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Till Debt Do Us Part – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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November 16, 2023 12:00 am

Till Debt Do Us Part – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 16, 2023 12:00 am

For too many Christians, dependence on God has morphed into dependence on a credit card. But the Macedonian believers, though they were poor, depended on God to the point of extravagant giving. In this message from 2 Corinthians, Pastor Lutzer calls us to a higher standard of giving. It’s time to reorient our perspective on money, debt, and giving.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. For too many Christians, dependence on God has morphed into dependence on a credit card.

Why go without when it's so easy to charge it? Why pray about a need when you can just go buy what you want? Today, saying goodbye to the scourge of debt. Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, few among us know the freedom that comes when there is no debt.

I hope you'll help point the way out of this black hole for us. Well Dave, when it comes to debt that is on people's credit card, I trust that this message is going to give some direction to them. I want to talk to people about another debt that all of us have, a debt that we cannot pay, and that is the debt that we have to God. And that's why we rejoice in the coming of Jesus Christ. He came to pay all that we owe God so that we can be free.

It's the kind of freedom that no one else can experience except those who put their trust in Him. You know, the Christmas season is just around the corner, and I have in my hand a book entitled The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional, more than 150 pages, written by Nancy DeMoss Walgamuth. I want you to have a copy before December 1st. Here's what you do. Go to, because for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. or call us at 1-888-218-9337. In a world that is so confused, in a world that has so much tension, how wonderful it is that we can prepare our hearts for the celebration of our Redeemer. Connect with us right now. There was a time when families looked at situations very differently. And you see what we've done is we've undercut God.

Let me explain. There was a time when families would say, you know, we need a new car. The old one is just absolutely broken down.

It's not running anymore. And we need a better vehicle for our family. So we don't have any money for it. Very little money.

Can't go out and buy one. So let's pray together and ask God to do a miracle and to give us a better car. And they would cry up to the Lord. They would pray to God and say, God, you know our need. And somebody in church would see them and say, you know, I have a car that I think you folks could use.

I'd like to give it to you. The whole family would rejoice in the fact that God answered prayer. We don't have that today.

You walk in and you can for zero percent interest and probably make the first payment within six months or a year. I don't know exactly how all that works, but you don't need to pray to God because whatever you want, you can buy on credit. Now, there was a time when God led his people. The way in which God leads us is through poverty and through money or lack of it. For example, in Deuteronomy chapter eight, God said to the Israelites something very interesting.

He said, you know, I led you in that wilderness and there was no food, but I provided manna and I provided clothing so that you might trust me. You see, we don't need that trust today. We have the credit card. Some of you, quite frankly, should do some plastic surgery at this point.

I can lend you some scissors. Those of you who are young people, you know, high school students going into college, college debt. I read that about I think a third of college students wish that they hadn't gone to college because all that they graduated with was a lot of debt and oftentimes very poor jobs. You know that there are alternatives out there.

I've talked to Pastor Bob about that and he sent me some very good alternatives to counsel young people. But you see, the debt is absolutely overwhelming. I'd like to leave a challenge with you. Don't accumulate new debt. Don't accumulate new debt. Now that might not always be possible, but if that would be a bottom bottom line that from today on, we trust God, we're in a hole, we're in a pit, maybe of our own making, but we trust God and see as you cry up to him whether or not he shows up and helps you so that you are not overwhelmed by continual debt.

That is incredibly important. Number six, contentment. Now we're looking at this passage of scripture and this is what it says.

Now is the verse six. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment. For we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing with these, we will be content. Of course, Paul doesn't mean only food and clothing.

If you live in the state of Illinois, for example, or any other northern state, you're going to need a house, you're going to need some heating oil, you're going to need some place to stay. But what Paul is saying is that the basics, if we have the basics, we should be content. Our problem is we aren't content. We aren't content.

And as I mentioned earlier, it's okay to better your position and so forth, but at the end of the day, we look at ourselves and we think that we have to be like our parents or our grandparents or the neighbors or whatever. I was in a home one time where the people were poor. I'm talking about dirt poor, no rugs on the floor, just the basics of life. And you know, there was so much joy in that family. There was so much happiness because they understood having food and raiment therein, we shall be content. I hope I'm wrong, but I believe that the day is going to come to the United States of America when God is going to humble us and bring us down to the level of people in other countries. I've been in countries of the world where little children come begging, pulling on your pant leg for a handout, children that are hungry, children who probably have nowhere to lay their head at night.

