Church Life

Stewardship 2022

Make your stewardship commitment.

Stewardship 2022 Resources

Stewardship 2022 Curriculum

Message from Stewardship Committee Chairman, Matt Graves

Dear FPC Family,

We are faced with countless decisions each day. I don’t know about you, but I find it overwhelming at times. By the end of the day, I often find myself thinking if not saying, “I just can’t make another decision. You choose. I’ve had enough. Whatever you think.”

Have you ever taken the time to think about how your brain is really working to make decisions? It is generally accepted that our minds use two “systems” for making decisions. At times, we work through a faster, relatively automatic, energy-conserving process to make a decision: What am I going to eat for breakfast? Which route am I going to take to work? This system is useful in preventing exhaustion and typically provides an adequate answer to the question posed. Other times, our brain works through a slower, more deliberate, energy-depleting process: Should I buy this house? Should we choose chemotherapy or just surveillance? This system is typically reserved for questions with more substantive outcomes.

My challenge to you this stewardship season is to lean in and use the more deliberative approach to make your decisions about giving to FPC Jackson. Try to avoid answering questions like “Am I going to give this week?” Our commitment to praise God with our gifts and service deserves more than that. Dig deep into the Word through this short, proposed curriculum listed below, and let God change you. You can access these resources as well as our daily devotionals for the week of October 31. I encourage you to spend time each week reviewing one of these thoughtful approaches to giving, based not on human opinion but on God’s Word. Let Him fill you with the Holy Spirit through partaking in the teaching of His Word about stewardship. Commit to reflecting on the teachings during prayer as your intimacy with Him grows. Let’s ask Him to change our hearts and then our minds.

I pray that we will dwell in unity as a congregation with our thoughtful approach to stewardship and imagine what God will do with His money that we return to Him more abundantly than ever before.

Sincerely,
Matt Graves
2021 Stewardship Chair

Daily Stewardship Devotions

For the Week of November 1

Monday, November 1, 2021

By Zeb Henson

Leviticus 19:2, 9-10

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy’… 9 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19 isn’t a place most of us turn to meditate on generosity and stewardship; it’s a chapter packed with commands and customs that may seem irrelevant to modern readers. But mixed in with regulations on animal breeding and cross-pollinating sits an important reminder to us about why we’re called to be good stewards and how we’re called to be good stewards of all that God has given us.

First, let’s consider the how. Verses 9 and 10 of Leviticus 19 remind us that God has blessed us with the resources we have so that we can reciprocate that blessing. God, through the words of Moses, commands vineyard and land owners to be intentional in making provisions for the vulnerable and oppressed through the resources He provides for them. In other words, God’s expectation of His people is that they (… and we) should not aim to hold onto every dollar we have for our own material benefits and comfort. Instead, we should use the time and resources God has given us to be active in providing material and spiritual benefits to others. The how is really quite simple: intentionally set aside a portion of your time and a portion of your finances to the care and discipleship of God’s people. Though there are certainly ebbs and flows in the amount of time and resources we have available to us at any given season in life, God’s command is that a portion of both should be intentionally set aside to support His work and His people.

But, second and maybe even more importantly, notice the why. All of the commands and regulations of Leviticus 19 are built upon the foundation of verse 2: We are to be holy (set apart) for God is holy. This means, specifically to our point today, that we are to strive to be a Spirit-filled people who reflect God’s holiness, dimly though it may be at times, through our generosity. If God is generous… if God has a heart for the vulnerable and oppressed … if God, who “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all,” gave us the greatest gift, how can we not also be a generous, giving people (Romans 8:32)? After all, we are praying to be conformed to His image, and this is part of His image! So, why are we called to be generous stewards? Because we are called to be like our giving Father—we are called to look like a member of the family.

