Summary: The message is the 5th in the series... this message centers on helping beleivers move towards God’s goal of a 10% tithe. People are encouaged to begin at 4 or 5 % and every year add 1 or 2% helping them see the "process’ of growth, just as imitating Jes

In Jesus Holy Name February 10, 2008

Lent I Redeemer

“Stewardship: Managing the Things of God”

5th in the series: “God’s Economic Plan”

Our congregational mission statement is: “Connecting People to Jesus and To One Another.” Yesterday, 60 plus women attended our women’s luncheon. It was a wonderful event. Cindy Newkirk, the guest speaker shared stories from her life and her faith in Jesus Christ.

One of the key phrases I used in last weeks message was: “Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic. It is a process.” As Lutheran Christians we confess with Martin Luther in his definition to the 3rd article of the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe that I can not by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel….”

We are to be good managers of our time; Saturday was a good use of time. We know that we also need to develop friendships with and care for people “on their way” towards Jesus, but not there yet. We demonstrate God’s love all the while knowing that it is God’s Holy Spirit that convicts a person’s heart of their need for God.

Yesterday’s luncheon was an opportunity to connect women who are seeking spiritual truth to Jesus Christ. Connecting one’s heart to Jesus and developing new friends takes time. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic. It is a process. You are a work in process. Our "outreach luncheons" are a work in process.

When you try to ripen fruit too quickly, it loses flavor. In America, tomatoes are usually picked green, unripened so they won’t bruise during the shipping to stores. Then before they are sold, these green tomatoes are gased with CO 2, they turn read and are edible, but they are no match for the flavor of vine ripened tomatoes that are allowed to mature slowly.

The fast food industry is a statement about our lives. We are a product of our culture. Our computers are faster every year. They hold more memory every year, and we are addicted to our I pods that hold a ca-trillion songs. What happens when problems arise in our lives? We want a sermon or a seminar to resolve all our problems and temptations in a short time. God is more interested in developing a Christ like character than providing us with instant gratification.

James writes: “Consider it pure joy, …when ever you face trials of many kinds….the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature…” (James 1:2) Paul wrote: “Our lives become brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (II Cor. 3:18b)

Throughout this stewardship series I have made the point that God created each of us to be managers. We are to manage all that he has entrusted to our care. Our time. His written word, so that we can share “the Divine Plan”. We are to be good stewards of the earth. We are to use or gifts and talents to serve others.

God also wants us to be good managers of our finances. God has an economic plan for our lives. In the Bible, a steward was a servant entrusted to manage an estate. Joseph was this kind of servant as a prisoner in Egypt. Potiphar entrusted Joseph with his home. Then the jailer entrusted Joseph with his jail. Eventually Pharaoh entrusted the entire nation to him. God expects us to be trustworthy with all the resources he has provided us, including our financial resources.

To be a real servant you are going to have to settle the issue of money in your life. Jesus said, “no servant can serve two masters… you can not serve both God and money.” Jesus did not say wealth was a sin. It is not. But failing to use the wealth God has entrusted to you is.

Remember the parable of the talents? (Matt. 25:14) “To one servant the master gave 5 talents of money, to another 2 talents of money and to a 3rd one talent of money, each according to their ability.” Two of the servants put the money to work. The 3rd buried his. With privileges, come responsibilities.

Jesus said, “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

In Deuteronomy 8 Moses puts everything into perspective. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” (Who gave the land? God) “Be careful not to forget…when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase…do not let your heart become proud ….thinking you did this on your own merit…. For it is the Lord who gives you the ability.”

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