February 8, 2015     Psalm 50:7 – 15   Ownership


  A scientist approached God and said, “Listen, we’ve decided we no longer need you. Nowadays, we can clone people, transplant hearts and do all kinds of things that were once considered miraculous.”  God patiently heard him out, and then said, “All right. To see whether or not you still need me, why don’t we have a man making contest?”   “Okay, great!” the scientist said. “Now we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam,” God said.    “That’s fine,” replied the scientist, and bent to scoop up a handful of dirt.  “Whoa,” God said, shaking his head. “Not so fast, pal. You make your own dirt.  

    I just want us to re think this whole thing of ownership today.   This is an introduction to giving.   I am thinking about another message on giving.   I am not here to beat you up folks but let us grow in our relationship to Jesus.  Some pastors will not preach on giving so that they do not offend people.   Well one pastor said so you would rather offend God.   Jesus spoke a lot on giving and possessions.  I think that most of us know that God owns everything as the passage read for us so clearly states.  Ownership is interesting to think about and it should have a whole different meaning for Christians.  Ownership can be complicated sometimes.  Many Christians do not really think or consider that God owns all things.

      In the Old Testament possessions typically went to the sons and one family in the OT only had daughters and they got special permission to have land.     The land given in Joshua was supposed to stay in the tribes.   If someone was poor he could sell land but in the year of jubilee all land went back to the original tribe and family.   I think ownership has taken a new meaning in these days.    China, Japan and other countries are buying up a lot of America.  BAE formerly Sanders was sold to England.  They own the land and buildings but cannot have any of the technology.  When I worked there BAE was making over 100 million a year EBIT and all that money goes to England now and all the secrets and technology stay in America.   

    I remember from time to time going down to the Hooksett fire department to get a burn permit.   To get a burn permit you are supposed to be the owner of the land.   Once or twice I would get a new guy and he would labor with the thought of me not owning the land.   In a sense God owns the land and the church.   I do not own this place.   In fact in our constitution we have a clause that states should this church cease to exist the sale of the property would go to Maranatha Conference which is part of the association of churches that we are in.   I believe this church is over 150 years old.   When I came to this church I saw some material that would indicate that it was over 125 years old when I came.  It would be impossible to give back to those that build and started this church.   We say this is our church and it is in a way and in a way it is God’s church.  It is God’s people certainly not my people but yet my people and my church like it is for you.

      Who owns large corporations that have over 100,000 employees?    Some corporations have hundreds of thousands of owners.  These corporations have employee retirement plans that employees can buy company stock.   Corporations are supposed to work to bring profit to their stock holders.     Some folks think they own their car house and etc. who in reality really don’t.  The bank owns it.     Some of them owe so much that if everything they owned was sold there would not be any money left over.   In a way they live in a dream world.    Some folks owe more on a car then the car is worth but they think they own it.  

    We should often ask our self what we own.  What do you own?  Are your kids yours or do they really belong to God.  Some of us are thinking well at times this week I wish God had them.  Probably most of us know that we do not own our spouse.   Each of us has a mind of our own.   Some married folks want to own or control their spouse.   Christians know it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and changes our spouse.  It is not up to us.  Do you own your checking account?   Does God own you check book?  Who is the owner?

      If you are like me when I go shopping I do not think that I am spending God’s money.  When I eat I sometimes I think that I am putting that food in God’s body.    Our mind belongs to God.    We need to be thinking about what we put in our or rather God’s mind.   The regional superintendant said he read 45 books last year and challenged us to shut the TV off and do some reading.   That is a good point.  God has allowed me to make decisions about these things but in reality I am a steward of those things.  The reality is that God owns everything.  It is his mind, his body, his money and I am a steward of it.  It is his family that I am a steward of.   The reality is that we were made - created by God.  That means we are his.

     But also as Christians we were bought with a price. God created us and Jesus bought us back from sin and death on the cross.  We were made by Him and purchased back by him through Jesus death on the cross.  God paid a great price to redeem you.   So the question comes how are you doing with God’s stuff?    Jesus makes a very interesting comment and asks an interesting question in Luke 16:10 – 12.   Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.    So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?   I believe the true riches have to do with spiritual things.   And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?    What can God entrust us with? 

