Stewardship of Our Treasure

Dr. Steve Viars November 1, 2020 Genesis 14
Outline

Stewardship – God-given responsibility with accountability

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

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

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today

Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

3 characteristics of faith that handles blessings well

I. Godly Faith Is Courageous

A. Taking God at His word

Genesis 12:2-3 - And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

B. Overcoming earlier failures

C. Without being sidetracked by past offenses or petty revenge

II. Godly Faith Is Reverent

A. A pattern in Abraham’s life

Genesis 12:7 - The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.

Genesis 12:8 - Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.

Genesis 13:4 - …to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Genesis 13:18 - Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

B. Received a blessing from this unusual priest

Psalm 110:4 - The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 6:19-20 - This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

C. Worshipped by giving a tenth of his spoils

Genesis 28:22 - This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.

III. Godly Faith Is Reliable

- in his bestselling book Good to Great, author Jim Collins discusses the principle of the window and the mirror…

- the idea is that, when something bad happens in an organization, effective leaders look in the mirror – in other words, taking as much personal responsibility for the problem as possible…

- and on the other hand, if something positive happens, they look out the window…looking for an opportunity to give as much credit to others as they can…

- another way of saying this is – when blessings or success comes…you can tell a lot about a person if he or she looks for opportunities to thank, commend, and praise others…

- one interesting way we see that play out in the world of sports is when an NFL quarterback gives lavish gifts to his offensive linemen…

- so for example, Aaron Rogers gave each of his linemen specially designed Off-Road Sports Vehicles……these are Polaris Generals valued at $20,000 a-piece…

- then there was the year, when Eli Manning played for the NY Giants, that he brought in a professional tailor and had custom fitted jeans made for each of his linemen…his reasoning was that because it was so difficult for people that size to buy clothes, he wanted them to have a nice pair of properly fitting jeans…

- the guy who wrote the article said…considering the fact that Manning was sacked 47 times that year…that he went ahead and gave them anything was pretty generous…

- one of the more thoughtful ones was from Seattle quarterback Russel Wilson – he bought each of his 13 linemen $12,000 in Amazon stock, a gift that cost him $156,000.

- he told them, “When I sat down to think of ways to honor your dedication, a dozen ideas come to mind. Some were flashy, some were cool, but I wanted to give you something that had a lasting impact. Something that would affect the lives of you, your family, and your children. You have invested in my life…this is my investment into yours.”

- there is an interesting example of that in one of the more unusual chapters in the Word of God…Abram’s incredible victory in the battle of the kings…and we read about that in the book of Genesis chapter 14…and I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to that great passage this morning…

- and I realize you might say – I thought this was stewardship month…it is, and what we’re going to see today is because of the way Abram, the man who would be renamed Abraham a few chapters later responded to this unbelievable military achievement and the plunder involved, he becomes a great example of Stewardship of Our Treasure

- we are in the middle of our church’s annual stewardship month…our baseline definition for all of this is that…Stewardship – God-given responsibility with accountability.

- another important aspect of this discussion is memorizing the…

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

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

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today.

- one point we try to make over and over each year is that stewardship is about much more than money…it involves any area of life in which we have been entrusted with something…like our minds, the Bible, our families, our work, our serving opportunities, the gospel…etc.…

- but on the other hand…our treasure/money is one part of that equation…which is why Jesus spoke about this area quite often in His public ministry…

- folks from our church know that I generally speak on this topic once a year…because Scripture instructs me to teach the whole counsel of God…and if I didn’t speak from time to time on what the Word of God says about our finances, I would be…no pun intended…short-changing our church family…

- well, today happens to be that day…but as far as I know, I’ve never addressed the subject from Genesis 14 before…

- now, we have to have a bit of background for all of this to make sense…

- and I should probably just preface all of this with – I realize we have some folks either in attendance at our service or joining us on-line who are brand new to studying the Bible…

- so let me try to put your mind at ease…the basic story here and its attendant applications are very easy for everyone to understand…you’ll have no problem getting this…

- on the other hand…there are a lot of names and places in this passage that sound fairly unusual…please don’t let that intimidate you in any way…because it really is a great story…

- OK – now let’s thread our way up to Genesis 14…

- Genesis chapters 1-11 forms an essential unit comprised of 4 major events…so if I asked you right now to close your eyes and summarize the first 11 chapters into 4 events….what would you say?...

- here they are – Creation, Fall, Flood, Tower of Babel…

- so there’s no question that when you reach the end of Genesis 11…the sinfulness of man has been on clear and repeated display…

- that’s when we turn the page to Genesis 12 and find one of the most important chapters in the Bible…

- read Genesis 12:1-9

- it’s important to see that the word LORD in your Bible is in all capital letters…that means it’s the Hebrew word Yahweh, or Jehovah…the self-existent Creator of the universe who makes covenants with man and is powerful enough to keep them…

- it’s also helpful to read what the NT says about this…

- Hebrews 11:8–10 - By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

- Abraham’s faithful trust of Jehovah was one of the ways he could be a blessing to all the families of the earth…God was making His glorious name known through the faithful life of one of His choice servants…

- and of course all of this was ultimately pointing to the coming of the choicest of servants, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose perfect faithfulness would qualify Him to die on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for all of our covenant violations…

- regrettably the rest of chapter 12 tells about a lapse in Abraham’s faith…where he took his family to Egypt during a famine and then even lied about the identity of his wife Sarai, saying she was his sister…

- but then things get back on track in chapter 13---read 13:1-4

- the next verses explain that there was a dispute between his herdsmen, and Lot’s, because there was not enough grazing land…

- so Abraham told Lot to choose the best land and said he would take the remainder…

- it would have more gracious if Lot would have said – no, you’re older and the leader of the family—you should choose first…but that’s not the kind of man Lot was…

- and that’s one of the primary purposes of these chapters…to showcase the beauty of a faithful life like Abraham’s against the backdrop of many people just living for themselves or their false gods…

- so Scripture tells us that Lot selected the well-watered plain including the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah..verses 12-13 tell us – Read Genesis 13:12-13…

- that understanding sets up an epic battle…and now its time to strap in…but trust me, you can get this…but just to be sure, let me give us 2 hints to understanding this chapter…

- first, you’re about to meet 10 kings, all of whom have very unusual sounding names…but they form 2 coalitions [2 teams]…here’s the groups…

- Eastern Coalition – Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim,

- Western Coalition - Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar)

- 2 of those names ought to really stand out – Sodom and Gomorrah…that’s where Lot took his family and his possessions, even though they were known for their wickedness…they are part of the western coalition…

- now, if you’re paying really careful attention, you might say – wait a minute – that’s only nine, you said we could meet 10, you’re cheating us…let’s just be patient…the 10th one is a surprise to everyone involved…

- here’s hint #2 - since a picture is worth 1000 words, this map explains what’s about to happen…

- here’s a one sentence summary of everything we’re about to read – one group of kings attacks another group of kings, and they take plunder from the battle including Lot and his family and all their possessions, and Abraham risks his life and treasure to go and rescues him…

- read Genesis 14:1 – that’s our Eastern Coalition…

- read Genesis 14:2-4 – that’s our Western Coalition – and since the guys from the east beat the guys from the west, the guys from the west had to serve them and pay tribute for 12 years…it would be just like the Patriots beating the Colts for 12 years…but what happened in the 13th year? [the kings from the west rebelled – Tom Brady was traded if you follow football]…

- read Genesis 14:5-7 – and I realize you might say – PV, you’re losing me – please just look at your map…the kings from the NE are coming down and conquering as they go…destroying cities, taking animals, people, material possessions as they go…

- so now the kings from the west have to decide what the are going to do…and amazingly they say – we’re going to fight them…look what happens…read Genesis 14:8-12

- what does that mean?...the western kings got beat, again – and remember, that’s the place Lot, Abraham’s nephew, had decided to take his family and possessions to Sodom…

- now what happens?...read Genesis 14:13-16

- friends, that is one of the most understated passages in all the Word of God – this was an epic victory by a very small group of courageous people that would have solidified God’s name in what would eventually become the Promised land…

- please always remember – when God makes promises to people, He always has the power to keep them…and He stands ready to help his people carry out their respective roles in the fulfillment of those promises…

- now I realize you might say – I thought we were talking about the stewardship of treasure?...oh, we are…because now what does Abraham have a whole lot of?...treasure…

- so what happens next?...read Genesis 14:17 – we already know that guy – that’s whose kingdom Lot was living in…they’re the ones who had been defeated…so Abraham rescued that guy’s family and possessions too…

- but now it’s time to meet our 10th king…read Genesis 14:18

- you might say – who was he?...no one really knows – he’s one of the most mysterious figures in the Bible although he will be mentioned over 1000 years later in Psalm 110 and several more times over 2000 years later in the book of Hebrews…

- but we know at least this – he’s both a king and a priest of God Most High….

- but listen to what Melchizedek says and does…read Genesis 14:19-20a…

- so he brings out bread and wine, and we don’t know if that would have been for the entire army of exhausted soldiers…or just for the leaders…but in front of this wicked king of Sodom, Melchizedek has a worship service…where Abraham’s God is praised for His power and deliverance…

- so right there in what would eventually be the promised land – the Abrahamic covenant is already being fulfilled…

- and please tell me what Abraham does next…read Genesis 14:20b

- Abraham took 10% of the spoils and gave them to this priest of God…the first clear evidence of the principle of tithing on the part of God’s people a full 700 years before it would be formally codified in Mosaic law…

- now look what happens next…read Genesis 14:21…that was an incredibly rude demand…the king of Sodom was certainly in now position to be making any demands…and look at the order of what he says – he places what he wants before mentioning what Abraham should receive….

- but listen to Abraham – read Genesis 14:22…how is the way Abraham described God different than the way Melchizedek did back in verses 19-20?...Abraham adds the name Jehovah…a name Melchizedek or the king of Sodom may have never heard before…and then he says…read Genesis 14:23-24

- let me repeat the one sentence summary in case anyone got lost in the details - one group of kings attacks another group of kings, and they take plunder from the battle including Lot and his family and all their possessions, and Abraham risks his life and treasure to go and rescues him…

- let’s think back through this story and find 3 characteristics of faith that handles blessings well.

- how is Abraham and his family different than everyone else in the story?...

I. Godly Faith is Courageous

- Abraham would have been very familiar with the geopolitical events that were transpiring between these nations…he knew who was strong and who was weak…

- who was paying tribute to whom…who was rebelling…who was being defeated in battle…

- but here’s what it came down to…

A. Taking God at His Word.

- what was it that God had promised?...

- Genesis 12:2–3 - And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

- some people just read the Word of God…or listen to it casually…but never really act on it…

- Abraham put himself in a position where this is only going to work out if God is who He says He is…

- that’s why Hebrews 11 begins with these words… Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

- can I ask you this am – as you consider the various aspects of stewardship this month, is there evidence of you taking God at His Word?...of being courageous with what He has entrusted to you because you are choosing to believe what He has promised to you?...

- what about the starting place – coming to a definite point where you admit your sin and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?...it’s as simple as John 3:16 – For God so loved the world…[develop]

- now I realize you might say – but I have failed at the issue of faithfulness in the past…that may be where the 2nd half of Genesis 12 fits into all of this…

B. Overcoming earlier failures

- it’s almost like the Abraham of Genesis 12 – the man who told his wife to lie and say she was his sister…and the Abraham of Genesis 14 who rounds up 318 of his men along with some other friends and goes after some of the most powerful kings in the entire region…are two entirely different people…

- but isn’t that the point?...over time your faith can grow…

- failure in the past does not guarantee failure in the future…if God is anything, He’s the God of the second chance…and third and fourth if necessary…

C. Without being sidetracked by past offenses or petty revenge

- why was Lot in the situation he was in?...because of the selfish, sinful choices he had made…

- it could have been very easy for Abraham to say – he’s getting what he had coming to him…I’m not going to risk my life and my treasure to help someone out of his own stupidity…

- that’s not the way faithful people think…or act…

- why?...because there was a much larger mission here…the glory of God’s name could be put on display….

- one of the many characteristics of our church that I have always appreciated has been our God-given courage…

- remember the stewardship parable of Matthew 25 – what was consistent in the first 2 faithful stewards…they took the talents that had been entrusted to them…and remember, they immediately went and traded them…

- they exercised appropriate risk…courageously taking God at His Word…

- [if time – develop the way the Goodes and the Smith’s launched the counseling ministry, or Pastor Goode’s leadership of us starting the LN…]

- [could also develop a recent conversation with someone whose church is thinking about launching a residential program for people coming out of addictions…at some point you have to pull the trigger…Abraham didn’t have endless time to do yet another feasibility study here…]

- [could also develop why this is another reason we want to try to have the Stewardship Celebration if at all possible…because of the courage involved in designing out 5-year ministry plan and committing ourselves to the 3-year capital campaign…]

II. Godly Faith is Reverent

- you could back up and ask the question – how do chapters like this advance the story of the book of Genesis?...

- and we’re not near done with Lot and everything that eventually happens to Sodom and Gomorrah and his unfortunate family…

- it’s a contrast – which then poses the question to people like you and me…which one of these two men do you want to be like?...which family do you prefer?...what trajectory is your life on?...are you like Abraham, or are you like Lot?...

