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Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Ten Plagues of Egypt, Plagues 3-4 - Gnats & Flies

 

Introduction

Ancient Egypt was an empire with thousands of gods they believed protected their way of life and made them great.  In their pride and arrogance, Romans 1:25 explains, “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself…”  

The God of the Hebrews, Yahweh, my God, the only true God we read of in the Holy Bible is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  The gods of the Egyptians evolved over time.  It is sometimes hard to determine who their supposed gods were.  One century a god may be depicted as a swarm of flies.  Then, the Egyptian empire would change.  A new dynasty would come to power and the culture and politics of the empire would change and their gods would morph according to people’s imaginations.  The god of the flies would evolve into a vulture or a snake.  These gods could be changed, because they weren’t really gods at all.  They were only the imaginations of people.  They were created to serve the purposes of the leaders of the empire. 

When God spoke to Moses in a burning bush, He said, "My name is Yahweh," which means, “I am who I am.”  In other words, no one gets to make up my character or who I am or what I do.  I am real.  I am eternal.  I make up my own mind.  I don’t change.  You don’t make me what you want me to be.  I made you and you must conform to the person I made you to be, not the other way around. 

And so, Yahweh, decided to pour out justice on the evil Egyptians and prove He is the supreme Lord of all and all the idols and false gods people worship are nothing.  Through 10 plagues, God shattered every false notion of the Egyptians and brought Pharaoh’s empire to its knees to deliver the Israelites from bondage.  He proved there is only one God and his name is "I Am." 


Uatchit, The Egyptian Lord of the Flies
The Egyptians believed in a goddess called Uatchit (pronounced Wadjet).  She started out as the supposedly as the protector of  lower Egypt and was depicted as a vulture.  When the empire unified, she became the protector of the entire empire.  She was often depicted with the head of a vulture or a fly (and later a cobra) and was said to live in the swamps among the papyrus reeds.  Uatchit was supposed to be Pharaoh’s protector.  With an all-seeing eye, she could see trouble coming and warn him.  But none of that mattered, because this false god was impotent against the One True and Living God of our Bible. 

God sent to swarms of insects as the third and fourth plagues of Egypt—first gnats and then flies.  Now, the the exact nature of the third plague is a bit of a mystery.  The Hebrew word used we usually translate as Keenim can also mean fleas or lice.  Now any of these insects would be awful.  Lice and flees infest and bite. Gnats swarm and get in your eyes and nose.  But the Hebrew word Keenim carries with it the idea of flying and biting or stinging.  So imagine biting/stinging gnats or flying flees and lice! Yikes! 

And the fourth plague is flies.  Not only are flies a nuisance, they often transmit parasite and disease.  I was on a mission team in El Salvador a few years back and we had terrible trouble with flies.  They weren't any more numerous in El Salvador than they are in Georgia where I live.  However, the flies in El Salvador carry an amoeba.  If they land on your food, they you will also get the amoeba and it will cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Almost everyone on our team contracted the amoeba and had to take medicine to get rid of it.  Now, imagine ancient Egypt swarming with flies, possibly contracting diseases and having no modern medicine to combat it.  It must have been terrible.

Well, the Egyptian false god, Uatchit, apparently didn’t warn Pharaoh or do anything to stop the gnats and flies.  Isn’t she supposed to see everything?  Isn’t she supposed to be the goddess of swarms who protects Pharaoh and lives in the swamps where these insects live and breed? 

Only One God
There is only one God.  Most people are familiar with Jesus teaching that we should love our neighbor.  Jesus said this is the second most important commandment (and that it is like the first most important commandment).  What is the most important commandment?  Jesus told us the most important commandment too.  Quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Jesus said, “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”  There is only one God.  All other gods are idols and false gods.  They are nothing.  And in order to truly love your neighbor, you have to start by loving God.

 

Sadly, people still worship idols today.  There are some listening to this message who worship idols.  It may not be a statue, but you have turned a thing God created into the one you love more than God “with all your heart, all your soul, and all you strength.”  In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller says an idol is “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give.”  If we’re honest with ourselves, I think many realize we have idols today too.

The Idol of Wealth
People are often surprised to learn that Jesus taught about money more than any other subject.  The word money is mentioned 70 times in the Gospels.  Forgive is only mentioned 38 times.  And 11 of the 40 parables Jesus told were about money or used money to make the point.  You see, Jesus knew, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too.”  (Matthew 6:21)  And He knew that greed and wealth idolatry are rampant.  And so he said:
“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15) And he also said, "No one can serve wo masters… You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money." (Matthew 6:24)

People who worship the idol of wealth do three things: They love it, they trust it, and they obey it.

People who worship wealth, love money.  They dream about it and how to make more. They imagine all the things they can buy with money.  They may be jealous of others who have more money and scheme for how they can “win” in the competition to be wealthiest.  They believe having more money will improve their social status.  People who love wealth are willing to sacrifice in order to have more.  Some things they may sacrifice are their time, their family… their principles… their relationship with God…  1 Timothy 6:10 warns, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”  [Jesus to the rich young ruler…]

People who worship wealth, trust money to keep them safe.  If they don’t have enough, they feel vulnerable and out of control.  They are constantly worried about how they will make it if something goes wrong.  They long to have enough money so they can feel in control.  Money makes them feel safe.  They can handle the problems they face, because they can buy their way out of their problems. 

The problem is, money is usually not the answer you think it is.  Ask someone was wealthy who unexpectedly lost it all.  Jesus told a parable about a farmer who had an especially abundant harvest.  He decided to build bigger barns to store up all his wealth thinking, "Now I can live the good life because I will have everything I need.  But the Lord spoke and said, "You're a fool!  Tomorrow, you will die and then who will get all your surplus?"" 

People who worship wealth, obey their master.  Ironically, people who think money will give them freedom and security, find their idol becomes a cruel master that enslaves them.  They have money and can’t imagine living without it.  And often, the wealthiest people still feel they don’t have enough and they must have more.  Soon it becomes clear, money is not serving rich people.  Rich people are usually serving their money. 

It is human nature to want more, more, more. when we are 15 or 16 years old, we say, "If I just had a car!"  Then we get a car and we soon say, "If I just had a reliable car!"  And we get a reliable car and we're finally satisfied, right?  No!  Then we say, "If I could just have a bigger car!"  And then we say, "If I just had the best car!"  The person who constantly wants more, newer, better things has become enslaved by their insatiable addiction to money and the things money can buy.  They are slaves. 

Slaves must obey their master.  Those deeply enslaved to the false god of wealth will lie, cheat, and steal to get more money.  They will justify all kinds of evil to earn and protect their “god”—tax evasion, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, bribery.  They will hoard their wealth while others starve and say, “It’s not my problem.  They should have managed their money better.”  People who worship wealth have broken both the first and second most important commandments.  They don’t really care what God thinks and they don’t care about their neighbor either—as long as they are rolling in the dough.  But Jesus said, “Man does not not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God.” (Matthew 4:4) 

By His Word, God can make mana fall from the sky to satisfy our every need as He did for the Israelites as they traveled to the Promised Land.  By His Word, Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food o feed thousands of people.  Do you want to rely on God or would you prefer to make a god of your own choosing to satisfy your needs.  That’s the core issue. We don't want to be beholden to God.  We want to be in control.

Something happened when my son was two or three years old that really illustrated this principle of sinful human nature to me.  I had a bag of Doritos and my little boy wanted some, so I would give him a chip every time he asked.  I made up my mind I was going to give him as many as he wanted; all he had to do was ask and I would give him more--one chip at a time.  But very soon, he was board of this game and just wanted me to give him the bag.  Even though I told him he could have as many as he wanted, that wasn't good enough; he wanted to hold the bag.  And this is how we are with our Heavenly Father.  It's not good enough for us to rely on God who is willing to give us everything we need and want.  No.  We want to hold the bag. 

