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Posted in: Generosity, Know God, Go All In

08.23.23 ( Jeff Vines )

It's All His

(Excerpt from the Sermon)

Sermon Series: All In

Now, here's the thing about tenants: They give glory to God for all good things in their lives because they know everything they have is a gift. Absolutely everything. Where owners believe that they're self-made and self-sufficient, a tenant acting like an owner says, I don't want to live by somebody else's rules. You're not the boss of me. I don't want to live in any boundaries. I want credit for any and all accomplishments. I want to take credit for all the good and blame God for all the bad. That's what I want to do. I want to use all the gifts I have in my vineyard for my objectives. The Bible relentlessly pursues this idea that when you have a true transformation of the heart, you become a tenant, living like a tenant, and you start to manage everything in your life by His word and for His profit. Even in the first century, in a pre-capitalist society, the tenants managed the vineyard on behalf of the owner. They did so, first of all, by his word. 

What do we mean by that? 

If you're a tenant, you can't just use what the owner owns any old way you want to. You can't suddenly say one day, you know what, I think I'm going to turn this vineyard into a potato farm. I'm going to take this vineyard and turn it into a shopping mall, or a sports arena, or a shooting range. No, it's a vineyard. It's to be used ultimately for the owner's purpose and it must be managed by his word within his restrictions. But when you're a tenant acting like an owner, you think you're the exception to the rule. You talk about extenuating circumstances. You're very good at rationalizing. You like the feeling of power and authority in being the owner. So you say to yourself, you know what, I'm going to use all these gifts, talents, and abilities God's given me for my own purposes. Then, when I've been able to reap a great harvest, I'll return something to the master.

But the problem is, you never know when the owner's going to show up. They would never admit it, but you know what the real issue is? If you go back to the original parable, what happened? Think about this. What happened when the owner sent messengers to remind them they were not the owners? Luke 20:10-12 says,

“At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.” 

Now, why would they do that? Can you imagine that you're an owner and you send somebody to collect from the tenants this month's rent, and they pull him in and beat him up, and you send another person, they pull him in and beat him up too? You send a couple, they pull them in and beat them up as well. We would never do that to God, right? We would never do that with God or His messengers, right? 

Do you know what the Bible says about me? And every time I read this, I think, man, I don't like it, but it's true. Do you know the Bible tells us that you and I are loved, valued, treasured. We are significant in Christ, we are adored. We are the apple of His eye. We love that, don't we? Oh man, I love to hear that. 

But the Bible says something else. The Bible tells us there's something that you and I repress. We don't like to talk about it. We don't like it when somebody points it out. We shove it way down deep and all of us, not just one, not just two, every single person. The thing we shove down and live in denial is that all of us have contempt, an animosity, and a hatred toward God. Because we don't like the fact we're not the owners. Our body doesn't even belong to us, and we don't like that. Our stuff doesn't belong to us. Everything in our possession, everything in the vineyard, is ultimately for His profit. 

Psalm 24:1 says, 

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

By His word, and for His profit – which means that everything in our life is supposed to somehow benefit the owner. It's about what He wants to achieve. It's about His agenda, about advancing His purposes for the vineyard because He owns it. So that a tenant, acting like a tenant, joyfully uses his or her gifts to profit the owner and to build the vineyard because they have a relationship with the owner and they know they can't lose.

I want you to notice something else in the parable. Verse 10, harvest time. He sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard, but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Don't you find it amazing that on one hand the Bible says that everything, the whole vineyard, everything belongs to God. Yet when He shows up, He just wants a little, some. He just wants a little, not all of it. Every time I read that I remember Cain and Abel: firstfruits go all the way back to Genesis. I also think of Naomi and Ruth: the Israelites could harvest, but they couldn't harvest around the edges because that was for those who were less fortunate. He just asked for a little. 

But do you know what it comes down to? 

