In this Fall season at Salem, we are telling the story of “Stewardship is”, of our thoughts and visions for Stewardship that is a series of three presentations. These temple talks are a spiritual practice we do together, positioning our dreams with our resources, and continuing to grow our vision of community. We pledge our resources to a vision and mission to serve others nears and far.
In the essence of stewardship, God is the owner and we are the manager. Everything we have today comes from God. David said that "the world and everything in it" belongs to God (Psalm 89:11). We are the steward… As a steward, we are the manager. If one believes they are the owner, they will constantly be in conflict with God over what they do with the things they have. When we understand that the Lord is the owner, and we are the manager, the conflict disappears. Freedom overtakes our life.
Let’s look at 1st Corinthians 4:7, "For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn't receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn't received it?" Then in Deuteronomy 8:17-18, we are cautioned, "You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,' but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm His covenant, He vowed to your fathers, as it is today."
As a manager, we have a divine responsibility. If God is the owner, then we are the manager whom He has trusted with His property. We must learn to think, therefore, like His manager. A manager oversees the owner's assets for the owner's benefit. A manager carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he or she manages. The job of a manager is to find out what the owner wants done with His assets and then to carry out His will. This understanding affects how we give. Consider two illustrations.
First, let’s reflect on King David, then the most powerful man on earth, who understood this owner-manager relationship. After receiving a tremendous offering, David responded to God... "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand." 1 Chron 29:14. David was thinking like a steward, a manager, not an owner.
Then, in 2nd Corinthians 8, Paul tells of the Macedonian’s believers and their commitment and compassion to community ...” And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.”
Finally, have you ever wondered why the Bible says that "God loves a cheerful giver?" (2 Corinthians9:7). Joyful giving is a sign that the givers understand the owner-manager relationship. Cheerful giving can only come from a heart set on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1).
As a member of Salem’s Finance & Stewardship Committee, I, Larry Swanson, pledge to you to do my best to honor Salem’s vision and to work with you to realize it. Please join me. Thank you.
In the second of three our Stewardship Temple talks, we are deepening our connections learning more about what “Stewardship is”. Let’s connect our dreams, visions, values and one another through the annual stewardship Call to Action. This is a spiritual practice we do together. Now is the time for us to continue to pledge to grow our stewardship vision and mission, to be more of the Church we aspire to be.
As manager’s, you and I will give an accounting or ourselves, our possessions, our time and our abilities! We are held accountable to God because He, as the Owner, has expectations of the manager. The Owner has a complete right to a full disclosure of what's been done with His property. In Romans 14:12 we read, 12So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
First, God will look at us - The Owner will check how devoted we have been to Him. Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, "Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship." Paul says a proper and spiritual act of worship is to give yourself fully to your Owner to be used as His servant.
Then, our possessions - He will also hold us accountable for what we have done with the things He has entrusted to us. One of the final parables Jesus gave concerned a master who entrusted his possessions to three servants while he was away. The master, after returning, held each servant responsible for how he had used or invested what had been entrusted to him (Matt. 25:14-30).
Then, our time – in Ephesians 5:15-17 we read: "Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk - not as unwise people but as wise - making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don't be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is." We will be held accountable for how we used each "day the Lord has made" and given to us.
And then, our abilities - The owner will examine what we have done with the gifts and abilities He has granted us. God expects us to take the spiritual gifts and abilities He has handed us and use them for His glory. God has entrusted to our management time, possessions, abilities, and even our very being. All are to be used for His honor. We will be accountable for all and how we use them. God has high expectations that we will serve Him and to think and care and love like He does.
If the examination were today, and the Owner called you to give an accounting, what would your record reflect? Would it reflect a humble belief that you are only managing what He owns?
We as a congregation have done great things in the past but we need to continue to work toward our Vision: “Centered on the Holy Bible, we will continue to be a Christ-filled Church serving others near and far.” We can continue to build a fundamentally wide-ranging community. We can grow this beloved spirit by expanding the welcome table to others and deepen our pledges within our multigenerational congregation.