Where do we go this morning with a passage like this? If you’re like me, we begin with the realization that we are often tempted to reap the harvest of our finances to the extreme—meaning, instead of considering what our money can do for God’s kingdom, we focus only on what it can do for us and ours. And with a heart of contrition and repentance, we confess that Leviticus 19:9-10 is an area we have failed, and we look to the cross, where “grace is greater than all our sins.” From there, we pray that God would make us holy for He is holy and that He would make us look like Him, overflowing in generosity to His church and to the vulnerable. Then we take the next hard steps of giving.

One final thing to notice: Leviticus 19 is actually a chapter dealing heavily with family relations. In God’s sovereignty, He places this convicting verse right in the middle of family regulations to remind us that generosity and stewardship are parts of family life to which every family member contributes. If you are the primary check-writer and budget-keeper in your household, consider the effect of how you set aside financial resources for generosity on your spouse’s and/or children’s faithfulness to this command. As the budget-keeper in my house, if I don’t give generously, I hinder my family’s ability to be conformed to God’s holy image! Conversely, if you are not the primary check-writer in your family, consider how your spending habits effect the family’s ability to give generously. As a spouse or a child, are you asking or expecting so much that it forces your loved one to glean his or her financial “fields” to the very edges? Perhaps recognizing that we don’t need all the stuff we often use our money for is the first step in developing a Leviticus 19 generosity. May God grant us not only generous individuals, but generous families.

Prayer
Our Lord God, You have given beyond measure in the sacrifice of Your Son for sinners like us; and even on top of that, You have given innumerable material benefits. Forgive us when we confuse these two gifts and prioritize stuff over Christ. And then conform us to Your holy image as a giving God; Lord, though it hurts, make us generous people and generous families for the sake of Your kingdom. Amen.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

By Bo Gregg

Matthew 6:19-21
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In these verses in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking. It is an earlier time and a different place, but His words are divinely aimed at you and me. Jesus asks for our self-reflection: Where is your heart? Where is mine? What are we worshiping?

His goal is unmistakable: He wants our worship! As a part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus, and the God who created all we can see and comprehend, wants us to worship Him.

We can so easily get distracted. It is our nature to worship anything other than God. Jesus’s gentle words here push us toward spiritual and practical protection. One author said about this spiritual protection, “cheerful giving is an open-handed act of worship that puts a hedge around our heart.” The practical side to this gives Christ’s Church the means to carry out the many functions of the church. A contemporary church planter recently wrote, “the mission of the church is accomplished through the gifts to the church.”

But it is truly to God that we are giving. His focus, as always, is on our hearts, our worship. He knows us. After all, He created us. He wants what is best for us. On this point in Malachi 3:10, God issues an amazing dare: “test me on this [God says] … if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

We will never out-give God. I once heard a man much wiser than I say that the offering plate should never pass without putting in something. I admit to not always following his advice, but his point is profound: the passing offering plate is a passing opportunity to worship. Of course, in these strange pandemic days, that offering plate may not actually get passed, but the point is still valid.

We would do well to think of our giving as a soul-stirring act of worship of and to the triune God who gives to us according to His riches. When we grasp the goodness of God, the generosity of God, the staggering love of God, our hearts well-up with giving—joyous giving—back to Him. As we join our thoughts and prayers in this Stewardship season, let us together worship God through our giving back to Him.

Prayer
Father, help us to strive to give, volunteer to give more, and take great joy in the savior “who … though He was rich, yet for [our] sake He became poor.”


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

By Harrison Matheny

I Corinthians 4:1-2

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

This verse calls us to be servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. We have all heard this command, but what does it look like in our daily lives?

The “mysteries of God” refer to the gospel. How wonderfully mysterious it is that a perfect and holy God would send His Son to die for our sins! Further, God became incarnate not just for our sake, but so that we would be united with Him for eternity. How then do we steward this mystery of God? We fulfill this command, in part, through evangelism. When Christians hold fast to the gospel, the joy and love of Christ overflows to those around them in their words and actions. We steward the mysteries of God by evangelizing in our workplaces, extending invitations to join in worship, and living out our faith in love.

