DELIGHTING IN GOD'S GRACE
Sermon shared by Johann Neethling
Summary: Sermon 1 in a 4-part series on Stewardship. Believers are those who choose a "heavenly" over a "worldly" perspective. It imapcts their attitude, amplitude, and gratitude.
Series: “We Are Now God’s Stewards”
Denomination: United Methodist
Audience: General adults
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“We Are Now God’s Stewards”
DELIGHTING IN GOD’S GRACE
Psalm 23 and Luke 15: 11-32
1. (Show the following image on Overhead Projector) http://www.sierranv.net/~dscheibl/optical.html
2. As you look at that picture, what is it that you see? One minute you see a haggard old woman and another, a beautiful young girl. Which picture is the correct one? I guess the answer here is neither. It all depends on which one you choose to focus.
3. In a similar way, we as believers face a choice as we look out onto the world around us, about which of two perspectives we are going to focus on – the view from earth or the view from heaven.
• Now in this picture of the two women – the choice about which woman you prefer to look at is really neither here nor there – it makes no difference to anyone other than yourself.
• But, it makes all the world of difference about which vantage point you choose to focus on as you consider the world and all that is in it. Because your perspective will impact and shape your:
ATTITUDE – YOUR WAY OF THINKING AND BEHAVING
1. The view from a “this world” perspective can either frighten you into withdrawal or passivity – fearing there is nothing much you can do to make any difference. Or it can generate within you what I call “the AVIS Rent-a-Car ‘We Try Harder’ spirit” - the belief that if you just try a bit harder you can change things for the better.
• This is the spirit that relies on human strength, ingenuity, and determination.
• It’s the proud spirit that says “we can lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps” –
• it’s the spirit that motivated the builders of the Tower of Babel to say “Come let us make a name for ourselves and build our own stairway to heaven”.
• It’s also the spirit evident in the older brother in the story of the Prodigal son who figured that because he had stayed home and worked hard and done his duty that he deserved to be rewarded in some way by his father – that his father “owed him” – “I’ve done all this work for you and you never once threw a party for me and my friends!”
• So close to his dad and yet so far from his heart! Had his perspective of his father been different he could have asked him at any time and his dad would have been delighted to bless his son with a huge shebang – a party he and his friends would never forget.
• Sadly there are those in the church, who have been there many, many years – working and serving hard, doing their fair share and more, never shirking their responsibilities, even picking up after the slackers – who have much the same mindset and in all those years have never yet come to know the Father’s heart. They’ve never experienced the party or asked dad for one.
2. The view from heaven, on the other hand, agrees with Jesus’ word in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches and that “apart from Him we can do nothing”. But also agrees with the word of Paul in Ephesians 6:10 that encourages us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” and in Philippians 4: 13 that says, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me”.
• It’s a perspective that acknowledges our own absolute weakness and frailty and utter unworthiness – as the Prodigal did on returning home, willing to just be a servant in the Father’s house, and can likewise
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