Doug Batchelor - How to Find Deliverance from Debt
I'm going to be talking about the subject of money. That usually gets people's attention. But we're going to talk a little bit about money we don't have, talking about debt and how to find deliverance from debt. You might be surprised that the Bible has an awful lot to say about the subject of money. There are over 500 verses in the Bible that address finances and property. Of the 38 parables that Jesus tells, 16 of them have to do with money and faithful management of property.
Now, it's appropriate that we should be talking about that both as Christians, believers, and even citizens. I don't know if you're aware, but as a nation, America is in debt. And if you're from another nation, don't look down upon us, you're probably in debt, too, in your nation. China's got the second greatest national debt, then Japan, then Germany, and it just goes down the line. And the debt that these countries around the world are carrying is staggering. In the United States for example, back in 2008, when President George W. Bush, and some of you have heard that his father passed away just in the last 24 hours at 94 years old. But George W. Bush, when he went out of office, the national debt of America was ten trillion dollars.
Now, what you couldn't do with ten trillion dollars, right? But now, just since 2008, in ten years, the national debt is over 21 trillion dollars. Which means that our national debt is more than our gross domestic product, more than we earn in a year as a country. And so, and it's continuing, it’s projected to continue going up. And it's not a question of if, it's a question of when. It's like you've got two trains on the same track heading towards each other, there's going to eventually be a collision. It cannot go on like this indefinitely. Eventually, there's some kind of implosion. Doesn't know when that is. Every time the government starts talking about having a balanced budget, everybody comes unglued, because I have no problem with having a balanced budget, as long as you don't take anything away from me. Don't take away my benefits, take away your benefits that's okay.
So, it's become so difficult for the governments of the world to agree to balance the budget. But the reason that the governments are so deeply in debt is because they've learned it from us. America's in debt. There is a debt explosion in the United States. Give you a few little facts here. According to the Federal Reserve's latest numbers, November 18, 2017, the average American household carries $137,000.63 in debt, yet the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the medium, or average household income, is just $59,000, which means that many of us are living way beyond our means. So, I'd like to talk to you about some biblical principles.
You want me to keep going, is this important? The Bible has a lot to say about that. So, I'd like to share with you just a few biblical principles about debt. The sermon of course is how do you find freedom from the bondage of debt? Debt is bondage. There's a story you find in 2 Kings chapter 4. This woman comes to Elisha the Prophet, she's got a terrible problem. Her husband was one of the sons of the prophets. He evidently took out a loan on some property and maybe to buy some seed to farm some land. He was renting, he died before he could pay it back, and in Bible times, if you couldn't pay back your debts, they could start to repossess your property, and they can still do that today, and ultimately, they could take your family members, or you, and enslave you.
So, this poor woman, deeply in debt, comes to Elisha and says, "Your servant, my husband, is dead. And you know that your servant feared the Lord, and the creditor is coming to take my two sons as his slaves." Because of the debt, her children were going to be enslaved. And debt is a type of bondage. You read Proverbs 22:7, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is a servant, a slave, to the lender."
You know, debt often begins, now, I should probably say, I don't want to make everyone feel terrible, and some of you who are doing fine financially right now, there's things in the message that are relevant for everybody, whether or not you are in debt. Some people are in debt through no fault of their own. Look at the story of Job. And he was a perfect and an upright man, and he was just slammed through circumstances. You know, the devil did it, where he lost everything, and but God did a miracle. And you know how the Book of Job ends. You might think you're so far in debt that you'll never get out. Job lost everything, and by the end of Job, he is double blessed.
So, don't forget the God factor if you think your circumstances are hopeless. And I was trying to tell this lady that. She thought how can I? I said, you can do it, I said, if you'll start following the steps. There's steps you can take, and they're steps of obedience. The first step is to repent of your sin, turn, and then you give God permission to work miracles for you. But no one wants to be under a burden of debt. It often starts by people desiring things they should not desire. We try to live today with money we hope to earn tomorrow.
There never has been a time in the history of the world where you have had so many things a person can buy so easily. It's incredible now. I'm looking at my computer screen and I just make a couple of clicks, the next thing, within five minutes, my doorbell rings and there it is. That's an exaggeration, but it's incredible to me. You know, I will literally, I'll order something on Amazon Prime, and all of a sudden, the doorbell rings, and next day I go, "Who could that be?" It's there already. And how they got those racquet balls from China to my door in one day, I don't know, it's a miracle. But it kind of encourages us, oh, that was so easy. But you know, I forgot the little part where PayPal charges my credit card.
