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Jack Graham - Entrusted

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    Jack Graham - Entrusted
TOPICS: A Life that Pleases God, Stewardship

Take your Bibles, turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 1: "This is how one should regard us". So if someone is looking at your life, this is about you, this is how you should be regarded, "as a servant of Christ (that's one), and stewards of the mysteries of God". So a servant, a steward, and "a steward of the mysteries of God" which is the Word of God, the revealed Word of God. And then look at verse 2: "Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful". Entrusted. In fact, one of the translations of these verses says that a servant and a steward should be found entrusted.

And so we are entrusted. A steward is one who is entrusted with the possessions and the properties of another. It is a word which is akin to the idea of being a manager. In other words, as a steward we don't own the property, own the possessions; we are doing it for another. And as a steward we have, you have one job. We say to a field goal kicker who misses it, "You had one job"! You have one job as a steward of Christ and that is to be trustworthy, to be faithful to God. If you were just writing some synonyms down, and I would encourage you always to take notes. But if you were writing words that mean the same, words like dependable. Dependability, someone said, is the greatest ability, dependability. But not only dependability, but responsibility. And, yes, accountability. It means to have integrity, to have character, faithfulness. It's a part of that rich cluster of the fruit of the Spirit, "love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and meekness and faithfulness".

This is produced by the work of the Holy Spirit in us; Christ in us; God in us. And we know that God is a faithful God! For example, when we are tempted - and we're all tempted, it's common to all of us. There's a verse of scripture, 1 Corinthians 10 and verse 13, mark it, memorize it. This is a go-to passage in your Bible. "No temptation is overtaken you but that is common to man. God is (what?) faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape that you may be able to endure". Thank God for the times in my life when I was tempted and God gave me a way of escape because God was faithful, God was there in that moment. But there have also been times when I yielded to temptation and so have you.

So what happens then? First John 1:9, "If we confess our sins (what?) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness". He never fails to forgive. You've never sinned (listen to me!) As a believer and had to say, "Well I sinned that time and that's unforgiveable. God can't forgive that". Or "God wouldn't forgive that", "God won't forgive that"! No, God is faithful! God is faithful to forgive us our sins when we agree with Him that our sin is wrong and confess it, and ask Him to change our hearts and change our lives. He's faithful everyday! We get up in the morning, the dawn greets us, the sun comes up. There's never been a sunset in our life but that there has been a sunrise. In all the tests and trials of life we need His mercies, according to Lamentations chapter 3, "We need His mercies every morning". "Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me".

So God is always faithful considering our salvation. I love 2 Timothy, chapter 1, and verse 12, and it even includes our word of the day which is entrust. "But I'm not ashamed for I know whom I believe (I know Jesus) and I am convinced that He is able to guard that Day which has been entrusted to me". In other words, in view of eternity, the day we stand before Christ, I know, I know, I know, because I know Jesus, that He is able to hold me, to keep me! I am not saved by my faithfulness but by His faithfulness! Now because of the faithfulness of God we are motivated to live faithful lives, to live trustworthy lives, to live entrusted each day. And today I picked three categories. I could talk about a lot of areas, arenas in our lives where we are to exhibit this kind of trustworthiness. But I've chosen three. One, trustworthy in our walk; two, trustworthy in our worship; and three, trustworthy in our wealth.

First, our walk. I'm talking about our Christian walk. Because if you are a follower of Jesus, you are walking with Him. And as we walk with Him, we are called to His character, to be dependable, to be trustworthy, to have integrity, honesty in our daily walk. You know integrity is what you say to yourself and about yourself, honesty is what you way to others. Honesty is what we are on the outside. Integrity is what we are on the inside; character within. And just as Paul is saying here let it be said of you, or when people review your life let them say, there is a faithful follower, there is a faithful servant and steward of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because integrity really, character has been described as what you are in the dark.

What you are when no one is looking. That's trustworthiness. Who you are, what you are when nobody but God sees. And that's one side of it. But it's also your walk, your character when everybody's watching. And believe me, people are watching. You're a professed Christian? People are watching you. Your children are watching you. Your grandchildren, your husband, your wife, your family, your friends, your coworkers! Everybody's watching! Do they find us faithful?

Second, trustworthy in our worship. Are you faithful to worship with your church family? I'm talking about, with the word worship I'm talking about all things worship, and that specifically means the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are living in a generation of churchless Christians. That's an oxymoron, but we have Christians who are churchless, who are free-floating, (like free-range chickens! I never knew what those things were on the menu.) But just free-floating. They're churchless. I'm talking about professing Christians who are fringe, not faithful! I've got to tell you as a pastor over 40 years now, I've just never been able to get my mind around this whole thing of being a Christian and being fringe in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and not faithful! No accountability, no responsibility, no dependability, no discipleship, not living in community, in fellowship, witnesses minimal, pray life is indistinct!

