First Peter 4:10 �Stewards of God�s Grace � Empowered by the

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					First Peter 4:10 “Stewards of God’s Grace”
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  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve
others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (NIV)

     Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from our Lord

and our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

     It’s all about connecting people to Jesus. That’s the starting point

and that’s the ending point. That is Peter’s point, and stewardship’s

purpose in a nut shell. It’s about connecting people to Jesus and about

utilizing the gifts that God has given us, for that intended purpose … …

     It’s interesting to note that the context of Peter’s letter was a

Church under persecution, which meant that Peter, under the inspiration

of the Holy Spirit, was encouraging Christians – through their service

and through the utilization of their God given gifts – to share what they

had, with others.

     Given the persecution context the question might be asked, why

would Peter want his fellow Christians to share what they had, if in

sharing it with others that those others too would come under the same

threat of persecution – which in real terms, and in Peter’s time, meant


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potential loss of status, familial relationships, unemployment, and even

possible death? What, in Peter’s mind, could be so worth that cost that

he would encourage others to recruit still others into the Christian faith?

What benefit in his mind, would be of such import that it would

override such human situational misery?

     What did he consider worth it?

     “The grace of God in its various forms” – Peter knew that grace

was worth whatever costs might be associated with it.

     So that becomes our starting point. …

     If we are to be convinced – as the Holy Spirit would surely have us

to be convinced – that connecting people to Jesus is so important as to

put them into situations potentially more challenging than what they

already face (at least from a human perspective), then we must be

convinced concerning that connection’s benefits. We must be

convinced that what others will have gained will have been of such

great value, that what they might potentially lose will be of little

consequence in comparison. Without this conviction, we won’t have the

wherewithal to convince ourselves, to connect others, to Jesus.
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     The question we must then face, is; if connecting people to Jesus

includes potential inconveniences for them and or even possible

persecutions (in whatever form those might take), why would we expose

them to Him? Why should we make such connections?

     Why? … Because we (like Peter), know “the grace of God”.

     We know the grace of God which through faith we have

encountered at the cross and at the empty tomb of our Savior Jesus.

     We know this grace which knows no bounds. We know and

we’ve been washed in the forgiveness that such grace offers. We know

this grace showing us God’s unfailing willingness to bear that which we

ourselves could not bear. We know of this grace speaking to a suffering

that will end all suffering and the grace of a life guaranteeing for us,

eternal life. We know of grace, through faith, in this, its purist form.

      And we know too that this grace contains within it other and

various graces as well – graces releasing real impacts on our lives …

     Connected to Jesus, we have the grace of His peace – a peace

going beyond any that the world could possibly provide – a peace



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permeating to the very heart of who and what we are in Jesus - a peace

calming the troubled spirit even within the midst of its trouble.

     Connected to Jesus we have the grace of God’s own Spirit and the

grace of the means through which we encounter Him, or better, through

which He encounters us. We have the grace of the sacraments and the

grace of God’s own Word – that Word which brings to us life and

which - in its means - empowers us.

     We have the grace of a permission to enter into the very presence

of God almighty Himself – a grace made possible because of the

sacrifice of His own Son, and a grace, which in our sin, we would

otherwise have no right to.

     We have the grace of a dialogue with our God as He grants to us

the gift of prayer and the grace of prayer’s inherent promise – that for

Christ’s sake, our God will hear us.

     We have the grace of the ability to face death unafraid, with the

grace of a confidence that comes in Christ’s own resurrection.

     We have the grace of the Church, and of the sanctuary that it

provides. We enjoy the grace associated with membership in Christ’s
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own body – that grace which we have in each other - brothers and sisters

in Christ. …

     We know grace in its purist form – the grace of the cross and of

the empty tomb - which grants to us “grace in its various forms” – and

grace in measures beyond measure… …

     We know of a grace endued with the ability to overcome any

turbulence that a world gone awry might produce. In Christ we know of

a grace that overrides human situational misery.