The Spiritual Practice that Smashes the Idol of Wealth
Greed is a sneaky sin. Greed is rampant in our culture.  And yet, very few people think greed is a problem for them.  “It must be someone else.”  Here’s a simple test.  Do you obey God’s command to tithe?  Tithing is giving 10% of your income to God’s Church.  It is the minimum standard God gives in the Bible for what people are supposed to give to God’s Church. 

According to nonprofitsource.com, the average church-going Christian only gives about 2.5% of their income.  Only five out of one hundred Christians actually obey God’s command to give the minimum.  5 out of 100!  Now, whenever a preacher starts talking about tithing, people get upset.  They start making all kinds of excuses for why don't or why they aren't required to give the tithe.  The fact is, people are simply trying to justify themselves.  They don’t want to give the tithe; maybe they are ashamed they don’t give the tithe and so they make excuses.  Could it be they are protecting their idol?  One thing is certain, they are not obeying the One True God who said, give a tenth of your income to the Lord through His Church.

Jesus on the Cross
Now, God is a God of grace.  He is patient and He is good.  When we were still sinners, He came as Jesus to die for us on the cross.  Now, it is not that we deserved salvation, but that we desperately needed it.  Christ gave his life for us while we were still sinners so that we can be forgiven when we repent of our sin and turn to God.  Repentance means to turn away from sin and our false gods and turn to the One True and Living God who gave His life for us on the cross.

Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t give to us the way most Christians give to Him?  How would you feel if Jesus only gave, 2-3% for your sake?  (That would still be more than we deserve.)  How much did Jesus give?  Did He only give 10% or His life and blood on the cross?  No.  He gave it all.  Therefore, even if you are giving a tithe of your income, you are still 90% short.  

Jesus doesn't want your money.  He wants your whole heart.  Jesus gave His all for us and I want to give Him my all too.  Don’t you?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Proverbs Day 18

"Father, I just want to begin with a quick prayer for my friend, Dot, and her family who lost her husband two years ago. He was a wonderful husband and father and he was loved by many. Please comfort his family as they struggle with grief--especially today. Amen."

Read Proverbs

It is really foolish to think wealth and material possessions will keep you safe when troubles come, and yet that is what most people in our world think. People think money will make them secure and they are often proud when they have it--thinking they can buy their way out of whatever troubles come. Truly wise people know better.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 18:10-14
10 The Lord is known as an impregnable stronghold; good people run to Him for safety.

11 Rich people rely on their wealth; they hide behind it thinking nothing can touch them.

12 A person brags about their greatness right before they’re broken to pieces, but those who are humble receive honor.

13 Speaking about something before fully listening is just stupid and brings humiliation.

14 A good attitude can sustain you through illness, but what can you do with a broken spirit?

Wealth is as fleeting as a morning fog. A misstep, an illness, a lawsuit or misfortune and it can all be gone in an instant. Then where is your safety net? Why spend all your time trying to build a wall of safety founded only on money? Why take pride in something that gives a false sense of security? Be wise and build a strong relationship with the Lord for that is where real hope lies.

Prayer
"Father, free me from the foolish idea that money is all I need to keep my family safe. Help me to trust in You and find true security. Amen."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Tithe

Introduction
Let’s start off with a few trivia questions:
  • Which of the following topics did Jesus teach about more often?  Was it:  Heaven, Hell, Money, or Prayer?  The answer is Money!
  • How many of Jesus parables talked about money?  Is it:  1, 4, 7, or 11?  The answer is 11!
  • How many verses in the Gospel of Luke refer to money?  Is it 1 out of 7, 1 out of 10, 1 out of 20, or 1 out of 30?  The answer is 1 out of 7! 
Jesus talked about money a lot.  Apparently, Jesus knew money was a very important aspect of our spiritual lives.  Just like your blood pressure is a symptom of your physical health, the way you manage your money is a symptom of your spiritual health.  The subject of this message is what Jesus said about tithing.

