I just want to set you up here for our speaker. John Ben Rodriguez will be coming up in a while and he’ll be giving the Talk on Finances. I’m a financial teacher. Yes. I’m a spiritual leader. Yes, I’m a preacher. But I’m also a financial teacher. Why?

Something happened 20 years ago. So, I’ve been serving God for 40 plus years. And so, I was a single missionary. Serving the Lord. Poor. And happy as a single person, serving God for 16 to 20 years.

But then something was happening in my heart. I was serving with fellow missionaries who were married already and have children. And they were struggling. Now, I knew that because they were my friends. We were loving God together. We were serving God. All out. But then I would look over my shoulder and I would look at my friends who were missionaries like me, and married, and there were times they could not send their kids to school. There were times they had to borrow money to put food on their table.

And I was rebelling in my heart. I was saying, “Lord, this is not happening.

How could You do this to Your children?”

And I started searching. I began to realize something that I want to share with you right now.

I always say this and you hear this from me a lot: there are two areas of life.

The first area are things you can control. The second area are the things you cannot control. I always talk about that. And I always say that you have to be here in the area where you can control. Stay here. Don’t stay there. The moment you stay there, there’s going to be worry and anxiety. Yes, or no? Yes.

You stay here in the area where you can control stuff.

Now, what you cannot control, you surrender to God. Amen.

What Can You Control?

This is what I need to emphasize: What can you control?

Effort. Work. This is what you can control.

Your effort– the planting of the seeds. The harvest is here. You don’t know what you will get. Whether you will have zero harvest and God wants you to keep on planting. Whether you will have a 30-fold harvest, a 60-fold harvest, or 100-fold. You don’t know.

You cannot predict effect. But you can predict effort. You cannot predict harvest but you can predict planting. And that’s what you do. You work.

You don’t have to be poor. This is my realization: That you don’t have to be poor. You can work.

You can invest. You can teach yourself finances. You can learn. You can create multiple income streams. You can find ways to keep on planting and you do not know what’s going to happen here (in the area you can’t control), but you know what can happen (in the area you can control) by working and finding ways.

In that area where you cannot control, say, “God I’ve done everything I could.

You take over.

Say, “Lord, take over. Prosper the work of my hands.” And I pray that today will be a blessing to you.

JB is like me. He’s also a preacher, he’s also a spiritual leader but he’s also a financial teacher. And you will be blessed today.

John Ben, in the house! Give him a big hand.


Thank you, Bro. Bo.

May you please stand up as we honor the Word of God as we sing together:

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path.

 Before I read the Word, I want you to be reminded of the message of God today.

The main message of our Talk today is this: God wants you to live in abundance.

Put your hands on your heart and declare this to yourself so that you can audibly hear it, so that when you hear it, it will penetrate every fiber of your being—to realize how good and how great the plan of God is for your life.

Can you declare it to yourself now: God wants me to live in abundance. Amen.

Just a bit of story:

During the Pandemic, we stayed in the province for quite a while at the house of my in-laws.

And in front of the house, they had this not-so-tall, not so high, not so big apple mango tree.

But this petite tree has one good habit. It bears fruit every single year. Not just one, not just two, but lots – in clusters.

And you know what?

Because I grew up in Manila, it was my joy that every day, I got to climb a tree and pick fruits. Because here in Manila, you climb walls. But in the province, you get to climb trees. And every single day, I would get a handful of mangoes. And believe me, we tried consuming every mango we would harvest. I ate two, three, four in a day, until I got tired of them.

That’s when I realized this was not sustainable. We could not eat all that we harvested—even if we were six in the house.

Abundance for All

So, you know our solution? We gave away the mangoes. When a Manong (elder delivery man) comes to deliver water for us, we say, “Manong, do you like mangoes? Here take some for your kids. Here, give some to your colleagues. When the rolling palengke (market) store vendor would come, we would tell her, “Ate (elder lady), get these, get these.” To the neighbors: “Please get some more mangoes.”

And that’s when I realized that abundance is woven in the fabric of God’s design.

When abundance happens in your life, it will not just be good enough for you.

It will be more so that you can share to others. That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT:

This is the abundance God planned for each and every one of you. And believe me, it includes your finances. So, my question is: Do you want that for your finances? Amen. Put your hand over your heart:

Almighty Father, thank You. Because you have woven abundance deeply in the way You created us. We know that You intend us to be good providers, to be loving with the wealth You will bless us. So, today, open our heart to receive Your miracle and Your blessing. This we ask in Jesus’ Name.


Let’s raise our hands to the Word of God and sing:

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path.

