In the New Testament, parables like the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) underscore the importance of using one’s gifts wisely. Proper Biblical Stewardship also involves generosity and the concept of tithing, as seen in Malachi 3:10, where believers are encouraged to give a tenth of their income to support the work of God. This holistic approach to stewardship promotes a lifestyle characterized by gratitude, accountability, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world, aligning one’s actions with the divine purpose.

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Notes from Open Door – 2024 – Test 1 – Stewardship – The Message

Last week I introduced this series. 2024 is an open door into God’s blessings for those who are ready to cross into His promises. So who are ready? The ones who pass His tests. These tests are not intended to keep people out, but rather to prepare us for things to come …so we can manage His blessings well.

Like your driver’s license. You have to pass the test so you can drive a vehicle. If you can’t pass the driver’s test, you probably will be a hazard on the road if you drive, putting yourself and others in jeopardy.

The same is true in managing God’s blessings in your life. You have to pass God’s tests before you will be ready to operate under the blessings He wants to bestow.

There may be a variety of tests God will take you through. All of them are designed to bring you closer to Him. God has given me 4 tests that may be opportunities for many of you. You may have already passed these tests…and there may be others in your path.

Many of us go through cycles in life again and again and then we complain about how long it’s taking in order for us to receive the blessing, but have you ever considered this fact: that if you fail the test, you have to take it again? So when faced with trials, when faced with obstacles, when faced with frustrating circumstances, instead of trying to end the process, instead of saying, “God get me out of here… I want to be past this already,” ask Him, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me during this trial? What are you trying to shape me during this test?” Because if you keep failing the test, you’ll have to go through it again and again and again, these cycles of frustration.

But today we are going to deal with the principle of Stewardship, but before we do that let’s have some fun!

The pastor of a tiny country church had been having trouble with stewardship and offerings. One Sunday he announced, “Now, before we receive the offering, I would like to request that the person who stole the eggs from Widow Jones’s chicken coop please refrain from giving any money to the Lord. God doesn’t want money from a thieving sinner.” The offering plate was passed, and for the first time in months, everybody gave.

A man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who led him down the golden streets. They passed stately homes and beautiful mansions until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a rundown cabin. The man asked St. Peter why he got a hut when there were so many mansions he could live in. St. Peter replied, “I did the best with the money you sent us.”

At an Executive Council meeting, the congregation’s wealthiest member decided to share a portion of his faith story. “I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I can still remember the turning point in my faith, like it was yesterday: I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a youth meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give everything I had to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.” When he finished and sat down, the chair of the stewardship committee (Mario) leaned over and said: “Wonderful story! I dare you to do it again!”

Test 1: Stewardship

Stewardship is about taking care of something that belongs to someone else. It’s like if someone gave you their car to use. They still own it, but you get to use it. That would be an aspect of Stewardship.

Deuteronomy 10:14 NASB95 14 “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.”

To pass this test you must know, understand, and believe.

So the first question on this test:

Everything you have belongs to God; He is just allowing you to manage it for Him.

I know some people say…well I own it; I worked for it; I bought it…it’s mine. Well, who gave you your brain? Who gave you your body? Who gave you the oxygen your body needs to exist? Who gave you the earth you live on? I could go on and on.

James 1:17 NASB95 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Hebrews 2:9–10 NIV 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.

God created everything, and therefore God owns everything. This goes back to the beginning…

When God gave Adam and Eve dominion over creation. He called them to be good stewards of His creation.

Genesis 2:15 NLT 15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

From the very beginning, God created this principle; it’s called Stewardship.

It literally means to manage the affairs of another. God owns the earth, and He told Adam and Eve to take care of it, but notice that they only had to manage the Garden. God knows our limits.

This principle also carries onto the New Testament.

Last Sunday we dealt with the parable of the Talents. Where Jesus specifically drives home the point we need to use what God gives us wisely.

A Good Steward knows everything belongs to God, and the Father has asked them to steward it well.

Question #2

If someone lends you their car and you bring it back full of garbage, dirty, out of gas, smashed windshield, and smelling like something died in there, would that be considered good stewardship?

Obviously not. As a good steward, you would take care of it, clean it, fuel it up, take extra care and caution when you drive it.

You treat it better than if it was your own.

Many believers tend to think about money when the topic of stewardship comes up. Yes, money is definitely a tool God uses to test our Stewardship, And the Bible has a lot to say about the management of money. We will talk about that later.

But stewardship is much more than simply managing what’s in your bank account. Since everything belongs to God, God has simply given us stewardship of everything we own. Stewardship covers it all: Your gifts, talents, abilities. Has God gifted you to do something and you hesitate to do it? Your time. Do you waste your time doing foolish exploits? Or do you manage your time well? When I was a young pastor I used to get a lot of criticism from some people over my sermons, usually in the form of a written letter. People would seldom come and talk to me about their issue but would be quick to write their complaint on paper… It got to the point that my heart would sink every time I saw an envelope dropped on my desk. God had to heal me of that. But I did learn some lessons from that. For instance…I won’t even read a letter unless I know who wrote it. If you can’t put your name on a complaint…it’s not worth reading. So why do I bring this up now? Well, the sermon that I got the most hate from. Over 20 years ago, I had the audacity to preach a message entitled “Tithing Your Time.” The concept was simple. Use 10% of your time to serve God in a meaningful way. Apparently, that was a touchy topic for many people, and they weren’t afraid to let me know it. Your intelligence, Your relationships, Your possessions, Your life.

