Engage Groups April 24-27
"The earth is the LORD'S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein," Psalms 24:1
Leaders: Be sure to review the Faith in Action you set as a group last week, then continue to the icebreaker question for this weeks study.
Opening Question: You just won the lottery of $1 million dollars. You have to spend it on anyone or anything, but it CANNOT be for yourself. How would you spend (or give) it? Explain why.
"You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth..." Deuteronomy 8:18
In the New Testament, two Greek words embody the meaning of our English word “stewardship.” The first word is epitropos which means "manager, foreman, or steward." The second word is oikonomos. It also means "steward, manager, or administrator" and occurs more frequently in the New Testament.
Stewardship is our obedient witness to God’s sovereignty and it motivates the follower of Christ to move into action, doing deeds that reveals a belief in Him. This is the primary way others see God in the world today. Stewardship then, acknowledges in practice that we do not have the right of control over ourselves or our property—God has that control. It means as stewards of God we are managers of that which belongs to God, and we are under His constant authority as we administer His purpose in the world around us, and sometimes beyond. Stewardship therefore, has a two-fold purpose: to show we love God by allowing His control over our lives and thus, our resources and gifting; and to show God's love for others by sharing our resources and gifting with them.
Sermon: The Benefits Of Lifestyle Stewardship by John Maxwell on Jun 27, 2008
Now, to prepare this kind of a message, I sat down and I got my concordance out and I began to look up all of the verses in the Bible that refer to giving or gifts or give. I was shocked. Let’s take some common words in the Bible for a moment and let me just tell you how many times they are used in the Bible. Let’s take the word “believe.” That’s a very good word: “believe, believing, believer.” Do you realize that if you took every verse in the Bible that had that word in it or those words in it, there are only 272 verses that talk about belief? There are only 371 verses that talk about prayer. 714 verses talk about love and loving. Boy, that’s a word that we’re used to hearing. You talk about God so loved the world — I mean that’s an incredible word. That’s a Bible word. That’s a Christian word. 714 verses deal with love. Now fasten your seat belts. When I came to the concordance on giving and being a giver, 2,162 verses talk about us giving: three times more than love, seven times more than prayer, eight times more than belief. You’ll find that giving and being a giver is peppered from the very beginning of the Bible to the very end of the Bible. God wants us to understand that we are to be givers in life. One thing is clear, both in the Old and the New Testament: God desires to bless us and provide us with the necessities of life. That’s a fact of life. God desires to take care of your needs and my needs. We’re His children and if God sees the sparrow when it falls; and God can count the hairs on our head, then He knows about us. He knows everything about us and God wants to take care of our needs.
If you and I are going to receive what God has for us, we must be generous in our giving. It is a fact, it is a biblical truth, it is a principle that God doesn’t bless a miser. God doesn’t bless a stingy person. God is not about to give you something that you think is yours and that you keep for yourself and are unwilling to pass on. Therefore, one of the first things we need to understand about stewardship is, as long as I have what God has given to me and take it for my own and am stingy with it, I’m responsible for it. But the moment that I give it back to God, God is now responsible for it and He’s responsible for me. That’s why His word says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these other things will be added unto you.” That’s why total consecration, lordship is the first thing that you and I do as far as developing a lifestyle of giving in our life.
David said that "the world and everything in it" belongs to God (Psalm 89:11). Everything we have today comes from God. It is His; we own nothing. Therefore, our perspective changes on how we treat our resources and talents. If we are not the owners of these gifts in our lives, then we are to be the managers or a stewards of them. A manager oversees the owner's assets for the owner's benefit. A manager carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he or she manages. The job of a manager is to find out what the owner wants done with His assets and then to carry out His will. Thinking and behaving like we are owners of our gifting or resources puts us in constant conflict with God over what we do with the things that we have. But when I understand that the Lord is the owner, and we are only the managers, the conflict disappears, and freedom overtakes our life. We then begin to share them with ours. We begin to be a witness!
"Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap for whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.” Luke 6:38
"And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." Acts 2:44-45
Read 1 Peter 4:7-11. Perhaps people today have such a hard time with good stewardship because of the fact that we often fail to accept or maybe realize what our position is as stewards and what all that implies. As you read this passage, think about how important it is that your gifting is not your own, but God's, and to be used for His purposes and for others. Consider the following questions to guide you:
- In verse 7, what is the significance with instructing us to be "self-controlled" and "sober-minded"
- In verse 8-9, how should we treat others? How does this tie in with verse 7?
- What's the importance of not grumbling in this process?
- In verse 10, it says "we've each received a gift". Can you name some of yours?
- Have you used this gift to serve others? How so?
- How do you think stewardship of money fits into this passage? Explain.
- Ultimately in verse 11, in your own words, what is the purpose of this stewardship?
PERSONAL: Faith in Action
Leaders take time to discuss what we need to practically do to be a living witness by being a great steward this week. Be specific.
Take time, either quietly or together, to confess when you were self serving with your gifting. Ask God to show you
His purpose for your gifting in the world around you or even beyond. Pray for boldness to follow through on His instructions.