Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Godly Stewardship

Blogger's Note: I'll be posting two daily entries for my devotionals for the last two days. I had no internet access on the ship where we've been cruising.

August 9, 2011 … Handling Possessions Properly

Passage of the Day: Matthew 6: 19a [see verse in bold ] … 19a Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth
, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

My Journal for Today: Today’s verse is Jesus speaking; and at times, as here, He can be very straight – even hard – when He teaches. He certainly didn’t mince words when He was teaching about something He considered basic to Christianity; and today’s truth is one of those “Christianity 101” principles.

From today’s verse, in his devotional for the date in Strength for Today, John MacArthur points out that Jesus uses the Greek construct for “store up” being ”theaurizete,” which would be a play on words. It would literally say, “Do not ‘treasure up’ treasures for yourself.” The word picture is of one creating a long, horizontal line or stack of any given treasure; and in such a picture, the Greeks assumed that such action implied a show of hoarding for all to see. It’s as if the person is saying, “Look at all I have here.” It also illustrates the lack of doing anything constructive with these God-given riches, but merely hoarding them, which we know Jesus strongly opposed (see Jesus’ parable of the Talents in Matt. 25: 14 – 30 and remember where this passage resides in the Bible – you’ll refer to it often since money is such a big part of life).

We also see Jesus teaching about such matters in His parable of the rich, young fool (see Luke 12: 16 – 21); and from these two teaching passages, we know that Christ expects the believer, His disciples, to make an active commitment of God’s grace from His providence toward God’s Kingdom (again we’re directed by the Matt. 6: 33, which I’m sure you have memorized by now).

Here’s the hard truth. We can never fulfill God’s will for the use of His providence if we are “stacking away” His treasures to impress others or only for our own security. Personally I feel more challenged by the latter than the former; but we certainly see hoarding and ostentatious show of wealth all around us. While I’ve been studying these lessons the last few days, my wife and I have been traveling in Europe on a Christian cruise through the Mediterranean; and it’s been both edifying and convicting, to get these lessons in the context of a lot of wealth being on parade around us while those of us who came on this cruise to fellowship and learn from God’s word have had to keep our Christian values in tow. And all the while the economy seems to be crashing down around us with the stock market plummeting right at the same time we’re cruising gently through these Mediterranean waters. It’s like a life lesson in realizing what is important and trusting that God is in control; and HE always promises. How we deal with an attitude of self protection to keep us secure financially is another matter, for which I’m under conviction by not trusting God enough for my needs.

We need to realize that such ill-begotten priorities, involving the handling of God’s grace, constitutes a slap in God’s face. By taking selfish charge of God’s resources and hoarding or showing off, we dampen God’s ability, through His grace, to use HIS bounty for HIS glory through HIS servants. We don’t know what the cost might be for such selfishness; but Ananias and Sapphira certainly found out [read Acts 5: 1 – 10]. They were struck dead by God for their hoarding of what God commanded them to give to His Kingdom. Meditate on 2nd Cor. 9: 6-7 and ask yourself what God would have you give – CHEERFULLY and not with a begrudging attitude – for His kingdom.

When God says to seek Him and honor His kingdom first (again, Matt. 6: 33), He means it! And He will provide what we need. May I never forget His admonition; and may I never be ungrateful for His mercy and grace.

My Prayer Today: I say again, Lord, … may I never forget that it’s all Yours. Amen


August 10, 2011 … Being a Wise Manager

Passage of the Day: Matthew 6: 19a [see in bold/underlined] … 19a Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

My Journal for Today: In my recent devotional entries, the way I’ve been using God’s word to rail against greed and the love of money, one might get the idea that being wealthy or having material things is a bad thing in God’s eyes. NOT SO!!

As John MacArthur, in Strength for Today, reminds us in his entry for this date, both Old/New Testaments declare that any wealth or material providence for which we might have been blessed comes from God (see Deut. 8: 18 and 1st Cor. 4: 7 below).

Deut. 8: 18But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

1st Cor. 4: 7For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? …

As God’s word says [above], “What do you have that you did not receive (from God)?” But beyond these pronouncements of truth about from whence our providence comes, Jesus in His parable of the Talents (Matt. 25: 14 – 30) teaches clearly that as His disciples, whether we have been given much or little, …we are ALL to be wise stewards of God’s providence and His blessings. So, it’s fine to HAVE [even great wealth] from God; but then, when His providence is put into our hands, we’re to use it for His glory.

MacArthur’s devotional on this date illustrates this for his readers with a true story of John Wesley, a Godly man who became quite wealthy in the 19th century by writing and publishing Christian hymns, many of which we still sing to this day. Wesley, by today’s standards, would be much like the Michael W. Smiths of today… financially blessed by the sale of Christian music, which then glorifies God. And both Wesley then and Smith now have used their providence for God as well. John Wesley not only used his musical talents for God’s Kingdom, but he is said to have had only 28 British pounds to his name at the time of his death, because he had carefully and selectively given away a fortune over his life in the service of the Lord.

No, … again, being wealthy is not a bad thing. Having “stuff” is not bad. In fact, it becomes a wonderful thing in God’s eyes when His providence is used to further His kingdom. Right now God has blessed me with an expensive computer, which has all the whistles and bells; but do I feel guilty about having such a fancy techno-tool, which has the potential to be involved in evil enterprise? No, because day-after-day, God has given me this tool to honor Him. Even as I type these devotional journal entries, this computer often plays lovely praise music, to which I listen during my prayer/praise/study times; and I sit here typing this devotional journal, using the word processor in this wonderful machine. A couple of years ago, my wife and I purchased a beautiful HDTV system from the providence of inheritance of my father’s passing. But before we purchased this expensive item, we prayed that the way we used that TV system would be for God’s glory (by the way we avoided worldly/fleshly viewing, concentrating on programming that would edify and relax our minds without involving us in ungodly viewing).

Certainly I am not the perfect witness in this arena. I still make selfish money decisions at times; but prayerfully God convicts me and I make course corrections along the way. And I pray that all who read this are seeking God’s will and direction when it comes to using the providence with which He has blessed us. To that end, may we all be vessels of His purpose.

My Prayer Today: Help me to use Your gifts, Lord, wisely for Your Kingdom. Amen

No comments: