Rooted in LIFE- (Stewardship- Intro)                       Jan 25th 2015

Text: Col 1: 1-14

Just before they left to the U.S.A, with a future already set in their hearts, that afternoon he called me to wind up some transactions before their journey the next week. He sat across the table and carefully went through the figures as he wrote the cheques to give to the church. As I sat to think, once in a while glancing at him, I wondered how he was feeling about the imminent departure of his wife who was dying of cancer, and yet how he sat with a solid composure to write these cheques faithfully. His face revealed a peace within that I have admired for a very long time.  As he wrote the various cheques, it was clear that this was not a desperate last minute transaction with God as though in exchange of this gift God would restore or change the circumstances they were going through, but on the contrary these gifts were given as faithfully as they had always done before. In addition to their tithe, he wrote another cheque for the construction of the baptisteries almost to say thank you for the life of his wife Judy. He then also gave what was raised at her farewell service from the sale of the tribute publications of Judy Niemeyer.

We continue with our series as we introduce our theme this year of Rooted in LIFE. As we begin the year, From the background of the book of Colossians, We are asking the question “Lord what would you have me be this year?”. On the first week God taught us in the area of our relationship with him, that we need to be in touch with Him. The corruption of truth in these last days must desperately draw us to be in Touch with God.  So we began our 21 days of prayer and fasting as we seek to be in touch with him more. We have reflected on what would the Lord have me do more, do less or do without this year to be in touch with Him more.

Last week we asked “Lord what would you have me be in the area of my Relationships? In these hard and difficult times, the strength of any meaningful relationship lies only in the Lord. Only the Love of God can sustain any relationship. We as believers are called to be there with this LOVE for others. We also audited our relationships in light of the Colossian prayer, as we ask what I will do more, do less or do without to be there for Kingdom relationships. Community is not a side issue but a central issue to our faith, so do not take lightly your call to belong to a small group. We want everyone to belong to a life group where we are deeply rooted together. It is easier to pull out a single plant from it’s roots than a bush of plants. Our faith anchors deeper and stronger in community.

Today we look at the area of stewardship. Lord what would you have me be in this area. Again we turn to the introductory prayers of Paul for the Colossian church in Col 1:1-14, as we also consider what economic background this early church existed.

Picking from the social background we looked at last week, we saw that it was not an easy background to practice LOVE given the cultural and social differences; this was surely a work of God. This difficulty was also true in the economic world which can be described in summary by 2 words scarcity and lack. The driving force of any economy. There are many ways to look at Scarcity and Lack- demand and supply, Rich and Poor, the haves and the have nots.

Cities grow as they develop commercial centres that provide jobs for their residents as they go about these two concepts Scarcity and Lack. The ancient city of Colossae was built on a major trade route in the Roman province of Asia Minor which is modern-day Turkey. There the Colossians manufactured a beautiful dark red wool cloth (colossinum) for which the city became famous. But Colossae’s importance as a business center diminished significantly around 100 B.C. when the neighboring city of Laodicea was founded as an active and commercially aggressive competitor. The two towns among others were destroyed by earthquakes in 17 A.D. about 44 years before this letter was written (in the reign of Tiberius) and again in 60 A.D about (in the reign of Nero). Rebuilt after each earthquake, Colossae never regained its early prominence for a long time.

Scarcity and Lack was a major part of the reason for the rise of the Colossian Heresy that focused on human philosophies and traditions and denying the person and work of Jesus. What you believed mattered as to how it affected your economy. Atypical street would have numerous businesses that also had houses at the back, ranging from food, metal wares, fabric, spices and other wares. There were street and temple banks as well as toll stations earning from taxes and interest’s charges. Most businesses would close at dawn for fear of insecurity at night. There was no room for laziness, you either worked, or sold yourself as a slave or stole or beg. The turn to many and any gods was also a way to find help to deal with the economic pressure.

At the core of the Colossian Heresy, seemed to suggest that if there is such a ‘god’ who can help us, then that god is me. Believing in self to solve our own problems. This led to the secularism materialism that further degraded the society. The phrase everyone for himself was the order of the day. Selfishness and carelessness was the result. Those who had spent it carelessly and those who did not have selfishly and the end goal is ‘all for me’ and what about me?. The question is, is it any different today, Did scarcity and Lack go away, How did the early church beat this Scarcity and lack effect.

