French Fries and Interior Decorating
Series: Prove God Stewardship Series, Sermon #1 of 3
January 12, 2014
A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available by emailing a request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The French fries illustration was borrowed from Glenn Newton’s sermon Who Is the Source of My French Fries? on SermonCentral.com.
TEXT: 1 Chronicles 29:16 – “O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.”
Let me preface today’s sermon with three statements that will undergird everything I’ll talk about today and over the next two Sundays:
• First, God wants believers to tithe a full 10% of their income to their local church. – I will prove in the last sermon in the series that tithing preceded the Law of Moses, was commanded in the Law, and is the baseline of giving in the New Testament age.
• My second preliminary statement is this: God promises to bless immeasurably those who tithe and bring a curse on those who do not. – I will also document this later on.
• Finally, God wants you to test Him on this promises to bless you for tithing; to literally PUT HIM TO THE TEST to see if He will indeed bless you for faithfulness in tithing.
I believe that God will prove Himself true if you will put Him to the test. I believe it so much that in the last sermon of our series, I’m going to give you an opportunity to participate in a plan to promise to tithe faithfully for 6 consecutive months, and if God has not blessed you in return, we offer a money-back guarantee.
No kidding!—Grace Baptist Church will actually refund your money. How can you lose with an opportunity like that?
With those honest, up-front remarks as to what we have in store for us, let us begin. Before we do, though, we need to examine the biblical teaching of stewardship.
In Matthew 25, Jesus told the parable of a landowner who had to go on a long trip. He had three servants to whom he entrusted his wealth and property and who he charged to invest and make a good return on his investment. That’s where we get the idea of Christian stewardship to begin with.
A steward is someone charged with the care, supervision and management of treasure or property that belongs to someone else. These men were stewards of the owner’s property and you and I are stewards of everything that God has put into our care—our money, our talents, and our time.
The master gave one servant 5 talents (which was a particular denomination of money); to another one he gave 2 talents; and to the third one he gave 1 talent. The first two servants went out and wisely invested the money the owner had placed into their care and doubled their investment, but the third one went out and buried his money, fearing that it would not make a good investment.
When the owner returned, he rewarded the first two servants because they had been good stewards with what He had put in their care; but he severely punished the third one because he had made no increase in what was put into his care.
There are four important principles of stewardship to see from this parable:
• The first is that what we have is not ours.
The money was not the servants’, it belonged to the master. I’m going to talk about that more a little later.
• The second principle we see is that we must invest what we have been given.
What has God put in our care to make a good investment for Him?...
1) First, God gives us TIME.
Each week we’re given 168 hours, to INVEST for eternal dividends not to SQUANDER in things that have no lasting value. Perhaps Missionary C.T. Studd said it best when he said: “Only one life; twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
2) Second, God has given each of us TALENTS to use for God’s glory and make a good return on His investment in us. – Are you investing your talents and abilities to advance God’s kingdom, or only for yourself?
3) Finally, God has given each of us TREASURE to be invested for His glory.
God wants us to invest money in the Kingdom of God, not squander our income on unnecessary things that will not last. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
We must invest what God has given to us and get a good return on it.
• The third principle is this: FAITH motivates stewardship; FEAR undermines it.
This will be the focus on next week’s sermon, but let me say a little about it now. Why did the good stewards achieve a good return? – Because they were CONFIDENT that they would be successful, which led them to ACTION. Why did the poor steward fail to make any return at all? – He was AFRAID that he would not be successful, so he did NOTHING. Why do believers not step out by faith and use their talents and abilities for God?—FEAR!
Why do Christians too often fail to step out and give God His tithe?— FEAR!
> Fear that they’ll not have enough money at the end of the month.
> Fear that God won’t keep His Word when He promised many, many times that He would bless us and meet our needs if we give to Him.
Proverbs 3:9-10 – “Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
These are just two of MANY promises of the living God that He will bless you if you give to Him.
So why do people who call themselves Christ’s DISCIPLES, who CLAIM to serve the living God, who claim to have FAITH in Him—why do they disobey His instructions to tithe?—Fear, faithlessness, and sometimes just plain ole’ selfishness.
