Over the last three weeks, we have learned how important it is to confess and repent from your financial sins. We have also seen the importance of having a proper understanding of the Bible and how crucial it is to have old wounds healed. All of these steps are crucial for getting out of debt, the biblical way.
This week we are going to learn how to manage our money, and we are going to see how being good stewards of our money is the fourth step to get out of debt. When Yehovah sees you can manage your money in debt, then He knows He can trust you to be a good steward of your money when He saves you from debt.
So how do we manage our money when we at the same time have to struggle with being in debt? We make out a monthly budget and decide to stick to it no matter what. But as we are going to see, this is sometimes easier said than done when fear takes over.
Fear is the opposite of trust, and the Bible even says it is a sin to be afraid. We see this when our forefathers were in the desert fleeing Egypt. Because of fear, only Jacob and Caleb were allowed to enter the promised land. Why? They were the only two who believed Yehovah could do what He had promised to do despite the fact there were giants already living in the promised land. The rest of them died in the wilderness. Why they die? Because even though they had seen the smoke, thunder on Mount Sinai, all the miracles in Egypt and the manna in the desert, they did not trust Yehovah to do what He said He would do. They believed the giants were more powerful then Yehovah.
You can not correctly manage your money if you do not trust Yehovah. Why? Because if you do not trust Him, you will be tempted to give in to fear, and fear makes you do stupid and sinful things with your money. If Yehovah can not trust you to manage your money without fear, He has no choice but first to teach you how to do it without being afraid before He can save you from debt.
Wage garnishment is a guaranteed way of testing if you can manage your money with or without being afraid. The first time it happened to my wife and me, it felt like someone had kicked us out of an airplane at 30 000 feet without a parachute. Suddenly not being able to buy the food we were used to, but having to switch to generic brands and having to learn how to cook everything from scratch was very scary at first.
When you lose control over your finances, you understand how much of idol money has been in your life when losing control of it makes you very afraid. At the same time, you suddenly realize how your idol was slowly but surely destroying your life in more ways than one.
Up until the moment we started on wage garnishment, we used to eat a lot of unhealthy processed food and tv dinners. We never bought store brands, and we seldom cooked anything from scratch. We took a lot of things for granted, trusting in our income as our security, instead of trusting in Yehovah. Suddenly being on wage garnishment forced us to learn how to cook from scratch and to buy generic store brands. It forced us to trust Yehovah, and suddenly we found that our health had improved, and our relationship to Yehovah had grown stronger.
Even though the outcome of it has changed our lives, it was not a smooth transition. Learning to survive while on wage garnishment was very scary, but Rom 8:28 is correct. Yehovah turns everything around to the good for those who love Him. So we came out stronger on the other side, and we had learned how to manage our money without fear.
August of last year, we filed for a chapter 13 solution. Going from wage garnishment to chapter 13 is a huge difference. Suddenly you find yourself getting a full paycheck every month, but the scary part is that you have to plan so you can pay your creditors according to the agreement.
Having been through wage garnishment and learning how to manage our money with next to nothing, we felt ready to make the transition to chapter 13. We knew what to do, we knew what not to do, and we trusted Yehovah. What we had not foreseen was circumstances beyond our control in the company we work for. It is one thing to deal with fear and money caused by your sin; it is another thing altogether to have to deal with anxiety and money caused by someone else’s sin.
Up until now, our wages had always come on time, and they had ever been correct. The first time we were going to make our monthly payments, according to the chapter 13 agreement, weird things started happening at the payroll office. Up until that moment, our wages had always been on time and correct. But from that day on, nothing has been accurate, and they have never been on time. This is due to circumstances in the company we work for, circumstances beyond our control. But if we dont get our wages on time, or if we dont get the correct amount on time, everything becomes chaos, and we might not be able to fulfill our part of the chapter 13 agreement. If that happens, we will end up back on wages garnishment.
