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Sullivan Village Church of Christ

Stewardship

May 27, 2016

           

              A steward is simply someone who is put in charge of something that belongs to another and who will give an account for how well they took care of it.  In ancient times it was not uncommon to see a slave put in charge of his masters possessions for a period of time.  Then when the master returned from his journey the slaves would be called in to give account.   The slave would either be praised and rewarded by the master at his return or he would be severely punished depending on what he chose to do with the master’s property.  

             Paul recognized that he had been given a stewardship from God regarding his apostleship and said, “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:1-2).  Paul’s point is that all stewards must be found trustworthy, but even more so when that stewardship involves dealing with God’s Word.  As apostles of Christ, Paul and the other apostles had been given certain authority from the Lord (2 Cor. 10:8, 13:10), and it was to be used in accordance with the desires of the master, which was building up the church.  Therefore they had to devote themselves fully to that task, even to the point that some tasks were given to others (Acts 6:2-4). 

            Some of us have specific stewardships that others do not have because of the part we play in the body.  Some of us are what I like to call the “vital organs” of the body (Eph. 4:11-12). Vital organs are extremely critical to the health of the body and each one has a very specific function in building up the body.  Christ gave some to be “evangelists, pastors, and teachers” in order to build up the body.  “Evangelists” or preachers have a stewardship and will be held accountable by God for their work in the Word (2 Tim. 2:15).  Therefore, they must be hard working and devote most of their time to it.  They must watch closely their own lives and their teaching if they or others are going to be saved (1 Tim. 4:15-16).  “Pastors” or elders will have to give an account to God for the souls entrusted to them.  They must set superior examples for their sheep and provide them with quality food (1 Pet. 5:3, Heb. 13:17).  Thus it is extremely important for them to know the sheep well and spend time with them so the example can be seen and followed.  They even go out after the ones who stray (Ezek. 34:11-12; Mt. 18:12).  And of course “teachers” have a stewardship and must be found faithful for they too will be held to a stricter standard in the judgment to come (Jas. 3:1).  So these vital organs play a critical role in the building up of the body. 

            Each and every member of the body has a stewardship involving their submission to the elders (Heb. 13:17), their roles in the home and workplace (Eph. 6:1-9) their use of time (Eph. 5:15-17) and the use of their talents (Matt. 25:14-30).  Each one of us have different talents (Rom. 12:4-8; Eph. 4:7) and we cannot afford to forsake or withdrawal our involvement and run the risk of being found guilty of burying our talent(s) (Matt. 25:18, 25-28, 30).  We must be good stewards of our bodies, relationships, material possessions, thoughts, words, and actions.  God tells us that we will all give an account (2 Cor. 5:10).  We will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23) or we will hear, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), depending on whether or not you are found faithful when He calls you to account for what you did with what He gave you.   – steven 

How Would You Like More Joy?

February 21, 2016

Christians should naturally have a deep spiritual joy, not like that of the world.  The world may find joy, but it is connected to physical and temporary things and circumstances.  And when those temporary things and circumstances are altered, so is the joy.  The joy of Christians on the other hand is connected to spiritual and eternal things and circumstances.  So even when physical circumstances fail or temporary things change, the joy remains.  But the question is not how to have joy, but how to have the fullest joy.

Simply put, if you want to have the most joy, spread the truth of the gospel.   When we go about telling others about the truths of God’s word, it provides them an opportunity to accept it and become a child of God.  Of course we are not in the business of making someone obey the gospel.  Our business is to plant the seeds and pour on water and God is the one who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). But when people hear the truth and begin to obey it and you get to be blessed with knowing that God allowed you to be a part of His great work to bring someone salvation, which will alter where they will spend eternity, it translates into joy inexpressible (1 Pet. 1:8).  John, the apostle of love wrote about this joy…

 

  1.  “These things we write, so that your joy may be made complete” (1 Jn. 1:4).
  2.  “I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father” (2 Jn. 4).
  3.  “For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.  I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth(3 Jn. 3-4).

 

Paul rejoiced when the truth about Christ was being spread (Phil. 1:18), even when the motives of the messengers were evil.  He knew that even though the messenger was wrong, the powerful and eternal destiny changing message was still ringing out and giving people the opportunity to obey it and become children of God (Jn. 1:12-13).

The apostles experienced great joy not only when they proclaimed God’s truth but when others proclaimed it as well.  They knew the power it contained (Rom. 1:16) and that eternal destinations could be altered (Col. 1:13-14).  We too can participate in the work of salvation when we share the word of God with others.  Not only will we have joy in knowing we have done will of God but also in seeing God’s plan in action and knowing we were a part of His bringing many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10).  What a privilege to share in this great work.  Spreading the gospel is the key to more and more joy!  May God bless our efforts may our joy be full and overflowing in Christ!   - steven

Have You Ever Been Down?

February 8, 2016
Sometimes sheep get themselves into a position known as being “cast down.”  This occurs whenever a sheep (typically one that is short and stubby) lays down and ends up rolling over onto its back in a depression in the ground.  When this happens the sheep cannot get itself back onto its feet and will die if left without help.

