April 24, 2012 journal, do we serve God or money, most even the Church serves money. It takes a lot of faith to live these days without money being slaves to a monetary system In Matthew 6-24 Christ said "No man can serve 2 masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25-Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, nor what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what he shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26-Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they? What wonderful God we serve and I praise him always. America's 60/40 divorce rate is frightening that our homes and children are destroyed. Quoting-Pastor Mike Withem-First Baptist Church-Ranson, West Virginia-Introduction: A. "I want to begin this morning by giving you a TWO question quiz, but don't worry because the questions will be "true or false," which means that you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right.1. Here's the first question, "True or false, a husband and wife should NEVER talk about money because it only leads to fights!" (Repeat) 2. The answer to this question, of course, is "False!!!"3. Now the second question, "True or false, it is impossible to have a great marriage without BOTH communication and agreement on the subject of money." (Repeat) 4. The answer to this question, of course, is "True!!!" B. Larry Burkett, a noted financial author, once said this, "Money is either the BEST or the WORST area of communication in our marriages." 1. As you know, money and money fights are a major cause of divorce today, not to mention the ONE thing that married couples fight about more than anything else. 2. Now this raises a question, "Why does money cause so many problems in a marriage? What is it about money that causes just about every couple to fight and many couples to go so far as to actually get a divorce?" C. I believe the answer is found in our text, this morning. 1. Notice again what Jesus said in Vrs. 24,"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." 2. The reason that money causes so many problems in marriages today is because money has a tendency to CONTROL us. 3. Listen, when money is controlling a couple rather than that couple being in control of their money, you are going to have all sorts of problems. 4. Why? 5. Because, as Jesus said, you "cannot serve God" (put God first in your marriage), if you are serving "mammon" (letting your money control you). (6 out of 10 marriages will fail.) D. Now with that in mind, I would like to share with our married couples five things you can do that will help you to avoid letting your money control you and at the same time will spare you the many problems that come as a result. First of all, you should resolve to...I. Live Within Your Means. A. What does it mean to "live within your means"? 1. It simply means to tailor your lifestyle to fit your income. 2. For example, if you have a $ 30,000 a year income, you should NOT be living a $ 45,000 a year lifestyle 3. If you have a $ 50,000 a year income, you should NOT be living a $ 75,000 a year lifestyle. 5. If you have a $ 100,000 a year income, you should NOT be living a $ 150,000 lifestyle. 6. In other words, you should make sure that the cost of your lifestyle (standard of living) does not EXCEED your actual income. B. The problem today is that easy access to CREDIT makes it possible for married couples to live beyond their means.1. Credit cards, 7 for example, are among the worst offenders, and new car loans would be next on my list. 2. Someone asks, "What's wrong with going into debt?" 3. Well, there are a LOT of problems with going into debt. 3. One problem is that going into debt places a couple in financial BONDAGE. 4. The Bible says in Prov. 22:7 that "...the borrower is servant to the lender." 5. Another problem is the unnecessary STRESS that being in debt places on the marriage, especially when the unexpected happens, and you fall behind on your payments, and the debt collectors begin calling. C. Do you want to avoid financial bondage, as well as the unnecessary stress that it places on a marriage? 1. It's really very easy, just follow this one simple rule, "If you can't pay cash, do without." 2. Purpose to live within your means! 3. Your marriage will be much stronger as a result. D. The second thing that you should do, if you want to avoid money problems in your marriage, is you should...II. Combine Your Assets. A. (Illus.- A number of years ago I was called upon to counsel a couple who were having marital problems, and it didn't take me long to figure out what the problem was. It seems that not only did the wife work outside the home, but she also had her own checking account, totally separate from her husbands, and they were constantly fighting over who was going to pay what. You know, who was going buy the groceries, who was pay the rent, who was going to pay the electric bill, who was going to make the car payment, etc. It seems that the vast majority of their arguments were about that.) 1. Since then, I have counseled other couples who also had this same "HIS money" and "HER money" mentality. 2. Listen, that mentality (way of thinking) has absolutely NO place in the marriage relationship. 3. When you got married, you and your spouse became one. 4. What did God say in Gen. 2:24? He said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." 5. You are no longer TWO separate entities, but ONE. 6. This is why Paul wrote in Eph. 5:28, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." C. Now it is okay to have some things that are separate. 1. For example, it's okay to have separate towels. 2. It's also okay to have separate toothbrushes, 3. Or separate coffee cups, 4. Or separate pillows. 5. But when it comes to the important things, like you finances, you need to unite, you need to come together as one, you need to get away from this "his money" and "her money" mentality, and adopt an "our money" mentality. D. This is why you should combine all of your assets. 1. This is why you should have only ONE checking account. (Not to mention how confusing it is to maintain two accounts.) 2. To do otherwise is to invite all kinds of problems. 3. And take my word for it, the problems will come! E. The third thing that you should do, if you want to avoid money problems in your marriage, is you should... III. Appoint A Bookkeeper. A. There's something even more confusing than having two different checking accounts, and that is having TWO people writing checks on the same account. 1. (Illus- I remember one couple in particular who made a regular practice of bouncing checks. Come to find out later that their problem was they were both writing checks on the same account, and neither one of them knew what the other was doing. Do you know that verse that says, "...let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:"? [Matt. 6:3] Well, this couple had changed it to say, "Let not the husband know what his wife doeth, and let not the wife know what her husband doeth.") 2. You can imagine all the problems that can result from this kind of confusion. 