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Stewardship Matters

Mark 12:43: Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.” 
One measure of a gift’s true value is the capacity of the one who gives it. What do the gifts you now offer God in time, talent and treasure really cost you? How might you prayerfully improve?


Mark 12:33 – To love God with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself – this is much more important all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Church stewardship is often preoccupied with money, but what does God really want?  The scribes in this Gospel explains it succinctly. Truly loving God and neighbor is worth more than offerings and sacrifices. But if we achieve this kind of love , giving generously comes much more easily.



Mark10:42-44  Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.  Jesus gives us a reality that’s topsy-turvy from what we know! We achieve greatness by serving others? Why is this so hard? What kind of heart-transformation does it require?


Mark10:24b, 25 – Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."  When he talks about money, Jesus frequently uses words of warning. Why does wealth hinder rich people from entering the Kingdom of God? How are you managing? How can we, as steward-disciples, do better?

Psalm 8:4, 6 – What are human beings that you [Lord] are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet. - God gives us dominion over God’s creation, which means we’re in charge. But that also means we have a duty to treat the created world respectfully and use its resources responsibly. How do you think we’re doing? As steward-disciples, how can we do better?

Psalm 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.  

When we live fully to God, we want not just our outside appearance to meet with God’s approval, but even our thoughts and words. This is the prayer of a true steward/disciple.

James 4:1, 2 – Those conflicts and disputes among you … do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. - James puts his finger on the pulse of human misery. We drive ourselves crazy by craving the things we don’t have and envying those who have more than we do! Spiritual maturity and practicing steward/discipleship help bring us sanity.


Mark 8:35 – [Jesus taught] “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

Jesus debunks the prevalent lie that the more we accumulate, the happier and more secure we will be. Stewards/disciples learn that when we give ourselves fully to God, we save our lives and find true joy.




James 2:15 – If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

For many of us who have more than we need, it’s very hard to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves. The questions steward/disciples have to ask prayerfully are “How generous am I, really? Is God calling me to be more generous?”

Stewardship Matters – Ephesians 5:15-16 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

God gives all of us the same abundance of time – 24 hours in every day, and it’s so easy to waste! Steward disciples pray for wisdom to live each day to its fullest, and to turn away from the world’s evils.


Ephesians 4:31,32 – Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 

As God’s called and blessed community, Christians live by different rules than “the world,” which is too-often angry and blameful. We are good stewards of community and relationships when we do our best to live with kindness and love.



John 6:35 –
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” 

In the Lord’s Prayer we ask God to “Give us today our daily bread.” Jesus reminds us that he is the true bread that feeds our lives and souls. Daily we partake of Jesus through prayer and Scripture, and as often as we may through Holy Communion.

Psalm 145:15, 16  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.  

Our God is a god of abundance. As steward/disciples we look to God for all that we need, knowing that God provides.

Mark 6:31 Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest for awhile.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

In our time and culture, busy-ness has emerged as a major source of stress. Being good stewards of our own peace of mind, we know that Jesus' words to the disciples are for us, too. We need to get away from our sources of busy-ness and stress to rest.


Psalm 85:10-12 – Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 

 

Everybody wants a life of peace and security, but most of us try to achieve it the world’s way – by accumulating power, treasure and pleasure. The Psalm sets us right: It’s relationship with God and one another that give us what we want.


Mark 5:34 – Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 

We all need to be good stewards of our bodies, minds and souls. The story of the woman with a hemorrhage reminds us that in addition to nutritious eating, regular exercise and other healthy habits we may adopt, it’s our faith that gives us total health. Care for our souls is key to caring for our whole self.

Psalm 107:1 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Thankfulness is a gateway response for steward/disciples because gratitude leads us to see our blessings as abundance rather than scarcity. When we see our blessings as abundance, we can let go of them and share with our needy neighbors. So give thanks always!



Mark 4:26-27  Jesus also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” 

How does God work in our lives, to draw us close as steward/disciples and then send us out to accomplish holy things? Jesus explains that it’s like seed growing and spouting in us in ways that we can’t explain. What seeds of steward/discipleship are taking root in you?


