Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory’
© September 6, 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements & Call to Worship, Prayer
Responsive Reading #652: Divine Judgment (2 Peter 3)
Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
Offering & Prayer: Hymn #572 Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Matthew 20:1-14
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV) Spiritual Gifts
12 Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts,[b] brothers,[c] I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 12:1 The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1 b. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or spiritual persons c. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or brothers and sisters
Matthew 20:1-14 (ESV) Laborers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius[a] a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.
Footnotes: a.Matthew 20:2 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday, and the day before Labour Day.
Our Lesson today, entitled: ‘Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory’, where we will discuss the dilemma for Christians, who even though they are stewards of God’s grace, are often challenge to understand all that they think, say and do must be done solely to the glory of God. But what is meant a ‘steward of God’s Grace’? To find out more about a believer’s responsibility of stewardship of God’s Grace. Let us look at our Wikibits from gotquestions.org, to get a better understanding of the biblical definition of stewardship:
Question: “What is biblical stewardship?”
Answer: In the New Testament, two Greek words embody the meaning of our English word “stewardship.” The first word is epitropos which means “manager, foreman, or steward.” From the standpoint of government, it means “governor or procurator.” At times it was used in the New Testament to mean “guardian,” as in Galatians 4:1-2: “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.” The second word is oikonomos. It also means “steward, manager, or administrator” and occurs more frequently in the New Testament. Depending on the context, it is often translated “dispensation, stewardship, management, arrangement, administration, order, plan, or training.” It refers mostly to the law or management of a household or of household affairs. Notably, in the writings of Paul, the word oikonomos is given its fullest significance in that Paul sees his responsibility for preaching the gospel as a divine trust (1 Corinthians 9:17). Paul refers to his call from God as the administration (stewardship) of the grace of God for a ministry of the divine mystery revealed in Christ (Ephesians 3:2). In this context, Paul is portraying God as the master of a great household, wisely administering it through Paul himself as the obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also significant in what Paul is saying is that once we’re called and placed into the body of Jesus Christ, the stewardship that is required of us is not a result of our own power or abilities. The strength, inspiration and growth in the management of our lives must come from God through the Holy Spirit in us; otherwise, our labor is in vain and the growth in stewardship is self-righteous, human growth. Accordingly, we must always remember the sole source of our strength in pleasing God: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NJKV). Paul also said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
This definition of a steward, by the Apostle Paul, of God’s Grace alludes to a sort of symbiotic relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit. As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we act “as instruments of the Lord” as His hands and feet, where the focus of our actions is to share the Gospel of Jesus in truth with the help of the Spirit, in order to build God’s Church, to His glory! This goal cannot be achieved without the abilities gifted to us by the Holy Spirit to achieve God’s plan.
Which brings us to the first of today’s Scripture verses; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which has the subtitle: Spiritual Gifts. We understand from verse 3 of this passage that no one who is truly with the Spirit would ever criticize or curse Jesus. By contrast, one can only say Jesus is Lord, if it acknowledged in the Holy Spirit. The passage continues to state that there is manifest among believers a variety of gifts, service and activities that are respectively associated with the same single Spirit, Lord (Jesus) and God, collective called the Godhead or Holy Trinity. The gifts are associated with the Holy Spirit, while service is related to the Lord Jesus, and other activities that are associated with God.
Any gift comes by way of the Spirit of God, who empowers believers with gifts, the nature and size of the gift is apportioned by the Spirit alone. All believers in the resurrected Christ, who having confessed their sin and claim Jesus as Lord and Saviour, will receive the same gift of salvation. Either you are saved or you are not. And if saved, then all are baptized by the same Holy Spirit to the same degree. But the number of gifts apportioned by the Spirit varies among the believers, according to the will of the Spirit. Each believer receives one or a combination of the gifts for the common good of the church, the body of believers.
If you look at the bottom of the inside page of today’s bulletin, you will see a graphic chart that list Spiritual Gifts as described in four places of the New Testament: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. Some gifts, (in Italics), are found in two or more of these passages.
The second of our Scripture verses, Matthew 20:1-14, entitled: ‘Laborers in the Vineyard’, we have an account whereby Jesus shares a Parable to help understand the nature of labour and the type of reward paid to those who chose to work in a vineyard. We see that idle workers are called by the Lord to work in a vineyard at various times of a twelve-hour day: 6AM, 9AM, 3PM, and 5PM. At the end of the day, the workers are called in to be paid in reverse sequence to when they began; those who started last being paid first, ending with first hired being paid last. All receive the same day’s wage of one denarius, regardless of how many hours they worked. When those who labored the longest grumble or complained that they received the same payment as those who were hired the last, the master reminds them that they had received the agreed payment, and master has the choice to pay all the workers the same wage, regardless of the number of hours worked.
We must remember that the Parable is not intended as a literal description of a worldly situation where laborers are hired to work in a vineyard. Instead the Vineyard Parable is intended to help us understand the nature of the spiritual labour performed by a body of workers or believers, who as members of the Church work for the common good of the Church. As workers, we should not preoccupy ourselves with how much labour we have performed or how long we labored, especially when compared to others. When we are called by the Lord and how long we work, and the conditions under which we labour, is determined by the Lord.
Salvation is the payment to those who honor and glorify the Lord. The goal of sharing the gospel of Christ is the same for the Body of Believers or the Church, even though the timing and distribution of the workload among the individual members of the Body varies according to the will of the Spirit, as does the number of gifts the Spirit given to each member of the Body. If we complain about not having the same amount of work or become jealous of the gifts of the Spirit given to another member of the Lord’s Church; the complaint is not of the Spirit. As stewards of God’s grace, how do we ensure that our actions and behavior honors and glorifies Him? We find an answer to this question in 1 Peter 4:1-11, found printed on the back of today’s bulletin:
1 Peter 4:1-11 (ESV) Stewards of God’s Grace
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 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.
Footnotes: a. 1 Peter 4:1 Some manuscripts add for us; some for you
At this time of the service, let us partake the elements of Communion together.
Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (from Mark 14)
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory
Benediction – (Colossians 3:15): And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.