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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Financial Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Financial Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Financial Regrets
TOPICS: Say Goodbye To Regret, Regrets, Finance, Money

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Few things weigh more heavily on the hearts of Americans than money problems. When prices go up, we feel the pressure. And when the economy falters, we fear for our future. Well, the Bible is full of wisdom about your resources, and today I'm going to offer you some very practical biblical advice for managing your money in a way that provides for your family's needs, and for God's work. My message is titled, "Say Goodbye to Financial Regrets" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Even the most casual reader of the Bible can't help but notice how many times the Bible talks about the subject of money. Sixteen of Jesus thirty-eight parables deal with finances. You can't flip a page of the Book of Proverbs without reading a word about money. Somebody did a study one time of Jesus teachings and said, "Of all of his words in the four gospels, Jesus spoke more about the subject of money than he did about heaven or hell combined". Why is that? Why is money such a prominent topic in the Bible? Well, I think one reason is money has a way of touching our lives every day, in every way. You know, Paul said in 1 Timothy, "If we have food and covering," just the basics, "We ought to be content," but you can't even get the basics without money. What are the regrets people have about how they handle their God-given money?

Regret number one: I regret not saving more money. Before I begin the preparation on this series, I ask a friend of mine, "Do you have any regrets in life"? My friends always know when I'm preparing a new sermon series, because I get a lot more Philosophical in my conversations. So I asked my friend, "Do you have any regrets"? He quickly answered, "No, I don't have any regrets". And then he thought for a moment, he said, "Well, I've got one regret. I wish I had prepared better to send my kids to college". Now, my friend is highly intelligent. He knows that college is expensive, he knew he wanted his two sons to attend, and he knew he didn't have the current resources to pay for college. So why didn't he plan for it? You know, the fact is, all of us are gonna face some big ticket expenditures in life we've gotta be prepared for.

Take college, for example, the education of your children. The average four-year college today costs $160,000 to attend over four years. Now, that's 179% increase in just the last 20 years. Have you got a plan for that? Or think about retirement, there'll be a day you no longer receive a paycheck. How are you going to live? You know, financial experts tell us that if you want to know how much money you need for retirement, just take your current expenses, multiply them by 25, and that's how much money you need to only take 4% from that savings pool every year. Twenty-five times your current income, how in the world does anybody do that? Or what about healthcare needs for yourself, your children, your parents you may be caring for? Do you have adequate provision for that?

Let's prepare for what we know is coming. And in Genesis 41, this is what Joseph said to Pharaoh, look at verse 34. "Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance". In other words, set aside a fifth, 20% of the harvest every year for seven years. "Then let them gather all the food of the good years that are coming, and store up the grain for the food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it". Let's save 20% every year for seven years to prepare for the famine that is coming. That was God's way of providing. He didn't say to the Egyptians, "Oh, just enjoy your money while you have it, eat all the grain you want while you have, and then we'll figure out what to do seven years after that". He said, "No, this is how I am going to provide for you. Set aside some of your current abundance for the future". And God says the same thing to us. That's God's plan, to take care of our future.

Did you know all of us are gonna face a famine one time financially? There is going to come a time in your life, in my life, where our needs exceed the income we have coming in. It may be retirement that causes a financial famine when you no longer have an income. It may be your kid's education. It may be the emergency or a health issue that you need to take care of. How do you do it? By setting aside some of your current income to prepare for the future. That's what Solomon talked about in Proverbs 6, verses 6 through 8, he said, "Go to the ant, o sluggard, observe her way and be wise. Which, having no chief, officer, or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers provision in the harvest". Solomon was saying even an ant, with as tiny of a little brain as it has, is smart enough to know it ought to take some of its food in the summer, and save for the future when there is no food. God says the same thing to us.

And that leads to a second regret people have about their finances, and that's related to spending: "I regret wasting so much money". Have you ever come to the end of the month and wondered, "Where did all my money go this month"? We kind of feel like Solomon who said in Proverbs 23 verse 5, "Wages sprout wings and they fly to heaven like an eagle". Money just flies out of your pocket or out of your debit card into the sky and you never see it again. Where has all the money gone? Think about your lifetime. Think about a couple, for example, who's 40 years of age. They have a combined household income of $80,000, and they work for another 30 years till they're age 70. And those 30 years, even if they have no pay increase whatsoever. In those 30 years, they will have earned $2.5 million, millionaires, except it just comes in and goes out.