Well, simply put, you use everything you have as God intends you to use it. You have a gift of teaching…God will have you use that gift to teach others God’s ways. You have a car…God might ask you to use it to bring someone to church who doesn’t. You have a keen ability to understand concepts and new inventions; God will have you use them to serve people in His Kingdom.

A good Steward means you use all of your resources to bring God glory.

1 Corinthians 4:2 NASB95 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

Question #3

Do you build His Kingdom or your own? Do you build things that will last for eternity? Or will they be burnt up?

1 Corinthians 3:12–14 NASB95 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.

14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.

A Good Steward will build things that last for all eternity.

Question #4

Luke 16:10–12 NASB95 10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.

11 “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?

12 “And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

This is a principle that flows throughout Scripture. Whether it is a grain of wheat that multiplies 30, 50, or a hundredfold, Or the Church on the day of Pentecost that began with 120 in the upper room and ended the day with thousands in the Kingdom.

You have to be faithful with what He has already given you.

Do you give your best or are you waiting for some ideal situation in the future?

This is the trap that many fall into. In their minds, they picture this situation off in the distance, where they are, where they want to be, where they’re the person they want to be in Christ, where they’re accomplishing the will of God in their lives, where they’re maybe flowing in the ministry that God has called them to,

and they picture it off in the distance and then they wait until that ideal circumstance presents itself for them to begin giving their best.

Well, if you don’t give your best right here and now, if you don’t apply yourself with diligence to what God has called you to do right now, if you don’t take care of what God has given you in this season,

A good Steward is prepared to learn from a little responsibility so God can give them greater responsibility.

How can we expect God to take us to higher places, give us promotions in the Spirit?

Does it make sense To place upon you a greater mantle if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing right here and now? And again, this is something that I think we as believers have to take into consideration.

This is a test of stewardship, and this is by no means a message of condemnation. This is one of correction and hopefully, it causes you to think soberly about what God has entrusted to you. Remember… Excellence is not having the best of everything; Excellence is doing the best with everything that you have.

Luke 16:10 NASB95 10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

Let’s do a pointed example. Since the Bible talks a lot about money,

Did you know that there are roughly 2,350 verses concerning money in the Bible? That’s almost twice as many as verses about faith and prayer combined.

Jesus had a lot to say about money: Nearly 15% of everything Jesus spoke about related to money and possessions.

Why? Because it’s such a critical and tangible way to know what’s most important to you. It’s a way for God to test our loyalties.

Haggai 1:5–7 NASB95 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!

6 “You have sown much but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”

7 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!”

God goes on to say here they’re suffering because they are not doing what He told them to do. This implies the direct connection between obedience and blessings. It can only come when obedience is present.

In Malachi, we’re given a similar situation.

Malachi 3:8–11 NASB95 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

9 “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!

10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

11 “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts.

Some people may say this is Old Testament and tithing is no longer required, but God challenges this argument with

“Test me now in this,” says the Lord.

It’s not too often when God tells His people to “test Him.” There are many verses where God says “Do Not Test Me.” There are actually only three cases in Scripture where God commands that He be tested (Isaiah 7:10-14, Malachi 3:10, 1 John 4:1). Only 3 times, and this is one of them.

God is saying, “Test me. Obey me in this and see what I can do!”

So what is God wanting us to obey Him in? Well, stop robbing Him. God is saying give your tithes and offerings.

Tithes and Offerings

What is a tithe? 1/10 of what you receive – 10%.

The first time tithing is mentioned is in Genesis 14:19-20.

Abram returns from a battle after recovering his nephew and other family members, and returning with vast plunder. He meets Melchizedek and gives him 10% of everything he plundered, affirming the victory over his enemies came from God.

You see, right from the beginning a tithe was a response to receiving God’s blessing. God incorporated this practice into Law when it was given.

Leviticus 27:30 NASB95 30 ‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.

Whereas tithe is God’s expectation and command, an offering is any amount you give over the 10%. This is an act of worship.

So tithing is an act of obedience, and offering is an act of worship.

Storehouse

What is the modern equivalent of the physical storehouse? Well, none of us are farmers or fruit growers. Now money is the mode of commerce; we don’t trade a goat for a bin of wheat. I would contend the storehouse is your local church – where you attend, where you call home. You wouldn’t go eat at a restaurant and then give the money to the restaurant across the street.

In the same way, your local church is your storehouse.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul lays out an excellent message to the Church in Corinth as to the practice of giving.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul is preparing the church of Corinth to prepare a financial offering for the Christians in Jerusalem, who were going through a very difficult time. The principle still holds true today.

First, who should give?

2 Corinthians 8:2–4 NLT 2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.

3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.

In what spirit should we give?

2 Corinthians 8:12 NASB95 12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.

2 Corinthians 9:6–7 NASB95 6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

So give what you can?

Luke 21:1–4 NASB95 1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.

2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins.

3 And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them;

4 for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”

But it’s not just what you give…Jesus also made it about how you give.

Luke 6:38 NASB95 38 “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

A good steward gives of what God has already given you.

Question #5

Genesis 12:2–3 NASB95 2 And I will make you a great nation,

And I will bless you,

And make your name great;

And so you shall be a blessing;

3 And I will bless those who bless you,

And the one who curses you I will curse.

And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

He’s talking about taking care of what God has already given to you that you might see an increase in your responsibilities, and remember this is more about responsibility than it is reward. Because when God blesses you, He gives you something to carry that you might be a blessing to others. This is about increase, this is about greater levels of responsibility, this is about greater levels of fruitfulness.

Philippians 2:3–4 NASB95 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Proverbs 11:25 NASB95 25 The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.

A good steward is blessed to be a blessing to others!

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