Stewardship: Appreciating Life Is a Good Gift!

BELIEVE — Stewardship: Appreciating Life Is a Good Gift!

What do you believe about Stewardship?  In the Bible – Stewardship is the principle – that you are responsible for making the best use of the things God gives you for two big reasons.  First – everything you have is a gift from God.  Your body, mind, abilities, energy, hopefulness.  Second – God is going to conduct an audit at the end of your life.  A detailed review of how well did you use all of the blessings and opportunities God gave you?  We all want to hear God say to us – Well done!  Thou good and faithful servant!  Enter in to your Master’s Happiness!

All Saints Sunday – is the day we remember and honor fellow Christ-followers who have died and gone before us.  We give thanks that they have been raised up into heaven and are now praying for us on our journey.  All Saints Sunday is a good day for us to think carefully about what we believe about life and death – and what they mean for being Stewards for God.

If you believe that death is the end of everything – then you would probably be pretty careless about your life.  Feel like you’re building sand castles – that are just going to be washed away.  No one will remember my life for long.  No one will care about my life 50 years from now.  It doesn’t really matter what I do with my life.

If death destroys everything – you might as well have as much fun as you can – because we’re all on a downhill slide to death.  Most people seem to be following this approach in our society today.  Enjoy the ride – and try not to think about the future.  But it seems a lot like trying to sing and dance on the Titanic while the ship is sinking.  No matter how loud you turn up the music or how much you drink – you can’t stop having to deal with that icy water that keeps rising up and swallowing you.

How would your vision for being a Steward for God and taking good care of your life change – if instead of seeing your body as something temporary that is just going to be thrown into the trash can after you die… What if your body is actually the seed for your eternal future?  What if – instead of just dealing with the consequences of the choices you make for 70 – 100 years?  You actually have to live with the consequences of how you used your life for millions and billions of years?

As you think about whether it is important to be a good steward of what God has given you – you might want to consider carefully that every major religion in all human history are very clear that the choices people make do indeed have long term consequences.

The Bible is certainly clear that our lives aren’t just temporary toys that will be thrown in the trash after we die – isn’t it?  The Bible is clear – choices we make have eternal consequences.  They will lead us either to heaven or to hell.

No one wants to end up in hell – and God doesn’t want anyone to end up in hell.  So – we’ll focus on how to grow as good stewards – so that we can live with hope and confidence that we will spend eternity in heaven.

God wants to help you to grow as a good steward – by helping you to understand that the life you have been given – is the seed of your eternity – by showing you the difference the Resurrection makes.

The Difference — The Resurrection — Makes! 

On All Saints Sunday – we remember our loved ones who have died – and we ask the logical question: What happened to them?  Where are they now? 

Martha was overwhelmed with grief over the death of her brother Lazarus.  She wanted to know if there was anything Jesus could do to help them.  Jesus gave her a simple and straightforward answer – I am the Resurrection.  I raise the dead and give them eternal life.  And then Jesus challenged Martha with the simple question – that Jesus continues to challenge all of us with – Do you believe this?

John 11:25-27 (TLB/NLT)    Jesus told     Martha, “I am the Resurrection.  I raise the dead and give them eternal life.  Anyone who believes in Me, even though they die like everyone else, they will live again.  …Do you believe this, Martha?”  “Yes, Lord!

Martha was clear about her answer.  Are you clear about your answer?  What do you believe about the Resurrection?  The majority in our society – have decided to tune the question out.  I don’t want to think about what happens after I die.  I just want to concentrate on having a good time.

Some people might say, Sure, I believe in Jesus.  I said a prayer – so that must make me a Christian.  But Stewardship is based on what you do, not what you say.  Jesus is clear that the fruit of your life – not empty words – will reveal clearly what you really believe.  When it comes to being a disciple – an actual follower of Jesus – the majority of people are no longer attending church and seeking to grow in faith.  They have decided – I don’t have to answer to God for what I do with my life – how I handle my sexuality, or finances.  It’s my body!  It’s my money!  No one can tell me what to do!  They like the idea – if I don’t think about death – I don’t have to deal with it.

So, who is right?  The Bible or society?  When we trust in Jesus and the Resurrection – are we hallucinating?  Fantasizing?  Or are we making intelligent decisions – based on solid and reliable evidence? 

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (MSG)    Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling.  If you became Christians because you trusted that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you give into fears – just because some people say that there is no resurrection? …If trusting in Jesus only gives us a little inspiration for the few short years we’re in this world, we are to be pitied more than all people

Encourage you to consider – evidence for why we trust in Jesus’ Resurrection.  First key piece of evidence – Jesus was indeed dead.  The Romans executed thousands of people on crosses every year – they knew how to make sure that someone stayed dead after they crucified them.  And just in case there was any doubt – when the soldier thrust his spear right through Jesus’ heart – all questions about Jesus being really dead – were answered completely.

Then there are the facts that after Jesus was raised from the dead – He appeared to over 500 different witnesses over 30 days.  Some people call the Resurrection wishful thinking.  The Bible shows us that the Resurrection is a fact that is proven by clear and compelling evidence. 

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (MSG)    The truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.  Everybody dies because of Adam’s sin.  Everybody comes alive because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection!

  • Why do you believe — or not believe — in the Resurrection?

God wants to help you kick the tires, check out the evidence – to know that there are lots of good reasons for trusting in the Resurrection – so that you can celebrate the champions of faith – the Christians who have died and gone before us into heaven.  

Celebrating  CHAMPIONS  of Faith!

God helps us to see the power of faith in Hebrews 11 – by celebrating Champions of faith – like Noah, Abraham, Moses – all accomplished great things with their lives – because they trusted God has a purpose for our lives in this world and that God is leading us to eternal life in heaven. 

Hebrews 11:6 (TLB)    It is impossible to please God without faith.  Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that God exists and that God rewards those who truly want to find Him.

Invite you to think for a moment about some of your personal Champions of Faith.  Who are the people you know – whose faith made it possible for them to accomplish good things with their lives?

My most important champions of faith are my grandparents.  They never became rich or famous – but they left me and our family a great legacy.  Committed to honoring God – living with integrity.  Committed to loving – giving their very best to build others up.

I don’t know about you – but I think quite often about the Saints, the Champions of Faith who went before me, how their commitment to live Christ-honoring lives – had a huge impact on me.  Ties in with the lesson from Hebrews 12.  They are now a part of the great cloud of witnesses – cheering for me, for all of us, in heaven. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)    Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

The power of the example of our Champions of Faith – reminds me that I have a responsibility for the example I am passing on to our sons, to our granddaughters. 

  • Who are your Champions of Faith?
  • Who will you be a Champion of Faith for?

All Saints Sunday – helps us to look back and think about all of the Champions of Faith who have impacted our lives.  And, All Saints Sunday helps us to look forward – by making our own commitment to being a Champion of Faith for future generations and realizing that our eternity starts right now.

Eternity Starts Now!                      — From the Moment We First Believe 

We started our investigation of what you believe about being a Steward with two views.  One view – is that life is a temporary throw away.  Sand castle that will just be washed away.  The second view that the Bible teaches us – is that life is a seed that will give way to a plant for all eternity.  Will we either spend eternity in heaven or in hell – based on the decisions we make about what it means to be a Steward for God.

God wants to help you make good choices and live without fear – by showing you that He will lead you through life, through death, and on to your eternal home in heaven.

Psalm 23:4-6 (KJV)    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me…   Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever!

We are mortal and we are going to die.  I don’t like dealing with it – and get overly excited thinking about your mortality either.  Fortunately, we don’t have to be overwhelmed with fear and dread – because we know that we can plug in to the power that is greater than mortality and death. 

1 Corinthians 15:53-57 (NLT)    Our dying bodies will be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies will be transformed into immortal bodies.  O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  Sin is the sting that results in death…  But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

All Saints Sunday – is a good day to celebrate the good news – our champions of faith weren’t wasting their time and are now in the trash can.  We can give thanks that God has raised them up to their new eternal home in heaven – and trusting that God will also raise us up to be with them.

You can live without fear and actually live with enthusiasm and joy – because you know that your life is not a waste of time.  Jesus shows us that eternity starts now – the integrity and love that you are building right now – will endure forever.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)    So, my dear brothers and sisters, with all of this going for us – be strong and immovable.  Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, confident that nothing you do for the Lord is  ever a waste of time or effort – as it would be if there was no resurrection.

·         What makes your life worth living — to the fullest?

We come to the Lord’s Table this morning to celebrate – the power and the lasting impact of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Jesus has raised our loved ones to a new and eternal life in heaven.  Jesus helps us to be good stewards of the life we have been given – because we know that Jesus will raise us up to heaven – and nothing that we do for god is ever a waste of time or effort.

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