This verse also calls us to be found faithful as servants of Christ. In early August, when my wife joined our congregation, the fourth membership question she answered was, “do you promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?” Certainly, this question refers to using our time and talents to volunteer for the church and its ministries. But we have also promised to support the church’s work financially. Commitment Sunday is an opportunity for each of us to assess whether or not we are rightly fulfilling our promises to the church. Completing a pledge card is a wonderful way to tell church leadership and our congregation, “I remain committed to supporting First Presbyterian Church of Jackson in its worship and work.”

Let us all prayerfully consider ways that we can better steward the mysteries of God and serve the church in the coming year.

Prayer
Lord, we come to you without anything of our own to give. Over the past two years, we have been reminded that You are in control, and we are not. You are sovereign in all things, and You alone set our paths. Help us follow you. Father, even in the tumult, we pray that you give us the humility to be servants of Christ; give us wisdom to use our time, talents and resources to worship You. We also pray that you make us to be good stewards of Your holy mysteries; provide us with opportunities to care for those around us with an abundance of Your love. Strengthen us that we may be found faithful. Come to us now, and guide us, we pray, that we may live for your kingdom and glory and not our own. We pray these things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Thursday, November 4, 2021

By Cary Lee Spence

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 96:7-9

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

Turning to a favorite scripture seems appropriate for our topsy-turvy world when we consider the implications of stewardship; we find the wisdom to become re-assured. In Psalm 119:105, we learn that the word of God is a lamp unto our feet. The very same lamp guides our path as we return to our church over and over again, until the day we no longer return to our church but are transported to the Kingdom of God.

Let’s take time to remember Psalm 96:7-9 while we have the opportunity: “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the people, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name, bring an offering and come into his courts, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

Isn’t it beautiful to return to our church with an offering of our first fruits? How reverent is the fear of the Lord. As pilgrims traveling to our eternal home, we are reminded to invest our treasure in the kingdom work of the Church and not in earthly gain to be left behind.

Prayer
Help us O Lord to be stewards of our first fruits as the light of your word guides us.


Friday, November 5, 2021

By Matthew Turnage

Genesis 28:20-22

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

When Jacob encountered God at Bethel, he was in the midst of one of the most trying periods of his life. He had just tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing intended for his older brother, Esau. Esau hated Jacob for it and intended to kill Jacob. Jacob had left his home partly in fear for his life and partly at the insistence of his parents that he find a wife amongst his mother’s relatives. After this encounter with God, Jacob would spend 20 years working for his uncle Laban, who deceived Jacob and attempted to prevent him from returning home. In the midst of these two events, God came to Jacob, and told Jacob he would be the heir to the promises God made to Abraham.

As Jacob faced the uncertainty of his labors under Laban and the foreboding of what Esau would do when they met again, he had to rely on God’s promises. When Jacob found himself married to Leah, he must have wondered what God’s purposes were. And yet, God was fulfilling His promises in ways Jacob could never have expected. Leah gave birth to Levi, whose descendant, Moses, would lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. More importantly, Leah gave birth to Judah, whose descendants included David, the man after God’s own heart, and Jesus, who fulfilled God’s promises in a more wonderful way than anyone could have imagined.

We have faced a great deal of uncertainty in the past two years. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many, and the current situation in Afghanistan is heartbreaking. The advancement of the moral revolution in recent years leaves us wondering what may be next. Nevertheless, God has promised the ultimate victory from sin and suffering. In spite of the uncertainties, we have much for which we can be thankful. Let us learn from the example of Jacob when he encountered God at Bethel. Let us be thankful for all of God’s blessings. Let us worship Him in humble adoration. And let us recognize that all that we have been blessed with is a gift from our gracious God. In recognition of all we have received, let us return a portion of it to Him – whether it be our time, our talents, or our money.