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 Sermon on

Live within your means

By Brian Pepper

Sometimes folk have asked me "where do you live?" and I usually say "... Elizabeth Field. That is my home, that is my property". And that is true. I do live there. but wait a minute - the Bible says that I am not the real owner, that everything that I possess is God's. He has made me the manager, to be responsible for His property. Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." 

We might claim ownership but it distinctly says that the LORD is the real owner not only of the Earth but everything that is in it. The prophet Haggai says that the silver and the gold also belongs to God (Haggai 2:8). This means that seeing the wealth of the world belongs to God it should be handled with care and respect. The wise man Solomon warns about this in Proverbs 11:28 first half, "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall..."

Corporate Hi Flyers

A few years back Alan Bond was a household name. He was an Australian hero, having won the prestigious America Cup, and building up a fortune through the beer trade. He was not known as one who contributed in a big way to a worthy cause. I do not know if he ever gave to our Appeal for Missions. In Perth the tallest building carried with pride the name BOND. Perth and Bond were almost synonymous names. Today that building has lost the name Bond and is now the R & I Building. Alan Bond is a has been.

The other hi flyers in the financial world have either died or escaped to a foreign country - such as Christopher Skase. Kerry Packer is a big man in many ways, the heart attack that was almost fateful a while back gave him an appreciation of the St John's first aid and ambulance services, but other than that he is not known as a great benefactor of humanity.

How true are the words of Solomon "whoever trusts in his riches will fall...". Then he goes on to say in Proverbs 11:28 second half, "but the righteous man will thrive like a green leaf."  

Famous people who put God first

How different was the experience of Henry Ford and E.W. Woolworth. Henry Ford was the founder of the great Ford motor company. E.W. Woolworth originated the chain stores which can be found in most countries. These men put God first in their financial arrangements. Actually there is a very impressive list of famous people who did the same thing, such as William Colgate of toothpaste fame, James Kraft of Kraft cheese, H.J. Heinz of tinned foods.

The name of Rockefeller may not mean that much here in Australia but it is a very well known name in America. John Rockefeller, the great oil king, was the richest man of his day, and was the world's greatest philanthropist. As a boy of 15 he learned that the Baptist church of Cleveland Ohio was in debt so he thought up a plan. What he did, was to stand outside the church door every Sunday asking for donations. Before long he had collected enough to pay off the whole debt! When he was 17, he was made a trustee of the church. It says in Proverbs 13:11 second half, "but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow." And how true this was in the case of John Rockefeller! then later on when he was a man of great wealth he gave away large sums of money, so much so, he was said to be the world's greatest philanthropist.

Proverbs 11:24 says, "One man gives freely, yet gains even more".  Now there have been many a 15 year old boy who has learned that his church was in debt but very few who did something to remedy the matter. More than that he paid tithe when he was earning a mere $3.50 a week. These men were not stingy with God and God blessed them in many ways.

Proverbs 3:9,10 says, "Honour the LORD with thy substance and with the first fruits of all thine increase so shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."

By putting God first, the blessings will follow. Most of us think that a tenth or tithe is quite a lot of money to return to the LORD. But one man Mr Le Torneaux, the earthmoving contractor, decided to do more than that, he entered into a partnership with God on a 50/50 basis, and has greatly prospered. Proverbs 11:25 says, "A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." We are assured that if we put God first that our money will go a lot further, and that has been the experience of many who have done this.


God gives more than temporal prosperity

But the LORD not only gives temporal prosperity, but He gives us something far better than that. He gives us Eternal Life and how little we understand just what that means. If it were an extension of our present life, it would be hardly worth it. But if we could catch a vision of what it might be like we would be exited. There will be technology so advanced that it will stagger our senses, unlimited space travel, meeting up with the inhabitants of other worlds, talking to them with no language barriers, finding out all about them.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

We will have a wonderful feeling of well being, vitality, that we have never experienced before. We need to open our minds and allow our imagination to really take over, and think big, and I assure you that our minds will expand and grasp the unseen.

The Church should be alive

Sometimes we look upon the Church as an institution and unfortunately this is justified in some cases because there are occasions when it does appear that way. This is not the way that God wants the Church to be, it is His intention that it should be breathing life into those who are dead in sin. It is not an undertaker's Chapel where you can smell death. God's purpose for the Church is that it should be alive, responsive to the spiritual needs of the community and the individual. Proverbs 29:18 first half says, "Where there is no vision the people perish." The Church must catch that vision or the people will perish. If it fails to do this, then it should be closed down.

Young people often ask "Is there anything that we can do? How can we cut through the red tape, the narrow thinking of those who have lost their vision of the Church's true mission. Young people say, "We do not have a voice in the running of the Church, no one listens to us, no one cares." I believe that the young people should be allowed to speak out if they feel that they can improve things, and if they make enough noise someone will take notice.

Often the older members of the Church will say, "We must give our youth the opportunity to participate, to contribute to the running of the church." We all agree with that kind of counsel, but sometimes it does not work out that way. One church had the selection committee present their report, the names were presented which included a young lady baptized a while back. Did you know what happened? You would hardly believe it. Her name was objected to. Now you might think that there was something wrong with her, but there wasn't. The objection was that she was too young in the church. Now do you think that was fair? Do you think that was right? Can you imagine the surprise and shock that the young lady received when she was told that her name had been objected to? I ask you, how are the young people going to have a chance to have their say if they do not have the opportunity? How can they learn how the church is run, if they are excluded from the church board or any other office? The church needs to have fresh ideas and original thinking, so that it will not lose its vitality.

