Stewardship Article2016-10-14T08:25:11-05:00

LCMS Stewardship Ministry March 2019

It is no secret that God calls us to be generous with the gifts He has given us. Throughout the Bible, we read that
just as God has generously given to us, so are we to give generously one to another. As Jesus said, “By this all
people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35) and “Be merciful,
even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

But God also calls us to give to Him. And He, who does all things well, presses it into service for the benefit of
all the people of God. See for example what God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, after he and the people were
safely brought out of Egypt across the Red Sea on dry land:

The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every
man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that
you shall receive from them
: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined
linen, goats’ hair
, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, an acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anoint-
ing oil and for the frag
rant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breast
piece. And let them make me a sanctuary
, that 1 may dwell in their midst. Exactly as 1 show you concern-
ing the pattern of the tabernacle
, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. (Ex. 25: 1-9)

Notice that the Lord instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to “take for me a contribution” and that from everyone
motivated from gratitude for what God has just accomplished and given to them, Moses is to gather up “the con-
tribution for me.”

Pay attention, though, why the Lord wants the people of Israel to gather up these contributions for Him. God tells
Moses precisely why: “let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” The purpose for the con-
tribution of the Israelites was so that He may dwell with them, that He would live among them. Through the tab-
ernacle and the priesthood, through their rites and ceremonies, through their feasts and festivals, as through
means, the Lord God, who brought them out of the bondage of Egypt would live and dwell among them and be
their God, and lead them into the promised land, which flowed with milk and honey.

God dwells among us s-till. In the fullness of time, God’s son was born of woman, born under the law to redeem
those under the law. He brought us out of bondage to sin, death, the devil, and Hell, and He did this by His obe-
dient suffering and death, his resurrection and ascension. But He is not gone. He dwells with us through the
means of His Word and His sacraments, through the preaching and the teaching of our pastors, through the rites
and ceremonies of our liturgy. He dwells with us in the Church through those means. And He is leading us to the
true promised land, to the new heavens and the new earth in the new creation.

In the meantime, as God even now, continues to call us to give to Him, let us, who have been saved from slavery
to sin and death, the devil and hell, be so moved in our hearts as to give generously to Him so that the means of
grace, the means of His gracious dwelling among us, would continue now and into the future. For just as He did
then so does He do now. He presses the gifts given to Him into service for the benefit of all His people. He puts
it to use so that we may have Him with us always, even unto the end of the age.

LCMS Stewardship Ministry February 2019

It is no secret that God calls us to be generous with the gifts He has given us. Throughout the Bible, we read that just as God has generously given to us, so are we to give generously one to another. As Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35) and “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

 

But God also calls us to give to Him. And He, who does all things well, presses it into service for the benefit of all the people of God. See for example what God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, after he and the people were safely brought out of Egypt across the Red Sea on dry land:

 

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, an acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breast piece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. (Ex. 25: 1-9)

 

Notice in verse two that the Lord instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to “take for me a contribution” and that from everyone motivated from gratitude for what God has just accomplished and given to them, Moses is to gather up “the contribution for me.”

 

Pay attention, though, why the Lord wants the people of Israel to gather up these contributions for Him. God tells Moses precisely why: “let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” The purpose for the contribution of the Israelites was so that He may dwell with them, that He would live among them. Through the tabernacle and the priesthood, through their rites and ceremonies, through their feasts and festivals, as through means, the Lord God, who brought them out of the bondage of Egypt would live and dwell among them and be their God, and lead them into the promised land, which flowed with milk and honey.

 

God dwells among us still. In the fullness of time, God’s son was born of woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law. He brought us out of bondage to sin, death, the devil, and Hell, and He did this by His obedient suffering and death, his resurrection and ascension. But He is not gone. He dwells with us through the means of His Word and His sacraments, through the preaching and the teaching of our pastors, through the rites and ceremonies of our liturgy. He dwells with us in the Church through those means. And He is leading us to the true promised land, to the new heavens and the new earth in the new creation.

 

In the meantime, as God, even now, continues to call us to give to Him, let us, who have been saved from slavery to sin and death, the devil and hell, be so moved in our hearts as to give generously to Him so that the means of grace, the means of His gracious dwelling among us, would continue now and into the future. For just as He did then so does He do now. He presses the gifts given to Him into service for the benefit of all His people. He puts it to use so that we may have Him with us always, even unto the end of the age.

 

LCMS Stewardship Ministry — 2018 December newsletter Article

Throughout his epistles and his preaching recorded in the Book of Acts, St. Paul refers, in one way or another, to thanksgiving and thankfulness nearly 50 times. Whether vertically toward God, or horizontally toward the neighbor, thanksgiving is a major theme within St. Paul’s body of work.

What does this mean? It means thankfulness is intrinsic to the life of those baptized into Christ. In other words, giving thanks is what Christians do as they live out their lives in this world.

