Summary: A sermon on how Faith and Stewardship are connected
Last week during the Senior Recognition, one of our seniors mentioned her favorite verse was Matthew 19:26b; “for God everything is possible.” No matter where you go, or no matter what your station in life maybe. God is with you and He can make all things possible.
Lets repeat Paul’s words to the prison guards, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” Today we know that Paul was talking about more than being saved from the physical harms and terror of an earthquake. Today we know that Paul was talking about the spiritual harm we bring to our lives through our missed steps in our faith walk.
In our account in Acts of Paul and Silas, we see them singing praises and praying to God. We don’t hear of either of them saying, “What are we gonna do now?” “How are we going to get out of this mess?” We are told they are singing and praying to God. They were singing praises, not lamentations but praises to Him.
Even when the jail was shaken by that massive earthquake, they were strengthened in their belief that nothing would happen to them. Paul and Silas were so convinced of this that they shared their faith in God with those around them.
Paul and Silas understood that no matter what the physical world may throw at them, God was far more powerful. They also understood that God’s protection extended far beyond the realm of the world of which they were in.
What do I mean by extension beyond the physical world? They had faith in Christ Jesus in the understanding that even if they were to die that night, they would be lifted up in glory to be with Him. Moreover, they believed that Jesus Christ had died for them and had taken away any judgment they might face in death.
They believed this so much, that they confidently shared their belief with those around them. And those frightened people could see the confidence that Paul and Silas had in their faith in Jesus Christ. They saw that they were also able to believe when every thing seemed to be falling down around them.
For many people it takes an earthquake of a sort before they reach that point in which they put their whole trust in God.
Jesus prayed that the disciples and all those they would reach would not have to come to such a point. He prayed that others would see the faith they had in God, just as the disciples had witnessed God through Jesus.
You see it should not take an earthquake or any other natural disaster to move us closer to depending on God. We are fortunate in the fact that we can learn from the countless examples recorded in the scriptures and historical reading of fellow Christians.
However, even with all that material available to us, this year I learned that one of the hardest things that some congregations and church leaders as a whole have trouble with is trusting God. How many realize that stewardship, good stewardship, is a total act in faith?
Now stewardship and tithing are related. However, it is not and should not become a fund raising gimmick. What I learned at the Stewardship Academy this year was that if you make it a “fundraising campaign” you will most likely fail. Stewardship is a whole encompassing thing of the time and the sacrifice of your first fruits.
This is a total act of faith to believe that after you have given the top 10% of your income, God will take care of your needs and make up the remainder. In other words, if you give with a cheerful heart and believe that Jesus Christ will take care of your needs, you will make it.
It is also a total act of faith in your giving of time. I figured it up one day, to truly give a tithe of time and talents one would have to set aside nearly 15 hrs a week strictly to spend with God by themselves. This does not include time spent at church, youth group, or Sunday School. This is time between you, God, and the Commission He has given you.
You may be wondering why, all this talk about stewardship. Well, our stewardship is a good work seen by others. This is what James talked about in chapter 2 of his letter. Our stewardship is our visible sign of the faith which we as a congregation have in God. It is the very representation of the ultimate trust we give God over our lives. When we fail to “give” because we are not sure we will make the next month’s bills, then that could be a sign of lack of faith on our parts.