The Gospel brought in a different economy. Where work was seen as burdensome and forceful, Christianity taught faithfulness and diligence as unto the Lord. Where slaves and masters, workers and owners had oppressive and steal from each other business relationships, Christianity taught harder work and diligence to the slave and Rightful pay and treatment to the Masters both called to be faithful unto the Lord. Where the world was taught to hold tightly to what you have, Christianity taught Give generously without grumbling. The picture in Acts 2:42 give us an idea. They overcame the difficult economy by the power of generous living.  But what brought about this perspective Verse 5

The Gospel has a liberating power from the material grip of Scarcity and lack of this world by prioritizing on the immaterial and abundant blessings stored up in heaven for us. It is January, you can tell not by looking at the calendar but looking at the Faces of Kenyans. A face of hopelessness. There is a canal sense in which what is in our bank accounts determines our demeanor. Is seems that Families fight more about finances than any other thing. Jesus put it this way “where your treasure is, your heart also is”.

Paul here speaks of a ‘bank account’ of Hope and Inheritance of the saints that determined how we live here on earth. They had a real understanding of this Hope that came from the glorious inheritance through Christ. Because of this their hands were easily loosened to the material as they pursued the immaterial. Their labour was no longer as unto man but as unto the Lord. They were freed from Poverty mentality and now like Paul, He lived in Hope and Rich Mentality found in Christ. Christ has truly become our portion and greatest reward.

In Verse 10:-12 of that prayer: Through scarcity and lack, Your Knowledge of God will empower you with great endurance and patience, and you will live joyfully and overflowing with thanksgiving to the God who has qualified us for this inheritance of the saints.

So he prays for the Colossian Church just as he prayed for the Ephesian church. Listen to how he puts this same prayer in Ephesians 1:17-18. Keep your eyes on things above not below, Have you seen, understood and appreciated what’s in your account (God’s riches at Christ Expense)

As I shared earlier, this prayer takes us away from our earthly perspective, to God’s perspective, where all that we need and are looking for are found in Knowing Christ and through God’s grace and not self help or becoming beasts of burden working hard but not enjoying the work. The mistake we make is to think riches, the way we think riches here on earth. Riches here is not necessarily money and good material things. Riches are God’s very best for you….Himself. In Him we are amply supplied and sustained, both spiritually, physically and all round. Though we eat Ugali and Skuma, God’s riches fills us with gratefulness and joy over that meal, than when eating pizza with no appetite and no laughter. We will be talking more about this in February as we consider our sufficiency in Christ.

But Let me address the Core issue, The power of the gospel translates into generous living and faithful service. As we say from Ps 24:1, I want to change the sentence All that we are and all that we have has been given to us by God, for our enjoyment and for the extension of his kingdom’ and instead say that All that we are and have has been given to us by God for the extension of His Kingdom and therein find our enjoyment. Another way to put it is seek First His kingdom and his righteousness and al these things will be added unto you. This is Kingdom Perspective to all we have.

Have you considered that God blessed you with a house, possibly to free your rent for His Kingdom, not to buy an additional TV screen or Phone, God has blessed you with a car to afford you more time to do more for his Kingdom and not sleep more, or entertain yourself more, God has blessed your farm so that you can be a blessing to others and not to build bigger storage. We don’t Just posses or claim things, However much we do, God does not grant us if the goal is for self and not for His Kingdom.

As we set out this year to be Rooted in LIFE, We ask Lord what would you have me be in this area of Stewardship? God calls you to be faithful. Faithful to Give, Faithful to serve for LIFE. The area of Stewardship is a big slap on many Christians today. We can speak of what we believe, we can relate with believers, but this is where faith meets the road. Our view of stewardship clearly reveals who is at the center. God or self. How we handle Money is an indication of Lordship.

Only the Gospel has the power to unleash biblical Generosity and Giving.