The Bible's pretty clear that we should avoid debt. Romans 13:8, "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law." Money's very expensive. If you tried to live in advance of money you do not now possess, you're going to struggle. Benjamin Franklin said, "If you want to know the value of money, go try and borrow some." And sometimes, if you borrow money from a friend, you need to ask what's more important, the money or the friendship? Because a lot of family relationships and friendships have been permanently damaged because people started to borrow from each other, and it can cause problems. Proverbs 6 verse 1, "My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, and you've given a pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your mouth," caught in the words of your mouth. "Then do this, my son, save yourself, for you have come into the hands of your neighbor. Go, hasten, plead urgently with your neighbor, give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber. Save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler." The hunter's trying to kill the gazelle, the fowler's trying to kill the bird. It says run for your life, save yourself. Get out of debt.
This should be the attitude that Christians have when we start going into debt and taking loans, because otherwise it could be slavery. You know how we get enslaved? Jesus said he's gone to prepare a mansion for us. We can't wait for that mansion there, so we want our mansion here. You know, the living standard of the poor in America is much higher than most places in the world. I see people all the time that are getting government assistance, and they've got an $800 smartphone, and they're driving a car. We just figured, well, these are necessities. The fact is that we are spoiled. Is it okay for me to say that? We are spoiled, and we are trying to live way outside of our means.
A lot of people, young people, they get out of college, they want to have the same kind of house and car their parents have, but they didn't remember that mom and dad worked 40 years before they could afford a house and a car like that. And we want instant gratification. We want to click and get it, we want fast food, we want drive-thru wealth, and that's what's happening. It's because we want everything right now, people are getting themselves in bondage with debt, because we're living outside of our means. In order to have prosperity in the future, you need to experience self-denial.
Now, I am not speaking to you as one who is saying I'm up here, and you know, I've always known these things. I've had to borrow money. Not all borrowing is bad. There's times you may need to borrow. There's percentages, you gotta know what your income is, it's got to be manageable, but you may need to borrow for a home. I first went into the wood business, and I remember I went to Wells Fargo Bank. I was just trying to borrow $350 for a chainsaw. Saw died, I had no money, I needed the saw to get more money to get the wood. I had sales, I went to the bank, and I found out the hard way. It's hard to borrow money if you don't have credit.
I said, "Well, how do I get credit?" They said, "Well, you've got to borrow money." I said, Help me understand this." I said, "I would love to help you give me credit right now." I said, "Here's your opportunity. Lend me some money." They would not lend me money. Finally, the pastor lent me have the money to get the chainsaw, and I paid him back.
But it's no fun, I hate owing. I hate owing money. To me, you know it just, I can't get it off my mind. And so, I like to pay everything right away. We've had to borrow on our house, we had a mortgage, praise God, paid off. Karen and I just moved into a house over here, people at Amazing Facts know I had to borrow from my retirement. It's paid off now. Had to borrow a manageable amount, so I know how it feels.
I hate to admit this to my church family. I have had to get government assistance, many years ago, 40 years ago, for medical help, for food stamps. It's humiliating, I didn't want to ever do that again. This is when I was a baby Christian. I started following the Bible principles, and praise God, we don't have debt now, and we're trying to live within our means. The idea for a Christian is you want to work hard, save as much as you can, so you can give as much as you can.
And there's a lot of people who could be reached with the message of the gospel, but they're not sending enough missionaries and pastors. How will they hear unless they're sent? That's what the Bible says, because the funds of God's people are often bound up by the devil in debt, buying things they didn't need. And so, the devil has actually hijacked a lot of souls who would otherwise you're the gospel, because the people of God are trying to, it's covetousness is what it is. Reckless financial irresponsibility is a sin.
We will all give an account to God for every idle word we speak. Have you ever considered we may be giving an account to God for the idol money we spend? God will bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil. A Christian, I don't want to sound legalistic, because God is merciful, but a Christian needs to think, "I want to be faithful." Jesus said, these are his words, Luke 16:10, "He that is faithful in that which is the least is faithful also in much. And he that is unjust in that which is least is unjust also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to you the true riches? And if you're not faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?"
