GLORY TO GOD ALONE (updated May 1, 2014)

Glory to God Alone

Stewardship Sermon

October 22, 2013 {updated May 1, 2014}

                                                                                              

 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever.  Amen.  Romans 11: 36

 Psalm 126

A Harvest of Joy

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,*    we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,    and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations,    ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ 3 The Lord has done great things for us,    and we rejoiced.

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,    like the watercourses in the Negeb. 5 May those who sow in tears    reap with shouts of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping,    bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy,    carrying their sheaves.

 

Ephesians 5: 18b-20

…….18be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 16: 25-27

25Now to God* who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom* be the glory for ever! Amen.*

SERMON

There are pastors who are quite vocal in saying they don’t like to preach “Stewardship”!  I am quite the opposite.  I have always felt such avoidance of this topic of stewardship is paramount to avoiding the gospel.   The gospels speak clearly and often about our returning to God from the abundance of blessings, including life itself, entrusted our care.  

As we celebrate all in life that belongs to God we gather to worship in giving glory to God for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) God has entrusted our use and our care: 

SOLI DEO GLORIA!   GLORY, ALONE, TO GOD!

Our scriptural grounding for this stewardship season in the church comes from Ephesians 5 verses 18b-20:

…….18be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Give thanks for everything in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  We do this each week in gathering together for worship in this sacred place to sing to God:

“Praise God for whom all blessings flow

Praise God all creatures here below;

Praise God above ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”

                                              (#592 Hymnal)

Or as another hymn we often sing says:

 “We give thee but Thine own,

What – e’re the gift may be;

All that we have is Thine alone,

A trust O Lord, from Thee

                                                          (#428 Hymnal)

In giving glory to God for blessings received, I will be preaching these next few weeks on what God has entrusted our care and what we return to God with our tithes and offerings.  Today I will be focusing on the traditional categories the church has used for years in thinking about stewardship….

First, our returning to God a portion of the “time” God has given us,

Second, our use of “talents” from God given skills and talents, and

Third, our use of “money”, in returning to God a portion of what has enriched us financially.

Lastly, what do we return to God from what God has placed in our hearts?  The “heart-felt passion” we have for Christ’s Church!

And yes, this is what giving glory to God is all about!  According to biblical scholar N.T. Wright in his book Surpirsed by Scripture: 

 Glory is not simply a kind of luminescence, as though the point of salvation were that we would eventually shine like electric lightbulbs. Glory means, among other things, rule and power and authority; as other writers (notably Saint John the Divine) make clear, part of the point of God’s saving his people is that they are destined not merely to enjoy a relaxing endless vacation in a place called heaven, but that they are designed to be God’s stewards, ruling over the whole creation with healing and restorative justice and love.” FB post 4/30/14

 So in getting started:

 II. Stewardship of Time

 

Stewardship of timeTick-tock, tick-tock!  One precious gift God gives all of us in equal proportion from the time we are born until we die:  TIME.  

 

An interesting comments I hear concerning time:    “I just don’t have enough time!”  or  “I can’t find time to do one more thing!” or  “I’m too busy!”   And I hear this often in this church:  “I’m too old!”  In all honesty, do we ever lack in having enough time for the things we truly love or impassioned to be doing?  

 Stewardship of time.  Each of us has to make decisions each and every day as to how we are going to invest or spend or prioritize the use of our God-given time.   We all take time for sleep.  We take time for meals in bringing nourishment to our bodies.  We value time spent with family and friends.  We also enjoy time in drinking that favorite cup of coffee or reading that favorite paper or book.  There is time spent with a host of activities, whether at work or at play, that is “discretionary” – things we choose to do or want to do as opposed to time spent in things we feel obligated to be doing.

 An example and not to embarrass anybody, we have two individuals who come down to this church almost every week to do some cleaning.  This is not a glamorous job.  These two individuals put in countless hours in keeping this building looking good.   Not speaking for these two individuals, but I wonder to what extent ANYBODY feels obligated to come to this church to do all the many things all of you do to serve their Lord?  I know this is discretionary time.  These two individuals could probably find other things to be doing in different places.  But they are here.  They are stewards of the time God has given them returning a portion of this time to the church!

 I could give a dozen examples of those of you who do the same…..who come to this church to do things behind the scenes as stewards of time.  I am guessing, if they didn’t truly love this church, they wouldn’t be here!

Stewardship of time.  One of the most valuable gifts we can return to God is the seventh day, the time we invest with God and worship.  In fact it doesn’t cost a cent to clear our schedules to take time for worship in giving “Glory to God” for blessings received. 

