Honoring God with our lives
1 Peter 4:10-11
I like the chorus of the hymn, “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr. that reads:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
In some version the last line reads: “And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
The main purpose of the hymn is to encourage us to count our blessings in difficult, challenging, painful and conflicting times, because naturally when we are in such situations, it is difficult for us to remember God's protection and feel comforted. In such situations, our attention so easily shifts from what we have to what we don’t have or what we have lost. In Deuteronomy Chapter 8, Moses warns his people not to forget to praise the Lord their God and follow Him when they are in the promised land, have prospered, and enjoy God’s blessings (1-18). The reality is that unfortunately we tend to be forgetful creatures, especially in regards to blessings we enjoy or once enjoyed, no matter the situation we are in. It can happen when we go through tough situations and it can happen when we are at ease. That is why remembering and counting our blessings are so crucial as long as thankfulness and stewardship are concerned. In Deuteronomy Moses says: “praise the Lor your God for the good land he has given you...remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (8:10,18).
As a Christian and a student of the Scriptures, I have learned that whatever we may think we have and whoever we may think we are, all belongs to the Lord. Therefore, we are in charge of God’s treasures. This is the basis of Christian stewardship. Today, I want us to take time to prepare an inventory of all that God has gifted us with, to remember and also discover all the resources that God has entrusted to our care, both as individuals and as a community of believers. We need to practice this regularly. To be sincere, we need to admit that in this area, worldly people are more clever than the sons of light (Luke 16:8).
Out of His love, God has granted us different talents, time and money. The more of these blessings we recognize and count, the more thankful people we will become, and the better we will be able to respond to God’s love with the same resources he has entrusted to us.
God has granted us talents and abilities. As good stewards, we work hard to become successful in using these. Many of us are already using our God-given gifts not only to care for our families and our personal needs, but are also using them to serve in different church committees, missions and church-related and other charitable organizations and in our communities. I want to thank God for those who have found ways to be good stewards of the talents, abilities and gifts God has entrusted them. My prayer is that all of us may work together to discover such assets in our congregation and find ways to use them to express our love toward God, toward our congregations, and toward our neighbors. This is good stewardship and an expression of our thankfulness to God.
Time is a great gift of God. He has given us life to work, to serve, to praise and to love. An important aspect of stewardship is to be good stewards of our time. How do we use our time as individuals and as a church? What are we doing with the time God has entrusted us? How much of our time - our daily, weekly or monthly schedule - can be considered an expression of our love toward God, His church and our neighbor? I challenge each one of us to make a time audit for a typical week. How much time do you spend for specific activities? Do these hours match your values? How might we better use our time, as individuals, and as church to love God and our neighbor, to serve our church family and the larger community? The proper use of our time is also good stewardship and another expression of our thankfulness to God.
Money is a powerful force in our lives. Jesus reminds us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). The Scripture makes it clear that God cares about all of the money his children have, not just a fraction of it: how we earn it, budgeting, how or where we spend it, how we save or invest it. While teaching about God's kingdom, Jesus uses the example of the servants who invested the money their master entrusted them. The good investors were commended and were called “good and trustworthy servant!” But at the end, they were accountable to the Master.
There are helpful books written about Christian ways of handling money and I suggest you to read some. Here I want to share some thoughts about tithing. Many Christians argue that tithing is an Old Testament law, and since we are no longer under the law, we are not required to tithe. My pastor used to teach us that if someone under the law was paying ten percent, those under grace should be eager to go beyond that. We do not tithe because we want to obey the law and earn something. Tithing is admitting God’s graciousness to us. Tithing is a simple expression of our gratitude to God for blessing our life in different ways. Tithing is about trusting God and His provision. Tithing is about caring and participating in God’s mission. Tithing is about trusting the church and its leadership. Of course, we shouldn’t speak about tithing as a law, but when we realize that all we have belongs to God and not to us, we can’t help but give it away generously, intentionally, and wisely in thanksgiving for God’s generosity to us. We give joyfully, graciously and sacrificially because we know that our resources are not ours to keep but are God’s to do His work and show His love.
- Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian
Minister to the Union
Join Us to Bless Others
Through our Blessings
AEUNA Giving Tuesday
As we head into the holiday season, we are looking forward to the plans God has for the AEUNA in 2023. The past months were marked by four days of fellowship in June as we celebrated and worshipped at our biennial conference studying the theme of Bold Love. Hundreds of children drew closer to the Lord at Camp AREV, Camp Arevelk, and other youth ministries. We believe God is calling us to greater work in the coming year.
In 2023, the AEUNA will be asking God for guidance and blessing in the following efforts:
To help support the development of new ministries to serve our Armenian evangelical community and the Kingdom of God
To help support church key leaders and provide pulpit coverage to our nearly 30% of churches without a full time Pastor
To enable the newly appointed role of Field Pastor to support seminary students in care of the union and recruit and train new Pastors.
To provide further training and continuing education to Pastors currently serving our churches.
We cannot achieve these goals without faithful donors. To fund and achieve the objectives above we are asking God to move in the hearts of those reading this to raise $250,000 by the end of the year. While we are always grateful for immediate financial gifts, there are other ways to support the AEUNA that can provide donors greater tax benefits. Please take a moment to review the PowerPoint that describes the many tax smart ways you can support the AEUNA.
“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way which through us will produce Thanksgiving to God.”
- 2 Corinthians 9: 10-11
We believe God is calling us to be used in a mighty way to draw more Armenians closer to him in the coming year. Please prayerfully consider a generous year end gift to support the growth of the ministries of the AEUNA
- Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian, Minister to the Union
Ms. Souzi Baghdikian, Stewardship Committee Chair