Relationships


4.  Stewardship

Principle: God expects you to accept responsibility for wisely managing and investing the abilities God has entrusted to your care.

The God of the universe invites you to discover that you are His unique creation.  He urges you to accept Him as Lord in all that you are and all that you are and all that you do.

When you acknowledge Christ’s Lordship of your leadership you give Him the right to rule over your life and leadership.  But, simultaneously, when you call Him Lord, He gives you a new responsibility called “stewardship.”  Stewardship means “to manage and administrate resources belonging to someone else.”  As Lord, God is the owner of your talents and abilities.  As steward you are responsible for their wise use and investment.

Many of Jesus’ parables provide insight into the meaning of stewardship.  Let’s look at one that is especially helpful.

What Is Stewardship?: A Parable

In Matthew 25:14-29, Jesus tells the parable of the talents.  Take a few minutes and read the parable.  This parable teaches some important lessons about stewardship.  First, stewardship means entrusting what is rightfully yours to another.  This is exactly what God does with you when you present your life and leadership to Him.  Presenting your life to Him means you acknowledge His ownership.  By entrusting your life back to you, God makes you a steward.

Second, though we have different talents (abilities, not money) entrusted to us, we are each responsible for the wise investment of precisely those talents that are given to us.

God only expects you to achieve results in your leadership that are consistent with the measure of skills and abilities He’s built into you.  Yet, at the same time, “To whom much is given much is expected.”  This phrase doesn’t just refer to your abilities.  It can also refer to your knowledge of God and His Word, your citizenship in a free country, your income, or hundreds of other resources God allows you to manage.

The more God invests in you, the more He expects of you.  It was true in the parable of the talents, and it’s true today.  This has staggering implications for those of us who God has richly  blessed.

Third, the goal of a steward is to meet the Lord’s expectations.  Two of these stewards knew the master well enough to know that he expected them to invest his money;  the third either understood the master’s expectations and disregarded them or did not know what the master expected.  Either way, the third steward failed.

God has invested talents in you, not only in the form of money, as in the parable of the talents, but in the form of skills and abilities.  He expects you to invest those talents in work that meets His expectations.

Understanding the principles in the parable of the talents should help you understand stewardship better.  It provides important insight regarding who is responsible in your career decisions.  Yet understanding how to make leadership decisions as a steward requires knowing what your Master expects and who He holds responsible for making decisions.

Who’s in Charge Here?

What does it really mean to take responsibility for the gifts God has given me, to be a committed steward for my Creator and Lord?

In order to answer this question, you first have to determine WHO is responsible for deciding how you will use your gifts.  When faced with this question, most Christians reply in one of three ways:

1.  “I’ll decide, alone, how to use my gifts.”

this is the Christian who takes sole responsibility for his life, and leaves God out of the decision-making process.  Why?  Because the person is like the deist who believes that, at one point in time, God wound up the universe like a great clock, and has left it running ever since.  The deist feels that God really doesn’t have the time to get involved in mundane human affairs.  So without any personal attention or direction from a detached, impersonal Creator, this self-sufficient Christian is left to answer the stewardship question alone.

Unfortunately, on his own, this person runs the risk of failing to see, understand, and obey God expectations.  And, God is not detached, impersonal or too busy to be involved in your life.  Jesus said, “Surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).

2.  “I’ll just leave it to the Lord.”

In contrast to the first Christian who shoulders the entire weight of decision-making, alone, the second Christian gives that same entire responsibility over to God.  This person believes that God, and God alone, is solely responsible for telling him how to use his talents, abilities, and skills in leadership.

While this response sounds more spiritual, it can actually be a way of avoiding responsibility.  It leaves the individual passively awaiting the results of the law of natural consequences: “Let’s wait and see what happens, and if it fails, it can’t be my fault because I didn’t choose!”  But isn’t it true that to NOT chose is in itself, a choice?

There is a third way that you, as a Christian, can answer the question, “Who’s responsible for deciding how I should use my gifts to serve God?”

3.  “God and me-together.”

Jesus deliberately stripped Himself of everything – His divine rights and privileges – and crossed the unthinkable chasm between God and man.

Try to imagine the span of that chasm…. The unlimited God became limited man…. Jesus Christ is God.

…From the world’s viewpoint, Jesus had descended as low as a man – to say nothing of God – could go.

But there was one more downward step, in heaven’s eyes the deepest descent of all: from sinless to sin stained…. Truly, He could go no lower.

…He knowingly and actively embraced a life of giving, serving, losing, and dying.

What was, and is, really hard for Jesus’ followers to swallow is that we are called to do the same.  To make ourselves nothing…. We must believe that as painful as it sometimes feels, descending is the only way to greatness…. Jesus obeyed for the sake of love.

And we, His followers and the recipients of His love, are called to do the same.  When asked about the two greatest commands, Jesus replied: to love God and to love others.  That is what motivated Jesus, and that is what is to motivate us.

(From Descending into Greatness by Bill Hybels)

God views service and humility as strengths, not weaknesses.  What steps in your relationships can you take to show greater humility?  How can you expand your service to others? 

This response combines a balanced and proper measure of God’s sovereignty and your responsibility.  This balance is described beautifully in Philippians 2:12-13, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”  God expects to be in a relationship with Him, you can make responsible decisions about how you can best use your gifts throughout your leadership.

