Simply put, this BLOG is all about: LIFE STEWARDSHIP. Below you will find notes from Bible studies that cover basic stewardship principles and how to apply them to our lives.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Work and Accountability

The people in Jesus' parable were expected to produce an increase with what they had been given. The master expected them to use what they had to produce more. That idea involves work. The Bible says that if we don't work, we don't eat. (2 Thess. 3:10)  In Prov. 18:9, the Bible condemns slothfulness in work.  (Also read 6:6-11).  What example does the Scripture use to describe how industrious we should be?
      To my brother pastors, I ask you to come up close for a minute.  Brothers, it is unfortunate that many in ministry today believe they should be paid for what they know rather than what they do.  Simply because you have gone to seminary does not mean that you will be paid for sitting around the office or the parsonage. Let your diligence in work be an example for the believers, rather than giving them cause to condemn you as a lazy person.  The most effective pastors in my life have been those who had a truly great work ethic.  Well, OK, back to the passage.
The stewards in Matthew 25 faced a day of reckoning. The master returned and demanded an accounting of their stewardship. He rewarded the faithful stewards and condemned the lazy steward. While we are saved by grace and can never face hell if we have received Jesus, we can and will be held accountable for our stewardship. Often the accountability comes in this life. If we are lazy, we might lose our jobs.  If we are big-spenders and squander what God gives us, we may end up in debt or, worse, bankruptcy. "Take that which he has and give it to another."
        Some people try to delay the accounting.  A person who has amassed a large debt and does not have the ability to make a payment might borrow more, but only finds that they are delaying the accounting.  As time passes and he continues this practice of borrowing to pay debt, his interest mounts higher and his debt accumulates and compounds, until he finds no way out but bankruptcy, which is not a biblical concept. Scripture says, "The wicked borrow and does not repay." Psalm 37:21.
Would those closest to you say you are a hard-worker?
Who are you accountable to regarding your finances?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Principle of Giving A Return

The Master was very pleased with the first two stewards who brought a return along with the original number of talents.  In fact, they both doubled what the Master had originally given.  Although the passage in Matthew does not specifically deal with the tithe, the expectation of a return suggests that God has a reasonable expectation of our returning money to Him. Why?
      First, the tithe is an acknowledgement of His ownership of everything. The example of first fruits in the Old Testament was an act of worship to thank God for all He has given and to acknowledge that it all belongs to Him.  The tithe is an act of obedience. His Word has commanded, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse..." Malachi 3:10. By obeying God's word we are being faithful.
        Next: the tithe is an act of obedience. In giving God the 10% of our income and one day a week of our time (the Sabbath) in special, holy stewardship (although remember we honor Him with ALL our time and material possessions), we demonstrate that we believe He will meet our needs with the 90% and the six days. Ron Blue says in his book, Master Your Money, “God meets our needs, not our greed’s.”
      The tithe is not just an Old Testament concept. Some people, including ministers, try to exempt themselves from the tithe by saying it is just found in the Old Testament. Read Luke 11:42. Jesus corrected the Pharisees for their lack of justice while they focused on tithing even the spices they grew. Notice He said they should do one, and at the same time not neglect the other. In other words, Jesus acknowledged that people should give tithes; He was merely emphasizing that we should also do justly in relationships with other people
        Next: the tithe belongs in the storehouse. We do not have freedom to give our tithe for benevolence, or to other good Christian organizations. Nor can we use it for personal matters. Some might argue that because we are in the ministry and the tithe is for the ministry's use, we are free to use the tithe for our own purposes. No, we bring ALL the tithes INTO THE STOREHOUSE -- that is the treasury of the church. Undesignated. I do not have the authority to tell the church what to do with my tithe. As a member of the church, I have the right to express my desires regarding the church's stewardship, but I have no right to designate my tithe. If I want to give benevolently, or give to another Christian organization, or give a designated offering, I must do so after I have given my tithe as an undesignated gift to my church.
        Last: the tithe is an act of worship. We do damage to God's intention when we talk of "taking up an offering." We also do damage if we diminish the offering by simply placing a box at the church entrance for people to place their gifts outside the service. Giving is an act of worship. It is not only for members, but for anyone who desires to worship through giving.  Still the tithe is for church members to their own churches.  In doing so, we should elevate the place of the offering in our worship services in order to help people worship the Lord through their giving.  

