************ Sermon on Psalm 24:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 22, 2006
"The World Belongs to God"
I God is the Owner
A Do any of you boys remember the story of Achan? What did he do? GET A RESPONSE. When the walls of Jericho came tumbling down Achan saw in the ruins a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels. He coveted them and took them and hid them in the ground under his tent (cf Joshua 7:20-21). Do you remember how he was caught? GET A RESPONSE. Israel lost a battle. God told Joshua Israel lost the battle because someone took stuff out of Jericho. So the next morning Israel presented herself to the Lord tribe by tribe and Judah was taken. The tribe of Judah came forward by clans, and God took the clan of the Zerahites. The clan of the Zerahites came forward by families, and the family of Zimri was taken. The family of Zimri came forward, and Achan was taken. Achan confessed and he and his family were stoned to death!
Why? Why such a harsh penalty? Because the stuff Achan took belonged to God. Achan stole from God Himself!
B I want you to listen to five different Bible texts that tell us that everything belongs to the LORD:
Let's see if you can complete any of the following verses (PAUSE AT DIFFERENT PARTS AND SEE IF THE BOYS CAN COMPLETE THE VERSE OR PHRASE):Do you hear the claim? It all belongs to God!
(Ps 24:1) The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it ...
(Ps 50:9-12) I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, (10) for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. (11) I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. (12) If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
(Hag 2:8) 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty.
(1 Cor 6:19-20) You are not your own; (20) you were bought at a price.
C Our God is nothing like the idol gods of the heathen. Remember Micah's idol and shrine? He stole eleven hundred shekels of silver from his own mother. When he confessed and returned the silver to his mother she had him use it to make a carved image and a cast idol (Judges 17). And they were put in Micah's house as his household gods. That is typical of idol gods. They are the gods of a household or a city or a province or maybe even over a country or two. But the Lord God Jehovah rules over everything. His is not a limited dominion.
God, in Christ, claims to be sovereign over the earth and all its fullness. God claims ownership of all things. About every square inch of the universe God says, "It is mine." In fact, there is not a single thing in the entire universe about which God does not say "It is mine."
It all belongs to Jesus. This is true for anything and everything. Let's hear from some of you boys: what is your most prized possession? GET A RESPONSE. It all belongs to the LORD. HOLD UP TITLE TO MY CAR. It should be His name on the title. But you know, it should be His name on every certificate, deed, and bank account. It all belongs to Him and it is His to use as He pleases and to do with as He desires.
D The psalmist also tells us why it all belongs to the Lord, why He is the owner:
(Ps 24:1-2) The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (2) for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Founded it upon the seas? Established it upon the waters? What is the psalmist talking about? Do any of you boys know? GET A RESPONSE. When we go back to Genesis 1 we see that water existed before the dry ground. From out of the water God called forth the sky (Gen 1:6-8). And, from out of the water God called forth land and sea (Gen 1:9-10). What once had been formless and empty and dark (Gen 1:2), was now sky and land and sea and light. God called it, He voiced it, into existence. "He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters."
According to the Psalmist, this makes God the owner. God is the owner because He is the Maker, the Creator, the Founder, the One Who formed heaven and earth and everything in them.
II We are Stewards, Not Owners
A If the earth is the LORD'S and everything in it, then it is not ours. If God is the owner of everything and if God is the owner of everything we have, then we are not the owner. A couple of weeks ago I was watching some toddlers in the nursery. They both said, "Mine!" about the same toy. As you know, that doesn't work. So there was a fight, followed by lots of wails and tears. If the earth and its fullness belongs to God then the earth and its fullness does not belong to us. That's what it comes down to. That is true for what your neighbor has and that is true for what you have – whether it be a little or a lot: it all belongs to the Lord and not to you and not to your neighbor.
B If we are not owners, what are we then? We are stewards. What is a steward? Can any of you think of stewards mentioned in the Bible? GET A RESPONSE. Joseph, in Egypt, was a steward for Pharaoh. Jesus has a couple of parables about wise and foolish stewards. ANY OF YOU REMEMBER THESE PARABLES? A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward has no claim on the assets he manages. It's his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will. It is our job, our calling, our duty, then, to manage for the Maker.
God has entrusted many things to our care. The question we need to keep asking ourselves is: what does the Owner want me to do with these things, how does He want me to manage these things, what does He want me to use them for? And, we need to ask that about everything.
