DEBT PRINCIPLES-GOD’S WARNING – DEBT IS DANGEROUS!

In this world, we are bombarded with all kinds of advertisements and advice that entice us to borrow money. As a result, many people believe the lie that it's okay to "buy now and pay later" or that "smart people use other people's money". What many people don’t realize is that this advice is contrary to God's Word, the Bible, as God warns in Proverbs 22:7 that if you borrow money, you will likely become a servant to the lender.
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STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE-GOD REWARDS FAITHFUL STEWARDS

In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus Christ gives us the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, the master represents God, and the servants represent you and me—that is, the people. The master entrusted different amounts of material wealth to three servants. To one servant, he entrusted five talents of money, to another, two talents, and to another, one talent. This is consistent with real life. Nowhere in scripture does God promise to provide everyone with the same amount of material wealth.
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STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE-GOD REQUIRES FAITHFULNESS

All of us are responsible to God, regardless of the amount of material wealth that he has entrusted to us. 1 Corinthians 4:2 states, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Romans 14:12 states, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
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STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE-GOD OWNS EVERYTHING

1. God owns all the money. “‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:8). At the time this verse was written, silver and gold were used as a means of exchange (i.e., like money), so I believe a modern-day interpretation of this verse would be that God owns all the money.
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PRIORITIES-A SPIRITUAL BAROMETER

It is a common saying that you can determine an individual’s true priorities by reviewing how she or he spends time and money. Although people may say that their relationships with God and their families are of greatest importance to them, sometimes their Day-Timer or cheque book indicates otherwise.
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PRIORITIES-EFFECTIVE MINISTRY

An individual’s ministry effectiveness will generally be significantly influenced by the biblical or non-biblical use of money. Jesus indicated that, if you are not trustworthy with money, then God will not entrust you with something of greater importance, which Christ called the “true riches.” “If you have not been trustworthy in the handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
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PRIORITIES-ARE YOU PURSUING GOD’S TRUE RICHES?

Jesus said, “If you have not been trustworthy in the handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11). I believe that many Christians assume that there is no connection between their spirituality and how they handle money. But in this verse, Jesus Christ is communicating that our faithfulness (or the lack thereof) in regard to money will significantly affect the extent to which God entrusts us with His “true riches.”
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COUNSEL & WISDOM-FROM GODLY FINANCIAL ADVISERS

God admonishes us to obtain counsel. Proverbs 12:15 states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (NASB), and Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Unfortunately sometimes Christians refuse to seek counsel because of pride. Proverbs 13:10 states, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
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COUNSEL & WISDOM-FROM GOD’S WORD

Howard Dayton, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries completed an in-depth study of the Bible, and found that God’s Word contains 2,350 references to money and material things. In addition, 16 of the 24 parables that Jesus Christ gave us deal with money and material things. Clearly, God’s Word, the Bible, has a tremendous wisdom to assist you in making any financial decision.
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COUNSEL & WISDOM-FROM GOD

When dealing with an important financial decision, it is critical to obtain counsel from God. Why? “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12:13) Too often we believe that we have to figure things out on our own, but this is not God’s will. God wants us to seek his counsel on any important decision: “But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the LORD’” (1 Kings 22:5). Isaiah described God as “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29).
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INVESTING II-KEEP A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE

We are bombarded with information on investments. Every day hundreds of individuals give their opinion as to where you should invest your money. It is easy to spend excessive amounts of time and energy on investing. This is not God’s will: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4, 5).
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INVESTING II-GIVING TO GOD’S WORK PRODUCES ETERNAL BENEFITS

Giving to God’s work is an investment with eternal rewards for both the giver and the beneficiaries of the gift. In regard to the giver, Jesus said: “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). There are also eternal benefits for the recipients of the gift. For example, when you give money to an evangelical organization (including your church), and through that organization someone accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior, then that individual will be in heaven for eternity.
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INVESTING II-FOLLOW GOD’S DIRECTIVES NOT HUMAN TENDENCIES

Human tendency is to respond to what is happening in the financial markets or news from the media. Good news frequently provides confidence or triggers greed, which tempts us to buy; bad news makes us feel uncomfortable or fearful, which results in a desire to sell. Generally, good news causes the market to go up, and bad news causes the market to go down. Therefore, if you follow the normal human tendency, which is to rely on your emotions in making investment decisions, it means that you will buy high and sell low. This, of course, is the opposite to what you want to do, and it is not consistent with God’s investment principles.
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INVESTING II-OBTAIN BIBLICAL COUNSEL

God admonishes us to obtain counsel. Proverbs 12:15 states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (NASB), and Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
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INVESTING II-AVOID “GET-RICH-QUICK INVESTMENTS” AND HASTY DECISIONS

In my experience, the following are the common elements of a “get-rich-quick investment.” 1. There is a promise of an abnormally high rate of return. If the expected rate of return is unusually high, then the risk associated with that investment is also unusually high. Hence there is a risk of very significant losses. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. 2. Generally, the investor has limited understanding of the investment. It is easier for a salesperson to sell you a high-risk investment when it is outside of your expertise.
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INVESTING II-ASSESS YOUR TOLERANCE FOR RISK, AND INVEST ACCORDINGLY

In Ecclesiastes 11:1–6, God recommends the assumption of a reasonable amount of risk within your investment portfolio. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again” was a metaphorical expression used in the grain trade that illustrated the potential successful prospects of a business investment. God instructs the farmer, who is also an investor, to “sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” In addition, over cautiousness is discouraged——“whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.”
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INVESTING I-ENSURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THE INVESTMENT

Over the past 28 years, I have had the privilege of working with 300 to 400 business people. In my experience, generally when they invest in something that they understand, and within biblical principles, they earn a profit. However, when they invest in something that they don’t understand, frequently they lose money.
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INVESTING I-USE MINIMAL DEBT—OR BETTER, NO DEBT

Over the past 28 years, I have met many investment advisers who have instructed their clients to use debt in order to increase their investment returns. When the market goes up, additional returns can be obtained through the use of debt. However, when the market goes down, the results can be disastrous. I remember one woman who borrowed against her home and invested in mutual funds only to discover four years later that the funds had decreased in value by 50 percent. Being upset with what occurred, she immediately sold her investments and paid off as much of the loan as she could. Several years later, she is still servicing the remaining debt.
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INVESTING I-DIVERSIFICATION (2 OF 2)

As explained in my previous Financial Moment, God’s Word recommends the diversification of one’s portfolio into different types of investments that will likely react differently to any particular market condition. By the way, if you have absolutely no peace in investing in equities because of the related risks, then perhaps God is directing you to invest solely in very safe categories, such as government of Canada bonds, GICs, etc. The return on “a very safe portfolio” will be very modest, and therefore you will likely have to save considerably more money to meet future needs, compared to an investor who assumes a reasonable amount of risk within biblical guidelines.
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INVESTING I-DIVERSIFICATION (1 OF 2)

In my experience, I've seen too many cases where an individual has invested the majority of retirement funds in one company or in one sector. For “a season” these investments may do well, but inevitably every company and sector falls on bad times. This results in significant losses because the portfolio was not diversified in a manner that was consistent with God’s Word.
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INVESTING I-DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A BIBLICALLY BASED INVESTMENT STRATEGY

A biblically based investment strategy should meet the following two criteria: 1. be consistent with God’s principles 2. reflect God’s specific will for your life To develop and implement an investment plan that is consistent with God’s principles, it is essential that you understand God’s investment principles. God’s Word, the Bible, provides us with a wealth of knowledge on investing. Authors such as Austin Pryor and Ron Blue have written entire books on what God has to say about investing. I have written 14 financial moments on this topic. If you would like a copy then send an email to thomas@copland-ca.com
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INVESTING I-FIRST PRAY AND DEPEND ON GOD FOR HIS WISDOM AND DIRECTION

Prayer and dependence upon God are required in order to develop a personalized and a biblically based investment strategy. It is well known that the past performance of an investment provides no guarantee for its future performance. The best investment today depends on future events, and since no one can consistently predict the direction of any market, it is critical to acknowledge our dependence upon God for his wisdom and his direction in respect of investing.
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INVESTING I-OVERVIEW

The following steps should enable you to learn and implement God's investment principles. 1. Pray and depend on God for his wisdom (James 1:5) and his direction (Psalm 32:8) when investing, because no human can consistently predict the direction of the markets (James 4:13–15). Listen for God’s “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12), because only God knows the future and God is in control (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12). 2. Develop and implement a biblically based investment strategy that reflects God’s will for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). Understanding God’s financial principles will enable you to avoid a lot of bad investments.
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FREEDOM FROM FINANCIAL ANXIETY-GOD IS IN CONTROL

Regardless of how difficult your financial problems are, it’s important to remember that God is in control. He is the all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present God. After God miraculously provided all the materials and labor that were needed to build the temple, David acknowledged God’s sovereignty and power by praising God as follows: Everything in the heavens and earth is yours O Lord and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind: your hand controls power and that might and
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FREEDOM FROM FINANCIAL ANXIETY-WHY DOES GOD ALLOW FINANCIAL PROBLEMS?

