Financial Freedom

Know Your Financial Condition

Jesus told a parable that illustrates how our spiritual condition and our finances are linked. We know this story as the parable of the Prodigal Son. This parable is often taught to warn us against rebellious living or illustrate the love of the Heavenly Father and both of those applications are correct and useful. But in this sermon, we look at this story from a different angle and see that it gives us both a warning and a proper perspective on how to handle money. Here’s a man who learned lessons on financial freedom the hard way.

January 15, 2017
Speaker: Gary Combs


Good morning, church! Happy New Year, a little delayed Happy New Year.  We had to cancel church last week due to the ice storm.  But, we had church in my living room.  How many of you joined me there in my living room?  Wow, thanks for coming!  It was crowded (laughter).  It was so crowded that the Wilson Daily Times contacted us that afternoon to do an interview.  They wanted to know “what was your secret?  What was it you did?”  I simply said that I propped my iPhone up on the coffee table. “Where did you get the idea?” The young people said, do this.  Actually, after Hurricane Matthew I had several of you saying, “Why don’t you do a FaceBook Live?”  I said, “What’s that?”  I do FaceBook but what’s that?  So, I kind of researched a little bit and we set it up.   So, it went viral, and we got interviewed by the newspaper.  Cool!  The main thing for me was what started out feeling like discouragement to me because of this, you know, I hate to miss church, I want to be with you.  I want to preach; that is what God made me for. This is not a job for me; this is my life, my calling.  So I was kind of discouraged.  Oh, come on, Lord, and then so over 34,000, almost 35,000 people have been reached by this video. And you can see a pretty good head count, here; we have not hit that lately.  (laughter)  We closed for the ice storm and we have people in Bulgaria watching it live.  Of course, we have a little “cheat” there because he had a family that just happened to be in Bulgaria. But they were with us watching church last week.  Thanks for joining me there in the living room.  Some of you sent me screenshots of you in your living room watching me on your big screen tv.  I didn’t think of that; that you could put it on smart TV.  So, some of you took a screenshot with your sock feet up like that.  I just really kind of felt like, “Yea, we were all together.”  Right there in the same living room.

We are starting a new sermon series this morning called, “Financial Freedom.”  You might be thinking, “Well, why is the preacher talking about this?”  Or, you might be thinking, “it is my  first visit here, and oh, what have I done? Why did I show up when he is going to  talk about money?”  But, I want you to stay in your seats.  First of all, because we have locked the doors and you can’t get out (laughter).  No, not really.  But, because this is going to be an encouraging sermon.  The thing about starting this financial freedom series is that there is an assumption that in America we have a problem.  If you will really admit that, that will be painful for a moment It’s like going to the doctor and he’s got to look at it and pull the bandaid off to see what is really underneath.  This sermon is kind of like that, at the beginning,  where you will be  “pulling the bandaid off” and admitting that  we are having some trouble.  If you will hang on and stay open minded, not only through this sermon, but through the next couple of weeks, I think that there is real help in God’s Word on this topic of finances.  How to manage your finances God’s way.  He wants you to free so you can follow Him.  He wants your money to serve you rather than you be a servant to your “stuff.”  That’s what we are talking about today.

Here is what Randy Alcorn says in his book, “The Treasure Principle.”  “15% of everything Christ said, relates to this topic.  More than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. Why did Jesus put such emphasis on money and possessions?  Because there is a fundamental connection between our spiritual life and how we think about and handle money.  We may try to divorce our faith in our finances, but God sees them as inseparable.”

So why is the preacher talking about finances?  It’s because of the spiritual connection.  Jesus talked about it 1/6th of the time so 15% of the time he is talking about it.  Why?  Because there is something about the way you think about money that says something about your heart.  The way you think about possessions says something about your heart.

Now, we are going to look at a parable in the Bible in Luke, chapter 15.  Normally you look at this and it’s about someone who is lost and then they are found.  Someone who is far from God and then are brought near.  That’s the way I would normally would hear the prodigal story, the story of the prodigal son.  But today we are going to look at it through the lens of how he looked at his possessions and how that had consequences.  The way he looked at finances, the way he thought about them, had consequences until he came to his senses and returned to his father.  So, that is how we are going to look at it today, through the lens of finances.  Let it expose, let us “pull the bandaid off, and look.  Are we thinking like the prodigal did before he came to his senses?  My desire today is that we would come to our senses so that we could be a people, not enslaved to our material things, but that they would be servants that we direct so that we can live into the calling that God has put on our lives. Amen?