Summing up what we've talked about

We have been talking about talents.

First of all we looked at the talent of using money. We noticed how that it was abused by the big tycoons, the hi fliers in the world of finance. In the first half of 1 Timothy 6:10 we read, "For the love of money is the root of all evil". And Proverbs 11:28 says, "He who trusts in his riches will fall...", and fall they did. And so will everyone who puts his trust in riches. However we noticed that those who honoured God in returning the tithe and offerings were greatly blessed. Men like Henry Ford and W. Woolworth, John D. Rockefeller and many others. But you do not have to be wealthy men like these were. The Bible assures us that "one man gives freely yet gains even more (Proverbs 11:24). As a person gives, so they are blessed. And God assures us that we will never come to poverty by giving, but rather you will gain even more.

Next we talked about the talent of giving of ourselves, for everyone of us has some talent or talents. If we use these talent or gifts in God's service they will grow and develop with the Lord's blessing.

I also mentioned that the young people wish to use their talents in service for the church, but are rarely given the opportunity. Young people have very special talents. They have big ideas, full of optimism, radiate vitality, usually a driving force in the church. I will never forget Julie Dyer Rhoenfeldt and the leadership she gave to the Berri church up in the Riverland. She was everything I have just mentioned about young people. A born leader and chock full of bright ideas. My own daughter Julie used to amaze me with the ideas she would think up. Yes the church needs talents like these. No matter how little one may have of this world's goods we can still honour God with what ability we have. Above all we should pray for an understanding heart, to be able to help others.

Can a person be content living in poverty?

The question has been asked, "Can a person be content when he is living in poverty?" The Bible has the answer. You will find it in Proverbs 28:6, "Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse." One is better off with just a little of this world's good. After all the best things in life are free, such as the air that we breathe, the sunshine that brightens our lives, the flowers to gladden our hearts, the stars in the heavens above which tell us that there is Someone who cares.

Why does God allow some to have more than others?

Often the question is asked, "Why does God allow some people to have more of this world's goods than others? It possibly has something to do with the individual. Most of us are aware that some have the ability of being able to manage things better than others. Handling finances is a special talent. Right from the start of our marriage I recognised that my wife was a good business manager. I had already discovered that I was not gifted in that direction. As a matter of fact I had come to the conclusion that I was an absolute failure, for money just slipped through my fingers like sand. We would have been in poverty street in a very short time if I had been in charge of the finances. Most likely this is the reason why that some have more of this world's goods than others.

However being rich or wealthy does not mean that a person does not have a responsibility to his poorer brothers. Take the example of Abraham for instance. He was a rich man, but he showed compassion to those who were less fortunate. He give his nephew Lot the choice of the land: allowing him to select the best of the country. I thought that was very generous of him.

Job was considered the richest man in the East yet he shared his blessings with others. He says in Job 31:17 (NIV) "If I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless..." Verse 19 says, "If I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment..." Verse 24 says, "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, you are my security..." I am sure that it was because Job showed such tender care for his fellowmen that God blessed him with an abundance of good things.

How can we keep ourselves out of debt?

Some have asked, "How can we help ourselves to keep out of debt?" Yes there is something that we can do to help ourselves, to take care of some unexpected expense, and that is to put aside some money to take care of an emergency. In Selected Messages Book 2 (EG White) p. 329, it says "Every week you should lay by in some secure place five or ten dollars not to be used up unless in case of sickness." If we should do this you will find that it is a wonderful thing to know that you can put your hands on a goodly sum of money if an emergency should arise, or if tragedy should strike, if the necessity should present itself. Everyone should do this and you will have the personal assurance that you will have something on hand to meet the situation.

Putting God first

You may be able to share with someone else who is in need. My wife has been putting aside a 'second tithe' for as long as I can remember. This has been a real blessing, for not only have we been able to support many appeals which we could not have done otherwise, but we have been able to help other folk as well. One young man was having a struggle financially at Avondale College and we were able to help him and now he is a successful evangelist. I mention this so that it might encourage others to do the same. It comes back to what we are told in Proverbs 3:9,10 "Honour the LORD with thy substance and with the first fruits of all thine increase so shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."

By putting God first the blessings will follow, and if you do this you will find that it will change your life, and it will change others' lives as well.


The Bible in Song Sermons category is expected to be enlarged over time as hard copy sermon notes are scanned, typed and edited in webpage format. Visit Sermons Page for the complete list of sermons and Bible Commentaries

  PDF Sermon Files
Click image for sample. The Complete Sermon Collection is available at the Store Page. It includes 169 sermons which are listed on the Sermons Page, plus several audio visual sermonettes and a number of incomplete sermons. Original typed sermon notes have been scanned in PDF files on a DVD.


  PDF Revelation Files
Easy access to all the uploaded Revelation Bible Commentaries written by Brian Pepper. Also a CD of the complete Book of Revelation consisting of 22 PDF files scanned from original typed documents. These files can be downloaded by Adobe Acrobat to view on computer screen, or printed in booklet or other format.


  SDA Prophecy Chart
Bible in Song Sermons and Commentaries pages have exposed flaws in the "2300 day" prophecy chart most notably used by Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists in their biblical interpretation have favored the tradition of their founding fathers over Scripture and the "divine revelation" of their own prophet Ellen White. Read more.


Thank you for posting some of (Brian Pepper's) sermons. It's like reading the very words Jesus has spoken to me and is a great encouragement. I cannot say that about many Pastors but I can say that about (Pr Pepper). Thank you. Robert (USA) ... more testimonials.



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