Text: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
by Robert J. Young

Summer is coming, vacation, some get time away, others spend time here, Mother's Day is next week, we are having visitors, please welcome them. A recent visitor said, "Your building is too big, it is overwhelming." We do not see it, we are familiar with this building, so welcome visitors. Walk in their shoes.

Missions is exciting. We have some distance to go, however. Almost $10000. Not quite 8 months pledged, 234 days, solicit/encourage your help.

Thank you for cards, concern for extended family. Prayers, 1000 at funeral. Cards from Lipscomb, Harding, Pepperdine. 1000s of cards, 300 love notes from TX church. No answers in counseling--confusion, mixed up, just listen. Listen, pray, praise.

Exciting summer--Parables, Wednesday series, specials for kids. Work camp. BCCC Camp. Worship considering CBH. Kent Taylor, June 24. Missions trips. 90th Anniv, Homecoming. Restore fallen. Be back tonight-When a Christian Sins.

I would like to designate some month "Praise month." Ps 119:164. David was some person. Imitate him, his heart for God. Intrigued by his praise life.

1 Cor. 4--we can praise God through stewardship. Examine nature of stewardship. Unknown, unthought dimensions. "It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." Tidbit--greatest thought on earth is my personal accountability to God. Increase accountability to others to increase accountability to God.
Steward/stewardship--bothers. Another sermon on giving. Not just sermon on giving, although will include that. Not primary thrust. Steward is one in charge, trustee, given trust. Business mgr., accountant, CPA, financial consultant, business agent. Given total charge of one's house. Sell, invest, exchange, confidante, give advice. Sacred trust. Such was Eliezer to Abraham. All of us have a trust from God. Preachers have a trust. People love us, pray for us, do nice things because of this sacred trust. People bring into home, life, passages/rituals of life, love, support, appreciate, this is a sacred trust. Demonstrates/reminds of personal accountability to God.

Take notes. 4 areas. Phases, dimensions, facets of stewardship.

I. Stewardship is developed in RELATIONSHIPS.
Not usually put that first. Get men together on retreat--what about stewardship? Answer--work hard, earn salary, pay debt, good name. Bank acct. Provide for family. Think of stewardship of $/c. Not prime responsibility of stewardship.
Ac 2,4, see mother church, church = growing, every day baptisms, 3000-5000-multiply. Not because meeting budget, not because of churchhouse, not because of anything external. Main stewardship before God = in relations. Talking esp. to men. Stewards. Fathers, husbands, family. Relationships. Get along with brothers? Great thing about church we want to restore was "all things in common." Gave according to need. Glad eating, generous hearts. Bottom line in acctability to God = how relate to others. This is stewardship. Stewards of things, of people. Even of our community. Men, we must do better for family. My boys tell me. Child-rearing, not because of but in spite of. Not home enough. Gone a lot. One wife said: he was gone a lot and it was easier when he was.
Men, it is OK to provide, be good in business, but bottom line = are you good to wife, kids, relationships. In church also. Basic stewardship = relationships. Church = family. We are resp for one another. Early church loved one another. Church not business, not hierarchy, accomplishment. Bottom line = get along with one another. Love another. Miss one another.
"Relationships are more imp than productivity." Prod. not measure of church. Stewardship = where we have not looked for it. Church = family. Eph. 3:16ff. Stewards of gospel. Acts 2:47, boils it down. Daily baptisms when members praise God and get along with one another. Stewardship, #1--first, relationships. Family, church, friends, people.

II. Stewardship is measured in FAITHFULNESS.
Relig persecution has historically led church to faithfulness. We are not very faithful. In Russia before recent revolution and freedom, referrred to Americans as "Four-wheel Xns"--rides to Easter, Xmas, funeral. Hatched, matched, dispatched. Carried, Married, buried. Amer = spoiled brats relig. Do what we like when we want to do it. Convenient. Ought to be larger in #, giving more. Easier to play church. Stewardship. Stewards of what: money, yes. But also stewards of mystery, gospel. Better be faithful.

III. Stewardship is responsible for SPIRITUAL GIFTS--MINISTRY.
1 Pet 4:10-11. Bible things, Bible names. Be honest. Use verse when want to use it. Dishonest. Don't always want to use Bible name. Spir gifts = more than charismatic, Pentecostal. Every person receives a gift (not talent, blessing), is from God, not from us. Different than talent, not simply innate. Stewardship. Every person here today has enabled by God to do something. Something only you can do. Sing, pray, God expects it of you. Don't do what you can't do. Do what you can do. What God enables, What God gives oppor. Speaking = prching. Minister, serve--as of ability God gives. So God is glorified thru JC.
Better find your gift, better use it. God gave it to you. If can preach and don't, better watch out. If can do anything, better do it. Teach, lead, serve, minister. Recognize it, use it.
Some great people in this church. Just ordinary persons, not superstars, but are spir people. And yet amidst talents and gifts, some are not hooked up. Men with gifts, not given job assignments. Ch as wasteland. If would hook up, use, give assignments, get all involved--blow FG off the map. What an impact. If all use God-given gift, what a dif. 5/21 = just such an opportunity. Will you use it? So stewardship is in responsiblity for relationships, faithfulness, using what God give us so that we may serve.

IV. Stewardship is most difficult in MONEY.
"Church does not have to be run like a business. But is wrong to run church like a poor business." Do church right! We are selfish, indulgent, not say no, interested in latest doodads, gimmicks, gadgets, gizmos. Giving is the only answer to greed. I = greedy, selfish, only way to solve that is to give, give, give. Is only answer to greed.
Greatest thot on earth = personal acctability to God. Only two things God has at judgment: stand there face to face, two criteria for eval my life: calendar and checkbook. Bible for that? Judge by deeds done, works. Time and money. All you have. Time and possessions. God has life opened, 1948-2002. Calendar, checkstubs. Show me where you put time and spend money, show you where you investing for eternity.

Stewardship of time, money. Here it is. Easy. Fair.

Ought to praise God in stewardship. Countryism--boil this down. Put your money where you mouth is. Ch wants to "Do this, do that." All boils down to stewardship. Steward must be faithful.

People who need to be baptized, begin stewardship of time. Beautiful and wonderful to see one in Christ. Stewards of manifold mysteries of God. Need to be restored? How's calendar, checkbook? Show them to me? to elders? ID today? God seeks stewards, good relationships, faithful, servants, wise in use of resources.


*In part from notes from Charles Hodge.

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Last updated November 23, 2001.