So, let’s look at the text today.  We are going to be looking at Luke 15, picking it up at verse 11.

Luke 15: 11-24 (ESV) 11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

This is God’s Word, Amen?  We are going to be digging in now.

A. What we say that leads to financial bondage:

First, I just want to kinda do something a little different today.  I want to follow the downward spiral of the prodigal son’s  thinking.  The way he thought about material things.  The kind of things that we say to ourselves that lead to financial bondage.  Here is what I have noticed.

First of all, in verse 12, he says, “…Father, give me my share…”  Give me what is coming to me.  In other words, we say, “give me mine.”  Because we think it is ours.  We think it belongs to us.  And so, that is the first false step of a downward spiral:  Thinking it is all mine.  Give me my share; I want my share.

Then in verse 13, it says “Not many days later…”  “We want it now>.”  That is the mark of our culture.  Anything that is the mark of our culture is our impatience for wanting it now.  The business world knows this and they are helping us with our little desire.  They go, Sure, you can have it now.  Don’t have any money?  Fine.  You can pay next year, no interest!  In fine print, at the bottom of this, on that multi-page legal paper it says,  24.99% will kick in all of the money you haven’t paid, not just the current interest but all of the way back to the whole 12 months if you miss one payment. There’s stuff like that in there.  You have to read with a microscope (I didn’t mean to say microscope but you know what I mean. Can’t think of the word right now.  Magnifying glass, yes, thank you, young people!  We have got the young people down here; they don’t have the problems that I have.  Their brain still works; they go, Magnifying glass.  It’s back there in a dusty file where I haven’t opened in a while and I couldn’t get to it.) I want it now!  And that is what we tell ourselves.

Then in verse 13, it says “…he gathered all he had and took a journey into a foreign country…”  He wanted to get as far as he could from his father so he could spend it the way he wanted to.  In other words, how I spend my money is my business.”  It is not your business.  It is my business.  It is my money; I will spend it like I want to.  Don’t you tell me, preacher, how to spend my money.  Who do you think you are?  And may I say to you, I am not here to tell you how to spend your money.  I am saying to you that that kind of thinking leads to bondage.

Continuing in verse 13, “…there he squandered his property …”  He blew it.  He said stuff like this, if he were alive today here is what he would say, I’ll just put in on the credit card for now.  I will just put it on the credit card.  He squandered his money.  Dave Ramsey, the popular financial advisor who writes books and is also on the radio, says this,  “80% of college seniors have credit card debt before they have a job.”  Now, how is that possible?  How does a college student, who doesn’t have a job, get credit card debt?  Well, the credit card companies are lined up at registration; they have special booths and all you have to do is sign and they give you credit.  They give you credit cards.  Why? Because you are a college student. So, student loans, credit cards….College students, when they graduate from college, are so much in trouble today because of debt.  A lot of you, I am looking at your faces right now, and you are like, You had to bring that up. I can just see it on your face.  I told you that we are “pulling the bandaid off;” we are following the way the world thinks, the way the prodigal thinks.

Reckless living.  It says, “there he squandered his property,” verse 13, “in reckless living.”  The King James Version says, “riotous living.”  What is that?  He had a party!  He partied it away.  In other words, he spent his money on stuff  that he now has no evidence of and he said to himself, Where did it all go? I spent it on stuff that I had to have.  I have a fill in the blank statement here, I can’t do without _________________.  I can’t do without cable.  I can’t do without an iPhone.  I can’t do without new curtains.  I can’t do without that new truck.  I can’t do without….you fill in the blank.  I don’t know what your thing is that you think you can’t do without.  We never know that we can do without it until we have to do without it.  And if we stay on the downward spiral, someday that will get tested.  Someday you may actually have to do without it and you will find out, You know, I can do without it.

65% of divorced couples (I would say the percentage is higher. this is a something I saw, a quote from marital counseling.  But in my personal marital counseling as 25 years as a pastor, I would say it is more like 85% of couples that come to you saying that their marriage is in trouble and they are thinking about divorce)  present financial trouble as one of the primary reasons.  It’s not because they have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it.  You know, we just get in arguments all of the time, because we have so much leftover cash.  I have never had that.  It is always, She spends, he spends, he, she, he,she,he… we need a divorce. And it’s about ‘not enough’ and it’s how the other person is misspending it.  And so, a new truck, a big screen tv, new curtains, new dress…..whatever it is, is more important to them, along the way, is more important to them than their marriage is.  And then they lose their marriage.  And then they lose their big screen tv, too!

