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Slaying the Dragon That Has Us on a Leash

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Title: SLAYING THE DRAGON THAT HAS US ON A LEASH

Text:  Luke 12:13-21

Introduction:

            (Thank you…lot of new faces…moved here in 1993…first family from Crossroads to help us move in are now missionaries in Kazakhstan, the Fickess’…6 yrs ago, Hope …it’s good to be back.)

            Being generous with your resources…I’ll bet many of you are thinking, “I can’t afford to.”  I think I know why.  If you could stand up here where I am, and look through these magical glasses, you would see things most others don’t see.  You would see that most of us are sitting here on the lap of a big fire-breathing dragon, and he has a leash in his hand that that leads to a collar around our neck.  That dragon has a name…its DEBT. 

I have an idea that most of us here would like to be generous with our resources.  That would honor God and bless others.  So I would like to share with you a way to slay the fire-breathing dragon so that you can be free to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to share your resources where He leads.

The reason I call debt a dragon, is because every time we sign a piece of paper for a new debt, we take a little bit of our freedom and give it to the Creditor!  As it piles up, we find ourselves working overtime to pay somebody else for something we don’t even fully own yet!  The Bible puts it this way in Prov. 22:7    There’s your dragon!  How many of you can testify to the fact that debt enslaves you?  The average American has a credit card debt of $9,000!

Is all debt harmful?  No.  There’s good debt…and there’s bad debt.  Good debt is when you make more money on the investment than the cost of the interest.  An investment of a house would be an example.  Another would be getting a school loan to invest in your future income potential…or a business loan to give you the capital to expand your business to make more money.  But bad debt enslaves you to owe more on something that’s losing money.  Let’s talk a little more about…

I. FINANCIAL MISTAKES THAT CREATE FIRE-BREATHING DRAGONS.    Read Text.

A.  We overvalue our stuff. v.15    

1.  Donald Trump said, “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.”  I don’t care to be like Donald Trump; Jesus’ words in v.15 have more wisdom than Donald...Jesus said, “real life is not measured by what we own!” 

2.  Jesus is saying that the STUFF you worry about is going to be gone one day.  Fortune Magazine quoted Ross Perot saying, “Just remember if you make a lot of money and get a lot of stuff…it’s going to break.  Even the biggest mansion in the world has air conditioning, a pool, and those pumps are going to break.  Go out to a marina anywhere in the world and nobody’s smiling.  I’ll tell you why…something just broke that morning.  Things just don’t give you happiness.”

3. Folks, don’t believe the glitzy, flashing signs of Madison Avenue that try to get you to believe just the opposite!  They do everything in their power to convince you that more stuff = more happiness.  More stuff = more contentment.  More stuff = more security.  But the TRUTH is…the more stuff you have, the more you have to fix it, polish it, clean it, insure it…and it stresses me out!!!!                  I don’t know about you, but I think STUFF is far over rated!!!!

B.  The second thing that creates the fire-breathing dragon in our lives is instant gratification. 

1. V 15 – Jesus said, “Beware…of every form of greed.”  I’ve been watching this next generation.  They want everything their parents have, forgetting that it took us 25-35 years to get where we are.  I see them pushing marriage and having children later in life because they want all the STUFF.

2.  Many are routinely spending their entire paycheck on instant gratification: cell phones, gourmet coffee, fast food, latest gadgets and computers. 

3.  But Jesus tells us to BEWARE!  There was a day when that word meant “danger ahead.”  Today people take it to mean there’s a red tag sale going on at Best Buy!

4.  Greed…that’s the trouble, isn’t it?  Wishing for what we don’t have.  It’s the compulsive spending that’s regretted later.  And that leads us to the 3rd source of the dragon in our life…

C. Spending more than you can afford.

1.  Maybe it was easier living within our means for my parents.  You see, for them, when they ran out of money, they didn’t buy anything.

2.  Boy is that different today!  The average American drives a bank-financed car, over a bond-financed highway, on credit card gas, to open a charge account at a department store, so they can fill their bank-owned house with installment plan furniture!

3.  I think we need the wisdom of David.  Ps. 37:21    We get into trouble when we borrow more than we can pay back.  Credit card debt of $3,000…minimum payment…will take you 37 yrs & 7 mo to pay off…at end, paid $10,791 for your $3,000.         If you were to put $3,000 in an IRA Mutual Fund, at the end of 37 yrs & 7 mo it would be worth over $124,000

D. The last financial mistake that creates a fire-breathing dragon in our life is lack of preparation for life’s storms. 

1.  It seems to be a common thing that people seem to forget that life passes our way things like car accidents, storms, ear infections, braces, loss of job, or caring for an elderly parent.

2.  I know there’s no way to plan for every contingency in life…that’s when we have to trust God that He will provide.  But God gave us a brain…and we need to use it!  A wise planner anticipates that there are going to be unexpected storms in life. 

3.  If the squirrel puts away extra nuts for a hard winter, what’s that say about the animal created in the image of God?!  Prov. 6:6-8    What’s the ant doing all summer?  Spending every paycheck on instant gratification?  No…they are storing some of it up for the winter.  Even ants show us that storms come…so be prepared!

4.  Tired of the dragon?  Want to know how to slay him?

II. HOW TO SLAY THIS FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON.

A.     The first step is to…make a decision.

1.       To get out of debt, you have to say, I’m sick of this insanity and I’m going to start walking with God’s help towards financial freedom!  And I’m making that decision today!

2.       The frightful tendency is that you will walk out of these doors and carry on the exact way you have always done!  That way has us stressed out!  That way has us living with worry!         
People, that’s INSANE!    Know how AA defines insanity?  “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen.”

3.       Make a decision right now to have a conversation with God (& your spouse if you’re married) to toss out the merchandise catalogs, stop going to the Mall, cut up the credit cards…do whatever it takes to slay the dragon of debt!

B.     The second step is to…develop a repayment plan. 

1.      You CAN climb out of this!  So where do you start?  You sit down and figure out where you can tighten your belt a little bit so that you can pay off more than the minimum.  Look where you can pay off the highest interest first.  And look at moving your balance to a lower interest card.

2.      Stop eating out.  Stop going out for deserts.  Reduce your home and transportation expenses (the 2 biggest budget busters because they are the 2 biggest emotional purchases we make).  Sell the Hummer and buy a used Ford.  Move to a less expensive house. 

3.      If you’re thinking I could never do that!  Then I hate to tell you there’s a word that house and car have become to you…it’s an IDOL!!!  (2 families @ Hope moved to cheaper houses.)

4.      This may not apply to all of us.  But if someone is drowning in debt and can’t get their heads above water…these may be life-saving ideas of how to slay the dragon!

C.     Establish the tithe as a way to honor God & keep you free from greed. 

1.  Let’s go back to our rich man story in our text.  Lk. 12:19-21   It’s obvious in this story that this man was ruined by the mind-set of instant gratification.

2.  He laid up treasure for himself, but left his bank account in Heaven empty.  The wrong financial decisions cost him his soul.

3.      I have a plan that can keep that from happening to you.  And if you’re a wise parent, you will teach it to your children so that the next generation doesn’t get into the same mess we got ourselves into.

4.      It’s the 10-10-80 Plan.  Every week when you pay them their allowance ($5 for example), teach them to give 50¢ to God, 50¢ into savings, and $4.00 to spend as they want.

5.      By doing that you’ve helped them develop a habit of saving, tithing to God, AND you’ve taught them not to be so greedy with money…and best of all, you’ve set the example to show them it’s important to you!  Maybe the next generation will get it right!

D.      The last thing I want to mention is the most important step of all.  If you remember just one thing, then let it be this…pay off the biggest debt first.

1.  Your biggest debt is NOT your mortgage…it’s not your car…it’s not even your credit card.  Your biggest debt is one you can never pay!       Rom. 6:23 (wages, sin, death, free gift, eternal life, Christ Jesus)

2.       You can’t slay the dragon of debt on your own!  You need the help of Someone bigger than you are!  The Bible says sin separates us from God’s love and help.  That separation is the biggest debt you owe!      But notice it goes on to say, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!” 

3.       You see, you and I are incapable of doing anything about our sin debt.  We can’t make a payment that big to get into heaven.  But God said…I’ll pay it!!       All we have to do is say, “YES Jesus!  I want You to be my sin payment!” 

Conclusion:

            When you do, you will receive God’s grace and you will FINALY EXPERIENCE A LIFE THAT IS FREE…AND I MEAN FREE INDEED!!! 

            You couple this spiritual freedom with financial freedom, you will be free to be used by God to serve Him and bless others like you’ve never experienced before!! 

            Illus. – Tim & LaJuana Fickess

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