Stewardship and the Environment

Stewardship and the Environment

Scripture: Genesis 1:28
Date: 03/09/2013  Lesson: 10
"...The concept of stewardship, in the context of the way in which we take care of the planet, is tied directly to the creation. Our views on Creation will influence our views on the way in which we should related to the creation."

God of Wonders by Jim Tetlow

God of Wonders by Jim Tetlow
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Welcome to central study hour at Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church in bright and sunny California. It is by no accident you have joined us to study together. And we know that there are so many of you across the country - around the world - that join us faithfully every week to study together because we get your e-mails every week. So welcome, and we know that you are truly going to be blessed as we study together today. Our first hymnal that - our first hymn that we're going to sing this morning out of our hymnal is hymn #462 - 'blessed assurance, Jesus is mine' - and this comes as a request from jizelle in antigua and barbuda, alan, Joshua, and leigh in australia, andrea, wayne, and angela in barbados, ameidi and alciro in belize, David, eldridge, leon, and roberta in California, sharon in the cayman islands, greg in Colorado, kirsten in denmark, sherace, paige, kaylia, dee, and stephen in england, maisie and karl in France, wilfred, Karen, damar, and diana in grenada, keren in ireland, selina and jonathan in the netherlands, beth in new york, sandie, vern, jamie, jenny, and jared in north carolina, delilah, joatham, nemylyne, kaye, and rj in the Philippines, chacko in saudi arabia, jerre mae in south korea, baby in switzerland, eugene in thailand, pearl and roy in trinidad and tobago, Paul in uganda, laurence and zora in Virginia, camille, xavier, and larry in Washington, william in Wisconsin, jody in Wyoming, and ducus in zimbabwe.

So from all over the world we are singing together 'blessed assurance, Jesus is mine'. All three verses this morning. If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming study, I invite you to go to our website at 'saccentral.org'. There you just - it's very simple to request one of your hymns and one of your favorites, you just click on the 'contact us' link and there you can request any hymn in the hymnal and we will sing that with you. As you know, we are going through our hymns and we're learning all the new ones that we can find in the book and we're just going from the beginning to the end of the book.

Hymn #42 is our new one today and we were practicing this earlier and I just invite you, as we're singing this, to just really pay attention to the words. It's like a prayer and so, as these words go up to heaven as we're singing these, I just invite you to just really pay attention to the words and just offer it as a prayer to your lord and Savior as we begin to study today. Hymn #42 - 'now that the daylight fills the sky'. Oh - and it's a request from - actually somebody knows it out there - boama amoafo in australia. Hymn #42.

Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, we humbly come before you just to - we bring you our hearts and we bring you our minds and we ask you to just fill us with your spirit. Fill us with who you are so that there's way less of us and that we can just be who you want us to be and we can shine for you. Bless Pastor Doug as he brings us this study - that we'll all be blessed and we'll all be ready to share the great precious truths that you have given to us and we know you're coming soon, lord - just help us all to be ready. I pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

Our study today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you very much to our musicians - we sure appreciate that. And you know, it's good to sing those new songs. You might be thinking, 'oh, you know, it's hard. I've never heard this before.

' But you sing it a couple of times you go, 'oh yeah, that's really good.' Then it stops being a new song and then you can sing it in unison and - I pulled out an old gospel songbook a few weeks ago. I mean, this is probably 30 years old and I knew some of the songs - I used to sing them with - I used to do junior Sabbath school and I'd play the guitar and I taught and sang along with the juniors and - some of you remember that old song - it must have been written by someone who spent time on a railroad - it's called 'life is like a mountain railroad'. Any of you remember that? Yeah - see, it's a new song for you too. And I sang that a couple of times - it had really good lyrics - very clever, clever lyrics in it and nathan listened a couple times and he said, 'i'd like to get the words to that dad.' And so I printed it out and now he's learning 'life is like mountain railroad.' You don't know that song? Where have you been? Anyway, well, we'll have to teach it to you. But it's good singing the new songs.

I want to welcome our friends who are studying with us, our regular viewers, and the extended members of Sacramento central around the world that are studying the lesson with us and we are going through our quarterly dealing with origins. We have a free offer - part of what we're studying is talking about the issues related to health and stewardship of our bodies - and so we have a free offer that goes along with our lesson. It's called 'God's free health plan'. These are really beautiful study guides - they're very popular - and they've been around for years and we've updated them several times. We haven't updated the truth in them because it doesn't change, but if you'd like a free copy of God's free health plan then just call the number on the screen - -study-more - 866-788-3966 and ask for offer #139.

We will be happy to send that to you. Getting into today's lesson - we're going to be talking, in the subject of origins, about stewardship and the environment. This is lesson #10 - 'stewardship and the environment' - and we have a memory verse that comes from Genesis 1, verse 28. Would you be willing to say that along with me? Genesis 1, verse 28 and this is from the new king James version - ready? "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" Now, in the beginning when God created everything, it's pretty clear right there that God made man to have dominion over the earth and that dominion is not unrestrained rights to rape and pillage the planet and to exploit every resource irresponsibly. And so, as Christians, God originally told man that he placed them in a garden - God said, 'I planted a garden.

I placed you to dress and to keep the garden.' And we are to be stewards of God's world - responsible stewards of God's world. The idea was not to wear things down and use them up, but to actually - to nurture things for sustained and even improved environment - and that is possible. Have you ever seen somebody that takes a - you know, they buy a lot in town and there's really nothing on the lot? But they plant a few trees and they landscape it a little bit and they put in a garden and then - if you've been in the same town for years, you look 20 years later and you see that they've got trees and orchard and garden and it's beautifully landscaped and they put in some rolling mounds and even some strategic rocks and a little fountain and you're going, 'wow, they've made a wonderful environment of that thing - you could have just mowed it before.' Have you ever seen that? I know, in some places, both here and - I've been here 20 years and we've also had a place up in covelo for 35 years and I've seen people that just bought bare lots and now they look like a little bit of eden. So you can take land and make it better and make it more productive and make it more garden-like. Everything we do we should do for the glory of God, right? So we do have responsibility then God invested man with this responsibility at the very beginning to - yes, the things are here to use - but to use responsibly.

By the way, we do, as a church, have a statement. We've got a number of statements on different policies in the church and our different positions and we have a statement on caring for the creation and it says here, "since human poverty and environmental degradation are interrelated, we pledge ourselves to improve the quality of life of all people. Our goal is a sustainable development of resources while meeting human needs." There is a balance there. You know, I believe in logging. I believe in logging responsibly.

God didn't say you can't make anything out of trees. You've got plenty of examples in the Bible of people who are using trees for things. But there's a way to do it sustainably and that's also true with virtually all of the resources and many of them can actually be improved. You know, you can plant new trees in places that had been burnt over before man ever began to inhabit a territory and turn things into a forest. As I fly around the country I see places that have been heavily logged and some of the logging agencies like Louisiana pacific and others, they went through and they planted.

I saw, years ago, land that was either logged or burnt over - they planted and those are turning back into forests now. And so, with trees you've got to think a little further ahead, but God wants us to be responsible that way. Now there's another verse - Genesis 1:26 - that is similar to Genesis 1:28. Our memory verse was Genesis 1:28, but also look in Genesis 1:26 and it says there, "then God said, 'let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" Now God gave this dominion to adam and eve and we were placed in the garden to care - to tend for these things and, obviously there's a difference between men and other animals. I tell you what, somebody look up for me Genesis 2:19 and 20.

We gave out some verses and I don't know who has this. Right here. Let's get a mic here - why don't you come pancho - let's use your microphone since you're a little closer. And that'll be Genesis 2:19 and in just a moment. In the meantime, I'm going to read psalm 8.

And get your Bibles and take a look at this - psalm 8 - king David - verses 3 through 9. "When I consider your heavens" - whose heavens? God's heavens - "the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, and The Son of man that you visit him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor." And it says, "you have made him to have dominion" - so this is not something just in Genesis, here you jump to the middle of the Bible in Psalms and David reiterates - "you have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen" - it's interesting that God, in Genesis, he mentions fish first twice but David, being a shepherd, what does he mention first? Sheep. "All sheep and oxen - even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea" - he reverses the order here - "that pass through the paths of the seas. O lord, how excEllent is your name in all the earth." Now David, did he love - did David write and sing about the things that God made? He did. He cared about them, he respected them, he ruled over them later in his life, but he realized, you know, what is man but you've given us dominion.

You know, man is very interesting and different from the other creatures in that, you know, a little antelope or gazelle is born and barely do they dry off and they're running around on all four, right? And even baby orangutans and other creatures know how to cling to their mamas as they jump from tree to tree and you think, 'how can they do that - they're only a day old?' Humans are among the most helpless and feeble of all babies. It's amazing how they survive. And yet, these creatures, I mean, you think about how much more powerful many creatures are than humans - you know bears could easily take us out if they developed an appetite for us - I mean back before we have some of the powerful weapons we have now - and the lions and the tigers and whatever else you might want to name. But somehow, God made humans very different from the animals. Even though we don't have the physical - we don't have the strength of a bear or the speed of a lion - we can't fly like an eagle and dig like a gopher.

I mean, there's so many things we can't do like the other creatures, but what makes us different? We're made in the image of God - and the intelligence of man - that's one of the reasons I think evolution is the most absurd theory in the world. By all bets we should have been the first to become extinct, but because we are made in the image of God with this phenomenal intelligence, we were able to subdue and find very creative abstract ways to have dominion - to maintain dominion over even wild animals that were much more ferocious than we are. And that goes from catching things that are in the sky to the fish that are in the sea. But we're not to exploit and abuse that dominion. It's obvious that it was given by God or we never would have made it, right? We would have been gobbled up by dinosaurs or something.

Okay, read for us please - what did I say? Genesis 2:19 and 20. Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to adam to see what he would call them. And whatever adam called each living creature, that was its name. So adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

" That's right. And ultimately he finds a helper and he names her too. Now the point I'm making here is if you go to the puppy store and you buy a puppy and as you're checking out and paying for your puppy - you usually pay way too much at a puppy store - the guy at the cash register says, 'we've named this one spot.' You might be thinking to yourself, 'pardon me, it's going to be my puppy. I'll name it what I want to name it.' Have you ever had anyone do that? You go and you say, 'oh we've got a kitty for you. Want your kitty? Here's your kitty.

By the way, its name is...' And you go, 'don't I get to name it? Isn't it mine?' And so the very fact that God said to adam, 'you get to name them.' We were not named by the gorillas, were we? We named the gorillas. The dominion belongs to the one who's doing the naming. But actually, God is really giving us a privilege there because we don't own the creatures, we are stewards. It was a great privilege that God said to adam, 'look, I want you to be emotionally invested in the creatures. You name them.

' And when he named them, did he name them drumstick, hamburger, filet, rotisserie? No, when he first named them was he thinking of them as his menu? No, man was to have a dominion where he nurtured and cared and actually had relationship with the animals and they loved man. That was all before sin disrupted everything in the very beginning. If you look here in Genesis 39, verses 4 to 6, we'll find out something more about what a steward is. By the way, stewardship, let me give you a definition. 'Steward is a person who manages another's property or financial affairs who administers anything as the agent of another for others.

' In Genesis 39, verse 4 it says, "so Joseph found favor in his sight," - this is when he was finally bought by potipher - he "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. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate." Joseph was his steward. How many of you have read - I think it's in Genesis 22 - about eliezer, the steward of Abraham's house? Now steward was a very high position.

Matter of fact, before Abraham had ishmael or Isaac, he talked to the Lord and he said, 'you know, the only heir I have is my steward from damascus.' And that was eliezer and he was a good steward. Everything Abraham had he put into his hand. And when Abraham wanted a wife for Isaac he said to eliezer, 'you've got the key to the safety deposit box. You go take whatever you think you might need as a dowry and you take whatever camels, whatever servants you need and you go and I want you to even pick out the right wife for my son.' Wow, talk about investing a steward with a lot of authority. I mean, if it's not impressive enough that he says, 'you've got the number to my bank accounts, and you've got the key to my safety deposit box, take whatever you think - you've got a blank check.

" He must have been someone he really trusted. But if that wasn't enough he said, 'and you get to pick - I'm trusting your judgment - the right wife for my son.' But he ended up being the servant then of Isaac too, didn't he? His full-time job was to be a good servant and to administrate the goods, the property, and the household that belonged to Abraham. We are stewards of God's property. Nothing that we have is really ours. The Bible tells us that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

Matter of fact, I'm getting ahead of myself. Going back to Joseph, I just took a little diversion to talk about eliezer, the steward of Abraham. Joseph was a faithful steward when his master's wife tempted him - potipher's wife - we never did find out her name. It was probably trixie. No, I don't know that.

