Christian Stewardship: Cherishing the Godly Gift

BLCF: STEWARDSHIP

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Christian Stewardship: Cherishing the Godly Gift’

© November 1, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based On a Message Shared at BLCF September 6, 2009

BLCF Bulletin November 1, 2015

BLCF: Gifts-of-Grace

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #600 – Christian Stewardship (Psalm 24 and 50, Haggai 2, Leviticus 27, Proverbs 3, Malachi 3, Matthew 22, 2 Corinthians 9, 1 Peter 4); Prayer                                  

Opening Hymn #58: This Is My Father’s World; Choruses                                            

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                               

Today’s Scriptures: John 3:16, Luke 10:27, Luke 16:1-13, Luke 4:1-13  

Let us pray…

As we conserve daylight by changing our clocks for daylight Savings Time, today’s lesson is about conserving and stewardship of God’s gifts to us.

A wise man once said: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion.” This is quite a profound statement. But what is meant by the statement: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion”, especially with respect our faith, our walk with Jesus?

In World War II, we have the account of a wine steward who was responsible for caring for the finest collection of wine in all of Europe, which was kept in the wine cellar at the Chateau of Monaco.  At that time in history, the chateau was well known for its vintage, rare wines.  But the Nazis had overrun the city and now lived and dined in the chateau, expecting and wanting to drink the world’s finest vintage wines.  The wine steward resented those “slime Nazis” and cleverly and carefully hid all the rarest of wines deep in the cellar, serving his enemy only the cheapest and youngest wines, pretending that those wines were the best.  Stewards are people who care for precious property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster. Though we may criticise the steward for not being lack of candor with the Nazi invaders, we can commend his desire to protect the valuable possessions with which he was entrusted.

Luke 16:1-13 (ESV) The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

BLCF: stewardship-are-managers_of_Gods_gifts

 1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Footnotes: a.Luke 16:6 About 875 gallons b.Luke 16:7 Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels c. c.Luke 16:8 Greek age d. d.Luke 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13

So what is the message given to us here? It is a message of stewardship, a message of trust, and a message of care for something valuable which has been entrusted to your care.

Author Jack Kelley, in an article written for Grace Through Faith, helps us to better understand what Jesus wants us to understand. Kelly states:

The key in understanding the parable is to know whether the manager is acting on behalf of his master (The Rich Man) when he reduces the debts that the debtors owe his master. Luke 16:3 indicated he was. The manager says this, “My master is taking away my job.” Note the tense of the verb. The Rich Man did not fire him on the spot! He was in the period of time his master gave him to “give an account of your management” (Luke 16:2). The creditors were under the impression that the Rich Man was the one being generous with them and lowering the amount they owed him.

The shrewd manager was hoping the creditors would welcome him into their homes and give him hospitality if and when he lost his job and was in need. He was hoping the creditors would honour the messenger who gives them good news. Notice that it is the Master who commends the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly (Luke 16:8). The Rich Man had two choices:

The first was that he could expose the dishonest manager for acting independently of his wishes and tell his creditors they still owed the full amount of their bills. If he does this he would appear selfish and greedy (even though it would be within his rights).

The second was to let the actions of the manager stand and receive the praise given him by his creditors (and no doubt others within the community) for his generosity. He would learn from his mistake of allowing the manager, of whom he was suspicious, to act on his behalf. Next time he would fire someone on the spot.

Jesus follows up the parable with a challenge to those who follow him to be creative in their use of worldly wealth for eternal purposes! He contrasts “worldly wealth” with “true riches” (Luke 16:11). Jesus does not confuse the two. He concludes with the warning that no one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Money at the same time. You can only have one master. If money is your master then God cannot be. If God is your master then you should use your wealth in a manner that honors God. That is the point of this parable.

A manager is being fired by his master. Told to bring the books into balance before turning them over for a final accounting, he faces a serious situation. He’s too old for manual labour and too proud for welfare, so he asks his master’s debtors to come in and review their accounts with him. In private meetings he has the debtors write down their accounts to a more favourable amount. In so doing he earns points with both the debtors and his master. How could this be?

It was against Mosaic Law for Israelites to charge one another interest on credit extended, Deuteronomy 23:19 (ESV)

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest.

Many merchants got around this restriction by overcharging for goods and services, taking excess profits in lieu of interest. (You can see a current example in the auto business. That 0% financing you got is really a loan whose interest is paid by the manufacturer out of excess profits added to the price of vehicles specifically for the purpose of funding such incentives.)

