“What Must I Do?”
Stewardship (2019) Sermon#3
Acts 16: 26-31
It has been an insightful and revealing past few weeks speaking and preaching about our values, our commitment to being both faithful and generous to a generous God, who continually gives to us, blesses us, loves us, and offers and gives us grace and mercy.
Today, before I speak about being faithfully thankful, I want to for a quick moment speak a little bit about being weighted down. In the original stewardship suggested sermon topic, it suggested that I preach about the large numbers of persons that are weighted down by financial burdens, and obligations. It held forth, that far too many people are burden with immense debt, and that is a great financial trauma that negatively impacts so, so many!
As bad as that can be, I submit and offer there are other burdens that weight upon people, and they too prevent and halt persons from being and realizing all that God wants to bless them and others, because they hold on to, focus on that which takes them away from God, and empower these negative situations so much so, they have an overwhelming negative affect and effect on not just their lives, but the lives of others who love and care for them.(God, never blesses you singularly, God’s blessing radiate out, never confined, nor concealed).
Now I know and I have realized in my living that everyday is not going to be a great, and grand day. In other words we are going to experience and have some challenges, or troubles in out lives. But we weaken and lessen the power of those times, events and occurrences to become powerful, or corrosive in our lives when we maintain a faithful and abiding relationship with God. We’re able to say to whatever transient material, or other condition or situation, we may be facing God and our faith will prevail. In Act 2:21, we read these assuring words; “And it shall come to pas that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Peter is quoting the OT prophet Joel (2:32).
We often paraphrase this section of text saying simply; “This too shall pass.”
So are you heavy laden, have you ever been weighted down with a load of care? Are you, or have you been weighted down with regret, weighted down with present or painful hurts and memories? Is there something now preventing you from entering and walking in blessed light of the Lord? Is there a sin that has so gripped you, your spouse, family member or friend that they are unable to see better/different way?
One can not get to what or where they want to be, or more importantly where God’s blessings are for their life and others, when you allow and empower those things maybe past failures, past hurts, insults, frustrations to control/influence ones today and tomorrows. Pray to be able to “let go & let God,” be truly and fully God in your life.
Remember God gives, God is gracious, God is generous and as such we through grace can be, or, and will be forgiven. Much like the Scriptural text today out of Acts, the captain of the prison finds himself in a very adverse condition and situation.
A mighty shake has shook the ground, and the prison to its very foundation. As a result the very gates of the prison have been thrown open, the ankle shackles holding the prisoners and affixed to the walls have been torn asunder. The Captain of the prisons now realizing for his personal well being and very life itself, all is lost. Preparing to kill himself, the apostle Paul halts him, saying we are all here.
“The jailer then called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” (Acts 16: 2-31)
Sometimes and far, far too often we get ourselves in troubling or even terrible situations/conditions. We may obfuscate, blame others(that may be proper just sometimes, not all the time), As such w may reach out, or in hurtful tear filled eyes, ask the Lord, Why, why me, what have I done? Easily forgetting all the prior/previous good God has given us.
What I am attempting to share and communicate this morning is this, when in the midst of great trouble, great trials, frustrations, set-backs, doubts, despair or failures can you muster some faith, enough faith to praise, honor or give thanks to God.
John Elridge writes it like this: ”There is nothing more devastating a blow against evil than a person in the face of suffering/hurting chooses God! In the grips of evil, of suffering, of Disappointment, unbelief, Chronic pain, frustration, abandonment…even before their circumstances have changed, to get up and proclaim that God is good is a rebuke, and devastating blow to evil and hurt.”
Again it has been more of a privilege to preach these past few sermons concerning stewardship pledges and our planning/developing our 2020 budget. Why? Because we look at, speak about who and what kind of church and people of faith we are. What is important to us, and what is not? In being in discussions and hearings a few years ago with various state legislative bodies and our governor, as well at times with the King County Council, I came to understand a budget as reflecting the values of those who put it together.
You say what is important, you talk a good talk about what you want or should do. But in the end the budget reflects ones real values and that which they deem important and critical.
So as I conclude:
We are bound-up in our society and culture, entangled by it mores so to speak. It is a 23/7 consumption, consumer driven marketplace endeavor. Being in such we have to make choices, we must discipline ourselves to be good and better stewards over and with that which God has blessed us with.
We need to know and have a faithful understanding and relationship as to what God means to us, and what our relationship with God means given the dynamics of our consumption/consumer culture. Our values, that which we deem important as Jesus said “Where your heart is, thereto is where your treasure is.” That means What d we love more, the LORD, or our money?
In the end you can’t take it with you, but you can send a message ahead, make some reservations if you will by how you live, and what you love! Remember the rich man who gave extravagant dinner parties, and cared nothing about the poor man named Lazarus who was at his gate, allowing his dogs to eat his crumbs but offering nothing to poor Lazarus. Over time they both die, Lazarus goes to heaven, the rich man to Hades, where he is tormented. He directs Abraham to have Lazarus tell his five brothers to change their ways, so as not to find themselves in the same predicament he now finds himself. (Luke 16: 25-28)
He loved his weatlth and money more than he loved God. It was too late for him to be saved. What of you, what of us, What must we do to be saved, and to bless not just ourselves, but others?