It is clear from Scripture that God is indeed in control. If God is in control, then why does he allow Christians to have significant financial problems? Over the past 23 years, I’ve had the privilege of counselling hundreds of Christian couples and individuals. One common reason for financial problems is that the people have unknowingly violated one or more of God’s financial principles. I believe there is no substitute for understanding the fundamentals of what God has taught in his Word regarding finances. I recommend the materials and Bible studies provided by Crown Financial Ministries as an excellent resource for understanding what God has to say about finances.
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FREEDOM FROM FINANCIAL ANXIETY-OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AND GOD’S PROMISES

One key to obtaining God’s peace in respect of finances is to understand and fulfill your responsibilities as a steward. Stewardship requires that we acknowledge that God owns everything and that we act accordingly. That is, we need to learn and implement God’s principles in managing the money that God has entrusted to us in accordance with his will and not our own will. (Please see my financial moment titled “Biblical Stewardship Is Temporary Management” for more information on stewardship.)
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CO-SIGNING/SURETY-AVOIDING SURETY FOR COMPANY

God’s Word warns of the dangers of signing surety, which includes a situation in which a company owner gives a personal guarantee for the company’s debt. By refusing to give a personal guarantee for company debt, you will effectively protect your family’s assets, such as your home, retirement fund, etc. The objective is not to avoid paying your obligations, but rather to limit your risk and the potential negative consequences if something goes wrong. If you do not provide personal guarantees, and if the company does have a bad year, you will be in a much better negotiating position with your bank.
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CO-SIGNING/SURETY-WHAT IF YOU HAVE ALREADY COSIGNED A LOAN?

Statistics demonstrate that in more than 50 percent of instances when someone has cosigned, it is the cosigner, not the borrower, who ends up paying the loan. If you have already cosigned for a loan, I strongly recommend that you take the advice given by God to do everything possible to free yourself from the financial obligation related to cosigning. Proverbs 6:1–5 states,
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CO-SIGNING/SURETY-COSIGNING FOR LOANS

Several years ago I received a phone call from a woman who indicated that the bank had just taken a significant portion of her and her husband’s retirement fund to pay off a loan for which they had cosigned with their son. Without understanding the implications, the parents had cosigned for a loan for their son and daughter-in-law. After the son and his wife had missed two or three payments, the bank lost patience, legally demanded the loan, and unilaterally used the cosigners’ money to pay it off. As well as losing a lot of money, Mom and Dad lost the good relationship they had had with their son and daughter-in-law, who felt guilty because of what happened
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FINANCIAL DECEPTION-BANKRUPTCY WILL SOLVE MY FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

When people get into financial difficulty, many believe that declaring bankruptcy will solve their financial problems. Unfortunately, bankruptcy just treats the symptom. Statistics show that approximately 80 percent of people who go bankrupt, do so again within 10 years. This is generally because the real problem is the violation of God’s financial principles, which often continues even if current debts are eliminated by bankruptcy.
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FINANCIAL DECEPTION-SMART PEOPLE USE OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY

Many people believe it is good financial thinking to use borrowed money to make a lot of money. In other words, “smart people use other people’s money,” not their own. This is a lie from the world and Satan. The only way that is true is if you can predict the future—that is, know with certainty the direction of markets and the economy.
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FINANCIAL DECEPTION- IT MAKES SENSE TO BUY NOW AND PAY LATER

Today almost anything can be purchased with little or no down payment—automobiles, furniture, boats, snowmobiles, etc. Advertisements enticing you with “no payments and no interest” for one to two years are very common. Obtaining credit today is very easy, and it is not uncommon for banks to encourage people to take out a line of credit against the increased value of their homes. “Easy credit” creates a big temptation to “buy now and pay later.” As a result, many people buy things on credit that they cannot afford and frequently do not really need.
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FINANCIAL DECEPTION-DEBT RESTRUCTURING WILL SOLVE YOUR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

Several years ago, I counselled an individual who had accumulated significant debt on his credit cards. To lower his interest costs and to be able make appropriate repayments, it made sense to restructure his debt. He obtained a line of credit from his bank at a much lower interest rate and used those funds to pay off his credit cards. At the same time, I emphasized to him that restructuring his debt was treating the symptom and not the problem. The real problem was that he and his wife were spending more than they were earning, and they had been doing this for a couple of years.
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FINANCIAL DECEPTION-YOU SHOULD TRY TO OBTAIN FINANCIAL FREEDOM (ASAP)

Many people believe it is good to try to get rich quickly. Some of the common methods utilized to obtain “financial freedom” are as follows: 1. lottery tickets—sometimes promoted as “Imagine the freedom” 2. aggressive investing—usually with a lot of debt 3. excessive hard work, which is out of balance God’s directive is different. The emphasis in scripture is to plan and save for future needs slowly over a period of time. “Steady plotting brings prosperity, hasty speculation brings poverty” (Proverbs 21:20 TLB) “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11 NIV).
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FINANCIAL DECEPTION-LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK IS OKAY

In this world, we are bombarded with all kinds of false concepts with regard to finances. I call these “Financial Deceptions.” Financial deceptions are beliefs that appear to be correct but are contrary to God’s principles. For example, statistics reveal that 80 percent to 90 percent of the people in North America live “paycheque to paycheque”—that is, they spend all their regular income and have no savings. Many people believe this is okay. However, God says it is foolish: “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20 TLB).
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