The Problem

Would you agree with me that the topic on finances, money, and the context of spirituality, is a bit controversial? It’s like oil and water—they don’t mix.

But today, I want to address that because now, we know that God intended abundance. So, how did God intend abundance in the viewpoint

of aligning it with our own finances?

I think that the root of the problem, usually, is that Filipinos have this pre-defined notion about money that is negative.

How do I know?

You see it in our telenovelas. The usual plot: there’s a rich villain with all the power and the resources. And the hero, the main character of the story, is usually poor. The rich usually oppresses the poor. And when we see it, we tell the rich person in the show: Matapobre—condescending, snobbish, looking down on the poor. Ang sama ng ugali— very bad character.

So, I believe the problem is wrong idea about money. Sometimes, it’s the reason people have toxic relationship with regard to money.

Or probably, if not the telenovelas, it may be in the way we are raised by our elders in our family.

When they see a neighbor that has a good car, or a beautiful property, our elders say, “Ang yayaman, ang yayabang. — so wealthy, so arrogant.”

These rich people didn’t do anything. They were just born in a wealthy family.

And they are already arrogant?

Subconsciously, it’s planting wrong messages in us about money. So, sometimes, consciously, you know you need money, and you know you can use it for good. But subconsciously, sometimes, there’s a barrier. And that’s the pre- defined culture.

Have you noticed Korean novelas don’t have this problem? There’s no plot about the rich oppressing the poor. The story flows smoothly.

So, what am I saying? You must be aware of the predispositions that we have about money. And believe me, I’ve been a missionary also since I was in college

I tried staying with poor people in their house. And I’d seen a family of five trying to make both ends meet with just P100.00 for a day. So, imagine what they do with P100.00. They buy one small pack of instant noodles and one can of sardines and two kilos of rice. And if they lack dish, what they do is just sprinkle salt or toyo (soy sauce) on their rice.

And they’ve seen how money can bless the wealthy people.

The Answer

I also have seen how money is used in the context of mission– like building The Feast in other countries, in other places.

Are you blessed by The Feast? Yes? Do you know that running a Feast costs money?

So, there. That resolves my issue: Money is not bad. Money is neutral. Money is a tool that God can use to bless us.

So, it depends on where you will use your money. James 1:17 says this:

So, right now, if you ask me this question— let’s put it out straight and clear: Does God want me to be financially abundant?

The answer is: Yes. Good. Very good.

Just a disclaimer: There are some people really called to live a life of poverty— maybe in mission. But that should be a loud calling. By default, God intended you to be financially abundant.

Back to Genesis

So, putting the money issue aside, how did God define abundance? Because we saw that in the verse that we read. I love it that we took a deep dive on Genesis a few months ago. And we talked about Creation.

We go back to Genesis1:29-30:

Notice that even at the beginning, abundance was already designed.

When God created food for man, He did not give you, okay, three value meal options. You may choose and rotate. And that’s it.

He gave instead– modern-day context—an entire buffet. Oh, even the animals had something. Isn’t that amazing?

But here’s what I find more than amazing. If we dig deeper into the Creation story, before the abundance happened, a set up took place.

Boundaries were set up by God. Rules were set up by God so that this abundance can happen. Because God is a God of order, He prepared a setup without which abundance cannot happen. Let’s look at Genesis 1:11-12:

This is already the end of the third day of Creation. Because you know what happened… Before Day 1, the earth was formless and void. There was chaos.

But God created light, created order, set a boundary between the water above and the water below. Remember that?

He set the boundary between night and day. He set everything.

Rules and Boundaries

After God set up those rules and boundaries, abundance happened.

After that, God established the seasons the following day. And after that, started the abundance of the fish in the sea, and then the animals.

So that when it was all set up, He commanded man– in Genesis 2: 15-17:

In the context of abundance, God did not say, “Here it is: abundance.

You take control.”

He set very specific boundaries. Eden had a boundary. Night and day had a boundary. There were rules how the fish and animals would multiply, how the plants would grow.

Plantitos and plantitas, you know that. You have to nurture a plant for it to be abundant. Otherwise, if you go on a vacation, when you come back, you’ll find your plant already dead.

And here’s the profound realization about that: You will experience abundance within the boundaries and rules of God.

And if we are confined within the circle of those rules and boundaries, abundance is easy to happen. Do you want to be inside that circle? Yes.

So, here are three practical tips to Financial Abundance.

Ah, boundary at once: Spend within, otherwise, Desert experience– as in hardships experienced by the Israelites in the wilderness of the desert as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land.

