40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 27 – Stewardship

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10 – 11, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

We continue our focus on the Discipline of Stewardship.  It is understandable that the first thought that usually comes to mind when we think about stewardship is money.  The topic is certainly discussed a lot in local churches and for good reason.  Churches need money and they should practice good financial stewardship.  As mentioned yesterday though, there is a a lot more to stewardship than money.      

Bible Passage:

Today’s passage is 1 Peter 4:10 – 11 (presented above).  Please pay close attention to what verse 10 says we stewards of.  Also, note the link between gifts, stewardship and service. 

Question:

In the matter of being good stewards of our spiritual gifts, what do you believe good looks like in the local church?  In other words, what are some specific things that local churches should be doing?


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 26 – Stewardship

1This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:1 – 2, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

As we now turn our attention to the Discipline of Stewardship we will begin by considering some questions about the role of stewardship in your local church.  First, some brief background on stewardship.

When we consider this discipline we are not just talking about money.  Stewardship relates to all the resources that God has blessed us as individuals and as a local church with. 

Primary Questions:

  1. Does your local church teach about the biblical principles of stewardship?
  2. Does your local church keep track of the skills and talents of its members?
  3. In the matter of financial stewardship, is your local church leadership held to account (transparency, budgets, reporting, etc.)?
  4. Do the leaders in your local church model good stewardship?

Optional Secondary Questions (if you have the time):

  1. Does your local church try to help members determine their spiritual gifts?
  2. Does your local church systematically give to needy ministries or missions ?

Your Feedback:

While you are not expected to share your answers to the questions above, we would still love to hear from you.  Based on your answers to the questions, what is your general observation about how local churches relate to stewardship?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 27 – Stewardship

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But 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 ancestors, as it is today19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.  (Deuteronomy 8:17 -20)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Yesterday, we briefly compared two approaches in the way we handle resources.  One approach views the resources we possess as the product of our work, abilities, heritage or luck (the “owner” approach).  The second approach views the resources we possess as God given resources for us to manage (the “steward” approach).  We are going to spend more time on this comparison today because of the relevance to our theme and because there is a dominant materialistic world view that is very prevalent in our culture. By staying on this topic, we will also be building on the excellent comments posted yesterday.   

The dominant world view glorifies socio-economic power based on the amassing of resources and glorifies the individuals who have the most resources.  The Biblical view recognizes the socio-economic power that comes from resources and acknowledges God as the source.  This Biblical view is clearly illustrated in our passage for today – “remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth”. 

The following table provides a summary of some key distinctions between an owner and a steward.

 OwnerSteward
Relationship to ResourcesOwnsManages
Direction/Rule SettingSets directionSeeks and follows direction
Task executionProvides supportExecutes as directed
Reward DeterminationDetermines rewardEnjoys reward

Based on the table, we can see why many seek to assume the role of owner of their lives.  It gives them/us a sense of power, control, autonomy and independence.  The truth is that this “sense” is fool’s gold because where our lives are concerned God is the real owner. As believers, we should be thrilled with the reality of God’s ownership and committed to being good stewards because God is a loving and perfect owner.

Please read the passage above carefully and answer the questions below.

Questions:

  • Make this personal.  When are you most temped to try to take the reins from God?
  • How have you dealt with these temptations?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 26 – Stewardship

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13 – 21)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

What a blessing it has been to hear stories of service over the last three days from fellow participants.  I hope we are even more inspired to do our part in advancing God’s kingdom. 

Over the next two days, we will turn our attention to the Discipline of Stewardship.  If the ongoing pandemic has taught us nothing else, I hope it has taught us that our control over our lives has significant limitations.  I also hope that this lesson increases our understanding of our roles as stewards in God’s kingdom.  All the resources we have (not just physical assets), are on loan from God and we should use the resources God has blessed us with in service to Jesus.  That in essence describes the Discipline of Stewardship.

Our passage for today highlights the futility of assuming more ownership and control than we really do have.  The parable in the passage addresses agricultural assets but the application is much broader.  The lessons apply to other resources such as our talents, our vocation, and our very lives.

Please read the passage carefully and answer the question below.