Genesis 39:8, "but he refused" - I was going to say delilah but that was already used. Genesis 39:8, "but he refused and said to his master's wife, 'look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than i, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?'" So what was Joseph's attitude about everything that he had control over? Did Joseph have a lot of authority in potipher's house? Matter of fact, he said, 'potipher doesn't even know what he has.' He's trying - I mean, he must have been steward for awhile - 'everything that he has he's put into my hands and - except you're his wife - and how can I do this and betray that trust?' So stewards have incredible trust from the owner. They are caretakers.

And in the same way, we are caretakers of God's property. Not only - well, I'm getting ahead of myself - but not only the things around us and the animals, but our bodies belong to him. Everything belongs to God, isn't that right? You know, the Bible talks about a bad steward - Luke 16 - oh, wait a second - before we get to that, somebody look up Revelation 11, verse 18 - who has that? Right over here. Revelation 11, verse 18 - and while we're getting ready for that I'm going to talk about a bad steward that you find in the Bible. We read about a couple of good stewards.

Jesus tells this parable - Luke :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. So he called him and said to him, what is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship," - now let's stop there just for a second. Will we give an account to God some day for what kind of stewards we are? Of everything including the environment. That's something to think about. "Give an account of your stewardship," - we will all give an account of our stewardship someday - "for you can no longer be steward" - your time is up - "then the steward said within himself, 'what shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me.

I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they might receive me into their houses.' So he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and said to the first, 'how much do you owe my master?' And he said, 'a hundred measures of oil.' So he said to him, 'take your bill, and sid down quickly and write fifty.'" - You notice what he's doing? He's exploiting his master's goods for his own personal benefit - "and he said to another, 'and how much do you owe?' So he said, 'a hundred measures of wheat.' And he said to him, 'take your bill, and write eighty.'" And so, here he is exploiting those things. Now, one reason it's important to be a good steward is we will give an account for our stewardship someday. Another reason that it's important for us to be good stewards is because the Bible tells us that those that are faithful - Jesus - remember he tells the parable of the talents? 'You who are faithful over few I will give you ten cities.' He increases the stewardship in the future reward. Now what does that mean for us? If we're faithful in being good stewards over what God gave us does he give us more? Are we going to soar to worlds unknown and represent God? Is it possible that we will be stewards in the future world? Does he say to the apostles, 'you who have suffered with me will sit on twelve thrones governing the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom?' So there's some kind of authority that we even take with us into the new world and a continued stewardship.

I don't know if it's just on this planet or it goes beyond that, but God is going to continue to trust us with what is his in the next life. He seems to say that through a few parables. Alright, Revelation - what happens when we don't do that? Revelation 11:18. "The nations were angry, and your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should reward your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth." Thank you. I appreciate that.

What will happen to those that destroy the earth? You know, this verse in Revelation is actually a sign of the nearness of Christ's coming because just the fact that it would say, 'destroy those that destroy the earth' - when this was written, how much more sparsely was the earth populated? How much more insipid were men's chemicals back then and weapons to destroy the earth? They were nothing compared to what we have today. Back then, you know, you could fire a billion bows and arrows - you weren't going to destroy the earth. Back then you could just throw out a whole lot of orange and apple cores and banana peels and you weren't going to destroy the earth. Man could not destroy the earth back then, but today could man destroy the earth? Yeah. The - I mean, you know, man did use the environment back then, but look at what's happened now.

We really are living in a time when we are concerned about destroying the earth on a number of levels. And Jesus said, 'except those days be shortened no flesh would be saved.' Speaking of the second coming - unless the days were shortened, nothing would survive. It's another reason I think the coming of the Lord is near. And what does God do to those that destroy the earth? Have you ever seen somebody driving down the road and they throw garbage out the window of their car? You have never done that, right? I was riding along with somebody one time and they did that. I said, 'what are you doing?' He said, 'oh, it gives people something to do, somebody's got to pick it up.

It employs people.' I said, 'you must be kidding.' Now, I mean, you know, if you're driving down the road and you toss your apple core out the window and plant an apple tree, I don't have a problem with that assuming it's not landing in my front yard. You're driving through the woods, right? I mean, there's organic things that you can do - that's okay - it's biodegradable but when people start throwing their fast food trash out the window. I actually chased somebody down a country road one time - I got so angry - I'm a little embarrassed to tell you. But I was driving, you know, it was up in the hills where we live and we live up there and I just saw someone heave a big old bag of garbage out their window and my first thought was to stop and pick it up. And then thought, no, I'm going to get them.