This expectation reveals how insufficient the other two responses are in recognizing God’s deepest desire for you.  Since He created you and sent His only son to live and die for you, is it any wonder that He wants to be intimately involved in every aspect of your life?  God has already invested too much of Himself in you to expect you to make those all-important leadership decisions, alone.

In His Hands
Martin Luther

I have held many things in my hands, and lost them all; but whatsoever I have placed in God’s hands, I still possess.

The responsibility for deciding how to be a wise steward does not rest solely with you, or solely with God.  It rests with you and God-TOGETHER.  The Christian who is truly responsible for using his career for God says, “I am responsible and accountable for making my decisions-within guidelines established by the Lord.”

Understanding the guidelines and knowing what God expects is obviously very important.

Fortunately, God hasn’t left you in the dark regarding His expectations.  he knows what He wants done in the world and the part he wants you to play in it.  let’s take a look at a few ways you can get a better understanding of God and His will.

Tips For Success
Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.

No matter what good we do, God knows our motivation for doing it.  God judges our motives, not simply our actions.

Conscience is like a compass.  If a compass is faulty, you’ll quickly get off course.  A conscience gets its signals from the heart, which can be dulled, hardened, or calloused.  Furthermore, a conscience can be overly sensitive or can even drive one mad….

in order for one’s conscience to be a good guide, one the Spirit can direct, it needs to be healthy, sensitive, and capable of getting God’s message and truth.

…When one realizes the true condition of the heart without God and ponders the impact of his or her sinfulness, there is an emotional reaction.  I have offended.  I have grieved the heart of God.  I have driven nails into Christ’s hands with my sins.  That does something to my emotions when I, as a sinner, realize that.  When the truth of forgiveness and grace and God’s overwhelming love pour over me, there is an emotional reaction.  And I must admit that.  When I realize that God has reserved a home in heaven for me – a reprobate sinner who was running in the other direction whe He stopped me, turned me around in grace, and brought me to Himself – that brings an emotional response.  Don’t deny those emotions!…

God gave you a mind.  Use it to know Him better.  Study the doctrines that put steel into the cement of your faith.  Exercise your mind!!

God gave you a will.  use it to obey Him.  Make decisions that honor Him and please Him.  Exercise your will!

And God gave you emotions.  Don’t be afraid of them.  Let them out.  Allow your heart to show through.  Exercise your emotions!

If we refuse to open up, to allow the full prism of His love and truth to shine through our lives, we will miss much of the color life has to offer.

(From Flying Closer to the Flame by Charles Swindoll)

Are you fooling God?  It can’t be done!  You can’t just “go through the motions.”  Live a genuine life of faith today by praying that God will guide your heart and mind.  Then he will direct your actions.

Discovering God’s Expectations

God has spoken to His people in many different ways throughout history, and He still does today.  How can you understand what the Lord expects of you as a steward?

1.  Get into God’s Word.

Certainly the principles and guidelines you’ll find in God’s Word are important ways to here God’s voice.  Everyone who wants to clearly and consistently hear God’s voice should read and meditate on God’s Word.

The literal meaning of the Greek word for “obey,” is “to come under.”  Therefore, to obey God’s Word, and to submit to (or come under) His Word out of obedience.

In Scripture, God clearly issues numerous commands, A lot of Christians complain that Scripture just isn’t clear regarding what God expects them to do.  mark Twain wass closer to the truth when he said, “it’s not what I don’t understand in the Bible that bothers me, It’s what I DO understand.”  God’s Word is full of black and white truths that remove the guess work in discovering His will.

Scripture also teaches principles.  These are guidelines that require discretion.  They aren’t commands, but highly useful truths around which we can order our lives.

Chuck Swindoll illustrates the distinction between commands and principles this way:  “The sign that reads, ‘Speed Limit 35’ is a command.  The one that reads, ‘Drive carefully,’ is a principle.”  Both commands and principles are important in discovering God’s desire for your leadership.

2.  Look around and within.

Throughout history, God has spoken in some rather unique ways to His people.  One way is through an audible voice.  God spoke to Moses audibly in a burning bush (Exodus 3:4).  A second way is through dreams and visions.  God spoke to Joseph in a dream (Matthew 2:13).  A third way is through circumstances.  God spoke to Nehemiah through the disastrous situation in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2-4).  Fourthly, God speaks through human desires.  God spoke to King David through the desires of his heart (Psalm 37:4-5).

While God’s voice is most commonly heard through Scripture, He can and does speak in other ways as believers genuinely and sincerely seek His leading.  These ways aren’t the norm. like Scripture, but they can be used by God to communicate and confirm His will to us.  Each way depends upon a deep, personal, daily walk with God.  Your closeness to the Lord and devotion to His Word are requirements for discerning God’s voice in whatever way He chooses to speak to you.

3.  Hear the people of God.

Paul and Barnabas became missionaries because the Holy Spirit spoke through the elders of their church.  God’s Spirit guided the early church “when all the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44).  Jesus promised His followers that, “where two or three come together in My name, there i am with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Our culture advocates a highly individualistic approach to leadership decision-making.  But, there is ample evidence in Scripture that proves that a group of God’s people can often sense God’s direction for your life before, and/or better, than you can.

There are times when group guidance is inappropriate.  Some small groups become dictatorships; others are spiritually anemic and incapable, or unwilling, to discern God’s will.  Furthermore, a group can never be a substitute for your own responsibility in decision making.  But viewed properly, a loving, spiritually-minded community of believers can be invaluable in helping you discern God’s will.

God’s Direction in Your Leadership

The principles of Lordship and stewardship are applicable to area of your Christian life.  In QOLM, our specific purpose is to help you know how to be a wise steward in making good leadership choices under Christ’s Lordship.  As you seek to be a good steward for your Lord, you will discover that God commands you to invest your talents in purposeful activity called leadership.

Now let us take a  look at how you are to relate to God.

IV. Our Relationship with God

One of the many things that the sport of football has taught us is; that if a team is in trouble, it needs to get down to the basics.  Well what are the basics of human life.  let us take a look at what one famous person has said:

(1 Chronicles 29: 10-15)
“There in front of the whole assembly King David praised  the Lord.  He said ‘Lord God of our ancestor Jacob, may you be praised forever and ever!  You are great and powerful, glorious, splendid, and majestic.  Everything in heaven and earth is yours and you are king, supreme ruler over all.  All riches and wealth come from you, you rule everything by your strength and power:  and you are able to make anyone great and strong.  Now, our God, we give you thanks, and we praise your glorious name.

“yet my people and I cannot really give you anything, because everything is a gift from you, and we have only given back what is yours already.  You know, O Lord, that we pass through life like exiles and strangers, as our ancestors did.  Our days are like passing shadows and we cannot escape death.'”

What aspects of this prayer are useful today?

Where do you place your hope?

Introduction

Before working on the major parts of this Lesson, take a little time quietly to read and reflect on the brief quotations below.  One may encourage you, one may challenge you, another you may want too question.  But let them speak to your sense of self-hood in Christian living at this time.  Our calling is both a cross, and a joy.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Who can say more than this rich praise, that you alone are you? (William Shakespere)

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. (Luke 10:41)

What is Jesus’ point?

Bu to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. (John 1:12)

What does believing mean to you?

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:8–10)

How can these verses help you cope with your present difficulties and anxieties?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The way we live, the things we say, the attitudes we entertain, the lifestyle we adopt, the enterprises in which we engage are all continuously producing either positive or negative results in society.  Far too many people assume they can adopt a neutral stance.  They feel they can be noncommittal.  They try to remain detached, uninvolved with the trauma, turmoil and tension of their times.

Again and again Jesus pointed out that this was impossible.  “Either you are for me, or against me,” He said.  “You cannot serve two masters at once.  Either you hate one and love the other or vice-versa….”

We live in an atmosphere of antagonism, and environment of enmity.  Yet amid such adversity Christ calls us to produce peace.

The peace is love, quietly,  strongly, persistently meeting every onslaught against it with good will.  It is that inner attitude of tranquillity and tolerance in the face of angry attacks.  It is the willingness to accept the assaults of others even at the price of personal humiliation.  It implies that even though my enemies and detractors may be at war with me, I can be at peace with them.

(From Salt for Society by Philip Keller)

How do you exhibit your faith?  Do you hurry out the door after church on Sundays?  Or do you take the time to greet and listen to the concerns of others?  Next Sunday, stay and listen.  Remember that listening begins to help those in need.

How do you grow spiritual fruit?

Jesus saw the wearisome burden upon those who had gotten riches and were trying to hold onto them.  He knew the cancerous nature of wealth and often warned of its danger.  He spoke of the “deceitfulness of riches” (Matt. 13:22).  Riches are deceitful precisely because they lead us to trust in them, and Jesus saw that trap and the spiritual destructiveness which attends it.  This was the burden that bore down upon the rich young ruler.  Not only did he have great possessions, but more significantly, the great possessions had him.  Of all oppressions his was the most spiritually debilitating.

To all those weighted down by the burden of tomorrow, or any other burden, Jesus extends a gracious invitation, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  Our task in the pages that follow is to seek an understanding of the teaching which is the basis for this call to liberation, this summons to the peaceful life.

Jesus points to the fact that whatever we fix as our treasure will obsess our whole life:  “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21).  He was not saying that the heart should or should not be where the treasure is, but that it will be.

There is no option in this matter: our whole mind will be fixed around our treasure.  When Jesus said that “no one can serve two masters,” he did not mean that it was unwise to serve two masters, but that it was impossible.  If our treasure is in our job, or our family, or any other earthly thing, our mind will not be on God.

if all within us is honed down to the single treasure of God the Father and his Kingdom, then we are living as His children.  We should be committed to the goal of a single aim in life and a unselfish spirit.  Jesus lived in this singleness of purpose wit God so perfectly that he could say  without embellishment that he did nothing of his own accord (John 5:19).  His words were the words of the Father, his deeds the deeds of the Father.  And he calls us in our life to enter this unity of purpose.

Jesus is not telling us to refrain from living life to the fullest. No, we work, but we work in faith, not in the anxious concern of distrust.  On a practical level, it is at this point that the nagging problem of “faith versus works” is resolved.  We live, centered in trust and faith and all of our action and work arises out of that center.  It is not fear and anxiety over tomorrow that prompt us to work, but obedience to God the Father’s love for us.  We make provision as it seems right and good (just as the birds do), but what comes to us is not so much the result of our labor as it is the gracious gift of God. We live the carefree life of unconcern for possessions in the midst of our work.

When this spirit of trust pervades all of our efforts, we seek first Christ’s Kingdom and his righteousness, the focus of our thought, speech, and action God the Father.

“I recommend to you holy simplicity” (Francis de Sales).

All men and women , created in the image of God, are called to develop as much as possible their capacity to be loving and compassionate human beings.  This is a daunting challenge, when we consider the ‘tooth and claw’ mentality of so much that surrounds us in our competitive, violent society, or, from a very different perspective, when we consider Paul’s injunction to ‘have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who …emptied himself, taking  the form of a servant… humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:5-8).

It seems that what is required is both and inner directedness and resilience, and an inner detachment.  Both are God-given gifts.  The seeds of these are dormant, struggling or flourishing with us all, and reflect the present intermingling of our spirituality, our psychological well-being, and our perception of the pressures of life at the moment.

Our Relationship

Now that we know a little more about God and that the Christian God is the best God.  We have learned  that not having a god, makes pain a harsh inevitable reality of life with no meaning.

But you may be asking yourself, if there is a God, as revealed in Christ (a loving God); then why does such a God create a world and people in which he knew there would come pain?  Or does it?  If it doesn’t then why did God create us in such a way6 that we would bring pain into life?

A key to the answer of these questions is in the focus on ME and keeping ME at the center.  This creates a delusion that I have the power to change the nature of God.  The difficulty with this is that the Christ of Christianity preached the necessity of losing one’s life in order to find it.

Even going back to the very basics of Christianity we find the Garden of Eden story the Bible tells of Adam and Eve.  We find them dealing with the temptation “You will be like God” which suggests, “You will have something even better and more of what you want.”  We learn from the Bible and what we reviewed; that what needs to be done about that part of our being, we can’t do ourselves.  We need a “higher power.” We are sitting on the throne of our lives as puppet gods.  No lasting fulfillment and meaning can be found in that way of life.  None of us is God; the clear fact of life is that we live with pain, brokenness, and human limitation?

The Bible sees surrender as a common human need.  It is essential in a successful relationship with God and for having life and having it abundantly.  The Bible also makes it clear that it is a human need we cannot meet by ourselves.  The Bible often speaks of surrender as being born again, Jesus said it this way, “You must be born again.”

The Bible also speaks of a improper relationship; which it calls “sin.”  “Sin” relates to placing our “kingship” before “His kingship.”  This causes a improper spiritual condition within humans and our relationship with God, self and others.

The message of the gospel is that God IS, that he IS our God and has created human life.  The mark of “being born again” in the Christian faith is the confession that “Jesus is Lord.”  That means that there is a new occupant on the throne.  There is a new center other than self.  Jesus becomes the Way, the Truth, and the Life, for life and in death.  In Jesus, God but also human, we see a human life of service to others, a person emptied of “ego,” praying “Your will be done,” giving thanks to the Father, and glorifying his name.  Jesus said that this is life, abundant in the midst of the pain, brokenness, and human limitation.  And this is what Paul meant when he said, “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).

So why isn’t everything great as soon as we are “born again.”  Although there is something new, the old remains.  Being “born again” does not result in the removal of the tendency to go back to the old way, but their is something new.  The new is “Christ is my Lord in life and death.”  He is at the center.  There is a new desire expressed in the prayer, “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as in heaven.”  Paul called the old the “flesh” and the new the “spirit” and describes  realistically the battle that exists between “flesh” and the “spirit.”

The way of life includes “one day at a time.”  Luther expressed it well in his Small Catechism, “Our sinful self …should be drowned through daily repentance; and day after day a new self should arise,”  that the new person may live seeking to do the will of the Lord.  The prayer that needs to arise daily from within is, “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done.”  The desire of the old is to have it my way.  The desire of the new that comes through “being born again” is that Christ the Lord will live within and through one’s life.

In the Christian message, Christ is revealed as our God who has come to save us and restore us to a new way of life in the midst of our pain, brokenness, and limitation.

“Yet to all who received him to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

Unfortunately, there are people who say they believe in Jesus, but who show by their way of life that this is not true.  It is not enough just to say we believe in Jesus.  To be a child of God, we must also receive Jesus as our Savior AND Lord.  This means turning away from your sins and believing in Jesus as Savior AND Lord.

When we receive the Lord Jesus and believe in him we became members of the Family of God.  God himself is our Father.  So, it is said that you were “Born Again” as a member of a new family.  This is just like being born a second time.  This is why your experience is called a new birth.

You noow have within you a new life.  It is a life according to the training plan set up for you by the Holy Spirit.  This is what we will be studying in the rest of the course.  “Praise be to God… In his great mercy he has given us a new birth.” (1 Peter 1:13).  According to this verse, who was it who caused you to be born again?  God.

“If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11)

How should this encourage you?

This show’s that God the Father in our new family is more loving than a human father.  Because we know that our Heavenly Father loves and cares for us, we do not need to worry.

“So do not worry; saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matt. 6:31, 32)

Why pray when you can worry?

Many people worry and are troubled about what they will eat and wear.  Jesus said something very interesting about such people, He said:

“The pagans run after all these things.”(Matt. 6:32)

What do you do to counteract anxiety in order to concentrate on the kingdom?

“Be content with what you have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”(Hebrews 13:5)

How does the work ethic fit into this passage?

Code the list of concerns below with these symbols:

P  = my parent’s biggest concern
-5 = my biggest concern 5 years ago
+5 = my biggest concern 5 years from now
x  = something I can do nothing about
+  = something I can give to God and forget about
*  = my biggest concern right now

children: doing OK in school
parents: getting old
job: finding it or loosing it
money: not having enough
advancement: getting ahead
older children: not making it
transition: starting over
mid-life: failing my expectations
health: can’t work/pay bills
retirement: feeling useless
future: being left alone
accidents: loved one getting hurt

If you were to take seriously the above Scripture passage, how would it affect your list above?

a.  it would change everything
b.  it would change a few things
c.  it would change the way I view things
d.  it wouldn’t change a thing

How do you feel after taking this personal inventory?

a.  relieved
b.  angry, because these concerns do not go away
c.  frustrated, because I know I should not be this way
d.  I’ll have to think about this

It is important for every believer to know and obey the will of God.  The Bible says:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” (Psalm 32:8)

We can be absolutely sure that God will guide us when we are making important decisions in life.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Col. 3:15)

In this case, the word “rule” means to “act as a guide or leader.”

Another method that God uses to guide us is through circumstances.  When circumstances are favorable God may be saying ‘yes,” when they are not favorable; he may be saying “no.”

But maybe we are still asking “Why do I need to be ‘born again.’

Why be “born again”

“God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)

The Bible has certainly much to say about creation and the wrong use of material things, but here we are brought back to a basic and reminded that this is God’s world.

And in this world: “God shapes man like a potter.” (Gen. 2:7).

“For through the living and eternal word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal, but mortal.” (1 Peter 1:23)

We are his creation or children (created in his likeness) may select from our choices what we will, to be.  He wants those children who join Him in heaven, to have made the decision (to join him) after careful consideration and with a complete commitment of their whole being.  As a result of being his child we must recognize our limits as creatures under authority of our creator or father.

As we see, we must give up control of our life.  So why do we not do this?

What perspective does this verse give you on your current priorities:

Could it be that it is very difficult to do?  In Genesis 2:7 it indicates that we are created of the world, of earthly desire (in Hebrew, man – adam – comes from the ground/earth – adamah – cf. I Cor. 15:47), but God has breathed something of himself into man.  We are a blend of earth (and its limitations) with God’s “likeness” (and his joy and freedom).

(1 John 2: 15-17)
“Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world.  If you love the world, you do not love the Father.  Everything that belongs to the world – what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of – none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world.  The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but he who does the will of God lives forever.”

Do human desires contradict God’s will: Always? Never? How so?

In Genesis 3:15 we see in the words, a recognition of the constant battle between mankind and his desire for earthly and evil things, as in the past statement.

While, we are here on earth, we participate in God’s training program for his Children.  As part of that program, we are to use his guidance to learn to live a life that is self-improving and self-fulfilling.  This is reflected in our relationship with our fellow humans,  We, as Christ did, become models for others.  This is to be accomplished by doing the best we can, in satisfying our God placed position in his Human family.  The only way we can meet this goal is through his guidance (Holy Spirit) and help (grace).  One of the key factors and fruits of our success in this area is our “love” for our fellow-man, and our God.

What have you become as a result of believing in Jesus Christ and receiving him as your Lord and Savior?

“Sin” is hurting ourselves, and/or hurting fellow “Children of God,” and God our Father by not acting in a truly “Loving” and/or Obedient way.  We hurt ourselves by actions on our part that do not help us to make the decision or which do not prepare us for our future in Heaven.  We hurt ourselves because we are not growing to meet our goals.  We hurt other “Children of God,” if we act in a way that does not help them reach their goals.  We hurt God because our “Love” for him, other “Children of God” and ourselves was not enough to help us want to be with him.

To what family do you now belong?

(Christian Doctrine-Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr.)
“The Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die’ (Genesis 2:16-17).  But the serpent said, ‘You will not die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil’ (Genesis 3:4-5).”

“What is the sin of Adam (which means ‘Man’)?  Disobedience?  Yes, because he does what God commanded him not to do…  But the deeper meaning of the story is that man wants to be like God.  He is not content to be a human being in the image of God; he wants to be divine, God himself.  Why?  Several answers can be given – an indication of how profound this story is.  We could say that the root and essence of sin is pride.  Man wants to be more than he is.  He is not content to be dependent on God, to let himself be loved and cared for by God.  He wants to be self sufficient and independent, to do whatever he pleases, and to know everything, so that he does not need to ask or learn or receive anything.  Or we could say that the root and essence of sin is no belief.  Man does not believe that he can trust God to give him everything he needs and to tell him how he should live, so he tries to do for himself and give himself what only God can do for him and give him.  He does not believe that he is really safe and secure under the care and command of God, so he tries to take care of himself, tells himself how to live.  Pride and unbelief go hand in hand.”

“But the point we want to emphasize now is that concrete expression of sin in this story is man’s desire to ‘know good and evil.’  The desire to tell ourselves and know for ourselves the difference between good and evil is sin.  According to this story, the root and essence of all sin.”