Do you see tithing as worship?  Why or why not?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Am I Responsible With What God Has Given Me?

2. BEING RESPONSIBLE -- God commits material goods, as well as such things as time, into our care. How we use money, property, time, and even our own bodies demonstrates whether or not we are good stewards. Still in Matthew 25, verses 14 to 30, we see that the first two stewards did not complain that they received different amounts even though the first received more. One could have complained 'Why do I have so much more to be accountable for?'  The other could have easily stated, 'Why does he have more than me to take care of?'  They simply used what they had been given faithfully and increased the goods proportionately.  They both doubled what the master had given them! (we'll come back to this in a later post!)
        The Bible teaches us how to handle His creation. Throughout Scripture we find principles of stewardship. Even in Genesis, God placed Adam into the garden to "tend it." From the environment, to the hours in each day, to the money in our pockets, Scripture is replete with examples of how to use what God has entrusted to our care.
You may ask yourself, 'how can I really know if I'm being responsible or not?  That's a great question, and one that most of us don't ask....BUT SHOULD!  Here are a couple of 'primer' questions.  These will get your heart and mind going so a proper personal assessment can be made:
        Q:  Would those around me say that I am careless with any of 'my' possessions?
        Q:  Do I spend 'my' time wisely?
OK, now that I know of some areas that I'm not being as responsible as I should, ask this: 'WHY' have I let these things go, or don't show the proper stewardship over.  Knowing What and Why will help you know the proper thing to ask God for help to answer the 'HOW'!!  How do I become more responsible for those God-given items?  We need His help...after all, they do belong to Him!
Well, that's all for now...until next time...be a good steward of what God has given you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I have some pastor friends who hate to preach sermons on stewardship. I know there are many reasons why they feel this way, but don't you think people today need to know the principles of stewardship? They apply to all of life, not just to our money. There are a number of successful financial counselors like Dave Ramsey, Crown Financial and Ron Blue, just to name a very few, who try to help folks understand the money side, and they use biblical references and principles to do so. Are you in a church where you never hear 'stewardship' taught or preached? I dare say most of us are more likely to hear it in the form of a joke, like this one:

"There were 2 men stranded on a deserted island, one is panicked and the other is calm. The frantic one gets mad at the calm one and asks, "Why aren't you worried, don't you know we're going to die out here?" The calm one states, "I told you I made $100,000 per week, didn't I?" The other replied, really stressed out, "Sure, but what good will that do you out here on this island?" The calm one replied, "Well, what I didn't tell you is that I always give a tithe each week at my church. I promise you my Pastor will find me before Sunday!"

OK, I know that's an old one, but still you probably smiled! :) The reality is many times we don't want to talk about the subject because we don't want to give anyone grounds to accuse us of giving sermons to bring more money into the church. You know, most of the Pastors I know are far more concerned with reaching out to folks in need and seeing people come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!

So here's my BLOG. I'd like to start out with a quick principle from Matthew 25:14-30

1) OWNERSHIP - that is, everything belongs to God!

Q4U: Is there anything I have that I would not gladly give to God should He require it of me?

If so, you don't realize in a practical sense that God owns it and can do with it as He may.

If you are a Pastor, let me ask you straight up: "Do you tithe at your church?" Brothers, how can we expect others to tithe if we're not? You are the leader in your church, if you tithe, they will be more likely to. Why? Because, they are following you! They don't have to know what you give, but that you give! And by the way, you must give cheerfully as the scripture says. (More on that later!)

Enough for this time...see you next week.

gold party