Trust and Give (2)

1 King 17:7-16

There were three men: a Kharpertsi, a Marashtsi, and an Aintabtsi.
They were out to have lunch together. They decided to eat in an outdoor café. They sat down and ordered soup. Soon three flies came cruising overhead and looked down at those delicious bowls of soup. They all dived bombed down. Each one landed in one of the guy’s soup. So the very proper Kharpertsi took his silver spoon, carefully dipped the fly out of the soup, onto a napkin, folded it, and put it aside.
The Marashtsi grabbed the whole bowl of the soup and went whoof! and blowed the fly out of the soup. Half the soup went out of the bowl and all over the place, but he solved his problem.
The Aintabtsi carefully reached into the soup, picked up the little fly by its wings and said, “I paid for that. Spit it out. All of it.”

God does not work with us this way. He does not force us to be good stewards. God does not want our favors. He does not need our leftovers. God wants to have a relationship with us. He is a God of communication. We tithe and give, because it is a matter of trust and witness to God.

Today I will finish my three sermons by these last four points about stewardship.
I have taken these four ideas from the famous preacher Rev. David Jeremiah. These are the four T’s of which we should be good stewards.

1- TRUTH: The spread of Truth. As stewards of God we are responsible for the truth.
We read in the I Thessalonians 2:4 “…we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.”

God entrusted us the gospel. As if, God gave you a full house of food. You were entrusted to distribute whatever was given to you. We have responsibility of the gospel message to be distributed- the truth is Jesus Christ and his message. We are entrusted with the gospel.

2- TIME: We are stewards of our time. Time is precious and given by God. We say in Armenian as written by Paul, “Zhamanage dzakhou arek.”

“…making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
“We don’t have time.” We keep hearing this. “Badveli, we are in AMERICA.”
Let me tell you about America. Even the ECONOMIST, a secular magazine, is writing about the western lifestyle. The cover of the January 5th issue is : Happiness (and how to measure it). The articles talk about the first world lifestyle, in one word, about us.
Let me quote some sentences: “doing well is not enough: we also want to do better than our peers. This status anxiety runs deep” (p. 34).
“Some fortunate people also found deep satisfaction from losing themselves in their work.” (p. 35).
There is nothing wrong in loving your work; there is nothing wrong in having a good job. But it is dangerous when you “lose yourself in your work.” What a pitiful lifestyle. What are you doing? Ask yourself. What am I doing with my time?
We read in Matthew 12:35, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” If you put good in your heart, good will come out. Whatever you deposit, you will eventually get.

How can you put good in your heart? How much time you give to “good”? I cannot find good without God. In order to understand and know more about God, we need time, time with God.

Why not try to change things in your life. Try to tithe your time to God.

3- TALENT: We are stewards of our talents.

We read in 1st Peter 4:10:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
I wonder if you know your gifts. You need to know what your gifts are.
Find out your gifts. Read Romans 12 and 1st Corinthians 12. In those chapters, Paul mentions many gifts. Some of you have the gift of mercy, administration, giving, helping … Find out your gift.
Now some of you have the “gift” of criticism. You know Jesus told the parable of talents. One person buried the talent. Please do like that person. The only talent that I will ask you not to invest in, is the gift of criticism.
“Faithfully administering God’s grace,” means our talents should be used for the glory of God and not ourselves.

4. TREASURE: Invest in the Kingdom.
We read in I Corinthians 16:1-2
“Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
a- Give periodically. What do I mean? “On the first day of the week...” According to Paul, it is important that the church members learn to give periodically. Do not postpone. I train myself to be disciplined in giving. Whenever I receive something, I put aside my tenth. I cannot continue if the tenth is not given to God. Beginning of the week, end, middle, whatever is convenient to you, just learn to give periodically.
b- Each person is responsible. I spoke about it last Sunday. “Each of YOU.” says the word of God. I said this last Sunday, train yourself and your each person in your family to learn to tithe and give to God. Each person is responsible for their life.
c- Give proportionally: “each set aside a sum of money…” We spoke about this.
I will end my sermons with three cases:
Case number one: Once a person came to me in Ainjar and said: “I like to donate my land to the church.” I thanked him. I was wondering why.
“Once Sister Hedvig came to my shop in Beirut and bought some china,” he said. “My two children were there. I asked her if I could send them for one month to the Ainjar boarding school. She accepted. They went and came back after one month. They were different kids. Their behavior was changed. They prayed; they ate anything we gave them; they made their beds; they were polite. I said to my wife, ‘Someday,I would like to donate something to the Ainjar ministry.’ This was 35 years ago. Now I am keeping my promise.”
Case number 2: Once a young man came to me and said, “Here is a young man, a graduate of Haigazian University. He is computer engineer. His business is doing well. He decided to donate $400 to a church.” When he was giving me the cash I told him, “Thank you, but I am more interested in his attendance to church.” He came next Saturday night when Knel Tourian was speaking. Since that day, he did not leave the church. He is one of the leaders of the church and his business is in great shape.
Case number 3: The Ainjar church was being remodeled. We needed every penny for the project. Three kids from the church decided to sell some of their toys. They put on sale their toys and anything they could find. They raised $200.
There are more stories of trusting and giving to God.
You need to act. This is matter of taking action and doing it. Invest in Kingdom Jones. Ask yourself am I robbing God? Am I trusting God and obeying in giving myself to His Kingdom?
The answer is with you


Rev. Nerses Balabanian,
Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, San Francisco