Financial Margin

Do You Struggle To Ensure You Are Putting God Before Money?

Daniel Downey
Jan 19, 2020    34m
Many of us struggle with the worry and stress of financial insecurity. But are you allowing money to handle you, or are you handling your money? In today's message, we'll explore some practical tips to maintain a financial margin. We'll also discuss how to identify whether we are putting money before God. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Daniel Downey (00:06):
Well, hello friends, and particularly a warm welcome to those of you who are watching online. Anyone recognize that song? What's it called? And if you didn't know that, turn to someone next to you, preferably someone who was born before 1965. And ask them what band played that? Now, if you've been around church for any length of time, you know that very often we have a service order that gives structure to our time together. Typically we start with some songs, then maybe a welcome, a prayer, some announcements, a prayer, an offering. And then very often after that, we have a little video that sets up the speaker. That video, believe it or not, in church terms is called a bumper. Now why it's called a bumper, I have no idea because a bumper to me suggests that we have kind of Sumo wrestlers on the stage that are clearing the stage. Wouldn't that be fun? Minus the costumes. After the bumper, then the speaker comes and gives a talk followed by often a closing prayer and then a final song.

Daniel Downey (01:04):
Now, if you notice very often from the first songs to the last song, there is a theme that weaves through everything including the prayers and the sermon. And that's by design. It could be God's grace or faith or hope. And it's to reinforce an idea. Well, today we're continuing our series on margins. We're talking about making room in our lives for what matters most. And we're talking about money. No, this is not a sermon on tithing. It's a sermon on margin in your money. But if you think about it, there really aren't very many good church songs that have money as a theme in them. The only one I could think of was take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold. But the song makes little sense to me because who would want to hold onto their mites?

Daniel Downey (01:53):
If you watch professional baseball, you know that when a batter comes to the plate, they have what's called walk-up music. It's an inspirational song of their choosing to help them, motivate them. Buster Posey uses the song, Busted Baby Part Two. Gerardo Parra uses the song Baby Shark. And it got me thinking, wouldn't it be nice for a speaker to have walk-up music in church? And you could even somatically link it with the theme of the day. So I decided to use an inspirational song about money to further tie things together. But let's review where we've been for the past two weeks. And if you haven't heard the last two weeks' sermons on margins, I urge you, go online on Venture's page or through our Facebook account. You can find the sermons and listen to them in their entirety. We've been talking about how each of us has space in our lives to fill with the activities of life. But too many activities, even good activities can create exhaustion or fatigue.

Daniel Downey (02:52):
And eventually, we can reach the point of critical burnout as stress weighs down on us. We have limits, and when we push the limits, we erode life's margins with a host of negative consequences. If you think in terms of a plate, we all have a plate and we all fill our plate with activities. And have you noticed in Silicon Valley very often when we add a new activity to our plate, we don't correspondingly take a different activity off of our plate? You know what we do? We just build a bigger plate. And with that bigger plate, there are a host of consequences that translates into sleeping less, stressing more or juggling activities and living with this nagging sense that things are falling through the cracks because things are falling through the cracks.

Daniel Downey (03:35):
We need to maintain margin which we have defined, and it's in your notes. We've defined it as the space between my life and my limits. Margin is that space that I have left over between life and limits. And when I have margin, life will tend to be more in balanced. However, living without margin is ill advisable. It has a host of negative consequences. And as a culture for review, we've said it's taking its toll on us. We all know this. So in the past few weeks, we've talked about it. We've talked about how living with margins requires things like intentionality, that is decisions. And it requires wisdom to make wise choices. And it requires surrender, surrender as in Lord, I need your help to make it all work out. Lord, I can't do it. Lord, please help me say yes to the great things and no even to the good things. Annually since 2007, the American Psychological Association or the APA has issued research on what is stressing out Americans and what we're doing about it. In one year's report, they had this conclusion about the lack of willpower in our ability to change.

Daniel Downey (04:46):
They said Americans cite lack of willpower as the biggest barrier to adopting healthier behavior. But 70% believed that willpower is something they can learn or improve if only they had more money, energy, or confidence in their ability to change. Now, if you follow that dizzying logic, what it says is I can change myself if only my environment could change, then I could change myself. It's a vicious circle. And many of us have found willpower or New Year's resolutions will not get us to margins. Knowing what is right and living what is right are entirely different. A recognition that I need divine help through surrender in affecting long lasting change holds more promise than a resolution. It's not saying I can do it or I should do it or I will do it. It's saying, God, I don't have the power to do it. Help me. I need your help. Until now in our series, we have focused primarily on the activities that fill the calendar of life. But according to 12 years of APA research, one of the most stressful and margin robbing issues in our lives collectively is not an activity. It is money. The APA's 2019 Stress in America Survey finds that 6 in 10 adults in America regard money as a significant source of stress and money and work stress consistently in nationwide research have been reported as two of the biggest sources of stress in our lives which means that in a room this size and for those who are watching online, in a group this size, the majority of us live with some margin robbing stress in the areas of finance.

Daniel Downey (06:27):
Financial stress is high in the Bay Area. For example, the 2018 Brookings Institute Research on Stress concluded, "Teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area report far greater financial anxiety than do samples of adults and workers from across the nation." This is a tough and expensive place to live whether you're a teacher or a nurse or an engineer or retired. And with that high cost of living can come considerable financial stress and lack of margin which one pastor describes as the amount available beyond what is necessary. Financial margin is the amount available beyond what is necessary. So if you earn, for round numbers, say you earn $10,000 a month and have $8,000 worth of expenditures, you have $2,000 worth of margin. If you take in $10,000 and spend $10,000, you have no margin. If you take in $10,000 and spend more than $10,000, you have a completely different issue.

Daniel Downey (07:28):
Part of margin is having surplus available at the end of the month. And if you don't have any or if you're out of balance, there are simple options. You can either increase your income or you can decrease or better manage your expenses. And how does one do that? Well, increasing income can mean a higher paying job, a bonus, an unexpected cash windfall, a rich uncle, maybe you go to the thrift store and buy a painting and it turns out to be an original Jackson Pollock. And of course, there's always the option of buying lottery tickets. But might I remind you that your chances of winning a mega lottery are the same as getting struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark while landing in an airplane and surviving the crash and bowling a perfect game?

Daniel Downey (08:13):
Sometimes God likes to encourage our faith through the generosity of others. One of the biggest turning points in my life and the trajectory of my life came when I was in college and I was going to go on a short-term mission trip. And at the beginning of the day, I was several hundred dollars short of the minimum amount I needed by the end of the day in order to go on the missions trip. I came home from school and on my bed were three checks, unexpectedly given that totaled exactly the amount that I needed. And it was on that trip that I decided to become a missionary when I grew up. God can bless us through the generosity of others and God can bless others through your generosity

Daniel Downey (08:53):
To have more margin, we can focus yes, on having greater positive cashflow. Yet a wise choice no matter what your situation is to maintain margin by better managing your expenses. And there are many practical ways we can do this. The most obvious is to create a budget. You do this by first identifying the categories and you can find lots of tools online to help you do this, categories such as transportation, housing, food, haircuts, clothing. You identify the categories and then you allocate money. And this can be hard and subjective to do it, particularly if you're doing it as a couple. And then you have to follow through and live within those categories. To succeed at this, it requires clarifying what are the things in my life that are absolutely necessary. These are the must-haves. And what are the things that are necessary if funds are available or the could-haves? And what are those things that aren't really essential?

Daniel Downey (09:50):
Those are the not necessaries or maybe we'll get to it someday. This is hard, important and subjective. Recently, my wife and I went through this again to revisit our spending and our funds and our priorities. Another thing that you can do is take a class. We offer one at Venture called Financial Peace University. It starts next Sunday at 11:15, runs for nine weeks. You can register today at a table in the back or go to Venture's events page on our website. The first session you can audit for free. There is a cost to the class. In the class, you'll learn tips and strategies for better managing your money and your expenses. Now you may choose some tips and discard others, but you're going to get a lot of great advice there. If you're in financial trouble or having issues, I urge you take the class.

Daniel Downey (10:35):
It's a worthwhile investment. I've never met a person who regretted taking that class. Another step you can do is to meet with a financial planning expert. We have several in the church here and they'll help you identify a budget or investments or your retirement or help you with a will or a trust. And a very simple exercise that some of you may have done, my wife and I did this early in our marriage, we used the envelope system. We got a bunch of envelopes and we labeled them with the categories of spending and we would put cash in them at the beginning of the month. And we would only allow ourselves to spend what was in the envelope. And if we had overspent, we had to talk about it if we were going to rob another account in order to maybe go out for dinner or something. It helped discipline our spending.

