A Good Steward?

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15th Sunday after Pentecost | September 22, 2019

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 • Psalm 79:1-9 • 1 Timothy 2:1-7 • Luke 16:1-13

16 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

“The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

“‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

Luke 16:1-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at several of Jesus parables. This particular parable or story is unique – it looks like Jesus is celebrating deception. Here’s what I want us to focus on this morning. In verse 8 Jesus states, “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd…” He then states the point of the lesson for us as children of the heavenly Father.

“Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.”

I truly believe that God owns everything. However, there are things that He entrusts to us. It’s funny that we call them our possessions, when in reality we are simply stewards of what is already God’s. Those “possessions” are what Jesus calls worldly resources. What is the purpose of our possessions? Their purpose is to benefit others. We aren’t supposed to hoard the resources that God has made us stewards of for our own use. Those resources are for the benefit of others.

Jesus reminds us that if we are faithful in the little things, we will be faithful in the bigger things. Jesus really gets to the crux here. If we can’t be trusted with the resources that He has given us here on this earth – the resources that we can see, how can we be trusted with the heavenly resources that we can’t see – the resources that Jesus calls the true riches of heaven? Jesus takes it one step further and asks if we can’t be faithful with other people’s things, then why should God trust us with stuff of our own?

It seems hard to believe that it has been over 3 years since I worked at Chick-fil-A. The mission statement of the organization is:

To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

This is really the mission of the children of the heavenly Father – to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. In the book of James we are told, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17). We are simply stewards of what God has entrusted with us and we are to take what God has entrusted us and use it to benefit others.

As this story finishes Jesus reminds us that God and money (or things) are two different masters and you can’t serve to masters. One or the other will be the master of you. So let me challenge you to be a good steward of what God has entrusted you.

Ancient Prayers

A prayer of St. Francis:

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, give us miserable ones the grace to do for You alone what we know you want us to do and always to desire that pleases You. Inwardly cleansed, interiorly enlightened and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Chris, and, by Your grace alone, may we make our way to You, Most high, who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, and are glorified God almighty, forever and ever.


Constitution Day

Somehow I missed this important date yesterday. September 17, 1787 is the day the Constitution of the United States was put into effect. It has been 232 years since that happened.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

I always like to remember important dates in American history and the Constitution tells us how our government it to be run. So happy belated birthday to our Constitution

Sunday Night Thoughts

It has been a wonderful day. As I write Anna and I are watching the Eagles and Falcons – but without sound. It’s been a great day, but I am looking for some quiet.

It was a wonderful day, followed by a busy but fulfilling week. It wasn’t the kind of week I was hoping for on the running front. I didn’t write a running update this week. I was able to get in to 6 milers – Tuesday’s run was on point. Thursday’s was a little weak, but Pam and I got in a nice walk yesterday morning.

I was up early for a men’s breakfast. We had a great time. The food is always good at Sprague’s. Following breakfast and our walk, we were able to do some shopping in preparation for today. This evening we hosted some missionaries – Matt and Caryl. We had a dinner of sandwiches and a wonderful time of fellowship and then they shared about what they are doing.

We had a good service this morning. I was able to preach a follow-up sermon to last week’s and the response was good. I am looking forward to the rest of this series.

This week, I have a board meeting and then we have our third week of Kid’s Klub. Things have been going well. On Thursday, we make our first trip to Buffalo for the season for Leadership Development. This is always a highlight of our month.

That’s about it for this week. Have a great one!

Prayer for the Week

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lost is Found

14th Sunday after Pentecost | September 15, 2019

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 • Psalm 14 • 1 Timothy 1:12-17 • Luke 15:1-10

15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Luke 15:1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

As we near the 3/4 mark of the gospel of Luke, Jesus is beginning to irritate the Pharisees and the other teachers of the religious law. These guys had wonderful knowledge of the Jewish scriptures and yet struggled with compassion. The Pharisees were upset that Jesus was spending way too much time with who they considered sinners – not worthy of the grace of God.

Jesus tells two stories, one of a shepherd who has 100 sheep. In the culture, owning 100 sheep would make you a rich man. In counting the sheep for the night, the man discovers just one sheep is missing. He leaves the 99 safe sheep and goes to search for the one lost sheep. The man uses all his resources to find the one lost sheep. When he finds the sheep, he tells all his neighbors that he has found the lost sheep.

In the second story, Jesus tells of a woman who has 10 coins and loses one. She searches the whole house and leaves no corner or mattress unturned and finally finds the coin. She also calls all her friends and family and tells them she has found the coin.

Jesus reminds us that the same thing happens when one who is lost spiritually is found. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We are reminded that the well don’t need a doctor, but it is the sick. Jesus calls us to go to where the lost are – to seek them out – so they can be found – and when they are found the whole of heaven can rejoice.

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Help us to be cheerful when things go wrong,
persevering when things are difficult,
serene when things are irritating.

Enable us to be helpful to those in difficulties,
kind to those in need,
sympathetic to those whose hearts are sore and sad.

Grant that nothing may make us lose our tempers,
nothing may take away our joy,
nothing may ruffle our peace,
and nothing may make us bitter towards anyone.

So grant that through all this day
all with whom we work,
and all those whom we meet,
may see in us the reflection of the Master,
Whose we are, and Whom we seek to serve.
This we ask for Thy love’s sake.

Through Christ our Lord: Amen.

JH Cardinal Newman

9/11|Never Forget

Under a clear blue sky…the morning of September 11, 2001. In Upstate New York it was a beautiful late summer day. The sun was bright. The sky was blue. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

It all happened today, 18 years ago. We went to bed on September 10 with no thoughts of what would unfold under that clear blue sky on a Tuesday September morning. Our two girls went to school that morning as usual and I was preparing a sermon for the following Sunday. James and Pam were watching Bob the Builder. In a few hours I would head out to work at RadioShack.

Then everything changed – in the blink of an eye – our world changed. My first reaction was how could a plane crash into the World Trade Center on a beautiful day like this. In fact, according to the radar, those planes flew over our heads in Fort Miller that morning before being hijacked toward New York. That was and still is a sobering thought. I knew something was wrong when Pam told me a second plane had hit the other WTC tower. What was going on? Our nation was under attack…that’s the way it seemed on that September morning. Just about the time you thought – it can’t get much worse – it got worse – a plane into the Pentagon – a plane into a field in Pennsylvania – first one tower collapses – then another…I remember holding onto James watching a nightmare unfold on live television.

It was a bit surreal. We lived in rural upstate New York at the time and immediately it seemed like we were much safer than the rest of the world. While many of the urban and suburban schools in the capital region closed early as did many of the shopping malls. Our kids school had a regular school day and our RadioShack remained open until regular hours. We even watched the event on the TV’s at work. It was a day that I will never forget. It is my generation’s Pearl Harbor. We must never forget.