Mark 3:21 When his [Jesus'] family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying,  “He has gone out of his mind.”
Do people always understand your passionate decision to follow Jesus – to turn your back on the world's hatred, its consumerism, its warmongering, and its xenophobia? It can seem downright crazy to others, but the path of stewardship/discipleship leads out of our comfort zone – and the world's – and into God's Realm.



Deuteronomy 5:12 – "Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you."

Do you need a break? In today's nonstop, 24/7 world, we need Deuteronomy's reminder that God actually commands us to stop working one day a week.  Sabbath literally means “stop.” Good stewards maintain a good work/life balance What would a “Holy Stoppage” look like for you?


Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

Our lives belong to God, and we reach greatest fulfillment when we are accomplishing God's purposes. We are living right when we can respond to God's calling with an enthusiastic, “Here I am; send me!”




Psalm 104:24,25
- O Lord, how manifold are your works!... the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
We sometimes forget that animals, fish, birds, insects, and reptiles are also creations of God that need to live. As stewards of creations, we honor all living things and work to ensure that they, like us, have safe, clean, abundant habitat.




John 17:18 – [Jesus prayed to God about his disciples,] “as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Because we live in an evil world, we can be tempted to withdraw, shut down, and disengage. But Jesus sends us as steward/disciples out into the world, to be bearers of God's love and light. We engage the world God loves.

John 15:16 – Jesus said, “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. So that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”

God has chosen us and given us our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. As steward/disciples we are entrusted with these gifts (and God's Holy Word) for a purpose – to bear fruit for a world that needs it badly.

1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Steward-disciples know that God intends us to live in community, helping and relying on one another. We are stewards of community when we practice love for one another. What does that mean for you? How can we love people we do not like?

Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

You've read and prayed this before, but the passage's power is only increased by repetition. Stewards believe in God's abundance and learn the difference between wants and needs. When God fills our needs, we want for nothing.

1John 3:1a See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.

Our identity – who we really are – forms the hub of our lives as steward-disciples. Our actions and thoughts revolve around that hub. And John reveals that we are children of God almighty. When you understand and live – really live – as a child of God, everything else falls into place.


Acts 4:32-35 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

The earliest church presents a vision of perfect community stewardship . When everyone shares, no one is needy. What does this passage reveal about how God wants us to to handle our worldly goods? How can you/we step in that direction?
Stewardship Matters:
Thank God
for our food
!




Earth Day
 April 22nd








Stewardship Matters: Thank God for our food

God said [to Adam and Eve], ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’

Genesis 1:29

There’s an old joke about the first-grade teacher who asks her class, “Where do apples come from?” Little Jenny speaks up: “From the supermarket!”

We laugh, but the sad truth is that many of us are so far removed from farms that we forget that our food -- every bite -- comes from life, life that God alone created. Yes, farmers sow seeds and care for the plants and trees, but it’s God’s miracle of life that makes them grow.

As stewards and disciples, we desire to cultivate in ourselves and our communities a deep appreciation for all God provides us, particularly what we need to live. With every mouthful at every meal we thank God for our daily bread, and for the soil, air and water that sustains life.

Easter and springtime are perfect occasions to celebrate God’s miracle of life that gives us fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, fish and dairy foods. Here are some ideas:In saying mealtime grace, thank God not only for food, but also for the cycles of seedtime, growth and harvest. Thank God for life-nourishing soil, water and air.

    While eating discuss or ponder the origins of the variety of food on your plate. How and where are the plants grown or animals raised? How do they get to your kitchen?

    As a church or family, celebrate Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) by learning about food production and how climate change, pollution and economics impact our food supply.

        Celebrate Earth Day by planting a garden in your yard or community garden on church         grounds.

    Learn about nutrition -- what foods are the best and worst for us, and why. Promote healthy eating.

    Learn about food waste in our culture and take steps to reduce it in your home.

    At church, reserve a Sunday for a special service highlighting creation and food. Maybe “Blessing of the Seeds,” or the ancient “Rogation Sunday” ritual.

We live in a culture where food is all around us all the time. As steward-disciples, we want to be sure not to take even a mouthful for granted.








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