1 CHRONICLES 29:10-17
Series: Lessons in Sovereignty - a.k.a. Stewardship - Part Three
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 11, 2016
Today is the third Sunday of Advent - meaning it is of vital crucial importance for us to realize that there are only 14 more shopping days until Christmas. The clock is ticking. So, in an effort to be helpful… a few suggestions in case you still have some shopping to do.
First - at $39.99 is this remote controlled 57 inch long flying fish. Recommended for kids 8 and up. It comes in two styles: Clownfish - shown here. And Great White Shark. Imagine what fun you can have with that. Terrorizing the cat or a small child.
Second - a la Back to the Future - for only $720 Nike’s HyperAdapt 1.0 self-lacing shoes. These are really cool. They use a magnetic charge and there’s button on the tongue of the shoe that lets you tighten and loosen the laces.
Third suggestion - for only $499.99 - just in time for Rogue One -this 4000 plus piece Lego Death Star. Which comes with free shipping.
Over the last two Sundays we’ve been focused on the sovereignty of God and stewardship. Time, talent, and today… Treasure. Tis the season.
What we’ve been seeing is that as we come to understand stewardship - to live as stewards of what the sovereign God entrusts us with for the reasons the sovereign God entrusts us with those resources - stewardship helps us to sort through all the demands on our time and talent and treasure and to lead us in the quality of life that we’re really longing for. That God desires for us to live. Are we together?
Living where we live our lives - out there - and sometimes even in here - it’s way too easy to get wrapped up in a mindset where the focus is on us and not God. We’re bombarded with that every day. That’s where our culture is. Life is about us - fulfilling our wants - satisfying our desires. Success - happiness is when I get what I want. We are entitled to... whatever. It’s easy for all of us to get caught up in that and to not even be aware of it.
The reality is that all that self stuff comes up empty. When we’re focused on ourselves - obeying our own passions - and not obeying God we’re actually living in sin. And sin is self-destructive. Sin destroys our relationships - our community - gnaws at how we feel about ourselves. Sin always leaves us empty and needing more. Sin can never satisfy because satisfaction can only be found in God.
The stewardship of time - what we looked at two Sundays ago - the stewardship of time is the sacrificial surrender of all of our God given time to God in order for Him to accomplish through us what He has enabled and called us to do.
The stewardship of talent - which we looked at - the stewardship of talent is the sacrificial surrender of all of our God given abilities to God in order for Him to accomplish through us what He has enabled and called us to do.
Which is a huge contrast. Isn’t it? Focus on self verses focus on God. Living by what is self-destructive and destroying our lives and the lives of those around us verses living in the fullness of God’s blessing - His presence and purpose and peace.
Today we’re coming to the stewardship of treasure - what we do with our stuff - our financial resources - dollars and cents - and things we own - or that we’re paying the bank for the privilege of having. How we can live with all that focused on God and not us.
This morning we’re looking at 1 Chronicles 29:10-17. Before we read these verses we need some back-fill on what’s going on.
The last chapters of 1 Chronicles come at the end of David’s life - about 970 or so B.C. In those chapters we read about David finishing up with God’s plan for his life.
God had used David to establish God’s people in the land. To subjugate - wipe out - defeat Israel’s enemies. To secure the borders - unify God’s people under one king. So David was a warrior who’d killed men in battle. He had blood on his hands.
So God’s plan was that David’s son Solomon - not David the bloody warrior - Solomon would build God’s Temple in Jerusalem. But while Solomon built the temple God allowed David to do the prep work.
In these last chapters of 1 Chronicles - as David is coming to the end of his life - we read about David’s gathering and organizing everything needed to build God’s temple in Jerusalem.
David bought the land the temple was built on. David gathered together - what today would amount to billions of dollars worth of gold and silver and bronze and precious stones and other materials.
Billions with a capital “B”. One nail - made out of gold - weighed 20 ounces. At the current value of gold that’s about $23,000 plus for a nail. How many nails do you have in your house? Lots. How many nails were in this temple? Lots. David lined the inside of the temple with 23 tons of gold. What's that worth… a lot.
David gathered together billions of dollars worth of gold and silver and bronze and precious stones and other materials - organized all that in preparation for building. He laid out the plans - hired the contractor - organized the labor force - organized the civic officials - got the government on board - got all the permits - did all the environmental studies. David organized the priesthood to run the place.
Then David got the whole nation primed and pumped - focused and ready - to build this incredible structure which was to be the focal point of their relationship with God - the central place of their worship - their devotion - their sacrifice - serving God - glorifying God.