And I started chasing them down the road so I could get their license plate and turn them in. Does it bother you too when people do that? It's irresponsible when people do that. And then you know what - because there's a public road that goes by our property, some people don't want to pay to dump their trash at the city dump because you have to pay a few dollars to dump your garbage, so they take it up the hill in their truck and they toss their garbage back out on our property. That's why it's a little personal to me. That, to me, is really low.

Christians out to have some self-respect and dignity, right? You shouldn't have 40 wrecked cars in your front yard. Huh? Should we look like we're - are we trying to make things more garden-like in the world? We ought to be responsible. Christians ought to be a clean people. Our neighbors ought to look at our front yard and say, 'I wonder what they believe?' And hopefully it's positive. They don't believe that we're great collectors and hoarders.

Amen? Am I getting too close to home? Okay. Alright, 'caring for the creatures' - yep, that's where we are. Somebody read psalm 50, verses and 11. We got a hand? I think we gave that out - back here. Let's get a microphone back there.

Hold your hand up so they see you. And while we're going there, I'll read for you - turn in your Bibles to Numbers 22 - I thought we'd read this - while we're talking about caring for the creatures, you know it's hard not to mention this story. Numbers chapter 22 and I'm going to read verse 27. You know when balaam's on his way to try to curse God's people even though he knew he wasn't supposed to. He wanted the reward.

He's out of God's will. He's riding down the road and an angel keeps blocking his donkey's path. And it says, "and when the donkey saw the angel of the lord, she lay down under balaam; so balaam's anger was aroused," - now this is the third time. She kept going off the road and she once crushed his foot against the wall when he went through a narrow path. The donkey sees what's going on but balaam doesn't.

"Balaam's anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff." - He begins to beat the donkey with his rod in his hand - then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to balaam," - now, I don't know exactly what happened - did God speak through the donkey or did the Lord temporarily - did the Lord temporarily increase the intelligence of that donkey and give it the ability of speech and with a donkey-like voice? Would you like to have heard that donkey's voice and wonder what it sounded like? I mean, and what's really strange is he begins to talk back to the donkey as though he doesn't realize that's odd. He is in such a rage - the donkey opens his mouth and he says, "'what have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?'" And balaam gets so upset he starts to talk to the donkey and then - you go - jump down to verse 32 because I don't have time to read the whole thing - "and the angel of the Lord said to him, 'why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.'" So does God care about animals? Alright, someone's going to read for us psalm 50, verses 10 and 11. Are we ready? Yeah.

"For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine." You know, the Lord tells us that he's named and numbered the stars of heaven. God personally knows every single cricket in every field. You might be thinking, 'you know doug, I can see that the Lord may have given names to the elephant - he knows all of them because they're great big intelligent creatures, but crickets?' You're underestimating God. God is aware of every mosquito.

I know we don't like to think about that. Isn't he? - Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Now I'm not suggesting that we should all be buddhists and be afraid that we're going to step on a gnat, but God does care about creatures and I think that he cares about creatures the way we should. Jesus said, 'you are of more value than many sheep. You're of more value than many sparrows.' There are obviously varying degrees of creatures based, probably, on their intelligence, but he cares. And originally man was placed - man was almost - we are made in the image of God in several ways and in one way we procreate and in another way we have dominion over other intelligences.

And in the same way God is infinitely more intelligent than we are, man was infinitely more intelligent than any creature. The same way that God loves us in spite of our stupidity - compared to God - think about how dumb humans are compared to God, right? He still loves us. In the same way, should we have that kind of compassion and love for creatures? Does that make sense? Alright, someone read for me Proverbs 12:10. We've got a hand right here. Let's get you a microphone.

Proverbs 12:10. And I'll read a couple other verses. Deuteronomy - still talking about animals and loving them - Deuteronomy 25, verse 4, "you shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Why would God make that law? Well, for one thing, Paul says he does care about oxen. It's also talking about - Paul says in the new testament - talking about this law - he compares it to ministry - that if a person is spreading the Word of God you shouldn't starve them. They should be able to be fed of their employment there.