• But there’s one more principle to see: That we must give account for our stewardship.
That’s right: Some day, just like those stewards, you’ll stand before God and He’ll require you to report on your stewardship of what He has placed in your care.
He’ll say, “I gave you abilities and talents to be used for my glory. How did you use them for an eternal return?” What will you say? Will you say, “Lord, I was too afraid to teach children; too busy to sing on the worship team; too lazy to clean the church; too engrossed with my own life to use my gifts to minister in my local church.”
God will ask, “I gave you 24 hours every day to use for my glory and the advancement of my kingdom. How did you invest the TIME I gave you.” – Will you say, “Father, I rarely invested any time in reading your Word. I was just too busy for You and Your things. I somehow found time for TV, fun, sports and work, but I just never found time enough for Sunday School or a homegroup or for prayer or to witness or ministry.”
And God will say, “I gave you TREASURE—money and things. How did you use what I put into your care? I only asked for 10% to give back to me. But I expected you to be good stewards of the remaining 90% too.” Will you say, “Lord, I just couldn’t trust you enough to give you back 10% of my income. I just couldn’t believe I could actually live better on 90% after I had tithed than 100% of selfishly held-on-to funds.” Will you say, “Lord, I squandered my money. I bought whatever my heart desired. I had to have the best, the biggest, the most I could afford. I was covetousness. I invested too much in THIS life, and not enough in the life to come. I was not even a good steward of the 90%.”
Now, I hate to shock you, but all that I have said up to this point has been my introduction! As I’ve thought about these things, I’ve been asking myself, What is it that keeps Christians from tithing? Or what would cause a person who is supposedly a believe to STOP tithing?
In the face of God’s clear commands to give to God and multiple promises of blessing if we give to God, WHY would a believer deliberately NOT do it? I’ve mulled this over and over in my mind many times because it really troubles me.
I thought long and hard about it until I realized that the whole problem boils down to a failure to grasp two key foundational truths underlying all stewardship—ownership and lordship. I want to break that down with two unusual illustrations:
I. FIRST, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND OWNERSHIP.
Remember, that was the first lesson we discussed from Matthew 25. Ownership—the fact that God owns everything and I own nothing. I own NOTHING; it’s ALL God’s and I’m just the steward of what belongs to GOD.
Once you get hold of this truth, you could never again let yourself let God down in the matter of giving to God.
So here’s what I think God wants me to ask you today: “Who owns your French fries?” Some of you are a little puzzled, so hang with me for my first illustration:
Illus. – When Chris was about 3, I decided to do something special with him. I said, “Son, is there anything you’d like to do right now?”
He said, “I want some McDonald FENCH FIES.”
Well, I said, “If that’s what my boy wants, that’s what he’ll get.”
So off we went in our red station wagon to McDonald’s to get some “fench fies.” On the way I could hear him saying, “Yay, Yay. Fench fies. Fench fies!”—all the way to McDonald’s—“Fench fies. Fench fies! Yayyyyyy!” (He REALLY liked McDonald’s “fench fies.”)
When we got there, I made the order, and he got REAL excited when I told the cashier to super-size it because he hadn’t expected that. We said a quick grace—so eager was he to start eating his “fench fies.” And you know what?—It really thrilled me to see Chris so happy.
Then I decided to join in the fun. I picked up 5 or 6 fries for myself and was shocked by Chris’s reaction. He quickly put his arms around his fries and said, “No! These are MINE!”
Well, I was so shocked and I couldn’t believe it—the little INGRATE! And it got me to thinking: I thought how Chris didn’t realize that I’M THE SOURCE of those fries. I’M the one who earned a living to be able to pay for the fries. At the counter, I’M the one who gave the cashier the money. I didn’t buy the small size, but something BIGGER than he expected.
Yet here he is talking about HIS French fries.