     We can become convinced – again, as God’s own Spirit would

have us to be convinced – that connecting others to Jesus, is worth any

cost that that connection might exact when, and in as much, as we

ourselves indulge in that grace’s benefits. And in that conviction, we

can hear, and we can heed, Peter’s admonition, that we: “serve others, as

faithful stewards, of the grace of God in its various forms.”…

     We know that what we have – is worth sharing. And again, that is

our starting point, and as faithful stewards, that is also our ending point.

It’s all about connecting people, to Jesus. …



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     So with that in mind, here’s premise number one: by God’s grace,

we are connected to Jesus and in such we enjoy the graces associated

with that connection. In fact Jesus is our connection to God. Through

His life, death and resurrection Jesus bridged the gap between us and

our holy God and through the work of His Holy Spirit has completed

that connection for us. Connected, we live under His grace.

     Premise number two: Connected under His grace, we desire that

others be connected to Him as well.

     The salvation of everyone is God’s desire - and thus, it becomes

our desire too.

     Premise number three (and to the point of our text): God grants

each of us, His people, gifts in order that we might use those gifts to

accomplish His purposes – which brings us back to premise number two

concerning God’s desire for the salvation of the whole of His creation.

     Translated, premise number three states that what we have, is

God’s to use. We are but stewards of the gifts that He places in our

hands – gifts placed there, for His purposes.

     Which leads us to the first phrase in our text: “Each of you”… …
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      ”Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve

others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

      With these words “each of you”, Peter gets personal. What he

wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit applied not only to those

early Christians, but to us as well. The Holy Spirit doesn’t distinguish

between centuries, and so the “each of you” should speak to the “each of

us”, which in fact, it does.

      “Each of you…”

      Which leads to Peter’s next phrase, “…use whatever gift you have

received…”. So put together it says, “each of you, should use whatever

gift you have received”, which before going on, leads us to a follow on

question asking - “so just what is that gift which you have received (or

more accurately, what giftS have you received?

      Now Peter here makes an assumption– but a proper one – and that

is that every person connected to Jesus has gifts - you and I included.

Those gifts differ, but the fact remains, that we all have gifts – gifts

issued from God; gifts issued with God’s purposes in mind.



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     Let’s use as example Peter himself. Peter had gifts. Peter had

many gifts. Among those gifts was a voice and a brashness to use it -

(gifts from God). Peter had strength of leg and of body - enough to

carry him and his voice from place to place and from town to town (gifts

from God). Peter was gifted in leading and gifted as a spokesman (gifts

from God). And as a fisherman, Peter was obviously also not afraid of

hard work– and that too was a gift from God.

     Peter had courage – not always well placed nor even always well

reasoned, but Peter had courage - a pretty good gift from God. Peter

was articulate, as illustrated in his letters – (another gift from God). And

of course the list could go on – as the list of gifts for any one of us could

go on. Peter was gifted – so are we.

     Again, Peter’s words, “Each of you should use whatever gift you

have received”; for what purpose (?) – for the purpose of serving others.

     Which again leads us to ask ourselves, what are our gifts? Or

more specifically, what are, your gifts?




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     Are you smart? Are you articulate? Are you blessed with a

wonderful sense of humor? Are you good with your hands? Are you

artistic, or are you more mechanically inclined?

     Are you organized? Are you an organizer? Do you display

leadership skills, or are you better as a follower? (all gifts from God.)

     Are you hospitable? Are you outgoing? Are you of a shyer

nature? Do you have confidence? Are you a good thinker? Do you like

music? Has God given you a voice that others enjoy listening to?

     Are you patient? Are you gentle? Has God gifted you with a

healing touch? Are you strong of arm, or can you run a swift race?

     What is your gift? What are your gifts? We each have some… for

God has deemed it fit to make it so…

     We - like Peter; and we - like every other child of God - have gifts;

gifts to be used individually; and gifts to be used corporately; how and

for what purpose (?) – For the purpose of serving God’s purposes. And

how does Peter spell that out for us in practical terms? By this; he tells

us to use our gifts - in service towards others.



