. You won’t need a computer or any fancy books or boxes, (though having a computer or formal record-keeping system is helpful) just some simple tools which we will introduce and teach.

This coming week, we want you to record all your expenditures. This is called a Spending Discovery List. You can use a form, or use something of your own – a notebook, a 3x5 card, your Palm PDA. The point is to become aware of just where your money goes. We think that unless you have done this recently, you will be surprised at the results. You can record the expenditures as you make them, or you can collect the receipts and record them at home. You MUST record them.

Also note how you paid for them. Did you use cash, check, ATM, credit card, etc.

Before you make any purchases, pay any bill, buy any lunch or snack… before you spend a penny, ask in prayer… “God, is this what You want me to spend Your money on at this time?” If it is, then by all means make the purchase and then write it down in this spending list. If He says “no” – well, that’s between you and God. Write it down in the Spending List, anyway.

Summary & Closing


·        We want you to deal with money in line with God’s principles.

·        Who is the Lord of your Life?

·        Who owns the world and everything in it?

·        How do you fulfill your obligation of being a good steward of our Father’s stuff?


1.    Honor God With Your Life.

2.    Spend Less Than Your Earn.

3.    Avoid Debt.

4.    Provide For The Future


Questions? Call John or Sandi Larson at: 503-644-0502 for a private consultation.

(Or, contact John & Sandi Larson via email at:

Copyright 2001, 2002, Visions Business Development, Beaverton, Oregon - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED