It was great being back at church today (last week I was preaching at Branchville Christian Church for their anniversary). I just missed it all – our people, our worship, our “vibe” – everything.
We continued in our Stewardship Series, “Can I Speak to the Manager?” We looked at an often overlooked parable of Jesus, frequently called the parable of the Shrewd Manager. At first glance you’re almost sure you know where Jesus is going with this parable. You know he’s going to blast this guy for his seemingly dishonest ways. But then out of nowhere Jesus goes in a totally different direction. He commends the guy for his resourcefulness, for leveraging the little time and little opportunity he had for his future benefit.
He’s the reality: we all have a little bit of time and a little bit of money. From God’s perspective we all have just a little. And He is watching to see what we will do with what we have. Will we leverage our resources, our stuff, to further God’s kingdom? The challenge today was to see everything we have, all of our stuff, our time, our talents, our money as a tool, as a test, and as a trademark.
I hope people have been surprised by this series. Typically, people think that when Pastors preach about Stewardship, the messages are all going to be about giving. Now don’t get me wrong. We need to teach and preach truth about giving. But again, stewardship is so much more than that. It’s a way of life.
A few other observations about today. Our band seems to be getting more and more comfortable playing with each other and it shows. The first service the last few weeks has definitely been the larger service. It’s kind of flip flopped. It might be the time change. Who knows? We keep having first time guests. Lots of people come from our website.
The other thing that stood out about today was Operation Christmas Child. Huge props to Teresa Spell. She is the “Organizational Queen”! I think they packed and wrapped over 50 shoeboxes. And if you’ve seen what Teresa does with a shoebox, you know that one Coastal shoebox is probably 2 1/2 shoeboxes from somewhere else.
Today we read John 15. In some ways, vs. 5 is one of the reasons for this time of fasting, prayer, and scripture reading, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” It’s all about staying connected to the vine. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing – nothing of any value and nothing that will last. However, the sad truth is that we as Christians do that all the time. We work, we do, we serve, we give and it doesn’t flow out of our daily walk with Jesus. It’s in our power, our strength. We don’t pray. We don’t spend time in His word. We don’t cry out to our Father. We don’t listen to His voice. It’s so easy to do. But it’s also so easy to change. No matter how long you’ve drifted, once you turn around, you will discover that God is right there with open arms ready to welcome you home. Reconnect to the Vine.
Jesus also issues a challenge for us to love each other. In fact, He says it several times. But He goes a step further and tells us to love as He has loved and that there is no greater love than to lay down our lives for our friends. In fact, He calls us His friends! Wow! I am God’s friend! God’s grace never ceases to amaze me! Coastal, let’s love each other. And let’s show the world around us what God’s love looks like.