Today we begin a four week series entitled “Lordship Living.” We are going to take a look at the topic of stewardship. So often when we here the word stewardship, we think immediately of money or giving. Stewardship involves that, but is so much more as well. True stewardship is about how we manage the resources that God has given to us. As we work through the topics over the next few weeks, we will always look at stewardship in four areas and we will touch on those in a few moments. Today we want to take a look at the idea that God provides. One of God’s name’s in the Bible is Jehovah Jireh or God provides. We want to take a look at the idea of ownership. Who owns it all anyway?
On September 26, 1991, the first crew of Biospherians-four women and four men-entered Biosphere 2. Located in the Sonoran Desert about 30 miles north of Tucson, Biosphere 2 was a 7.2 million-cubic-foot enclosure built at the cost of $200 million. This enclosed, three-acre ecological laboratory had a controlled habitat with a rain forest, savanna, desert, marsh, ocean, and agricultural area and all the factors thought to be necessary to sustain life. The original crew was to remain in this airtight container for two years.
However, after the first year, atmosphere levels fell to the point that oxygen had to be added from the outside. Nineteen of 25 vertebrate species and most insects in the unit became extinct, including all species that could pollinate plants. Water, air pollution, and temperature control became a problem. The crew lost so much weight, food was smuggled in through the airlocks.
With all the intelligence put into the design of Biosphere 2, it just didn’t work. Isn’t it amazing that some still insist that off of this just happened.
The more we see of the world, the more we appreciate the God who created it. Isaac Newton said, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of His dominion He is wont to be called Lord God.”
God created this world, and He owns all of it and that includes you and me.
All of us were born with the need to create things. We like to think that we created things and now they are ours. God the ultimate creator, created us to create. However, just because we created it does not make it ours. God is the creator and owner of everything. We have begun reading through the Bible this year. The very first thing we read says “God created the heavens and the earth.” God created everything out of nothing. God created the sun, moon, stars, earth, and everything that is living on the earth. I know some will be skeptical about this but according to George Gallup, not as many are skeptical as the media would have us believe.
According to Gallup, the greatest number of Americans (45 percent) hold to the strict creationist view that God created us pretty much in our present form within the last 10,000 years. Most other Americans believe in some combination of evolution and creationism, and leaving only 13 percent of Americans who believe in strict evolution (Gallup News Service, Nov. 2004).
If we believe what we have read over the past week, we know that God created the heavens. We don’t know what methods he may have used. It’s very possible that the Big Bang Theory is correct. God said it, and bang! It happened. We know that God is creator. David write in the 24th Psalm that, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it, for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. You’ll remember when in Hebrew something is repeated, it is important. David repeats the thought in verse one that everything (EVERYTHING) is the Lord’s. This week we read of God’s ultimate creation in us; human beings. We hear it repeated over and over that his creation was good. When He created man, He said it was very good. You and I belong to God.
God gave Adam and Eve stewardship of all of creation. He entrusted them — and now us with caring for the earth. That’s a tremendous privilege and a tremendous responsibility. We are answerable to God to manage the world He created.
I don’t know about you, but when I drive someone else’s car, I’m always extra careful. I try to be a good driver all the time, but when I’m behind the wheel of a vehicle I don’t own, I feel an extra sense of responsibility.
That’s the way we should feel about managing God creation; we are driving God’s car. He has given us the responsibility to take care of what he has entrusted to us. We should take special care of the world. God has given it to us to take care of, not destroy.
Years ago, there was an ad campaign to discourage people from littering. In the public service announcement, the cameras panned an area teeming with garbage, then focused on a Native American man. The close-up of his face showed a single tear sliding down his cheek. The image was powerful. I think the sorrow in that man’s face may reflect God’s sorrow as He sees the way we care for the world He has given us. We treat it as if it’s ours, but it all belongs to Him.
We have a responsibility to care for all God has created and provided for us. Not only must we be faithful stewards of the world God has entrusted to us; we must also be faithful as individuals.
Think about the things entrusted to your care right now.
