Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

Looking At The World From A Different Perspective:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (AMP):

[1] BUT UNDERSTAND THIS, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble–hard to deal with and hard to bear.  [2] For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers); disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.  [3] [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman);  relentless–admitting of no truce or appeasement.  [They will be] slanderers–false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.  [4] [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.  [5] For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it–their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession.  Avoid [all] such people–turn away from them.

A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb
A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb

Looking at the world from a BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE, it is not difficult to reach this conclusion from the title to this blog-post: “Things Aren’t Always As They Seem”–

Although this planet is inhabited by more than six billion human beings, there are only two types of people: Those who BELONG TO CHRIST and those WHO DON’T.

Now that, at first, may seem like an oversimplification, but the fact is reflected in…

1 Corinthians 10:21: 

You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demon’s cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table.”

Unfortunately, in comparison to the rest of the world, the TRUE CHURCH, that is to say, ALL BELIEVERS not willing to compromise, do not compromise their FAITH by following the norms and the evil current running through this world, is a FACT.

It is a sad fact to think that out of more than six billion people, only a small group or percentage will be SAVED.

Look at the words JESUS speaks in clarity–John 14:6:  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”

THIS WORLD is full of people who are just like described in our text (2 Tim. 3:1-5), appear to be one thing, but in all reality something very different.

The world is full of people who profess to be “Christians”; people who with their mouths loudly (and some, not so loudly) DECLARE they are men and women of God, but in REALITY are very far from God.

How do I know this?

Because there are numerous doctrines and teachings that appear to be beautiful and good, but when examined against the Truth, the Word of God, quickly find that there are DOCTRINES & TEACHINGS designed to separate men from God’s presence.

The apostle Paul tells us here to SEPARATE ourselves from them–yet way before Paul’s instruction to us in Timothy, Jesus warned us to stay alert, “take heed”; don’t let the world catch anyone napping.

Mark 13:21-23 (NASB):

[21] “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ; or ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;  [22] For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.  [23] “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.”

At this point, I want to take a pause–a “time out”.  I am NOT stating nor implying we should JUDGE and CONDEMN someone.  None of us are worthy to judge anyone!  There is but on Judge!  (John 5:22-23)

I want to make myself very clear on the fact that we are not called to JUDGE or CONDEMN anyone because they may be confused or find themselves trapped in a RELIGION or a SECT.  Let’s always remember when we find ourselves in a situation to EVANGELIZE…our first words must never be “you are going to hell.”  

Our responsibility is to PREACH God’s TRUTH.

So I am NOT implying that we must judge, rather what I am trying to convey to you is we can not trust everything that we see or hear.

The MAJORITY of people, I believe, allow themselves to be led by first impressions, being it positive or negative, and these influence their attitude and behavior toward others.  How do I know this?  Because I am in a spiritual battle as I write–concerning my attitude, my first impressions of others.

If we are honest with ourselves, we are ALL GUILTY of doing just this.  Look at what JESUS tells us regarding our attitude toward others; our judging based on first impressions or otherwise:

Matthew 7:1-2:

[1]  DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.  [2] For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

But then the question arises in our minds, “How can we distinguish between good and the bad without counting on appearances?”

The LORD tells in Matthew 7:15 (VOICE):

“Along the way, WATCH OUT for false prophets.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but understand that quaint and innocent wool, they are hungry wolves.”

I capitalized two words in this verse, for the KEY to answering the question is to “WATCH OUT” !!!

There are many people in this world who appear to be something that they are not. People that disguise themselves by wearing masks of religions, that seem to speak eloquently with fancy words, but “inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

WATCH OUT!

There is but ONE WAY that we can prevent ourselves from being deceived; to distinguish these persons from the rest.

EXAMINE THE FRUITS that they produce (Matthew 7:20):

“You will fully know them by their fruits.”

In other words, although my first impression may be good or bad, although the appearance of a group or individual is good or bad, as a true believer, I have to start by learning to wait on God.  This “waiting”, many will say, places the BELIEVER in Christ Jesus at a disadvantage.  

But in reality, the opposite is true.

What happens is, that once we receive conviction, we separate ourselves from all of those things that we have learned that displease God; we will be accused by many saying that a TRUE CHRISTIAN is called to LOVE.  That as Christians, we are CALLED TO LOVE GOD and our neighbors.  That we are CALLED TO FORGIVE even those that may have seriously offended us in the past, and because of the “callings”, we can never distance ourselves from, or stop sharing with, a particular group or individual.

I can tell you that there is some TRUTH to these types of accusations; a Christian Believer IS called to love God and to love his neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).

Therefore, ONE TRUTH IS…Christians are CALLED to LOVE & FORGIVE.

BUT another great truth is that Christians are NOT CALLED to be Accomplices; Doctrines, rituals, and Sects that serve only to drive a wedge between man and God.

Our responsibility is to TEACH the TRUTH, to PREACH the Gospel of Salvation through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

BUT if they are unwilling to HEAR, unwilling to ACCEPT the Truth, wishing to continue in those things that don’t please God as pointed out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, then we are to SEPARATE ourselves from them.

Look at how this instruction from Jesus is clearly reflected in Matthew 7:6 when we read…hqdefault

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.  Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you”  ~ New Living Translation (NLT).

WE MUST BE CAREFUL–WATCH OUT!!!

We must be take care of what God has given us–our “PEARLS” of wisdom and understanding.

Read in Revelations 2:11 at how our Lord tells us,  “Behold I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

We must AVOID those persons who disguise themselves to confuse us; we must SEPARATE ourselves from this wicked and evil world, no matter the form we see it appear.

But we must also EXAMINE ourselves very closely to find the FRUITS that we are bearing are in fact pleasing to God.  [See Footnote [i] for a reference to read]

We must examine ourselves to find, if perhaps, that we have become so preoccupied with those around us that our life has stopped testifying of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I…we have to examine ourselves closely, because we find that by CRITICIZING, and HATING those around us, we must realize that we are not bearing GOOD FRUIT.  We must be very careful with what we HEAR & SEE, we have to TEST EVERYTHING using the Word of God.

But just as important, is our self-examination; we have to EXAMINE ourselves and discover if our life is truly hidden in Christ, or perhaps just hidden.

APPEARANCES can be deceiving, so let’s be very careful that we may not be deceiving ourselves in the process.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/its-not-easy-b…ruit-inspector/

Photos:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

Events Have Transpired–The Shadow of Things to Come! (Part One)

For the past month, our pastor has been speaking on PENTECOST from the book of THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES; the introduction to the Holy Spirit and the POWER introduced to the believers in Christ Jesus–the NEW CHURCH.

“AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come,

they were all assembled together in one place”

~Acts 2:1~

THE JEWISH FEASTS – A TWO PART Series in Leviticus 23 [PART I–The Springtime Feasts]:

A thought came to mind, and a question–  “Should Christians be celebrating the Jewish religious festivals?”  Although it certainly NOT REQUIRED for Christians to CELEBRATE the Jewish Feast days, I find that it is beneficial to go beyond what’s said on Sundays, and investigate God’s Word on the topic of conversation even deeper.

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The JEWISH FEASTS is a fascinating study.  God provides picture after picture of His entire plan for mankind and… one of the most startling prophetic pictures outlined within the Jewish feasts of Leviticus 23.

“These are the set feasts (or appointed seasons) of the Lord, holy convocations you shall proclaim at their stated times” (Leviticus 23:4 AMP).

The Hebrew word for “feasts” (mow’ed), meaning “appointed times”; and the words “holy convocations” means “rehearsal”.

In other words, the FEASTS of the Lord were appointed times of worship for Israel, which then serves as a “dress rehearsal” in God’s prophetic calendar.  You will see all this come into play as you follow along in this series [There are TWO PARTS to this study].

The SEVEN ANNUAL FEASTS of Israel:

To give you some perspective of the 7 Feasts, I thought I would list the months of the Hebrew Lunar Calendar (12 months of 29 or 30 days), with the corresponding months (English):

HEBREW MONTH        Corresponds

1.  Nisan                             March/April

2.  Ivar                                 April/May

3.  Sivan                               May/June [Shavuot]

4.  Tammuz                       June/July

5.  Ab                                   July/August

6.  Elud                               August/September

7.  Tishri                            September/October

8.  Marcheshvan        October/November

9.  Kislev                           November/December

10.  Tebeth                          December/January

11.  Shebat                     January/February 

12.  Adar                           February/March

 

The MAIN PRINCIPLE…of the Jewish Festivals

All of these rituals laid down by God in Leviticus have at their core, the teaching of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross.