Christ here is talking about faithfulness in stewardship. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." Some people have spending problems. I know folks who are always looking at the shopping channels. I can't understand it now. I surf by, and I see they got these channels, 24 hours a day they're saying, "Buy this, buy this, it's all wonderful," and there are people that watch those channels. There must be, because they're on all the time, and they're always going, "Yeah." They make you think that you can't live without whatever this gizmo is that they've got, and people buy this stuff, they put it in the garage, and they never open it.
I know people that have their garages full of stuff that they have bought online, or they bought on sale, they didn't need it, but it was on sale, and it looked good, and it's impulsive buying. And they've wasted thousands, some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars for stuff they didn't even need. Got real quiet suddenly.
Now, if we do buy something, if you buy it on time, if you have a debt, Christians should pay their debts. You may not like the credit card company, but very rarely does a credit card company torture you into buying things. You usually have to make a choice somewhere along the way to do it. And you can read the fine print and find out what the interest rate is. And if you have incurred a debt, I was driving down the road with Karen, we heard a commercial on the radio, it kept repeating, "Don't let those mean credit card companies fool you into thinking you've got to pay them back. You don't have to pay them."
Well you know, there are things you can do if you're deeply in debt to a credit card company. You can find some legitimate counseling to help negotiate the interest, but the idea that someone else should pay for the gizmo in your garage it is not a Christian principle. If you buy something, you should pay for it. "Oh, but Pastor Doug, my debt is so big. I owe like that lady I mentioned, half a million dollars. I'll be dead before I can pay it."
Well you know what? Even if you were to say I am, by God's Grace going to pay $10 a week, I'm going to make some changes in my life, and I'm going to pay $10 a week, you'd be surprised. God will bless you. Start doing something. But to throw your hands in the air and say, "I know it's my debt, but I can't pay it all, so I'm not going to pay any of it." A Christian ought to make an effort to pay their debts. Isn't that right? That doesn't mean that you starve your children in order to pay it back, you know, you have to have your priorities, but don't neglect you debts. And the Bible says, Psalm 37, I think we have that on the screen. "The wicked borrows and does not repay." Ecclesiastes 5:5, "Better not to vow than to vow and not pay."
And you've got that verse in Psalm, think it's 15, where it says if you swear to your own hurt, a Christian swears to their own hurt, and changeth not, you've made a decision, it was a bad business decision, but you've made a promise, you don't change your word. Jephthah made a really foolish vow. He said whatever comes through my gates, if you give me victory, I will offer to you, Lord, whatever comes through my gates. His daughter came through the gates, and he shrugged, and said, "O Lord, you know, I just kidding," or did he keep his word? His daughter was dedicated to the temple. She served in the temple the remainder of her life. She never married. And he made a vow, and he did not change. Christians need to keep their promises.
Now, this is the Doug-a-fied version of seven sure steps for deliverance from debt. Open a savings account. You might be thinking, "Pastor Doug, I have no money." You know, you can open an account now with $10. Start by opening a savings account. Open it in another bank than where you keep your other accounts, so you're not tempted. That bank is only for putting money in. As soon as you begin to start putting money away, something happens to your psyche. And you start realizing I am now building instead of constantly diminishing, and you can read the information in there. Create a budget.
Now, if you get point one and two mixed up, that's okay, but most people are in debt because of a very simple principle. There outgo is more than their income. Some people have no idea what their income is, and they have no idea what their outgo is. And if you ask them to make a list of how much you spend a week, they just kind of give you rough, round figures. Is that including your lunches every day for $15? Is that including, you know, these little stopping at the store and buying whatever the trinkets are, or people going through the drive through and getting $5 coffees and all this stuff. And they say, "Oh, yeah, I didn't realize how that added up."
So, start getting a budget. Sit down, look at your receipts, you can figure out where it's going, and be honest about that. Create a budget. Get a strategy to live within that budget. If you have debt, allocate how much you can pay on those debts. Rethink your grocery basket. Some people walk down the aisle with their basket, and they just grab things and throw them in. I've seen kids going along down the aisle with their parents, they're just grabbing the Fruit Loops off the shelf, throwing them in the cart, or whatever it is, and the parents go, they just shrug. Some of that stuff's expensive.