Daniel Downey (11:15):
Another obvious tip advocated by most financial counselors is to be, to have discipline with your credit cards. Some would advocate that you cut them up. If nothing else, make sure that you pay them off at the end of the month or get into that habit. The goal is to have sufficient margin and perhaps even a surplus that will allow you to bless others. And that sentence was very easy to say but very hard to live. I would love to stand up here and say, you know, if you follow these six easy steps, I can guarantee you financial prosperity. And as I say that, you hear a little digging sound and there's a flash from my teeth. But we all know better.

Daniel Downey (11:56):
I know people in this congregation that are doing everything right, they're living within their means, not spending extravagantly, not eating out a lot, making wise financial decisions. And yet they have little financial margin because of the high cost of living, particularly housing. The last thing I want to do is make a well-intended yet hollow promise that if you follow a system, everything will work out great. I can't say that. But having said that, having a plan, being intentional, taking a class, living within a budget will not harm you. It can do nothing but help you. It will definitely not hurt. There are two things I'm going to ask you to remember today. And the first one is this. If you need help, there are resources, but it is up to you to get the help that you need. Take the steps that you need. Practical steps like the ones that I mentioned will help you manage your finances. And that's important, particularly if you have no margin. A strategy or a budget or an envelope system can help. Practical helps address the question, how can I manage my finances? That's important,

Daniel Downey (13:04):
But there's a greater issue that affects all of us no matter what our margin is. And that's the issue of my heart's relationship with money. For the rest of our time today, I want to speak on this. It affects all of us no matter how much wealth you have, irrespective of that. Having margin in your life, financial margin is not just a question of how I manage what I have. It's also an issue of my heart attitude toward what I have or don't have. It is possible to be financially comfortable and yet still have wealth in my life as an idol. Making God the God of my finances is a different issue. Now you may not think that money is an idol. But I would say that in America, it's a tremendous idol. Play out the scenario with me. I have high school aged children. I want them to be involved in the right activities and get the right grades. Why? So that they can go to the right university. Why? So that they can get the best degree so that they have the most options. Why? So that they can get a great career. Why? So they can make lots of money,

Daniel Downey (14:10):
Work stress consistently ranks as one of the biggest pressures in people's lives. Causes of margin robbing work stress include being unhappy in my job, having a heavy workload or too much responsibility, working long hours, having poor management or unclear expectations in my work or the inability to have a voice in the decision making process. Why would a person work under bad conditions? Well, you know the answer? Because if I don't have a job, I won't have money. I want to wear the clothes that I want to wear, live in the zip code that I want to live in, go on the right vacation. And to do that, I need money. The San Francisco Bay Area has experienced times of rapid population growth, largely centering around the gold rush, the tech rush and the dot com rush. Now, why do people come here? Well, yes, of course, it's for the weather, but also for job opportunity because of money.

Daniel Downey (15:06):
Money is a significant issue in our lives even if it's in the background. Will I have enough for retirement? Do I have enough for a rainy day? What happens if there's a medical emergency? What happens if there's a downturn in the economy or if I'm laid off? Remember the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? It wasn't lifestyles of the middle-class and ordinary. If you don't know the show I'm referring to, just ask someone in the room that was born before 1965. Money is I would argue America's idol. Now, switching gears, it was a beautiful summer day and I inflated a pool in the backyard. The girls were going to get in the pool. So after inflating it, I took a hose and I put it in and started to fill up the pool. The phone rang, and I was going to head in. But realizing the potential danger of a live hose, I said to the girls, say after me, I will not touch the hose. And they said, I will not touch the hose. I went in, took the call. Within two minutes, I was back out. And guess what? The backyard was soaked. There were some books that were soaked, dolls that were soaked, art supplies that were soaked. Because someone did what? They touched the hose.

