Summary: The first in a month-long stewardship series. Financial giving boils down to obedience. Who owns your stuff?
Stewardship I - Ownership and Obedience
1. Read I Kings 17:7-16
2. (This story is an adaptation from an illustration from Leonard Sweet) Let me tell you about a trip Grant and I made to McDonald’s last spring. Dana and Jackson were on a field trip to Hendersonville … and it was lunchtime … and I was hungry (2+2 … you do the math).
· I was trying to eat just a little healthier so I ordered a salad. Grant (four years old) is a nugget man. But the showstopper at McDonald’s is their fries.
· He sat there smiling at me, eating his nuggets, sipping his Coke and dipping his fries in the huge dollop of ketchup I had made for him. It was a great father-son moment.
· Then I messed it all up. Wanting to "share in my son’s joy" of eating the french fries, I reached over and took two. His smile vanished. His eyes narrowed. He looked accusingly at me. "Those are mine."
· I froze. I was surprised. Let’s think through this:
· Somehow Grant forgot that I was the source of those fries. He didn’t buy those fries with the money he earned hanging sheetrock. The money for those fries came from the pocket, and the work, of his father.
· And I hadn’t just given him the little boy’s Happy Meal either. I had given him the Super Size Value Meal; far more than he expected.
· Somehow Grant forgot that I didn’t need his permission to take those fries. I’m 5’10", 210. I could take him down if I wanted.
· Somehow Grant forgot that I didn’t need his french fries. I could go buy my own if I wanted.
· We had a showdown over two french fries. But maybe I just wanted to share with him some of the blessing I had made possible for him.
3. A couple of Sunday night’s ago we talked about being a steward of what God has given us. Even in my own life, there are things God has given me:
· My marriage and the boys
· My gifts and talents
· My money
· My health
· My time
· My church
4. All those things that belong to me – my health, my money, my time, my job, my family, my gifts – aren’t really mine at all. They’re gifts from God. There’s no question who owns them. The question is what will I do with them.
5. U2 lead singer Bono said, “The God I believe in isn’t short of cash.” That’s true. You know what He is short of? People who aren’t into ownership, but into obedience.
6. Let’s look at the Scripture again.
· Background: Elijah had declared that a famine would spread throughout the land. This didn’t sit too well with the King, so Elijah became an outlaw. The Lord told him to go to a particular brook where he could drink. And God sent the ravens to bring him bread and meat every morning and bread and meat every evening.
· "But first make me …" Ladies, isn’t that just like a man?
· Vs. 13-14. The command is never given without the promise.
· When God asks something from us, it’s not because he needs your piano skills, Marie. And it’s not because he needs your voice, Jeff. And it’s not because he needs you to be a teacher, Rick.
· It’s because he wants our obedience. And when we obey, like a loving earthly father would, he will heap out his blessings on his children.
· The woman went from starvation to plenty because of her obedience. It wasn’t easy. It took faith. But she was given the opportunity to hold tightly or to hold loosely. She trusted God with what wasn’t hers to begin with.
7. A Life Application Bible study note says, “But every miracle, large or small, begins with an act of obedience. We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith.”
8. Grant seemed a little silly that day eyeballing me over two french fries. I didn’t tell you the end of that story. I knocked him out of his swivel chair and took all the fries I wanted. (OK not really)
9. Our ownership of what isn’t ours to begin with isn’t silly, from God’s perspective. I think we grieve him. He doesn’t want our stuff. He wants our obedience.
10. Prayer for an open heart. For God to show us what we’ve been withholding. For willingness to give up what we hold so tightly, but what doesn’t belong to us to begin with.