You don't see them regularly. And if you don't, you know, many today, you know, just attend church, and go here and there, and there's a time to attend and visit and pray about where you're going to settle down and be a member of the church, but you know, at some point make a decision. The problem is for so many people, if you don't make a decision on that and you're not a member of a church, guess what? You don't have to attend, you don't have to give, you don't have to serve, you don't have to witness; you just "hang". And you know what? You're on the take. Just along for the ride, like a hitchhiker. You're like that person at lunch every day that never pays.

Now if this makes you mad, you can apologies to me later when you get over it. But you know I'm telling you truth. Two kinds of people in life in the church: they're the givers and the takers. And it's all about consumerism. We consume religious content. Now we appreciate the opportunity to be online with people watching all over the world, and many of you cannot get here. I mean, you live somewhere else, and many of you are bedridden or you're sick or you couldn't get out. We understand that. That's one reason we do it, is to have an online presence. We have a online pastor and you can connect in prayer.

And PowerPoint Ministries, same way. PowerPoint is our radio and television ministry that ministers to people all over the world, thousands upon thousands of people. But we always say to those who are watching, to those who are listening, find a local church and get active in that church. A screen is no substitute for a pastor and a church and a ministry, and being involved! So don't just watch church. Some people watch church the way they watch sports. And you know what? The same results take place. The people that watch sports, the people who watch church. We become fans! Fans of the sport, fans of our team, fans of our church! But Jesus never called us to be fans; He called us to be followers, and He called us to be faithful!

Bud Wilkerson, the great coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, years ago, he was describing football as "twenty-two men on the field desperately in need of rest being watched by 80,000 people in the stand desperately in need of exercise". So what happens if you just watch sport is you get fat, you get flabby; you're a sports-watcher. And the same thing happens to you if you're just watching church: in and out, watching a screen, you get fat and flabby spiritually! And when the heat gets on, you're not ready because you have not disciplined yourself and devoted yourself in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Look, I cannot imagine life without this. I can't imagine not coming each week because that week just might be the week that the break-through in my life that I need takes place! And we come with faithful, not just when we feel like it, not just when we want to, not just when don't have anything else to do, not to be entertained, but to worship God and to please God and to be faithful, trustworthy! So are you faithful to your worship, faithful to your church? What would your children say? What would your grandchildren say? They're watching and they're practices, and response to church will be much like yours. You need the church a lot more than the church needs you, I assure you of that because we all need God's church.

One final word, and that is trustworthy with our wealth. Now when most of the people think about steward or stewardship, you think of what? Giving, and yes, giving is a big part of being a faithful steward. It speaks of money and material possessions. But in this consumer culture in which we live, the culture in which the average household now has ten credit cards. More and more you can just click and punch and indebt yourself, rather than entrust yourself, you can indebt yourself to many sellers, and we live in a world which is motivated by money more and more.

Some people tell their children, "Make all the money you can make". That's terrible advice! It's terrible advice to tell anybody to make all the money you can! Especially your children! You know why? Because if you tell somebody make all the money you can, they end up chasing money rather than chasing God. Make money, fine. God's given you gifts and part of being a faithful steward would be faithful at your work; that would be a whole other category. First one there, last one to leave. Be faithful in that. But our goal is life is not just make all the money we can! Our goal in life is to pursue Christ and His will!

So we have churches filled with religious consumers. You say how do I know? Well, just check on how much people are giving. The average American gives 3 percent of their income to all charities, three percent. That's a little more than I would have expected, just everybody. You say, "well, that's low". Well, how about born-again adult Christians? How many you suppose say they're born-again adult Christians give their tithe to their church? Eight percent. So 93 percent, x them out.

You say, "A tithe, what is a tithe"? That's 10 percent, the first 10 percent of our income. It's the principle of stewardship in the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament. A tithe is giving at the basic level. You say, "A tithe, that's a lot of money. Ten percent, that's a lot of money. That's a lot"! Really? A dime out of every dollar for a God, a Savior, who gave His life, who gave His all for you? Really, too much? You say, "That's all about the Jew in the Old Testament". Well, look, any Jew that would give more under the Law than a Christian under grace is a disgrace to grace. We're all called to be generous givers, not entitled, entertained. You know, Christians spend, (here's a number), 7 times more on entertainment than they do on spiritual activities or ministries. Not faithful! So we're really like the world when it comes the way we're spending our money and giving our money!