Luke 11:42
What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

Explain the Passage
In Luke 11:42, Jesus scolds the Pharisees for ignoring justice and the love of God, but he affirms their practice of tithing.  The obvious point of the passage is the most important thing in life is to love God and live the right way.  The Pharisees were famous for acting all righteous and following all the rules, but they didn’t really love God or people.  Jesus reminds them (and us) that doing all the right things doesn’t matter if you ignore justice and don’t love God.  We should do good because we love God.
At the same time, Jesus affirmed the Biblical standard of giving.  A person should give a tithe, which is the first 10% of their income (see Gen. 28:22; Lev. 27:30, 32).  In fact, if a person truly loves God and wants to do the right thing, he or she will tithe.  Notice what Jesus said, “You should tithe…” 
Now, I want to take a moment to clear up some misunderstandings in the church.  A concerned member of our church asked me a few weeks ago, “Pastor, I don’t think people in the church really understand the word tithe.  I hear them calling their offerings their tithe, but it’s not their tithe unless it is 10% of their income.”  That is correct.
Some people say they tithe (meaning they give money to the church), but they don’t really give 10% of their income.  They are giving an offering not a tithe.  If you are calling your offerings your “tithe,” you are using the wrong word—unless it is 10% if your income.  So let’s look at some examples, because I want everyone to understand this and use the right word.
The way you calculate a tithe is by taking your income and multiplying it times 0.10.  The answer is your tithe (or how much you should give according to the biblical standard).  See the picture below:

Now, let’s look at a few more real life examples.  The median household income in America is a little over $50,000 a year.  In other words, the average household (combing together what the husband, wife, and anyone else that lives in the house make) is about $50,000 per year.  How much would the tithe be?  $50,000 X 0.10 = $5,000.  So in order to tithe, the average household would need to give about $5,000 a year to the church (or about $100 per week).  Most people in the U.S. do not; therefore, they do not tithe.  They give an offering, but not a tithe.  

Let’s do another example:  My son, Gavin, just got a job as a lifeguard.  He’s only 18 so he doesn’t get paid much—only $10/hour.  Suppose he works 20 hours a week.  That means he will only make about $200/week.  How much would Gavin need to give in order to honestly call it a tithe?  $200 X 0.10 = $20/week (or $1,040 per year).

One more example:  Suppose you are retired and living on social security payments.  I looked up the typical social security payment.  I don’t know if this is accurate, but it’s what Google said so we’ll use it as an example.  Your social security income is $733/month.  How much should you give in order to call it a tithe?  $733 X 0.10 = $73.30 (or about $880 per year).

So, let’s be clear and let’s use the right word.  If you do not give 10% of your income in your offerings, you are not giving a tithe.  You are giving an offering.  Call it an offering or call it a tithe (if it’s 10%), but call it what it is.  Don’t call an apple an orange.

People commonly ask the question, “Do you calculate the tithe before or after taxes?”  In other words, should I use my gross income to calculate my tithe (which would be more) or should I calculate the tithe after they take out taxes (which would be less)?  I say—it’s up to you.  If you are not currently tithing, my advice would be to start tithing your income after the government takes out their taxes.  Then, over time, perhaps you can grow to tithing your full income before taxes are taken out.  I can tell you this:  I have never known a faithful Christian to regret the practice of tithing.  It is hard to start, but once the practice is established, people find joy in it, are glad to give, and often wish to give even more.
Today, the sad truth is that 9 out of 10 people that go to church in America do not tithe at all (on either their before or after tax income).  The average Christian in America only gives about 2% of their income.  It is no wonder that the church struggles to do the ministry God calls us to do.  We don’t have the resources we need.  I am thankful for everything my church has, but the truth is, we could double our ministry budget and do so much more if all our church members tithed.
The saddest truth of all is what this lack of tithing tells us about the spiritual health of Christians in America.  Remember, how you handle your money (and how you give to the church) is a symptom of your spiritual health just like your blood pressure or temperature is a symptom of your physical health.  Therefore, we see that 9 out of 10 Christians in this country are spiritually sick.  It is no wonder our communities are slipping morally.  Church goers are more committed to worldly values than Christian values.  Why should we be surprised to find those outside the Church do not exhibit Christian values.  We need a revival of true Christian commitment.  Otherwise our churches, our communities, and even our nation are going to continue to suffer the symptoms of spiritual illness and apathy.