However if a shepherd is near, then the sheep can receive help to get back up onto its feet and survive.  Time is very important for the sheep while it is on its back.  It is said that the sheep will become frantic and flail and yelp and kick, but to no avail.  After a few hours on their backs, gases begin to collect in their stomachs, their stomachs begin to harden and their airways begin to close up.   Without help the sheep will eventually suffocate.  It is a situation that shepherds commonly refer to as a “cast down” sheep.

Philip Keller, a man who was a shepherd in Africa for some 30 years wrote a book titled “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm” and he mentions this and goes on to say that when the shepherd finds a sheep in this position, he will come to the sheep and massage its legs and speak to it and help it to get turned over and regain its equilibrium.   This is a clear picture of what our “Good Shepherd” wants to do for us when we are cast down.  Have you ever been cast down due to certain circumstances, guilt or sin?  We can flail and yelp all day long but unless we rely on the shepherd then we are without hope.  The shepherd, (our Lord Jesus Christ) wants to help us get back up and regain balance so that we can continue to follow Him through green pastures and beside still waters.   Philip Keller writes about being cast down as a reference to what is said in the 23rd Psalm and verse 3, “He restores my soul.”

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholds him with his hand” (Ps. 37:24).  If you have been cast down for any reason, due to something you did or something that has been done to you, allow the Good Shepherd to restore your soul and lead you in paths of His righteousness.  “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Ps. 55:22).

 - steven

Get Plugged Into The Power

January 25, 2016

It is sad to consider just how many people give Christianity a try and begin to pursue what seems like the “ever allusive purity” through their own strength, by their own efforts and with their own wisdom, only to later realize their own insufficiency for such a monumental task and many of them end up giving up and returning to their former state of worldly affairs of self gratification.  The problem is, they lack the power that is needed to accomplish pure living.   The power is found only in the Word of God!

I’m reminded of the verse in Ps. 119:11, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”  Implied is that the Word of God is not in the heart, but must be put in.  It will indeed take effort and sacrifice to carefully put it into the heart. However once you put the Word in your heart/mind and store it up (memorize it), it will always be there for permanent use and may equip the individual with the ability to keep from sinning (Mt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13).  It seems to me that this is one of the most fundamental aspects of what God tries to accomplish in each and every one of us.

It is the pursuit to stop sinning! (Jn. 5:14; 8:11), to stop living for self and start living for Him.  While we understand that sinless perfection cannot be reached in this life, Jesus wants His church to develop the kind of perfection that can be defined as “maturity.”  It is accomplished by putting the Word of God into our hearts (Ps. 119:11). We must spend more time studying the Word, wherein lies the power to transform the life (Rom. 12:1-2). It is the renewed mind that proves the will of God by examining the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11; Ps. 1:1-3; Josh. 1:6-9), it is the Spirit of God getting in (into) the inner man (Eph. 3:16), it is Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith, which comes by hearing the word of God (Eph. 3:17; Rom. 10:17), it is what makes us clean (Jn. 15:3; 1 Pet. 1:22, 2:2), It is taking up the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5), it is Christ being formed in us (Gal. 4:19), it is Christ living in us and no longer us living (Gal. 2:20), It is walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), it is putting to death the deeds of the flesh and walking by the spirit (Gal. 5:16-24), it is hearing the words of God and acting on them like a wise man who looked in the mirror and fixed what he saw and then went out and built his house on the rock (Jas. 1:22f; Matt. 7:24f), it is humbly receiving the revealed word of God as soil receives the seed so that it may grow to maturity and produce fruit unto salvation (Jas. 1:21; Mt. 13:23), it is imitating God (Eph. 5:1), it is fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Word (Heb. 12:2; Jn. 1:1), it is possible, not by our own strength and power, but God’s power available to us through His word and by our diligence, willingness, and obedience (Gen. 18:14; Mt. 19:26; Lk. 1:37; 2 Tim. 2:15).

There are countless people all claiming to be Christians and follow Jesus but unless they are spending time in the word on a daily basis (Ps. 1:1-2; Josh. 1:6-9; Acts 17:11) they are simply deceiving themselves and are in for a rude awakening.  Also if we merely hear the word preached, read the word daily but do not do what it says, we are equally deceived and will not stand in the judgment (Lk. 6:46; Matt. 7:24-27; Jas. 1:22-25).  My mom used to write in the front page of my Bibles, “this book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book” I think she was onto something, don’t you? - steven

Spiritual Heart Surgery

January 16, 2016

“The situation is worse than we thought, it turns out that we are going to have to do open heart surgery.”  Many doctors have had to break this gripping news to various people with severe heart conditions.  This has to be one of the hardest realities to face, but many go through with it as their only option left to live.  While we relate this to what a doctor would tell a patient, it must also be applied to anyone who is practicing and engaging in a habit of sin.  The only way to remove the blockage and heal the heart is through open heart surgery. This is a surgical procedure that only God Himself can perform, however the patient must be willing to go through with it.  God is the greatest heart doctor of all time and never makes a mistake.  However, He will not force anyone under the knife.

The “knife” that God uses to perform these procedures is much sharper than a surgeons scalpel.  It is in fact the very Word of God.  The Hebrews writer said, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  God goes into the heart with His Word, and removes the sin.  This is done as the Word convicts us and works “godly sorrow” that brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).

The only way we will survive is if we continue to allow the “Great Physician” to use His “knife” on our heart.  If we choose to avoid the continual procedure, we will surely die.  Are you ready for heart surgery?  - steven