The manager had apparently dealt unfairly with the master’s debtors, tacking on excess profits in lieu of interest. From the story, there’s no indication the master either instigated or condoned any over-charging. Its discovery may even be one of the reasons for the manager’s sudden loss of position. Perhaps he was using these add-ons to compensate for the losses of which he was being accused.

Pretty Shrewd, Isn’t He?

Since the master commended the manager’s shrewdness in writing down the accounts, it’s hard to imagine he was being cheated in these dealings even though the Lord calls the manager dishonest. More likely, in settling with the debtors the manager was deducting the excess profits he himself had tacked onto their accounts, earning the gratitude of the debtors and the admiration of the master.

If so, his efforts resemble those of today’s Orthodox Jews during the 10 Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, frantically going around to right all the wrongs they’ve committed against others in the preceding 12 months. They’re working to retain their place in the Book of Life before it’s closed for another year, simultaneously reconciling themselves to their friends and neighbours while getting back into God’s Good Graces.

Christians don’t need to work to get back into God’s Good Graces. Our names cannot be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. But our willingness to ask forgiveness of someone we’ve wronged is more than an attempt at reconciliation. It’s an indication of the contrition in our hearts, a measure of our repentance for the sins that we have committed.

It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It is easier to make a dream a delusion if we are willing to sacrifice some of our integrity in the process, as was the case of the parable found in today’s lesson. The manager felt it was easier to deceive his master as well as those indebted to his master, than to confess to both, his wrong doing.

Jesus often told such parables to clarify a point of faith. The parable had faith based moral theme or lesson which can help us learn what God expect us to do in certain circumstances, as Stewards of God’s treasures, often in stark contrast to the way a non-Christian would behave under the same circumstance.

So what exactly what treasure has God entrusted us with?

1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

BLCF: Christian-stewardship

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

And let us not forget God’s most precious gift, His Son Jesus. Our faith in this gift is the reward of eternal life.

The Bible Says in, John 3:16 (ESV) – For God So Loved the World:

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

And how does Jesus want us to take care of his treasure? His instructions are clear, Luke 10:27 (ESV):

 BLCF: heart-of-Jesus

27And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”

You and I are entrusted with God’s love. And God only asks that we freely accept his gift and faithfully give that love back to both God and to our neighbour. In order to make our gift acceptable, God sacrificed Jesus for our sins and make our faith acceptable in God’s eyes.

In the Parable in today’s lesson, Jesus said: “Turn in an account of your stewardship.  Give me a record of how you are handling the responsibilities that I have entrusted to you.” 

Jesus continues, “I have discovered that people who are faithful in the little things are faithful in the big things.  The person who is not faithful in the little things is not faithful in the big things.  The person who is faithful in both the little responsibilities and the big responsibilities, I will give even more to that person.  The person who is not faithful in the little things and not faithful in the big things, I will relieve that person of all responsibilities. To whom much is given, much is required. If you are not faithful with the little things of life, such as money, then who will entrust you with true riches?

When the Pharisees heard this, they scoffed at Jesus because they were lovers of money.

But stewardship is not about that narrow slice of life we call offerings to the church or that narrow slice of our time, talents and treasures that we give to church.  Stewardship is taking care of the precious gifts and people that God has entrusted to us and that is what I would like to talk about today.

The root of steward is the Greek word, oikos”, which means house.  Stewardship is taking care of household matters. A related word is oikonomics” from which we get the word, “economics:” Stewardship is taking care of money matters that God has entrusted to us. Still another related word is “oicology” from which we get the word “ecology”.  Stewardship is taking care of the earth that God has entrusted to us.

None of what you own truely belongs to you:  your clothes, house, furniture, pets, toys, plants, or family.  None of it belongs to you.  Can you take it with you when you die?  Of course not!  It’s not yours.  Everything in life belongs to God who entrusts you and me to care for these precious possessions.

Each of us has been made stewards of Gods treasures.

A Pastor who is hired by the Board and Members of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is expected to minister to the needs of the congregation through preaching, teaching, visitation and leadership that is both glorifying to God and which nurtures the spiritual growth of the congregation in a Christ-like manner.

Most churches entrust the care of their properties to trustees of the Bloor Lansdowne church properties. It is their responsibility to protect the church properties from those who may seek to use the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church and St. Helen’s properties for their own glorification and not for the glorification of God.

It is the responsibility of the Church Board at Bloor Lansdowne to see that the money spent is spent wisely and in a manner that glorifies God’s by building or edifying the faith and spirit of those who believe or seek God in the community of Bloor Lansdowne. The Board must ensure that God’s funds are not for the glorification of any person or group of people. Our church is facing hard financial challenges, which may require hard financial decisions to ensure that our church continues to exist, let alone be relevant in this community.

