Saturday, September 5, 2009

Money Part 3: Being Prepared Isn't Just a Boy Scout Saying!

Hey gang!

Sorry part three came a day late, but severe headaches, preschool decisions and drama in the household put me way behind yesterday. Hope you enjoyed the Dave Ramsey video on Thursday. Credit cards can get us in trouble if we’re not careful. I heard Dave say once that the average American had approximately seven credit cards. I’ve been there and made that mistake too. It’s why I share. If you’re making the mistake, you can see that you can correct it too and if you’re not making the mistake, I serve as a poster boy for you not to.

Anyhow, part three of our series takes us back to Genesis as we tell a story of a man that was handed the ability to change a financial course, did so and saved a nation. Was it easy? No. Did everyone instantly get happy? No. But it saved people from total ruin. We need that kind of brain and discipline in government and I say that for whatever side of the fence you stand politically.

In every money crisis, or potential crisis, someone has to be the one that realizes that it can come. In Genesis 41, Pharaoh was having dreams that disturbed him. No one could interpret what the dreams meant. Sometimes even the wisest people don’t have an answer. However, Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer had remembered that Joseph had interpreted one of his dreams while he was imprisoned over a year ago. Pharaoh sent for him. Pharaoh then tells Joseph the dream beginning in verse 17 of Genesis 41.

“In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up--scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked as ugly as before. Then I woke up.”

He then explained a second dream to Joseph.

“In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted-- withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads.”

The end of verse 24 tells us that no magician or seer could tell him the answer to his dreams. Most of them thought he’d just had a bad cheeseburger and fries at the local Burger Pharaoh. But Joseph had an answer and he begins the explanation in verse 25.

“The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven good years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind; They are seven years of famine.”

Joseph continues, “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”

So, the dreams have been explained. Good times are coming, but they will be followed by worse times. Have you ever been given a raise to see the economy change so fast afterwards that the raise didn’t seem like a dent in your debt. Sounds familiar to all of us here in 2009. The difference is that most of us didn’t have any warning that times like these were coming.

What is Pharaoh to do about it? He knows what’s going to happen, but he needs a plan to make it through these tough times that are coming later. But Joseph also gives a solution, just like a good financial advisor would give to us, if he had this information. Joseph starts in verse 33.

“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

Starting in verse 39, Pharaoh announces his decision to Joseph and the leaders. “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

So he placed Joseph in charge over the process. Joseph was 30 years old as he began his work. Verses 47-49 of Chapter 41 tells us that Joseph stored up so much grain over the seven years that it was beyond the ability of people to count. That’s a good savings plan. Four verses later, the famine begins. Every nation outside of Egypt was in famine while Egypt had food. So Joseph was able to sell grain to everyone, including the nations in famine. A valuable lesson learned by having a good savings is that you are able to help others. Without this wisdom from Joseph, not only would Egypt have suffered, but everyone would have suffered.

For the next five and a half chapters, we see a narrative of Joseph’s family coming to receive aid. When we get to Chapter 47, after Pharaoh welcomes Joseph’s family to stay in Egypt, we find out how well the plan worked.

Starting in verse 13, we are told that Joseph collected all the money in Egypt and Canaan for payment. Once the money was gone, Joseph began requesting livestock as payment. That year, he collected horses, sheep, goats, cattle and donkeys. The next year, the famine was still going on, so Joseph took the people and their land as payment. So he gave them seed and told them to keep 4/5 for themselves and give 1/5 to Pharaoh. That decision helped the country of Egypt through the rest of the famine.

The plan worked. The people lived and prospered afterwards because of Joseph. He made wise decisions and kept the country going. The great part is that you can too. The lessons learned here can be useful in your life.

First, savings is always a good idea. Dave Ramsey always recommends an emergency account savings. He begins with the recommendation of $1000 in savings and later, to grow that savings to three to six months worth of your salary in case things go wrong.

Second, always have somebody that is wise working with your savings. People trust their 401K’s and other resources to financial advisors. Be wise in picking one, if you have the choice.

Third, be consistent and help others when necessary. Being a giver is nice, however, don’t give every time someone tears up. Be wise for the time and place to be giving. Not every cause is a good cause.

Finally, even though it’s not shown here, giving thanks to God for help in using wisdom is always a good idea. When you get through a tough time because of the wisdom God gives you, tell people. This doesn’t make you a financial genius, but it does tell people they can make it too.

On Tuesday, we’ll continue talking about money.

I love you guys!

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