God Owns Everything, and I Own Nothing

Rob Green October 30, 2016 Psalms 24:

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#1: God owns everything; you own nothing.

#2: God has entrusted you with everything you have.

#3: You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; He wants you to increase it.

#4: Some day you will give an account of your stewardship, and it may be today.

Ephesians 5:18-21 - And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Colossians 3:16-17 - Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God…

3 ways that God Owns Everything should impact how we think and live

I. See Everything as a Tool for God’s Glory because He Owns It Anyway (vv. 1-2)

A. God owns everything means that God owns everything (v. 1)

1. The earth belongs to the Lord (v. 1a)

2. The contents of the earth belong to the Lord (v. 1b)

3. The people on the earth belong to the Lord (v. 1c)

“The single toughest prayer I personally prayed was acknowledging Robin belonged to God, I was merely a steward.  I remember that prayer the first time, the words struggled to come out of my mouth.  I was in my workshop and it was painful.  I also asked God to give me the strength to handle the situation gracefully, however it turned out.”

B. God owns everything because He is the Creator (v. 2)

II. Develop the Right Character and Heart Toward the Lord (vv. 3-6)

Psalm 24:3 - Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy Place?

A. Be a person whose actions are blameless (v. 4a)

“For the first time in my life a major trial was given to me that working harder, working more, etc. I had zero ability to fix.  We had to seek help and being an introverted, self-sufficient family was no longer an option.”

B. Be a person whose motivations are pure (v. 4a)

C. Be a person who is faithful to God (v. 4b)

D. Be a person who keeps their promises (v. 4c)

E. Be a person who has confidence that God will reward you at the right time (v. 5)

III. Look Forward to the Coming of Jesus: The King of Glory (vv. 7-10)

A. He is the Lord (vv. 8, 10)

B. He is returning (v. 7, 9)

C. He is strong and mighty (v.8)

Revelation 19:11-16 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

“Financial stewardship was front and center.  Immediately we started to change spending habits.  Our pride was a stumbling block and had to be smashed.  The church and many people have helped us financially including gas cards and food cards.  The costs went well beyond just the medical bills and started to take a toll.  We learned to accept help (even ask a couple times).  Being a good steward of our own fitness, emotions, stress, and the list goes on, is incredibly important to be able to deal with the stresses that start to pile on.”

Outlined Manuscript

Each year, our church spends 4 weeks talking about stewardship.

  • Stewardship is a concept that includes all areas of life … one’s health, one’s mind, one’s gifts, one’s abilities, one’s money, one’s family, one’s time, and one’s possessions.
  • With such a broad subject we have found plenty of things about stewardship from God’s word for the last 40 years worth of sermons, if not longer.
  • These 4 weeks are affectionately called “stewardship month.”

Especially if this is your first year of being a part of Faith it is helpful to know that stewardship month has four main characteristics:

  1. We preach 4 sermons on some aspect of stewardship.
  2. We ask people from our congregation to share testimonies of how the Lord has worked in their lives. Our point is not to glorify these individuals, but to share how God is working and to give the Lord glory for all he has done.
    1. We want to demonstrate that stewardship is not a pie in the sky concept. Stewardship is an every day issue.
    2. Wasn’t it great to hear from Rich and Leslie? They had so much more to say. Invite them to dinner and hear the amazing work of God in their lives.
  3. We conclude stewardship month with a celebration of all that God has done among us in the previous year.
    1. I want to encourage you to put the celebration on your calendar and get tickets.
    2. If you are still trying to figure out if you want to be a member at Faith, please attend. It will give you a wonderful picture of the ministry in 90 minutes.
  4. We ask you to prayerfully consider how God wants you to grow in your own stewardship in the coming year. In other words, stewardship month is designed to help you make commitments.
    1. Highlight the stewardship brochure in the program

For those who have been around a while you know that our church teaches that there are four basic principles to stewardship. We ask everyone in our church to know these principles.