In the BOOK OF AMOS, the “secrets” of God’s plans in the future times is made plain:

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing without revealing His secret to His servants and prophets”  (Amos 3:7).

God has always warned the world of coming judgements in order that it may not bring them upon itself.  Christ’s coming was foretold throughout the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi.  Equally plain and a certainty of fulfillment are the warnings of JESUS and the prophets concerning the future that each day comes nearer to every nation on earth.

#1.  ISRAEL’S UNIQUE ROLE IN GOD’S PLAN:

That role is far from being over, and it will again come to the forefront as the TRIBULATION time begins (Matt. 19:28; Luke 2:36; 22:36; Acts 13:21; Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5; Heb. 7:13; Rev. 5:5; 7:14; 21:12), coming to full fruition in the Millennium and Eternal State beyond.

That said, it is a mistake to think that we, the present day Church, pretend that we are something we are not, and we are not the divinely appointed nation Israel charged by God with observing Mosaic Law.

As Christians, if we choose to celebrate these special days, we should put Christ Jesus in the center of the celebration as the One who came to fulfill the prophetic significance of each one.  That’s my take, and I’m sticking to it!

THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVEN FEASTS:

“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

THE FEAST OF PASSOVER, it’s Origin– 

The FIRST MONTH of the Jewish Calendar is NISAN – 14th evening, the Passover (Seder meals).

The PASSOVER (Hebrew Pesach), means “to pass over”, “to skip”.

 passover_door_blood“The Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, Go forth, select and take a lamb according to your families and kill the Passover [lamb].  And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood in the basin, and touch the lintel above the door and the two side post with the blood; and none of you shall go out of his house until morning.  For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood upon the lintel and the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to slay you”  (Exodus 12:21-23).

“You shall observe this rite for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever”  (Exodus 12:24).

“In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house; neither shall you break a bone of it”  (Exodus 12:46).

FULFILLMENT IN JESUS–The Passover Lamb:

Through the BLOOD of JESUS, we have eternal life.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has CROSSED OVER from death to life”  (John 5:24–capitalized for emphasis).

JESUS was without fault–sinless, the perfect sacrifice.

“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of]  the righteousness of God [what we ought to be approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]”  (II Corinthians 5:21 AMP).

No bone of Jesus was broken on the Cross of Calvary (John 19:31-36).

Photo by photobucket
Photo by photobucket

THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD–

“On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread”  (verse 6).

“For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast.  On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel”  (Exodus 12:15 NIV).

“Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth”  (1 Corinthians 12:15 AMP).

“Do you not know that [just] a little leaven will ferment the whole lump  [of dough]?”  (1 Corinthians 5:6).

Metaphorically, “yeast”, “leaven” is a symbol for sin.  In the Jewish feast, yeast couldn’t even be kept in the house for seven days!

The 15th Day of Nisan…

UNLEAVENED BREAD is to be eaten exclusively for seven days.

JESUS’ FULFILLMENT OF THE FEAST:

Luke 22:1-2, 7-8
Luke 22:1-2, 7-8

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone.  But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest”  (John 12:24).

“JESUS replied,  I am the BREAD OF LIFE.  He who comes to Me will never be hungry…”  (John 6:35).

JESUS was without SIN!

FIRST, the unleavened bread is a picture of His holiness, purity and sinlessness.  His life and sacrifice was “unleavened”–without identifying with the curse of death–a Lamb without spot or blemish for the ultimate Passover sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19).

JESUS died for us on the Cross; His body was buried (put into a grave) and after three days, the tomb was found empty!  He is alive!  Still producing a “rich harvest” of lost souls.

THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS:

“Tell the Israelites,  When you have come into the land I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, that you may be accepted; on the next day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it [before the Lord]”  (Lev. 23:10-11). 
Spring Barley Harvest
Spring Barley Harvest

In biblical times and again today, the first day after the Passover Holiday (Sabbath), the Feast of Firstfruits is celebrated.  The festival acknowledged the fertility of the land that God promised His children.  They were to bring the early crops of their spring planting and “wave it before the Lord”. 

THE FULFILLMENT in Jesus’ Resurrection…

“But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep [in death]”  (1 Corinthians 15:20 AMP).

The FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS in Leviticus 23, pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous.  Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits of the dead.”

THE FEAST OF  WEEKS–PENTECOST (SHAVUOT):

The Origin–The Month of SIVAN:

In Exodus 19, we see for the first time, Moses received the Ten Commandments on stone tablets and the whole Law about seven weeks after the death of the Passover lambs in Egypt.

The Torah is put into place by God, through Moses and given to the Israelites; it’s a commemoration of the giving of the Law.

Leviticus 23:15-16, we read“You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day you when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.  You shall county fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord”  (NASB).

The fourth FEAST is often called the FEAST OF WEEKS, because God specifically told the sons of Jacob to count seven weeks from FIRST FRUITS and then the day after, this feast was observed.

This also marks on the Jewish Lunar Calendar, the Summer Harvest [First Fruits began the Spring Harvest].

SHAVUOT (Hebrew) means “weeks”.  The Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, goes back to the Greek word, “penteconta, fifty”.

SEVEN WEEKS are forty-nine days–add one day (“the day after”), brings the total to fifty days.  ISRAEL has been born as a nation through the Gift of the Law.

THE FULFILLMENT:

Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost
Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost

THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ has been born, not from the Law written on stone tablets, but the followers of Jesus the Holy Spirit; the law of life written on your heart.

AND WHEN the day of Pentecost [Feast of Weeks] had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place.  When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit…”  (Acts 2:1-4 a.).

As the Jews see the Feast of Weeks as the birthday of God’s covenant relationship with the nation of Israel, the fulfillment is found in the Book of Acts, the New Covenant.

When you hear the word “Pentecost”, what do you first think of?  Acts 2? Tongues? Charismatics?  What should come to our minds is the beginning of the New Covenant.

THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH.

JESUS was resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits; fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, and the promised New Covenant begins!

(“Events Have Transpired–The Shadow of Things to Come”  PART 2; The Fall Feasts are coming!)

REFERENCES:

Bible Translations used: Amplified Bible; New International Version (NIV) translation; New American Standard (NASB).

1.  got Questions?org  [www.GotQuestions.org].

2.  info@hebrew4christians.com  John Parsons.

3.  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

4.  The NIV Complete Concordance.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Calendar by Gavin Finley MD endtimepilgrim.org

photobucket – www.photobucket.com/images/pentecost

Photo Pin – Miscellaneous.

JEWISH CALENDAR Luzrius Schneider Feb. 03, 2000.

DOING and SAYING the Things God Expects Us to Do and Say

1 PETER 4:10-11 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

[10]  As each of you has received a gift (a particular talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits]  good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [FAITHFUL STEWARDS of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].

[11]  Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be GLORIFIED through Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  To Him be the glory  and dominion forever and ever (through endless ages).  Amen (so be it).

ELIEZER of DAMASCUS–

Abraham and Eliezer
Abraham and Eliezer

Eliezer certainly wasn’t the most prominent of Bible Characters, and yet, he played a significant role in the life of Abraham where identified as “a steward of Abraham.”

“And Abram said, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am going on [from this world] childless and he who shall be the owner and heir of my house is this [steward] Eliezer of Damascus?”  (Genesis 15:2).

What is a “steward”?

In the OT [Old Testament]; a man who is ‘over a house’.

In the NT [New Testament]; two words translated “steward”:  epitropos (Mt. 20:8; Gal. 4:2). i.e. one to whose care or honor on has been entrusted, a curator, a guardian, and… oikonomos, the Greek word use in 1 Peter 4:10.  i.e. a manager, a superintendent – from oikos (‘house’) and nemo,u (‘to dispense‘ or ‘to manage’). 

The word is used to describe the function of delegated responsibility.