Daniel Downey (16:22):
Now, there was a special time in the history of civilization when God gave his people some instructions. The invisible God interacted with a man named Moses and gave him some important principles for living. To help us remember the more salient points, God gave a top 10 list which we call the 10 Commandments. They're recorded in Exodus 20. If you have a Bible, please turn there. Or you can grab one from the chair in front of you. Exodus 20 is on page 72. I went online, as you can tell, I'm a visual learner. So I like to use a lot of visuals. And I went online to find images of the 10 Commandments. So I typed it in, did an image search. And you know what came up? Yes, you'll find the 10 Commandments. But you'll also find the 10 Texas commandments right next to the 10 Minnesota commandments. And then there was the kids' version. And then there was the Cowboys version. This is the danger of an active mind and a high-speed internet connection. For example, when I go online and look for images of Jesus, I often end up with pictures of Hispanic soccer players.

Daniel Downey (17:34):
Back to the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, starting in verse one. And God spoke all these words saying, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves a carved image or any likeness of anything that's in Heaven above or that is on earth below or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God. And then immediately after the 10 Commandments are given, just verses later, God clarifies further exactly what they are not to do. It's an Exodus 20:22 and 23 on the top of page 73. And the Lord said to Moses, thus, you shall say to the people of Israel, you've seen for yourselves, that I've talked with you from Heaven.

Daniel Downey (18:23):
You shall not make gods of silver to be with me nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. So let's review. Don't make any gods and don't make them out of silver or gold. Promise everyone? Say it with me. I will not make an idol. Please indulge me. Let's say it together. I will not make an idol. Imagine that you're a slave living in Egypt. You work 16-hour days. You have no education, no benefits, no vacation or retirement. You have to work hard. You know that your kids are going to become slaves. It's hot. You have no rights and no justice. And then someone comes along and says, follow me to a better place, a place it as a nice coastline, good food, milk, and honey. The climate is nice and best of all, you don't have to be a slave. Your kids can be free. You can have a future. You can have opportunity. All you have to do is follow me because the invisible God is going to take us there. That's what happened to the people of Israel. They were slaves in Egypt and Moses comes along to lead them to a new land where they won't be slaves. Here's what Moses may have looked like.

Daniel Downey (19:29):
If you don't know who this is, turn to someone who was born before 1965 and ask them. Their departure is impressive. It includes plagues, the angel of death visiting people and finally, for a grand finale, they travel on dry land through a body of water which miraculously opens for them. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm kind of feeling that if I were one of those slaves, I would feel pretty grateful, particularly to the one who got us out of slavery. God leads us out of Egypt to Israel. But on the way, they go on this camping trip and they stop beside Mount Sinai. This might be what Mount Sinai looks like. We're not quite sure. But somewhere in the desert, Moses climbs the mountain. He receives those 10 Commandments. Don't do this. Don't do that. And they promise I will not make an idol. Let's say it together. I will not make an idol. Later Moses comes down the mountain and he tells the people everything that the Lord has said. And the people reply with one voice. All the words that the Lord has spoken, we will do. They promise. They've got to break free.

Daniel Downey (20:39):
They're not to make idols. And they promise they won't. Later Moses goes back up the mountain to get more special instructions from the Lord. And while he's away, something interesting happens. Turn in your Bible to Exodus 32. It's on page 85. Starting in verse one. When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what's become of him. So Aaron said to them, take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me. So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And you know how the rest of the story goes. So here's my profound, theological interpretation after studying this passage. Oops. What were they thinking?

Daniel Downey (21:41):
Was he not clear in his instructions? Did we not agree that we were not going to make an idol? What would possibly motivate them to do this? An absolute no-no. Something in their psyche superseded God's specific instruction. And the passage gives us clues as to why they might do it. Why they, or people like us, would opt to create an idol. That is something that we would give our allegiance to over God and before Him even when we know better. And this passage teaches us that even well-intended monotheistic people, those who worship one god can have idols. What do we learn from the passage? Well, the first thing that we learn is that idols are easy to rationalize. Idols are easy to rationalize. When their leader was away, verse one, they said, basically, hey, we don't know what's become of him. All rules are off. Aaron, you're in charge.

Daniel Downey (22:38):
And some people say they did it because it was the custom of the people groups around them at the time to have idols. So they wanted to be like their culture, just like money is such an issue in North America that it's easy for us to go with the flow in the churches of Christ followers. Because let's face it, everyone's doing it. Even though we know better. The Greeks and the Romans, their gods were typically humans or maybe a human hybrid with an animal. But the Egyptian gods were animals. And the Egyptians had calf worship in their culture. So they were probably mimicking what they saw the people rather doing in Egypt. Maybe they thought the Egyptians are kind of top of the world. They're rocking it. Their economy is strong. So let's hedge our bets and let's do what they did. Yes, we'll trust God and we'll also trust in the golden calf.