“Money is an excellent slave, by the way, but a horrible master.”   P. T. Barnham, the guy who came up with the circus, said that.  Dave Ramsey said this, “Car payments are for broke people.”  He is kinda harsh, isn’t he?  Dave Ramsey, he is a realist about this financial stuff.

Verse 14, “…when he had spent everything…”  In other words, I don’t know where it all went. Where did it all go?  Remember those college students, that over 80% of them got credit cards before they got a job?  The American Bankruptcy Institute says, “19% of them declare bankruptcy before they graduate.”  I didn’t even know you could declare bankruptcy before you graduate, while you still in college.  Apparently, you can.

Verse 14, “…a severe famine arose in that country…”  Who would have guessed the economy would go sour?  I was counting on a good economy this year.  So, he spent everything he had and then, on top of it, a famine came.  Now, part of me would be thinking, Did you do that, God, because I am living far from You and I am living as far away from Your principles and the way You have taught me and the way my father brought me up.  Did You cause that famine?  Well, it doesn’t say.  But the timing is suspect.  He is not ready for this famine, It pushes him right over the edge.

49% of Americans, if they lost their job today, could not finish the month.  They couldn’t make their monthly payments for this month.  Many of you, if you will admit it, if you didn’t get paid with your next paycheck, you would be in big trouble.  You wouldn’t be able to make your mortgage payment.  You don’t one month’s expenses saved.  97% of 65 year old Americans can’t write a check for $600.00; they have worked their whole life but don’t have enough money in the bank to write a check for $600.00.  Why is this?  It is because Americans want it now, they are spending tomorrow’s income now and they continually do this.  It is  like dominoes falling  until finally the pig pen comes.  Finally, the downward spiral lands them in mud up to their necks.  Finally, that thing happens.

In verse 15, here is what he decides.  The famine hits and he is out of money.  It says he hires himself out to one of the citizens of that country and says to himself, With the right strategy, I can work myself out of this.  He stills thinks, I got this. I can do this.  I don’t need you, God.  I can do this.  He follows the world.  It says he hires himself out to a person from that country.  Not his country.  Not God’s kingdom.  Not his father.  But that country.  He follows a worldly strategy.  The last thing he says, which is the smartest thing he says, (well, at least it’s the last thing he thinks before he says the smartest thing), in verse 16, it says, “..he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate and noone gave him anything.”  In other words, he cries out, Doesn’t anyone care that I am dying here?  He is now at the bottom.  He has hit the bottom.  Here he is, a little Jewish boy, who is not supposed to go near a pig, who doesn’t eat pork, but is wanting to eat pig food.  He is mired up in mud.  He is ready to eat pig food.  He has hit the bottom.  There is no place to go but up and he does.  He finally looks up.  So that is the spiral.  Those are the things that he says to himself.

I don’t know where you are at.  Some of you are on the downward spiral right now.  You have leveled down.  Are you already down at the one that says, I am dying here; will somebody please help me? That is the place where this life turns around.  The prodigal son turns around.  This is what we can say to get out of, to get free of, financial indebtedness.  This is what we can say that leads to financial freedom.  The first thing I see him saying to himself is,  God help me; I want to see things Your way now. I want to see things the way the Father see them now.

B. What we can say that leads to financial freedom:

1. God, help me see things Your way.

Verse 17 says, “But he came to himself…”  Where had ‘himself’ been?  What does that mean to ‘come to yourself?’  One translations says, “he came to his senses.”  Where had he been?  Had he been out of his mind?  Had he gone crazy?  If that is the case,  this whole world is going crazy.  Well, that is the case if you think about it.  God’s people are supposed to live different than the world.  We are not supposed to be enslaved to the world.  We are supposed to be servants of the Father.  We are supposed to give our lives to following Him but materialism and consumerism catches us in its snare.  But he came to himself, and I want to, on this point, to illustrate how he takes step by step as he comes back to the father.  How he ‘rethinks’ all of his false thinking.

Remember how he said, “give me my share?”  That was the first step down.  He now recognizes God’s ownership.  He recognizes the Father’s ownership.

Psalm 24:1 (ESV) says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

He made it; it is His.  It is all His.  The first step to financial freedom is to recognize that it is not my stuff.  It is His.  That is the first step.

