New Hope Notes
Making Your Mark Through Stewardship
Making Your Mark
Pastor Joe Sangl
This is part of the ongoing series Making Your Mark in the area of Stewardship (of money and finance). This is a message for all people in the church, from all walks of life, all walks of social status, and all walks of financial status, including the poor and wealthy. No matter where you are in your financial journey, no matter how much you have achieved financially or how much you have notachieved financially, you will continue to face and have a lifetime of financial challenges. It never goes away. When you are struggling financially, you pray to just have some stability in your life--to have just a little extra. And then God gives you a little extra, and you find that it comes with its own individual problems. And then you move from stability to another phase, and that could be called surplus, where you have more than enough. But you discover that sometimes when God chooses to bless you with surplus, then you start adopting a spirit of fear--you have it and now you don't want to lose it--and that can cause you to be filled with greed or selfishness.
And so it is important to learn and understand the different aspects of financial management. It's called stewardship--a church word about money and how we honor the Owner of all of it. God owns it all. Stewardship is our management of everything He has placed in our hands and reflects how much we love and honor our Savior for what He has given us. And today in this message about stewardship, there are four principles from God's Word that will be helpful to you no matter where you are in your financial journey.
Principle # 1. There must be a PLAN.
Accordingly, the Bible says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” (Prov. 21:5)
What is profit? In personal finance, it's money left over or money you are able to save or invest. If you want to have extra in your life, if you want to live in a spirit of surplus, you must have a plan. It's a principle found throughout God's Word. You will not wander your way to excellent stewardship of what the Lord has placed in your hand. When you are preparing a financial plan or budget, the first thing is to seek God's will for your life. You ask Him, "What do you want me to do with my one and only life?" Go before the Lord in a quiet space and ask Him what He wants you to do with the next phase of your life. With pen and paper write down what the Lord speaks to you. And then as you prepare the financial plan, ask Him what He wants you to do with the resources He is placing in your hands. And then in that plan ensure that God is put in there first. Does God want to be first or last in your life? Does God want to be first or last in your finances?
If you did a word search in the Bible for the words "first fruits", in the NIV edition 2011, the phrase is mentioned 32 times; in the King James version, 30 times; and in the ESV edition 33 times. In the three editions combined, the words "last fruits" is mentioned 0 (zero) times! So if you prepare a financial plan and it does not have God first, you are rejecting His Word at face value. If you want to have the blessing of the Lord upon your life and upon your plan, He must be first in all areas of your life, including the financial resources He's placed in your hands.
And as you prepare your plan, ask these questions: If you were audited against God's word, would you be convicted and found guilty of honoring the Lord? Would someone who looks at your financial records say this person honored the Lord with their finances?
Principle #2. There is no HARVEST if you do not INVEST.
The Bible says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Cor. 9:6)
If you sow sparingly, you can expect a sparse harvest. If you sow generously, you'll reap a generous harvest. But there is no harvest if you do not invest! Investing is important in two avenues. First, as Paul shares in 2 Corinthians, he's talking about giving to God's kingdom work; he views this as an investment. If you want to make your mark with stewardship, invest in His kingdom work. There is no greater investment than to invest in life change. Many of you have invested in a future and a hope at New Hope Church, and you are going to see an abundant harvest because of that. You're investing in people meeting Jesus, in individuals struggling with addiction, in people with all sorts of life problems, and human beings with all types of sin. You are investing in them being able to navigate this life, to meet Jesus, to draw closer to the Lord, and to change this world around us for the better. Is there any greater investment?
Secondly, in stewardship it is also important to invest in financial instruments or investments. If you want to fund your miracles, if you want to fund dreams, you must put seed in the ground. You need to have financial investments. Since the Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21) when you give to God's kingdom work, your heart will transfer with it. You don't have to invest in all of them but you could invest in land or houses, mutual funds and stocks, or you can invest in a small business. In the Bible, mention is made of owning (investing) land: “For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them and brought the money from the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35).
If you want to be able to fund the crazy dreams that the Lord is putting in your heart, start investing at some level. Invest in God's kingdom work by putting Him first and sowing financial investments. It will position you for the crazy miracle. Choose to sacrifice and invest in the ground. God may be calling you to fund dreams and miracles within your life and through the lives of others. But there is no harvest if you do not invest. You can't give very much when you're broke.
Principle #3. You reap what you SOW.
As the Bible says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7)
Any person who's ever planted any seed knows this to be true. You don't plant green bean seeds and sprout tomatoes. And you don't sprout zucchinis from corn seeds. This principle also applies to making your mark in the area of stewardship and finances. Plant the good seed (financial resources) the Lord has placed in your hands. Sow wise financial investments. Invest in God's work. If you put in the time, energy, and effort in these things, you can expect to reap an abundant financial and spiritual harvest.
Principle #4. A harvest takes TIME.
The Bible reminds, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
This is perhaps the hardest principle to learn but there's a Biblical reason why a harvest takes time. Who determines what the proper time is? God. He determines the proper time and that is so important. If you invested one-hundred dollars this week and had one-million dollars out of it the next week, it would train wreck your life! Why? Because there's a process. There's a proper time. And the proper time is where the Lord will work in your heart. More money does not change who you are. It only amplifies who you are right now. In many people who became wealthy overnight, it just amplified who they were.
So here is the challenge for you. As you want to prosper, seek God and ask Him what He wants you to do with your one and only life. Prepare a plan that honors Him first. Sow the good seeds so that you can reap a harvest. And allow the course of time to take place. If you employ these Biblical principles, you will make a mark not only in your life but also in the lives of those around you, and even those whom you will never meet on this side of heaven. And when you get to heaven, you will realize the life change and the impact you have had through investing in God's kingdom work.
1. What does God want you to do with your life on Earth?
2. What does God want you to do with the financial resources He has placed in your hands?
3. How are you investing in God's kingdom work?
4. What are you sowing financially?