We need to ask this about the earth. This globe hanging in space belongs to God and God has entrusted it to man's care. Are we managing it the way He wants us to? What are some of the bad things we do as stewards of the world? GET A RESPONSE. Is God happy when we pollute the air, produce toxic wastes, dirty the water, make plants and animals extinct, and leave garbage on the moon or at the summit of Mount Everest? What are some of the good things we do as stewards of the world? GET A RESPONSE. Is God happy when we cultivate the ground and produce crops, pick up our garbage, and do what we can to keep the environment clean?
We need to ask this about our toys and bikes and computers and video games and money. They all belong to God and God has entrusted all of these to our care. Are we managing them the way He wants us to?
We need to ask this about ourselves – our body, our time, our brains. This, too, belongs to God and God has entrusted them to our care. Are we managing them the way He wants us to?
We need to ask this about our churches and schools. They, too, belong to God and God has entrusted them to our care. Are we managing them the way He wants us to?
When it comes right down to it, what is God looking for from His stewards to whom He has entrusted the earth and its fullness? He is looking for them to manage everything for His glory and praise. It is the apostle Paul who puts it best:
(1 Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Of course, to manage everything for the glory of God means we do not manage everything for our sakes and our glory and our pleasure and our advancement and our enjoyment.
III Remember, Contentment, Giving
A God is the owner. As the years go by He seems to entrust us with more and more stuff. For instance, Ruth and I started off our marriage with a car and a desk. Back then, everything I owned fit on the back of a small pickup truck. However, the last time I moved I filled up half a moving van.
There is a danger as this happen – a danger pointed out by Moses in one of his final speeches to the Israelites. He reminded them that they started off as slaves in Egypt; that they wandered around the wilderness for forty years with really nothing more than the clothes on their back; and that they were going to be brought to a land with streams and pools of water, a land with wheat and barley and vines and fig trees, a land where bread will not be scarce and they will lack nothing (Deut 8:7-9). Then he adds this:
(Deu 8:10-18) When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you ... (12) Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, (13) and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, (14) then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery ... (17) You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." (18) But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.Don't forget it all belongs to God and He has given or entrusted it to us. God, not us, is the source of wealth and success and financial prosperity.
B God is the owner. We are but stewards or managers who should be satisfied with what the Master has entrusted to our care. This means that we shouldn't be overly concerned with keeping up with friends or the neighbors next door. Instead of being envious we should be delighted if a friend gets a new toy or bike while we continue to have an older one. It should make no difference to us that we are better or worse dressed than the kids next door. And, we should not feel the need to buy the latest gadget or toy just because others have it. We need to be content with what the Lord, in His wisdom, has entrusted to us. A lack of contentment is our way of telling God we think He has made a mistake in what He has entrusted to our care. But God never makes mistakes.
And, I need to add, we also need to enjoy what God has entrusted to us without feeling guilty about it. Did you know that once a year, at Passover, all Jewish families brought one-tenth of all that they possessed (not simply one-tenth of their annual income) to Jerusalem to be offered up to God? What were these gifts used for? GET A RESPONSE. These gifts were not used for maintaining outreach programs or to support the priests or to pay for the maintenance of the Tabernacle or Temple. This offering was not designated for what we would call a "worthy cause." Instead, this incredible collection of wealth was used for a party. That's right! A party! All the people of Israel were expected to travel to Jerusalem and participate in a gigantic party at which one-tenth of the nation's wealth was to be spent. There was singing and dancing, eating and drinking. Every person from every corner of Israel was invited, and none would be turned away. The village goof-ball, the tax collector, those of questionable reputation, the poor, the rich, the educated – they were all to be there; anyone who wanted could crash this party and enjoy the earth and its fullness (cf Deut 14:22-27).
C God is the owner. We are but stewards who are called to manage for the Maker. This means we need to give away God's money to do God's work. Every single week I am given a ton of opportunities to invest God's money: the church, faith promise, CRWRC, our Christian colleges, CVCS, Bethany, Elim, Visalia Rescue Mission, and so on. Not a single week goes by without an appeal for money from some worthy church and kingdom cause. On top of this, I am asked to support research for leukemia, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, MS, and so on. God wants me to give, to give generously, to give cheerfully. God is the owner and He wants me to give away His money to do His work in the church and in the kingdom. If you boys earn money or get an allowance, I am telling you that you should put part of it in the collection plate.
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Ps 24:1).
Everything is God's: the gold, the silver, the cattle on a thousand hills, the riches of the entire universe. They are His and not ours.
I pray that we will never forget this. I pray we will remember that God gives us what we have. I pray that we will be content with and rejoice in what He has entrusted to us. I pray that we, out of thankfulness for Christ, will generously and joyfully use God's money to do God's work.
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