Our devotions, in the many forms they take, are what this church is made of. As a Church, we have confidence that whatever amount you personally contribute, that it will be true to both your resources and your vision for this church. Every gift is valued, appreciated and essential to fulfilling our shared vision. Lives will be changed as we give – there will be people whose lives have been displaced in a variety of ways that are going to be put back together through our programs and services! That is the vision!
As a member of Salem Finance & Stewardship Committee, I, Jeff Martin, pledge to you to do my best to honor Salem’s vision and to work with you to realize it. Please join me. Thank you.
In the third of our “Stewardship is” Temple talks, here are parable summaries on how God’s kingdom is different from what we expect, from what we are trained to value. In the parable of the mustard seed, we have a tiny invisible seed– a weed, really, that takes over. It isn’t anything the gardener wants to have planted in the yard. Next, we have the parable of the yeast. Yeast silently works its way through the flour to leaven the whole batch. Last of all, in the parable of the hidden treasure, the merchant is in search of fine pearls. But that kingdom - worth so much that people would give everything they own for it - isn’t a kingdom of vast resources of gold, silver, oil or steel. This is a kingdom grown from a seed, increased like leavened bread and worth more than all one owns.
God’s kingdom doesn’t look like the way we expect kingdoms to look. The kingdom of God isn’t a kingdom of silver and gold. It’s something much more valuable. What does that kingdom look like? What does that mustard seed produce in our time? The yeast, that goes to work silently transforming the world, is actually the kingdom of God at work transforming the world around us!
So now, why do we have to talk about stewardship during the Fall season? Because Stewardship is about commitment to God and the Church. This directly relates to faithfulness, to duty, to obligation, to our vows in the Church. Stewardship can be grouped into two components of spiritual life.
Ø The corporate aspect of Stewardship, discerning among the whole body, is deciding how we will use all that we have, to do all we can for the mission of God. We work together knowing that everyone will not get all they want but all will work for the common good of the Church.
Ø The other component to Stewardship, the root of Christian discipleship, is Personal Stewardship. That is how each of us use the God’s resources in this world to further the kingdom of God. It’s how as individual followers of the Christ we are called to do all we can with all we have.
“Stewardship is” then doing all we can with all we have. Stewardship is living into that vision and belief even when the world seems to value other things. Stewardship is believing that:
Ø Kindness should be doled out amply, giving it out even when it seems like it is in short supply.
Ø Reconciliation is a more abundant resource than getting even and being willing to make withdrawals of forgiveness even when mercy seems in short supply.
Ø When your child acts and makes a decision that may not be what you would choose but trusting that their training and background are theirs to be cherished and cultivated.
Ø People should be treated with respect. Human dignity is the only currency for human interaction that we have in our bank.
“Stewardship is” knowing that God is generous. Whatever pearls of the Kingdom that you have found, I hope that you use gratitude every day to remember their value, to cultivate generosity, and to remember the God that offers you a kingdom of abundance.
Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church has done great things in the past but we need to continue to work toward our Vision, that is: “Centered on the Holy Bible, we will continue to be a Christ-filled Church serving others near and far.” We can continue to build a fundamentally wide-ranging community. We can grow this beloved spirit by expanding the welcome table to others and deepen our pledges within our multigenerational congregation. Our devotions, in the many forms they take, are what this church is made of. As a Church, we have confidence that whatever amount you personally contribute, that it will be true to both your resources and your vision for this church. Every gift is valued, appreciated and essential to fulfilling our shared vision. Lives will be changed as we give – there will be people whose lives have been displaced in a variety of ways that are going to be put back together through our programs and services!
That is the vision! As a member of Salem Lutheran Church, I, David Winquist, pledge to you to do my best to honor Salem’s vision and to work with you to realize it. Please join me. Thank you.
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