The problem is that we often forget this. Consider your average, run-of-the-mill, normal day. When you get home, and your parents, your spouse or your children ask about your day, what first comes to your mind? After 99 percent of things went right, went exactly as planned, were enjoyable and blessings, we tend to focus on and remember the 1 percent of things that went poorly, that didn’t go as planned, and that were nuisances.

We remember the bad things. We focus on discontent. And we fail to give thanks in all circumstances for everything (Eph. 5:20) and to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4).

Thankfulness and contentment go together. We are content with things for which we are thankful.  St. Paul could be content with having plenty or when in need because He gave thanks to the Lord for all things. He thanked the Lord for those who had prayed for him and listened to his proclamation of the Gospel. He gave thanks for their good works in and for the Church of Christ. He gave thanks for the grace of God in Christ Jesus and found that God’s grace was sufficient for him.

So, give thanks for all things and in all circumstances dear brothers and sisters in Christ. For you have been saved from sin, death, and hell by the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. You have been added to the very family of God in an adoption of grace through Holy Baptism. God is your Father. Our Lord, Jesus Christ is your brother.

But He not only provides for your spiritual well-being, He cares also for this body and life. Your Father in heaven provides food and clothes, house and home, husband, wife, and children. He gives you reason and all your senses. He has given you the raw talents that you have developed into careers. Everything you are and everything that you have is a gift from His fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in you.

Give thanks for these things. Make a list – every morning if you must. Say them out loud. Sing about them within the congregation of the saints. And remember this: God has given you these things so that you may be of service to those around you – your family, your neighbors, your brothers and sisters in Christ. For to whom much is given; much shall be required (Luke 12:48).

 

LCMS Stewardship Ministry — November 2018 Newsletter Article

Sometimes people don’t like it when pastors talk about stewardship. For some, it hits too close to home. It is easier to talk about bad people in Washington, in history, or overseas than it is to think about what our daily life in Christ is  supposed to look like, how we are supposed to love our neighbor.  The fact that we don’t like hearing about stewardship certainly means we ought to face it.  Here are a few simple and practical realities.

God calls us to first-fruits, sacrificial giving. This means we should give off the top. We should set a percentage of our income as a deliberate gift for the work of the Church and give that first.  We write the check to the Lord’s work in the Church before we pay the mortgage or pay for our medicine or pay for anything else.

We don’t pay for all the stuff we need, and think we need, and then give from what is left over.   That is the first-fruits idea. It is hard because we think we need all sorts of other things first. But that is the point of “sacrificial.” Next, how could the starting point for Christian generosity and sacrifice really be anything less than a tithe – 10 percent? The ceremonial law of the Old Testament was never arbitrary. In the Old Testament, the Levites received this tithe so they could be full-time ministers.

Does the New Testament have a ministry that is larger or smaller?  It is far larger: “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).  And we are still to have a full-time ministry: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should make their living from the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). So, if 10 percent was needed in the Old Testament, and we have a bigger mission need in the New Testament, how can First-fruits, sacrificial, generous giving – that’s the way.  We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve out-given God’s goodness or that we’ve given plenty. We might be tempted to think so but consider – no one in the Church has given plenty because no one has given all. No one has died for his sins.

Only the sinless Son of God did that.  Or, as St. Paul said, bringing the Good News of Jesus into the discussion of our giving to support the Lord’s work in the Church:  “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:8-9).

As you can see, what the Bible commands about our stewardship can sting. It’s law, and the law shows our sins. It calls us to repentance. The law is meant to expose and accuse for the sake of showing us Christ and His fulfillment of the law.  If first-fruits, sacrificial giving has you squirming, that’s the point. In Mark’s account of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus took the disciples’ five loaves and two fish and blessed them. It was nothing among so many, but, of course, it was plenty.  Jesus makes something from nothing.

Mark doesn’t say that all the disciples gave Jesus all the bread they had. It is quite possible some of them held something back.   But even if they did, that didn’t stop Jesus from blessing them. Jesus makes something out of nothing.  He, who fed His people in the desert with Manna every morning, doesn’t need their bread. But they need to give it. And what they give, however little it might be, however grudgingly they do so, He blesses it.  He not only blesses those whom He feeds with it, but He blesses them, the givers – not just in that they wind up with (a basket full for each loaf) but  that they learned to trust and rejoice in Him.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. The Lord gives abundantly or asks us to fast. We do not know what will happen. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

He does all things well and works all things together for good. The disciples don’t give their bread to Jesus because it is a good investment.  They give it because He is good, they love Him, and they trust Him.  Let us go and do likewise.

 

Coming Soon: “Embracing Great Commission Stewardship”

For three weeks beginning on November 3 & 4, we will have the wonderful opportunity to grow in an understanding what it means to Embrace Great Commission Stewardship.  Christian stewardship involves the management of our lives and resources for God’s purposes.  Great Commission stewardship helps us to better understand that the ultimate purpose of our stewardship is to direct our time, talents, and money to God’s primary purpose which is to help “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  As believers, we are God’s instruments through whom He works.  We are His hands, feet, and mouth.

