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Summary: Stewardship is God’s invitation to us to experience freedom rather than live as slaves. Are you ready to take a journey of faith and liberation?

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Church Humor (from The Daily Dilly, 1/6/03) as cited at http://bible.christianity.com/SermonHelps/11546199/

“Here are some comments you’ll probably never hear at church:

1.Hey! It’s my turn to sit in the front pew.

2.I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon went 25 minutes over time.

3.Personally I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf.

4.I’ve decided to give our church the $500 a month I used to send to TV evangelists.

5.I volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class.

6.I love it when we sing hymns I’ve never heard before!

7.Since we’re all here, let’s start the service early.

8.Pastor, we’d like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas.

9.Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign! “

When people hear the word STEWARDSHIP they begin checking out! I’ve learned after twenty plus years of church leadership that there are two things people don’t want to talk about or touch – family and finances. Before you start checking your blackberries or text messages, take a moment to explore with me the question that helps us understand that stewardship goes beyond finances.

What is a Steward?

Stew•ard (st rd, sty -) n.

- One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs (dictionary.com)

I am fascinated with the definition provided by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – I quote in part:“Stewardship:

•is a commitment to responsible resource development that all CAPP members uphold.

•drives the belief that good is never good enough.

•promotes the development of best practices...”

http://www.capp.ca/default.asp?V_DOC_ID=5

Sounds like something the Church should post around its buildings, at least the key words like commitment, drives, and development. Stewardship is God’s invitation to us to experience freedom rather than live as slaves. Are you ready to take a journey of faith and liberation? Will you embrace the invitation to join the “Full Life” Investor’s Group – to experience the fullness of investing God’s resources that he entrusted to you?

We experience “full life” when we practice stewardship. To practice stewardship we must understand that Stewardship is totally about relationships.

God invites us to recognize several “Full life” principles that, if embraced, will change the way we look at life and the way we respond to life.

“Full life” principle #1:

Stewardship understands that God owns everything I have.

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”

- Stewardship represents our God-given privilege to be in management – God’s property, finances and affairs

- Stewardship is not only about money. It digs deeper to commitment, contribution, community and calling to the world, which we will consider in Romans 12.

- What would change if we all sat at our computers, made a list of the time, talents and treasures we have and we asked one question: What’s the best way I can put God’s resources to work for him since he trusted me with these resources?

The theme of Romans 12 is STEWARDSHIP– the header “living sacrifices” is the summation of stewardship. It is the understanding that my very existence, possessions and response to life, is mine for the sole purpose of honoring God in every aspect of that existence and possession. I said earlier that stewardship is God’s invitation to us to experience freedom rather than live like slaves. For instance, we are terribly materialistic. Channel surfing this week – 7 or 9 shows on product promotion – from get rich quick schemes to the CD kit that will tone your body and turn heads. When God is not front-row-center in our lives, we become slaves to an empty life that does not seem to have any specific meaning or purpose (temporality) – live in the NOW and plan for the THEN. (Not bad per se but only a problem when God is not front-row-center in the planning).

How do we get to the reality of “living sacrifices” or STEWARDSHIP EXTRADIONAIRE? Paul breaks it down for us. Stewardship understands that God owns everything we have.

“Full Life” principle 2:

2. Stewardship practices reflect the extent that God owns me.

“Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation spends millions of dollars regularly since 1999 on television and other forms of media advertising offering the free book, “Power for Living”. Non-denominational pastor and author Jamie Buckingham wrote the book. DeMoss’ business reached half a billion dollars in assets. An economic recession resulted in Arthur’s stock plummeting so that he was losing $3 million per day, and lost $360 million dollars in four months. Citing one source, “The story tells that rather than becoming devastated and decreasing his gifts to God, Arthur increased his giving on every front. When asked why he did this he said, “The Lord gave me everything I have. It all belongs to Him and if he wants to take it away that’s His business. I don’t lose any sleep. I still have a wonderful family. I will do anything God wants me to do. If He takes away everything He has entrusted to me and calls me to the mission field, I’m ready to go. All He needs to do is tell me.”

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