Alright, go ahead - I think we're ready - read for us Proverbs 12, verse 10. "A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." You know when a person - we don't think about it this much - as much today - you know, in America, we spend - we're pretty good to our animals. You spend more, in America, for dogs and cats than the - a lot of nations spend in feeding humans. We spend more on medicine for our dogs and cats and fish, in America, and our birds, than many countries do for their people. We have an incredible budget for pets in North America.

If you don't think so than just look at the commercials - you can tell. People spend a lot of money on their pets. So people care about their pets, but - you know back in - well, every now and then we hear these terrible stories of people mistreating their pets and - but you go back a hundred years and people got around by horse and buggy and you'd ride your horse a long way and the proper thing to do was, before you just went in the house and took a nap, unhitch the animal - don't leave it just tied up - hitched to these things with a bit in its mouth - it's uncomfortable. Unhitch the animal, water the animal, brush it down, cover it up, give it some feed, then go take care of yourself. And so 'a righteous man regards the life of his beast.

' If you wanted your farm animals - I mean, that's what gave you your bread and butter. It's only been the last hundred years or so we had mechanized farming. A lot of the world still has oxen and donkeys that pull their plows and carry their burdens. And they understood - just like, you know, a machine - if you want it to run well and run a long time and behave well, you need to take care of it. And did David care about animals? I mean, would you lay down your life to save a lamb from a lion? I probably would be thinking, 'well, you know, lion's got to eat too.

Just rename that lamb and call him friskies.' It's kitty food. I mean, I would have found some way to rationalize that but David put his life on the line to save a lamb. Well, what was he going to do with those lambs? They just - they end up shearing their wool and end up making mutton out of them eventually, but until they did that they cared for them. They protected them. And so there's some important lessons there for us.

A righteous man regards the life of his animal. You know, you can almost always tell something - if you ever go door to door - you ever go door to door in sales or go door to door in witnessing? Selling books - anything like that? And you go to a lot of different doors and sometimes people have pets - they have dogs. You can almost always tell something about the people that live in the house by their dog. If you see a dog cowering under the porch and growling when you come, says something about the people. But if you go to - I have always found it true when I go visit Christian people, the dogs are usually nice.

They might even have a rottweiler or doberman pinscher or a german shepherd, but if they're good Christian people, the dog usually doesn't want to tear you limb from limb. Right? They're wagging their tail - they say, 'oh, he'll just lick you half to death.' They sort of take on the personality of the family a little bit. Now, there's probably exceptions to that. Where was i? Oh, someone look up for me Luke , verse 6. I've got a couple more points I want to get to - Luke 12, verse 6 - who has that? Right up front here? Did we give out a slip for somebody? I see no other hands.

You look it up. And while we're doing that I'm going to read Deuteronomy 5:14 - still talking about the environment - people caring about creatures - even in the Sabbath commandment, "but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant," - because, after all, they're all humans. But he goes on there. Part of the Ten Commandments - part of the Sabbath commandment says, you're not to do any work - "nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle," - you notice he doesn't mention horse there - and some have said because some people did still ride to the synagogue and we know that Sabbath keepers, for years, rode often to places of worship, but beasts of burden, they were not to be carrying burdens, like the donkeys, they're not to be pulling a plow like the oxen and they were to rest from their labor, but does God care about animals? Alright, go ahead, you're going to read for us, I think Luke - what'd I say - 12, verse 6? Luke 12, verse 6, "are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

" Does God care about just little sparrows? There's a similar verse but it's different - Matthew 10:29. Jesus said, "are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father's will." That means that God takes note of that old little sparrow that finally can't cling to the branch anymore and he's overtaken by a winter and he loosens his grip and falls to the ground. You know they just - you ever walk through the woods sometimes and you see a sparrow that fell? And God saw that too. So God cares. And you know, it almost - Jesus makes it sound like it makes God sad - death - all death makes God sad - and that little sparrow that falls because of the curse of death - God notices that.

Then should we care? And does he care about us? How much more value are you than a sparrow? He goes on to say. Alright, 'the environment and the Sabbath' - let's go on to that for just a second - that section - Leviticus 25 - oh, by the way, someone look up Romans :25 - I think I gave out slips for - I gave it to a steward that was going to give them out. Did someone get Romans 1:25? I don't see a hand. Do we have a volunteer? You'll read it? Alright, you're going to do Romans 3:25 in just a moment here. And I'm going to read Leviticus :3, "six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the" - people? For the farmers? - "For the land.