Just before Jesus’ ascension into heaven, He instructed His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).  These verses have been identified as the Great Commission.  Jesus commanded His disciples to go spread the Gospel throughout all nations.  The Great Commission was not just for the immediate eleven disciples but is directed to all believers, and it will not end until Jesus’ second coming.

Faithful stewardship demonstrates our love, devotion, and submission to Jesus.  Christian stewardship is motivated by God’s love.  God’s love overflowing from within us provides the power and energy for Great Commission stewardship.  Through faith, we begin to love our neighbors as our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We see others as God’s children who, like us, are lost and hopeless without Jesus.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we begin to witness and share God’s love with others.

Great Commission Stewardship calls upon us to commit our time, abilities, and our money.  When Jesus invites us to follow Him, it is going to radically change how we view and use our lives and blessings.  In Mark 8:34, Jesus bluntly states, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”  Just as Jesus submitted to His Father’s will, we are to submit to His.  Our time, abilities, and money are not to be kept for ourselves but are to be used in making disciples for Jesus.  Not only does God command us, “Go therefore and make disciples,” He has provided us with the tools to make disciples, and He promises to go with us: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).  Being encouraged, empowered, and equipped, now go and make disciples!

 

LCMS Stewardship Ministry October 2018 Newsletter Article

Why do we give? Is it simply because God commands us to? Or is there more to it? To be sure, the instruction and Word of God in the Bible says we should give, and this is sufficient to encourage us to give (Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8:7; Gal 6:6).

But there’s more to it than just obligation. We’re not just trying to fulfill a work of the Law. We are bearing fruits of the Spirit given to us by our Father in heaven through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, we’re not just doing what our Father said, we’re also doing what He did. Children emulate their parents. When they grow up they often carry many of the same mannerisms and characteristics as their parents, but there is more to it than that. Children copy their parents even on a more mundane level. They watch how their parents cross their legs, how they fold their hands, how they stand and sit and walk, how they do and say most everything. And children try to copy it, which can be quite humorous when parents wish they wouldn’t. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing if a child copies or repeats something less than polite that they learned from a parent. Sitcoms thrive on these situations. It only happens because children emulate their parents because they want to be like them. We are the children of God, by grace, through faith. In Holy Baptism, God the Father declares of us what He declared of Jesus at His Baptism in the Jordan: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God the Father claims us as His own. He takes away all our sins, and in exchange He gives us His righteousness, His purity, His holiness, and His Spirit, by which we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

We are born again, born from above, born of water and the Spirit, to a new life in Christ as His children. We are sons of God in Christ, through Baptism. And since we are sons, we are heirs – heirs who share in the glory of the Son of God. The inheritance is ours because of the Father’s grace and mercy, His generosity in sending His Son in time to save us for all eternity. And this is why we give generously of our income to the work of the church. We want to be like our heavenly Father. We want to emulate His generosity by being generous ourselves. We give to the work of the Church because we have witnessed the generous giving of our Father in heaven. More than that, we are recipients of it. It is because we have received God our Father’s gifts that we desire to give ourselves. And His gifts are not just spiritual. They are temporal and earthly as well.

As the Small Catechism teaches in the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” In other words, God gives us everything we need for the care of both body and soul. His generosity knows no bounds. Therefore, we sit down at the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month, or the beginning of the week to set aside a generous portion of God’s daily bread for His work in the Church. We don’t do this simply because He has commanded us so to do; it is because we, as His children by grace, want to emulate His generosity in our own lives. He is our Father; we are His children. And children want to be like their parents.

 

LCMS Stewardship Ministry September 2018 Newsletter Article

It’s September, and everything is in full swing again: back to school and back to church attendance after vacations and weekends away, and since everything is back into full swing, it’s a perfect time to get back to basics, back to the foundation.

At the end of the first of his chapters on the virtue of faith in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis provides a helpful reminder, by way of analogy, for the foundation of stewardship. He wrote:

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So then, when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, “Daddy, give me six pence to buy you a birthday present.” Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is six-pence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. (128–129).

This is the first thing we are given to confess about stewardship, and it has to do with ownership. God owns everything, and we are simply managers — stewards — acting on His behalf. This is true not only of all that we have in this life (Deuteronomy 8:17–18), but also all that we are in this life (1 Corinthians 6:20).

The rest flows from here. Since we are stewards, or managers, of what belongs to God, entrusted to make use of it according to His will, there is an expectation of responsibility and accountability.

For the Lord said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48b).

And from this comes blessing and reward: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

We have everything we need to support this body and life from our God’s fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us. We have everything we need for our spiritual life also from His merciful hands.

On account of the sacrifice of His Son, our Lord Jesus, through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, we have the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and everlasting salvation delivered to us with absolute certainty that it is ours — not as stewards but as sons (Galatians 4:1–7).

Let us then, as His own sons, press all that He gives to us into the service of His church and to His glory.