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Summary: Third in a series of four messages on Stewardship. Based on UM congregational pledge and UM "Guidelines"

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Proverbs 11:24-29 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell. He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

Acts 20:34-35 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"

Christian Stewardship - Part 3

- Once again, let’s recap.

- We covered Prayer.

- Under prayer we talked about a Christian steward being prayerful, content, and trustworthy.

- Next we talked about Presence.

- In that vein we learned that a Christian Steward is loyal, obedient, and sacrificial.

- Anyone have any insight from last week’s message or Scriptures that they need to share with us this week?

- Are you all still with me?

- (Allow Time)

- Good, let’s move on.

- This week we’re going to talk about that third thing that we pledge when we welcome new members and newly baptized persons to the congregation.

- We’re going to talk about gifts.

- First, let’s understand what it is that we mean when we say gifts.

- What is a gift?

- Once again, dictionary.com says that a gift is

- Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.

- The act, right, or power of giving.

- A talent, endowment, aptitude, or inclination.

- Probably the two that we need to focus on are 1 and 3.

- First, something given voluntarily and without compensation.

- Yes, this is money.

- You knew we’d have to talk about that at some point.

- We give back to God in response to the grace that He has gifted us with.

- We don’t expect compensation from God or the church for what we give.

- But I think that this second definition is even more important.

- A talent, endowment, aptitude, or inclination.

- You’ve probably heard this referred to as Spiritual gifts or talents.

- It’s what we are able to do and do well without having learned it somewhere or taken a class.

- Ed McManus, editor of The Jokesmith newsletter explains it this way.

- He wrote a human resources book called What is a Human Resource?

- In it he explains how people get assigned to particular jobs.

- You leave them in a conference room for four hours.

- Then, you go back to see what they’re doing.

If they don’t look up when you enter the room, assign them to the Security Department.

If they’re counting the butts in the ashtray, put them in Finance.

If they’ve taken the table apart, put them in Engineering.

If they’re screaming and waving their arms, send them off to Manufacturing.

And if they’ve left early, put them in Sales.

- We’re each given at least one gift.

- Maybe you’re a good speaker or you work well with kids.

- Maybe it’s as simple as you understand and can offer hospitality.

- Whatever it is, how are you using that gift for your church?

- Because let’s face it folks, a gift must be used or it goes to waste.

- There’s a story about the great violinist, Nicole Pagannini.

- When he died, he willed his marvelous violin to Genoa, the city of his birth, only on the condition that it not be played.

Now Pagannini’s violin is constructed of a peculiar wood in that as long as the violin is used and handled, it shows little wear.

- As soon as it is discarded, the wood begins to decay.

- The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless except as a relic.

- The moldering instrument is a reminder that our gifts, withdrawn from all service to others, lose their meaning and usefulness.

- God assures us that we all have gifts.

- The question is are you using them and for whom?

- So, let’s get into the worksheets for this week.

- Everybody got them out?

Generous

- First, a Christian Steward is generous.

- The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by.

- The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right even to lift a solicitous hand.

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