Daniel Downey (23:30):
Do you do that? I do that. God, I will trust you to provide, I will trust you to be the Lord of my finances. But you know what? Sometimes I'm going to add some worry on top of that, hedge my bets. And it's challenging with money because we actually need money to live. So how do we keep it straight? Well, it's easy to rationalize. Idols are easy to rationalize. And when the culture is going one way, it's easy to move with it. Now let me ask you, and I'm asking for your benefit, not mine. Is money an idol for you? Jesus must have anticipated that it could be for His followers because in Matthew 6:24, He's recorded as saying, no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or he'll be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and... And of all the things He could have put there, He said Money.

Daniel Downey (24:21):
If you find yourself thinking about it a lot or talking about it a lot or comparing your lifestyle to the lifestyle of someone with more possessions or if you think your life will be happy only if you have more of something, then money may be an idol. Again, it's confusing because we need money to live. So it's hard to know objectively, am I idolizing it or do I just need it? Some idols are easy to recognize. Money is sneaky. The first thing they did was rationalize it. The second thing in the passage is you see that an idol is something that we create. The crowd in Exodus 32:1 says, make us a God which seems ridiculous. Hey, mortal, Aaron, make us something immortal. In this case, they wanted a physical representation of their God. In other cases, idols are just things in our minds. We might have an idol that says, if I have something, then I'll be happy. When I have it, then I'll have status and then I'll be happy. Or if I have more, then I can purchase what I need in order to have status to be happy. We can make idols out of all kinds of things, diet or exercise, sex or youth, disciplines. For some of us, it's the number of followers we have or the number of likes we get in our social media.

Daniel Downey (25:41):
We rationalize idols thinking everyone's doing it. We create the idol and say, if it happens, then I will have significance. The third thing that they did, the one who creates the idol determines the function of the idol. In this case, in verse one, they wanted idols that would go before them. We want protection. We need protection. When Moses was around, everything was okay. But he's been gone for a long time. So we have to take matters into our own hands. Aaron, make us an idol that will protect us. And some of us do that with money. We look for protection. And instead of thinking about our help coming from the Lord as we sang earlier, we look forward in the number of zeros in our bank account.

Daniel Downey (26:24):
Is it God, I look to you, you're where my help comes from? Or not? Will I have enough money to retire? Will I have enough money to send my kids to college? Money can't buy me happiness, but it can buy a Viking Danube River Cruise. We rationalize idols. We create them. We assign their function. And then fourthly idols cost us something. In this case in verse 2, it costs them their gold. This passage is considered by many rabbis that I read to be the worst display of evil in the Old Testament apart from Adam and Eve with a hose in the garden. It's blatant evil where they rebel against God. And there's great speculation as to why it happens. One author wrote that perhaps Aaron was succumbing to peer pressure and he thought, I've got a way out. I'll say you have to give me your wife's jewelry and she's going to go, oh no buddy. Give him one of your tools, but you're not touching my jewelry.

Daniel Downey (27:19):
But it didn't happen. Everyone gave him the gold and then he formed the idol. Idols cost us something. Idols empty our lives of peace or joy and unselfish love. Some idols, particularly addictions, cost money. They cost time, security, hope, relationships, creativity. Idols have a price. Some idols have costly consequences. Idols frequently cause us to focus more on ourselves and lose the ability to focus on those around us. Do you have an idol? And if so, how's it working out for you? We rationalize idols. We create idols. We assign their function. It costs us something. But strangely, fifthly, idols are often well-intended. Aaron took the newly formed idol and in verse 5, see what he did. He declared a festival to the Lord. He took the thing prohibited by the Lord and dedicated it back to the Lord. Now we can do that with obvious sin idols. Here's what I mean. Imagine that you have a behavior and maybe you're even enslaved to it. Let's say, for example, you have an addiction to the dark side of the internet.