There's things you can do that are healthier and more economical. You can buy things that you can, like, cook and they'll last a few days. You know how cheap rice is? Do you know how many ways you can prepare rice? I remember once, all I had was rice. I was so poor, the only thing I had was rice. I did have raisins. So, I had rice with raisins for breakfast. Put a little sugar in it. Had, like, fried rice for lunch, steamed rice for dinner. I mean, that's an exaggeration, but that would be the bare basics.
So, some people might think about how you're shopping with your cart. Be faithful in your tithes and offerings, "Oh Pastor, that's going to blow my budget." No, you haven't read the Bible. The Bible says that if you want your money to go farther, be faithful to give God what is his. If you want God to bless the remaining 90%, be faithful with at least that 10%. But if you're faithful in tithes and offerings, God says I will open for you the windows of heaven. And God will start doing things for you that don't make sense mathematically in blessing you.
And that's why we read that the opening verse in our Scripture. Purge the house. There's a lot of mysterious items we got in our houses and our attics, some things aren't even opened, things that others might want we're not using. You can actually sell now with eBay. They didn't have that 50 years ago. It's getting easy, snap a picture, put it online. There's junk you got you don't think anyone would want, you'd be surprised. Some of you have treasures in your house you may not even know about, things you had no idea what it's worth. Cut what you can live without. So, you might have memberships you're not using, and magazines you're not reading, and you'd be surprised. You can start winnowing things down.
And then, learn new ways to earn, which is a transition into my other point here. There's things you can do to earn more money. Work, yeah, you know, there's a commandment I read somewhere, it says six days you should labor. Not only does it say you should rest the seventh and bless your heart for doing that, but you should all work.
Now, if you're retired, or if you're physically unable, but there's a lot of people who there's stuff you can do even from home with a computer now, and earn income. I know a lot of people that make incredible money at home typing, doing something on the internet or with a computer. Proverbs 13:4, "The soul of a lazy man desires and has nothing, but the soul of the diligent will be made rich." Proverbs 13:11, "Wealth gained by dishonesty will diminish," it's like gambling. "But he who gathers by labor will increase." The good, old-fashioned, hard work. And watch out for get-rich-quick schemes, they often turn into disasters. You know, multilevel marketing schemes. There are probably a couple of legitimate ones out there, but most of them I think you should avoid. Proverbs 28:20, "A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished."
God designed us with a purpose. You know, I heard a pastor say one time, if you make yourself useful and keep busy, God is more inclined to keep you around. He created man, put them in a garden to work. And then, even after sin, God said, well, you've sinned, so I'm going to let you off. He gave them more work to keep them out of trouble, right? And so, it's so important that we find a way to be busy. And everybody's got gifts.
Everybody can do something, so work. Six days you'll labor. Ephesians 4:28, "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he might have something to give him who is in need." You might say, "Pastor, I still don't see how I can make all ends meet after I do all these things. It's still seems like the outgo is going to be above the income."
You start obeying, draw near to God, he'll draw near to you. You be faithful in the little things, and God will then begin to bless. You will give God permission to work miracles. What happened to that woman? She came to Elijah with an insurmountable debt. My sons are going to be taken as slaves. And you know what Elisha said? What do you have? Well, they've taken everything. All we have left is a little jar of oil on the mantle. He said, okay, you consecrate what you've got left to God, and watch what happens. She filled her house with borrowed vessels, filled them with the oil, God worked a miracle, she sold the oil, it paid the debt, and left a surplus where she and her sons could live off the surplus. God worked a miracle for her when she brought her burden to Elisha.
When we bring our financial burdens to Jesus, and we say, Lord, I am determined to obey. You I don't have much, but I'm going to consecrate myself and all I have to you. When we do that, we then give god permission to activate heavenly agencies in providence that can help turn things around for us that we can't think of right now. So, God invented math, and you may not be able to calculate how God's going to get you out of debt, but if you begin to be faithful, and not trying to live outside your means, and not spending recklessly, certainly not gambling, working hard, saving, being faithful in your giving, you will give God permission to activate miracles in your behalf and take care of you. He's got a thousand ways to answer our prayers when we can't see any.