Hold Up to Finances (by Loren Cunningham)
Loren Duane Cunningham is a founder of the international Christian missionary movement Youth With A Mission and the University of the Nations. Cunningham founded YWAM in the United States in 1960 with his wife, Darlene Cunningham, at the age of 24. Here is a teaching by Loren Cunningham that will equip you you to use your finances wisely.
There are 4 areas that God speaks to us, as we live a life of faith.
1) He can prove Himself to us.
To prove God, is one of the major reasons He leads us out into a place where we truly have to trust Him.
2) He may test our faith, and the test of faith is for our good, in order that we may have an increase in the measure of our faith.
It’s like the building up of the muscles as an athlete exercises, we exercise our faith and faith is simply obeying God, and trusting Him. Faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of God.
3) It promotes unity within the body of believers.
As I give to another, I become a part of their ministry. As I receive from another, I am humbled to receive,
Therefore, in humility, we both become closer in the Lord.
4) He uses the life of faith, to teach us.
An example in terms of salary, as we live the life of faith, when we get our monthly paycheck, we put it before God saying ‘ here’s your money God, how do you want it to be spent? ‘
He may ask us to give it all away, and then we’re just like anyone else just trusting God even for the groceries for that week.
Whatever it is, it is total obedience to God, through your finances, even trusting Him to simply guide and direct.
So when He teaches, he will teach us in 3 broad categories, His character, His ways, His will.
As you study the character of God, you will begin to understand the ways of God too. We all function according to our character, study God’s character, hence learning His ways. Study the 145 Psalms to know God’s character, and be revealed hence to His ways. The will of God is also in line with the character of God.
Coming to finances, whenever there comes a hold up to finances, look upon it as a wonderful opportunity to receive from God. A hold up to finance is like paying tuition, we can expect to be taught from receiving from the Lord.
(1) Do we want to learn God’s lesson, more than the material needs to be met ? Do we want to know the spiritual principle, more than the money factor or the THING associated to the circumstances?
Bible says in Matthew 6:19-20 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rusts consumes and thieves break in and steal but lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rusts consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Proverbs 4:7 – with all of your acquiring, get understanding. Again, if you do not get understanding, you will get wounded. You have a choice, the sin of ignorance is the sin to choose to be ignorant.
God says He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And if we ever get wounded, it’s not God’s fault, it’s ours for not seeking God’s answer. It’s God’s opportunity to teach us, when there’s a withholding of finance.
It’s when God releases His understanding upon us that we realize that He is such a good father, and that He’s not just sitting up there thinking ‘ Oh boy! He’s having it too good, why don’t I knock it down a peg ‘. But rather He wants to release us from the bondage of whatever the thing is, so that we can be free and good stewards and enjoy what God has given us.
So, it’s not money that He wants to rip off from us but it’s the love of money. It’s not that He doesn’t want us to be around certain things but rather doesn’t want us to be around the bondage of these things, so that we can be free and experience freedom.
(2) Do we have a love for money & things? Does materialism matter more to us?
There is a bondage of materialism across the land. God will free us from it, we do not need to live under a communistic government, but God will just simply hold up money and reveal to us, who our God is and what He can do. Matthew says – you cannot serve God and mammon. You cannot serve to owners, you will love one and hate the other. Matthew also says – seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you. He promises to meet our needs, but not our greed.
(3) Have we been spending, buying, renting etc. in the will of God?
All of these are interrelated in many ways, and of course if it’s the will of God, it will be taken care of in many ways. But these are questions we don’t really think about. We must get beyond the general to get to the specifics of God’s power. God wants us to be above the average, in His ways, even in the area of finance, because this is a way of expression of the will and ways of God.
So, it’s important to ask, is this the will of God? Because, God’s not going to pay for what you decided was a good idea. So we back up and say, ‘Lord, it’s not the matter of need, I thought I needed that, and moved out of your will, and now there’s a hold up’. When we move out of His will in our spending, and money gets held up, then we ask ‘Lord what happened ?’ and He replies ‘well you misspent the money ‘.
Need doesn’t dictate the will of God, and we learn that the will of God is necessary to release His finances. Romans 8:28 – For we know that in anything, God works for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and His will.
(4) Are we testing God?
We are not to presume nor put God in a corner. We are not to make a bad decision and say ‘well God has got to bail me out ‘. For God to be God, He cannot bail you out, outside of deep reverence and humble repentance.
We see the Lord speak to this problem, in Luke, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Satan told Jesus scenarios where God would have to/could/would intervene according to the scriptures in the Bible. But Jesus said, ‘You shall not force a test on God ‘.
(5) Are you in debt? Are you not paying it? Are you not communicating about it? Have you put it off?
Even if it is a past debt, until you have paid it, it will always remain a debt regardless of past or present.
Romans 13:8 – Owe no one anything but love one another. For he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
The Lord speaks to us regarding debts, and debts are overdue bills. What do you do regarding that? First of all, you go to the one that you owe, you say ‘Look I’m responsible and I want you to know that I am committed to that bill, I had plans of paying you, but I can’t pay you so tell me, what can we do about it? Will you give me an extension of time? I believe in the following ways I can do it. But at any rate I will give you anything I can, as I can and meanwhile I will keep in touch with you.
Now, this kind of attitude and mentality will not deteriorate any relationship but rather you will simply be a responsible person.
It’s debts that can cause psychological bondage and psychiatrists tell you that if you live on debts from credits of 8 years or so then you’re hooked for life and you cannot get off.
How do you work in times of debt? When it comes to finances? Is your faith still strong in this area as it is in other areas of your life and functionality?
I’m suggesting, though it may not be morally wrong to live by credit, it’s not practical as such. I’m suggesting, as an individual, as you reach your point of highest faith and God lifts you, and as you move in that high place, God will happily release you to a new plateau as you pass your test of faith.
