Stewards After Eden

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Isaiah 22:14-18, Ephesians 6:13-17
Date: 02/03/2018 
Lesson: 5
"Why is it so important for us to learn to trust in and believe in spiritual things that we don’t fully understand? In what worldly ways do we do that all the time anyway?"
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Good morning friends and welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist church. Very warm welcome to those of you who are joining us across the country and around the world on the various television networks and also those who are watching on Facebook. We have a special announcement for you here in just a few moments. I'd also like to welcome those of you who are here in person, our regular church members and our visitors, a very warm welcome to all of you. As we continue our lesson series on stewardship. If you've been coming for a few weeks you know we started a new lesson entitled Stewardship: Motives of the Heart. And today we find ourselves on lesson #5 which is entitled stewards after Eden so that will be our subject that we'll be looking at today. For those of you who are joining us live on Facebook we want to let you know about a special feature that we’re going to include in our study time today.

We're going to try and take some Bible questions, related to the subject of stewardship, during the time of our lesson today. So if you go to the Facebook and you can make a note on there just ask your question. We'll try to answer as many of those questions as we can during the program this morning. For those of you who don't have a lesson quarterly - I know those of you here in person, we do have a few extra ones. You can get yours following the church service, they’re over there in the foyer for our friends are joining us via the various media outlets. You can go to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.Org - and you can download lesson #5 and you can study along with us today. We have a free offer that goes along with our study. It's entitled Is Obedience Legalism? This is one of the Amazing Facts study guides. To receive the study guide, give us a call. The resource phone line is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #706. Well before we get to our study time this morning invite you to join us as we’re going to lift our voices in song.


Thank you so much for singing along with us. And, at this time, Pastor Ross is going to have our opening prayer.

Let’s bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father in heaven, again we thank You for the opportunity to be able to gather together and open up Your Word and study this important subject of stewardship. Everything we are everything we have is Yours. Father we pray that You give us wisdom to know how we can use the things that You've given us to Your glory. Bless our time today, for we ask this in Jesus name. Amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Good morning.

Good morning.

How is everybody? Want to welcome our friends that are watching on television or online. As Pastor Ross said, if you hear something you have a question about, those who are listening on Facebook, that has to do with the lesson on stewardship we're doing today, then you can actually text those in on the Facebook page. We have some people that will try and retrieve those for us and get them to us for the lesson today. We're going through lesson #5 today in our quarterly on stewardship. And a lot of very important lessons here, I think, for us to learn and to glean. Today we're going to be dealing with Stewards After Eden - stewards after the Garden of Eden - and our memory verse is 1 Thessalonians 2, verse 4, if you want to read it there out of your quarterly, 1 Thessalonians 2, verse 4.

Are you ready? "On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." all right maybe just as a broad introduction to this lesson on stewardship, let's remember some important basics. You're here. You're breathing. Your heart's beating. You’re alive. It's temporary. They say there's like, you know, 100 percent death rate among those who live long enough, with a couple of very rare exceptions. You do have Enoch and you've got Elijah, then there'll be some who live and remain until the Lord comes, but otherwise, you get old, you're going to die. You’re here temporarily.

In the judgment you will give an account to God for two principal things: what you do with the time you are given and what you do with the things that you have some influence over. And we are stewards, temporarily, of a certain amount of time and influence over a certain amount of things or means that God gives us. And so, you know, they say you don't take it with you. You're here managing a gift that's been given - a gift of life and the gift of a variety of things. And so we are stewards of our time and stewards of the means that God has given us control over. Now we're going to look today, in particular, at what the Bible has to say about stewardship and some of the principles of stewardship in the Bible. The term ‘steward,’ that you find in the Old Testament, comes from not one word but a phrase and it's Ashal Abat.

Which means one who is on or over a house; a person to his place to be on or over the house, ostensibly of another. A biblical world view of stewardship can be conscientiously defined as ‘utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of his creation. The central essence of biblical world view stewardship is managing everything God brings into the believer’s sphere of influence in a manner that honors God and impacts eternity.’ I like that definition. It says here ‘the central essence of biblical world stewardship is managing everything God brings into the believer’s sphere of influence in a manner that honors God and impacts eternity.’ stewardship begins and ends with an understanding that God is the ultimate owner of everything. We have some verses on that.

Well you got Revelation 22:13 where he says "I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." so God is everything and he's in charge of everything. You have Psalm 24:1, "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it." we were just singing, before we went on the air, this is my father's world. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it and all who live in it. The things and the beings all belong to God. Deuteronomy 10:14, "to the Lord your God belongs the heaven, even the highest heavens, and everything - and the earth and everything in it." Moses said, "because the land is mine and you are but aliens and tenants." that’s Leviticus 25, verse 23.

And you read job 41:11 "who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me." God is speaking there in chapter 41 he says ‘everything belongs to me.’ and so - just - stewardship really begins by understanding that God owns it all. That we are temporarily - we have some impact or influence on the things that are in our life and on our time. So, looking at stewardship in the Old Testament, just to give you an idea, it says, ‘someone who is on or over another person's house.’ there is an individual you'll read about in the life of Abraham and Abraham had a steward. His name was Eleazer and he was so close to Abraham, he - Abraham chose a person with such important criteria and qualifications that he at one point thought of making him the heir of all that he had. Before Abraham had a son - and he's fabulously wealthy - who does he leave it to?

So if you look in Genesis chapter 15, verse 2, "but Abram said to the Lord – this is Genesis 15:2, "Lord, God, what will you give me seeing I go childless and the heir of my house is Eleazer of Damascus?" so there it gives you his name. Later in the book it just tells you that he was a steward over everything Abraham had. But do you think that Bill Gates goes to the post office himself? Does he ever mail anything? Probably. Does Bill Gates go get his groceries? Or Warren Buffett? Or Jeff Bezos? Or pick your favorite billionaire. They may, at times but, for the most part, I think that these folks probably have administrators that help them. These have to be people - I mean if you managed Bill Gates checkbook you'd have to be pretty trustworthy. You'd have to be a person that he had an awful lot of confidence in.

I can almost guarantee you that he has other people that help him with his accounts and a lot of trivial matters. Those would need to be people, if someone - who said that, Karen? His wife, you know, Melinda Gates is really busy with a foundation. I'll bet you she has people that help. These folks have personal secretaries and attendants that are booking their flights, they're planning their travel - they say, ‘I want to do this.’ ‘I want to do that.’ ‘I want to buy one of these.’ ‘I want’ - and they take care of it for them. They’re sort of like a modern equivalent of what we would call a steward they are a person that they have a great deal of confidence in and those people usually have incredible authority to do things, to order things, to save things, to buy things in their name.

And so, in Bible times, Abraham - I mean how wealthy was he? Just to give you context, when Abraham went to war, it says he had 300 trained soldiers in his camp. So - and Abraham had hundreds of - and he came out of Egypt. He had even more after that. He had gold and silver. It says he had male and female servants he had so many flocks and herds he and lot could not even abide together. So he had this incredible substance he couldn't manage it all. He had to find somebody who he could really trust and maybe it was when he was coming from Ur of the Chaldees and he was going through Damascus, he found or bought this servant that was extremely faithful that he really trusted - he must have been very bright. His name was Eleazer. So much so that when you look in the Bible and you go to - someone in a minute is going to read for me Genesis 39, verse 4 - you'll do that in just a moment.

I want you to notice Genesis 24, verse two, "so Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house who ruled over all that he had. He said, ‘please put your hand under my thigh and I'll make you swear by the Lord God of heaven and the Lord God of earth that you will not take a wife from my son of the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell. But you will go to my country and my family and take a wife for my son Isaac.’" (whistles) just think about that. He not only has the key to his safety deposit box. He's not only got signatory authority on his checkbook, he’s saying ‘I want you to pick the wife for my son.’ you've got to trust that steward, amen? And they made him swear to me – he said, ‘look I'm trusting you.’ now, if you read the rest of that chapter where Eleazer picks Rebecca – he has to pick her. He prays - he's a man of God. He believes in the God of Abraham. You read the prayer of Eleazer - matter of fact, I wish I could stop here and just launch into the sermon on that chapter.

Because in that passage where Abraham sends his steward to find a wife for his son, the language, first of all, Eleazer’s name never appears. He never refers to himself by name. He's just ‘I am the servant of Abraham,’ so he is very content to be a servant. He is entrusted with camels loaded with gold and silver and gifts to pay a dowry for a wife. So he could have taken those camels and said, ‘I'm off to Damascus. I'm going back to somewhere else.’ it means he could run for it. He had just bags of money. But his principal love was to do the will of Abraham. And he could be trusted that he was going to leave with all that money and come back again with a wife for his – for his son. So, to me, that is just - you know, if we stop right here, that just gives you a mind-boggling concept of how important the role was of an Old Testament steward. It really needed to be somebody that you had a great deal of confidence in. Someone - or go ahead read for me please Genesis 39, verse 4.