As his life is coming to an end, David - the last chapters of 1 Chronicles records for us - that David gathers the nation before him - in one massive assembly of people - and once again lays out before the people this vision of the temple - what - in this last season of his life - what he’s given himself to doing - prepping for the temple to be built.
Then - in front of this assembly of God’s people - in a final act of giving everything he has to God’s work - over and above everything he’s already given and assembled - he gives even more. David gives his personal fortune - the wealth of the king. It’s an astounding gift of gold and silver.
Then, reading 1 Chronicles 29:5 - David challenges the people: “Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the Lord?” “Who’s willing to join me in giving everything to God’s work?” (1 Chronicles 29:5)
The response is unreal. It’s off the charts. David’s sons - the heads of the tribes of Israel - the military leadership - the overseers of the workforce - the leadership of God’s people assembled in this massive assembly - the nation responds by bringing this offering to God - to be used in building God’s temple. What amounts to billions and billions in gold and silver and brass and iron - jewels and precious stones. The wealth of a nation. Out of their hearts they “just” give.
Then they rejoiced. Because when this over-the-top offering had been brought forth - they realized how freely so much had been given without any self-focused - what do I get out of it - expectation. They’d offered willingly. No coercion. No gimmicks. No guilt. Just pure from the heart joy in being able to give to God. God’s people giving from hearts sold to out to God - God’s people giving over-the-top and with joy to God’s work.
Which brings us to 1 Chronicles 29 - starting at verse 10 - which is David’s response to this outrageous outpouring of giving by God’s people.
Let’s read together starting at verse 10:
Group One: Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said, “Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.”
Group Two: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all.”
Group One: “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank You, our God, and praise Your glorious name.”
Group Two: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You. For we are strangers before You and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.”
Group One: “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand and is all Your own. I know my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.”
Group Two: “In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen Your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to You.”
Verses 10 to 13 focus on The God Who Gives.
God really blessed David with the ability to put things into words. Didn’t He? Verses 10 to 13 are an amazing description of the sovereign God.
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness” There’s nothing - there’s no one - no thing - that is greater than God. God alone is the greatest in rank - in goodness - in grace - in mercy - in compassion - in whatever - except sin of course. God is the greatest.
David says, “Yours, O Lord is… the power.” No one - no thing - is more powerful than God. The Lord God Almighty created everything. He has power and control over it all. He sustains it by His power. What God wills His creation to do... it does.
“Yours, O Lord is… the glory” describes God’s reputation - His character - His attributes - who God is and what God does.
“Yours, O Lord is… the victory” “Victory” translates the Hebrew word “nat-sakh” which has the idea of permanence.
God doesn’t get surprised by stuff that knocks Him off His game plan.
Meaning that with absolute confidence we can hang onto the reality that God - in Jesus - has won victory over the crud of this world. We have the certain hope of victory over death - of eternity with God. Living in His victory is a certainty that will never change - because God does not change. Permanence assures victory.
“Yours, O Lord is… the majesty.” The splendor. The image in Hebrew is of a powerful majestic war horse in battle. No one - no thing is more honorable - more beautiful - of greater grandeur and splendor than God.
David summarizes all that: “for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours.”
It’s all God’s. Everything. In heaven - creation apart from the earth - all of that out there. And on earth - terra firma. All that is declares the beyond comprehendible reality of who the sovereign God is: His greatness - His power - His glory - His victory - His majesty.
“Yours is the kingdom… You are exalted as head above all.”
It’s all God’s. His is the dominion. He is King of kings and Lord of lords - the sovereign potentate of His creation.
The bottom line definition of sovereignty is that God alone upholds all things by His power and determines their just end. He is in complete control.
Which is astounding to marinate in. No one is forcing God to be merciful and gracious and loving towards us. To save us. To forgive us. To place us into an eternal relationship with Him.
God is not obligated to us for anything. We can’t earn any of that.
God isn’t flippant about all that. He’s not going to get fed up with us - change His mind and “poof” no more anything. The sovereign God - before anything was anything - God knew what He was getting Himself into with you and me.
And He did. And here we are. And the sovereign God is taking all this exactly where God has purposed for it to go.
Isn’t that mind popping? Praise God! Amen?
Verse 12 - “Both riches and honor come from You.” Where else could they come from?
In God’s hand alone is ultimate power and might - the authority to rule - to make great - to strengthen - to bestow riches and honor on whomever He chooses. Riches meaning wealth. Honor meaning the reputation - the respect - that comes to those who use their wealth with Godly wisdom.
God alone is the greatness - the power - the glory - the victory - the majesty. Meaning the source of it all is... God. All that we have comes from... God. The ruler of it all is... God. The final end of it all is... God. God who is sovereign.
Which is why - verse 13 - David exclaims - we thank you, our God, and praise Your glorious name.”
Because of Who God is - and all of what God has given to us - we give thanks to You - our God. We praise Your glorious name. Literally: “We boast in You - in who You are. Not us. There is no self in this. But because You are the God who has given so much to us we praise Your glorious name.”
We need to let that sink in to our day-to-day. The foolishness of mankind’s attitude towards wealth. We’re fighting over little pieces of the pie. Struggles for power. Wars over land and who has what stuff. Nations and peoples and families in conflict. We’re selfishly hanging on to our little crumbs. What’s mine. What I’m entitled to. No wonder we’re stressed.
When it all belongs to... God. It all comes from... God. Even the stuff of life itself. The sovereign God who gives. Not out of obligation. But because He chooses to love us - graciously - mercifully - lavishly.
Verses 14 to 17 focus on The People Who Gave.
Verse 14: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You.”
Are we together on the “from the heart attitude” response that David is describing here. We wouldn’t have anything to give if the God who gives hadn’t given it to us in the first place. David is a guy who gets it.
Verse 15: For we are strangers before You… Literally the Hebrew has the idea of resident aliens.
Verse 16: O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand and is all Your own.
We’re together with David?
What do we have that God hasn’t given to us? Nothing. What can we give God that hasn’t first come from God? Nothing. It all comes from... God. The sovereign God who chooses to give it to us.
The stewardship of treasure is the sacrificial surrender of all of our God given physical resources to God in order for Him to accomplish through us what He has enabled and called us to do.
The sovereign God gives to His people resources to be used according to His purposes - in this situation - to build the temple.
Verse 17 is the bottom line. I know my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen Your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to You.”
Verse 17 is the why the bottom line of why we succeed or fail at the stewardship of treasure. Stewardship isn’t about dollars and cents and stuff. It’s about the heart.
David says - verse 17 - “In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things,”
“Uprightness” translates the Hebrew word - “yashar” - which means straightforward - no deviation to the left of right. Like an unending road through the desert with no curves - smooth - straight - forever. No wavering or holding back. Wholeness of heart. The heart of man or woman that isn’t divided but is totally God’s.
“Freely” is the opposite of compulsion. Being drafted verses choosing to volunteer.
“Joyously” translates the Hebrew word “samach” which means… joyously. Joy being the heart level realization of the presence and pleasure of God.
David’s giving from a heart that is 100% committed - whole heartedly committed to giving to God from what God has given Him to give. Not because he’s being forced to give but because at the core of who he is he knows that the only reasonable response to the sovereign God’s generosity is to give back everything to God.
David’s giving is motivating God’s people to give. Gods’ people are giving freely - joyously. Giving and realizing the presence and blessing and purpose of God being lived out in their lives.
They sold some property. Brought the proceeds to the congregation - Peter and the apostles. Said they were giving all of the profit to God. But they’d kept back a part of if for themselves. And they both ended up dead.
Peter nailed them: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (Acts 5:1-11)
Was the problem the amount they gave? No. Problem was with? Their hearts.
David says that when we give to God - using God’s resources according to God’s purposes - it’s God who examines our hearts for uprightness - wholeness. The Hebrew word for heart was what? “Lebab.” Remember that from last Sunday?
God examines our hearts - scrutinizes what’s going on deep within us as we give. God knows our motivation. Whether we give because we have to or because we long to. Longing to give meaning we get who God is. Giving is about God not us.
God examines our hearts is God using our stewardship of treasure to show us where our hearts are in relationship to Him. Who are we really serving with what God has entrusted us with. The heart is where we succeed or fail at stewardship of treasure. Stewardship of treasure isn’t about stuff. It’s about our heart.
God is pleased when He finds wholeness there - a heart - a life that’s totally God’s. Not because all this is about God’s ego and God needing more stuff. But because God who loves us knows that when we focus on Him with our stewardship of dollars and cents and stuff - focusing on Him leads us to the life that is the kind of life that we were created by God to live.
Life where we’re trusting God for everything. Purposeful - from the heart - giving up self-will - self-focus - to God. God gets the glory and we experience God’s unending blessings.
Processing all that… Thinking about what whole heartedly stewarding God’s dollars, cents, and stuff might look like in real time - Two take homes.