So, with that meaning in mind, ALL things are Christ’s and Christians are His executors or “stewards”–

In the case of Eliezer, he had to manage ALL of Abraham’s ‘stuff’, and boy, Abram had a lot to manage!

“Now Abram was extremely rich

in livestock and in silver and in gold.”

(Gen. 13:2).

ELIEZER, himself, mentions how great the responsibility was in Genesis 24:34-35:  flocks, herds, silver, gold, men servants, maidservants, camels, and asses.  That is a lot of STUFF!

As a STEWARD, his task was making sure that he was prompting Abraham in his best interests.  Over January 2012 062the years, Abraham had found ELIEZER to be faithful and dependable and chose him to carry-out an important errand–to find a woman who believed in the one true God.  He found Rebekah for his son Isaac and the rest is history.

No matter what Abraham placed in Eliezer’s hands, he was found to be faithful and dependable promoting his master’s best interests.  Over the years, Abraham and Eliezer had become more than a master/servant, but in relationship, had become trusted friends.

ELIEZER is an ideal example for us to imitate–

In 1 Peter 4:10, we’re told to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (KJV and NAS).

Now, everything belongs to GOD: “Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth also, with all that is in it and on it”  (Deuteronomy 10:14).

Even though GOD owns all things, He entrusts us with a portion of His possessions.  In His “manifold grace” He grants us ALL that we have and enjoy in this life.  We are then STEWARDS of what GOD gives us!

On what basis are we to be judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ stewards?

VERSE 11 tells us that we are good stewards when…we use all that we are given to promote GOD’S best interests–“so that in all things God may be glorified.”

THREE THINGS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO EACH ONE OF US TO “GLORIFY”:

1.  SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

The primary focus of 1 Peter 4:10-11, is to use our spiritual gifts Again verse 10: ‘As each one has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment – Amplified Bible)–“employ it for one another, as good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [‘faithful stewards’].

Look carefully what is said and meditate on the certain truths that are taught in this verse:

FIRST, Peter informs each of us we’ve been given a “special gift”.  There is not a single member of the Church assembly who has not received from GOD a GIFT.

SECONDLY, we are to notice the enablement–to ‘serve one another’ in the assembly.  These GIFTS grant us the ability to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  Each GIFT represents a ministry that GOD calls us to perform within the congregation.

THIRDLY, only as we actively “employ” our special gift are we “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  ~ adopt, utilize, apply; engage, hire, use, ‘put-to-work’.

THE APOSTLE PAUL’S ADMONISHMENT:

Romans 12:6-8 speaks to us. in regards to being FAITHFUL, in the Use of Our Gifts.

[6]  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them:  [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;

[7]  [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;

[8]  He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.

“Unopened Gifts”

I happened to run across this great story late last night by Rosalind Renshaw, date 10/2/91:

How come you’ve left so many gifts unopened on the floor?  They have your name on them, they belong to you, they are yours for the taking–if only you will receive them.  What is that you say?  That they can’t be yours, you have your share already.  They must be someone elses. There must be some mistake?  You’re afraid of what so-and-so will say when they see you unwrapping that gift–you fear their reaction, their envy.  Go open up your package, see what is inside your gift box.  You’ll be amazed at how I knew exactly what to give you–the perfect fit for you right now–in fact, just what you’ve always wanted, but you didn’t know it.  Go on, open it!  You can trust Me.  I am the Master gift-giver.  I never make mistakes or give the wrong size, or color, or fit.  But, please do hurry and open it, to enjoy it and to share it with others, so they can benefit from your gift too.  That’s My whole purpose of giving gifts…not for you to put them back in the box, to keep them safe or even put them in a glass cabinet, to look at and admire.  No, all My gifts are for My children to use, to help their brothers and sisters, not to make anyone else jealous or feel less fortunate.  As I said, I see a number of unopened packages, gift wrapped especially for you.  They are yours!  I’m right here, waiting, longing to see you unwrap them, and to see the look of joy and wonder on your face.

We Each Have Different Gifts Given to Us:

Each GIFT given to the ‘re-birthed’–and this is an important first step.  None is more important than any other and only when each of us actively uses our GIFT can a church body grow as GOD intends.