Genesis 39:4, "so Joseph found favor in his sight and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house and all that he had he put under his authority."

Well that's a steward isn't it? It doesn’t call him a steward calls him a what? An overseer. But he's responsible for everything Potiphar has. That didn't happen the first day. Potiphar watched Josephine, who was 17 when he bought him as a slave. We don't know how long after that, but he noticed that this young man was a quick learner. He was faithful. Everything he asked got done. You know at Amazing Facts, you know, including our evangelists out in the field we have about a hundred employees. And there are a handful of people that are very busy. But anything you give them they get it done. They don't say yeah when I get around to it they get it done and I'll call them back and I'll say, ‘well when you get a chance.’ they say, ‘I already did it.’

I mean, don't you love people like that? And you want to put them in charge of everything because it's like everything they touch, they take care of it. They’re always busy but they're always - you've heard the expression ‘you ever want to get anything done’ get a busy person.’ and he saw that Joseph was that kind of person. Anything little he started faith – ‘he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful in much.’ Joseph was not sweeping the dirt under the carpet in Potiphar’s house. He saw that whatever he did he did it well. And Joseph often came back and he said, ‘you know, would you mind, master, if I made a suggestion? I think there's a more efficient way to do this.’ and he was always improving on the way things were happening. He said, ‘boy, you know when you – you’ve just got natural aptitude. Anything that you do, you do better.’ and he just kept promoting him and promoting him. And he said, ‘boy, everything I've given to him is excelling.

Anything that he's in charge of is running.’ and he just kept giving more until pretty soon everything is under Joseph's control, except Potiphar’s wife and that's a whole other story. But you can read here in Genesis 43, verse 19 that now Joseph - you know the rest of the story. Joseph eventually, because he was a faithful servant, he could become a faithful master. Now where did Joseph learn to be a faithful servant? In the house of Potiphar or in the house of Jacob? He was working in his own home with his father. You remember his father said ‘I want you to go find your brothers.’ and he went out to find his brothers. He was keeping his father's sheep. He was faithful in the little things and so he could learn. You know, the best leaders in history have often had very difficult histories - very difficult beginnings. Sometimes they had poverty and a lot of hard work and they learned principles, through the poverty and the hard work, that helped them be very successful presidents and leaders. You may, you know, when you look at the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore, all of them went through great adversity. And Lincoln - father and mother died when he was young. Just living out there in the woods - had to learn how to work, you learn how to be frugal, you learn faithfulness. He learned how to be frugal.

You learn faithfulness. Roosevelt was actually born rich but you may not know his wife died giving birth and his mother died on the same day. And it's so broke his heart that he left everything and went to the dakotas and lived for two years like a cowboy. And that's where a lot of his character was shaped during those years. And then Roosevelt struggling against polio - talking about his cousin who later became president - and Washington and the others there. Anyway, and so it's through these things that we learn faithfulness - Joseph learned that. So now Joseph is the ruler of all Egypt. He's got stewards under him. And it says here in Genesis 43:19, "when they drew near to the steward of Joseph’s house, they talked with him at the door of the house, and said, ‘o sir, we indeed came down first time to buy food;’" - and he's in charge of distributing everything. Now Joseph was really a steward for pharaoh when he was ruling Egypt. Pharaoh said ‘everything in Egypt is in your control. Only in the throne will I be greater than you.’ so even Joseph was a steward but he had a steward under him. And you can read here it says, "he commanded the steward" - this is Genesis 44:1, "he commanded the steward of his house, saying, ‘fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of the sack." now, if you have a faithful steward it's got to be someone discreet. Joseph is up to something and he is - he's testing his brothers. He needs his steward to be discreet.

He needs to have a steward he can trust. I mean, he's saying look you've got to find a clever way to put their money back in their bags. Joseph knew anything he asked the steward to do, he was going to do it – assuming it wasn't to be a hit man. And then again, you read in the same story, Genesis 44, verse 4, "when they had gone out of the city" - the brothers left the city – "and they were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, ‘get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘why have you repaid evil for good?’" the steward of Joseph actually had a police force under his power, and so he had authority.

So, being a steward for God, does it mean that you’re poor? Is it only poor people that will give an answer to what they do with their resources? Or is it the middle class, and is it also the rich? It doesn't matter whether you learn math with a hundred dollars or with pennies. The principles of math are the same. And he that is faithful in that which is least is also faithful in much. Now we’re still looking at some of the Old Testament examples. If you go to Isaiah chapter 22 there is a prophecy here about a steward that was in the palace of King Hezekiah. And Isaiah says in chapter 22, verse 15, "thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘go proceed to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the house, and say: ‘what have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a sepulcher here, and he who hews himself a sepulcher on high, who carves a tomb for himself in a rock?

Indeed, the Lord will throw you away violently, o mighty man, and will surely seize you. He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball in a large country; there you shall die, and there your glorious chariots shall be the shame of your master's house. So I will drive you out of your office, and from your position and will pull you down.’’" now this is before the Babylonian captivity. Isaiah’s foretelling this will happen. In the house of Hezekiah was a steward who was being unfaithful. And so here Isaiah is prophesying ‘you're spending the king's money on yourself. You're making an elaborate sarcophagus - a tomb for yourself. You're having it engraved. And you're spending money on chariots.’ you notice that? He talks about the chariots. ‘And you're going to be taken away out of your office and you'll be cast out and you're going to be carried off and die in a foreign country.’ now, we don't know exactly how all of this played out. We know that he was later replaced by a faithful steward.

He may have been among those who were captured by the Assyrians when they came against Hezekiah. But this was a prophecy against the steward that had control of the king's resources that was using the king's resources selfishly. Now that sort of describes a big challenge that we all have as stewards. We sometimes forget that everything you have belongs to God, and we tend to think ‘it belongs to me.’ and if, all of a sudden, we get a windfall - some reason you end up with a little extra money - something comes in the bank or you found out that you made more on a sale than you expected, often our first thought is ‘what shall I buy?

What shall I do for me?’ do we think ‘this is the Lord’s’? ‘The Lord has blessed me but everything I have belongs to the Lord. Lord what do you want me to do with this? This is your money.’ so in the judgment are we thinking of all the blessings that God gives and how we can use them selfishly? It is not wrong to ever buy something nice. But if you've got the mind of a steward, your first thought is going to be. How can I use these resources for God instead of this being as extravagant as we can for our own lives. Amen? Alright, you still out there? Stewards in the New Testament - and you look in Luke chapter 12 verse 47. It says, "and that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself to do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving stripes, shall be beaten with few. [for everyone] to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." so which stewards are the more accountable?

Two things that it says here: the one who knew more and the one who had more is more accountable. If you have additional knowledge that's a blessing, but it's also a responsibility. If you have additional resources, that's a blessing but it's also a responsibility to be faithful. God wants us to be faithful with what we have - with the knowledge we have and with him the blessings we have. Some of you remember there in Hosea, it says ‘my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge because you've rejected knowledge; I’ll also reject thee.’ and so we're accountable for the knowledge that we have and even the knowledge we can have.

Because if we reject it, we're responsible for that. So to whom much is given of him they will ask the more. You read and Titus chapter 1, verses 6 and 7, "if a man is blameless," - one of the criteria for being a bishop in the church – "if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money," - so qualifications to be a steward for God are, for one thing, you need to realize everything you have - your time your family everything - belongs to God. And we all will answer to God someday for those things. He must be blameless as a steward of God. Everything, we believe, especially as Christians, belongs to God.

A quote from the book Christian education. Page 301, "so I open my heart to the Holy Spirit so that every faculty and energy may be aroused which God has given me in trust. I am Christ’s property and I am employed in his service. I am a steward of his grace." so a steward was responsible for the riches of another person. What are the riches that a Christian is the steward of? The riches of his grace. So you, not only as a Christian, want to be faithful about what's in the bank; as a Christian you want to be faithful about what's in your heart. You want to be faithful about what's in your head. God wants us to faithfully dispense the gospel.

Are you a steward of the grace of Christ? Let me put that plainly. Do you share the gospel with others? Jesus said in Matthew 24, talking about the second coming, ‘whoso then is a faithful servant that gives every man his meat in due season, he'll declare unto them ‘well done good and faithful servant.’ but if that servant says ‘my Lord delays his coming’ and begins to eat and drink with the drunken, and beat his fellow servants, the master of that servant will come in a day when he's not looking for him and an hour he's not aware of.’ now the first part of that he said if he's a faithful servant he he's giving his brethren meat in due season.

Part of servants - a steward's job was to distribute the food for the master. What did Jesus have the apostles do? Couple of miracles you remember? He multiplied bread. Did Jesus and hand out the bread or did Jesus give the bread that he multiplied to the disciples and they distributed it? And the miracle also happened as they distributed it. What is that bread? Man doesn't live by bread alone but by. Are we faithful stewards of the grace of God? Are we sharing the truth that we have? Do you think from day to day, ‘what can I do?’ and it doesn't mean you're going to go through the day like an evangelist and just, you know, be converting one person after another.

But we should be thinking every day, ‘how can I be a steward of that grace? How can I be sharing it with others? How can I be dispensing the bread of life?’ giving a track to somebody or a card telling them where to go to a website or saying a word about God and asking them a question about their faith. Every believer ought to be stewards of his grace. Not just pastors. Not just evangelists or Christian teachers. Is that right? So stewards are people who are responsible for the riches of another. What is the greatest riches or the greatest treasure that we have as believers? If you lose all your money but you still have the gospel, you’re rich. But if you lose the gospel and you have your money, you’re bankrupt. So what is the most important thing we’re to be stewards of? The grace of Christ. Amen? Are we being faithful stewards of his grace? Are we sharing it with others? It's a very important point I wanted to kind of tap on a little bit. Someone is going to read for us Matthew 25:21.

"This Lord said to him ‘well done good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’"

Jesus shares a couple of parables. One I found – it’s not in my notes but it's still in the Bible, believe it or not. Matthew - I'm sorry Luke 19, verse 12, it's called the parable of the talents and he tells it a little different. By the way, let me just pause and address that. Have you ever wondered why, when you read in mark and Luke and john and Matthew, that sometimes the parables seem to have a whole different twist - the way one is recorded as opposed to another?

Simple answer: Jesus went from town to town. They did not print his sermons. He would preach the same parables and sermons in different towns and he would change it a little bit based on his audience. I do that all the time. As I go from church to church, I preach some of the same sermons. Poor Karen has heard the same sermon so many times, but they are always a little different because some of it’s extemporaneous and I look at that audience and I emphasize certain things and Jesus did that with the parable of the talents. You'll know it's different in the different gospels because they recorded it based on what they heard in different towns. All right, Luke chapter 19 verse 12, "a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants and delivered to them ten minas and he said to them, ‘do business till I come." and what does that mean? He's given them his resources. ‘you’re stewards of my money.

You’re to invest, you’re to buy and sell and trade and grow this while I'm gone.’ what does the Lord want us to do with the resources he gives us? There's two kinds of people in life. I always used to tell my kids this. You've got consumers and you have producers. Now all of us produce a little. I mean all of us consume but not everyone produces. Some people spend their lives consuming what others have produced. But God wants us to go through lives - our lives leaving more than we take. We want to make things better than when we found them, right? We don't want to just be consuming, we want to be producing. And so this is what the Lord is saying to them, ‘I've given you gifts, multiply those gifts.’ "but his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘we will not have this man to reign over us.’ and so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom that he commanded the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him that he might know how every man had gained by trading.

Then came the first, saying, ‘master, your mina has earned ten minas’. And he said to him ‘well done, good servant because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’" this is different from Matthew's version – "and the second came, saying, ‘your mina has earned five minas.’" they all started with the same amount. "Likewise he said, ‘you also be over five cities.’" so just park right here and think about this: all of the investing and trading that they're doing, they're doing for the master. But do they get rewarded? So do they get something also for their faithfulness as stewards? He rewards them. The Lord rewards his stewards. And then the other one comes and he says "’master here is your mina, which I have kept. I put it away in a handkerchief for I feared you because you are an austere man.

You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.’ and he said to him, ‘out of your own mouth I will judge you. You wicked servant, you knew that I was an austere man collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why did you not at least put my money in the bank that at my coming I might have collected it with some interest? And he said to those that stood by, ‘take the mina from him and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (but they said to him, ‘master, he has ten minas.’) ‘for I say to you that everyone who has more will be given’" - remember what I said about you give more to the busy successful person? "Everyone who has, more will be given. But bring here those enemies of mine that did not want me to reign over them and slay them before me.’" so this is an interesting parable.

It says that these servants – he’s got three servants – they’re all given one mina. One turns it into ten, one turns it into five, and one doesn't do anything - doesn't even put it in the bank. He says, ‘aw, it's not mine. I'm just a steward of his. I don't care.’ he loses everything. He's in outer darkness where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. The ones who were faithfully trading they get rewarded in a big way. He says, ‘I've gone to receive a kingdom and in this kingdom there'll be many cities and I'm going to give you leadership over the cities. Now, if you're the governor of a city, even if you're a governor for someone else, don't you live in a better house? If you're a governor don't you maybe drive a better car? And so, I’m saying those people are going to be personally blessed even though they’re still servants.

Joseph was a servant of pharaoh. Is that right? But did he live in a palace? He did. And so you want to be faithful and he makes you ruler over much. Okay, I spent too much time on that, but it was fun. Someone's going to read for me 1 Corinthians 4, verse 1 in just a moment. And I'm going to read Colossians. Now we're talking about stewards of the mysteries of God. I'm going to read Colossians 2:2 and 3. "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom of knowledge."

Now you notice it talks here about understanding wisdom - knowledge in this one verse. You’re not only the steward. You are a steward of a mystery. Most people do not understand what the purpose of life is - what's going on - what the gospel is all about. And to us, through study and through spending time with the Lord, we understand these things and God has given us the gift of helping unpack these mysteries for others. Go ahead please read for me, 1 Corinthians 4, verses 1 and 2. "Let a man so consider us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful."

And he talks about stewards of the mysteries of God and what kind of steward? One be found faithful. Now we do have some examples in the Bible of people that were not faithful. You can go with me to Luke chapter 16, verse 1, "there was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods." now what does that mean? He's spending it selfishly. "So he called him and said to him, ‘what is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’" in other words, he's saying, ‘look, I'm going to be finding someone else, but I need an accounting.’

So he's got a little time left in office while he supposedly is giving an account – he’s doing an inventory. "So the steward said within himself ‘what shall I do? For my master is taking away the stewardship from me. I cannot dig;’" he said - poor people you can almost always find a job just digging ditches or whatever. "’I'm ashamed to beg. I [have resolved] what to do, that when I put our out of the stewardship they might receive me into their houses.’ so he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and he said to the first, ‘how much do you owe my master?’ and he said, ‘one hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘take your bill, and sit down quickly write fifty.’" – ‘I'll sign it off. I'll endorse it that you're all paid in full.’ he said, ‘oh really? Wow, what a bargain.’ so he implicates his master's debtors with him. He said, ‘I'm going to make you an accessory to my crime. You're going to have to take care of me afterward.’

Then he said to another, ‘and how much you owe my master?’ ‘Hundred measures of wheat.’ he said, ‘take your bill, write down fifty.’ to another, ‘how much do you owe?’ ‘Hundred measures of wheat.’ ‘take your bill, write eighty.’ so the master finds out about this. The master commends the unjust steward because he dealt shrewdly. Now people read this parable and I had to preach a whole sermon on this parable because I met a lot of folks that were really worried. ‘Why would Jesus commend this steward for being a scoundrel? Are we supposed to be sneaky? Are we supposed to be conniving and dishonest? Why would he commend him?’ I'll ask you, why do you think that the master commends the steward?’ it says it should be – a steward should be found faithful. He's not faithful. Why is he being commended?

Let me read the rest of it for you. Jesus said, ’for the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.’ and he said ‘take heed make friends for yourselves of the unrighteous mammon that when you fail they might receive you into their everlasting homes.’ then he says he that is faithful in that which is least is also faithful in much. Christ is commending the steward because he said ‘the children in this world, there are thinking ‘what will I do? What's my future gonna be? I need a plan for my future and so I'm going to take my master's money and I'm going to make some accomplices in this crime with me so that they then will have to take me into their houses. You know thieves stick together and they'll watch over me because I've got the goods on them.

They were in with me on stealing from my master and so they're going to receive me into their habitations.’ he’s only commending him because he thought about the future and prepared for it. The Lord is saying ‘the children of the world are wiser than many Christians because we don't even think about the future. We don't think about the eternal future.’ this man it was at least - he stopped and he thought about it and he made a provision for it. God wants us to make a provision for the future too. Amen? Alright, maybe we'll park there real quick and we have some questions that came in. Pastor Ross, you might have some questions there.

We do. We want to thank those of you who sent in your questions during the program. We're going to answer a few of them here. Pastor Doug, the first question that we have: ‘materialism may be wrong but what about ambition and the desire to achieve things in your life?’

Well, I think the Lord wants us to be - ambition for personal glory is not good, but the Lord does want us to have, I think, goals. I think the Lord wants us to have dreams. I think it's important that we have vision. If I were to ask you ‘do you want to hire, in your company, somebody that has no ambition or has ambition?’ now if their ambition is personal - it's all about their own glory -that person can end up being a problem. But if they're a person who is eager to succeed, then that's a good thing. And so you want to be an achiever. If I had to struggle with having a lot of friends around me that were underachievers or overachievers - there a problem for overachievers - but I'd rather have people that want to achieve something.

Alright, I think we have another question. It says, ‘what does the Bible say about gambling even in moderation?’ just a little bit. ‘Should Christians stay away from even the lottery?’

Gambling, now there's no verse that says ‘thou shall not gamble.’ but there are plenty of principles in the Bible that tell us ‘make haste not to be rich.’ and the whole idea of gambling is the idea to win off the misfortune of others who weren't as lucky. That kind of speculation - and ‘you'll know them by their fruits.’ what's the fruit of a casino? People go in there. Who is the one making the money? It's the house. The people go in - often poor people - desperate people - and they take their money and they speculate and they generally lose. And we shouldn't be gambling with God's resources. ‘Those who will not work shall not eat.’ God wants us to work.

And there are a lot of proverbs talk about being diligent, being faithful, saving - and the lottery, it's just government-sanctified gambling, that's all that is. And so, I have never bought a lottery ticket. I saw that just this last week that they had a lottery that was going - 500 million dollars - in the news. And in my quiet moments I thought, ‘boy what we could do with that.’ and then I pictured - I'm telling the truth I'm confessing I fantasized for just a moment. I thought boy if you could go out and just happen to buy the winning ticket - of course you're - the odds of that are like, you know, getting hit by an asteroid.

It's pretty small odds that you're going to win. And then I thought then I'd win 500 million dollars and they’d want to put me in the paper and they'd say Pastor Doug bought this lottery ticket. I thought I'd be really hard to explain to people that God told me to buy this lottery ticket. I went through this whole fantasy in my head but I got over it pretty quick I want you to rest assured. I just thought it would be nice to have 500 million dollars - what we could do with that. But you know what? It would. It would set a principle. Gambling destroys people. I remember we had one man came to church - this had been years ago so I can tell you the story - had a good job. Worked for the state. And when he met him he came to church he said, ‘Pastor Doug’ I'd never been gambling before. Just some friends invited me there was some convention.

We went to Las Vegas - actually went to Reno - and I started gambling. And I won a little and then I lost a little and I got so upset I came back the next week and tried to win it back. Then I came back the next weekend to try to win it back.’ and he said ‘it got worse and worse. It became a habit. Every weekend I was going to Reno. He said, ‘I had a wife, I had a home that was paid for, I had a retirement.’ he said, ‘I've lost my family, I've lost my retirement. I've had 60 thousand dollars in debt. My health is destroyed.’ and he said, ‘I was addicted to gambling.’ he came to an evangelist meeting he got the victory and we ended up baptizing him but it just destroyed him. Christians should not be involved in anything that a person gets addicted to and they have announcements - public announcements every now and then for people who are struggling with gambling addictions. So no, I don't think - why would the government pay for ads to help people recover from gambling and then pay for ads to encourage you to buy a lotto ticket? Isn't that kind of conflicted? Okay, no you shouldn't gamble. Sorry, long answer.

Alright, we have another question that is ‘what about tithing when you have or when you are on social security?’

If you're on a limited income and just all you've got you're just living on social security, a person might say, ‘well, what do I do about tithe?’ and someone actually wrote us a note this week and they made a good observation. Social security if - if you're on social security at some point typically you or your spouse have paid something into that. And at some point when you retire you will begin to recover some of what you have paid into it. At some point you may end up getting social security that you didn't pay into - it's above and beyond that - depends on how long you live and a number of factors.

And it might be hard to calculate, you know, ‘how much did I already pay tithe on when I was paying into it?’ If you paid tithe on your social security income when you first put it into this mystical account that they hold somewhere, you might be thinking ‘well, I've already paid tithe on that once,’ and you could probably justify saying ‘well, some of that anyway, I've already paid tithe on.’ I think the safest thing to do is just prove the Lord. Test the Lord. You cannot out-give God. And I just see too many examples in the Bible where people say ‘I'm going to take a step of faith’ and ‘God does not forsake the righteous their seed do not beg bread.’ you be faithful and see. I believe God will come through for you.

Next question that we have: Genesis chapter 14, verse 20 says that Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of all. Why did Melchizedek need tithe? And how did he use it?

Well, tithe in the Old Testament - before the time of the Levitical priesthood - Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. It was not uncommon then to show a thank you offering and you would give it to the leader of a clan. And so Melchizedek was called the king priest of Salem and it was used for the maintenance of probably the personal maintenance and his family and his household as he was a representative of God in that country. I believe Melchizedek was a real person. Some thought that he was just a spiritual type of Christ. He is a type of Christ but he is a real person and you give tithes to the priests. You notice it also says regarding Melchizedek that he brought forth to Abraham bread and wine for he and his soldiers that came out. And so it was also thankful that - it was a sign of thanksgiving for the ministry Melchizedek did for Abraham and his house coming back from this battle. And so Melchizedek also gave. And so he was doing a – Christ - the last supper of bread and wine. He's the type of Christ there.

Okay, I think we have time for another question. It says, ‘if your house needs repairs and your car is old is it wrong to want more?’

Well, if you have fewer cars and houses you don't have take care of ‘em. But I'm being sarcastic, I'm sorry. Not just wanting more, do you need more houses or do you need better? Or do you need the resources to want things to be fixed. I have driven that car that was falling apart and I have lived in that house before that was falling apart. I can tell you a lot of stories. I had a car that just really strengthened my faith every time I turned the key. I pray that it would start and sometimes God didn't answer my prayer. And I used to park it on a hill so that if I couldn't get it started - it was old - the engine was so worn out that I had to roll a long ways and pop start it. Anyone ever have that car before? And, you know what? The Lord taught me through that. But you eventually you pray for better things.

I'm so thankful I'm in my car now. It’s got, you know, a hundred and five thousand miles on it but I'm thankful that it's dependable. And so no, it's not wrong to want things that are better more dependable and to want a house that is not fall apart or rotting away. And so, I think that that's just human nature that we want to always improve our lot and our environment. There's nothing wrong with that. I've got a couple of minutes left to just sort of wrap off the lesson. Stewards of spiritual truth. You know the gospel is something that we want to communicate. It's a gift that is given us. It's a gift that we want to protect. During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it's reported that when Benjamin Franklin came out of independence hall someone said ‘what kind of government do we have a republic or a monarchy?’ and Franklin respond - replied ‘a republic, if you can keep it.’ a republic is a delicate government that depends on being constantly nourished and nurtured or you can lose the gift.

The gospel is a gift but it's a gift that must be guarded and we must, every day, be guardians - stewards are also guards, you might say. How many of you have remembered - you remember the passage there in Ezekiel? ‘Where I've set you’ - says there in Ezekiel chapter 33, ‘I've set you as a watchman on the house of israel.’ Ezekiel 33 verse 1, "the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son a man, speak to the children of your people and say to them ‘when I bring the sword upon the land and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make them their watchman. When he sees a sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and doesn't take warning, if the sword comes and takes them away, his blood is on his own head.

He heard the sound of the trumpet but he didn't take warning. His blood shall be upon himself. But if he takes warning he'll save his life. But, if the watchman sees the sword is coming" - an army’s coming – "and he doesn't blow the trumpet and the people are not warned and the sword comes and takes any person away among them, he's taken away and his iniquity but his blood I will require the watchman's hand." we, as believers, are stewards of the gospel. We have a responsibility to guard the gift and also to protect people by giving them a faithful warning. We have a message that we are guardians of and this is a principle that you find throughout the New Testament. I'll give you one last quote here and this is from the book Testimonies vol. 7, page 176. "God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself.

In all His dealings with human beings He recognizes the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence and to impress the need of personal guidance. His gifts are committed to men as individuals. Every man has been made a steward of the sacred trusts. Each is to discharge his trust according to the direction of the giver. And by each account of his stewardship must be rendered to God." we will all give an account to God for being faithful stewards. Well, thank you for participating. Thank you for those who sent in questions. Want to remind you about the free offer. It's called obedience is it legalism? This is actually a great study. If you want a free copy of this, just call the number 866-788-3966 basically 866-study-more and we'll send you this. Ask for offer #706 when you call is obedience legalism? And when you do please read it and share it with someone else. You could be a steward of his grace. Thank you very much. God bless you and we’ll look forward to studying his word together again next week.


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