" God cared about resting not just people and animals, but resting land. What happens when you over-farm land? Some of you, if you know your history, you remember one reason that george Washington carver was so famous in history is because cotton was a very valuable commodity. There was a cotton Market - it became a boom. England and europe, they couldn't grow cotton like the u.s. And it just became a powerful economic product - commodity.

But the cotton farmers back then didn't realize that if they kept farming cotton it took a lot of nitrogen and elements out of the earth and the crops kept getting weaker and weaker because they were taking so many nutrients and minerals out of the soil that the land didn't rest and it was over-farmed. You ever heard of that before? I mean, now we compensate by putting chemicals in the ground for the nutrients that we take out. But george Washington carver found out that there were some things like certain beans and peanuts - that they would actually restore the soil so they would do cotton for a few years and then they would do peanuts and it put stuff back in. But God had another way of doing it. Let the land go fallow for a year.

Those weeds that we think are such a pest, when they grew and they went through a season and they died, they would put the nutrients back into the soil and it would begin to recover. And so, God wanted the land to rest. And, you know, he told them they needed to do that. And this is so important to the lord that when they were carried off to Babylon - the Bible tells us they went to Babylon as a punishment for how long? Seventy years. Isn't that an interesting number - seventy years? You know why God said so? 'That the land can keep Sabbath because you have not been observing the annual Sabbath.

' Not only were they breaking the weekly Sabbath but they weren't keeping the annual Sabbath and God says, 'I'm going to enforce a seventy-year Sabbath on the land of Israel. It's going to be desolate because you have not let the land rest. Do you know, at the end of 6,000 years - how long is the millennium? One thousand years. Right now the whole creation groans and travails together under the burden of sin and over man's over-exploiting the land. Now, I don't want you to think that I'm an environmental kook - I'm not.

I mean, I go cut firewood and I understand, you know, proper use of the environment, so I don't want you to misunderstand. But let's face it, all you've got to do is fly over in an airplane and you can see that we are pretty radically cleaning off the planet and - so you know what God's going to do? A thousand-year Sabbath for the planet to recover and then God's going to make a new heaven and a new earth. Right? So it's getting a thousand-year rest. But during that seventy years they were in Babylon, the Bible says the land was keeping Sabbath. So not only do people - not only do people rest and not only do animals rest - God says the land even needs rest.

Okay, I gave out a verse here - Romans 1:25. "Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." You know, sometimes - sometimes we think that the whole purpose for everything in the world is for us to use it and abuse it or overuse it, but you and I are to live to the glory of God and the way - he wants this whole planet to glorify him. Our homes should glorify him, our bodies should glorify him and that's something I probably ought to jump into here. 'Stewards of our health' someone look up for me 1 Corinthians 6 - and 20 - did somebody get that? I got a hand over here.

And we'll have you read that in just a moment. You'll be reading 1 Corinthians :19 and 20 but before you get to 1 Corinthians 6, you have to go to 1 Corinthians 3. These verses are similar but they're a little different. I'm going to read the meaner verse. You'll see what I'm talking about.

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." That's pretty strong words, isn't it? So not only does the world belong to God, but we're just stewards of the world and the animals - we're stewards over them and the planet. We're stewards over our time and over our means - but your body - you are not your own, you are bought with a price so glorify God in your body. And if you defile the temple of God we will give an account someday. God's given us a free will to take care of this machine he's given us.

Are we ready go ahead and read for us now Corinthians 6:19 and 20. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 'Which are God's.' So whatever you're going to do with your body today, remember who it belongs to and remember everyone else's body belongs to God. If we would always remember that, I think that would make some big changes in life. Then as we near the last section here, it talks about stewardship principles - 'stewardship princples' - alright, someone please look up James 1:17. Did someone get that? Right over here.

James 1:17 - and I'm going to read Exodus 22:10, "if a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, no one seeing it, then an oath of the lord shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor's goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and he shall not make it good." In other words, if someone says, 'look, can you watch out for this for me? I'm going on vacation. Can you keep a hand?' - And while you're gone - you ever take care of something for someone and while they're gone something happens to it? They give you their plant and it dies. Or they say, 'can you watch over my pet?' And it runs out of the house and never comes back. And you say, 'what am I supposed to do? And they come back and you say, 'look, I promise you I didn't sell your dog. I didn't kill your plant.