Then he thought about that other saying he had,  I want it now. He changed that to delaying gratification.  Delay gratification.  “Wealth from get rich quick schemes quickly disappears…,”  Proverbs 13:18 (ESV.)  Instead of wanting it now, he was willing to be a servant.  He was willing to go back to the father, to delay gratification.  One of the smartest things we can do, you know, you have a shopping list and you go to the store and you have thought about it, hopefully.  You have researched it, looked at consumer reports and you have gone online.  It drives my wife crazy.  I have been so bad in the past, I have  been the prodigal son at an earlier age, that I may go too far at times with my research.  “It’s just an iron,” she says; “You have been online for three days researching the best iron that lasts the longest and gives the most for your money.”   There is something about me, because I was the other way, I want to live better.

The most recent thing was my search for a hand held, battery operated cleaner.  I can tell you in details about the one we finally agreed on.  She knows how I work now.  So, she knows it’s best not to bring it up, just send him an email.  She says, “My little vacuum cleaner is broken, the one that you bought me is broken, and there is one from amazon at this price.”  She just sends me an email and doesn’t tell me a word about it.  She knows how to get me.  Then I was on to research.  My research began, ‘according to consumer reports…’   And so, I bought her one.  I spent more money than she recommended because, you know, I had to get the best one, exactly the best one.  This thing will suck up anything!  You just set it down and it recharges.  It is awesome.  But, she had to delay gratification and put up with the gauntlet that she has to go through to get it.  But she got a good vacuum cleaner.  The thing is too loud, though, and she runs it while I am trying to watch football, so we are trying to work that out.  We are real at our house, too, I know you all are better than we are, but we are trying our best.  Delay gratification.

Be accountable.  He says, How I spend my money is my business.  But now he is ready to be accountable.  He is broken now.  He is ready to let everybody know.  I smell like a pig and do you know why?  Because I have been in the pigpen!  I am a mess.  There is no hiding it; he smells.

A few years ago, I preached this similar series, I think it was 2010.  I had someone in our church start meeting with another man in our church so two men started meeting and started being accountable to one another and showing each other their finances.  This young man reminded me recently that the last time I preached this series I called it “Financial Fitness.”  He remembered it.  I said, “Wow!  That means so much to me that you remembered something I preached almost 7 years ago,”  He said to me, “Well, you know, it wasn’t so much that.  It was how I applied it.  It turned my financial situation around to the point where I could say ‘yes’ to being a pastor on staff here.  It set me free financially, enough to where when I could say ‘yes’ when the Lord challenged me to come and become one of the pastors here.”  We wouldn’t have him if he hadn’t listened to God.  You know, some of you are here today, and God has called you to do something, but you have so enslaved yourself, so indebted yourself, that you have to keep putting it off because you are a slave to the debtor.  You are not free. Get with somebody and get accountable.  This week in your small groups  (some of you are thinking, I am not going to small group this week,  but you better go.  Don’t call and say your goldfish died because we will know why you really didn’t go.)  we are going to have some questions to talk about how you are doing financially.  Start being accountable.

How about this one, “I will just start putting it on the credit card for now.”  What if you started saying to yourself, “I need to discipline my spending.  I want to be self-disciplined in what I spend.” Instead of saying, ‘I don’t know where it all went,’ what if you said, “I need to know my financial condition.”  The prodigal son, he didn’t know where it went.  He had a big party and then it was all gone.  Where did it all go?  Have you ever said that? I don’t know where it all went.  It always seems like I have more month than money. Where did it all go?

I was talking to someone between services, at the end of the first service, and she told me, “Man, that really spoke to me and my husband.  I still remember when we would pay for Christmas or we would spend so much on Christmas that next year when Christmas was coming, we were still paying on last Christmas.  Then we would buy more for that Christmas and then we were paying for two Christmases. I doesn’t feel like Christmas anymore when you are paying for two Christmases back.”  That kinda takes the joy and peace out of Christmas, doesn’t it?  Discipline your spending.

Know your financial condition.  

Proverbs 27:23-24 (ESV)  says, “Know well the condition of your flocks and give attention to your herds.  For riches do not last forever.”  Now, I don’t know of anybody here that has flocks or herds.  Some of  you have a herd of kids because I saw you bring them in, but you probably don’t have a herd of sheep.  That is how they measured wealth in those days.  Know where your money is going.  Know the condition of your finances is what that passage in Proverbs means.

John Maxwell says this, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

You need to know four things in order to have a better budget:

1) What do you earn?  You should know that.  Most of us know that.

