Poverty to Prosperity!

By: Dr. Robert Schuller

This morning I’m continuing the series of messages on “How to breakthrough.” After all, everybody finds themselves at least once in a trap and then the question is: How do you break out?

If you have been with us the last few weeks you know that I have been saying: You breakout when you breakthrough. This morning I want to talk on how to breakthrough from poverty to prosperity.

If you are having financial difficulties, if you are in a fiscal trap, then you need to breakthrough to prosperity. No matter how hopeless your situation may be, I testify to you today – there is a way. There really is.

I want to begin with a question. How do people handle their finances? Whether it is a dollar, a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million or more, it has been my experience that there are several different ways. Briefly, they are:

* Some respond to the winds of fate.

* Some respond to the will of the state.

* Some respond to the whims of the politicians.

* Some respond to the wiles of the promoter.

* Some respond to the wisdom of men.

* Some respond to the word of God.

Let’s go back and just touch on some of those thoughts for a moment. I know many people handle their finances simply by yielding to winds of state. They say, “I don’t care about money. What happens will happen.”

That is basically an irresponsible attitude toward a very responsible subject because, the truth is, if you follow the winds of fate, you will not be in control, you will not be managing your own affairs and you will
be setting yourself up for others to take advantage of you and use you for their selfish and greedy purposes.

The winds of fate. That is how some handle their finances. Then there are those who manage their finances by surrendering to the will of the state. These people expect the state to take care of them. If you lived in the Soviet Union, that would have to be the road to travel. You would have few choices. Likewise, if you lived in mainland China, your attitude would have to be to bend to the will of the state, since you would live and operate under an economic philosophy that suggests that the state will take care of you.

The will of the state. The sad part about such a financial procedure is that you never know what the heart of the state is going to be, do you? I for one, am very grateful to live in the United States of America.

The will of the state really means you’re dependent upon the generosity of the government and the financial and fiscal capability of the government to fulfill the promises that they have made to you. Consequently, many years ago I determined that, by the grace of God, and following wisdom that had
been given me through friendly advice and the word of God, I would hope to be free from ever having to be dependent upon the state for any of my personal income.

When you rely on the winds of fate or the will of the state, then someone other than yourself is in control, and when someone else is in control, there is always the danger of a misunderstanding and a resulting

I am reminded of the story of the man who found himself one day in total, abject poverty. Having nothing to eat and no place to spend the night, he knocked on the door of a very big house, in the rich suburb, confident that here he could get a free meal. When the man answered the door he said, “Sir, I’m hungry. Can you give me a meal?”

The man said, “No. I will not do that. What I will do is give you an opportunity to earn it. Wait here.”

A few moments later the rich man came back with a can of paint and a brush and said, “Here you are. You go around the back of the house. You’ll see a porch there, I want you to paint it. When it’s finished you come back here, ring the bell, give me the paint and the brush and I’ll give you a meal.”

Only a very short time elapsed. The front doorbell rang. The rich man answered it. There was the poor man saying, “I finished the job, can I now have my meal?”

The man said, “You have painted the whole porch already?”

“Yes, the only thing is, sir, it wasn’t a Porche, it was a Mercedes.”

How do people handle their finances? Some handle them by the winds of fate, what will be will be. Some handle them by the will of the state. Others manage their finances through the winds of the politician I’m concerned about that in America today. I really am. I’m concerned about people whose only control of their finances is yielding to the state which is actually yielding to the whim of the politician.

Many surrender their finances to the whims of the politicians, but others respond to the wiles of the promoters. Yes, there are those that have something to sell. They may pretend to take your money and do all kinds of wonderful things with it. Now, I’m not against promoters and I applaud that noble and honorable profession of salesperson. But, I must warn you as a pastor against those promoters who might take advantage of you.

How are your finances really handled? Have you surrendered your financial security to the winds of fate, the will of the state, the whim of the politician, the wiles of the promoter? Is your life financially secure? Or
are you trapped in poverty?

Then allow me to help you breakthrough from poverty to prosperity. Let me share with you some secrets that have personally benefited me and this ministry. To begin with look to the wisdom of men.

Fortunately I got wise advice years ago when I was a young man growing up in Iowa. It was my father who shared it with me. First he warned me against debt, he warned me about the interest I would have to pay. So, I learned to live on only a few dollars.

Then he said, “Bob, all I can teach you about economics is take 10% of what you earn, and give it to God. Then, take the next 10%, save it and invest it for your wife and your children. If you are wise, when you reach the end of your life, even though you have earned few dollars, you might leave a large estate for your children and favorite charities.

Give God the first 10%, save and invest the second 10%, and live on the balance – 80%. If you can’t live on the 80%, you are then living too high and too extravagantly.

Well, his wisdom was indeed good. I am today 58-years-old. I have lived by those rules. I have given God 10%, I have invested 10%, I have lived on the balance and I am prosperous. It’s a good feeling not to be dependent on the winds of fate, the will of the state, the whim of a politician, or the wiles of a promoter.