Just the other day, we got parts of our monthly paycheck. We were told we would get the rest within a day or two because the payroll office did not have time to pay out everything. This creates chaos for us and throws our entire budget for the month into turmoil. The very first thought that hit me after being told we would only get parts of our monthly paycheck was fear. I instantly became afraid that we would not be able to make our monthly chapter 13 payments. The second thought that hit me was I needed to pray and ask Yehovah.
One thing I learned from being on wage garnishing is the importance of prayer. Instead of giving in to fear, we should pray and ask Yehovah for help. I had to learn this the hard way on wage garnishing, and in the beginning, when we had just started chapter 13. Because I have kept it up and always prayed, instead of giving into fear, it becomes easier to do every time. And I can honestly say, looking back at the months that have passed, Yehovah has not failed me yet. I am still in debt, but we have been able to pay our monthly chapter 13 installments even though weird things are happening at the payroll office.
When I first got hit with fear and the thought that this month, we would not be able to make the installments, I prayed and made sure I am united with Yeshua. 1. John 2:6 and Phil 4 say if we do these two things, the peace of Yehovah, which surpasses all understanding, will preserve our hearts and minds in Yeshua. So how do you unite with Yeshua? Phil 2, 1. John 2:6, 3:7, 5:3 says we do so by having the same mind as He. He was one with Yehovah because He was always Torah obedient, so if we are always Torah obedient, we will be united with Him.
After praying and making sure I was united with Him, I heard Yehovah speaking to me. One of the first things He said told me to do was to look at the calendar and see when I had to make this month’s installments. They are not due until the end of the month, so I knew I did not have to do it right there and then. Then He told me to budget and see exactly how much money we need this month to make the installments. It turned out that we have more than enough to make rent, pay the electricity bill, and regular bills this month and feed ourselves. When everything is taking care of, we still have left what we need to pay the ministry bill (advertisement on Facebook and pay our internet provider), but right now, we dont have enough to make the installments.
Why? Did we overspend?
No, but because of these things happening at the payroll office and our employer struggling financially, we have never been given a full paycheck since July of last year. Chapter 13 depends on us getting a whole regular paycheck each month, but that has not happened since July of last year. So we had to live on payroll advance for over a year to be able to meet the requirements of our chapter 13.
Did Yehovah show me what to do so we could be able to meet the installments this month? Instead of telling me exactly what to do, He filled me with His peace (Phil 4) and told me to wait.
3 Months ago, I would have been filled with fear, stressed out, banging on heavens door trying to “twist the arm of Yehovah” into giving me a clear direction on what to do. I would have been so stressed out I would not have been able to budget and not at all able to trust Him.
Now I am filled with peace, resting in Torah obedience, which is the same thing as resting in Yeshua (1.John 2:6) waiting for Yehovah to tell me what to do.
Fear is a liar, and when we believe the lies of fear, we end up doing stupid, sinful things. Fear will always show us if we have become guilty of idol worship, without even knowing about it ourselves. How? Because when something gets removed from your life and that scares you, that something has become an idol in your life.
If we dont learn how to fight fear with trust and obedience in Yehovah, we will be unable to manage our money correctly. Fear will make you do sinful, stupid things with your money, trust me, I know from experience.
Yehovah does not want us to live in debt, but there is no point for Him to save us from debt if we are so filled with fear that we will do something stupid sinful again and end up right back into debt. So to be able to save us from debt, He first has to show us and teach us how to manage our money without fear while we are still in debt. And when He has taught us how to manage our money without fear, He has to teach us how to manage our money without fear when unforeseen circumstances beyond our control happen.
When He can be confident, we know how to manage our money without fear, while we are still in debt. And we know how to manage our money without fear when unforeseen circumstances beyond our control happen; then He knows He can trust us with more money and more freedom. Now He knows we are almost at the point where we can cross into the promised land of being debt free, and we will not allow fear to trick us into making stupid, sinful decisions that will send us back into debt again.
So what happens when we finally get to cross over into the promised land? This is something we will dig deeper into in next week’s lesson when we learn what we need to know before we can finally be debt-free.