Your Church Elders are responsible to ensure that what is said, what is planned, and what is acted in the name of B.L.C.F., is said, planned and acted in a manner that is glorifying to God as well as showing love and respect to others within the church. For like that manager in the parable if any of what we say, plan, or  act is done in a manner to deceive God, who is the Master, cannot be tolerated and must be acted upon by the Elders. And so in the same manner anything said, planned or done which is hidden from others in the church is viewed with the same contempt by our Father in Heaven.

And as a congregation, we are stewards of our faith to God, this church (which is God’s house and His people), and to each other, as Jesus had commanded in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27. As stewards of God’s gifts, each of us are responsible to grow in faith to God, by trusting God, and showing Gods love by the way we treat one another. We are expected to demonstrate our support the church, both spiritually and financially.

But you may ask: why do the Pastor, the Trustees, the Board, the Elders, and the Congregation not just have faith and pray to God to provide for the means to take care of the church? My answer is while it is true that as Christian believers we must practice our faith through prayer, understanding His Word, and trusting God. We must remember what happened to Jesus immediately after he was convicted by the Holy Spirit:

Luke 4:1-13 – The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)

 

 1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8And Jesus answered him, “It is written,     “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”

 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written,     “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’                        

11and

 “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”

 12And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 13And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The lesson from this passage from Luke is no matter what our position and line of responsibility as stewards of Gods church here at Bloor Lansdowne, we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan into putting the Lord our God to the test in matters that God has entrusted us to take care of. Each of us should think, speak and act as faithful and trustworthy stewards providing for the church in a manner that is honourable and glorifying to God and loving and respectful to one another. Just as Christ had a mission to be the Word Made Flesh, we have a mission to be good and faithful Stewards of the Faith.

Let us pray…

That is how we keep the flavor of our salt and project the light of Lord to others, to His glory so that we may be blessed, be happy in the Lord!

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

 Communion

BLCF: Communion_Sunday                                                                                                                                              

Benediction – (1 Peter 4:10-11): As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

BLCF: God-says-trust-me-i-will-show-you-psalm126-6

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Stewards of God’s Treasure

BLCF: Luke-12-34

 Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Stewards of God’s Treasure’ 

© November 16, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Updated Message Originally Shared at BLCF Sunday September 6, 2009

BLCF: Bulletin November 16, 2014

BLCF: who_do_you_serve

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #600 (Christian Stewardship – from Psalms 24 and 50, Haggai 2, Leviticus 27, Proverbs 3, Malachi 3, Matthew 22, 2 Corinthians 9, 1 Peter4); Prayer                             

Opening Hymn #512 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service; Choruses                                                                                                                             

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings 

Scripture Verses: Luke 16:1-13, 1 Corinthians 2:14 , Acts 20:28-32

BLCF: integrity

 Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this, the third Sunday of November, 2014.

Before we begin today’s lesson, I would like to make a brief comment about a testimony shared just after Margaret’s message last Wednesday at our weekly community dinner which we serve here, in the heart of Toronto. One of our diners asked to share a testimony with everyone. This woman, whose name I leave anonymous, a single mother and her son were both regular attendees to the BLCF Café for at least six years. Her son, now about eight years of age, virtually grew up with us at the dinner; often playing rhythm with Terry as he played the guitar during the meal. Her testimony was to thank all the volunteers who provided meals, bread, clothing, care, and fellowship for both her and son in the safe and friendly space of the café.

Not being in her circumstance, we would never know how important the café became for her, as she found normalcy and joy at a time in life where she faced protracted financial and social challenges. She arrived at to the café at the time when we share the testimony and message with guests and volunteers, and shared the good news, that after years of unemployment, part time jobs and temporary employment, she had just landed a good job, with normal hours, so that she would have the means and time to prepare regular dinners for herself and her son at home.

Unless we have experienced the challenges of the homeless or working poor, we will never fully appreciate how important the financial security that comes from a regular job and paycheque, especially when raising a child.

BLCF_Cafe.

There are times when cynics ask why does the church instead of “wasting” funds on a community dinner, instead, spend those funds on new carpeting, updating the sanctuary with new lighting fixtures, and hire professional musicians? Or why not use café funds to make and serve smoothies and cappuccinos to the congregation after our service?

If you could see the joy and appreciation expressed on both the face and by the words of this woman Wednesday, you would know where the Lord expects us, as a church to place as our priority, which is to honour Christ by taking care of the least of our brothers and sisters. This woman could not afford to buy a loaf of bread for her son, let alone an ice cream treat from the local parlour.

