Understanding the Management

“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” (Matthew 25:14)

Several kingdom parables in the New Testament provide glimpses into two major principles: God’s provision and our management of His wealth.

In the parable of the talents found in Matthew, the “talents” (money) belong to the “lord of those servants” (Matthew 25:19), and he gave to “every man according to his several ability” (Matthew 25:15). Each steward had the master’s confidence and trust, and success of enterprise depended upon the servant’s productivity. Each steward received varied amounts of resources according to the master, and the reward was based on faithful use of those resources.

Luke’s parallel account (Luke 19:13-27) focused on the percent of return. In both cases, the stewards were essentially asked, “What did you do with what you were given?” Each had enormous freedom in his management and the opportunity to demonstrate his capabilities.

God funds His work through His people. The funding of the tabernacle building project (Exodus 35) is a good example. The Israelites were recently freed slaves who had all been given gold by the Egyptians until there was more than enough.

The funding of the temple during David’s reign (1 Chronicles 28 and 29) is another excellent example. The leaders gave vast amounts of wealth and building materials, setting an example for the rest of the nation. Though they did not actually build it, they had the vision for it, and their children eventually did it. God works no miracles to meet critical needs except through the miraculous giving of His willing people. HMM III

Trap of Cheap Salvation

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

—2 Corinthians 4:2

 

Here again is seen the glaring discrepancy between biblical Christianity and that of present-day evangelicals, particularly in the United States….

To make converts here we are forced to play down the difficulties and play up the peace of mind and worldly success enjoyed by those who accept Christ. We must assure our hearers that Christianity is now a proper and respectable thing and that Christ has become quite popular with political bigwigs, well-to-do business tycoons and the Hollywood swimming pool set. Thus assured, hell-deserving sinners are coming in droves to “accept” Christ for what they can get out of Him; and though one now and again may drop a tear as proof of his sincerity, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of them are stooping to patronize the Lord of glory much as a young couple might fawn on a boresome but rich old uncle in order to be mentioned in his will later on.   BAM017

Lord, don’t let me fall into the trap of offering a cheap salvation. Remind me often that redemption which cost the life of Your Son should never be so cheapened. Amen.

 

Flowers and Fruit Do Not Grow in Thin Air!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

—Galatians 5:22-23

 

I would like to be able to ask every Christian in the world this question: Are you really interested in God’s producing in you the beautiful fruits and fragrances of the Holy Spirit?

For every affirmative answer, I would quickly recommend: Then look to your own willingness to be regular in the habits of a holy life—for flowers and fruit do not grow in thin air! They grow and come up out of a root and “the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit” (Proverbs 12:12).

For every beautiful garden that you see, whose fragrance comes out to welcome you, has its roots down into the hard earth. The beautiful flowers and blooms will grow and appear and flourish only when there are deep roots and strong stalks. If you take the roots away, the blossom and flower will endure perhaps one day. The sun will scorch them and they will be gone. WPJ015-016

What is the special likeness of Christ that He would reproduce in me? What are the features of His life that He calls me to imitate? What pattern would He set before me in my work, my circumstances, my difficulties? What are the inspirations of grace that He would urge me to cultivate and cherish? JAS188

 

Hidden in Plain Sight

John 14:6

The truth is often hidden in plain sight; so close, yet so very far away. It can’t be discovered in debate. It can’t be realized in religion. It must be mastered through a personal relationship.

The first space walk actually occurred on Mars Hill. Stoic and Epicurean philosophers walked there every day, cogitating, ruminating and speculating about the truth. You might say they were spaced out on Mars Hill! Theirs was an impersonal God, out there, somewhere.

A foreign force, a remote ruler, a distant deity. They had even erected an altar with the inscription, “To The Unknown God.”

Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said: “What you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you… in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:23, 28).

Paul is saying, “The truth is right there within your grasp. Come down to earth and enjoy a personal relationship with your Creator.” Some elected to continue their lonely space journey while others “joined him and believed.”

Pilate looked Christ straight in the eye and said, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). That’s a legitimate question. We all struggle with it.

Lenin said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” A brilliant scholar said,

“God is dead.” The Beatles said, “We are more popular than Christ.” A well-known religious leader said, “I am the Messiah!” What is truth?

The truth was standing directly in front of Pilate in plain sight, and yet he couldn’t see Him. Why? Because he hadn’t experienced the Truth personally. Paul was standing before King Agrippa witnessing to the power of a changed life, and yet Agrippa could not see Him. Why? Because the Truth cannot be known through persuasion; He must be experienced personally.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Christ never hides. He is always in plain sight calling, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Knowledge in this context requires an intimate personal relationship, one that is guaranteed to bring great joy and fellowship. He doesn’t have to remain hidden. And that’s the truth!

Joe Noland, A Little Greatness

 

VIDEO The Hitchhiker – Love is a Verb

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.
Romans 12:16

A man in India named KA Ranjith strapped on his motorcycle helmet and roared off to St. Mary’s High School in Kandanad, where he works as a teacher. When he arrived and pulled his helmet off, he saw a venomous snake known as a common krait was coiled inside and had joined him for the seven-mile ride. Ranjith rushed to the local hospital where doctors determined he hadn’t been bitten, but nonetheless Ranjith decided to destroy his helmet in a fire and replace it.[1]

The old serpent, the devil, is always trying to get into our mind. He wants us to set our mind on high things—that is, to be filled with pride, desire, and vainglorious ambition. The Bible says, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

God wants our mind to be humble, concerned about others, and willing to associate with the needy. As we allow Him to mold our life, we’re able to live a life of meekness.