#1. God Owns Everything and I Own Nothing

#2. God Entrusts me with Everything I have

#3. I can either increase or decrease what God has given me. He wants me to increase it

#4. God can call me into account at any time

This is a biblical theology of the concept of stewardship. We decided that it would be best this year to use our four sermons to explain more fully each of these four principles. So today is about God Owns Everything and I Own Nothing.

With that in mind, I invite you to turn to Psalm 24. That is on page ____ of the front section in the Bible in the chair in front of you. The book of Psalms is almost exactly in the middle of your Bible.

As you are turning there, let me explain 2 facts about the Psalms that will help us understand what we are reading.

  1. The Psalms do not always tell you the circumstances in which they were written. That is the case with Psalm 24. It says it is a Psalm of David.
    1. Without a specific background we are free to see this as a psalm of life. This is the stuff that life is made of. Frankly, the Psalms are full of conversations about real life issues (blessings, difficulties, discouragement, celebration … it is all there)
  2. The Psalms were meant to teach and to encourage. They were not emotional outbursts for the sake of an outburst.
    1. They were congregational songs that helped one another understand who God is and how to relate to him properly.
    2. They are emotive, but they are also cognitive and they direct decisions. In other words, they impact the whole person … what we feel, what we think, and what we decide. That is why the NT will later record

Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God

With that in mind, let’s read Psalm 24

Psalm 24 offers praise to God. While offering praise, as is common in the Psalms, there is an inherent set of responsibilities on the part of the worshippers. The people are to rejoice because the King of Glory is coming but connected to that praise is a series of truths that God’s people are to apply.

In fact, I want to suggest to you that the opening verses (vv. 1-2) set the tone for every verse in Psalm 24. In that sense, Psalm 24 serves as a treatise on what our first stewardship principle means -- God Owns Everything and I Own Nothing.

With our time this morning I would like us to consider 3 ways that God Owns Everything should impact how we think and live.

I. See everything as a tool for God’s glory because he owns it anyway (vv. 1-2)

The king of glory is coming. Praise the Lord. Warren Wiersbe connects Psalm 24 to the second coming of Jesus (more on that in a few minutes). If Jesus is returning, he is returning to claim that which he already owns.

Yet, I think there is a tendency in the human heart to have sacred spaces. They are spaces designed for self-worship.

  • For some, it finds its roots in their finances. They do not save or spend with the mindset that every dollar screams out the glory of someone … either God or me. They don’t even want to think like that because if they did conviction would come.
  • For some, it finds its roots in certain possessions. They are prized, protected, off-limits, and come near them and you will face wrath. In the wonderful book the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevincie children learn that the professor’s historical artifacts are not to be touched.
  • For others, it finds its roots in their time management. They own their time and as a result they do as little as possible what others want or what others might need and they use as much of it as possible for themselves.
    • So service opportunities like Children’s ministries, LN, CFE either get no time or as little time as possible.

A later Psalm explains the danger of these sacred spaces … it calls them idols. Please keep your finger in Psalm 24 and turn to Psalm 115:1-8 (notice the right response vv. 9-11).

  • Idols are deaf, dumb, blind, and incapable of meaningful relationship (can’t feel, can’t touch)
  • But all those who have an idol become like the idol. These sacred spaces make us deaf, dumb, blind, and incapable of meaningful relationship.
  • Instead, God’s people were to trust in the Lord because he is their help and their shield.

Seeing everything as a tool for God’s glory releases us from the bondage of being controlled by the things of this world.

  • Our sacred spaces of self-worship are actually prisons we built with our own minds, locked ourselves in those prisons, and convinced ourselves that we cannot leave.

Psalm 24 stands in sharp contrast to these sacred spaces of self-worship and the resulting prisons. Notice how this point flows from the text.

  1. God Owns Everything means that God Owns everything (v. 1)

That sounds silly doesn’t it? and yet, isn’t that one of our problems? I will speak about me for a minute … I know that God owns everything. I get it. I can write it on a test. I can even find a passage like Psalm 24 to prove it.

I have no problem living or applying the first phrase of v1.

  1. The Earth Belongs to the Lord (v. 1a)

I make no claims on owning the earth. At this point, I think I am fairly reasonable about how I treat the earth. It is God’s planet and I make no claims of ownership. I doubt you do either.

But the second half of v. 1 is another story.

  1. The contents of the earth belong to the Lord (v. 1b)

Now the focus changes just a bit. I make no claims about what is parked in your driveway, or the place you call home, or what is located in the house you live in. but when it comes to my house and my car and my stuff it is easy to say this is mine.

Here is just one simple story to prove it … I had a brush pile at the back of our property that I cut up and use to have little fires and make smores. Three weeks ago, someone set my brush pile on fire in the middle of the night. Praise God Joe woke up and told me so we became instant firefighters as flames were shooting 7 feet in the air.

  • My first thought was to get the fire under control before it caught a few trees on fire. After all, I did not want the fire to spread and burn down my neighbor’s house.
  • My second thought was, “What flemwad set my brush pile on fire?” After all, it my brush pile.
    • I was not out there with a hose at 1 am thinking “Lord, how can I best steward this fire” … maybe I should have seen this as the Lord giving me a golden opportunity to enjoy some unexpected father-son time cooking some brats at 1 am using the Lord’s brush pileJ.

Isn’t it so easy to think that my stuff is actually MY stuff? Whether we are talking about a brush pile, a retirement account, a lamp, a dresser, a car, or a home. It is so easy to view these things as “mine” “I own them” “I don’t want anybody messing with my stuff.”

Yet, here is what remembering that God owns everything does … it frees you from all the energy it takes to protect your stuff.

I was teaching in Seattle last month and my hosts drove us near the place Bill Gates lives.

  • They told me that Bill Gates has his own security force including military grade weaponry to protect his home and family.
  • I thought how sad. He built his own prison … a nice prison … but a prison nevertheless.

Well God’s ownership not only extends to the earth and to the contents of the earth but also

  1. The people on the earth belong to the Lord (v. 1c)

The Davies did a great job of sharing their testimony. Isn’t that one of the highlights of stewardship month? To hear how the Lord is working in another family’s life.

I was struck by Rich’s words … “The single toughest prayer I personally prayed was acknowledging Robin belonged to God, I was merely a steward.  I remember that prayer the first time, the words struggled to come out of my mouth.  I was in my workshop and it was painful.  I also asked God to give me the strength to handle the situation gracefully, however it turned out.”

Can you relate to that? As a dad, these words struck my own heart. I know my children belong to God. I get it. Give me the written test. But when something happens that threatens the life of your child, you are forced to live it. You are forced to acknowledge that the little life is not yours to control. It is yours to steward.

Even you … you are not your own. You were bought with a price and therefore glorify God with your body. You belong to God. God has the right to change or to direct your path at his calling.

Every career is dependent on forces you cannot control.

  • Some like farmers, landscapers, construction workers are dependent on weather.
  • Others like ministry professionals are dependent on the ministry being fruitful and sacrificial giving of those impacted by the ministry.
  • Others like engineers are dependent on the manufacturing the make the products they design and both are dependent on someone buying those products.
  • If we are not careful, we spend our time in worry and fear that what we cannot control will not happen.

God owns all of that. He owns you. He owns your intellect. He owns the land. He owns the business you work for. He owns it all.

Friends, acknowledging that God owns everything (including me) and I own nothing immediately requires action. It requires me acting like God owns it all and I just steward whatever he gives me.

  • I hold everything with an open hand
  • I see everything as a tool to bring glory to God
  • I fight the urge to see anything as my own.
  1. God Owns Everything because he is the Creator (v. 2)

God is the owner of everything because God is the creator. He owns all the patents on the earth. He owns the design patents. He owns the manufacturing process patents. He owns the patents on lions, tigers, bears, worms, fish, and people. God owns it all because he is the creator.

The fact that God owns everything and I own nothing helps me

  1. See everything (possessions, people, time, intellect, money) as a tool for his glory
  2. By freeing me from the bondage of my self-made prisons (prisons that are designed to protect everything that is “mine.”

I would also like us to see that God Own Everything and I Own nothing also encourage me to …

II. Develop the Right Character and Heart Toward the Lord (vv. 3-6)

Have you ever noticed that the more stuff you have the more time it takes to manage it? When I am freed from the bondage of possessions, time, money, and people that gives me the time I need to focus on my character and my heart.

Ultimately, the Lord is the one who changes the heart, not man. But God expects us to work out our salvation, he expects us to work because God is working in us, he expects us to do good works because he designed us to do them, and he designed us to take responsibility for our own growth even though we are dependent on him.

Verse 3 of the Psalm immediately takes me to that location:

Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy Place?

The psalmist makes a connection between God owning everything and what God wants his people to be like.

  1. Be a person whose actions are blameless (v. 4a)

The text uses the phrase “clean hands.”

  • The ones who confess that God owns everything also seek to be blameless in what they do before the Lord.

We are to have clean hands before the Lord. It is possible to look like you have clean hands before other people, but the Lord knows.

  • The Psalmist draws our attention to the fact that if God owns everything then we should be people who are blameless in the presence of the creator God.
  • The truth of God’s ownership gives me immediate practical value.

I think Rich and Leslie spoke to this point as well. “For the first time in my life a major trial was given to me that working harder, working more, etcetera I had zero ability to fix.  We had to seek help and being an introverted self-sufficient family was no longer an option.”

Their young daughter was fighting cancer. Who was really going to say to Rich that you are being an introverted self-sufficient family and you have to give that up? But Rich and Leslie understood that this was a God issue. This was a character issue. They handled that issue before the Lord. Most of us would never have known this was a struggle if they had not shared it.

That is why the next point is so crucial …

  1. Be a person whose motivations are pure (v. 4a)

A pure heart is another reference to God and it speaks of motivations. We have all struggled at times with our motives. Maybe we do the right thing, but we hate it in our heart.

The Lord reminds us that those who stand in the holy place are those whose hands are clean and whose hearts are pure.

Give the gospel here….

It may be that some you are struggling with God owning everything.

  • It may be that as you think about your own life you don’t have very clean hands and you don’t have a pure heart either.
  • Maybe that is because you have never surrendered to Jesus.
    • You have not surrendered to what he says about you (that you are sinner worthy of an eternal hell).
    • You have not surrendered to the fact that you cannot earn your way to heaven (you think that if you just do enough good God will be obligated to accept you).
    • You have not surrendered to the reality that placing your faith in the D/B/R of Jesus is your only hope of salvation (you think it cannot be that simple).
      • Friends, you can do that today. In the quietness of your own heart … you can admit to God what he already knows.
      • You can drop the burdens that you have been carrying. You can see your need for Christ.

Christian friend, if you are struggling with God owning everything then maybe the problem is that your hands are not very clean and your heart not very pure in your actions. God wants you to confess and he promised that he will forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

The text continues …

  1. Be a person who is faithful to God (v. 4b)

This portion of the text can be a bit confusing. But the idea is those who stand in the holy place are those who are faithful to the Lord and to his truth as opposed to devoting themselves to things of lesser value.

The Lord requires unconditional devotion. That is one reason that Jesus taught that his disciples must take up their cross daily and follow him.

  • The terms “cross” and “daily” did not go well together because you only went to the cross once. It was a picture of self denial.
  1. Be a person who keeps their promises (v. 4c)

This can be a struggle for some. Has anyone made a commitment to you and then reniged on their commitment?

  • Some reasons are certainly better than others, but regardless you were depending on the person to do what they said.
  • Now that they are choosing not to keep their commitment you have to deal with the mess.

Can I suggest that this text implies that you keep your commitments even to your own harm?

  • A commitment might be inconvenient. It might be a challenge to fulfill. But once you make that commitment you have the task of fulfilling it.
  • Since God wants you to be this kind of person he can give you the strength to accomplish your commitment.

I mentioned earlier that one of the four emphases in stewardship month is the importance of making commitments.

  • On the brochure there are commitments related to your spiritual walk with Christ, your service, using your gifts and abilities, and your finances. In many ways the stewardship commitment card is the practical application of Psalm 24:3-6.
  • We are asking that you prayerfully consider how the Lord wants you to improve your stewardship over the next 12 months and then make that commitment.

Now that the Lord has freed us from our own prisons and now that the Lord reminds us that he owns everything anyway we can focus on our commitments before him.

  1. Be a person who has confidence that God will reward you at the right time (v. 5)

Blessing is what you need for life. Righteousness is what you need for eternal life. God is the giver of both.

  • Therefore, be confident that God will keep his promises to reward those who seek him diligently.

Verse 6 provides a summary of vv. 3-5. The only way one comes is by the work of God in their life bringing about clean hands and a pure heart.

I think it is important that we make a connection that occurs in Psalm 24.

  • The confession that God owns everything, including us, requires that we live a life ordered by the sovereignty of God on whom our life depends. That means, in part, that we focus our energy on our own character.

The final part of the Psalm turns its attention to the King of Glory. Some scholars believe that this reference shows that the Psalm was used to celebrate the coming of the Ark of the Covenant into the tabernacle and later the temple. Surly that is possible.

  • However, it may be that David was more concerned about the coming of the King of Glory himself and not simply a representation of his presence.

When you realize that God Owns everything and you own nothing you see everything as tool for his glory, you develop the right character and right heart before the Lord, and  …

III. Look Forward to the Coming of Jesus: The King of Glory (vv. 7-10)

The final portion of the Psalm emphasizes the coming of the King of Glory. There are three truths explained about the King of Glory.

  1. He is the Lord (vv. 8, 10)

This is ultimately describing King Jesus. Warren Wiersbe uses this part of the Psalm to discuss the future rule and reign of Jesus Christ.

  • While there may have been a symbol for that coming in the form of the ark or some other event, the ultimate picture is one of Christ as the king.

The second truth is not surprising …

  1. He is returning (v. 7, 9)

We live between the two advents of Christ.

  • He came the first time to give his life.
  • He will come the second time to rule. Even in the midst of the chaos of our time and culture we know there is a coming kingdom where everything will be made right.

The King of Glory, Jesus, will come to bring his people to himself.

Finally,

  1. He is strong and mighty (v.8)

The King of Glory … King Jesus … will return and when he does he is coming strong and powerful. Humility and Shame were reserved for his first coming. The second coming occurs with power.

Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16     And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

If this is the King of Glory, then we have much to look forward to.

Stewardship is a life concept. It applies to everything. In Rich’s testimony he said, “Financial stewardship was front and center.  Immediately we started to change spending habits.  Our pride was a stumbling block and had to be smashed.  The church and many people have helped us financially including gas cards and food cards.  The costs went well beyond just the medical bills and started to take a toll.  We learned to accept help (even ask a couple times).  Being a good steward of our own fitness, emotions, stress and the list goes on is incredibly important to be able to deal with the stresses that start to pile on.”

He is saying it is a life thing … money, attitude, fitness, emotions, stress and the list goes on. Rich is right about that.

Today, Psalm 24 helped us see that God really owns everything.

  • He owns stuff and he owns the people. He owns us, and he owns the ones we love.
    • That is a truth that frees us from the bondage of ownership.
    • It allows us to see everything as tool for God’s glory.
  • It also allows us to put our energies and efforts into developing the right character and heart before the Lord.
    • In order to have clean hands and a pure heart we need the Lord to work in our life.
    • We have confidence that the Lord will reward those who diligently seek him.
  • Finally, God owning everything allow reminds us to look forward to the coming of the King of Glory.
    • He is strong and mighty and one day he is coming to claim all that is his.
    • The first time he came as a baby in humility. The second time he comes as the captain of his unstoppable army coming for his people.

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.