“The desire to know good and evil is rebellion against God.  God alone is good, and he alone knows what is good and not good.  To want to know and be good by ourselves (to ‘establish our own righteousness,’ as Romans 10:2 puts it) means that we do not want to depend on God, to learn afresh every new day, in every new decision and situation, what is good and what is not good.  We want to know for ourselves, by ourselves.  As soon as we think we do know, then we begin to feel competent and not only to dictate to other people but to dictate to God himself what he must be and do and say if he is really good.  Nor do we want day by day constantly to receive from him the ability to do what is good and avoid evil.  We want to have the ability in ourselves.  And as soon as we think we do have it, then we become certain that “Good” is by definition what I, and those who are like me, want and do.  We no longer need to be judged and corrected by God; we ourselves have become the infallible judges of good and evil – in place of God.  And that is sin – the sin of good people!”

“Or in short, sin is not loving and not being willing to let ourselves be loved.”

Who made you a child of God?

In Ezra the evil impulse was sown in the heart of Adam, and transmitted to his descendants (3:2-21).

(2 Esdras 4: 9-11)
“But all I have asked you about is fire, wind, and the day that has just passed – things that you have experienced.  Yet you have given me no answer.  You can’t even understand things that you have been familiar with since you were a child.  How then can your little mind understand the ways of God Most High?  Can a man already worn down by this corrupt world understand the ways of the incorruptible God?”

Give two reasons we should not worry?

Can it be; that as long as we are earth’s child we will not fully understand what we are missing?

(2 Esdras 4: 20-21)
“You have given the right answer,” he said.  “So why can’t you see the answer to your own problems?  For just as trees have their place on the land, and waves have their place in the sea, so the people of this world can understand only what goes on in this world, and only heavenly beings can understand what goes on in heaven.”

Maybe if our minds are concentrating on things of Heaven, we can have a better understanding.  Man is given his training and decision period;  along with the fact that he is made in the image of God.  Yet he flouts the obedience due, and makes the wrong choices, therefore bringing upon himself earthly/evil results; disaster, pain and death, with no meaning to his existence and more importantly his rejection of God (or as we may know it, SIN) and our ultimate goal of glory to God our Father and Creator.

(Psalms 1: 1-2)
“Happy are those who reject the advice of evil men, who do not follow the example of sinners, or join those who have no use for God.  Instead they find joy in obeying the law of the Lord.”

Life offer two roads to travel, the way of the righteous or the way of the wicked.  God provides, protects, and nourishes the righteous  Follow the faithful road.  God’s reward supersede the benefits of the wicked.

One marked difference  between the faith of our fathers as conceived by the fathers and the same faith as understood and lived by their children is that the fathers were concerned with the root of the matter, while their present-day descendants seem concerned only with the fruit….

Our fathers looked well to the root of the tree and were willing to wait with patience for the fruit to appear.  We demand the fruit immediately even though the root may be weak and knobby or missing altogether.  Impatient Christians today explain away the simple beliefs of the saints of other days and smile off their serious-minded approach to God and sacred things.  They were victims of their own limited religious outlook, but great and sturdy souls withal who managed to achieve a satisfying spiritual experience and do a lot of good in the world in spite of their handicaps….

… The bough that breaks off from the tree in a storm may bloom briefly and give to the unthinking passer-by the impression that it is a healthy and fruitful branch, but its tender blossoms will soon perish and the bough itself withers and dies.  There is no lasting life apart from the root.

Much that passes for Christianity today is the brief bright effort of the severed branch to bring forth its fruit in its season.  But the deep laws of life are against it.  Preoccupation with appearances and a corresponding neglect of the out-of-sight root of the true spiritual life are prophetic signs which go unheeded.  Immediate “results” are all that matter, quick proofs of present success without a thought of next week or next year…. There is but one test for the religious leader: success.  Everything is forgiven him except failure….

The whole Bible and all the great saints of the past join to tell us the same thing.  “Take nothing for granted,” they say to us.  “Go back to the grass roots.  Open your hearts and search the Scriptures.  Bear your cross, follow your Lord and pay no heed to the passing religious vogue.  The masses are always wrong.  In every generation the number of the righteous is small.  Be sure you are among them.”

(From The Best of Tozer compiled by Warren Wiersbe)

What kind of people do you associate with?  Who do you turn to for advice?  Is God’s Word a priority in your decision making?  let these areas of your life honor God.  Thank him for giving his word to guide you.

Where have you searched for happiness?

Where do you find it?

What is the “law of the Lord” for you?

We have just received confirmation of the joy we will experience by accepting God’s terms for our life.  Beside rejection of God or Sin where does human reliance on other than God lead us?

I leads humans to build to the glory of man, not to the glory of our Creator.  A true son of Adam, he wants to be God himself.  He wants to put himself at the center of God’s Creation.  “Glory to Men in the highest” (Gen. 11:4).  Man is a creature and his destiny is to seek to fulfill the purpose he has been created for.  This is done by choosing to be our creators obedient children.

Can you answer a spouse/friend who might say “Why are you becoming a Christian, i still want to enjoy things with you?”

(Isaiah 48:11)
“What I do is done for my own sake – I will not let my name be dishonored or let anyone else  share the glory that should be mine and mine alone.”

How would you explain to someone; what it means to you, to “Know God?”

It is apparent that our Father in heaven will not share His glory with us, when we are separated from him.  A dominant theme in the Bible is God’s plan to save his creation from its earthly preferences and how he provides guidance to make the right decision (to join him).

Why should  I be “born again?”

(1 peter 1: 14-16)
“Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by these desires you had when you were still ignorant.  Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who calls you is holy.  The scripture says, ‘Be holy because i am holy’.”

How does Peter’s call to holiness challenge you at home? Work? Community? Church?

Could turning our life over to him, be so difficult if we are looking at being Holy (dedicated to our religion/spiritually pure)?  Why must we go through childhood or a training period both in our spiritual growth and in our human growth?  In both our spiritual and human life we have free will and we are initially created with a self centered will.  A being who is centered around his own existence cannot achieve it’s objective.  Any growth can only come in relation to the existence of other creatures.  As humans; each human exist for the sole purpose of aiding the fulfillment of the human race’s accomplishments.  As God’s children, our purpose is to bring glory to God our Father through accomplishing what he desires of us.  We must then as a Child of Earth or as a Child of God, learn to control our will.

How would you conquer the difficulties of turning over control of your life?

(Psalms 25: 8-12)
“Because the Lord is righteous and good he teaches sinners the path they should follow.  He leads the humble in the right way and teaches them his will.

“With faithfulness and love he leads all who keep his covenant and obey his commands.

Keep your promise Lord, and forgive my sins; for they are many.  Those who obey the Lord will learn from him the path they should follow.”

With what is God’s guidance more concerned: Ethics or geography?

Character or direction?  Morals or prosperity?

What quality needed for finding God’s guidance will you work to develop?

In the early books of the Bible we see Israel learning the lesson that they must go forward – into the unknown – with nothing to hold onto but the presence of God and his guidance to the right path.

What can you do to remember “No Fishing in the pool” of self control?

If the right path should lead us to his glory, why don’t we choose that path?

les us start, by looking at our coach.  In our earthly life we show appreciation to those individuals who provide us with some earthly benefit.  We also recognize those individuals who we consider as great individuals or who may have accomplished some great feats.

“God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.” (John 4:24)

As God’s children, we have as our spiritual father, the ultimate person to provide appreciation and praise (glory) to.  he created everlasting life with him.

(Deut. 5:1-4) Implication is made that the revelations of God are timeless and that his words, whenever they were spoken, are addressed to us here and now.

In Deut. we learn that his word is available to us, and in John we learn that through his Spirit and Word we will find some of our help.  Also each individual must repeatedly renew his/her allegiance to God and accept responsibility for doing his will.

How do we learn that responsibility?  In the schools of earth the student learns how to submit to earthly authority.  The person training for heaven, learns how to submit to God.

But since earthly life is only temporary, it requires less control than our heavenly growth which can lead us to our future permanent home.  Let us now look at what one of God’s wisest heroes has to say about this area!

(1 Kings 8:29)
“Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below!  You keep your covenant with your people and show them your love when they live in whole hearted obedience to you.”

“I love the church!” Ray exclaimed to me recently.  I know it’s true.  He loves the grand-parents, the children, the middle-agers, the young people; he loves the mystics, the pragmatists, the theologians, the simplists, the immature and the deep, the visionaries and the plodders, the faithful committee workers who make it happen and the laggards who have to be cajoled.  Ray loves the church!  I can’t pray he’ll back off; I can only pray he’ll have the body and heart to love it for a long, long time.

And as his wife, I see what the church has done for Ray – deep things I never could have done.

I told this recently to a young wife, who didn’t want her husband to serve on one of our church committees.  “Let your husband go,” I said.  “Don’t try to overpossess him.  If you don’t sense that he’s deliberately escaping from his family – which is another matter – then (I know this sounds heretical) let him plunge into all the church life he wants to.  His heart may need it.  Encourage lots of exposure to godly people.  He’ll be far better husband and father as a result!”

I told her how the multifaceted, richly diverse Body of Christ has stretched and challenged Ray in a thousand ways I couldn’t – ever – as one human being.  .  Sometimes when he’s come home, for all the fatigue, there’s a look of splendor shining in his eyes.  And when he does come home, in less time he’s a far more effective husband and father.  Oh, yes!  The children and I wouldn’t trade.

The miracle of the church!  Who can explain it?  We need all the relationships God will give us.

(From My Sacrifice, His Fire by Anne Ortlund)

Church membership and participation is an important part of the Christian walk.  Get busy and love God anew.

And this came from Solomon, God’s stated wisest man:

(1 Kings 3:12)
“I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again.”

And from one of the richest:

(1 Kings 3:13)
“I will also give you what you have not asked for, all your life you will have wealth and honor more than any other king.”

It should also be pointed out; that even Solomon recognized in his request for wisdom, that he needed to let go of self-promotion, in favor of serving his people.  Mankind must learn  that valiance, astuteness and magnificence are not the foundations on which the well-being of God’s children can be based.  It must be based on whole hearted obedience.

God expects all people to use their gifts to do his will.  When they do, everyone else benefits.

The enemy emphasizes the past, with its mistakes and heartaches; the Comforter exalts the present help of our Lord (Ps. 46:1).  The devil delights in taunting us with our weaknesses, and the Lord reminds us of the wealth of His riches in grace.  Condemnation concerns itself with our failures; conviction shows us the faithfulness of God.  The tempter teases us with immediate gain, at any cost; the Trustworthy One tells us of eternal gain, and reminds us of Passion and Patience in Bunyan’s House of the Interpreter.  The father of lies magnifies our problems, by showing their hopelessness, impossibility, and pain; the God of all grace reminds us of the promises, whereby we can hope against hope; for “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope; and hope does not disappoint us” (Rom. 5:3-5).  Thus we know that pain can  mean gain.

