In this verse the concept of stewardship first appears. Adam was to tend the garden. He was to carry out the vision of the owner (God), be accountable to Him, and not be careless with what he was given. So, what makes up a good steward? First, it’s acknowledging that we own nothing…God owns it all – even our very lives. We then need to trust Him completely, embracing the plan and purpose of our life and “tend the garden” He has given us.
God’s people need to be in circles…not rows. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t obtain a tremendous amount of spiritual knowledge and wisdom from the Church Service you attend every Sunday. But there’s something very special about small groups that meet in homes. In Acts 2:42, these small groups of Believers met for the purpose of teaching God’s Word, breaking bread, and prayer…and the modern-day small group hasn’t changed that much. But unless you’ve been part of a small group, you don’t realize all the benefits there are. When you’re part of a small group, you make connections, and fellowship with like-minded people who become close friends. In small group, there’s the chance for openness and transparency to share each others burdens, while at the same time there’s accountability and follow-up. If you aren’t already part of a small Bible group, I strongly encourage you to take the step to join one. For we all need to encourage and be encouraged by each other as we grow in our faith.
What goes around, comes around…or better yet, you look for trouble, and it’ll find you. Or elsewhere, in Psalm 7:16 to paraphrase, “The trouble you cause will return back to you…the violence you create will come down on your head.” But if we seek what is good and morally right, we will receive favor…favor before God…and favor before men. And as we seek good, not only are we changed, but what we seek changes…for we are aligning ourselves with the Holy Spirit and seeking God’s Will, not our own.
From the moment Jesus beckoned that rag-tag group of fishermen with, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”… there has been the decision of whether we follow Jesus or not. For many, it’s a sacrificial decision…knowing that they are at risk of losing everything. Following Jesus sacrificially means accepting the potential loss of family, employment, and even freedom. But Jesus assured the disciples, and all of us, that this sacrifice isn’t without great reward…for in Luke 18: 29-30 He goes on to promise them, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
This verse simply says, “Don’t question God.” We are to pay careful attention to keep the Way of the Lord… not just with lip-service, but with inner commitment. But also, we are not to be taking on the job of rewriting or adjusting God’s Word in order to align closer with today’s mores found in this broken and evil world…just to be more politically correct. We have but one job when it comes to God’s commandments and it’s found in Ecclesiastes 12:13, ” Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
More than a dozen times in the New Testament Chapter of John, Jesus makes the statement, “I am.” Jesus asserts He is – the light of the world, the bread of life, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life, and so forth. But also in John 8:58 He states, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” In other words, Jesus is telling us, “I’ve always been.” This timelessness of existence then shows – all these declarations Jesus made to us in John were in place long before the beginning of time…And that each assertion is as enduring as He is.
I encourage you to read the entire 11th Chapter of Hebrews, for in it you will read of many kinds and shades of faith. Faith is an ongoing lifetime journey of trusting God. It’s a way of life, not just a one time action done at conversion. Our faith grows as we grow in Christ…confidence in Him is forged and built every time we make the decision to trust Him. But as you read through Chapter 11 you’ll see the different nuances of faith shown… there’s expanding and growing faith, there’s beyond logic and reasoning faith, there’s sacrificial, persecuted, and impossible faith. Our life of faith begins with an internal response, which leads to faith-filled action. From there, it’s a life based on God’s promises…not on circumstances. Though, when you get to the end of this chapter you’ll read, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” Every person you read about here in Chapter 11 was praised for their faith, yet not one saw their promise fulfilled in their lifetime. Instead, they all persevered under pressure, never giving up, and always putting their confidence in their Lord.
This week ended the 5 year journey of my son’s family adopting a beautiful little girl from Haiti. The moment this orphan’s feet hit USA soil she was a legal citizen and officially theirs. Another word for son-ship in this verse is adoption. We all have the opportunity to be legally adopted by our Heavenly Father. But for some, they see God only through the lens of their biological father…a man that might have been absent, abusive, or angry. Despite the faults and failures of your earthly father…your Heavenly Father will be loving and involved. He is not to be feared for retaliation. He is just and will never leave you. He will accept you just as you are, and will love you unconditionally. God is your Daddy, which is what the word Abba means…and He’s wanting to be that Daddy in your life you may have never had.
We all have things we’ve done that we’re not proud of. Lapses in our character where we actually thought we could hide willful sins…but God saw everything. And the longer we attempt to cover-up and rationalize sin, the harder it is to admit we’ve crossed the line. David in Psalm 32:5 told the Lord, “I acknowledge my sin to You, and do not cover up my iniquity.” The first part of David’s confession was Relent. We need to yield to God and admit we’ve messed up. The second part was Repent. There needs to be true remorse and shame for our sin. We’re sorry for what we’ve done, not just sorry we got caught. Finally, we need to Remove the sin from our life…by whatever means it takes. By keeping a short account with God, we won’t find ourselves outside His Will and far from His compassion.
What’s it mean to excel in the grace of giving? Here the Apostle Paul was encouraging the Church in Corinth to be generous in their giving to others. Generosity can be a learned behavior…we see our parents or family acting unselfishly with their money or time…and we do the same. But on the other hand, dire circumstances we’ve lived through can also determine how generous we are, or not. Fearless generosity is an investment into God’s Kingdom work and excelling in this grace of giving is the start of that bold approach.