2) What do you spend?  Now you don’t feel so good, do you?  I don’t know what I spend because I don’t know where it all went. We know what our mortgage payment is, we know what our car payment is, but we might not know where the rest of it is going.

3) What do you own?  If you think about it, you might be surprised at how little you own and how much the bank owns that you are renting from the bank in the payments you pay.

4) What do you owe?  That’s a budget and it’s, also, a statement of net worth can be pulled out of this because they will ask you this if you want to buy a house, the bank will ask you.

A couple of tips:  (1) You can go online and use, online it’s free,  It will help you with budgeting  and you can type it in on your computer.  You still have to do that.  It won’t do that for you; you have to put that in.  It will link to your accounts, and so forth, so you can keep up with things.  You can go to and find helps there.  (2)  If you want Christian advice, one of the best sites is  that was originally founded by Larry Burkett, who is with the Lord now, but many of us, at least from my age group, remember listening to Larry Burkett on the radio and so forth.  It is a great organization; they have all kinds of helps for budgeting.

And then he said to himself, Who would have guessed the economy would go sour?  Instead, say to yourself, I will save for the future needs;  I will save for the rainy days.  Proverbs 6:6-11 (ESV) says, “Go to the ant, oh sluggard (a sluggard is someone who is lazy.);  consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.  How long will you lie there, oh sluggard?  Will you arise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man.”  In other words, wake up and plan for the different seasons.  The ant had enough sense to plant during the summer, harvest during the fall and get ready for the winter.  Does a human have enough sense to do that; because years will come, like 2008, where the whole economy goes down.  Or, in 2001, with the 9/11 tragedy, when the whole economy went in the tank.  You may ask, “Well, how do you know that that is going to happen?”  Well, you don’t.  So, you don’t live beyond your means, you live beneath your means so that you have a surplus that you are saving so that you are wise like the ant.  That’s what the word of God teaches.

His last statement, his downward statement, was “With the right strategy, I can work myself out of this.” Well, instead of trying to do a worldly strategy, follow God’s wisdom about wealth.  Follow God’s wisdom about wealth. 

Let’s go to his second step.  He has come to his senses, he is ready to do it God’s way, and then he says to himself,

2. God, I am ready to change.

God, I am ready to change.  I am ready to repent.  Notice in verse 18 (do you ever do this, when you have a tough meeting in front of you, you rehearse what you will say.  Ok, I am going to go back to my father and I am going to say this and then I am going to say this.  He is kinda looking in the mirror and saying, ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am ready to change.’  I am ready to go tell him.   I am ready to “fess” up.  Let’s talk about this.  Is mismanagement of finances a sin?  Well, it depends.  It could be lack of knowledge.  It could be that some really bad stuff happened that was out of your control.  You could have been living wisely and then you had a medical emergency or you got laid off from work or whatever.  I recognize that.

Here is the American problem:  the majority of us are in financial trouble.  Not because of an emergency.  Not because of ignorance.  But because of sin.  We want what we don’t have.  We covet our neighbor’s “stuff.”  We want because they have it.  We want it before we earn it and, if we really come clean, we have to say, “Father, I have sinned and I am ready to change.’” I want to change and come to admission.

In the books of Acts 3:19 (Msg) it says, “Now it’s time to change your ways!  Turn to face God so He can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessings to refresh you.”  See, I told you that I would have to pull the bandaid off so you came face to face with your sin areas when it comes to materialism and finances.  But I, also, want to say to you that the Father is waiting.  He is waiting not to curse you but to bless you.  If you will just admit that you want to change.

3. God help me serve You with all that I have.

In verse 19, “…father just treat as one of your servants.  I don’t deserve to be a son anymore.  I just want to serve you.”  Man, who is this boy?  From the time I raised this kid all he says is, I want it, give me mine. Give me my cookie.  Give me this.  Give me that. Who is this?  He has been in the pigpen.  He has hit bottom.  It is just good to come home and eat in the father’s house.