You know, somebody said, "my problem is not overspending, it's under depositing". But the truth is, most people don't under deposit, it's not the deposits, it's the expenditures that get us. I read a fascinating book years ago by two men named Thomas Stanley and William Danko, many of you may have read this best seller as well. It's called "The Millionaire Next Door". And these two researchers studied the lives of hundreds of millionaires, present day millionaires in our country. And they found something very interesting, they found most people accumulated their money not through inheritance, not through winning the lottery, or smart investing. The way they became millionaires was by controlling their spending.

And I thought this was fascinating in their study of hundreds of millionaires, they found, for example, when it came to their homes, we think of most millionaires as having these lavish mansions like "The Beverly Hillbillies". We think, you know, that's wealth, but did you know the average millionaire today has a house that's worth $557,000 in today's dollars? You know, if there is one lesson we ought to pass on to our children and our grandchildren, it's this verse from Proverbs 21, verse 20. You'd be wise to have your children memorize that verse. It says, "There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but the foolish person swallows it all up".

A foolish person is one who spends everything he earns, and then some. But the wise person is one who learns how to spend less than he earns over a long period of time, that's how you become financially independent. Third, people say about their finances, "I regret not making wiser investments". There are people who have learned this principle of spending less than they earn, they save regularly, but then they end up losing it all through a bad investment or an unwise investment. That's what Solomon was talking about in Ecclesiastes 5, the passage we read together a moment ago, look at it again. Solomon said, "There's a grievous evil which I've seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing left to support him. As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand".

Here is a man who worked all of his life, saved faithfully, had a big pile of money, and he lost it all through a bad investment. Now Solomon is quick to say, "We come into this world and we leave with nothing either". The fact is, all of us are going to lose all of our money one day when we die. When we die, we leave it all behind. But that's not the tragedy. The tragedy is to lose all your money before you die. To have a lot of life left, and no money to support yourself or your family. He's talking about avoiding bad investing. What are the mistakes people make in investing that lead to this kind of situation? Let me mention several.

Mistake number one: postponing investing. "Oh, I know I need to do what the pastor said, what Solomon said, but right now is not a good time to do it. I'm gonna postpone investing". Let me give you a great illustration of the danger of doing that. Let's say you have two people: Sally and Bill. And Sally and Bill begin working at the ACME Corporation on the same day. And on their first day of work, the HR person comes in and tells them that "We've got a plan here where you can have some of your salary withheld and invested in a retirement plan". Sally thinks, "That sounds like a good idea". So she signs up to invest just $1,250 a year in a investing program, a retirement program. She does that faithfully for eight years, but at the end of eight years, she decides she wants to be a full-time mom, so she retires. And for the next 22 years, she doesn't invest anything in her retirement plan.

Now Bill started working the same day, he heard the same lecture, the opportunity to take some of his income and save for the future. But he said, "You know, I've got a new wife and a young child. I just don't have any extra income, so I'm not gonna do it right now". But the ninth year, beginning of his ninth year there, he decides he better start preparing for the future. And he saves for the next 22 years, $1,250 a year, the same amount as Sally. Now, at the end of 30 years, who do you think is gonna have more money? Sally, who invested for eight years and then did nothing for the next 22 years, or Bill, who did nothing for the first eight years and invested faithfully for 22 years. You know the answer. At the end of those 30 years, Sally, who only invested for eight years, will have more money than Bill, who did for 22. Sally will have $75,000, Bill will have $73,000.

How can that be? It's because of the magic of compound interest. Money invested early, a little bit, is much more powerful than a lot of money invested later. John D. Rockefeller called interest the eighth wonder of the world. My grandfather used to say to me, "Interest is your best friend when it's working for you and it's your worst enemy when it's working against you, because either way, it's working 24 hours a day". By the way, can I say an aside to thank you for being generous and making it possible for us to pay off our debt as a church. That's the smartest thing that we ever did here, and it's because of your generosity that we're not paying 8% interest right now on a church indebtedness. A lot of people make the mistake of postponing their investing.

A second mistake they make is failing to diversify their assets. Mark Twain one time said, "Put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch the basket". God's word says just the different thing. In Ecclesiastes 11, Solomon said, "You need to diversify your savings, don't put it all in one place. Have a diversity of investments". And by the way, studies show the wisdom of that biblical wisdom.

Ibbotson Associates in Chicago did a 60-year study of the returns on various investments. For example, if you wanted to play it safe and put all your money in a money market fund, over 60 years you would earn an average of 3.5% to 4% a year. If you put it in bonds, all in bonds, a fixed rate investment, you would have about 8% a year you would earn. But a blend of investments between stocks and bonds, 60-40, would yield almost a 10% return over those 60 years. And those, what seem like small percentage difference, add up to big dollars over the long haul. Listen to Solomon's wisdom in Ecclesiastes 11:2, "Divide your portion," divide your money, "To seven, or to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth". We can't predict the future, that's why we need to have a balanced investment.