Let's be honest, if I followed you around for the next month and listened to your conversations, how you spend your money, and how you use your gifts, talents, and abilities, what conclusion would I come to if I ask the question, what is your life really about? What drives you? What is your purpose? What gives you meaning? What causes your heart to beat a little faster? What are you most passionate about? It all ultimately comes down to why are you living? For what ultimate purpose? Quite frankly, I find it amazing that God allows me to live in this vineyard and use most of it to live and to work and to enjoy life. But as an external demonstration of the owner, my belief in the owner and His goodness, He sends someone around to collect some of the produce of the vineyard. But when the messenger comes, they beat him and want to kill him.

God is a wise investor. When He knows your heart is truly for the kingdom of God, He starts shifting resources your way. Is that health, wealth, and prosperity? Absolutely not. I give you no guarantee. I'm simply saying that my experience in the past is that when God can really trust you with a little He'll entrust you with a lot.

But the Bible says, you and I are going to resist that. We're going to get angry when the messengers come. Here's why, Romans 8:7 says, 

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be.” 

Wow. The Bible says that most of us have more than just an indifference or apathy toward God. That deep within, there's a contempt, an enmity, an anger toward God that we won't admit. It is a repressed hatred because we want to be the owners and we don't like the fact that our life is dependent and contingent on somebody else.

So what Jesus tells all of us in this parable, you must come to terms with. You have to admit it. What you are, who you are, and make your peace with it. Then allow Jesus to break your heart and to show you that He treasures you so much. That your best life is actually with Him in His vineyard. I want you to think about something.

Think about this for a moment, Paul said, I'm the chief of all sinners. I want to tell you right now, I'm the most guilty of this. I think it's so easy when somebody that I'm close to is going through a difficult time for me to go and say this to them: Hey, God is sovereign. I know you're going through a tough time. I know it's not fun, but you know what the Bible tells us? God is sovereign. He's going to work everything out together for good. It is so easy, I find it very easy to talk to people like that. Then it comes into my life. Suddenly your heart rate's beating. You get angry. You're trying to figure it out, come on God. Come on man. Right? You know what part of the problem is? Part of the problem is you're wondering if you brought this on yourself, right? You're wondering, well, maybe this is happening because maybe there's some improvements I need to make in my life, so all the self-doubt, everything's coming.

And then you read Psalm 37:5, commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act. The Bible says, don't try to figure it out. Just commit the path to God. Whatever it is, let Him pave the way, you trust in Him. Let Him act and let Him do what He's going to do. Do you know how often I hear people say to me, “Hey, I used to believe in God, but my life's not going the way I thought it should. So I don't believe in Him anymore.” Hold on, now the fact that your life is not going the way you think it should, that, to me, proves there is a God. Because that proves to me that no matter how much you try, you can't control your life. Somebody else is in control. You try, you do the right things, 10 steps to success, your best life now, whatever the formula, go ahead, set your agenda, make your plans, plan your life out. You know what is instant? Boom, everything changes. Life will never let you believe that you're the owner. So if life will never let you believe you're the owner, maybe you're not the owner, you're the tenant. You're like an eight year old driving a car, you can't see what's coming. Am I trying to scare you? Yes. How else can you have an intervention?

Jeff, what do you want me to do from here? We are about to do some amazing things around here and I need you. I need all of us in. The doors God has opened for us after covid and with the people that He's brought here, our leaders right now, just cream of the crop. I can feel it in my spirit.

What do you want me to do, pastor Jeff? I want you to ask yourself some questions, and be honest. 

What is your greatest passion? 
Do you believe that everything that comes into your hand is from God? 
Do you have a passion to use your money to build Christ's kingdom? 
Why do you find it difficult to give the first fruits of your life to the work of God in this world? 

You have to answer that. It's between you and God, but you have to answer it. Am I trying to scare you? Yeah, this week I am. How else do you deal with someone in denial?

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, 

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

So if Jesus is willing to be treated as an enemy for you, how can it be dangerous to give control of your life to Him? It can't. The mercy and the grace of Jesus, He keeps in you. Notice it. He keeps sending messengers and messengers and messengers until, finally, He sends His Son to die for your sin. That's a guy who can be trusted.

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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