WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? STEWARDSHIP SERIES 2018
Part 2: “You’re In Charge of It!” Genesis 41
January 21, 2018
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor
TODAY’S SPECIAL [courtesy of http://www.frankbecker.com]: A crowded Southwest flight was canceled because of a mechanical problem. A single gate agent was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.
Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight.”
The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these people first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”
The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?”
Without hesitating, the attendant smiled and grabbed her public address microphone: “May I have your attention please; may I have your attention please” she began – her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14.”
INTRODUCTION Last week we began a 3 week series entitled, “Stewardship Series 2018”. If you get on our church website [www.fbcearlville.org], you’ll find the original series posted as “Stewardship Series 2011. This year’s abbreviated version is given with the knowledge that, while our church’s finances are “just fine” (according to the studious treasurer), our personal finances might be in need of a little encouragement.
“Stewardship”: according to the dictionary, this term means “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially, the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”. Last week we learned from Psalm 50 that God owns everything – even everything in our “wallet”, I.e., our finances and everything we possess. This week takes us to the next step: While God treasures (no pun intended) His ownership, He delegates the care – or “charge” or “stewardship” of what He owns to…us! Let’s look at stewardship in action through the life of that OT saint, Joseph. PRAYER
There are several key words or phrases in our text which help point us to God’s heart on our “stewardship” of what He entrusts to us:
#1 Qualities of a wise steward
A. He trusts the Lord (41:16). Let’s be careful interpreting verse 14 to meaning that God wants all of His godly men to be clean shaven and wearing a change of clothes all the time! Joseph’s declaration in verse 16 shows that in his giving glory to his heavenly Father, he is showing his unreserved trust in all his Father is doing in his life. Remember his compassionate words to his brothers in 50:19-21. He advised them that all that happened in his life happened under God’s eternal purpose – to save lives (and ultimately, the creation of the nation of Israel!). Joseph trusted God. And if we are to be a wise steward, so should we.
B. He is “discerning and wise” (41:33) While Joseph was recommending to Pharaoh the kind of steward Pharaoh should appoint, he was saying 2 things: #1 I, Joseph am of that character; and #2 the steward is someone who, while recognizing God’s Lordship and Ownership, is also one who recognizes that the Lord has put people in charge of what He has provided. And to be that discerning and wise steward, he must be able to determine what is right and what is not right. Check out Psalm 1 for yourself!
So do you trust the Lord, or are you simply “churchy” in your living? Do you trust the Lord even in your finances? And are you seeking His counsel in the wise and discerning use of what He has wisely placed in your hands?
#2. Pharaoh’s name for Joseph shows…VISION – God’s vision!
It was typical of un-Biblical rulers in Biblical times to give pet names to those who served them. As in Daniel, often the rulers’ purpose was to cause those who served to forget the God the servant worshipped and to put a false trust in the false gods (LITTLE “g”) of their land. Remember, Joseph’s mother, Rachel, gave him the name “Joseph”, which means “God will add” (implying first another son, and then long-range, the nation of Israel).
Notice the name (41:45) that Pharaoh gave to Joseph. Pharaoh’s pet name for Joseph was “Zaphenath-Paneah”. If you are at a loss for names for your future children, here is a good start. Perhaps he called Joseph “Z-P” for short. But what does the name mean? It means “God speaks and He lives”. WHAT? What is Pharaoh saying? He is saying this: every time he looks at Joseph and calls him “Z-P”, he is bowing to the truth that the TRUE God of eternity not only speaks and lives, He speaks and lives through His stewards who are in submission to God’s ownership of all that they own! Pharaoh is thus recognizing the true God’s uniqueness.
So every time someone sees you or me, do they recognize in us that God is speaking through our oversight of what He is entrusting to us? Do they recognize that God is living through us by way of our wise care over what He has placed under our watch? And in the BIG picture of things, that is…VISION!
We have looked at some of the qualities of a godly steward, mainly that he trusts the Lord in all that he does and is; and, that by character he is both discerning and wise. God is on display through the pattern of a godly steward’s life.
And we have seen through Joseph that when the world looks at a godly steward (as seen through the eyes of Pharaoh), the world sees, well, the living God Who through His Spirit and His Word speaks to that steward on a daily moment by moment basis. Wow!
But we must wrap this second message with one more word. Did you notice the description of the word in verse 49? During those 7 years of plenty, Joseph stored up the plenty. How much did he store up? Verse 34 says “a fifth of the harvest”. 20 %! I don’t think that is intended as a legalistic target for our finances. But it is an insight that Joseph was trusting God to enable him – on a national level, mind you! – to put aside 20% of the harvest, unused, for future living.
But the word for the day – and for our eternity! – is found in verse 56. Did you catch it? “When the famine had spread…Joseph opened the storehouses.” When was the last time you read the book of Malachi? What? Not recently? Listen to these amazing words from Malachi 3:10: “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
We will learn more next week about our offerings. AND we will not be legalistic and say that the “storehouse” is the church. But by principle, God is saying through both Joseph and Malachi that the godly steward, the one whom God has wisely set in charge over what God owns, will have a vision for eternity in everything that God allows to come into his stewardship.
In other words, God doesn’t want simply casual overseers of what He already owns. One more time, look at the words we’ve learned today. God wants disciplined, wise, discerning, stewards who not only trust the Lord but who are visible evidences that God is alive and worthy to be trusted today.
Are YOU that one in charge?
close in prayer