- and one key point of contrast is Abraham’s reverence…

A. A pattern in Abraham’s life

  • · Genesis 12:7 - The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.
  • · Genesis 12:8 - Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.
  • · Genesis 13:4 - to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
  • · Genesis 13:18 - Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

B. Received a blessing from this unusual priest

- as we said, there is so much we don’t know about Melchizedek…

- but there’s no question about this – his priesthood was pointing directly to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

- King David said as much in the great Messianic Psalm 110 - Psalm 110:4 - The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

- the writer of Hebrews mentions him repeatedly -- Hebrews 6:19–20 - This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

- the old-timers among us remember a great hymn based on those verses…

- if you’d like an extra credit assignment – take some time to study Hebrews 7 this week which develops this subject in far greater detail than we have time for this am…

- but here’s the point – when it came time for a marvelous priest/king to praise God for the supernatural impact He could have on someone’s life…he didn’t have to look any further than the courageous and reverent faith of Abraham…

- and the question for each of us would be – would our reverence for the things of God be reason for others to praise and glorify Him?...

C. Worshipped by giving a tenth of his spoils.

- this is part of what it means to be a steward of our treasures…

- some people see tithing as a principle instituted in the law of Moses and only to be relevant to OT Jews…

- the challenge with that position is – Genesis 14 pre-dates the time of Moses by 700 years…

- here’s another example where this principle of Tithing comes up…with Abraham’s grandson Jacob…who was on his way to find a wife…and after God met him in the wilderness in Genesis 28…Jacob said…Genesis 28:22 - This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.

- the point is – part of our reverence for God is acknowledging that He is the giver of all good gifts by returning a tenth of our first-fruits to Him…

- God has built that principle into His desire for His people for at least the last 4000 years…

- some people even believe that was the problem with Cain’s offering in Genesis 4…

- you may know that the Hebrew OT was translated into Greek just prior to the time of Christ – that translation is called the Septuagint…it’s important because it helps us understand how Bible students around the time of Christ interpreted God’s Word…

- without a doubt the Septuagint translators believed that Cain’s offering was deficient because of its amount…

- unlike his godly brother Able over whose godly life Cain became jealous…Cain brought a substandard offering because of his irreverent heart…

- humanly speaking, that’s how this church has been built and sustained over our 55 years of existence…

- we don’t say a lot about money…but our people are very generous and faithful with their tithes and offerings…

- so people tithe of their gross income to meet the regular needs of our church ministries…

- Then as we have started new ministries that in some cases receive direct support from our church budget, we ask our church members to consider giving additionally to help us meet those commitments – that’s why there are listed on the back of the offering envelope or on our websites…

- then sometimes we have a capital campaign like the one we are concluding right now…

- and you might say – wow, that requires a lot of people with Abraham like faith – yes it does, and if you’re one of those people, or one of those families…thank you for faithfulness…

- I realize you might be a little concerned about how our church is doing financially during this pandemic…let me put it to you this way – if you had told me at the beginning of the year that we would not be able to go to church at all on-site for several months, and then because of the pandemic, we would have between 50-60% of our regular attendance on-site the rest of the year…and then asked me to project the financial implications of that…

- my answer would have been – that would be catastrophic…we have never faced anything like that…

- I would have assumed we would have to stop supporting missionaries, stop ministries, lay off staff, close buildings…

- by God’s grace – none of those things have happened…

- our giving right now is about 2% lower than it was a year ago…and is on track to be about 3% below by the end of the year…

- but there is no doubt that the pandemic has affected some of our member’s businesses and income…

- we’re not in the same position we would typically be to add new members to replace those who through the course of a year move away, etc.…

- so all things considered, we are very thankful to the Lord, and for our church family…

- as I said – we have never been tested like this before in our 55-year history…and by God’s grace, we have passed the test with flying colors…

- as I’ve also said – while we’re not going to spike the ball early, we are on track to have the NCC paid for and our SMC capital campaign completed successfully by the end of this year…

- if that happens in light of everything else that has occurred in 2020, that will be a milestone we can celebrate for a long, long time…

- the request today would be that you sit down with the appropriate people in the next few weeks and plan your budget for the coming year…including a commitment to generous giving that would constitute growing stewardship…

- decide right now not to be like Lot – but instead to be like godly, reverent Abraham…

III. Godly Faith is Reliable

- the king of Sodom could never say that he had never observed an example of gracious, godly behavior…

- because even though he had spoken very rudely and inappropriately to Abraham…

- Abraham’s response was one he would never forget…

- I’m not just returning your family…I’m returning all of your possessions…

- because I don’t want there to ever be a question about the source of my blessing…

- as he made crystal clear in verse 23 – I worship the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video