Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stewardship, part 2

Our very life, the gift of life itself, is a stewardship opportunity. We are given a brief time on this earth (James 4:15) that is an opportunity to “do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), which is the ultimate motivation and goal of all stewardship opportunities.

We are given two primary and central elements from scripture that govern our understanding of the stewardship of life from which all stewardship flows and upon which all stewardship is centered. These elements are the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. These two are intertwined together as the “center of the mark” in pursuing the faithful stewardship of life “for the glory of God”.

The Great Commission is our marching order. It is the purpose for which Jesus has “sent us” into the world, to make disciples of all nations (John 17:18). Making disciples takes place in all kinds of contexts.

The Great Commandment is the central theme of our life as a disciple (Matthew 22:34-40) as we live out the gospel in our daily lives within the context of where the Lord has planted us.

These two elements give us direction, focus, and clarity as to the general “will of God” for all Christians. They provide the framework through which we seek to bring honor and worship to the Lord in our daily lives.
In fact, this is our calling. Faithfulness to our calling is a matter of stewardship for each of us and for us collectively as a community of faith. Paul encourages us toward this faithfulness in Ephesians 4:1 where he writes, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”

How does this particular framework affect our understanding and application of stewardship within other areas of life like time, possessions, finances, etc.? We’ll be looking at these subjects and others over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Let’s talk stewardship! When some people see that word, they automatically think, “Oh, great. The preacher’s gonna start harping about money.” And, in response, I must answer like the Hertz car rental commercial, “Not exactly.”

The arenas of life that the subject of “stewardship” covers are endless. In fact, Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden was an issue of stewardship. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Yep, there it is—stewardship. Adam and Eve were given charge to manage the Garden that God had created and in which God had placed them for His glory.

The entire Christian life is about stewardship of all that God has given us. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians concerning our stewardship of the gospel that “it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” or faithful. This principle of faithful stewardship permeates all of life, each sphere of the life that we’ve been given stewarded for the glory of God.

The idea of stewardship is the idea of a manager—managing something that has been entrusted to us, something that belongs to someone else. All that we have and all that we are is a gift of God’s grace. Psalm 24:1 says, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

The stewarding (managing) of all aspects of life such as career, recreation, mind, body, material possessions, money, spiritual gifts, talents, and others are to be pursued and managed in light of and from the perspective of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Over the next several weeks, we will be doing a series of articles on stewardship seeking to encourage us from God’s Word toward faithful stewardship with a special emphasis on the advancement of the kingdom of God through obedience to the Great Commandment and Great Commission.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I Love the Psalms

One of the reasons why I love reading the Psalms (this morning I read Psalms 3-5) is the beauty of the character of God that is described for us.

But, another reason why I love reading the Psalms is the sheer honesty with which the author(s) communicate to the Lord. This honesty, at the very least, lets me know that the Lord can handle anything and that, as his son, I can talk to him about anything. It lets me know that a plethora of words are not necessarily what the Lord is after in communicating with him as much as an open and honest conversation, especially since he knows what is in my heart to begin with. I'm always amazed at how honest the Psalmist is, oftentimes it is David writing. And, because of that, I am comforted and encouraged, because David was a man with like passions; just like me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Victory, Sin, Setback, Discipline, and Obedience

I was reading Joshua 6-10 during my bible reading this morning. The people of God had just crossed over into the Promised Land and about to take down the city of Jericho. In their victory over Jericho, the Lord had given them instruction not to take anything from Jericho that God had "reserved for destruction" and that all "silver and gold" was to be placed into the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:17-19). With victory comes great responsibility.

Yet, one man, Achan, failed in his obedience to the Lord's instructions. It was a secret sin--apparently no one knew about it, not even his family. One man's disobedience to God's instructions caused the Lord to remove his hand of victory from his people when they went to battle against the city of Ai. It is interesting to note that when Joshua asked the Lord about the defeat, the Lord responded, "Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings." The effect of one man's sin was felt among the assembly of God's people and to some degree the responsibility of God's people in his eyes.

One thing this episode expresses is the connection of God's people to each other. Every member of the body of Christ is connected to each other (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:14-16). It also teaches us the far-reaching effects of one man's sin and disobedience. Our personal sins do not just affect us, but others around us. They cause setbacks and brings discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11). Another truth this episode teaches us is that sometimes our greatest temptations come in the midst of our greatest victories.

In Achan's case, as with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), the discipline and judgment of the Lord was quick and severe to demonstrate the importance of complete obedience. Yes, the people of God eventually defeated Ai but not after the setback of losing the battle, the loss of 36 fighting men, and the discouragement that began to settle in because of losing the battle (Joshua 7:5).

I am always struck to the core when I read this story of the OT. God had already given his people the Promised Land, yet battles still had to be fought. As long his people were obedient to his instructions they won the battle. Obedience to the Lord's instructions (his Word) is the condition for victory. It doesn't mean there will not be temptations or battles to fight, but it does mean that the Lord has given us the means by which we can experience the victory he has already given to us.

May our hearts be in tune with the Holy Spirit today as we live for Jesus walking in obedience to the Father's will just like Jesus did (John 17:4).