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July
23
2017

Stewardship of Treasure




Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 9:6-11

Acts 4:32-37

Luke 21:1-4

 

 “Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” says 1 Timothy 6:10 in The Message version of the Bible

It’s not money that is the root of all evil, but the love and lust for money!

 

Each of the last two weeks I have given a message on stewardship

“the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property”

Our being God’s stewards is BIBLICAL

steward/servant was responsible for the master’s property

and the steward/servant was accountable to the master

Our gifts: The time, talents and treasure he gifts us with on a daily basis

Giving of our time so that the church can better serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Giving of our talents so that our efforts on behalf of the Gospel are well rounded

Using the collective gifts given to members of this congregation

Because it takes eyes, and ears, and hands, and feet, and so on and so on, to be a fully-functioning, world-changing body of Christ

We learned that we will be more harshly judged for not using talents that we know we have than for failing in our use of them…trying shows that we love God…hiding from him…not so much

And we heard that Jesus was the ultimate steward…not acquiring power or riches for his benefit

But he passed all he had onto us by dying on the cross

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense…our continual gift of GRACE

 “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.”  -Luke 12:48b (CEB)

 

This week, the theme is Treasure, and it is the most difficult to talk about

The stewardship of treasure is why this topic has not been approached from this pulpit in years

We have discussed stewardship in our Admin Board meetings as long as I have been pastor

My friends, we need to become more comfortable talking about money

Why?  Here is my perspective…

Many organizations in our world today exist for what we would describe as a higher calling/common good

Schools and churches are on that list, along with many others

Almost without exception, these organizations must pay people to run them…to do the work

People who have a certain set of gifts, experiences, and educational backgrounds

And these people have to get paid…their service is also their job

And to pay them, funds have to be collected

So whether we like it or not, we do need to talk about money, at least once in a while

 

I am not going to stand up here today and tell you that you must tithe a portion of your income

Because the Bible doesn’t teach tithing

There are examples in the Bible of people giving the first 10% of the fall harvest to the church

First Fruits Giving…but it is not a law, but a tribute to God

Remember, we have said that all that we have is a gift from God

Including his son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins…sins not even conceived at the time of his death

Therefore, it is right and just to set aside a portion for God’s cause in our world

We give to God out of love because He gave to us out of love

He gives us our time, talents, and treasure out of his love for us

We sinners, who are unworthy of the Father’s love

 

And because we are unworthy sinners, there are a few things that we should remember always

Don’t become full of yourself as you become more and more successful by earthly standards

What you have came from God…and earthly standards are not the same as Godly standards

Remember the story of the rich young man…Mark 10:20-22… “He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”  Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”

And Jesus continued to teach…verse 25… “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

And then, he gave us words that we must always remember…verses 26 and 27… “They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

We do not become rich or successful without God

This is the God that brought his people out of slavery through the desert, dense with snakes and scorpions

Who allows water to be drawn from a rock…Who delivered manna from heaven

It’s never all yours…it’s God’s…and you can’t take it with you

 

We also need to remember that though we may think that we are poor in earthly terms

Compared to some we are rich beyond all imagination

We have shelter, transportation, running water, indoor plumbing, regular meals, and so on

In many parts of the world, those things are the stuff of fantasies

The poorest people of the world will NEVER have those things

Those $1600 that this congregation contributed to Haiti will go farther than you can imagine

A few years wages would allow you to live like a king in these parts of the world

We are rich in so many ways only because Jesus left us this grand inheritance

The life we lead is a gift from God

We were born where we are by chance…our ancestors came here via the hand of God

I recently learned that when my father left Hungary and he was given a choice…Brazil or the USA

I am more grateful than ever for the life I have lived

2 Corinthians 9:6-7… “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

We reflect the God, in whose image we were created, when we give as cheerfully as he did to us

 

Another reason that I am never going to advocate tithing is that it can be limiting…yes, limiting!

For those who have it made…for those who hit it big…for the few who are truly rolling in it

God has a different idea…2 Corinthians 8:13-14… “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.”

It’s all about balance…if the need is great, it needs to be settled by those with a greater abundance

For when the abundance is gone, those with abundance will share to restore the balance

The 10% limit of tithing sometimes just does not cut it!

And a giving attitude is far more important than the amount given

Even the largest check given to this church, if given out of obligation and not willfully, is given in sin

If you cannot be joyfully generous, then don’t write the check…keep the cash for yourself

Again, we are made in His image…He the joyful giver of life…here and in eternity

 

John Wesley taught that we Methodists we to “Earn all you can.  Save all you can.  Give all you can.”

We are called to this way of life so that the church can make ministry and mission happen

What we give is like a seed…in two ways

It allows us to reach out a loving hand to our congregants and other members

And it will increase your harvest of righteousness throughout your life

 

Focusing, briefly, on our needs at Springville UMC:

It takes about $4000 a month to do just what we need to do

Pastor salary, apportionment, utilities, worship expenses, mileage, copyright fees, etc.

And then there are the once-in-a-while things…furnaces, air conditioners, fellowship halls

And the things that are to come, like a roof and a parking lot

And we haven’t talked yet about the need to share the gospel outside these walls

Funding, plus out time and talent, can make a huge difference in our world

 

We heard earlier today about an extreme model of sharing all that we have

It is not a model that I advocate for today’s world, but an ideal to strive for

Acts 4:32… “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.”

Let me say that this is not an example of communism

       Everything was owned in common

       It was all done on a voluntary basis

       It did not include all of the private property held by the members

       Giving your ALL was not required for membership

The big thing in this situation was this…Acts 4:34a… “There was not a needy person among them…”

When we can share of our bounty of time, talents, and treasure…

We can do amazing things!

AMEN

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