Stewardship – What Is It – What Does It Mean:
Good Morning – How is everyone today? I hope you had a wonderful week. It has been a very wonderful and eventful week for Grace Point. We welcomed a new Overseer into our Leadership and that is such a joy and a blessing – Peter is a wonderful man of Christ and I am looking forward to his wisdom and discernment being a strong and effective voice in the leadership of Grace Point.
Also, we have taken the next steps in partnering with Grace Capitol and the association of Foursquare Churches – you will all be hearing more about this as we move forward, but by way of background, The Foursquare Association of Churches started back in the 1920’s, In Oakland California.
The founder was Missionary and Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. Aimee had been the wife of Missionary Robert Semple, but during a missionary trip to China, Robert passed away and Aimee returned home with their 1 month old daughter. Over the next couple of years, The Lord placed on Aimee’s heart a call for independent churches.
One thing Aimee had noticed during her time in the mission field, was that churches affiliated with the mainline denominations (Catholic, Methodist, Baptist etc) had a lot of support and resources, but churches outside those denominations, many of them small independent churches – churches located all over the world, had no network of support and the mainline denominations tried to force fit them into their mold or rejected them if they would not do so and so Aimee had a call to connect those churches through an association of interdenominational brotherhood.
The term “Foursquare: and or "Foursquare Gospel" came about during an intense revival in the city of Oakland, Calif. in July 1922. As thousands gathered to hear the gospel and to hear about the vision God had given Aimee for bringing together these churches in a likeminded call for interdenominational support; Aimee described the vision God had given her and she used a parallel to Ezekiel’s vision in the book of Ezekiel, chapter one:
Ezekiel 1:4-13 (New International Version)
4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. 10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. 12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures;
To Aimee this was a clear vision of the different aspects of Christ represented in the different aspects of the various churches with the Spirit of the Lord moving amongst the churches uniting them and bringing them together as they touched one another to help each other reach out and touch the world for Christ.
The four faces took on the faces of Christ’s ministry - In the face of the man, was Jesus our Savior, the "man of sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3); in the face of the lion, was Jesus the mighty Baptizer with the Holy Spirit; In the face of the ox, was Jesus the Great Burden-bearer and healer who Himself took our infirmities and carried our sicknesses, carried or sins so that we might be healed; and in the face of the eagle, was reflected the Coming King--who is returning in power for His bride, the church.
Form that vision, the term Foursquare sprung forth and took root and the Vision of interdenominational support and brotherhood God had given to Aimee became know as Foursquare.
Grace Point seeks to tap into this association of interdenominational support and brotherhood and we have taken the initial steps that will allow us to do so. So in the coming months you will see some of the benefits of that relationship – there will be a rebranding of Grace Point in the community as we take on the name of Foursquare – i.e. – “Grace Point a Foursquare Association Church” and we will also be getting the benefit of Pastoral support as the Foursquare Association as agreed to help us fund a Pastor and we have asked them to do so.
I feel this will be such a blessing and needed step for Grace Point as we prepare ourselves to take the next steps that God has laid out for us.
And that brings us back to the Study Series we have been doing and the Study Series we are going to be starting today:
I would like to do that by reading a poem that goes like this:
I was shocked, confused, bewildered,
As I entered Heaven’s door.
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.
And why’s everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.
Hush, child, He said, they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.
I love that poem – it has such a truth to it. We go through life seeing the world and all we interact with in that world – through our own prism and God is constantly trying to teach us to take those filters off and put on Christ-colored glasses so we can see the world through His eyes and act accordingly – Jesus is telling us that just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
And that is what our Study in the Book of Ephesians was all about. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus had 6 chapters in it. The first 3 chapters told us who and who’s we are in Christ and the last three chapters told us what our responsibilities were in Christ and how we are expected to go about fulfilling those responsibilities. The whole letter reminded us that we are Christ’s physical body here on earth and that the Christ the world comes to know is the Christ they see in us.
