WORSHIP WITH US!
8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
tlcppines@gmail.com


Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Friday, September 30, 2011


SUNDAY SERMON                       
 MATTHEW 21 33 46                     OCT 2 2011

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom”

While Jesus may have been speaking to the chief Priests and Pharisees, Matthew, whose Gospel we heard from this morning, was likely inviting a new audience to hear these words and take them to heart; To let its warning echo not in the minds of the Jewish religious elite, but rather in the minds of Christians, especially their leaders, who might become complacent as followers of Jesus.

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom”

 A dire warning indeed. Could these same words have Jesus speaking to us? Holding us accountable?

And all of us may fall into the routine of complacency, segmenting our lives into pieces, God’s stuff and our stuff, the holy and the common. We run the risk of allowing ourselves to do the holy calculus whose answer, we hope, gives God enough, produces the minimum required harvest of fruit to keep God happy so we can get on with our lives. We all run the risk of complacency and figuring out how much we owe God to keep God happy and our conscience less of a nag, happy to sleep away the days and eave us alone.

The issue is not one of works righteousness– of doing enough for God so that God will relent, forgive and gift us with grace. There is a temptation to read the story and the Gospel of Matthew that way. But let us, as we stand firm in our understanding of grace as God’s free gift in Christ Jesus, never to be earned or deserved or its deliverance to us assisted by our own actions; let us open the whole of our lives to the honest words of Jesus:

 Are we producing the fruit of the Kingdom? What are we doing with what God has entrusted to us?

 Are we producing the fruit of the Kingdom? What are we doing with what God has entrusted to us?

And let’s take the necessary step as we consider all that God has entrusted to us, of examining the most difficult of the three things that perhaps our parents told us we should never talk about in polite company: you know that list, don’t you? Politics, sex and money.

The most difficult: so which is it? Which one do congregations and pastors make unspoken and unwritten contracts about? Pastor, if you never talk about this subject we will never ask you to. Which is the most difficult? Shout it out now.

 Money. It has got to be money. Politics might get us fired up and all shouty. Sex might make us squirm and blush, but money – that will shut us right down. Which is probably why the Bible spends so much more time talking about money than sex or politics. So if we want to talk about discipleship we have to center that conversation in Scripture and if we center ourselves in scripture we have to face the Bible’s and Jesus’ concern about what we do with it.

 And before we go forward I invite you to take all of the baggage you may have accumulated from countless TV preachers and congregational pastors who have presented an uninformed, distorted or possibly self-serving view of the Gospel on this subject. We tune in those TV preachers, you know the ones that I am talking about, they want your money and parade person after person in front of the camera who give testimony that they gave all they had to this TV preacher and the very next day they won the Sweepstakes or got a job or received some previously unknown inheritance from a distant uncle. People watch this and they think: All the church cares about is money money money. And those TV preachers and a few misinformed pastors give folks the excuse to shut themselves down any time money comes up in conversation from the pulpit. Well, the scriptures do not give that permission, so let’s all lay our baggage aside and see what happens – being a Christian is risky business after all.

Diving into the gospel, we have these tenants who make a contract to lease the vineyard from the landowner. The deal goes something like this – we will work your vineyard and make your wine and give you a fixed amount based upon the harvest as our lease payment. It’s a win-win. If the tenants produce well, both the owner of the vineyard and the tenants succeed. But these particular tenants fancy themselves shrewd business people. They want it all. When the owner sends people to collect his share of the wine, the rent if you will, the tenants harass them, hurt them and even kill them. And they do this to two different groups. Then they see the landowner’s son coming. They figure that the landowner must be dead since it is his son and not the man himself, so they figure if they murder the son they can just take it all –squatter’s rights, who’s to know? And that is exactly what they do. Murder the son. But before they get to uncork the cork on the champagne to celebrate their ingenuity they find out that the joke is on them, so to speak, because the landowner is not dead and he is coming to hold them accountable for all that they did. They weren’t satisfied in being tenants, they wanted it all. They wanted the owner’s property to be their property.

Years ago when we were having a congregational conversation on being good stewards of what God has entrusted to us, a man came up to me and said: “Pastor, I don’t know what you are talking about being a steward of what God has entrusted to me.” It’s not God’s stuff, it is my stuff. I worked. I earned it. It’s mine.”

It’s not God’s stuff, it is my stuff. I worked. I earned it. It’s mine.

If we want to produce fruit for the Kingdom through the stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us we must first be willing to acknowledge that what we have is God’s. From God for us to steward. To care for. To use in appropriate ways to honor and glorify God. It doesn’t matter what our income is, our bottom line, our net worth, great or meager. Al we have comes from God and we are call to be accountable to God for what we do with God’s resources.

There is this cool moment in the Old Testament, in 1st Chronicles, King David of Israel is coming to the end of his time and the Kingdom is passing to his son, Solomon. He charges Solomon to build the Temple for the Lord. And because his son Solomon is young and inexperienced, David collects up all that will be needed, the building materials and supplies. And then David says this:

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you….O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.

For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you….O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.

All that we have comes from God and God has entrusted all of it for us to stewards, to care for, to use in appropriate ways to honor and glorify God. To produce that good fruit for the Kingdom. The workers in today’s parable found that this trust only got in the way of personal profit and sought ways to make it all their own.

 Is all that we have God’s or is it ours?

If we fail to answer that question to ourselves today we may find ourselves answering it before God some day and giving account of how we lived our answer. Will it be written in the Kingdom fruit that we have produced, the lives our resources have impacted, the way that we have used our means to upbuild the Kingdom through every relationship, every action, every act of generosity knowing and living with the understanding that all we have comes from God? Or will we offer to God, some different story, written with other goals in mind?

Amen.



No comments: