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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Let me glorify God with all that I have!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.- 1 Corinthians 10:31

Stewardship is about a lot more than just money. It includes money and possessions, but it is not mainly about money and possessions. Stewardship involves your life and your time, as well. It’s what you do in your “off moments” as well how you spend your “on the clock” time. It is a matter, Paul says in 1 Cor 10:31 of doing “whatever you do to the glory of God”

“That’s Stewardship.” It is a commitment of my life to God, not just my things. I think of 2 Cor 8:5 where Paul commends the Macedonian believers who gave themselves to God first, and then gave their possessions. It was a matter of priority. God does not need our help. He does not desire our things, as if He was dependent on us or needed us to give to Him before He can get His will done (Acts 17:25). He doesn’t need us. But God delights to see our hearts so value Him and His Kingdom that our priority is to glorify Him with all that we have. He loves to see it when we gladly use our things – our time, our efforts, our possessions, our all – for Him.

As one of our elders, Will Jackson, said to me in an email the other day: Stewardship is “much bigger” than just putting a check in the offering plate. “It is taking someone in and letting them sleep in a spare bedroom..., or getting close to a neighbor who is out of work so you can help him..., or helping the poor in downtown Saint Louis..., or keeping your old car a little longer so you can help someone else buy a new one they need.... or it may mean something radical!” That is the biblical idea of stewardship – seeing everything you have and everything you are as being at the disposal of the Master! That's the kind of man I want to be. That's the kind of church I want our congregation to be! That's the kind of people I want my children to be! So that, in whatever we do, we do it all for the glory of God.

Seeking Him for God Glorifying Grace!!

Scott Lee

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"God is Able" to make giving a joy!

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all contentment in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work”.
2 Corinthians 9:8

“God is able.” Those have to be three of my favorite words in the whole Bible. In fact, several of my favorite passages begin with these same, or very similar words of encouragement. For example, consider, the following passages:

“God . . .is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32

“[God] is able to strengthen you according to my gospel” Rm 16:25

“[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Eph 3:20

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Tim 1:12

“He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Heb 2:18

“He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him” Heb 7:25

“[God] is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy. Jude 24

Now the thing that absolutely thrills my heart as I look at all these verses, is the astounding realization that not one of them depends on me for its fulfillment. In each and every case I am being told something God will do in my life as I put my trust in Him!

God will "build me up and give me an inheritance" among the saints. (Acts 20:32).
God will "strengthen me" according to the gospel (Rm 16:25).
God will "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20)
God will "guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim 1:12)
God will “come my aid" when I am tempted. (Heb 2:18)
God in Christ will "save me completely" (Heb 7:25)
God will "keep me from stumbling, and to make me stand in the presence of His glory
blameless with great joy."
(Jude 24)

All these things God will do, as I put my trust in Him and rest in His all-sovereign ability.

And then there is this matter of giving in 2 Cor 9:8. The larger passage says,

6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

Somehow we forget that the God who is able to save us from death and make us alive spiritually in Christ Jesus, is also able to supply all our needs physically as he teaches us to live a new life of open-handed generosity. In other words, God gives us all we need for His Kingdom and Glory! So why is giving what God has provided so darn hard? Why do we treat the things we own, as though they were the key to our supply of daily bread? Could it be because, like Calvin said, we are by nature idolaters at heart? Could it be that we find it easier to trust God for things we can't see -- like heaven -- but harder to trust him for what we can see -- like money and possessions? It's as though we believe God is able to save us from sin and take us to heaven -- and we know it because He's promised -- but we're not too sure he can provide for our needs physically and give us all we need "for every good work" -- as He has also promised in the very same Bible. (Or maybe we're just afraid he won't supply us in the manner in which we are sinfully accustomed?)

It's an age old problem. As far back as the prophet Malachi, God was urging His people, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows." (Malachi 3:10)

IN Christ Jesus, we must learn that giving does not flow from me to God as if I’m doing Him a favor. It flows from God through me and back to God again. It is when I trust Him and freely put all my possessions into His hands, that God grants me the freedom to enjoy the rich gain that flows into my life through a Christ-centered and God-honoring generosity! And by "gain" I don't mean that I'll always have the earthly wealth or riches my selfish heart often desires. I may have very little of this world's goods. But it means I will enjoy the "gain" of a free and generous heart that is no longer bound by it's love of things, but has discovered a deeper love and satisfaction in God that "things" cannot provide! And because I am satisfied in God, that makes it possible for me to enjoy being able to honor God with all I possess, giving freely to the poor and generously (like that widow with her two copper coins) to the cause of missions and God's glory in the world.

Well, that's my goal! As I write this, our church is preparing to consider once again the Bible's many promises to faithful stewards. And my prayers is that we will discover once again that we are not owners, we are stewards" -- and servants serve the Master by managing His possessions well and in a way that will accomplish His purposes and bring Him the most glory. Oh Christian, God has put all you possess into your hands that we might learn the joy of a glad and open-handed generosity. May God grant your heart such freedom so that Christ may be all in all! "Little children, guard yourselves from idols" ( 1 John 5:21)

Pastor Scott

PS - For any who may be interested, let me recommend a wonderful and helpful little book called "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. We give this away to all our members and have used it more than once for a basic study in biblical stewardship. I urge you to get a copy and find the joy of making Christ and Christ's Kingdom your highest priority in the matter of money and possessions.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Blessed Life -- and Life Indeed!

Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. - Genesis 25:8

This passage reminds me of my grandmother. Most of my friends know that she passed away this past Sunday and that I’ve gone down to Arkansas to be with my family during this important time. I have mixed feelings as I think about her passing. Many have said to me, when they’ve heard the news, “I’m sorry.” But I can’t help thinking that I’m not.

Of course I will miss her. It makes me sad to think about the loss of fellowship many feel right now – especially my dad who was the youngest of her five children. I’ll miss seeing her at holidays and pretending to fight with my brother over which one of us she really made that special buttermilk pie for (everyone knows it was for me! :) )

And yet Eva Lee died at the ripe old age of 99, an old woman and satisfied with life. She lived through ten of the most amazing decades in world history. They were farmers and not at all wealthy, so it was never easy. But through hard work and -- I'm sure many prayers -- they always seemed to have enough. She never learned to drive and has lived on her own for the past 30 years following the death of my grandfather in 1976. She is remembered affectionately by 20 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and 3 great, great grand-children. She was in the hospital two, maybe three times at most, (but never for anything serious), enjoying almost amazing health until just a little over a month ago. She was even awarded a certificate in 1998 acknowledging her as the "Oldest Eldercare Volunteer in the State of Arkansas". She once said she enjoyed going down to the center to "help those old people" -- most of whom were younger than her, I think. She lived a full life!

But most importantly, she knew (and knows) that life that is life indeed! A long-standing member of the Assemblies of God, my grandmother knows (presently!) the Lord and by grace through faith has been permitted to enter into the joy He has reserved for those who trust in Him!

So I feel the loss, but I’m not sorry. My grandmother has known the simply joys of a common life. Unremembered by history, she is treasured by her family, and held in the ever-lasting arms of God’s unfailing love. What could be better?

In His Mercy!
Pastor Scott Lee