Summary: documentary a religious leader was asked what they believed the future of their people would be. This is what she said. “Everyone’s become materialistic, that’s what bothers me most. We do everything for money…if we don’t change what’s on the inside, sp
We’ve been looking at the concept of “hearing God” and how that happens. We started with a “no brainer” that said we had to take the time to listen to God as we prayed. We took steps to try to change our understanding of prayer from our giving God commands to us hearing Christ’s instructions. We next found that as followers of Christ we are marked with the ability to recognize Jesus’ voice and to follow him. It is Jesus who is the exclusive voice of God in our lives especially as far as the world around is concerned. The way we love others is a demonstration of how well we listen to our shepherd’s voice and follow. And as we love others to the same extent that Jesus loved us we are part of the glorification that Jesus has undergone. Last week we looked at some of the examples of how Kenton has been used by God to glorify Jesus the last 90 years. As we worship, do mission here and abroad and join together in various activities our history has demonstrated that we do indeed hear and follow Christ.
In a documentary a religious leader was asked what they believed the future of their people would be. This is what she said. “Everyone’s become materialistic, that’s what bothers me most. We do everything for money…if we don’t change what’s on the inside, spiritually, we’ll be finished.” (It may surprise you to hear the source of this quote) I share her concern simply because it has become so easy to perceive the work of the Church in worldly terms—i.e. a business. We are inundated with ads, pitches, spiels, and hype all designed to cause us to “feel the need” to purchase a product or service; to give to this or that charity. It’s easy to fall into what I call the “United Way attitude” that says, “Give your fair share”.
Hearing Christ directing our future is a matter of our willingness and a response to the presence of Christ in our life not a manipulated emotional reaction to some plea.
We see God’s perspective on our giving in the example of Israel. It was a universal command to the whole nation; but those who are required to answer are those who are willing. Six times in this passage a person’s willingness is expressed as a requirement for bringing a gift.
Their willingness doesn’t come from a sense of “have to” but from a reaction to what they experienced first hand. What makes Israel willing to give to God the riches that had been given to them was the fact that they weren’t giving to some unknown power or idea but to a personal God. A God who had touched them in important and significant ways. A God who had saved them. A God who had shown “saving” power first hand. They had seen the plagues strike Egypt. They had heard the wailing in the streets when the angel of God killed the first born of all of Egypt. They had seen how God had parted the sea and defeated their enemies. Then even knew that God was serious when he said you would worship me alone.
What they bring are the treasures they have brought with them from Egypt as well as the talents and gifts that had been given by God for them to use. Their gifts to God became a way to express thanks for what God had done—a way to honor God for who He was. They were clear that they were stewards rather than owners what they had.
Listen to this quote from a 1955 book on stewardship. "Stewardship of possessions is the effect of God’s saving grace upon one’s self and his property. When God gets a man with a car He gets a car to be used in His service. Some seem to think of stewardship as a whip or as legal action to drive people to give to the expenses of the church. No doubt too often the attempt has been made to wring generous offerings from selfish souls. Christian stewardship most certainly is not church legislation nor a scheme to deprive men [sic] of their cash. It is the natural consequence of an experience with God -- the natural reaction of the human heart that has been touched by the divine spirit (emphasis mine). ”
God’s instruction about the giving of our wealth and our skills is quite simple. Those who are willing are to give. Aren’t we all willing? Wouldn’t we all give a million bucks to Christ if we could? But God knows how our minds work so Moses tells us that from what we have we are to give. Those who are willing give from what they have not from what they hope to have. What’s more those who give are those who hearts are moved to give. Hearing God has practical daily life applications. We saw that in Jesus’ instructions to love others as he loves us. We saw that last week in the way this congregation has touched the lives of others in our past. We also see it in our stewardship today. It’s not just a willing attitude but its in the follow through of giving that counts.