  • Biblical Giving is not just philanthropy and a good thing to do like Mike Sonko, It is not a transaction it is transformation. We don’t give because we have much, we give because we are obedient to God,
  • We don’t look for market tricks to increase our incomes, but we invite people to participate in the work of God,
  • Biblical Giving is not to avoid taxes or benefit popularity like CSR, it is a commitment to the Gospel and it’s propagation,
  • Biblical Giving is not just to meet the needs of an organization, but it is part of surrender to God that strengthens our relationship with God through the church.
  • Biblical Giving is not solicited by persuasive, Hype, intense techniques as a sales man but by inviting people as partners and investors in the Kingdom.
  • Biblical Giving is not followed up by pressure to meet again and again to make the deficit or making it difficult for people to say No, instead Biblical giving is followed by Gratitude and thanks for present and past gifts, by updates on progress and prayer needs, and it also cares for the givers as well.
  • Biblical Giving is not accountable to an organization or people but to God who is the most generous giver.
  • The success of Biblical giving does not depend on the asker (how influential they ask) but according to God’s will
  • Other giving results to earthly applause which is temporal but Biblical giving result to spiritual blessing and transformation of lives.

Allow me to share six truths about giving and serving that I borrow from a very great website Generousgiving.org

  1. Giving is a heart issue: Clearly giving releases resources, while resources liberated through acts of generosity are a blessing, they are literally a byproduct of the transformational power of generosity within the giver’s heart. As we move closer to God and become rooted in Him, it becomes easier to see that the things in which we invest our time, energy and money are the things that matter most to us. They are the things that often stand in our way to be rooted. Giving is not only an indication of where your heart is, but also the means to move your heart towards God’s generous heart, expanding your heart to hold all the blessings God has for you.
  2. Giving starts with God: God is the ultimate model for giving. God’s grace has blessed us with goods, skills and opportunities to generate what we need in our lives, but the highest level of giving that is beyond comprehension is when God gave his son, whose LIFE has brought us closer to him in Salvation. Our giving is not only an appreciation of the gift of salvation but also the power that enables us to give.
  3. God owns it all: We are all but managers of what God has given. How does our perspective change when managing our money when we understand that it really is not ours, our assets, wealth…all of it belongs to God. We have just been entrusted to use them. Our money is never ours to spend as we choose but God’s to spend as He directs.
  4. Seek First the Kingdom of God: Because God has promised to take care of you, he frees us from worry and self insecurity to seek Kingdom matters with our resources. The big question is do you trust that He will take care of you. Money is often the answer to our big fear in trusting God. The main competitor for Lordship for many is money.
  5. Heaven not earth is my Home: Larry and Judy could only give not just because of their sunset circumstances but on the contrary, because they give to eternal investments that will matter for eternity. They will meet many in heaven who were baptized in this baptistery we will construct. How many will get to heaven because of your giving.
  6. Giving brings Joy: Enjoyment does not come in holding and selfishly hoarding and keeping for yourself, but in giving. We experience Joy when we give but more so when we align ourselves with God’s will.

As we conclude, we are asking Lord, What would you have me be? He says to you be faithful. What will you do more, do less or do without to be faithful with what God has given you this year.

What do you see this year at Lifespring Syokimau, I see a worshipping community, passionately expressing their love to God through lives given in service and faithfulness to God. I see a deeply rooted in Christ Community that is strong in their faith, I see a richly supplied ministry flowing as a blessing to many, I see people drawn to hear the gospel from Syokimau and beyond, Not just in number but in hunger. I see us being that place offering nothing but the spring of LIFE that does not run dry. I see spacious and beautiful environment where this LIFE is hosted, a building that speaks of the riches in Christ, Equipment tuned and sufficient for singing a clearer and a louder hallelujah, I see us sending and receiving missionaries and church planters a people walking not in scarcity and lack but in the abundant riches of God’s glorious inheritance for the saints

This is the Kingdom, God is calling you to invest in here at Lifespring Syokimau. Don’t just give to Projects or events, give to transformation of lives. Give beyond these four walls, Give to Lives. As a team, we have prayerfully considered this call and over the next weeks we invite you to journey together as an entire church, youth adults and children, in our families and small groups not just to give but to grow in our giving.  This coming week  we ask you as a family to commit to spend at least 30 minutes together in prayer and study preferable in the evening as you consider how you can grow in this grace of giving. As a family, with children and spouse, we have provided a guide that will help you process what you can consider as your family monthly giving this year. Let this be a discussion that even the children participate. Ask what can we do more, do less, do without this year so that we can grow in this? What are we daring God to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel and his church? Do not just be quick to settle on an amount, But prayerfully learn and listen to what the Lord would say to you as an individual or a family. Do not miss out on the lessons and what God would speak to you. I challenge the men to take this priestly duty to lead the family before the Lord.

Let’s pray.

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