Treasures of the Lost Art: Aptitude




I am an idiot. I am a dummy. I must be because it seems that on most any subject I want to learn about, the only books which make sense are the ones that are the "the Idiots guide.... or " Breathing for Dummies." Thankfully, I guess, I'm not alone in this. In a world where information is on an increase, test scores are on a decrease. ABC News Radio reported the administrators of the SAT discovered only 22% of students taking the SAT have the language skills to succeed in college.

But then the church, the followers of Jesus Christ aren't far behind. We've developed an "Aptitude for Platitudes." We've gotten great at cute little slogans and sayings-I've created many myself. I'm picking on myself here you know? Every one of these sermons rhymes after all. Our knowledge of the Bible and commitments to true discipleship have slipped.

We really don't understand everything about stewardship . As one saying goes, "we usually fear what we don't understand." Truly we don't understand Biblical stewardship. It seems that one of the treasures which we find in examining Stewardship is a holy APTITUDE, that is we don't have to be afraid...(Romans 8:15) For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry,'" Abba! Father! " That is the spirit and mind of a trusting child, trust in a loving father who he or she knows will care for needs.

In her book, Money Doesn't Grow on Trees. Neale Godfrey writes:
"Offerings...however small the sum, is a valuable way for a parent to teach personal values through money by showing the child how to share her [or his] good fortune (pg42)."
TWO POINTS: First, this is not a religious book it is a book for parents on teaching kids about money. Second, even those who are not religious know that we teach are children what's important NOT by what we say but what we choose to do.

I read one time that when you learn something new it puts a wrinkle in our brain. I want to wrinkle up your brain a little with a few wisdom nuggets.

Last week got part of the history of the tithe: it was given out of a thankful attitude, out of appreciation. But later it became part of the law because God's people had a tendency to forget.

REMEMBER: IT IS ALL GOD'S
All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD's; it is holy to the LORD. (Leviticus 27:30, RSV)

GOD ASKS FOR SOME BACK
Exodus 25:2)"' Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me an offering; from every man whose heart makes him willing you shall receive the offering for me.
Last week we dealt with this HEART issue, the treasure of ATTITUDE. The NT expands this idea: we can't pass off giving as just an emotional thing or Old Testament law: 2 Corinthians 9:7
"You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure."

That is why I want you to look in your worship guide to see what the budget of Crossroads looks like. I want you to see that we are a transparent church in these matters and not give under pressure but from knowledge.

CALL IT STEWARDSHIP FOR DUMMIES
At the end of the OT the people of God are struggling. The nation is in ruins, there is hard times and everybody points the finger at GOD (not all that different from our days today). Enter the prophet Malachi. In essence he says to the people: "you have forgotten where your help and blessings come from!"
Malachi 3:10 "Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, [seel if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing."

Only God can open that window and only when we reason/use our APTITUDE can we finally get it: our outer actions reveal our inner devotions. This is certainly not a "prosperity gospel" but an understanding of the overall health of the people of God. When we forget its God's - then we become robbers, keeping back for ourselves what really belongs to God. And here is a little secret: GOD WANTS TO OPEN THE WINDOW! He wants everyone to see how great it is to be his child!
Malachi 3:12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," sayi. the LORD Almighty.

This means, stewardship, our handling of money is even more so a spiritual issue. As long as we hold back the first and the best, any one of us, then as individuals and as a church, we rob from God and from the family of faith. It is out of love God calls us to give, that we might be successful Jesus-followers. We know we are called to give.

You'll notice that the offering was taken before my sermon today. I don't want you making any decisions today. Instead, I want you to take the worship guide home today and talk about it, pray about and see where God is calling you to step up. Not with a pledge either but an estimate – estimate on your giving to God in the coming year.

Now, one more wrinkle. So you get this, point, next week I'm going to add two addresses in our worship guide to two churches: Sacred Tapestries UMC in East Cobb and Fellowship UMC in south Paulding. If you're seeing this sermon as me asking for money, then please understand clearly – I want you to give to one of those two churches instead and know that I'm more concerned about your soul and your relationship with God.

God wants to reveal His treasures to you this year and I belief it can start right now.

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