Summary: Message preached to kick off a Capital Stewardship Program

God’s Good Plan for You

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Today we begin an adventure that your church leadership believes is the plan of God for First Church of Christ. I come as a pastor. I will join your staff for the next 3 months and follow-up with you for the following 3 years. I am a Stewardship Pastor guiding you in a Capital Stewardship Campaign

I know there is always some apprehension about stewardship ministry. Some question, "Why have we engaged an outsider to do this job? Will he high-pressure and coerce us? Will he beat us up to get us to give? I want to assure you that I don’t come as a “fund-raiser” but as a pastor who is concerned about God’s good plan for you. God’s word says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:11-13)

Jesus emphasizes the high importance of our money in the New Testament. At least 16 of His 38 parables deal with money and the use of possessions. One of eight verses in the Gospels deals with the subject of money. More is said about money than heaven and hell combined. For every verse on prayer there are five about money. More than 2,000 verses deal with money and possessions. Yet:

God’s plan is more about living than it is about giving.

John 12:24-26a (NIV)— "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me."

Living in the plan of God means that you must be a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ. How does that work out?

God’s plan involves purposeful Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 I love the way J. B. Phillips paraphrases this passage — "With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity.

Madison Avenue specializes in squeezing us into the mold of the world. The pressure is on every time I turn on the TV, read a magazine or look at a billboard.

To overcome this pull we must redirect our attitudes.

Proverbs 1:17-19 (New Living) — "When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away. But not these people! They set an ambush for them¬selves; they booby-trap their own lives! Such is the fate of all who are greedy for gain. It ends up robbing them of life."

At a missions conference in Manila I heard a man from China who had suffered terrible persecution because of his faith in Jesus. This was the Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization. Some of the greatest preachers in the world were there, but I don’t remember much of what they said. It was this Chinese layman that impacted me and it was just one month after the Tianamen Square massacre. This man told of how the Communist government had imprisoned and tortured him because of his faith in Christ. His tormentors finally decided that the worst thing they could do to him was to force him to work in a cesspool of human waste. Day after day his guards gagged as they pushed him into the putrid mess. But that dear man said, “Oh how I praised God for the cesspool. There they would leave me alone and all day I could pray aloud and sing praises to Jesus!” And then in his quivering, accented English he sang a song that I has never been one of my favorites, but is beloved by many. He gave it new meaning as he intoned:

I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses;

And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,

The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own,

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

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