You know that hardship. Every 15th of the month, you receive your salary, you splurge, and just on the 17th, no more money—that’s Desert experience.

Quick question and survey: Who among you here would pay P30,000 for something that costs only P10,000? Bad deal?

Then why is it that many pay just the minimum amount due indicated on their credit card? Do you know that is exactly what happens? If you have a P10,000 credit-card debt, and you pay just the minimum, by the time you settle that P10,000 debt, you had already paid nearly P30,000. Because it took you a long time to pay that debt, the interest paid was huge already.

The simple circle of boundaries and rules was not respected. That’s why people get buried in credit-card debts.

Simple Boundary

I believe it’s a question of the world sometimes pushing us to gain more, to have more, to be more. It’s okay. But you must live within the confines of the boundaries and rules God has created. Because you cannot disrespect the simple boundary of living within one’s means.

Because Luke 16:10 says this:

So, another survey now. Let me ask you: Is spending for branded items bad or good?

The answer is: It depends. If it’s done outside the boundary of living within your means and nourishing what you have, it’s bad. But if it’s inside, and it’s within your budget, you’re not neglecting other important aspects, then it’s good.

If you see a crocodile, don’t forget to… scream J. From the Lacoste Official Store, Gateway Mall, Quezon City: Men’s T-Shirt

So, how do you establish that simple boundary of living within your means?

You know the answer: It’s budgeting. Simple budgeting.

Many would think: “Bro. JB, I don’t want to budget. Because I don’t want to limit myself. I’m working hard in the office. I deserve this branded item.

It’s okay, really. Because here’s what I realize in my years also of teaching people about their finances: Budgeting is not limiting. It’s actually liberating— if you do it right. Because you get to allocate money for everything.

A good guide is this: You can get a copy of Bro. Bo Sanchez’s book.

He has a book about this.

So, a simple formula is this: With the 100 percent of what you earn, you allocate:

  1. 10% for your tithes to God;
  2. 20% must go for your retirement—because one day you will stop working. And the rule of thumb says that if you invest this 20% well, you will have means of living when you are old.
  3. And the next 70% is for your daily, current

Then with the 70%, allocate 50% for your needs; 20% for your wants.

Because sometimes, I believe, spending on milk tea, travel, sometimes are demonized on social media: “You’re having too much milk tea.

Just think: with the money you spend on milk tea, how many bottles of milk can you buy for a baby…”

So, while you’re drinking your milk tea, you feel so guilty that you could hardly swallow the sweet tapioca pearl bubble.

Because if your boundary is not clear, even your conscience is not clear. But if you have this specific boundary—”Lord, I will give 10% to You; I will save 20% for my retirement; 70% for daily living, of which 50% for my needs, 20% for my wants”—then you have abundance.

Abundance at Any Financial Level

Very quick story:

My wife Athena and I started with this envelope system.

Back then, I already knew about

Bro. Bo’s teaching on finances. But it was just at the back of my mind.

But my wife was very diligent.

So, what we did, every single month, salary came in, we would sit at the dinner table, we would divide the cash, according to portions of our expenses, one portion per envelope. After a while, we got used to it.

One time, I was in the grocery store,

I brought the grocery envelope. I was seeing the items pile up in the cart. I was already checking out, the cashier was scanning the price of each item—toot, toot, toot. So, as I saw on the cash register the sub- total rising up, my heartbeat was also rising up because the amount in the envelope would not equal the total cost of the groceries.

So, what did I do?

I asked myself: Who will adjust—the cart, I, or the envelope?

I adjusted the cart – took out some items…

You know, after two years of this envelope system, we have transitioned— no longer the physical envelopes. We now put portions of our income in multiple bank accounts.

It’s a good experience. Because it taught us that we can experience abundance at any financial level.

Because sometimes, if you don’t have clear budget and boundary, you think more money is the answer.

But sometimes, the invitation of God is how do you manage the money you have now so you can experience abundance as well.

Because you’re sure you’ve given to God, you’re sure you’ve also enjoyed a bit of your money, and you are also blessing others in the process.

So, it’s okay to spend for both of your needs and wants. The key is having a budget so that you can allocate for both.

I included this because I noticed that there are a lot of Filipinos who are breadwinners—for their parents, their siblings, for cousin of the neighbor…

And believe you me, we are known for being breadwinners because it’s about sacrificing and it’s good.

But I want to put some financial education to this…    I have guided someone—her name is Anne. She’s 35 years old. She’s a corporate executive.

At age 35, she was already able to purchase her own condo unit. So, she lives alone. And she’s earning about P80,000 a month. Because she already has a home, she’s spending just P15,000 monthly.

