Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give
Today man in all his complexity, with his theological institutions and his seemingly vast knowledge and learning, has somehow overlooked the simplicity of God's Word and His simplistic way of life that He intended for man to live. One of the areas most overlooked in the church systems today is God's stewardship. All who profess they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ agree with David, the Psalmist, when he wrote:
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." Psalm 24:1
Many confess with their mouths that all belongs to the Lord, but their actions prove that they believe all things are in the hands of man. If, as the Word proclaims, all things belong to the Lord, then we are only stewards of His vast creation. This was God's original design for His whole creation. If we are to understand and operate in stewardship principles it is necessary to look again at the creation.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Genesis 1:26
God created man in His image and likeness and gave them dominion over all His creation. He gave Adam the privilege of naming everything that He created. He did not turn the creation over to Adam, but rather made him a steward of His creation.
"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Genesis 2:15
Adam was to dress the garden. The word for dress is SHAMAR and means "to exert extreme care over." Adam was the caretaker, overseer, and steward of God's creation. It was God's intent that man become the steward over His creation from the beginning.
There are 4 areas God has given man in stewardship:
1 His creation
3 His Spirit
4 His life
Stewardship is God's most sacred trust; yet little, if anything, is taught in the modern church on stewardship. Paul wrote:
"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." I Corinthians 4:2
The word faithful is the Greek word PISTOS and means "trusted, reliable, to show yourself faithful in the transaction of business; to execute commands; and the discharge of official duties." Stewards are set over the business of God's Kingdom.
Most will proclaim, "We are going to rule and reign with Christ for 1,000 years." Yet they are not faithful in that which God has given them to do in this hour. Neither are many seeking God in the operation of their financial affairs. James wrote:
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." James 4:3
Stewards take care of that which belongs to someone else. Today many of God's stewards are consuming that which God has entrusted into their hands upon their own lusts, and because of this many of God's stewards are in financial trouble. God cannot entrust them with more than their needs because when He gives them more, they increase their lifestyle to consume the extra He has entrusted them with.
When the Publicans and sinners drew near to Jesus to hear Him, He spoke many things, and He is speaking many things today to those who are not faithful in unrighteous mammon.
"If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" Luke 16:11-12
God is not going to trust His true riches to those who have not been faithful in unrighteous mammon (the wealth of the world). Jesus asked the question, "Who shall give you that which is your own (inheritance), if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's."
All that we now have belongs to Christ, and we must learn to function as stewards over that which is His. God's promises state that we will become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. There is an inheritance coming where God will again set man over all He has created, as He did Adam. Only those tried and true stewards, who have been found faithful in unrighteous mammon, will become part of that ruling and reigning group that will be set over the works of God's hands. When Jesus was speaking to the multitude, Peter asked:
"Speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?" Luke 12:41
". . .Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath." Luke 12:42-44
Jesus answered Peter's question with a question. Jesus asked, "Who is that faithful and wise steward whom the Lord shall make ruler over His household to give them their portion in due season?" Jesus' answer was, "Those whom, when He cometh, He shall find so doing." We need to become faithful and wise stewards who are already operating our lives and finances by and through His Spirit. We need to live our lives by the example He left for us to follow, I Peter 2:21.
These faithful and wise stewards who will be set over His house will have already learned the lesson of being faithful and wise stewards over that which He has given them to take care of for Him. These will receive their portion (inheritance) in due season when the fullness of time has come.
Jesus spoke about stewardship in His parable of the talents and pounds. In both these accounts, He speaks of a man who went into a far country to receive himself a kingdom and return. This speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ who left His earthly existence to return again to receive His Kingdom unto Himself. In Luke's account:
"... he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come." Luke 19:13
In Matthew's account the Master related,
"And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." Matthew 25:15
In both these accounts the faithful and wise steward had a manifold increase in what he had been entrusted with. The second steward also had an increase. But in both accounts, the unjust steward, who had wasted his time and had been slothful in his stewardship, was stripped of the talent that had been entrusted to him.
"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money." Matthew 25:18
The unjust steward had buried the Lord's money in his earth, consuming it upon his own lusts. He never learned the lesson of stewardship. When the unjust steward stood before the Lord what could he say?
"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:" Matthew 25:25-26
Our Lord admonished this unjust steward as being wicked and slothful, and dealt harshly with him.
"Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents." Matthew 25:28
First, the unjust steward was stripped of what God had entrusted to him; and secondly, his talent was given to the faithful steward who had been most successful with what had been entrusted to him.