A selfish church cannot reach the world! A selfish church cannot reach people! Our goal is to spread the Gospel, to give away our lives, to share Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit! And we don't need to be just giving a little bit; we need to start with 10 percent and Deb and I, we talk about in our family a graduated tithe. That's growing your giving. So you start at 10 percent, you start there. And then you graduate your giving as God prospers you, and you move to 11 percent and you move to 12 percent, and 15 percent, and 20 percent, and on and on, as God would lead you. Now, okay, I see some eyes rolling back in their heads right now. And you know, sometimes when you start talking about money, people, you know, their blood pressure goes up and they get all excited about that.

There's a letter, my friend Kent Hughes quotes a well known pastor who preached on money and when the pastor preached on money it prompted this anonymous letter: "I was never so disappointed in a service as I was Sunday (she writes). I have an unbelieving friend that I got to come with me and what were you preaching about? Money"! I can assure you she was not impressed! And why money, when there's so many beautiful things to say? You'd better reconsider such messages in the future! Leave money to God and He will handle everything, believe me!

I love this church and usually like the sermon, but that was terrible! Love those kind of letters! And the letter was signed: A Christian who loves to go to church to hear the Word. It should have been signed: A Christian who loves to go to church and hear the Word unless it's talking about me and my money! Because you know, you can't be ignorant about this. Jesus talked about money more than any other subject, including heaven and hell put together! It's true! Look it up! Google it! Parables messages, ministries, said so many things about money and so much of the Bible is about stewardship.

Remember, a steward, we don't own it; we're operating it, we're managing it, we're overseeing it. We're like a house manager. We're taking care of the Master's stuff! He owns it all and He's never signed it over to any of us. He just gives it to us as stewards. Are you faithful with your finances? That's the question. And as far as preaching on money? I don't think I do enough of it around here. Let me tell you, I'm not being a faithful preacher if I don't preach to you the whole counsel of God. If I don't preach to you what the Bible says about stewardship and finances, I'm not telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

So, are you faithful with your wealth? And all of us are wealthy compared to the world, but I've been talking to you a little bit about "Read the red". You know what the red is? There's a red-letter Bible editions where the words of Jesus are in red. All the Bible's inspired equally so, but the words of Jesus stand out. They're written in red, recorded in red. So let me read you some of the red in closing this message: Here's what Jesus said in Luke 16. Don't take my word for it; take His word for it: "And I tell you, make friends for yourself by means of unrighteous wealth so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwells. (And watch this) One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much. And one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much".

People say, "You know what? If I was just wealthy, really wealthy, if I had a lot of money, if I had millions, I could be a great giver. I'd be the top giver in the church"! No, you wouldn't! You'd do with a million the same thing you're doing with a hundred or the buck that's in your pocket. That's what Jesus said. "He that is faithful in little will be faithful in that which is much". And then He closed, verse 13: "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon".

That's why I told you earlier you can't just tell people to chase money, because you'll start loving money more than you love God. And you know it's true. Jesus said, "Where your money is, there your heart will be". You put your money in the stock market, and that's fine. You put your money in the stock market, what do you? You check your stocks! Why? Cause your money is there! You invest in eternal things, you put your treasure in heaven, your heart will be there, and you care about eternal things.

So I close with two questions, two questions that everyone of us should ask ourselves and answer before God. Number one, can I trust God with my money? With my possessions? Can I trust Him? If I do what He commands me to do, if I'm faithful in my giving, with my money and all things. And by the way, not just 10 percent again, not just 10 percent belongs to God; it all belongs to God!

So the way we spend our money, the way we save our money, the way we give our money, the way we use our money, that's all God. So can I trust God with my money? Will He be faithful to me? Has He ever failed to? Has He ever failed to provide for you? He says He won't. He doesn't break any promises! We have a Father in heaven; He never breaks His promises. One of the problems we've got in America is this broken down family, it's fatherless America, and it's so many dads in particular who have broken their promises to their kids! But God's never broken a promise. I've decided that I can trust God with everything I have.

So here's question number two. Question number one: Can I trust God with my money? Question number two: Can God trust you with His money? Can God trust you, to give generously, sacrificially, faithfully? You are entrusted and I'm asking you as you stand before God, can you hear the words... We all want to hear it in heaven. Can you hear it now? "Well done, good and faithful servant". Later on in this same passage the writer Paul talks about, you know, "judge no thing before its time". Because when you invest in things and you plant, you will reap a reward in time. Don't judge it before its time. You trust God with what you give and a rich reward is coming.
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