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2005 Stewardship Material
4 bulletin inserts--Read text from inserts below.

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Due Sep. 1, 2005

[First insert] 

An Expression of Thanks to God

How many times have you heard a fellow Christian say, “I wish I knew God’s will for my life?” When you read the Bible carefully, you find many statements which tell you what God’s will is for your life practically.

Here’s one: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

The phrase “give thanks” is a command, and in the Greek New Testament looks like this: eucharisteo. From it we get the English word eucharist, which is another term for communion. It particularly emphasizes, by the believer’s participation in partaking of the communion elements, an expression of thanks to God for what Christ has done for us on the cross.

Furthermore, the center of that word is the Greek term charis, which is the usual word for “grace.” When we allow the many facets of the meaning of those words fill our minds – graciousness, gracefulness, loveliness, beauty, goodwill, favor, concern – we begin to see what thankfulness really is.

Paul put it another way to a certain church in Asia Minor, “Always give thanks to God for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Your stewardship of giving thanks is to be for everything, and that does indeed mean absolutely everything: • Salvation • The Word of God, the Bible • The land in which we live with all of its blessings • The common things in life which we too often take for granted – such as sight, hearing or health • The daily benefits we have from God – food, shelter, clothing • Our families and what they mean to us • Wisdom and the ability to learn • Safety in life, in the home, and on the road • Adversities that come into our lives as tests and occasions for growth and maturity • The presence, comfort, and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit

As servants of Jesus Christ, we are to be responsible stewards, and we do that by giving our thoughts, our time, our talents, and our treasure to God through His church.

The most concretely visible of these giving is that of our “treasure.” That is why Paul wrote, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12).

Write down some specific things for which you will thank God this week.


[Second insert] 

This Service That You Perform

Francis Schaeffer ended his classic The Mark of the Christian with these words: “What then shall we conclude but that as the Samaritan loved the wounded man, we as Christians are called upon to love all men as neighbors, loving them as ourselves.”

Centuries before those significant words were written, the Apostle Paul prayed for one of the churches in this way: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other (Christians) and for everyone else (non-Christians), just as ours does for you” (Thessalonians 3:12).

The committed Christian servant-disciple serves God wholeheartedly, serves fellow believers lovingly, and serves all men equally.

These are, of course, part of Jesus’ final commands to His own.

“Just as the Father has commissioned Me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21, literal translation).

Jesus carried out that commission perfectly by serving God wholeheartedly, serving His disciples lovingly, and serving all men equally.

Now it’s your turn!

People become more responsive to the gospel when they see your genuine interest in them as human beings, when they see the reality of your love for them without qualification, and when they see you serving them with no thought of any gain for yourself.

That is the kind of service you are called on to perform before the watching world. Jesus exhorted in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The “good works” that non-Christians will see are the ways in which you serve them: • A caring type of evangelism, wherein the gospel is shared compassionately with those who are perishing; • Befriending and helping them in whatever their needs might be; • By providing for them materially as the situation may arise.

Paul exhorts believers to “do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). The qualifying phrase does not exclude non-Christians.

The best way we can serve men and women in the world is by providing for their needs, both spiritually and materially, as part of our stewardship.

Write out some practical and specific ways you can do that this week.


[3rd insert] 

The Needs of God’s People

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others” (Philippians 3:2, 4).

Servants of Christ are also servants of others.

On three separate occasions the disciples of Jesus jockeyed with one another for first place. Each one of the twelve wanted to be the “big shot.”

During one of these unpleasant disagreements some six months before our Lord was crucified, He rebuked them with these words: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

About six weeks before Good Friday, John and James through their mother tried for the number one and two spots in the kingdom. When the others discovered this, they became incensed. So Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matthew 20:26,27).

The lesson was still not learned, and so the night before the death of Jesus the disciples were at it again – quarreling. The Lord again rebuked them verbally, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:26).

Then Jesus demonstrated the servanthood He had been trying to teach them – and us – by washing their feet (John 13:1-17), concluding that unforgettable teaching with, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (verses 14 & 15).

Responsible stewardship requires faithful service toward one another. The greatest act of visible love, one that most clearly demonstrates the reality of our Christianity, is that of serving one another.

Servants of Christ, arise!

You will build up your fellow saints most meaningfully when you serve them as Christ’s disciples and when you teach them to serve others.

Paul’s great testimony should be yours as well: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Write down some ways in which you will serve your brothers this week for Jesus’ sake.

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12).

Write down some specific ways in which you will thank God this week.


[Fourth Insert]

Servants and Stewards of Christ

Giving is an integral part of Christian servanthood. It is primarily a thanks response to God.

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12).

The magnificent letter of 2 Corinthians closely intertwines servanthood and stewardship.

Paul shares his own example of ministry at which servanthood is the core, and he teaches that servanthood and stewardship are inseparable. He exhorts his readers then and now to a lifestyle that follows that model.

In this epistle Paul first describes the Christian ministry as the responsibility of all those who are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (chapters 1-7). All genuine Christians are to be servants of Jesus and of one another for Jesus’ sake (4-5).

The power for this ministry of servanthood comes from the indwelling Christ. Carrying it out is no east task. We will all have to give account eventually on how well we served as Jesus’ ambassadors, and the only way we can do it effectively is to be committed to and live under Christ’s Lordship.

It is in this context that the second section of the letter is to be found (chapters 8-9), and it is a call to generous giving – our servant-stewardship.

Giving is what we decide in our hearts to give. Giving is not to be reluctant - we must want to give. Giving is not to be under compulsion; we are to give freely. Giving is to be generous; we are to give above and beyond what we must give. Giving is to be cheerful, for it is really thankful giving to God.

The third section of the letter (chapters 10-13) presents Paul’s personal defense of his ministry as a pattern, model, and example for his readers.

Now it is your turn! As a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are to be a responsible steward of the treasure entrusted to you and give out of that bountiful resource.

You are to give to God as an expression of thanks to Him.

You are to give to God for the benefit of your fellow believers in Christ.

You are to give to God for the good of all men and their finding Christ through the gospel.

Now make your commitment generous and cheerful to the glory of God.


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