What a heartbreaking circumstance. And yet we think to ourselves, some of us at least, that we are owed this and that and the other thing and without it, we cannot be content. Some people think that the apostle Paul most assuredly never lived in the state of Illinois.

And the reason is because you remember in the book of Philippians, he says, I have learned in whatever state I am there in to be content. The other day I just typed into Google, Illinois debt, and I wanted to see how many billions we are in debt. And I discovered that maybe there's no agreement.

I won't even give you a number, but it is beyond belief. And yet our legislature is totally paralyzed, unable to act, unable to do anything about it as we keep going this direction. And someday, someday the experts say the house of cards is going to come down. But I've learned in whatever state I am there in to be content. So the apostle Paul, he said, I know how to be a humbled.

I know how to be a based. He said, I know what it is to suffer want and need. I also know what it is like to be blessed by a good income.

At least sometimes he did during his tent making experience. Have you and I prayed that God would make us content so that we would live within our income rather than beyond it? Number seven, generosity. Generosity. Should people give even out of poverty? I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but in a sense it depends on how much you really do love God. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians regarding the Macedonians, it says they gave out of their extreme poverty.

Wow. No wonder they received a special blessing. You know, the Bible says he who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly. The person who sows generously will reap generously.

Now you know that we are opposed to what is known as the name it, claim it, money, wealth theology. But the Bible does in 2 Corinthians connect very clearly generosity with God's blessing. For example, it says that if you are generous, you will reap a harvest of righteousness. That's why I think proportionate giving is important even in the midst of poverty to give something to God to remind us that all of it is his and we are giving him the opportunity to test him and to indeed receive a blessing.

It's not dollar for dollar. It's not I give God $10 and he'll give me a hundred back. No, but God is generous and blesses those who are generous with that which means most to us, means a great deal to us, namely the whole issue of money. And so I invite you to be generous. Don't say to yourself, well, you know, we're going to pay all of these bills and then if we happen to have something left over, no, give something to God first.

And then as he prospers you do as our experience has been in our home where we increase the amount of percentage over and over again as we experience God's blessing. Let us be a generous people. And you know, there are those in our congregation who are struggling today. They don't have a job.

They can't pay their bills. We do all that we possibly can to help them through the fellowship fund. But there are also those needs that we hear about that we can contribute to and do so with a sense of release and joy. Where does all of this lead us?

I'd like to give you some suggestions going forward. First of all, let money unite your family and not divide it. Let money unite your family and not divide it. That is so very, very critical because you see what happens during the time of financial need. You discover that people begin to use it as a point of attack between the wife and the husband.

It's one of those hot button issues. One of the things that you have to do is to talk. And if you made a mistake and made a foolish investment, there's no use trying to put the best face on it and say, well, you know, I meant well. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all mean well.

What you have to do is humble yourself and admit to it and be reconciled at that point and be dead honest in terms of your relationship. How critical that is. Honesty.

And don't get into bed and assume the fetal position and put the blanket over your head. This is an opportunity today. We have opportunities we never had before. When Rebecca and I were first married, there weren't all of these organizations and websites that help people who were in financial need and who gave them instruction as to what are the plans to get out of debt and how can you restructure and how can you save money?

The websites are filled and the books are filled now with good advice and you can go to financial advisors who are going to help you. But I plead with you, don't get divorced over the money issue. Come to agreement. Come to an understanding.

Lay all the cards on the table and seek reconciliation. The other thing that is very important is the commitment of all that you have to God. Now, when I began this message on point number one, it all begins to God. Probably you said to yourself, yeah, yeah, we've heard all that before, but have you ever transferred what you own to God?

I was reading a book this week on money, a Christian book in which it had a quit claim page in which you signed off on all that you owned and you put that in there. All my investments, all my property, all this, all this, whatever I have, my car, I sign it to God. Do that because you see even in the midst of your need, in the midst of mistakes, God is there to help us. He doesn't abandon us simply because we say, well, you know, you're the one that got into debt and so you know, you can figure this out on your own. God is available to those who give themselves to him. Finally, remember the fact that we should be generous because God has been generous.

Let me ask you a question. How much do you owe God? The truth is we all owe God obedience to the 10 commandments. For example, thou shalt not covet. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. Thou shalt not covet his possessions. You and I are guilty of coveting. That is sin and we owed God righteousness on that part.

Since thou shalt not bear false witness and we can go through all of the 10 commandments, thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy art. We owe that all to God. We are indebted to him hugely. But you know what we have to do is to rejoice that Jesus paid our debt.