For the Sake of Argument...
Some argue that they don’t have to give money because they give their time instead.  That’s twisting what the Bible says, but I’ll play along to make a point.  If you want to give 10% of your time, you would need to volunteer at the church for 16 hours and 48 minutes every week.  If you’d like to do that, I can put you to work! 
Others argue, "Tithing was in the Old Testament.  Jesus did away with tithing."  Well, no, as we see in Luke 11:42, Jesus affirmed tithing.  And if you want to follow that line of reasoning, then you will find that Jesus actually goes much further than the tithe.  Jesus taught we should go the extra mile--which means giving more than the minimum tithe.  Ultimate, Jesus requires that you give everything--just as he gave everything for you.  That means giving 100%, not just 10%.
            There are other arguments people make to excuse not giving as much as the Bible instructs, because we want to cling to our money.  Oh how we love our money (or we love the lifestyle that requires so much of our money so we can't afford to tithe)!
            All this misses the larger issue.  Jesus doesn’t want what you have.  Jesus wants you!  Jesus doesn’t want just 10% of your income or your time.  Jesus wants your whole heart.  And if you surrender your heart to Him, you will surrender everything else.  You will stop asking questions like, “How much time, money, obedience, do I have to give?”  You will have an attitude that honors justice and the love of God.  You will ask, “How much can I give?  How much can I justify keeping for myself?”  For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also. (Matthew 6:21) 
People who are wholeheartedly committed to Jesus, who are His true disciples—the way He calls every one of us to be—say, “Lord, all I have is yours.  Here, take my house.  Take my car.  Take my family.  Take my career.  Take it all, Lord.  It’s all yours anyway.”  True Christians sing the great hymn of the church, making the words their sincere prayer to God:

Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.

Conclusion
            People who join as members of Pleasant Grove UMC make a promise to support the church with their prayers, their presence, their gifts, their service, and their witnesses.  It is not one or the other.  It’s all of the above.  Think how much good the church could do if every Christian started tithing?  Think of the wonderful children and youth programs we would have.  Think of the amazing music and worship we could provide.  Think of how many needy people we could serve and how many lives we could change.  Think of the difference we could make if we all simply stepped up and gave a full tithe.
            However, there is much more at stake than what tithing does for the church.  The fact is, we are spiritually sick.  We need healing in our soul.  Jesus forgives our sin, and he offers healing.  Healing.  Forgiveness comes with a word, but healing comes through treatment.  As when a doctor gives you medicine to take and says, “Stop smoking” and “you must do these exercises three times a week in order to rebuild your strength after a surgery,” healing for your soul comes through the daily practice of obedience to Jesus.  One of the treatments Jesus give us is to be generous.  He says, "You should tithe..."
            Our selfish attitudes (about sin, money, gratitude, giving, etc.) only change through practice.  Giving a tithe is like spiritual push ups.  It builds your faith muscles.  Why don’t you start building yours today?

Reflection

Take some time to:
  1. Calculate the tithe for your weekly, monthly, or annual income
  2. Reflect on how God might want you to begin the practice of tithing,
  3. Consider that Jesus deserves more than just your money.  He deserve your all.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Loan from God

Introduction
            Well, my son, Gavin, started his classes at the University of Alabama Huntsville this week.  He said he likes his classes so far.  I'm so proud of him.  He's such a diligent student.  He earned a scholarship to pay all of his tuition.  However, it still cost somewhere between $12,000-15,000 a year for room and board and books and other expenses.  So, to encourage Gavin to take responsibility for his own life, we said we would pay roughly half of that expense and he could pay the other half.  Unfortunately, we had to get a "parent loan" to help pay the extra expense.  We are still paying our own student loans back from our college days!  By the time we get Gavin through college, we will have Grace in college; and when she finishes, there will be Abigail.  So I joked and told my wife, "We are going to be in a nursing home one day and still paying back our student loans and our kids.  And none of them is going to come visit us!"
            Well, this leads us into the topic of this blog which was inspired by a John Wesley sermon from 1768 called "The Good Steward."  In it, Wesley contrasted the difference between someone who is a debtor (who received a loan) and someone who is a steward (who is hired to manage another's affairs).