The false angel of light would have us walk by sight and earthly wisdom (“the counsel of the ungodly,” Ps. 1:1); the Lord of life, who sees the end from the beginning, would have us walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7), and thereby please our heavenly Father (Heb. 11:6).  The enemy would have us see the hosts of evil against us rather than the hillsides covered with ministering spirits (2 Kings 6:15-17).  He would keep us dwelling upon the injuries from others, until we become ineffective in service, rather than forgetting the things  that are behind and pressing forward (Phil. 3:13, 14) in the spirit of Him who said, “Father , forgive them.”  The Vanquished would have us feel the nails and the thorns, the Victor would have us see the triumph of Calvary’s tree.

The discipline of discernment requires that we follow the tenets of divine revelation, lest we fall before the wrath of the tempter.  We are to meet his subtlety, selfishness and sophistry in thee same way as did the Captain of our salvation, with the unequivocal statement, “It is written (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).  We also are to live by the Word of God, and are to worship Him only.  We are to believe that as we commit our way unto the Lord and trust also in Him, He brings to pass His will (Ps. 37:5).  We are to trust that He is able to fill us with the knowledge of His will (Col. 1:9), and to protect us from the ways of the destroyer.  “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19).  As we submit ourselves without reservation unto God, and resist the devil, the latter will flee from us (Jas. 4:7).

By the Word, by the Spirit, by faith, by submission to the divine will, and by resistance to any appeal to self and sin we discern between the way of God and the path of the destroyer.

(From The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman)

If you were given Solomon’s opportunity to ask for anything, what would you choose?  Would your requests benefit others if God granted them?  In your prayers today, ask God for your heart’s desire.  Trust in God’s generosity to you.

(Matthew 19:23-24)
Jesus then said to his disciples, “I assure you; it will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven.  I repeat: it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

If Jesus were to address you where it hurts, what would his hot topic be?

This biblical statement, as well as the story of the “Rich Man” (Mark 10:17-30), emphasizes the letting go of the love of riches for riches sake.  Instead we need to consider riches as another “gift” or “ministry” which God provides some of his children, to be used to promote his “Glory” not “Man’s”  This is no doubt the hardest “ministry” to deal with; because it requires letting go of control and turning it over to God.  It means “Trusting” in God to direct you, to the proper actions.

A word frequently used to reflect this attitude is; stewardship.  The young man who would not “turn it over” left in sorrow while “letting go” for the sake of being God’s child, leads to joy.  Wise and generous use of wealth can be a “ministry,” but the pursuit of wealth for the glory of man can cause the wrong choice on that all important question; Earth’s Child or God’s Child?”

In the history of Israel we see that the pursuit of wealth, power, prestige, and the false sense of security that these things bring, was not the path that the child of God should follow.

Summary

God expects you to accept responsibility for wisely managing and investing the abilities He’s entrusted to your care.  You can’t make these decisions on your own, nor can you abandon them to God.  Wise stewardship choices are ones you make TOGETHER with God.  When you understand what God wants He wants you to do about it, then you can be a wise steward.  To understand God’s expectations, you must get into God’s Word, look around and within, and listen to God’s people.

Stewardship: What Do YOU Think?

Before continuing on, take a moment to think about these important questions dealing with stewardship.

1.  What are some of the things that keeps more Christians from adopting the approach of “God and me – together,” when determining who is responsible for using their own gifts?  What are your own hesitations to embracing this attitude of stewardship?

2.  Think back on the time(s) that God has “spoken” most clearly to you.  What words, Scripture verses, pictures, or feelings would you use to describe that experience?  How did this time strengthen your relationship with God?

3.  Suppose God were to turn to you today and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”  To what accomplishments in your life would God be referring?

4.  In what ways do you believe God wants you to be more responsible steward of His resources?  Take one specific area and outline the practical steps you might take to become a better steward,

5.  Set an “action goal” that will help you apply the principle of stewardship.  Make it measurable and specific.  Example: “I’ll make a list of the assets God has placed in my care.  I’ll then evaluate ‘the return on investment’  He’s getting on each.  Next, I’ll choose the most important asset and set goals for its better use this year.”

Leadership Models

Churchill

Having failed to win the approval of their fathers, people frequently attempt to compensate by winning the devotion of large followings.  The young Churchill idolized his parents even though he often was painfully neglected.  Of his mother, Churchill confessed: “She shone for me like the Evening Star.  I loved her dearly – but at a distance.  My nurse was my confidante.”  Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph, rarely had time for his son since he was a prominent member of parliament.  Churchill later surmised from his father’s encouragement for him to enter the military: “For years I thought my father with his experience and flair had discerned in me the qualities of  military genius.  But I was told later that he had only come to the conclusion that I was not clever enough to go to the Bar.”  When Churchill’s father died, he resigned himself to the fact that “all my dreams of comradeship with him, of entering Parliament at his side and in his support, were ended.  There remained for me only to pursue his aims and vindicate his memory.”  Some leaders developed such bitterness as children that their anger drove them to positions of influence as adults.

Student Prayer

Oh heavenly Father, open my eyes to the needs of those around me.  Destroy the spirit of selfishness in my heart, and teach me to give as you would give.  Amen.

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About georgehach

I am a retired Lay Minister, acting as a prophet for God to understand the end times that is comingg and how to prepare for it.
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