' And they say, 'alright, I'll take your word for it.' "But if, in fact, it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner of it. If it is torn to pieces by a beast, then he shall bring it as evidence, and he shall not make good what was torn. And if a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good. If its owner was with it, he shall not make it good;" in other words, if you're borrowing my plow and I'm with you while you're plowing with my plow and it breaks, well it broke because it just got old. But if it breaks because it was misused and I wasn't with you, then you're responsible.

But if I'm with you, I could have said, 'don't use it that way. You know, there's a lot of law in our society today that are based on these statements of property rights that you find in the Bible. These are some other stewardship - property truths. Alright, who has James 1:17? Gene? "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from The Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." Everything in the world is a gift. Everybody is a gift.

We need to remember that it's not our property and love and respect God for that. And one more principle that I just thought of this morning and I threw in - while we're talking about stewardship principles - go in your Bible to Deuteronomy , verse 19. Even in war God told the children of Israel that they were to be sensitive to the environment. Now you know what the Romans would do is when they would conquer a city, if that city surrendered without too much of a fight, well that was good enough, but if they were stubborn, the Romans then would cut down all the trees and they would sow the fields with salt and they'd ruin the land so nothing would grow there for generations. Matter of fact, one of the first Kings in Israel - can you name the first king in Israel? Wasn't Saul - that's commonly said.

Saul was the first king of the united kingdoms. First king of Israel that was called king was abimilech. He kind of made himself king, but he was called the first king and he was very selfish and a bad king. He didn't last long. When the people of shechem rebelled against him he conquered the city and he sowed it with salt.

He wanted to destroy everything. And it says that he cut down the trees. Well Moses, he made this law and it just shows the sense of it. "When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man's food." In other words, don't ruin the land. You'll finally conquer the people and that's good enough - and what are they going to eat for years to come? And so, these are principles of stewardship that we should always be thinking about.

I think it's interesting that a siege was part of a war - when you'd surround a city and you'd build ditches and you'd prevent them from getting out until they surrendered. And he said 'when you besiege your enemies, be sensitive to the environment even then. Be strategic and conquer what you need to conquer and don't just completely' - you've heard of the practice of 'scorched earth'? Scorched earth - for instance, when saddam hussein realized he was conquered after invading kuwait, as he pulled out he instructed his soldiers to set all the kuwaiti wells on fire. How many of you remember those satellite pictures of the whole region of kuwait? These little threads, you could see from even space, of black smoke were coming up from all the wells that saddam hussein had set on fire. Some of you remember that? And they had to get our guys in Texas to go out there who knew how to put out those well fires and they spent - well, they actually did it much quicker than anyone would think, but it's a special science to put those out.

But it's called 'the scorched earth policy' - that if you're going to retreat you don't want your enemies soldiers to have any resources or anything to eat and so you just destroy the crops and you basically try and starve the people. It's sort of a retaliation. God says, 'don't use the scorched earth policy if you've got to get into war. Be precise and strategic in what you need to do to win the war and remember you are also going to have to live with the land and use the land for years to come. And so these are just principles that you find in the Bible that teach that we should be responsible.

Christians, I think, should be good stewards. All of us should hold up eliezer and Joseph as models where we just do the best we can with our influence for everything - that we're kind to people, that we're kind to creatures, that we take care of the environment. I'm self-conscious if I go out of the restaurant and I get one of the toothpicks and it's got one of those little cellophane wrappers around it - one of those blew out of my hand in the parking lot this week and I thought - I felt convicted because I couldn't find it and I thought, 'I've littered.' And I think we should care about that - be responsible, amen? If you can recycle, recycle. And yeah, take care of things. But anyway, I think this is a good practical lesson when we talk about origins.

Remember, that someday God's going to make a new heaven and a new earth and I want to live in that new heaven and that new earth, don't you? I want a new body then, don't you? Then let's take care of the one he's given us now. Take care of the earth he's given us now, take care of the bodies he's given us now, and let's be good Christians and represent Jesus - remember, it belongs to him. By the way, one more time, we do have a free offer and it's called 'God's free health plan'. When you call the number on your screen ask for offer #139. That number once again - -866-788-3966.

God bless you friends until we study together again. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week. Now, each week, millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who was behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed.

Visit 'Sabbathtruth.com'.

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