If we want the world to see a forgiving Christ, then we need to be forgiving, if we want the world to know a loving Christ, then we need to love, if we want the world to see Christ the Servant, then we need to serve and if we want the world to see a Christ that is powerful enough and strong enough to save them – then we need to stand firm in Christ and allow them to see a Christ so powerful in our life that He saved us – saved us from the temptations of this world, but most importantly, saved us from ourselves – let them see a Christ that is powerful enough to change our heart in ways they can see and that is a Christ that they will come to.
That is what Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus is all about and that is what we have spent the last 3 plus months studying and today we are going to start on another study that takes the foundation we laid in our Ephesus Study and builds upon that. Today we are going to begin a study in Stewardship:
Show Video Clip – Jesus Disciples
What exactly is Stewardship anyway?
Well Webster defines Stewardship like this:
Stewardship: 1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward 2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of someone else’s property: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.
Steward: one entrusted to manage the affairs and estate of another.
Wikipedia - Stewardship is personal responsibility for taking care of another person’s property or financial affairs. Historically, stewardship was the responsibility given to household servants to bring food and drinks to a big castle dining hall. The term was then expanded to indicate a household employee’s responsibility for managing household or domestic affairs. Stewardship later became the responsibility for taking care of passengers’ domestic needs on a ship, train and airplane, or managing the service provided to diners in a restaurant. The term continues to be used in these specific ways, but it is also used in a more general way to refer to a responsibility to take care of something one does not own.
The video told us that we are Jesus’ Disciples and our Study in the Book of Ephesians taught as that we are Christ’s physical body here on earth and as such, we are called to be His Stewards:
1 Corinthians 4:1-2 (New American Standard Bible)
1Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (New American Standard Bible)
10As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We are called to be Christ’s Stewards – we are called to manage on Christ’s behalf all that is His:
Proverbs 3:5-10 (New International Version)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Normally when most of us think of stewardship, we consider it merely as a matter of how we manage our money and how much of that money we give to the church. And yes while the giving of tithes and offerings is an important aspect of stewardship, it is not what stewardship is all about, it is not the central aspect of stewardship. Stewardship is the way we handle those things in our life that God has given us --- The Management of our God-given resources for His glory & for the good of others. Stewardship is a reflection of our relationship with God. And in that relationship, the world sees just Who God is to us – is He First or Last in our lives. Is He the center piece of our existence – the cornerstone with which the rest of our life is built upon or is He there for our convenience to fit into our needs when we have the time for Him?
Show Video Clip – God’s pie
God brought the pie – everything we have or ever will have, everything we are or ever will be is God’s and Because of God - We are and own nothing apart from God – it is all His and we are just His Stewards:
Psalm 24 (New International Version)
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
The question then is - are we good stewards or bad stewards? Because you see Stewardship is more about the way we live then it is about how much we give. And it is in this understanding where we can truly surrender all to Christ and let His life be manifest in us.
Someone needs a ride – oh I’m sorry I just got off work and I am too tired and then we get mad that they would even have the nerve to call and ask us for a ride – the reality is the job we have is because of God, the car we have is because of God and it is His car anyway, and the fact that we have the physical ability to get in that car and drive it is because of the Grace of God and now one of God’s children is in need of a ride and God has them call us and well I’m sorry God I am just too tired – can’t do it – and God just shakes His head and quietly says to Himself – when will they get it – they have been praying for this person to have a face to face encounter with Me – to see Me in the midst of all their sorrow and troubles so they can come to a faith in Me and here I gave them a chance to be part of exactly that – gave them an opportunity to let this person they have been praying for see My Face in their actions and they were just too tired.
Matthew 25:35-40 (New International Version)
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37"Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40"The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Stewardship is about how we live – it is about letting Christ live in and through us – we do that, and all the things we like to argue about – like do I tithe off of gross or net income – just goes away and everything falls into place and that is where we can assure ourselves of hearing God say:
Matthew 25:23 (New International Version)
23 “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’