Seriously, one of my greatest fears for you and this church in this time of transition:  All the leaders of this church who will be spending countless hours in helping this church through the transition in searching for a new pastor, will need your support simply by being here for worship.  There will be lots of different things to do with our various ministry teams, but nothing can move forward without a total commitment to be together once a week as a church family….in worship….in giving Glory to God for this church and all the blessings we have received through this church.

From Psalm 95

 “2 Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to God with songs of praise! 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods…..6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 7 For God is our God, and we are the people of God’s pasture, and the sheep of God’s hand.”

 III.  Stewardship of Talents

 Stewardship of Talents.  Closely related to the time we offer God are the talents we use as an investment in helping the church.  The two volunteers who help clean, the members of ministry teams making phone calls to secure guest preachers;  the session in holding special meetings;  deacons making extra calls – I give thanks to God knowing that so many of you are using your talents in making sure this transition is as smooth as possible.  And for those of you who feel you can not longer do anything?  Just picking up a phone to call someone to say they have been missed in worship – what a wonderful gift!  

Have you heard me refer to a “Talent Bank”?   Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church has its own talent “Talent Bank” and all of you have already made deposits!

 Literally, if God has given each of us talents to deposit in our personal “talent bank” account for future use, what portion of these talents do we use in support of the church? 

We often think in terms of giving tithes and offerings when it comes to money.  What about the tithes and offerings we offer God with the use of time and talents?

Some illustrations on what you can do in using some of your talents:

+      If you have a passion and some talent to share in helping this church make plans for the future, consider joining one of the church Ministry Teams. 

 

+      If you have a talent in working with children, you can find a few hours to help with the nursery or church school. 

 

+     If your talent is in working with finance, you can join with others in helping out on the church Management Team

 

+     If your talent is fixing and repairing things, I am sure Charles and the Facilities Team could use some help.

 

+     If you like gardening or doing outside work, we have plenty of outside work that needs to be done around the church.

 

+     If your talent is office work, there is plenty you can be doing to help out Melissa around the church office.   We also have a team that meets once a week just put out the newsletter.

 

+     If you have any passion for worship we can always use your “talents” as ushers and greeters and worship leaders.

 

+     If you like being together in fellowship, we can always use help with coffee hour hosts and church meals.

 

+     If you like calling your friends and writing notes, consider becoming a deacon?  If your talent is “TALKING ON THE PHONE” – I can get you a copy of the church directory!  J

 

I honestly believe there is something any and all of you can be doing in sharing a portion of the time and talents God has given you!

 

 Stewardship of Financial Resources—Money

 

Stewardship of Money:  I don’t feel the need to spend a lot of time preaching on this subject.  This is the day we pass out pledge cards.  Only one thing needs to be said.  We can tithe our time and talents for use of the church.  We can be perfect in worship attendance!   We love this church and what this church does in the community.  This fact:  Our mere presence and work and love for the church doesn’t, by themselves, pay the bills.

 

We are adults.   You know what this church means to you.  The two main questions I ask you to consider in making your pledge to support the church in 2014:

 

(1) Will you continue to give as generously as you have in the past?

(2) Will you consider doing more?

 

It is pretty much known by most of our members that we have a small endowment fund that helps to support the operating budget of the church.  These investments are also used to help out with emergency expenses.

A significant part of our operating budget comes from these investments.  It is also important for you to know that at the current rate we are using these investments – they cannot/will not last forever!  Simply, we are spending more from these funds than they are growing.  The best way to slow the trend of being dependent on these investment funds is for each of us to do what we can to sustain or increase what you give.  In fact, if you can, we really need to see “increases” in pledges to cover the losses in pledges that occur naturally.   

I know that money is tight.  I know that a large number of you are on fixed incomes.  I also pretty much know that all of us can do more! 

 

Which leads to my final point:

 

  1. Stewardship of our Passions

 

We love this church.  I will always love this church even though I am not longer going to be your pastor.  This final point:  Are we going to give to God from the bank of resources in helping this church move forward in serving Christ?  Does what we give in the form of time and talents and money match with the “passion” and the “love” we have for this church and for each other? 

 

I often say from this pulpit that stewardship is placing our gifts next to those things we truly value.   It is that time of year to ask:  Do I value what God has (and is) giving me through this church?  What can I do in response to what God has given me?

 

The church needs your time and talents.   The church needs your financial support.  We give glory to God for all the blessings received and used to further God’s Kingdom on this earth and through the work of Christ’s church.

 

May God continue to bless us in the important work we have been called to be doing in remembering these words from Romans: 

 

“For from God and through God and to God are all things.  To God be the glory forever.  Amen.  Romans 11: 36

 END

 

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