Sunday Morning Service, 1/23/11


Stewardship part 1 of 3


> Pastor Paine

I’m going to take out pen and paper. When you hear the word “Stewardship”, what comes to your mind?

  • Faithful
  • Management
  • Accountability
  • Responsibility
  • Servitude
  • Reliability
  • Ministry
  • Resources
  • Making best use of what we have
  • Ownership
  • Trustworthiness
  • Experience
  • Loan
  • Finance
  • Obedience

That’s a pretty interesting topic, isn’t it? I plan on dismissing in about forty minutes. The apostle Paul finishes by saying:

1 Corinthians 12:31
  1. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Any time we understand what God wants us to do, how he wants us to do it, we’ve been shown a more excellent way.

How many here have been married more than twenty years?

A few hands

(Addressing Mrs. Debbie Paine) Young lady in the brown sweater, would you say that you know more about being married, and about how to be a good wife, and about how to teach your husband how to be a good husband, than you did when you first got married?

> Definitely!

Stewardship really begins with a study of Lordship. It begins with the perspective of what we call our own.

What are some of the things that we can call our own?

  • Car
  • Salvation
  • Time
  • Clothes
  • Family
  • Choice
  • Identity
  • Dog

These are things that we call our own, right? And as we go through this study, we’re going to challenge that perspective. We’re going to see if we can find a more excellent way. John Maxwell, teaching on this subject, said, “If he’s not Lord of all, he’s not Lord at all.” I believe you’ve heard Pastor Thomas preaching on that subject, as well.

So as we gather on Wednesday, if you have a testimony on the concept of stewardship in your life, I’d ask you to come prepared to speak at the microphone.

I recognize that I’m talking to people at various places in your experience in Christ. Maybe you’re wondering if you want to be come a Christian, or maybe you don’t even know what that means. When I got saved at age nineteen, that’s where I was at. I didn’t even know what that question means. I knew there was a God and a heaven, but everything else was a matter of opinion; it wasn’t carved in stone.

In the Old Testament, we read about a couple who had a son.

Genesis 22:2
  1. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Even if you’re not familiar with that story, imagine God speaking to you as a father, (and there’s a lot that leads up to this point,) and asking you to offer your son up on a mountain. This was a time when animals were offered in sacrifice, and God asked Abraham to offer Isaac, and that was just not done. As we read the story, we find out that Abraham didn’t have to offer Isaac, but he got all the way to that point. Abraham did not withhold his son Isaac, and his faith is an example to us today.

God is God, and what he trusts us with is still his.

Matthew 6:10
  1. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

That’s how we should live. We’re asking God for his will to be done in earth, and for us to be a part of it, amen?

Matthew 6:12
  1. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

We’re asking God to treat us the way we treat him. But it starts out, saying

Matthew 6:10
  1. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

How come it always has to be God’s will? How come it can’t be your will?

My wife and I have a new puppy. Well, it’s not new; it’s about six months old. I call her many things, but her name is Daisy. So this morning, Daisy was a perfect puppy. I rose up, and Daisy was there in the kitchen, and we enjoyed our company as I was preparing breakfast. And then, it came time to go, and as Debbie and I put on our coats, Daisy recognized that it was time for us to go away, and for her to go to her room. So she started to hide. And she did finally go to her room, but not without some reluctance.

I wonder how many times we hide from God when God prepares to tell us to do something we don’t want to do? I wonder how many times God has to challenge us and say, “This is the way it’s going to be.”

I’d like us to challenge ourselves and say, “Am I living a life that allows God to lead?”

Jesus teaching said:

Matthew 6:33
  1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Let’s read that together.

Matthew 6:33
  1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Now let’s read it again, but make it personal by saying “me” instead of “you.”

> But I seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto me.

Sometimes as human beings, we struggle with this perspective. Sometimes our struggle is with parents or other people who are in charge. We come from broken homes and broken promises. But God doesn’t break his promises. When he says “All these things shall be added unto you”, he means exactly that. But we’ve got to start by seeking God first, in every area of our lives.

When we get the Lordship issue right, all God has is ours. How do you like living in God’s economy? I realize that we have a tough economy right now, and a lot of people are saying, “Yeah, I’ll trade my checkbook for his, right now.” But this perspective is all about not negotiating with God anymore. Just pure and simple: “God, is that what you’re telling me to do?” ‘Cause that’s all I need to know. We read in the scriptures, over and over again, “God, if it’s you saying it, then I’ll do it. That’s all I need to know.”