First - three nuts and bolts basic principles of stewardship. Hopefully these are familiar.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4: Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Brief backstory: Jerusalem at the time that Paul is writing this - Jerusalem was a fairly poor city. There’d been a famine that had decimated the economy. The church in Jerusalem - whether because of the economy or persecution - the church was in pretty bad shape. Paul is instructing the churches of Galatia and Asia and Macedonia - along with the church here in Corinth - instructing them to take up a collection to help the Jerusalem Church take care of the needy there.
As Paul writes he touches on three principles of stewardship that are more about the depth and uprightness of our heart relationship with God than about dollars and cents and stuff. Hugely helpful for us to think about while we’re thinking through our own stewardship.
First is The Principle of Regularity.
In verse 2 Paul writes: “On the first day of every week.”
The first day is the day Jesus rose from death. Every Sunday we celebrate that resurrection and the life we have because Jesus resurrected. Paul writes, with that reality in mind - that life in Jesus - give. Every first day of every week - week in and week out - give. That’s regularity.
Second - The Principle of Priority.
Paul writes, “Each one of you is to put something aside and store it up…” so that when I come what you’re already prepared to give what will be taken to Jerusalem. In the day to day stewarding decisions we make leading up to Sunday God’s part is intentionally set aside first. Set aside for the collection on Sunday. Set aside before the rest of it gets spent.
It may seem intelligent to take care of all our necessities - especially when we’re living right on the line financially - seems intelligent to take care of our necessities and then to look around to see if something is left over for God. But honestly - it’s amazing how many “necessities” we have that can eat up our resources. Isn’t it?
When God comes second it’s amazing how the necessities never seem to really get taken care of. And this - the reverse is also true. When we give to God first it’s amazing how all the real necessities get taken care of. How often we’re brought back to the face-to-face reality that it’s God who’s taking care of us - not us with our clever ideas.
Priority is intentionally setting aside God’s share first - off the top - the gross - the net - whatever - not the bottom. Which will reorganize our life. Which is what stewardship should do. Get us focused on God. Trusting God in how we do life.
5% 10% 50% - at the heart level that’s not the issue. The question is not, “How much do I have to give?” but, “How much can I give?”
Paul writes, “as he may prosper.” “Prosper” in the Greek has to do with the journey we’re on through life. Not necessarily earning 6 figures. But success at doing the day-to-day stuff of life.
“Prosper” in the Greek is in the passive. Meaning that it’s what God does to us. God supplies to us what we need in order to be successful in the day-to-day of life according to His purposes.
In every decision we make about using resources - going out to lunch after church - where we go on vacation - where we live - where we go to school - how we’re upgrading our house - what we drive - getting a short verses a trenta and on and on - we need to be thinking about God’s purposes in giving us the resources we’re using.
It’s not that God is saying that we should never go on vacation or we should never go out to eat. Proportional is when God has priority in every one of those decisions.
Proportional stewardship means honestly and prayerful examining of our real needs - to consider our income - our God given resources - our blessings - in order to determine - in obedience - what share God would have us give - for His glory.
Those are three principles that hopefully are helpful in for us to do a heart level reality check of how were stewarding dollars and cents and stuff.
The second take home are some suggestions of what God might lead you into in your giving.
There are some amazing opportunities right here at Creekside - as we’re Serving the World. God enabling us to use His resources together as His congregation in ways that go beyond what individually we could be doing. Some examples:
178 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Financial support - meeting needs of our Christian siblings in other areas of the world. Vacation Bible School. AWANA. Scholarships for camps and ministries. Helping youth to winter camp. Missions Teams - last summer to Armenia. In April to Mexico and in June to Nepal.
Serve the Church - to have this building is a huge blessing of God.
Praise God for these and other life changing opportunities that God blesses us with the resources to steward together right here at Creekside. Praise God for what He allows us to do together. To Him alone be the glory.
Expanding that - there are two URL’s on your Message Notes. These are two suggestions of many to get the mental juices flowing. To pray about and see what God may lead you to do. Maybe these become family stewarding opportunities.
One URL is for Gospel for Asia. Which opens up their Christmas Gift Catalogue. Amazing opportunities.
You could supply someone with a chicken or a water buffalo - an outdoor toilet or well for a village. There’s a widows and abandoned children fund. You can build a church - supply Bibles - sponsor a missionary. Great eternity changing opportunities.
Then there’s a URL for Voice of the Martyrs.
That URL opens up the opportunity to supply Christmas Care Packs for children of persecuted Christians. Or to supply Village Outreach Kits that are used to equip frontline workers with materials for evangelism and discipleship. And there are other opportunities there.
These are suggestions
to get the mental juices flowing. What are way
more important than flying fish and self-lacing shoes
and a Lego Death Star.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.