(6) Are you giving bountifully in the will of God to others?
If you’re paying tithes, 10%, then you’re 1% ahead of the them, that’s good. We’re talking about the widow’s wife, percentage wise she was giving more than her income while the rich man even though was giving a big amount, percentage wise it was really a small amount. So ‘bountifull ‘ is not in the amount, but rather the percentage of the giver that God is looking at here.
The Bible says in Luke 6:38 – Give and it will be given to you good measure pressed down and running over will be given into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
The measure you give out is the measure that God uses to put back in. Having a hold up in your finances? Well the one that lives by faith is the one who should be giving more, percentage wise than the one that doesn’t live by faith.
God will give us all, and allow us to move up in our gift of giving, giving us a percentage at a time increase and help us move up 10% maintained every time, as we trust the Lord and enter into the joys of giving and the freedom of it.
Scripture also says that when we die that we should give our money away. Amen. But, that’s not the highest way though, that we say ‘Lord, when I’m through with it or done with it, you can have it.’ You won’t get reward for it, it may be used practically but ‘do your giving when you’re living, then you know where it’s going ‘.
When you learn to give openly and freely when you’re living, that’s where real freedom comes. Joy comes from that.
(7) Are you grateful?
Word says ‘In everything give thanks, a thankful attitude must be expressed’. A good attitude needs to be expressed, not just thinking it and being in it, but saying it, it needs to be spoken. A grateful attitude, goes a long way.
(8) Have you been faithful over the little?
The Lord says in Matthew 25:23 – Well done you good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.
I have seen instances where people pray for X amount of money but God releases over them little over time, and the people say ‘well this isn’t the amount that we prayed for’. Little by little isn’t much to them, and even if the amount grew, it’s not enough to them unless it’s the exact amount or more than they prayed for. You’ve got to be faithful over the little.
(9) Have you been obedient to God?
Disobedience, is one thing where God works to get your attention from. If finances have been come in consistently and all of a sudden stops, then you stop and ask God ‘Why God, what happened?’ , then God replies ‘Well you disobeyed me over here and over there, I had to stop it, how can I get your attention if not. I had to stop the money so you will do the obeying.’
(10) Have you moved into unbelief?
When you disobey, unbelief will automatically follow unless you repent and change. Every atheist is an atheist because they disobeyed the known truth and they have a guilt. Hebrews 3:19 – So we see that they were unable to enter, because of unbelief.
Notice that he said you wont be able to enter the promise land if you disobey, they did disobey but what kept them out? Unbelief.
You cannot walk across the Jordan river as they did if you have unbelief, it’s impossible. As you believe God, it’s because you simply obeyed Him in the last thing that He told you to do.
(11) Do you know to ask God?
God wants us to learn to ask. It shows a constant dependence in our relationship and also that Father-Son relationship, that desiring that Father I need you, is a humbling aspect that will keep us right. Was our motive right? What was our motive?
- James 4:2- you do not have because you do not ask.
- James 4:3 – You ask but you do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.
- Deuteronomy 4:2 – you shall remember all the ways the Lord has led you as you go through 40 years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments.
(12) Are you reaping the results of your past actions?
If you have been a big spender and your actions of spending has been wrong, then what you sow is what you reap. There is a big time period of reaping, whether good or bad. There is a way to reduce the big time period by telling God ‘God I ask you to speed up the reaping where I will take it all now’ and He will give you a shorter way to reap. Or another way is to have somebody intercede unselfishly on your behalf to reduce the reaping time. That will work wonders in your life.
(13) Are you guilty of laziness and irresponsibility?
Shouldn’t you get a job? 2 Thessalonians 3:10 – They that don’t work, shouldn’t eat.
God is not trying to build into you irresponsibility. Some say, well I don’t work, I’m living by faith. Well God is saying ‘well would you get up and work?! ‘.
Irresponsibility is not what God intends in life of faith. Those in life of faith must work harder than any other. Simply because God intends you to do what is closest to your heart in closeness with the heart/will of God.
(14) Have you touched God’s glory?
1 Chronicles 29:14 – For who am I and my people that we should be able to offer so generously unto thee? As from thy hand we have been able to give unto thee.
All things have come from God anyway, who are we to brag as if we did it. But to give God glory is to admit He did it and establish so publicly.
(15) Are you acting independent of God?
An independent spirit is something God cannot help finance. For it says in Genesis 3:5 – Ye shall be like God knowing good from evil.
(16) Are you fearful of the future?
Anxieties about the future. Bible says Matthew 6:34 – For do not be anxious about the troubles of tomorrow, let the day’s own troubles be sufficient for the day.
I don’t believe that you should save for the unknown, for you do not know how much that will be and it will leave you anxious. But when God shows you to save, He will give you the specifics. For example, He told Joseph to save for 7 years enough food that would take care of the needs of the people. Not 8 or 6 but 7. Specifics from God. Ask God.
(17) Are you paying your tithes?
Malachi 3:10 – bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. Here’s a question – Where do you tithe? When you go for groceries, where do you pay, you pay at the cashier counter. Very simple like that. For tithing, it is per-law, law by Moses, Christ upholds the principle of giving and sharing with those that are giving to you spiritually. There are also specific things that those who receive tithe should not have the intention to try to get a personal gain, amassing wealth and properties and so on. Tithes of course should be to meet the needs of those who are spiritually serving, who have the Lord as their possession and they don’t have a business of capitalistic system to fall back on to.
As we look at all these questions and go before the Lord with them simply one at a time, we will find that God will be able to point to you why there are hold ups in your life. These are just a few but there will be a lot more where you will find. These are areas I have found myself in and God has taught me, I trust that He will for you too.
Praise be to God. Amen.