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Summary: Through caring conversations, devotions, service and rituals we nourish our faith and shine brightly in a world of darkness.

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Romans 8:31-39 “Against the Flow”

INTRODUCTION

For the past four weeks, we have talked about (what I like to call) wholistic stewardship. The proposition I have presented is that Biblical stewardship involves more than what we drop in the offering basket. Stewardship is more than using our talents and volunteering our time. Biblical, wholistic stewardship involves our entire lives, and includes financial management, contentment, gratitude, simplicity, and generosity.

If we respond to God’s love and grace; God’s abundant blessings in our lives, with Biblical, wholistic stewardship, we will be going against the flow of American culture. Practicing a lifestyle that is countercultural, in order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and experience the abundant life that is ours through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, will take intentionality, endurance, and patience. At times it will be incredibly difficult. It will be amazingly similar to salmon swimming upstream. But, it will be worth it!

LIVES OF TRUST

Many of the songs we sing speak of our trust in the Lord. Songs like, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God, A bulwark never failing,” “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, much we need thy tender care,” and “Children of the Heavenly Father, safely in his bosom gather.” These hymns are great statements of faith. They are words of comfort and strength, but often our actions do not mirror their message.

Trust invites us to rest in God’s presence and to enjoy the peace that passes all understanding. God is in control. Even though the storm is raging, Jesus is in the boat with us, and he can still the storm.

Trust invites us to be content. God wants the very best for us. God’s very best may not be riches, comfort, security, or fame—in fact these probably are God’s best. God does want us, however, to experience full, blessed, abundant lives. Living in the reality of this truth, we can be content—a deep, stable contentment.

While everyone around us is busy going around in circles trying to grab the brass ring, we can rejoice that we already have the ring—the source of life and happiness—Jesus Christ. And we can give our time, talents and treasures knowing that God will provide for us in the days ahead just as he has done in times past.

LIVES OF GRATITUDE

Trusting that God holds us in the palm of his hands, we can not only be content we can also be grateful. God wants the very best for us and we can rejoice in this. We can also rejoice that God is a God of abundance and not a God of scarcity.

Our words can become thank offerings for God’s love and grace.

We can remind ourselves that things “Could be worse.” We can look around us and see the needs of others, rather than look above us and envy the blessings of others.

We can discipline ourselves to take time each day to list five items for which we are thankful—reminding ourselves that we are blessed.

LIVES OF SERVICE AND GENEROSITY

All around us we see people whose goal in life is to acquire as much stuff as possible. They live by the mantra, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” We also see how empty their lives are. In contrast we see people who give and serve. When we view their lives we realize that they have found a joy to life and caught a glimpse of what life is all about that few have experienced.

God is a God who gives. The Lord gave us his son because of his great love for us and all humankind. Jesus gave his life because of his love for us. We, as his followers, take up Jesus’ ministry and give from our blessings, because of our love.

Even in the midst of our own struggles, we are able to give. Those who look beyond themselves rise above their circumstances and experience the abundant life. Conversely, those who dwell on their pain and suffering, sink deeper into the mire of their situation.

In trust and in gratitude we live lives of service and generosity.

CONCLUSION

This is Commitment Sunday. Of course, I want you to support the ministry of our Lord through Desert Streams. I truly believe that God has done and is doing great things in us and through us. Lives are being touched with the gospel of Jesus Christ—and they are being transformed.

More than simply giving a little more in the offering baskets, my prayer is that you might experience the joy of the Lord, the abundant life that is ours and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Responding to God’s love and grace, I pray that you might practice wholistic stewardship—financial discipline, contentment, gratitude, simplicity and generosity. As you do this, may you shine brightly for Jesus Christ!

Amen

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