Summary: A sermon on the parables of Luke 15 focused on stewardship, finances, and money
When D.L. Moody was directing his Sunday School in Chicago, one boy walked several miles to attend; and somebody asked him, “Why don’t you go to a Sunday School closer to home?”
His reply might have been used by the publicans and sinners in Jesus’ day: “Because they love a feller over there.”
It is significant that Jesus attracted sinners while the Pharisees repelled them. (What does this say about some of our churches today?) Lost sinners came to Jesus, not because He catered to them or compromised His message, but because He cared for them. He understood their needs and tried to help them, while the Pharisees criticized them and kept their distance. The Pharisees had a knowledge of the Old Testament Law and a desire for personal purity, yet they had no love for lost souls.
Thesis: Let’s talk about stewardship principles from Luke 15
I. Avoid the extremes by keeping our focus on God and others
Might get the idea from this series that we want everyone to be miserly, penny pinchers, and tight wads. No, might need to be that way for a time to eliminate debt but over the long haul to be miserly, an Ebenezer Scrooge type, is not good or biblical.
“The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” Ecclesiastes 7:18, NIV.
Our relationship with God and others should always come before stuff that money can buy. Remember the Great Commandment: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39, NIV.
On the parable of the prodigal son, the youth group went over this modern day setting (from Generation Change video by Dave Ramsey):
Your invited to a party, a welcome home kind of party, a cake, live music and tons of people kind of party. It’s being thrown by the big man in town himself, Mr. Williams. He’s the one with the nice house and the booming family business. His oldest son Josh works with him. His youngest son Blake used to work with him too but he’s been gone for a while. Josh is a nice guy, he doesn’t ask for much, but he’s mixed up when it comes to money. Truth is he’s kind of a tight wad. But Blake on the other hand is the typical baby of the family, he’s all about having a good time. Blake spends every dollar he gets on an all consuming quest for fun and adventure. So one day he asked his dad for some money, and not just 20 bucks but his entire inheritance. Mr. Williams was sad but he handed it over and Blake left to find himself with pockets full of money. So now Mr. Williams works alongside one son who has a death grip on every dollar he makes, and the old dad really misses another son who hit the road spending everything he has on nothing that really matters, caring only about partying with his so called friends. Josh is pretty steamed. He works long and hard everyday for just a tiny portion for what Blake got for free. But Blake’s ride on the wild side just ended, he just founded himself with no money, no friends, and no food. Right now pig slop is looking pretty tasty. Well tonight he’s coming home. With a deep breath Blake turns onto the driveway of that amazing family home, he’s just hoping to get a job as a butler in the old man’s house. But then out of nowhere Blake sees his dad. In a flash Mr. Williams is up and running. Blake is shocked. He can hear his dad’s shouts and laughter all the way down the driveway. The father wraps his arms around his son and immediately calls for a huge celebration and invites Blake inside. But Blake seeing Josh on the porch stops short. He watches as his dad talks with Josh. Blake knows the expression on his brother’s face. He’s mad, really mad. Blake is not sure to run inside or run away. Guilt, anger, regret, pride. Will the brother’s even come to the party, would you come to the party? Maybe you are like Josh, hard work and money matter so much that it is easy to forget where your blessings really come from. Or maybe your like Blake, you think you can only be happy if cash is falling out of your pockets, and a dozen fake friends following behind you. But Mr. Williams, grace flows from him, he’s not controlled by money, he’s knows how and when to use it, he doesn’t keep it all to himself or throw it all away, you see when we live like Josh or Blake we are basing our identity around stuff, how much stuff we have or earn or save or spend or buy. Our focus is on the gift and not the giver. And that is how we come to the Father, with all of our pride, selfishness, mistakes and grief. But every time he hears us, he corrects, he forgives, he listens, he comforts. Whether you have hidden all of our money in a sock drawer or you have gone on a wild and crazy spending spree and blown all you have, he doesn’t just see our mistakes, he sees you. We have a Father who is inviting us to place our identity in him alone, to follow his ways of handling money, to come to the party, you are standing at the door and all you have to do is step inside, this is your invitation.