Luke 16:1-2
1Jesus 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.’

Sermon Theme
            Someone who has a loan can do whatever they like with the money, so long as they pay the money back by the time it is due.  Someone who is a financial manager cannot do whatever they like with the money.  They are required to use the money exactly the way the Employer who hired them directs.  A Christian is one whose debts have been forgiven.  We are not debtors.  Oh how fortunate!  For we could never repay the debt we owe to God.  Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glorious standard of God."  And Romans 6:23 says, "For the consequences of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Thankfully, our debt is paid by the blood of Jesus Christ when we place our faith in him!
            Jesus doesn't call his followers debtors.  One of the most frequent ways Jesus describes his followers is the term “steward.”  We don’t use the term steward as much these days.  Perhaps a more appropriate term for us would be “financial manager,” except that we manage far more than just finances in our Christian life.  So let’s use the term manager, as in the scripture I just read—Luke 16:1, “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs…”

Steward/Manager
            First, let’s consider all the ways we are stewards (or managers) for God.  Again I must restate that we are managing far more than money.  And we are not at liberty to use the things God gives us to manage however we want.  We must use it all only the way God wants us to use it.  For to use it in any other way would be a crime against God.  So take seriously what God has given you to manage.
            God has entrusted you with a soul.  Your soul is an immortal spirit made in the image of God.  It encompasses your understanding, imagination, creativity, memory, and your will.  And from your soul spring such things as love and hate, joy and sorrow, your desires—including the desire to do good or evil—and your hopes and fears.  Now again, we are only managers of these.  God entrusts them to us to use—not so we can use them however we please, but—according to the express orders He has given us. (Of course, you will find that you are truly happiest when you use all these according to God’s will.)
            God gave us a mind.  So, we are to use our imagination and creativity, our understanding, our memory, our will all for the glory of God.  We are also to dedicate our emotions to God; we are to love what He loves and hate what He hates.  We are to rejoice and grieve, hope and fear, desire and shun all according to God’s holy purposes. Even our thoughts are not our own.  We cannot use them however we like.  No.  Even our mind is accountable to God.
            God has entrusted you with a body.  You are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14).  God gave you all your sense—sight, hearing, taste, etc.—not to use however you want, but these are on loan to be used specifically in ways God authorizes.  In the same way, God gave you the ability to speak.  He did so, not that you should speak whatever you like, but that you should speak His praises and use your voice to lead others to Christ.  God gave you hands and feet, not that you should go wherever and do whatever you pleased, but that you should work hard and faithfully to build God’s Kingdom.  For Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples…"
            God also gives us worldly goods:  food to eat, clothing to wear, a place to call home, and all the necessary conveniences of life.  In addition to all these, God puts money in our pockets, which can be such a powerful tool for God’s Kingdom if we are wise and faithful managers.
            Beyond all these, there is still more God entrust to us—strength, energy, health, time, our personality, our talents, our education, our reputation…  And perhaps the greatest of all that God entrust to us is His grace.  God saved us by His grace through Jesus Christ who paid the price for our sins.  What are we to do with this grace God extends to us? Are we to waste it?  Are we to go on sinning however we want because God has forgiven us anyway?  Absolutely not!  We are to use His grace responsibly, living our lives wholeheartedly for Him and offer the same grace to others.
            And I won’t neglect today specifically to point out that children are entrusted to us by God.  Regardless of whether they are our biological children, or adopted into our family, or even part of our church family, these kids are entrusted to us by God.  We are to care for them and do the very best we  can to nurture their faith in Jesus Christ.
            So of all these—the soul, the body, worldly goods, money, our children, and everything else—we are only managers.