· Your home
· Your family
o Your wife
o Your children
· Your property or perhaps your business.
We all consume the earth’s produce and use its resources. A few months ago, I gave you some startling statistics regarding American consumerism.
How are you doing at managing God’s world? In reality we own nothing God owns it all. We are simply managers of what God has given to us. This world doesn’t belong to us. When we realize that, it should change the way we think about the things we “own.”
The world doesn’t belong to us. Just realizing this biblical truth will change the way we think about the things we “own” and the way we think about ourselves!
God created us, and He wants to own us-all of us, not just a part. He wants us to give all we are and all we have to Him. When we do, we find our greatest joy and purpose in life.
A wonderful parable written by the late pastor/educator Robert Boyd Munger describes what it means to give ourselves completely to the One who created us, loved us, and sacrificed His Son to save us. It’s called “My Heart-Christ’s Home.”
In this story, Munger speaks about his life as if it were a home with Christ moving from one area of his life to another, examining the things he read or viewed, the things he valued (such as academic degrees, investment portfolios, and fame), and at last inviting the man to find true satisfaction in following God’s will in every area.
Finally, Jesus confronts him, “Stop seeking your own pleasures, desires, and satisfaction. Seek to please Him (God). That food will satisfy you.”
“There at the table He gave me a taste of the joy of doing God’s will. What flavor! There is no food like it in the entire world. It alone satisfies” (Munger, InterVarsity Press, 1986).
Think we me about giving Christ all of your life. Think of your life as a home with these four rooms: Time, Talent, Treasure, and Touch. Take an inventory in each of these areas and ask the question: “Does it all belong to God?”
First, think about your time. All of us have the same 24 hours in each day. They are a gift from God. He created the world and gives us the ability to move about and do things. Here’s the question: “Does your use of time show you acknowledge God’s control over your life and everything in it?”
Next, consider your talents. When I was younger I wanted to be a traveling musician. After a while, I found out there are some things I have the talent for and some things I don’t! But all of us have some talent. We have abilities to preach or teach or create or repair things or earn money or care for children. There are things you can do better than anyone else. It’s because God gave you that ability. Again, here’s the question: “Are you using your talents in a way that honors God?”
Now, think about your treasure. That’s right, let’s talk about money. All of us have some-usually not as much as we’d like! But here’s the good thing about the time and place in which we live. Almost everyone of us has more money than we need to survive. We have a roof over our heads and food to eat-and we still have some left over! Do you know why? It’s because God gave it to us. Do you realize the Bible says even your ability to work and earn money is a gift from God? Everything you hold is on loan – a trust – from Him. How are you using your money? Does your use of money honor the God who gave you everything you have? Have you given God control of your money?
Finally, let’s talk about your touch; that’s the relationships you have with the people in your life. We all touch people every day. We encounter others at home, work, school, church, and the convenience store-everywhere. This is a harder area to analyze, but ask yourself: “Do I honor God in my relationships?” Think about the ways you interact with your spouse and children. Think about the ways you influence your friends–or are influenced by them. Think about your business partnerships and relationships. Are you affecting people for the Kingdom? Are you using the gift of touch to reach others for God?
Does Christ have all of you-not just your heart, but your time, talent, treasure, and touch as well?
It’s a question of ownership. Who holds the paper on your life-you or God? The great reformer Martin Luther said, “I have held many things in my hand, and have lost them all; but whatever 1 have placed in God’s hands that I still possess.”
The same is true for you and me. When we give our lives to God, He does a marvelous thing; He gives them back to us. He lets us use our time, talent, treasure, and touch to bring joy to our own lives–so long as we honor Him. You can’t lose by surrendering to God!
I challenge you today to do what every business in the country must do at least once a year: take an inventory. Make a listing of all you have and all you are. Then go down the list one item at a time, and do what an accountant would–determine whether each item is an asset or a liability.
If it belongs to God, it has value. It is an asset. If it belongs only to you, it is a liability. Before you are finished, see if you can wind up with all assets and no liabilities. Give all you have and all that you are to God.