Mistake number three: waiting for the right time to invest. "All right, I've got this money, I know I need to invest it, but pastor, the world is so unstable right now. There's an election coming up, there's all this problems with China and Russia, and all the global problems and so forth, is now really a good time to invest"? There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time to plant a tree is today".

Do what you're going to do today. And then finally, and I think this is what Solomon really had in mind in Ecclesiastes 4, is avoid get-rich-quick schemes. That's the poorest investment usually you will ever make, in a get-rich-quick scheme. Some investment possibility that promises big returns. I think that's what he meant in Ecclesiastes 5:14 when Solomon talked about riches lost through a bad investment.

Now you don't lose money in the stock market unless you sell for less than you bought, but it doesn't go down to zero. But one way to lose all of your money is through a get-rich-quick scheme. You know, I have to confess, in my younger years I made some big mistakes by investing in get-rich-quick schemes. You know, all of my bad investments had three things in common, number one: they dealt with something I knew very little about. Real estate, silver futures, oil wells. Secondly, they promised larger than normal returns. And thirdly, they resulted in my losing all of my capital.

Don't make that mistake, Solomon said in Proverbs 28:19 to 20, "He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty and plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished". You know, somebody pointed out to me this week that many times senior adults are prone to these kind of schemes. They're trying to make up for lost time, maybe mistakes they made in the past, and they can be vulnerable to get-rich-quick schemes. Remember the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A fourth mistake, a fourth regret people have in their finances is this: I regret not investing more in God's work. I regret not investing more in God's work. I know what you're thinking. "Pastor, do people really regret that, or are you just trying to shoehorn a tithing sermon into this one"? Do people right now say, "Oh, I regret not investing more". The average Christian invests about 1.5% of his income into God's work. But do most people regret that? I admit, no, they don't. They don't have any regrets about that yet. But these are regrets that are postponed for the next life, when they will have regrets of not being more faithful, "Where do I get that"?

The passage we looked at last time, 1 Corinthians 3, verses 13 to 15, that talk about the evaluation, the judgment, every Christian will face of his life. God is going to judge how we spend our time, our talents, and yes, our money. That's what the Judgment Seat of Christ is about. Every one of us will experience the fire of God's judgment to determine whether our work is eternal, gold, silver, precious stones, or it's worthless, wood, hay, empty pursuits. And those whose lives, the way they spent their time, talents, and their money, those who have spent it on trivial pursuits will see their lives go up in flames. Now, they'll be saved. He makes it clear. They'll be saved, but by the skin of their teeth, as by fire. But those who invest in the eternal matters will receive a great reward.

In Luke chapter 16, Jesus told to me the most fascinating parable that he ever told. You remember the story about the business, the wealthy man who had a business manager who was in charge of his finances, and one day he calls him in and said, "You're doing a lousy job, so I'm gonna fire you. You've got a week left, and then I want you out of here. Just finish up your work and get out of here". Well, the financial manager began to panic. He thought, "I'm gonna lose my job. I don't have any marketable skills. I don't like hard work, and I don't want to have to beg for money. What am I going to do"?

He panicked, but then he came up with a plan. He was going to use those last days of his employment to prepare for the future. And so as the financial manager, he had all of the accounts receivable that belonged to his master, all the bills owed to him. And so he started discounting them, if a guy owed his master $100, he discounted the bill to $80 or $50 or $20. Why did he do that? His hope was once he joined the ranks of the unemployed, he was out there on the streets, these people he had done a favor to would become his friends and hire him and take care of him.

Now you would say, "That's blatantly dishonest". Yes, but it is shrewd. And when the boss found out what his financial manager had done, instead of being angry, he praised him. He said, in effect, "You know, if you had shown this much initiative while you were my employee, you'd still have a job. Hats off, congratulations for your wise thinking".

And then notice what Jesus said, the application he made in Luke 16:9. "I say to you, make friends for yourselves by the means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into eternal dwellings". Jesus said, "Your money is going to fail you one day. The day of your death, when you leave it all behind". Proverbs 11:4 says, "Riches do not profit a person in the Day of Judgment". You're gonna leave it all behind, but what you can do is send some of it on ahead of you. To paraphrase the words of one Philosopher, "The best use of money is to spend it on something that will outlast it". That's the best way I know to say goodbye to financial regrets.
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