A.The Book of Acts takes up the story of Christianity where the Gospels leave off. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit came in a unique way, and the apostles moved forward dynamically and daringly to tell the story of the risen Christ.
B. Of course, the Book of Acts tells only a few of the many wonderful events that must have occurred.
1. The Holy Spirit led Luke to record the visit of Peter and John to the temple, where they healed the man who had been lame from birth.
2. How strange Peter's words must have sounded when he said, "Silver and gold have I none;" but how exciting Peter's deed when he took the man by the right hand, lifted him up, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, healed him.
3. A double miracle occurred that day!
4. The man learned to walk and leap at the very moment he was healed.
C. A great stewardship lesson is present in this story. We are to do "what we can with what we have where we are for Jesus' sake today" and never wait for a greater opportunity nor for a time when we have greater abilities and resources.
II. Money isn't everything
A.Too often when we speak of stewardship, we think of money.
1. How thrilling to see a story where money is not set forth as the most important thing.
2. In fact, Peter even came close to minimizing it. He said plainly, "Silver and gold have I none" and then proceeded to work the miracle.
B. Does the time ever come in the life of a church or a religious organization that money can actually be a stumbling stone?
1. Illustration. Thomas Aquinas, an outstanding religious leader of another generation, once visited the pope and was shown all the treasures of the Roman Church. The pope said to Thomas, "Well, Thomas, no longer can the hurch say, 'Silver and gold have I none.'" Thomas replied, "Yes, Holy Father, but have you ever thought that the church is in danger of also not being able to say, 'In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk?'"
III. But money is important
A. The preceding paragraph is true, but something else is true also. It takes money—cold, hard cash—to carry on God's work in today's world.
B. God's Word says much about the stewardship of possessions, the giving of money. In his Second Letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul devoted two chapters—8 and 9—to the matter of giving.
1. He said, "Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in alldiligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also" (2 Cor. 8:7).
2. He pointed out that our supreme example in |giving is the Lord Jesus Christ who, though rich, became poor in order that through His poverty we might become rich.
C. God has given to some people the ability to make "big money."
1. Their duty is to set aside an even larger part of that money to the work of the gospel.
a. In Old Testament days, the tenth was the minimum.
b. Certainly a Christian would not want to give1any less to the spread of the Christian faith than the Old Testament Jew gave for his faith.
c. In fact, counting all of the special offerings and supplementary tithes, the Old Testamentsaint was commanded to give far more than a tithe.
IV. What do you have?
A.What we have to offer God in service
1. A generation ago the emphasis was on "talents and abilities," but today we speak of "gifts".
2. There may be a fine distinction between the two, but we are not interested in that distinction at this moment. Rather, the question comes to all of us, "What do 1 have to offer my Lord?"
3. Another question follows closely, "Am I willing to give myself—including my talents, abilities, and gifts—to be used any way that God sees fit?"
4. Illustration. When General Pershing landed in France with the American Expedition Force in World War I, he presented himself and his army to General Foch, Commander of the Allied Forces, and said, "Our men, our equipment, our resources, all that we have are yours. Use them as you see fit."
a. God is certainly waiting to hear every Christian say, in essence, the same thing.
b. Stewardship is giving "such as we have" to our Master unreservedly for use in the service of His kingdom.
A. Everyone who believes in Christ and is dedicated to Him actually has great possessions.
1. They are, however, spiritual resources.
2. He should find his greatest joy in sharing with others the gospel by lip and by life.
3. This, however, does not relieve him from the responsibility of supporting God's work financially.
B. A true believer in Christ should be a liberal person with large sympathies and great compassion.
1. We cannot evade our responsibility in financial things by rationalizing that we are "spiritual" and, therefore, are not required to bring financial gifts.
2. In the Old Testament, even the Levites gave tithes of the tithes.
3. On the other hand, giving money does not release us from the duty of serving in other ways. Stewardship involves both finances and lifestyle.
4. It is not a case of "either/or in relationship to stewardship.
a. We are obligated to the "both/and" principle,
b. Time, talent, tithe, influence—all that we have belongs to God.