Isn't that good news? Harry Ironside, who was the pastor here for many years back in the forties, tells a story that I shall retell. During the days of Nicholas the first, there was a soldier who was promoted because he was the son of Nicholas's friend. And this young soldier had the responsibility of divvying up the money, divvying up the the money for the soldiers. Those days you didn't have it on the Internet.

You couldn't use it electronic banking. So all the soldiers had to be given money. But the young man fell into the sin of gambling and gambled away the money that belonged to the soldiers. And according to the story, he totaled it all up, saw what the total was, decided that at midnight he'd commit suicide because he knew he was going to be outed and embarrassed. And he totaled it up and wrote under the total a great debt who can pay. Well, as the story goes, he fell asleep and Nicholas himself came by the barracks that night, recognized the young man as the son of one of his favorite friends and was going to have him arrested. But notice that there was the ledger and Nicholas saw that the young man was sleeping and took out his pen and wrote one word under the caption, great debt who can pay. And then he turned away and left. When the young man woke up, he saw the ledger and there under those words was one word, Nicholas.

He checked to see if this was an authentic signature by going to the safe to see if it matched and he recognized it was. And the very next day someone came from the palace to bring the money that this young man had squandered. Great debt who can pay. Jesus came to pay what you and I can't. And when he said to tell us I paid in full, he met our debt. He paid for us that we can be redeemed. And even as we take the cup and we say, this cup is the cup of the new covenant in my blood.

This bread represents my body. That was the payment that was made because of our sin. How can we help but being a generous people? And if you've never received Christ as savior and received that gift of payment, acknowledge your indebtedness and believe on him right now. And will you join me as we pray? Our Father, we want to thank you today for your grace that has been given to us in Jesus our Lord.

Thank you that though he was rich, yet for our sakes, he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. Help us, O Lord God, we pray. May we be in a position of great joy and help all Father who are struggling with issues of debt to honestly face it and that know that you are there to help them see the way out. In Jesus name.

Amen. And you know as a pastor, if you have excessive debt, I hope that you can get some good counseling to help you. But at the same time, as I emphasized in the message, our greatest debt is to God. And that's why Christmas is so special to us.

Because God sent Christ to pay our debt. I want your heart to be prepared for Christmas. I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional. It's written by Nancy DeMoss Walgamuth.

I hope that you have a pen or pencil next to you because I'm going to give you some important information. This is the second to last day we're making this resource available for you. And I hope that it will be in your home by December 1st. Here is what you do – go to

For a gift of any amount, we will send it to you immediately. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question comes to us from a listener named Alex. He writes, I'd like to know how to confess sin biblically and completely. Beginning at 1 John 1, 8-10, there's a command for confessing sin. The Bible seems to give multiple methods of confession, such as pray once and leave it there from 2 Samuel 24, 1. Pray multiple days and go without food from Nehemiah 1, 4, and 6. And finally, to confess in agreement with a spiritual leader or pastor who prays for forgiveness. That's in Numbers 21, 7.

So which method is correct or are all methods correct? Does it change in the context of habitual sin? And how much detail do I need to go into when talking to God, ministry leaders, and others?

Alex, thanks so much for your question. And I think that you have maybe made it a little bit more complicated than it is. When we confess our sins, you're right. It means that we agree completely with God. And when you ask the question, how much detail should I go in with God, the answer is, whatever the Holy Spirit shows us. You know, that's been my experience is that sometimes I may confess a sin and discover that it's much deeper than I think it is because the Spirit points out something that I need to confess and agree with God about. Now, when you talk about praying once and leaving it there or fasting, that all is a consequence of the Christian life. I believe that we should fast, and during that period of time, I'm sure that God shows us other sins that need to be confessed. But there is a difference between the confession of sin and prayer and the giving of ourselves to the Lord, our committal to the Lord. All of that is part of a package, but the actual confession is us coming before God, admitting our sin, agreeing that we have sinned, and agreeing that He has a right to take it from us because we are in total agreement with God.

That's the bottom line. Now, there may be times when you need to confess this sin with others and so forth, depending on the relationship, depending on the situation, but confession itself, though painful, it's hard for us to admit that we've sinned, though painful, is quite simple. It's simply agreeing with God about our sin. Thank you, Alex, for your question. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for your counsel. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can just go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Marriage channels our natural desires to produce children, and the Bible says children are a heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb a reward. Next time on Running to Win, the most important thing Christian parents can do for their precious kids. Don't miss Children, God's Special Gift. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-16 03:02:27 / 2023-11-16 03:10:46 / 8

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