Not only was I the source of the French fries, but he had forgotten that I WAS 6 FEET, 2 INCHES TALL AND 185 POUNDS! I had the power to take ALL the fries from him, no matter how tightly his little chubby arms protected them. Or if I wanted to, I could go back to the counter and bring him so many fries that he could never eat them all.
And he also didn’t understand that I DIDN’T NEED HIS FRENCH FRIES. – I could go back to the counter and get as many fries as I wanted.
And those few fries really wouldn’t have really made any difference anyway.
What I wanted was for Chris to invite me into the wonderful little experience I had made possible for him. I wanted him to be willing to SHARE the very blessing that I had provided.
You see folks, when we talk about “stewardship,” I want you to realize that God takes us to McDonald’s on a regular basis in our lives. God blesses us all the time—more than we ever deserve! He’s given us all some French fries. Some have small bags, others medium, others large and some super size. But God has given us ALL some fries.
And just like me when I bought those fries for Chris, God desires to sit down at the table with us for some fellowship. When God reaches over to use some of the blessings He has given to us, far too often we say “No God, these are MINE. No! Go and get your own.” We try hoarding our blessings.
But folks, GOD is the SOURCE of ALL that we receive! And God has the ability to TAKE AWAY everything we think is ours and God also has the ability to GIVE us far more than what we have.
And I’ll tell you something else: God doesn’t need our puny little French fries, and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to share our fries with God! God doesn’t ask us to give because God is hurting and in desperate need. God asks us to give because God wants us TO BE LIKE HIM. God has a giving attitude and He wants that giving attitude modeled in his kids. The first Bible verse many people learn is John 3:16 which begins, “For God so love the world that he...[what? He…] gave His only begotten Son.”
Throughout the Bible, you find that God is always giving, giving, giving. In your own lives, how many of you have seen God’s ability to provide for you in ways that you had not even thought possible? Well folks, God is VITALLY interested in your response to the blessings He sends your way and what you choose to do with them.
Believer, LISTEN: GOD is the source and the owner of EVERYTHING you have.
II. THE SECOND PRINCIPLE IS THE PRINCIPLE OF LORDSHIP.
The word “lord” has two meanings in the Bible. It is used as a title for God, and in the New Testament, to show Christ’s DEITY. But it is also used to signify RULERSHIP: Who’s boss? Who gives the orders?
God wants you to come to the place where you obey Him in everything He commands.
> It’s a blessing to give to God because it gives us a chance to share with Him.
> It’s a blessing to give because we get the opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven.
> And it’s a blessing because God says He will bless me if I do it. – He promises in Malachi 3:10 – “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove [or “test”] me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” – Wow, what a PROMISE!
But wait a minute—your giving should not be because of what you can get out of it. You ought to do it to acknowledge God’s lordship in your life. When you give to God, it shows that God is taking control of a very important area in your life. It’s giving God the right to be your interior decorator.
Illus. –Picture your life as a house…(FLOOR PLAN IN POWERPOINT: EXPLAIN GOD GOING INTO the living room; then the kitchen; then the bed rooms one by one; then the closets we want to keep for our own control; and finally, the shoe boxes, and God cleaning up and taking control of each room, closet, even the shoe boxes one by one, representing God’s getting progressively more lordship and control of various areas of our lives.)
CONCLUSION – Let me close by asking you 2 simple questions:
• First, who owns your french fries?
If you belong to God by faith in His Son, EVERYTHING you own belongs to God. All He asks is 1 french fry out of 10 when it comes to tithing. SHARE with Him; share with OTHERS.
• Second, how’s the interior decorating going?
What rooms are you closing off to God that you need to open up this morning? Do you have any closets you’ve padlocked and said, “God, not here. This is mine. Keep out!” You can’t do that because, remember, God owns everything. He owns your house, and that house, remember, represents YOU. Let him take control of each room and be your boss and Lord now. He’s a LOT better at this interior decorating thing than you are!
Got any shoe boxes you’re trying to hide? Sorry, those belong to Him too. When He bought you, He bought you lock, stock and barrel. Acknowledge His Lordship over your TIME, TALENTS and even your TREASURE.