A lot of you are still raising younger children and some of you are raising teenagers.  You will ask me questions about parenting sometimes because I have earned a few gray hairs now or maybe more than a few.  I have grandchildren now, so I have some thoughts on things. They will tell me, “You know, I am having so much trouble with my 17 year old.” I would say to them, “Look, try to raise them the best you can according to God’s Word.  Maybe when you send them off to college what will happen to you is what happened to me.”I can still remember when my son, Stephen, was gone about a year; he calls and says, “Mom, would you mind to make some of that honey chicken?  You know that honey chicken you always make?”  She would reply, “I didn’t even know you liked that.”  He would say, “Mom, I gotta have some of that honey chicken.”  What he didn’t tell us that we was bringing the “holy hoard” with him.  Like locusts, they landed at our house.  All of these college boys that look like they hadn’t eaten in forever.  We didn’t have enough honey chicken; we had to go out and get some Kentucky Fried.  Sometimes when you leave home, you find out home is pretty good.  Sometime, when you get down in the pig pen, you find out that is wasn’t that new car, that new phone, that new (whatever it was) that lost it’s “new car” smell.  I wish that I could just get back.  But you can’t.

Decide to be a servant.  It’s God’s stuff; show me how You want me to take care of it.  By the way, God, Your car needs a new transmission.  You have a leaky toilet, Lord, and I don’t know what You are going to do about it because it is not mine.  It is Yours.  You need to run it but you don’t need to lose your peace about it.  You give it to Him.  Be a servant.

Matthew 6:33 (ESV) says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.”  I preached this last Sunday; don’t worry, pray.  Don’t try to fix it yourself every time; turn it over to God.  Serve God.  Some of you might need a financial coach to help you with this.  Put that on your card today, ” I need some more training on this.  I need some more coaching.”  We might be able to find you a mentor in the church that has been studying this a while and has proven themselves to be one who is faithful in this area.  If you are willing, we might start a class or something.  What we are doing is, we are checking interest right now to see if there would be interest.  Put that on your card if you would like more financial mentorship or coaching help so you can serve God better.

Here is the final point.

4. God I am going to start trusting you now.  

I am going to start trusting you now with all that I am and all that I have.  I am not going to withhold anything from you.  It is said that during the Middle Ages, when a knight would be saved and baptized, he would hold his right hand up out of the water as he was baptized because that was his sword hand and he was going to get it baptized later.  He needed to fight with that hand.

Today, if were to take that into the future,  most Americans would lift up their left hand because, for men, that is where they put their wallet.  I need to hold my wallet up out of the water when I go under because I am just not ready.  God, I am saved. God, I love You.  Thanks for saving me, but that money is mine.  That stuff is mine.  Go ahead and dunk that and get that wet today.  Go ahead and give it all to Him.  Say, “I am trusting You with everything.”  He arose, it says in verse 20, in other words, he got up out of that pig pen.  He said, “I have had it with this kind of living.”  He arose and he came to his father.  Get a sense of urgency.  Start now.  It’s the first of the new year; it’s January.  Turn the page.  Start living, trusting the Lord.  Stop trusting your own scheme, your own methods and your own designs.  You see, our financial condition is connected to our spiritual condition.  Even as you listen to this message, I don’t want you to hear a  bunch of “do’s” and don’ts.”  I don’t want you to leave here with a list of rules and religion that you have to live up to, because the gospel sets you free.  Here is what I want you to hear, that this is exposing to all of us:   We have impure motives the way we handle our stuff.  We are selfish.  We break the ten commandments.  We covet.  We lie.  We steal.  All to get stuff. You say, “Well, I don’t think I have gone that far.” Well, if you have ever said that you are going to pay it back and you didn’t, you lied.  If you kept it, you stole.  Just think it through.  I was thinking through how many times that I meant well but then I didn’t because I got in over my head.  I want us all to confess today and not to get beat up.

Here is what the Bible says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  He is not condemning you today; He is saying that you are hurt.  You are in the pig pen but you don’t have to eat the pig food anymore.  Come on back to the Father.  Come to the Father.  Let me forgive you.  Let me clean you up, put a ring on your finger and let’s have a banquet.  See, He wants to bless you, but you have to give it to Him.  As long as you are keeping it yourself and running it your way, yourself, you are doing it the world’s way.  You are in the far country.

Come back to the Father.  Come to the Father and bring all that you have and all that you are and say, “I am ready to serve You.”  When you say it, here is the crazy thing that happens, “I am ready to serve you.”  He says, “I want to make you a child. You are my son, you are my daughter.”  How does that happen?  By believing in the Son.  By asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, believing that He was raised from the dead, He died on the cross for you, He’s raised from the dead and He lives today.  Believe in Him.  He will set you free, not just from the sin but from the shame.  Not just from that but from all the financial stuff that sin has gotten you into if you will begin to trust Him, These are not rules and regulations.  This is how the Spirit of God wants to live in you to help you live for Him.

Let’s pray.