Giving an Account
            We are not appointed as managers forever.  Our term in this role has a limit.  There is coming a time when we will no longer have any right to or authority over these things.  We will have to return them to the Lord.  Furthermore, we will have to explain to God how we used everything He gave us in this life.
            The time is not as far off as you think.  This life is so short.  Time goes by very fast.  One day, we are holding a baby in our arms; the next, we send them off to college; then, we find we are old and gray and only have a few years left to live.  (And this is only if we are fortunate, for many are not so fortunate and find their life cut off when they are still young or only in the middle of life—by cancer or an automobile accident or by some other tragedy that cuts life short.)  We never know how much time we really have, but we know it is always too short.  
            The time is fast approaching when we will have to stand before the Lord who entrusted all these things to our management and we will have to account—whether we used them the way we wanted or did we follow the Master’s instruction for their use?  God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 9:27, “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…”  
            What will you say when the Lord of all creation asks you:  “How did you use the soul I imparted to you?  Did you—to the best of your ability—use your understanding to know yourself and to know Me?  Did you apply it to understand My attributes, My nature, My will for you and the world?"
            God will inquire, “Did you use your memory to store up knowledge that would make you a better servant for the Kingdom?  Did you memorize My Word that you might know wisdom, truth, power, and mercy?”
            And God will ask, “Did you give your will totally over to Me?  Was it wholeheartedly swallowed up in My will so that you pray honestly in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?”
            He will inquire, “Did you love what I love?  Hate what I hate? Desire what I desire?  Did you dedicate your thoughts to what is “…true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable…”?” (Philippians 4:8)
            What will you reply when the God looks at you and asks:  “How did you use the body I entrusted to you?  Did you use your tongue to glorify Me? Were you a witness for My Son, Jesus?  Did you speak life into the people around you?  Or did you use your tongue for idle talk, useless conversation, gossip, slander, and maliciousness?"  And He will ask, “What did you do with the gifts of sight and hearing I gave you?  Did you use the gift of taste only to indulge yourself or to build up your body and make it strong to serve Me?  How did you use your hands and feet to serve?  Were you the hands and feet of Christ?”
            What will you say when the Master looks over your life and asks, “How did you use the worldly goods I put into your hands?  Did you use the food gave you only for selfish pleasure, or to guard your health and care for the body I gave you?  Did you use the clothing I gave you to satisfy pride and vanity or to glorify Me?  What about your home?  Was it used in a manner worthy of My glory?”
            And the Lord of all the universe will pierce you with His fiery eyes and ask, “How did you use the money I gave you?  Did you invest this money for My Kingdom?  Did you employ it to do good on the earth?  Did you spend this money to help those in need?  Did you follow my instructions and tithe to the church?  Or did you cheat Me and keep My money for yourself?  Did you embezzle the funds and use them for your own selfish purposes?  What did you do with My money?”
            There is coming a time—very soon—when you will have to give an account.  God will ask you, “Have you been a wise and faithful manager?  Or have you been lying, deceitful, and dishonest?”  How will you respond when you stand before The One who sees into your very soul and knows everything about you, The One from whom you can hide absolutely nothing and make no excuses?

Conclusion
            Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Romans 6:23, “The consequences of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We have all fallen short of being wise and faithful managers.  However, the Good News is we can be forgiven through Jesus Christ.  Here’s what we all need to do:  1) Accept and confess that we have sinned.  2)  Repent of our sins (in other words, turn away from our sinful behavior and start obeying God.  3)  Let Jesus be our Lord and Savior—follow Him wholeheartedly from this day forward.
            How you use your time, talent, and treasure reveals what’s truly in your heart.  Won't you turn to God today, confess tour sins, repent, and commit to follow Jesus from this day forward.  Thus, you may come to the Day of judgment and stand before the Lord and hear him say,"Well done my good and faithful servant."