       We need to do an honest evaluation of our lives when it comes to possessions and money.  We should ask ourselves what we have that is a luxury is and what are necessities?   Do we have to have new cars?    Do we have to have the latest in computers or cell phones?   Materialism is a war.   We are constantly bombarded with advertisement encouraging us to buy that new car or buy this or that which is supposed to make our life better in some way.     Are you willing to wage war on materialism?   Ecclesiastes 5:10 God tells us that whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.   This too is meaningless.  

     Several Americans were asked by the Barna research group how much more they needed to live a comfortable life style and they said about 8 to 11K more but when they got that then they still needed another 8 to 11K.   When is enough, enough?   When do we say I do not want any more and give the rest away?   When do we trust God for our retirement?   Possessions can take you away from serving Jesus.  I could own a 4 wheeler, a snowmobile, and a camp but I do not have time for that.   I stopped hunting many years ago because of taking time to do it.   I have not fished for years.  All of us make decisions like that.  We want the main things to be the main things.    By the way after April it is free for me to fish and hunt in New Hampshire.   Age has some benefits. 

      Several years ago at a conference John Maxwell told the story of a congressman who took his son to McDonald’s. The father bought his son a Coke and a large order of fries and they went and sat down at one of those table not built big enough for people to sit in. The father took a drink of his Coke and reached over to get a fry from his son, and his son put his hands around the fries and pulled them back.   The father said, “That’s okay, son.” But as he sat there he started thinking to himself,  “Doesn’t my son realize I’m the one who gave him those fries in the first place?    Doesn’t he realize I can take those fries away from him any time I want?    Doesn’t he realize I can go up to the counter and I’ve got enough money I can buy all the fries I want? I can tell the people at the counter ‘Go out there and bury my son in French fries.’ 
Doesn’t my son realize I don’t need any of his fries?   I can go get my own.  Doesn’t he realize all I wanted to do was share a couple of fries with him?”  And then the congressman said it hit him: his son was simply acting like he’d been acting with God.  I suspect at times we can frustrate or anger God by being stingy and not thinking about and realizing all of His resources that God has blessed us with.    

     How does God see our offering money?   How does God look at our tithe?   Leviticus 27:30 a tithe of everything from the land whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees belongs to the Lord it is holy to the Lord.   Your gift to God is holy to him.  Tithing is a holy act.  How we live our life is our spiritual worship.  Giving is a spiritual act of worship.  Jesus stated in Luke 12 watch out!   Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  I Chronicles 29 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.   Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.    Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.   Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.    In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.   Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.   Psalm 24 the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.  It is all God’s.   Christians see this world as belonging to God.   Genesis 1:1 in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Our resources come from God.   His resources are unlimited.  

       There was a single mother who had heard a Biblical financial teacher say, “Quit looking at your job as the source of your income.   Look at your job as one avenue and one channel.   The Source, El Shaddai, has many ways to stretch and to bring finances into your life.   Begin to teach your children to look to their heavenly Father as their Source, not the just the parents.”   Her little daughter, one day told her that she wanted a bike, like all the other children.   Her mother, at first was about to reply, “Honey, momma does not have extra money,” because this was her typical response. However, she remembered what the teacher said in the seminar, so she told her daughter, "Let’s ask the Lord for a bike".

      They prayed together and thanked God for hearing their prayer.   A few days later, the little girl received a check in the mail, payable to her personally.   On the way to town to cash the check, they noticed a man placing a bicycle out by the side of the road.   The mother stopped the car and asked the man what he was going to do with that bike.   The man replied that his daughter had quickly outgrown the use of it and he was going to sell it.   The girl asked the man how much he wanted and he replied, “For you, $25.00.” which was exactly the amount of the check she received in the mail!”  The girl grew up not remembering a mother who worked hard to buy a bike, but thankful for a mother who taught her about her Heavenly Father, who cared about an eight years old’s need.   What a great lesson to learn at a young age.   She had plenty to give thanks to God for.   That is why we thank God for our food.   It comes from him.  Since God graciously gives us food we take some time to acknowledge his blessing upon us. 

      At one time at the City Temple in London, there was (in the congregation) a restaurant owner named Emil Mettler, who was a close friend of Albert Schweitzer and a kind of agent for Schweitzer in Britain.   Mettler would never allow a Christian worker to pay for a meal in his restaurant but once he did happen to open his cash register in the presence of the Secretary of the London Missionary Society. The Secretary was astonished to see among the bills and coins a six-inch nail. What was it doing there?   Mettler explained, "I keep this nail with my money to remind me of the price that Christ paid for my salvation and of what I owe Him in return."