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." Matthew 25:29
Jesus went on to relate that those who have been faithful with what they have been entrusted with shall have abundance. But the wicked, unjust, slothful servant will have all that he has taken away.
"And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 25:30
Those who have not learned the lesson of stewardship will be cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The faithful stewards were granted God's reward. Luke relates:
"Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities." Luke 19:16-17
God made the faithful and wise steward ruler over ten cities. Those who are faithful, trustworthy and reliable in the ministry that God has given them in this hour will be made rulers and reigners in the Kingdom of God. Matthew relates the faithful steward's reward:
"His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord." Matthew 25:23
The faithful and wise stewards who are faithful over a few things in this time will be made rulers over many things in the Kingdom of God. It is God's sovereign plan to reestablish those faithful and wise stewards over all the works of His hands, as it was in the garden when God spoke face to face with His creation man.
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Genesis 1:28
God told man to subdue the earth and bring it under his dominion, or under his authority. God has not changed his mind, nor has He withdrawn His promise that the meek (lowly and humble) shall inherit the earth. Adam and Eve were given dominion, but they, too, were unjust stewards, and they, too, were rejected of God, and because of this, their dominion was taken away.
Jesus gave an example of the unjust steward when He was speaking to His disciples:
"And He said also unto His disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods." Luke 16:1
That rich man is God Himself. And there are many today who are wasting His goods. God related to Israel while they were still in the wilderness:
"But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day." Deuteronomy 8:18
It is in the Lord's power that we obtain wealth. And there is only one reason the Lord gives us wealth, and that is to establish His covenant. All that we have belongs to that Rich Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus related to His disciples that the unjust steward was accused of wasting his goods or substance:
"Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? For my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed." Luke 16:3
This steward began to be convicted of the wrong that he had done. He never tried to defend his mishandling of the rich man's affairs. He knew he was guilty. He stated, "I cannot dig." This steward was unwilling or unable to do manual labor. He then stated, "To beg I am ashamed." This servant was ashamed to beg. Unfortunately today those who have violated God's stewardship are not too proud to beg. The church and the many big and small ministries exist because they have become professional beggars or con-artists. Peter, who was awarded the keys to the Kingdom by Jesus because he had heard the Father's voice, wrote:
"And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." II Peter 2:3
These beggars and con-artists have made merchandise of God's people. God's hand of judgment is on these wicked, unjust stewards, and these ministries are going to come to naught.
The unjust steward in Luke began to reason in himself:
"I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses." Luke 16:4
Being rejected of God, the unjust servant determined to become a friend of the world and the worldly system. He called all his lord's creditors and told them to reduce their obligations to his master.
"And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." Luke 16:8
The unjust servant was commended for making friends with the world. His evil, wicked heart had alienated him from God, so he needed to make friends with the world, because he no longer had the hope of stewardship in God's Kingdom.
If we are going to operate our lives and finances by the way of the world, then we, too, will be rejected and set out of God's stewardship. We will have no part of the Kingdom of God or the body of Christ. If this be the case, then those unfaithful, unwise stewards will need their fellowship with the world. God's unjust stewards need to return to the Lord in true repentance.
"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Luke 16:9
The unjust stewards will lose their inheritance in God's Kingdom, and will have to remain in the world, settling for an everlasting habitation with those who have trusted in the mammon (money) of unrighteousness. James wrote:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4
Those who have become friends with the world have become God's enemy. Jesus went on to explain:
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." Luke 16:10
God's principle of sowing and reaping prevails in our stewardship. If we are faithful in the little things, we will be faithful in the big things, but if we are unfaithful in the little things, we will also be unfaithful in all the important things that lead to life eternal. God has given us many examples of Godly stewardship in His Word.
Joseph was a man whom God used mightily in stewardship. When Joseph was seventeen, he was feeding his Father's flock with his halfbrothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. Joseph brought back an evil report to his Father about the actions of his brothers, Genesis 37:2. God was beginning to establish the way of righteousness in Joseph's life:
"Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours." Genesis 37:3
Israel (Jacob) gave Joseph a coat of many colors. The coat of many colors was a sign of virginity and purity. It is recorded in II Samuel, speaking of Tamar, David's daughter:
"And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled." II Samuel 13:18
The way of righteousness was becoming evident in Joseph's life. The coat of many colors was not only a sign of virginity, it was also a signification of priesthood. Israel Jacob) bestowed this priestly robe upon Joseph, establishing the stewardship of God's covenant in Joseph's life.