I do not know which is sadder; someone who walks the streets of Toronto and is oblivious that such a need exists, or worse, does know and chooses to do nothing about it!

This was not the first testimony shared by a café guest at BLCF, who has given testimony of a restoration of dignity and spirit by the unconditional love of Christ shared every Wednesday at the BLCF Café. This January will mark the BLCF Cafe’s seventh anniversary. At an average of 150 per week, I calculate that some 7,500 guests pass through our doors annually. And with 15-20 volunteers, that is another 750. That is over 8,000 ministered to in a year! Obviously, this is where the Lord expects the church, which after all is the people of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, to invest their time and money.

By the way, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve both happen to fall on a Wednesday this year and we plan to serve Holiday Lunch instead of Dinner at the café, as we had done last Christmas Day and New Years Day, (which were also on a Wednesday). So if you are interested and available to volunteer to help at the café on either Christmas Eve or New Years Eve, please give Sophie a call at 416-535-9578 or at blcfcafe@yahoo.ca.

As far as the cynics are concerned, the Good Book says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV):

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

BLCF: 1Corinthians_2_14-NonChristiansCantUnderstand

Now back to today’s lesson.

A wise man once said: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion.” This is quite a profound statement. But what is meant by the statement: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion”, especially with respect our faith, our walk with Jesus?

To begin today’s lesson, let me share with you a World War II story.  There was wine steward who was responsible for caring for the finest collection of wine in all of Europe, the wine cellar at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.  At that time in history, the palace was well known for its vintage, rare wines.  But the Nazis had overrun the city and now lived and dined in the palace, expecting and wanting to drink the world’s finest vintage wines.  The wine steward resented the invading soldiers, so he cleverly and carefully hid all the rarest wines deep in the cellar   choosing to serve his enemy only the cheapest and youngest wines, while pretending that those wines were the best.

Though the steward acted with the best of intentions by deceiving his “guests” in order to preserve that what he was entrusted with, he committed the sin of bearing false witness, albeit to his enemies.

The Prince's Palace in 1890

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco

But do the ends justify the means, and what is meant by the term “steward”?

Let us answer the latter first. From merriam-webster.com, we have the following definitions of a steward:

1stew·ard – noun \ˈstü-ərd, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd\

1:  one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts)

2:  shop steward

3:  a fiscal agent

4a :  an employee on a ship, airplane, bus, or train who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengers

b :  one appointed to supervise the provision and distribution of food and drink in an institution

5:  one who actively directs affairs :  manager

                      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steward

BLCF: Stewardship_at_BLCF_Cafe

As Sophie is Director and Manager of the BLCF Café Community Dinner, and by definition is a Steward of the community dinner, a job which she does faithfully and with great integrity. Here is another definition for a steward:

 Stewards are people who care for precious people and property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster.

This brings us to The Parable of the Dishonest Manager, from the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke 16:1-13 (ESV):

The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

BLCF: stewardship-account

1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 16:6 About 875 gallons b.Luke 16:7 Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels c.Luke 16:8 Greek age d.Luke 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13

Cross references: A.Luke 16:1 : Luke 12:42 B.Luke 16:2 : 1 Cor 9:17 C.Luke 16:8 : Matt 25:2 D.Luke 16:8 : Luke 20:34; Luke 10:6 E.Luke 16:8 : John 12:36; 1 Thess 5:5; Eph 5:8  F.Luke 16:9 : Luke 12:33; Matt 6:20; 19:21; 1 Tim 6:10, 17-19 G.Luke 16:9 : Luke 16:11, 13; Matt 6:24 H.Luke 16:10 : Matt 25:21, 23 I.Luke 16:10 : Luke 19:17 J.Luke 16:12 : 1 Chr 29:14, 16 K.Luke 16:13 : Luke 16:9

BLCF: Luke-1610

What is the message given to us here? It is a message of stewardship. In this parable, the manager was likely overcharging those who were indebted to his master, by charging them interest which he pocketed for himself.

The manager’s deception, has been discovered by his master, and facing being fired and dishonoured by the master for his bad business practices, he tries to mitigate the circumstances by returning what was overcharged back to the debtors. The manager reasoned that if he were to lose his job, he would generate some good will with the debtors.

Not only was the manager guilty of deceiving both his master and those in debt to the master, but by charging interest to the debtors, he was in violation of Mosaic Law. It is interesting to note that although the master had chastised his manager for being dishonest, he commended him for his business savvy.