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     “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received - to serve

others - as faithful stewards - of God’s grace in its various forms.” Or

in other words, it’s not all about us, is it? It’s about others as well.

     Now Peter is not saying that we are to deny ourselves the

enjoyment of the gifts and of the blessings that God has granted to us,

nor is he saying that we are to use them solely for the benefit of other –

that would be stretching our text too far. Instead what we are being told

is that those gifts have been given in order that through them, others too

might be benefited – benefited ultimately to their eternal good.

     Connected to Jesus – and as beneficiaries of that connection – the

Spirit desires in and through us, to connect others to Him as well. Why?

so that they too, along with us, might enjoy the benefits of a relationship

with our God – and that in that relationship, they too might enjoy God’s

varied graces.

     The gifts God has given us become His instruments to use as He

works to bring others unto Himself through the means by which His

Spirit works, namely through Word and sacrament.



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      We become “connectors”, in as much as we connect others to those

means, and that, by utilization of the gifts God has placed in our hands

for that purpose. … “These” (hold up your hands), are just tools in God’s

hands. … …

      “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received - to serve

others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

      So here’s stewardship’s simple question: Do we (do you) have a

heart for Jesus, and if so, does it beat with Christ’s own longing for

those who don’t yet know Him? Do our hearts (does yours) ache for

those who are standing outside of a relationship with our God? And

again if so, how much of ourselves (how much of yourself) are we ( are

you) willing to give that those circumstances might change? What are

we willing to share, that others too might be saved?

      How we answer these question speaks to the level of our desire to

serve as the faithful servants and stewards that the Spirit, through Peter,

calls us to be.

      Do we have a heart - for those not yet connected to Jesus? … …



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     Reverend Gregory Walton, the Florida-Georgia District President,

recently addressed this theme in an email article. He wrote:

      “What Peter is focused on here” (making reference to our text) “is

what we, in the Church, need to focus on once again. It’s all about

building … relationships… (that) will last forever. … We need to be

sensitive to God’s leading, and willing to listen to the people that God

has set all around us who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior”.

      In his article he continues:

      “Now is not the time to focus on salving the saved; now is the

time to reach out with wild abandon to connect people to Jesus.” …

     He concludes the article with the following observation: We need

to become more like Jesus - servants, filled with His grace. We need to

be stewards of that grace, empowered by the Word!” … …

     That pretty well captures it, doesn’t it? “We need to become more

like Jesus - servants, filled with His grace.” That’s stewardship in a

nutshell. That’s what the Spirit, through Peter, is calling us to.

     And what did Jesus do in His grace-filled servant’s role? He gave

us His all, and He sacrificed for us, His everything. For in following
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His Father’s will Jesus used every gift granted Him –for the purpose of

accomplishing our salvation. In other words, Jesus connected us to

Himself and to His Father - through the faithful stewardship of His life.

     That’s faithful service. That’s sharing the grace of God – in its

many and various forms. He calls us to the same. …

     So hear again Peter’s words, “Each of you should use whatever

gift you have received, to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s

grace in its various forms.” …

     “Stewardship”… the use of God’s gifts - for the purposes,

towards which they are given… …

     Connected, we want to connect others to Jesus as well, that they

too might enjoy the benefits of God’s eternal grace.

     So again, premise one: by God’s grace we are connected to Jesus.

Premise two: Connected under His grace, we desire that others be

connected to Him as well. And premise number three: God grants each

of us, His people, gifts in order that we might use those gifts to

accomplish His purposes – which brings us back to premise number two

concerning God’s desire for the salvation of the whole of His creation.
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     May God stir within us, the steward’s heart, that in faithfulness,

we also might carry out our steward’s role. ….

     … It’s about connecting people… … to Jesus… … …

     And now may the peace of God…which passes all human

understanding…keep your hearts and minds…IN Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.




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