God began to give Joseph dreams: first the dream of the sheaves, and secondly, the dream of the sun and the moon. In both dreams the sheaves, and the sun and moon, bowed before Joseph. Through this dream, God was establishing His vision for Israel's future in Joseph's life. It is very necessary that God's vision be established in God's stewards. Solomon wrote:
"Where there is no vision, the people perish:" Proverbs 29:18
God's stewards must have a vision of the body of Christ established in their lives. God's stewards will constantly be seeking God for direction and guidance in every area of their lives. Without God's vision, direction and guidance in Joseph's life, Joseph would not have succeeded in what God had called him to do.
Joseph's half-brothers were convicted by Joseph's godly influence in their lives. Their conviction turned to hatred and they began to devise an evil plan to rid themselves of his righteous way of life:
"And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;" Genesis 37:23
When men desire to go their own way and do their own thing, the first thing they want to do is to strip all priesthood authority, and remove the blameless, spotless righteous influence from their lives. They will devise any way possible to separate themselves from all righteous examples that might bring conviction into their godless lives.
Joseph's ten brothers conspired to rid themselves of the presence of Joseph. First they conspired to kill him, but they instead sold him to the Ishmaelite merchants which took him to Egypt.
"And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither." Genesis 39:1
Joseph was sold to Potiphar. Potiphar was a high-ranking officer in the Pharaoh's government, the captain of Pharaoh's guard.
"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." Genesis 39:2
Because the way of righteousness was established in Joseph's life, God prospered everything he did.
"And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand." Genesis 39:3-4
Joseph was made overseer over all that Potiphar had. He became steward of Potiphar's house because he was faithful and honest in all his dealings. Even though he was a slave in this Egyptian's house, God blessed every business dealing that Joseph executed for the Egyptian. He blessed him in his house and in the field, Genesis 39:5.
Then came Joseph's time of testing in his stewardship, for God was preparing Joseph for greater things. Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph into an adulterous affair. Joseph's reply was:
"There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Genesis 39:9
Joseph not only knew his position, he knew his place, and he knew that if he had succumbed to this temptation, it would have been a sin against his God , whether Potiphar found out or not. This would bring Joseph's way of righteousness into sin against his God.
Being rejected, Potiphar's wife used Joseph's garment, that he had left behind when he fled, to accuse him of trying to force her to lie with her. Angered, Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison. This may have seemed as an unjust, unfair act, but God was continuing to prepare Joseph for a greater task of stewardship.
"But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison." Genesis 39:21
Sometimes when we are in our lowest times, it would appear that God has forsaken us. We begin to accuse God of forsaking us. At these times we need to remember Joseph, this righteous, innocent man being thrown into prison; seemingly forgotten about by his family and rejected by those to whom he was faithful.
"And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper." Genesis 39:22-23
Once God's stewardship has been established in our lives, then no matter what the situation, God will prosper it. It may seem at times all is lost, but God is preparing His stewards for His eternal purpose in the earth.
Two of Pharaoh's servants were thrown into prison: his butler and his baker. Both men dreamed dreams which Joseph interpreted for them. The butler was restored unto his position in the palace; and the baker was hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted their dreams. After three days, the butler was standing in the presence of Pharaoh:
"Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." Genesis 40:23
Again rejected and forgotten, Joseph remained faithful in his stewardship.
Two years after the butler was restored to his position in Pharaoh's court, Pharaoh began to have dreams. The dreams troubled Pharaoh. After all of the magicians failed to interpret his dreams, the butler remembered Joseph.
The time had come for God to use Joseph in the position for which He had prepared him all those years. God had established the way of righteousness and true holiness in Joseph's life. God was about to use Joseph in a mighty way. Joseph was brought out of prison. All the bondages that men had put on him were removed. He was shaven and given a change of clothes and brought to stand before the King. What a picture of God's faithful, wise, trustworthy stewards whom He is raising up in the earth today.
Pharaoh related his dreams to Joseph. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams; how there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of drought; and that great famine would come upon Egypt. Joseph's words of wisdom to Pharaoh were:
"Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt." Genesis 41:33
This man would take one-fifth of all that was produced in Egypt in the seven plenteous years, and build storehouses in every city to provide for Egypt, and all the world during the seven years of drought and famine.
"And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" Genesis 41:38
The whole earth is looking for the man in whom the Spirit of God is working; the man who has developed the ability to hear the Father's voice; one who has become faithful in all that God has given him to do; and one who ministers with a pure heart and not for unrighteous mammon or filthy lucre.
God had been preparing Joseph all his life for this moment. Joseph had been a faithful and wise steward in his father's house. He had been a faithful and wise steward in Potiphar's house. He had been a faithful and wise steward in the prison house. God had prepared him for this time and purpose.
"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou." Genesis 41:39-40
Joseph was made second ruler in the kingdom.
"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt." Genesis 41:41
Pharaoh gave Joseph his ring (his seal of authority). He gave him the finest linen garments, and put a gold chain around his neck. Joseph rode in the second chariot behind Pharaoh. All the people bowed their knee to Joseph. Pharaoh called Joseph, Zaphnathpaaneah which means "treasurer of the glorious rest."
God's Word gives us another example of a man who was a faithful steward in all that God had given him to do. Daniel was taken to Babylon at a very early age, possibly as a teenager. As Joseph, he was taught and established in the way of righteousness as a child. When Daniel and the other young men with him were ordered to eat the king's meat and drink the king's wine, they asked to be exempted, knowing these were defiled foods in the eyes of God.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8
Daniel and his companions desired water to drink and pulse to eat. Pulse is a simple vegetable diet:
"Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs." Daniel 1:9
Daniel was a faithful and wise steward before his God. The way of righteousness had been established in Daniel's life at an early age. Daniel's whole life, except for the few formative years of childhood, would be spent in a foreign land serving in the courts of heathen kings.
Nebudchadnezzar had a dream he could not remember. After all of the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans failed to tell the king his dream and the interpretation, the king was determined to destroy all the so-called wise men in Babylon. When Daniel heard this, he asked to be brought before the king. Not only did God show Daniel the forgotten dream, He showed him the interpretation also. When Nebudchadnezzar realized that the Spirit of the living God was with Daniel,
"Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon." Daniel 2:48
Daniel was to be held in high esteem throughout the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors.
There came a time when God would overthrow Babylon. Belshazzar called for the holy vessels that had been brought from the temple in Jerusalem so that his drunken friends could drink wine from them. This is when the finger of God wrote on the wall,
"Mene! Mene! Tekel! Upharsin!" which means by interpretaion: "God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persions," Daniel 5:26-28.
Daniel was called to interpret the writing, which he did. That night the Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon. Because Daniel had been a faithful and wise steward in all that God had given him to do, when Darius, the Mede, was made governor over Babylon, he established Daniel as first president over all his province.
"Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm." Daniel 6:3
Daniel was made second ruler in the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. Daniel had found favor with God and man, Proverbs 3:4.
"Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him." Daniel 6:4
Daniel was faithful, and exalted the way of righteousness in all he did.
"Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God." Daniel 6:5
These wicked, unjust stewards of the king's province conspired to trick Darius into signing a decree that if any man asked a petition (prayer) of any God or man for thirty days except the king, he would be cast into the lion's den, Daniel 6:7.
Daniel had full knowledge that the king had signed this decree; since he was first president in the kingdom. More than likely he was present at the signing of the decree. When Daniel knew the writing was signed, he went to his house to pray. This decree made no difference in Daniel's prayer life. He knelt before the open window as he was accustomed to doing three times a day to give thanks to his God, Daniel 6:10. Daniel was not praying for deliverance from the lion's den, he was giving thanks to his God. As long as he was the faithful, wise steward of God's anointing, Daniel had nothing to fear from man or government. As David the Psalmist wrote:
"In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." Psalm 56:11
Daniel was a steward of God's Word; even though he had been taken to Babylon as a young man. Daniel knew from the book of Jeremiah that Israel would be in captivity for seventy years. When the seventy years were complete, Daniel told those in captivity it was time to return to their beloved Jerusalem, Daniel 9:2.
Spiritual Growth III
A Going On To Be Used of God
God Preparing A People For Service
First the Natural, Then the Spiritual
Mystery Israel Revealed
My Sheep Hear My Voice
Starseed and Sandseed
Preparing the Bride
A Bride For Isaac
Repairers Of The Breach
Becoming The Word
The Flaming Sword
Set A Standard in the Land
Love Thy Neighbor
Blessings and Cursings
Counting Our Lost Blessings
Think On These Things
The Kingdom Within
The Nazarite Vow
Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give