EPHESIANS 4:15-16 says,

“we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, cause the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

Are we using our gift(s)?  Are we performing the ministry that GOD has called us to?  We will be judged by how faithful we used our gift(s), as much as how diligently we lived the life of righteousness and worshiped GOD properly?  (Matthew 25:14).

2.  OUR TIME

The second area where we need to be GOOD STEWARDS is the use of the time GOD grants us.

Even though the length of our lives seem so long when we are young, the truth is…LIFE IS SHORT!  I’ve asked myself over the years in my Christian life, “Am I being a good steward of the precious time that GOD continues to give me?”

Paul writes in Ephesians, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil”  (Eph. 5:15-16 NIV).

Are we, as good stewards, investing time in ACTIVITIES that promote GOD”S interests and glory?

Are we investing time now in the ACTIVITIES that will pay dividends in eternity?

Or, are we wasting valuable time that GOD has graciously given to us, engaging in ACTIVITIES, that have absolutely no spiritual significance?

How much TIME do we devote to self-improvement?

We all have weaknesses in our lives.  We all have faults.  The question becomes, how much TIME and EFFORT do we dedicate to changing our practices and habits?

How much TIME do I use, to make myself a better person, so that my light might shine brighter for GOD?

3.  MONEY!

The third and last area to discuss is our STEWARDSHIP OF MONEY.

It’s so easy for us to forget what we think of as OUR MONEY–what is actually GOD”S money (Ezekiel 16:17; Haggai 2:8).

The income which we have is given to us by our GIFT-GIVER; our GOD, to meet our basic needs but, above all, to promote His interests and glory.

When we steward GOD’S money, what is the appropriate amount to set-aside?

Every Lord’s Day, GOD’S people are encouraged to give–Scripturaly and doctrinally.  The question we need to ask ourselves, is whether or not, as STEWARDS OF GOD’S MONEY, do we contribute or offer an appropriate amount?

When my wife and I were SAVED–born-again in 1972, the issue of “giving” our money to the church, was an issue.  In our minds, there wasn’t room in the budget to “give”…period!  Much less, a tithe!!

The pastor who led us to Christ could point to Scripture about tithing all he wanted, but we just couldn’t and wouldn’t make room to GIVE!

But then the Holy Spirit’s “Light bulb” came on as we matured in Christ Jesus and has stayed on ever since; even during bad economic times in our family when things looked dark–repeated unemployment; low pay; no health insurance for a growing family.

THE TRUTH ON GIVING IN 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 NKJV:

16  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:  2 On the first day on the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

When we go about determining how much we are to give and frequently focus our attention on “as he may prosper”, then we are tempted to adjust our thinking in giving.

Often we interpret the phrase “net profit”; that is, in accordance to what money we have left over after expenses of other worldly activities.  We GIVE GOD a “cut” of whatever is left over.

However, that’s not what Paul is talking about.  The phrase “as he prospers” is referring to what GOD has prospered us with, before we begin to divide it up!  It is based upon our “gross” earnings before expenses.  In other words, GOD expects His cut first; He wants the first fruits of our labor.

There is the story about a little boy who had two quarters, one for ice cream and one for giving to church on Sunday.  Unfortunately, he accidentally dropped one of the quarters in a storm sewer.  “Well, Lord,” said the boy, “there goes your quarter.”

We are tempted to be just like that little boy in the story.  We get our pay-checks, divvy it up to this and that and when we find we have little or nothing left-over for GOD…we say, ‘Sorry Lord, maybe we can give more next time.’   GOD calls that ROBBERY! (Malachi 3:8-12).

You may be thinking right now, the Scriptures you referenced, about GOD”S money, really doesn’t apply in today’s world.  That’s Old Testament Law! 

THAT THINKING would be incorrect.  The apostle Paul repeats the same message in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (AMP):

[6]  [Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.  [7] Let each one [give] as he has made his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].  [8]  And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].

As GOOD STEWARDS; trustees, we put GOD”S interest and glory first…even in the church offering each week.

What a privilege it is to be chosen by GOD to be His stewards.  May we all take our role seriously and glorify our Lord and Savior.