Meekness and lowliness of heart should be the distinguishing feature of the disciple. Andrew Murray 


Love Is a Verb – Romans 12:9-21 – Skip Heitzig

Named by God

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

Ruth 1:20

Riptide. Batgirl. Jumpstart. These are a few names given to counselors at the summer camp our family attends every year. Created by their peers, the camp nicknames usually derive from an embarrassing incident, a funny habit, or a favorite hobby.

Nicknames aren’t limited to camp—we even find them used in the Bible. For example, Jesus dubs the apostles James and John the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). It’s rare in Scripture for someone to give themselves a nickname, yet it happens when a woman named Naomi asks people to call her “Mara,” which means “bitterness” (Ruth 1:20), because both her husband and two sons had died. She felt that God had made her life bitter (v. 21).

The new name Naomi gave herself didn’t stick, however, because those devastating losses were not the end of her story. In the midst of her sorrow, God had blessed her with a loving daughter-in-law, Ruth, who eventually remarried and had a son, creating a family for Naomi again.

Although we might sometimes be tempted to give ourselves bitter nicknames, like “failure” or “unloved,” based on difficulties we’ve experienced or mistakes we’ve made, those names are not the end of our stories. We can replace those labels with the name God has given each of us, “loved one” (Romans 9:25), and look for the ways He’s providing for us in even the most challenging of times.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Wait in Faith

Hebrews 11:6-16

When I was a young boy, my mother let me plant some seeds in her garden. Although she explained that the plants would take time to appear, when nothing happened after several days, I decided to dig them up to check for progress. I found no plants, but what’s worse, I also ruined the possibility of ever seeing any.

Hebrews 11 records examples of people who by faith waited for what God promised, even when it wasn’t visible.

• Noah continued building an ark despite the many intervening years until the predicted flood (Heb. 11:7).
• Abraham looked forward to the land God promised, though the fulfillment did not take place during his lifetime (Heb. 11:8-10).
• Sarai had to wait until she was well beyond childbearing age before God finally gave her the son He’d promised (Heb. 11:11-12).

If we expect God to work according to our timetable, we’re likely to face disappointment. The people mentioned in Hebrews had to wait many years; in fact, some of the promises made to them won’t be fulfilled until after Christ returns. The Lord doesn’t work like a gumball machine—we can’t cash in a promise and assume the fulfillment will pop out. Ours is a long-term walk by faith.

Understanding The Ownership

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)

The doctrine of creation is not merely a “scientific” debate. The opposite concepts of natural and evolutionary development versus the fiat creation of an omnipotent, omniscient, and transcendent Being impact every facet of our worldview. God owns the earth; He is its Creator (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1-2; Revelation 4:11; and hundreds of other passages throughout the Bible).

Christians who revere the biblical revelation of God are not to be in conflict with this most basic of all doctrines. God owns the living creatures that inhabit the earth (Psalm 50:10). He owns the metals that establish monetary value in the earth (Haggai 2:8). He claims ownership over our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19). He even states ownership of our very souls (Ezekiel 18:4). Nothing is excluded from the sphere of His ownership and kingship (1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Isaiah 45:12; Colossians 1:16-17). And we are to manage God’s resources as stewards of the Owner.

Lucifer’s error was that he thought he could become like the Owner, usurping all the rights and privileges of the Creator (Isaiah 14:12-14). Israel’s error was similar; they behaved as if their possessions were their own property (Malachi 3:8-10). The prodigal son claimed for himself the right of ownership and treated the money as if it were his own (Luke 15:12-14). The unfaithful steward made no effort to be productive (Matthew 25:24).

We have been delegated authority over the creation itself (Genesis 1:28), are required to be faithful with the “mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2), and are expected to administer “the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). May God preserve us from self-serving stewardship. HMM III

The Times of Extraordinary Crisis

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest

—Matthew 9:37-38

Let a flood or a fire hit a populous countryside and no able-bodied citizen feels that he has any right to rest till he has done all he can to save as many as he can. While death stalks farmhouse and village no one dares relax; this is the accepted code by which we live. The critical emergency for some becomes an emergency for all, from the highest government official to the local Boy Scout troop. As long as the flood rages or the fire roars on, no one talks of “normal times.” No times are normal while helpless people cower in the path of destruction.

In times of extraordinary crisis ordinary measures will not suffice. The world lives in such a time of crisis. Christians alone are in a position to rescue the perishing. We dare not settle down to try to live as if things were “normal.” Nothing is normal while sin and lust and death roam the world, pouncing upon one and another till the whole population has been destroyed.   BAM030

Lord, help me to respond like Isaiah when he saw the extraordinary crisis around him, “Lord… here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Amen.

 

Know Your Gift

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

—1 Corinthians 12:27

 

The task of the church is too great for any one person to compass and too varied for the skill of any one person to accomplish.

God has met this difficulty by dividing the task and giving to every man gifts that enable him to do his part. By distributing the work, He lightens the burden for all and makes possible the smooth carrying out of His purposes among men. That is undoubtedly the reason behind the gifts of the Spirit given to the various members of the Christian community. Here, as elsewhere, the manifold wisdom of God is revealed….

Blessed is the man who knows his gift and who seeks to exercise it toward the other members of the body of Christ “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). NCA080

[T]he Holy Spirit desires to take us and control us and use us as instruments and organs through whom He can express Himself in the body of Christ….The Spirit of God, His presence and His gifts are not simply desirable in our Christian congregations; they are absolutely imperative. TRA030, 027