So, right off the bat, I ask you: She’s earning P80K and she’s spending only P15K for herself, is she not with good financial standing?

Yes, or no? Yes… on the onset…

But later on, she came to consult me about her finances. I told her, “You’re in a good standing. What did you do? Why are you even asking me?”

And then she said, “Because I have three credit cards maxed out and I have a personal loan from the office.

What do I do?”

It came as a surprise to me because she wore simple clothes—no branded dress, and everything. Because back then, my usual thinking was the ones buried in debt are those who were luxurious – beyond their means.

But I was wrong.

So, we got into the session. I brought out my cash flow template… By the way, I do this professionally. I am a certified wealth planner.

Debt Cycle

So, Anne and I started listing down her monthly cash flow. True: P15K for herself. But all the other expenses were for her parents, their medical needs, and everything else…

So, we set up a strategy: we computed… And I said, “At this rate, when you are already old, you will end up needing to depend on someone else…”

And I think it was difficult for her because (to justify fending for her parents) she cited this verse, 1 Timothy 5:8:

Do you agree with this verse? I certainly agree with it. Because I believe that God would bless us if we observe this mandate. And some of our parents really did not have that financial knowledge back then.

I am also a breadwinner for my mother. But I also believe in this, and I want to teach this because this is abundance in a boundary in the proper context:

Sustainability is also present in God’s design.

So, what is the point, Brothers and Sisters? The same applies to our finances.

We can’t give out fruit we have not yet grown and harvested. Abundance will not happen.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to help—let me be clear on that. I’m just saying maybe, what’s wrong is in the way that we want to help. If you try to help– resorting to just debt, your help will not be sustainable. The debt cycle will just repeat itself.

Which leads me to my next point.

By the way, commercial: Athena and I got a beautiful tip from our ninongs and ninangs, our wedding sponsors. Before our wedding, we took our sponsors to a dinner date. And we had notebooks. We asked our sponsors: What do you do with money? What do you do when relatives borrow money from you…?

And they gave us this very good tip.

One ninang said, “If someone borrowed money from you, most likely, you won’t get your money back… So, don’t you ever lend your money for emergency, or tuition fee of your child, because you will just quarrel with your debtor—your relationship will be ruined. So, here’s what you do, instead: If a relative borrowed P15K, and you really want to help, don’t give P15K. Give P2K or P3K, or any amount that you are willing to lose. And say to the person: ‘This is not borrowed money. This a gift from us. You don’t have to pay it anymore.’ ”

Believe me, that tip is good. Because it blesses two persons. First and foremost, you. Because you won’t have the pain and grudge of not being paid of something substantial. And at the same time, the people to whom you gave that gift will feel, “Wow! This is so much help because I don’t have to pay for it.”

Because sometimes, the problem with Filipinos is that when we need something we can’t afford to buy, we default, right away resort to debt. You borrow right away. You need something, you borrow. It’s a shortcut. Don’t go there.

The Sole Breadwinner

So, let’s move on to Tip No. 3: Seek help when needed because the reality is also this: I’ve discovered in a lot of cases I’ve handled that not all money problems are money problems.

Let’s go back to Anne’s story. Anne was the youngest among four children. At the start, all four children contributed money to fend for their parents. But then her three sibs all got married and so, Anne, the youngest, became the sole breadwinner for their parents.

I told Anne specifically, “More than the money problem, this is really a conversation problem. You need to talk first to your parents, tell them of your situation.”

Because she was afraid to tell her parents that she’s buried in debt. Because she felt it’s a shame– that her parents sacrificed for her all her life, then now their problem is they can’t fend for themselves.

But I told Anne, “I think you need to tell your parents about your situation— because they are concerned about you as well and when they hear about your situation, they will try to help you.”

And when Anne told her parents about her situation, they helped, actually. The parents sat down with her, they computed: “How much can we reduce the amount we were asking from you? How could we make things more efficient financially.”

At the time, the siblings were not able to help because some of them have families already. You know the tradition among Pinoys—the obligation of taking care of parents is passed on to the youngest—in this case, Anne.

Because the eldest would say, “I’m already a graduate from that obligation.

I already have a family. It’s now your turn to take care of our parents.”

So, the youngest remains single because she has this obligation causing her financial problems.

So, I told Anne, “Go back to your siblings. Anyway, it’s been five years since your sibs got married. Initially, they had a hard time meeting financial obligations for their family. Maybe they’re more financially stable now.”