I’ll tell you a story about something changed my relationship with my father forever. I want to start by saying that my father and I had a wonderful relationship. So he was watching TV as I walked into the room, and he said, “Peter, would you do something for me?” And without giving it much thought, I said, “It depends, Dad. What is it?” My father didn’t say anything for a long time, and I didn’t pay much attention; I thought he must be thinking about what he wants me to do. So I kept watching TV, and after a while, my father left the room. Then he came back later and turned off the TV and stood between me and the TV and said, “Peter, about ten minutes ago, I asked you if you would do something for me.” I could see his lip quivering, and hear the emotion in his voice, so I knew this was important, but In my thirteen-year-old mind, I was thinking “Maybe he didn’t hear me or something.” Then continued, “And you said, “It depends.” So I said, “Yeah,” and waited for him to get to the point. So he said, “Peter, in the thirteen years of your life, have I ever asked you to do anything that was wrong? Have I ever asked you to do anything that was not in your own best interest, and the best interest of this family?” “No, Dad.” (What was he going to ask me to do, rob a bank or something?) So he finished, “Then why now, do you want to start to negotiate with me?”

Here’s the point. I didn’t feel that I was negotiating with him. I thought, “If he wants to ask me to do something for him, then I have the right to evaluate it.” And I did. And if God asks us to do something, we have the right to evaluate it. It all has to do with our relationship with God. And why would we want to negotiate with a God who always asks us to do what is in our own best interest? Why would we want to negotiate with a God who only wants good things for us? But we come from the perspective of “I want it right now.” We want it and want it and want it, and then when we get it, we often find that it wasn’t the right time.

I know that you men here don’t have an ego problem, but in 1979, I had an ego that caused me to make a bad decision. I still to this day don’t know if the salesman was brilliant in his strategy or not. I walked into an Oldsmobile dealership (for some of you young folks, that was an American car dealership, and their middle-class car was called a “Cutlass”, and their higher-class car was called a “Regency”.) And the salesman said, “You look like a Cutlass man to me.” And my ego couldn’t take that, so I said, “I’d like to look a that Regency.” And I bought that car that I couldn’t afford. I eventually paid it off, but it took way too long. And Debbie was so helpful. She would say, “I’d like to buy some food, but Oh! We have this car.” It was a great car. The front seat was so comfortable that it was like sitting on a couch. And the back seat was just like it. In fact, at one point, I think Debbie suggested that we live in it. (Can you tell I’m not quite over this, yet?)

My point is that we’ve got to keep our ego in check. We’ve got to be careful that we’re not negotiating with God; that we’re yielding to God.

There’s a story I’d like to tell about yielding to God. The one thing that will set us free and change our lives in the most positive way possible. For many years, I ran from this topic of stewardship, because it can sound so much like “I want what you have.” That isn’t it at all. It’s about “I want you to have the best possible relationship with God that you can have.”

Acts 5:2-3
  1. And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
  2. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

I want to stop here. There was no problem with what Ananias and Sapphira did, in their actions. The problem was with what their promise was. To sell a piece of land and give part of the price to the church would be great. It’s awesome. But that’s not what their promise was. They promised to give the whole price of the land, and then they decided to keep back part of it.

Acts 5:4-5
  1. Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
  2. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

Ananias died. Was that not a powerful consequence? And again I want to emphasize: it wasn’t because he kept back part of the price; it was because he lied to God. We’ve got to be honest with God. We’ve got to make sure that what we say to God is what we do, and what we do is what we say.

In my experience as a pastor, I’ve had people come to me in confidence and say that they’ve got a problem with pornography. They say, “I’ve tried to quit, and the problem keeps coming back. It’s like I’m addicted.” And it becomes something you hide, something secret. And the worst part is, you go to share with someone about the goodness of God, and Satan says, “How can you even say anything?”

Anything that you think you’d like to keep secret from God isn’t worth keeping secret from God. I realize that this is hypothetical, because God knows everything, but it’s not worth keeping secret. In fact, take it to God.

Acts 5:6-7
  1. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
  2. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

They had the funeral while she was gone. So Peter spoke to her, and this was her big chance to make it right.

Acts 5:8-10
  1. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
  2. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
  3. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

If that doesn’t get your attention, then I don’t know what it would take to get your attention. We shouldn’t be living a life that is secret from God. This is a day of reckoning; this is a day of saying to God, “Whatever in my life isn’t right, make it right.” The message today is, “There shouldn’t be anything in my life that is secret from God or from others.”

I suspect that I’m not the only one her for which finances are a private topic. When I was a child in elementary school, I came home one day and said to my Dad, “How much money do you make?” And my Dad asked, “Why do you want to know?” I said, “Well, the kids at school were talking about how much their fathers make, and I wanted to know how much you make, so I could tell them.” So my Dad said, “It’s none of your business how much I make, and it’s certainly none of theirs. In fact, you should go back and tell those kids that they shouldn’t be talking about how much their fathers make.” So I went back to school the next day and did just what he told me. I went up to those kids and said, “Ah, my Dad wouldn’t tell me.”

So here’s the challenge:

  1. Are we dealing with God with an open heart and with an open hand?
  2. Are we willing to listen to God and follow his lead without negotiation?
  3. Are we yielded in a way that allows God to flow freely in our lives?