There are several ways of managing that 80% so that it can multiply rapidly. I look at young people today and I tell you, if you give God 10%, save $2500 dollars a year in a IRA do that every year. and let it compound, then you wouldn’t need a social security check when you want to retire.

If you are trapped financially today, then I urge you to listen to the wisdom of good me. Men have a lot of wisdom they can offer to you and I’m very pleased that our ministry is offering financial seminars where we
teach people how to manage their money. Why leave your money in a passbook account when you can go to the next window in the bank and instead of earning 6%, earn 11? Why not take advantage of the legal, legitimate opportunities to pay less taxes to the government and give more to your church and your children?

The wisdom of men. There’s a lot of wisdom. I’d like to share more of it with you. Unfortunately, time and space will not allow. Let me leave you with this: Whatever wisdom you get from any man make sure that that wisdom is based on the word of God. You can be sure God abhors poverty. The Bible says that the poor we will always have with us.

The question is what is poverty? My mother died a few years ago. The last years of her life she had an income of about $4000 a year. To her that was not poverty. Not at all.

She had a house that was paid for, and she lived comfortably. She gave 10% of that $4,000 every year to her church and to her mission projects. We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary year as a ministry and the first years in this ministry, I got a few dollars every week from my mother’s tithe.

You say the Cathedral is built by rich people. It was built by poor people too. You bet it was. And the Cathedral stands on land that was bought and paid for by people who gave 10% of their check, however small or large it was. We collected the dollars wisely, bought this land and built these buildings. There is no debt. The ground is paid for, the seats are paid for. Not a dollar of your offering goes to pay for mortgages. We planned it that way. It doesn’t just happen.

How do you handle your finances? Get back to the word of God. God wants you to feel free and secure. And so he addressed the issue forthrightly in Malachi 3:10: “Bring all your tithes (10%) into the storehouse, and test me, try me, prove me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven to pour you out such a blessing there is not room enough to contain it.”

Give 10% – that’s God’s challenge to you. That’s called tithing I thank God that I was trained that way, raised that way. Only once in my life did I cheat God If you read this whole passage, you’ll read that the previous verse says that those who do not tithe are robbing God. That’s a tough word. But I did it once. I confess.

It was in the early days of this church. I had children. My total income was about $330 a month. I wanted to go back to Iowa on vacation one summer. I had had a wedding and they paid me $15 for the wedding. Now that was exactly what my tithe would have been for a two week period. I thought as I put the $15 in my pocket, “I’ll pay my tithe after I get home.”

After all, going from here to Iowa in the car and back, $15 would buy a new tire, if I needed one. And I was sure the Lord wouldn’t mind if I waited and gave Him the $15 after the vacation was over.

But somewhere during that vacation, I lost the $15. It is the only time in my life I ever lost money. And that said to me, “Schuller, it’s mine. If I can’t have it, you can’t either.”

Tithing is marvelous. It is exciting to give Him 10%, take the other 10%, watch it grow, watch it multiply, and then give 10% of that as it multiplies. My goodness, you become a philanthropist in the Kingdom of God. What a good feeling it is!

Tithing. It is giving 10% to God right up front. It is God’s claim. I love the classic story of the little boy who was going to a Sunday school. As he was going out the door, his mother said, “Here are two nickels, one is
yours for an ice cream and one is the Lord’s for the offering plate.”

As that nice little guy was walking to church, suddenly, one of the nickels fell out of his little hand. It rolled along the curb and fell through the grill, down into the huge caverns that swallow up all kinds of things that
fall from streets and curbs. He watched the nickel go until it was gone. He said sadly when he realized that there was no hope of retrieving it, “Oh, there goes God’s nickel.”

I want you to prosper. It begins by building your plan on the Word of God. What does it take? 1) First it takes respect for the Bible – as the Word of God.

Boy, do I respect that Word of God. I wouldn’t dare to ignore it, no matter what so-called wisdom of men might offer. 2) The second quality it requires is gratitude to God. It is saying, “God, You only ask for 10%. I’m alive. How many times I could have gotten killed? I’ll never know. I’m still alive. And I’ve got a job and I have an income. I live in America. I have the freedom to invest They don’t in many countries.”

What does it take to be a tither? 1) It takes respect for the Bible. 2) It takes a grateful heart. 3) It takes a generous spirit. Tightwads never make it. But the generous ones have the joy of looking back knowing they had a part in something exciting and important They are able to say, “That’s my ministry, I buy this television time, and I’m sending this message into a hospital. I’m doing that I really am.”

It takes respect for the word, it takes a generous spirit, it takes a grateful heart and 4) Finally, it takes a lot of faith which is what we call possibility thinking? And what is possibility thinking? It is making the right decision before you solve the problems that you know the decision will produce.

How do you get started to breakthrough the trap from poverty to prosperity? You make the decision. You decide to restructure and rearrange how you look at money.

(The above material was published by Robert Schuller Ministries, Garden Grove, CA.)

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