And true enough, some of her siblings have already migrated abroad and now already have good financial standing. So, what happened? They created a joint bank account. Everybody is contributing again monthly; everybody accountable for the money in the bank. Anne’s parents have been provided well.

And what happened next is this: Two years after, Anne was able to zero out her credit-card debts. And she was able to finally invest in the stock market and get life insurance for herself.

Sometimes, we think, “Lord, money is the solution.”

But sometimes, God is teaching you that not all money problems can be solved by money. Sometimes, a money problem needs a relationship solution. Sometimes, it needs a conversation solution.

So, I’m reminding you of this: It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay. We don’t know everything. It’s okay to consult people, mentors, for guidance.

It’s okay. Because God wants to bless you that way in your finances as well. Let me end by sharing this story.

In 2019, my father-in-law bought a brand-new car. And he decided to give his old car to us.

Our own car was a Mitsubishi Lancer 2012 sedan. The car he gave us is a Toyota Innova 2014. So, naturally, it was an upgrade– perfect timing because my wife was already pregnant at the time.

Guys, I realized that if before you could live well enough alone with just one backpack when you travel, now with a baby, just going to the grocery, you bring a lot of stuff—a bag, a stroller, everything.

So, the bigger Innova was really an upgrade for us.

December 2019, I got that Innova. I was driving it already going home.

Consciously, logically I knew that’s a blessing. Yes, or no? It’s a blessing. I was telling myself that. But I found myself not happy about it. I wondered Why… So, I started praying.

This is a good tip: Whenever there’s a misalignment between the logical and what you’re feeling inside, always pray to God because God can help you align and find peace.

Hang Ups

So, I started praying and reflecting. And then my inner voice started whispering thoughts deep min my heart…

You know, Filipinos, we have lots of pull-outs. You know, pull-outs—in Tagalog, hugotJ. In English, hang up.

I had a lot of hang ups. Thoughts racing in my mind, saying, “What did my father-in-law think –

I could not afford to fend for his daughter? I can afford to buy this Innova… I was telling that to myself, that was my inner voice nagging me…

A bit of background: I’d always considered myself to be a self-made man.

During my last year in college, I was a working student – so that I could pay for my tuition, so that I could graduate.

Then, since the time I graduated, I’ve been a breadwinner for my mom.

I’ve established some businesses. I got my mom health insurance… I ‘ve been buying all her medicines, and everything.

So, I took pride in that because I believed it’s good training for me. Because I would also be a provider for my future family. So, I felt blessed with that opportunity to provide for my mom.

But as I was driving that Innova, there I was with a conflict point in my life. Why was I unhappy? Why was my inner voice rejecting this car, this blessing?

And in the flurry of that noise in my mind, I heard a softer voice speaking to me. It was the voice of God.

God asked me this simple question: “When you’re already old and capable, will you give a car to your children?”

“Of course,” I answered, “definitely, Lord. It’s a joy providing for them.

I would certainly love that.”

And God replied, “Then, why are you depriving your father-in-law of that very same joy? Don’t you know that once upon a time, you might had prayed for this as well? Don’t you know that once upon a time he might had worked hard and sacrificed thinking about his future children and how he could bless them?”

And that’s when it hit me. I was speechless…

I’m not a self-made man… I’m not a self-made man… Because I am where I am now, because I stand on the sacrifice of people who love me. I stood on their shoulders so I could be lifted up to another level.


And that’s when also I realized that I am not alone in dealing with the financial challenges that I face.

God is there with me, sending other people to help me.

My pride all the while was preventing me from enjoying the abundance God had already planned for me.

Because in my mind, I was like, “Lord, I want to achieve it. Lord, I want that success will come from my own efforts. Lord, I want it will come from my own hard work.”

But God was telling me that day: “Your abundance is beyond what you can do. It’s beyond what you cannot do.

It’s beyond what you can understand. It’s beyond what you cannot understand. It’s beyond your problems. It’s beyond your fears. It’s beyond your worries. It’s beyond everything you can ever hope for or imagine. My abundance is absolute. And it can happen in your life if you just want it. If you just cooperate with Me.”

So, God’s invitation to you today, Brothers and Sisters, is this:

“Come, return to the Garden—within the boundaries of my abundance – because I want you to live in abundance. Amen! Amen!

Do you need guidance in managing your finances? Bro John Ben can help. Feel free to reach out to him. John Ben Rodriguez, CWP®, CEPP® Certified Wealth Planner (CWP®) | Certified Estate Planner, Phils. (CEPP®) Motivational Speaker | Licensed Financial Advisor

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Published by THE FEAST (July 31, 2023)


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