Question:

Why is it important for us to understand our role as stewards if we are going to advance God’s kingdom?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 27 – Stewardship

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

 

There were so many powerful thoughts and examples yesterday from those who commented.  Some provided great examples of how we can use our material possessions (or as many of you said, really God’s resources) to demonstrate God’s love to others in need.  As we conclude our consideration of the Discipline of Stewardship today, I want to highlight a challenge that we sometimes face when we think about financial stewardship.

In the world’s view, a good steward typically engages in growing and retaining economic resources.  While there is nothing wrong with these activities in many instances, it is quite interesting though, that in God’s economy a good steward is often engaged in giving away resources to a world in need.  Trying to decide how much we should keep/save versus how much we should give away is often very difficult.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

What does our inclination to share our resources with people in need say about where our trust resides?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 26 – Stewardship

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do?  I have no place to store my crops.’  18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13 – 21)

 

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Stewardship as we consider the theme A World in Need.

We started our consideration of The Discipline of Service by looking at a parable.  We are going to do the same with the Discipline of Stewardship.  The parable of the Rich Fool is another masterpiece by Jesus.  If you haven’t been following the stock market lately, I can summarize what has been happening for you in one word – brutal.  There have been a few good days but overall, stock prices are down considerably since the start of the year.  And, that’s only a part of the story because there are many workers worrying about loss of income due to business closures and a slowdown in commerce.  Whether you are directly impacted by the volatility of the economy or not, the shifting sand of financial resources brings the Discipline of Stewardship into very sharp focus.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

How can we demonstrate an attitude towards material things that provides a Christ-like example to a world in need?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 27 – Stewardship

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  21“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13 – 21)

 

Today, we continue our consideration of the discipline of stewardship.  I am sure that most, if not all of us agree that the possessions we are blessed with ultimately belong to God.   However, a problem often emerges because we very easily slide into “ownership mode”, where we act as if we are the ultimate owner of our possessions; instead of “stewardship mode”, where we recognize God as the ultimate owner.  The temptation is very strong partly because possessions are a great signal of our level of success and status.  However, it is very clear which mode gives glory to God.

We are not immune to the kind of greed exhibited by the rich man in the parable, and this is not only a “rich man’s disease” or necessarily about financial or physical assets.  Therefore, pay very careful attention to the caution Jesus proclaimed in Luke 12:15: “Watch out!”

 

Question:

On one level, the rich man in the parable appears to be engaging in “sensible” forward planning.  Where does he go wrong, and how could we do the same?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 26 – Stewardship

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1 NKJV)

26the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  27To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26 – 27)

 

We now turn our attention to the discipline of stewardship.

By definition, stewardship is all about managing what God has blessed us with in ways that bring honor and glory to Him.  Often this discipline focusses on the topic of financial resources, which is extremely important.  However, we know that stewardship is a much broader concept.  The passages above remind us that we are most importantly stewards of God’s glory revealed through Christ.  This is an awesome responsibility!

Please read the passages above carefully and answer the question below.

 

Question:

What would you suggest are practical ways that we can be good stewards of the “riches of the glory” revealed in Jesus?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 27 – Stewardship

11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”  12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. (Romans 14:11 – 12)

 

As we continue to consider the Discipline of Stewardship as it relates to Our Identity, an important principle to consider is accountability.  Since we are stewards of God’s resources, it is entirely logical and Biblical to expect that we should give an account.  How do we manage our priorities, time, health and wealth?  In tangible terms, let’s assume that you rigorously maintained a calendar, a diary, an address book, and financial statements (e.g., a bank statement).  If these were made public, what would they say about your stewardship of time, health, emotions, relationships and finances?

Please prayerfully reflect on the passages above.

 

Something to think about:

Wherever we are on the journey of stewardship we can improve.  What one thing could you do to improve?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 26 – Stewardship

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. (Psalm 24:1 – 2)

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  18 But 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 ancestors, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:17 – 18)

13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.  14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?  Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (1 Chronicles 29:13 – 14)

 

Today we switch our attention to Stewardship.  Fundamentally, the lifestyle of a steward is the lifestyle of submission.  If submission to God is not a part of our identity, then the significance of Stewardship is lost.  This conclusion is reached because the Biblical version of stewardship asserts that everything we have comes from God.  In other words, we are working with God’s resources.

Please prayerfully reflect on the passages above.

 

Something to think about:

How unwavering is your belief that God owns everything?