The people of Israel were forbidden by law from charging interest to others on credit extended, as we read in Deuteronomy 23:19 (ESV):

 19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest.

BLCF: stewardship-gifts-from-and-to-God

As Christian stewards, what treasures has God entrusted us with? We may find the answer to this question in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27, which focus on unconditional love:

John 3:16 (ESV) For God So Loved the World

 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”

Luke 10:27 (ESV) Love God and Love Your Neighbour

 27And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”

BLCF: real-riches

Each of us has been made stewards of God’s treasure. We are entrusted with God’s love. God only asks that we confess our sins, accept his gift and then return love back to both God and to our neighbour. In order to make any such gift acceptable, God sacrificed Jesus for our sins and make our faith acceptable in God’s eyes.

As Pulpit Preacher and Pastor here at BLCF, I have a responsibility to minister to the needs of the congregation through preaching, teaching, leadership and personal interaction with others in a manner that is both glorifies God and which nurtures the spiritual growth of the congregation in a Christ-like manner.

Our church trustees have been entrusted by our congregation of the Bloor Lansdowne  to oversee  and to protect the church property from those who may seek to use the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church property for their own glorification and not for the glorification of God.

It is the responsibility of the Church Board at Bloor Lansdowne to see that the money spent is spent wisely and in a manner that glorifies God’s by building or edifying the faith and spirit of those who believe or seek God in the BLCF community. The Board must ensure that God’s funds are not for the glorification of any person or group of people. Over the last few years, by God’s grace and provision, our church has faced and endured facing hard financial challenges, which frequently required hard financial decisions, in order to ensure that our church continues to exist, let alone be relevant to the Bloor Lansdowne community.

Your Church Elders are responsible to ensure that whatever is said, planned, and acted in the name of BLCF, is said, planned and acted in a manner that glorifies God as well as showing love and respect to others within the church. For like that manager in the parable if any of what is said, planned, or acted upon by anyone of the church, is determined to associated with an intention to deceive God, Who is our Master, cannot be tolerated and must be acted upon by the Elders. And so in the same manner, anything said, planned or done with the deliberate intention to deceive others in the church is viewed with the same contempt by our Father in Heaven.

As a congregation of believers, we are all stewards of our faith in God. We are managers of His gifts to us. Being His stewards, we need to acknowledge the Lord’s love by returning the same unconditional love to both Him and to our neighbours, as we had read earlier in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27.

BLCF: serving-others

The stewardship of God’s gifts comes with the Lord’s expectation that each of us undertake the responsibility to grow in faith to God, by trusting Him, sharing God’s love in the manner of how we treat one another and how we support our church, spiritually and financially.

But you may ask: why do the Pastor, the Trustees, the Board, the Elders, and the Congregation of BLCF just have faith and pray to God to provide for the means to take care of the church? My answer is; while it is true that as Christian believers we must practice our faith through prayer, in understanding His Word, and by trusting God; still we must not put the Lord to the test. We are tasked with the mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus, without putting our Lord to the test. You may recall from last week’s lesson, what happened to Jesus just after he was convicted by the Holy Spirit, Luke 4:4 (ESV):

4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

BLCF: stewardship-are-managers_of_Gods_gifts

 Just as Jesus was tempted by the devil right after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of his earthly ministry, and tempted again on the cross, by the exhortations of one of the thieves being crucified beside him he resisted putting God to the test. God did not bring His son on earth as a show, to entertain the Pharisees and other cynics of Christ, but to fulfill His new covenant with true believers. And as followers of Christ, we may anticipate that the devil try to tempt our faith and drive us away from the Lord. This is the warning brought to do the same, as described in this warning from the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:28-32 (ESV):

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[a] which he obtained with his own blood.[b] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Footnotes: a. Acts 20:28 Some manuscripts of the Lord b. Acts 20:28 Or with the blood of his Own

BLCF: walking_in_light_vs_darkness

The lesson from this passage from Luke is; that no matter what our position and line of responsibility as stewards of Gods church here at Bloor Lansdowne, we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan into putting the Lord our God to the test in matters that God has entrusted us to take care of. Each of us should think, speak and act as faithful and trustworthy stewards providing for the church in a manner that is honourable and glorifying to God and loving and respectful to one another. Just as Christ had a mission to be the Word Made Flesh, we have a mission to be good and faithful stewards of the faith.

Stewards are people who care for precious people and property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn # 476: O Christian, Haste, Your Mission High          

Benediction – (Romans 8:38-39):

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

BLCF: Christian-stewardship