Planning for Uncertainties
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Genesis 41:25-40
I. Consistently, the Scriptures warn us that wealth is an unreliable commodity
A. Wealth is untrustworthy - Proverbs 11:28
B. Making wealth your goal is foolish - Proverbs 23:4-5
1. It is also dangerous - I Timothy 6:9-11
2. Ironically, the desire for wealth – greed – will eventually lead you to poverty - Proverbs 28:22
C. Even the events of tomorrow cannot be predicted reliably - Proverbs 27:1
1. Yet, we make commitments to plans that assume that we will not experience a salary reduction, layoffs, or termination of employment.
2. Too often we live life on the edge. Unexpected expenses catch us off guard because we are not prepared for them.
3. Many figure they can handle the unexpected by borrowing.
a. While borrowing is not wrong, we know that it is not wise in most cases.
b. It places the borrower under the thumb of the lender - Proverbs 22:7
D. We would like to be generous to others, but I don’t have enough
1. That is because of poor planning, you borrowed money.
2. You pay people for that privilege.
a. Is it the needy getting your money?
b. No, the needy can’t loan you money.
c. It goes to the wealthy
3. Proverbs 22:16 - Paying the wealthy brings poverty
II. The lesson of the ant - Proverbs 6:6-11
A. The ant survives without obligation to others by preparing for the future.
B. Without preparation, debt will eventually catch you when you least expect it.
C. I might not know the precise future, but I know that there can be good times and bad times.
1. If I was smart, I would put aside a portion during the good times to carry me over in the bad times.
2. Isn’t this what Joseph did for Pharaoh? - Genesis 41:25-40
a. By saving 20% for seven years, Joseph was able to not only bring Egypt through seven years of famine, but he had sufficient to supply people from surrounding countries.
D. The wise saves, but the fool consumes all that he has - Proverbs 21:20
1. Therein lies the biggest problem: money seems to burn a hole in our pockets.
2. It is hard to think about hard times when times are good.
3. When the sun is shining, the hole in the roof is not a pressing matter.
4. What God is telling us is that if we are smart, we will live on less than what we earn
E. Why aren’t preparations being made? Because we’re lazy! - Proverbs 20:4
F. “I don’t make enough to save.”
1. The ants are not strong, but they prepare - Proverbs 30:25
2. Even a small amount at a time is better than nothing. And a small amount regularly stored will build over time.
III. The only counter to uncertainty is to plan for uncertainty
A. Impulsive decisions will not work - Proverbs 21:5
1. Get rich quick schemes will fail - Proverbs 28:20
a. When people tell you that you can make more money than you can imagine doing almost nothing, RUN!
2. Don’t speculate
a. The future is uncertain.
b. To invest in something on the chance that prices will go up or down is a sure way to the poor house.
3. Don’t gamble
a. It is a waste of money.
b. You have fives times greater chance of being struck by lightening than winning most lotteries.
c. Gambling is simply a tax on the ignorant.
B. When discussing becoming a disciple, the Lord urged people to use common sense and consider what you are obligating yourself
1. Yet, think about the proof – the evidence that everyone should know - Luke 14:28-30
2. Everyone should understand that before you take on a project, you plan out the possibilities
3. Unfortunately, we live in a society where common sense is uncommon
C. The wise man plans. His actions are based on knowing where he is at - Proverbs 13:16
1. Get advice - Proverbs 20:18
2. It is too easy to deceive ourselves - Proverbs 12:15
a. It is amazing how many overlook the counsel of their own spouse.
3. Get advice from good sources - Proverbs 13:20
4. The more the better - Proverbs 15:22
IV. Monitor your condition - Proverbs 27:23-27
A. Nothing disappears faster than that which is not watched.
1. That means balancing your checkbook
2. Keep an eye on your investments.
B. “We had plenty in the account the other day. I don’t know what happened to it.”
1. Perhaps you should find out.
2. You can’t take corrective action when you are not watching where you are going.
C. When you see evil coming, you do something to avoid it - Proverbs 27:12
1. It is dumb to think that if I don’t pay attention to it, it won’t hurt me.
2. Sometimes we act with blinders.
a. We keep going down a path, even when there are plenty of warning signs that it is the wrong way.
b. Learn from your mistakes. Be humble enough to change when you are wrong - Proverbs 13:18-19
V. Putting a plan together
A. First the income, then the spending - Proverbs 24:27
1. I wish our government would learn this simple truth
2. How many of you get a raise and then spend it before the money actually comes in?
a. In fact, many end up spending more than they actually see because the forget about little things like taxes.
B. Put God first
1. Under the Old Law, there was the concept of first fruits. God’s portion came from the beginning - Exodus 23:19
a. Respect for God is giving to Him first - Proverbs 3:9
2. While that specific requirement is not in the New Testament, there remains the idea that God should always come first in our plans - Matthew 6:31-33
3. You benefit, you need to share back - Galatians 6:6
4. It is easy to say, “Well, we’re going to be short this month. We’ll have to lower our contribution.”
a. But the reality is that places the bills ahead of God
b. Israel had this problem and God issued this challenge - Malachi 3:8-10
c. Christ said the same to us - Luke 6:38
5. How much?
a. The Israelites were told to give a tenth (a tithe)
b. Christians are not asked for a fixed amount. Instead we are told to give as we have been prospered - I Corinthians 16:2
c. As you purposed (there’s that plan again) - II Corinthians 9:7-11
(1) It must be cheerfully and willingly given
(2) God will generously return what you give
C. You have to pay your taxes - Romans 13:6-7
D. Necessities before luxuries
1. Learn contentment with the basics - I Timothy 6:8
2. Order your spending plan
a. Necessities (shelter, food, clothing) comes first
b. Then obligations - Ecclesiastes 5:4-5
(1) A Christian must keep his word - Matthew 5:33-37
c. Then savings
d. Niceties come last
E. “My income is unsteady. I can’t plan”
1. You can still make a prioritized list. As your income comes in, you parcel it out from the top down.
F. Beware of hoarding - Proverbs 11:24-26
1. Remember you are only stewards of God’s possessions
G. When you have an abundance, help your fellow man - I Timothy 6:17-19
1. Use it while you have it to do good - Luke 16:9
2. Again, God promises it will not impact you as much as you would expect - Proverbs 19:17
3. Ecclesiastes 11:1 - Give and it will come back
4. Acts 20:35 - There is more happiness in giving than receiving
5. II Corinthians 9:6 - What you harvest depends on what you invest
6. Pure religion is helping those in need - James 1:27
a. Not enough funds this week?
b. Give of your self. Give of your time.
H. Spread your wealth
1. Ecclesiastes 11:2 - Here Solomon is telling you to spread your giving among many because the future is uncertain.
a. The same principle applies with investments. You don’t know what the future holds, what will success or fail.
b. Divide your holdings in many different, unrelated areas. This will lessen the impact of bad events.
2. Ecclesiastes 11:6 - Don’t be dependent on one source of income.
VI. No plan will fully protect you from uncertainty - James 4:13-14
A. We plan, but ultimately God controls - Proverbs 16:1
B. Always plan with God’s desires in mind - Proverbs 19:21
C. So where does God fall in your plans?
1. Have you thought about your future? Not here on this earth, but after you die.
2. Don’t be like the foolish rich man - Luke 12:16-21