3. You know, the Bible says in 1 Cor. 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." B. This is why I highly recommend that a couple get together and come to an agreement as to WHO is going to be the "keeper of the checkbook." 1. ONE person needs to appointed to keep the checkbook. 2. This person will write and record all the checks, pay all the bills, and balance the checkbook on a monthly basis. 3. Now, someone asks, "Should this be the husband or the wife?" 4. It really depends, on a couple of things. 5. First of all, it depend on who is the most ABLE. 6. Listen, if the wife has a business degree or a degree in accounting, she is probably going to be the most able. 7. However, if she has a reputation for being a little "scatter brained" and "forgetful," then she is probable NOT going to be most able. 8. It also depends on who has the most TIME. 9. If both the husband and wife are more than capable, you will probably want to choose the one who has the most time.' 10. And so, it really depends on who is the most able and who has the most time. 11. But the point is, ONLY ONE person should be assigned this task. C. However, having said that, the other partner should not be kept in the DARK. 1. There should be NO SECRETS in a marriage. 2. The other partner should be kept informed at all times. 3. The other partner should be able to examine the checkbook at a moments notice. 4. The other partner should be able to ask any question and get a satisfactory answer at any time. 5. This is important for a couple of reasons. 6. First of all, it is important because it eliminates the sense of INSECURITY that results from being kept in the dark (it's just better to be "in the know" when it comes to the family's finances). 7. Secondly, it is important because you never know when unexpected circumstances will make it impossible for the appointed "keeper of the books" to do their job. 8. The worst case scenario would be for that person to die. 9. (Illus.- For example, if the husband handles the family's finances and the wife is completely in the dark, she is going to have a REALLY HARD time if her husband dies. However, if she has been kept in the loop, she will be able to take over the family's finances without too much difficulty.) D. And so, if you want to avoid money problems in your marriage you should appoint a bookkeeper. The fourth thing you should do is you should... IV. Adopt A Budget. A. By the way, the only way you are going to master your money rather than letting your money master you is to have a BUDGET. 1. But someone says, "I don't like that word 'budget'!" 2. Okay, then call it something else, call it a "monthly cash flow plan," like Dave Ramsey does, or call it something else. 3. Call it whatever you want, but the point is, you absolutely NEED ONE. 4. And your budget needs to be based upon your ACTUAL income (what you actually make and not what you "wish" you made). B. Why do we need a budget? 1. First of all, because it forces us to THINK about how we are spending our money. 2. Jesus asked a question in Luke 14:28, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" 3. Husbands and wives should sit down together, take a realistic look at their income, and then come up with a workable plan as to how to spend that income. 4. The problem in many marriages is that there is no...-sitting down,-counting the cost, -plan for how to spend the family's income. 5. Consequently, half way through the month (pay period) they are completely out of money, and they have NO idea where the money went! 6. Then they wonder why they are always fighting about money???C. Another reason that we need a budget is because it forces us to live WITHIN OUR MEANS. 1. I began this message by saying that we should live within our mean, however, this will never happen without a budget. 2. Of course, this requires not only having a budget, but also being committed to spending ONLY what the budget allows. 3. (Illus.- Someone said to me once, "I don't do anything without first of all answering the question, "What would Jesus do?" Now, that's a great question to ask, but sometimes there needs to be a follow up question. Sometimes we need to ask, "Is it in the budget?" In other words, "Can I buy this without violating the terms of my budget?" If the answer is, "No," then we absolutely shouldn't buy it.) D. But someone asks, "What if it is an emergency?" 1. This brings me to my final point, this morning. 2. If you want to avoid money problems in your marriage, you should... V. Prepare For Emergencies. A. Now how do we do that? 1. We do that by establishing an "emergency fund." 2. By setting aside some money for those inevitable unexpected emergencies, like someone getting sick, or the car breaking down, or the refrigerator giving out, or the hot water heater springing a leak (the list could go on and on). 3. You see, one of the problems with budgeting is the fact that you cannot budget for every possibility. 4. This is why you need an "emergency" fund, or as some would call it, a "rainy day" fund. B. The Old Testament character, Joseph, is a good example of this. 1. After he had interpreted Pharaoh's dreams which actually prophesied seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, he made a very wise suggestion him. 2. He suggested to Pharaoh that he establish an "emergency fund." 3. He suggested that during the seven years of plenty, food be stored away to prepare for the coming emergency (seven years of famine). 4. Thankfully, Pharaoh implemented Joseph's suggestion, resulting in multitudes being spared from starvation. C. Another Bible example is "the ant." 1. Notice what Solomon said about "the ant" in Prov. 6:7-8, "Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest." 2. It's sad to say this, but the little ant is smarter than a lot of married couples today. 3. Why? 4. Because he prepares for the future. 5. This is why every married couple needs an emergency fund. D. But someone asks, "Where am I going to get the money for such a fund? 1. You budget it, a little bit each week, or each month. 2. (Illus.- Dave Ramsey recommends that you begin by aiming for $ 1,000, but that later, when your finances begin to improve, you try to set aside at least 3-6 months living expenses.) E. By the way, do you know how a lot of couples get so far in debt to credit card companies? 1. By using their credit cards for emergencies. 2. If they had an emergency fund, they wouldn't need the cards! Conclusion: A. Now back to my original question. 1. How do couples avoid money problems and fights in their marriage? They do so by... -living within their means, -combining their assets, -appointing a bookkeeper, -adopting a budget,-preparing for emergencies. 2. Are you having money fights in your marriage? 3. If so, I would almost guarantee that you are failing in at least one of these five areas, perhaps more. 4. Now following these five guidelines may not eliminate every money fight, but it will most eliminate the vast majority of them." I would not have believed the medical mess set up not seen and experienced it firsthand.