Daniel Downey (28:27):
I'm talking about porn or Pinterest. And then perhaps you think, God, I know this is wrong. And you define that behavior as a measuring stick. You think if I don't do this one thing, God is so pleased with me. He's going to bless me. But you know what? If I slip up and have a bad day and indulge in this behavior, God is so displeased with me. I feel good about myself when I have avoided the sin. I feel bad about myself. When I have indulged in the sin. In other words, I am defining my relationship with God not on the basis of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross where He obliterated sin, the one thing that would have kept me from God. Instead, I define my relationship with God on the basis of my idol. If I'm a good boy, God is pleased. If I'm a bad boy, God is displeased. Does this make sense? I'm defining my standing with God not on the basis of Christ, but on the basis of my behavior. Now, when you take your child or grandchild to the mall to sit on Sandra's lap, what's the first thing Santa asks?

Daniel Downey (29:35):
Maybe discretely, he asks the parents of your child has had their flu shot. But what do they ask the child? Have you been a good girl? In other words, Santa will be good to you if you've been good. Some of us can make God into the cosmic Santa Claus and think if I've been a good boy as I define good, God must be so pleased with me. And if I've been a bad boy as I define bad based on my idol, God must be displeased with me. If that's your idol, it's a vicious circle. Repent. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing. Because of Jesus Christ. No idol can separate us even well-intended idols. Don't let an idol define you. Some of us define God on the basis of our behavior. It's well-intended, but it's an idol. Some of us define our standing in society on the basis of money. About a wealthy person, we may say, God has really blessed her. And He may have. And He may also really bless her as she gives it away and blesses others,

Daniel Downey (30:39):
They rationalize the idol. They created an idol. They determined its function. It costs them something. It was well-intended. They offered it to the Lord. And finally, they credited the newly created idol with something that had happened in the past. If you look at verse 4, they say, these are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. In other words, it wasn't God who brought you out of Egypt. It was this calf. It was your earrings. It was your gold. It was your money. It was your security. You are responsible for your destiny. Your money saved you. Idols give us a sense of being in control. They put us in charge. We get to define the terms with an idol. People get to take responsibility for their purpose with an idol. You can know where you stand because you get to make the rules.

Daniel Downey (31:29):
Idols of sin, if I let them define my standing with God. God delivers them from slavery in Egypt. And they opt back for the familiarity of the prosperity idol that they just left, the one that was in Egypt. God will deliver us from the slavery of the commitment our own significance. And yet it's easy to opt back for the familiarity of significance that we can find in money. Be careful that you don't allow money to rob you or to define you. If our trust is in the Lord and we're trusting Him to provide what we need, then we can also trust that when prompted by Him, we will give things away to others who are in need. That's what the body of Christ does. If you're looking for more margin in your life, firstly know this, there are resources available, but it's up to you to get the help that you need. And then secondly, decide who will master your life. Is money the god of our life or is God the God of our money? Said another way, and this is the second thing that I want you to remember, money is an excellent tool, but it's a poor master.

Daniel Downey (32:36):
I promised that I would not talk on tithing. We're not going to have a second offering today. There's no pledge drive, capital campaign. I will mention that it's Giving Sunday. Every dollar that you give me, I will double and match and give to myself. No, not really. I don't have a prescribed outcome. I don't have a formula. I want God to speak to you and give you confidence and courage if you need to take steps to get help. But no matter what your financial margin, I urge you to see your resources as a gift from God that He has given you to steward for His glory. He has blessed you. And if He's blessed you significantly, be a part of blessing others significantly. If you need more financial margin in the form of managing a budget, get help. Take Financial Peace University. You can sign up today as soon as this sermon is over and we're done. If you have an idol of sin that's defining your life and you're enslaved to it, get help. Talk to someone. Confess your sin. Take the steps you need. And if money is way too big of a deal for you and you're letting material status define you and not your status as a child of God, repent. Get generous. Create a category in your budget called the blessing others category. Be a part of someone else's God's story. Whatever you do with the Lord's help, take a step.

Daniel Downey (34:00):
Let me pray for us. God, give us vision to see things like you do and give us discipline to respond as you would. Help our trust to you increase so that we would move from the realm of good intentions to the realm of activation. Help us see our resources as a gift which you've given us such that we could steward them well. And in the midst of the maelstrom of life in Silicon Valley, give us a supernatural peace that transcends understanding. May our identity be found in you as children of God who have been purchased by your blood and are now free to have a new identity in you. May you increase and may we decrease. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032