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There are other verses that teach individual principles, such as the ones that remind us of the warnings against being in debt (Proverbs 22:7), the importance of saving for the future (Proverbs 21:20), why we should diversify our risk (Ecclesiastes 11:2), and how God feels about our giving to help others (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). These are all helpful in teaching us what we should do. But there's still something missing.

Many years ago, I learned to add a verse that is extremely important in this regard, yet is rarely used in the context of stewardship. A friend and I were talking finances over lunch, and I asked him what he thought the single most important stewardship passage was. Without hesitation, he replied, "Galatians 5:16." That threw me off because I (supposedly a financial stewardship guru) had no clue as to what Galatians 5:16 says. Do you? Here it is, straight from the apostle Paul:

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (NIV). Or as the Living paraphrase puts it: "I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit's instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won't always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to." I immediately saw the wisdom of my friend's answer.

The main thing, the primary thing, that keeps us from living up to a high level of commendable stewardship is usually not because we don't understand what needs to be done. We know what needs to be done, thanks to verses like those I initially mentioned. But we don't do it. We don't execute the game plan. Why not? Because the game plan requires us to master, to a significant degree, our old natures. The nature that wants what it wants, that puts self-gratification at the center of the decision-making process, that abhors sacrifice.

 Most Christians who are in debt are there because they spend too much on their wants. Most of those who haven't gotten around to setting aside money for that emergency fund or IRA/401k account have failed for the same reason. And ditto for those who are relatively miserly toward the Lord in their giving. Same problem. Christians, like everyone else, have a tendency to "gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

I'm not saying that the things we spend money on are necessarily sinful in themselves. I'm saying that the impulse to elevate spending on our wants above paying our creditors what we owe, saving for the future, and giving to help others in Christ's name, comes from a drive to satisfy our fleshly desires. That drive, unfortunately, is often stronger than our desire to obey God and please Him with our stewardship. We need to take control of our appetites, or inevitably our appetites take control of us.

How do we do this? We can't. But God's Holy Spirit, who lives within every Christian, can. He is the one who strengthens and empowers. When we put ourselves under His direction and control, He builds the fruit of His life (one of which is self-control) into us (Galatians 5:22-23). If we will ask Him, if we will let Him, He is the one who can make us the kind of people He wants us to be ... will make us as good as we wish we could be. That's why Paul says, "Live by the Spirit!"* It's the indispensable stewardship verse, the one that makes following all the other stewardship passages possible.

On the other hand, those who are acting as good stewards as in Luke 19:12-27 or those who are saving for future needs such as college or retirement (Proverbs 6:6-8) are participating in biblical investing.  In the end, it all depends on the attitude, which is ultimately determined by God.  Remember, "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord." (Proverbs 16:2).

Assuming you are investing with the proper motives, there are some guidelines you should follow:

The greater the potential return, the greater the risk.  (Proverbs 27:12)  This is a fact of economic life.  If someone has a "no risk" investment that generates 25% each year, stay away from him.  Either he's deranged or lying. 

Diversify your investments.  (Ecclesiastes 11:2)  Diversification is essential to long-term stability.  If one investment goes down, another you have can offset it by going up.  In short, this is just another way of saying "don't put all of your eggs in one basket". 

Be sure you understand the investment you are considering. (Proverbs 24:3-4) You are God's steward, and you need to understand how it will be used.  If you don't understand, then don't invest. 

Don't risk money you can't afford to lose.  (Ecclesiastes 5:13-14)  If losing the money your are investing would cause financial ruin, family stress, or any other major problem, then do not invest it in a risky place.  A safe investment such as federal government bonds would be more appropriate in this case. 

Don't make a quick decision -- take time to think and pray.  (Psalm 37:7)  Stop and consider what you are doing.  Once again, you are God's steward, and you need to handle His money appropriately. In addition, you'll need to determine your goals -- what you want to accomplish -- before you invest.  Since this is different for every person, it is impossible to provide specific direction that will apply to everyone.  However, there are some general topics that you will want to consider.  These include your age, income, and temperament. See the investment section of this blog for articles that may help you in this area.

Finally, you may want to get some advice to help you invest.  There are a variety of people who are willing to give you advice -- for a fee.  Either they will want to be paid upfront whether you use their advice or not (these people tend to be more unbiased, but can be expensive) or they earn their fee by selling you their investments (hence they are biased in recommending investments for you.)

My advice is to find a successful, Christian advisor who can not only recommend good investments but add biblically-based advice.  If you can't find a good Christian advisor, go to a good non-Christian advisor (of course, you'll have to weigh his advice in accordance with biblical principles).  While some may scoff at this suggestion, think if it was a brain surgeon instead.  Would you rather have a top-notch non-Christian or an average Christian operate on you?  I think you get the point.

Either way, you need to get good counsel from a variety of sources as "plans fail for a lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22).  Rest assured that if you need wisdom in this area, you can ask God, and He will provide it. (James 1:5).

Real estate has an excellant income and wealth producing potential, as the appreciation or profit from the property compounds tax deferred during the years that you own it. This means that you will not pay taxes on this profit until you sell it, and even then you can roll over the gain or profit into another investment property and avoid paying the taxes. You can also claim an expense called depreciation, which enables you to reduce your current income tax bill and simultaneously increase your cash flow from your properties. 

Another great feature of real estate is something called leverage. With leverage, you can borrow or finance 70 - 90% of the value of the property to be used to start a business, pay off debts, for purchasing more property or for anything that your heart may desire.

Real estate is a great investment because it can produce long term returns in the form of income and profits. Most people that make money investing in real estate do so because they invest in and hold onto the property for many years. If you are unprepared to hold onto the property for the long term, your investment may cost you more than you anticipated when taking the high transaction costs and tax implications of selling into consideration. For example, if you buy a property and then decide to sell it a year or two later, you may discover that even though it has appreciated in value, the cost of selling, which includes real estate commissions, loan fees, title insurance, repairs and upgrades may amount to about 10 -15% of the purchase price of the property. The tax implications associated with selling property is another item to take into consideration. Therefore you can greatly reduce and minimize your risk investing in real estate through buying and holding property for at least 7 - 10 years.
Investing money has been a source of debate among Christians for centuries.  Some say that investing is unbiblical and any extra surplus should be given to the needy, while others argue that investing must be a part of every Christian's financial plan.  In this post, we will address these and other issues concerning Christian investing.The first topic that needs to be considered is whether investing is or is not scriptural.  As in many cases, the answer depends on the situation.  Anyone investing because of greed (Luke 12:15), to get rich quick (Proverbs 23:4-5), or to massage his ego (Proverbs 29:23) is not participating in biblically-based investing.

Based on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, the money belongs to the Master rather than the investors. It is a long-term assignment demonstrating that  the rate of return matters, but  faithfulness matters more. This parable has probably become a favorite of pastors and Bible teachers because it communicates two foundational stewardship principles in one convenient bite-size piece — ownership and accountability.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender"-(Proverbs 22:7).  "Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction;pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said,"Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:1-7) 

"“The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom" (Deuteronomy 28:11-13).

Our creator cares about our circumstances and therefore gives us opportunities to gain insight into how to make our diverse and complex situations of life, including our finances more manageable.

Real estate has been a very lucrative investment for many people. In fact, 90% of our country's wealthiest people has made their wealth from real estate. In addition, it is never too early or too late to begin to put together a plan to build wealth using real estate.

There are challenges, however, inspite of what the "late night TV guru's" are saying about real estate being so easy to purchase even without using any of your own  money. The primary challenge is that it takes planning to get started.
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