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The Simple and Satisfying Life

September 25th, 2009

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

“You serve at God’s pleasure, with God’s provision, under God’s direction.”

My thoughts today are about “the simple and satisfying life”

It is tempting to presume that who you are, or what you have, or what you can do is of our own making. It rarely, if ever, is. Your individual talents, abilities, possessions, and even your relationships and opportunities are not things you own. When Paul was addressing the pride and boasting of believers in Corinth, he challenged them to consider, “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT. Not easy to miss Paul’s point or debate his reasoning.

Among the first words a toddler learns to express is their declaration of ownership, “Mine!” And it seems that one of the hardest and last things they learn as adults is how very few things really are! If they ever realize it at all. The Bible describes this insatiable need to own and control and the internal and external conflicts that result in this way, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1 NIV.

There is very little that originates with any of us, or of which any of us are truly owners; you are really a steward spiritually of whatever has been entrusted to you by God, out of His grace and ample provision. See 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV. That being true, you are not free to do with that as you please. You serve at God’s pleasure, out of God’s provision, under God’s direction, and with ultimate accountability to Him. “As each has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God  . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12 NIV/1 Peter 4:10 NAS. That’s what stewards do.

I think that most of would prefer be owners, but the reality is that all of us are stewards – a more current business position would be called a manager. A manager is a person given a trust by someone else to faithfully and effectively serve the other’s best intents and interests. With that trust comes a required loyalty and accountability. Loyalty and accountability are not optional for anyone, especially stewards. “Now a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. What about me? Have I been faithful? . . It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide.” 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 NLT.

Owner or steward? You have to decide. Life is so much simpler for you when you have less to worry about and fewer to whom you answer. Anything you have is out of His gracious supply; everything you are is the product of His presence in your life; all that you can do or give is to be for His service and glory. That’s the simple and satisfying life.

My prayer for you today is: rejoice to be a recipient and steward of God’s benevolence.

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Owners and Managers

June 25th, 2009

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Psalm 24:1 NIV

Life is at its best when you choose to live generously.”

My thoughts today are about “owners and managers.”

Sometime as I walk through the halls of our Preschools, I pause to watch young children at play. I find that observing them is most interesting. I have noticed that most small children can be divided into two groups: those who share and those who won’t. Some children are eager to play with others and have learned that sharing is required, and a few feel the need to control the activity and claim every available possession as “mine!”

That disposition seems to come too naturally for people of any age. The very word separates friends and destroys closeness. Life is at its best when you choose to live generously. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more. Another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24 NIV. People who hoard for themselves and withhold from others seldom see the connection with the worry, unhappiness, and loneliness they feel. How tragic, and needless.

Contentment is best found by realizing that everything that you have is a gift received. Ultimately, you will give an account for how well you manage the things given to you. See Luke 16:1-3. Owning more does not secure your peace and happiness. Owning actually creates some added measure of worry and anxiety. Jesus used parables, “teaching stories,” to underscore that the things you have and enjoy did not originate with you, nor ultimately belong to you. The earth really is the Lord’s, and “everything in it!” You and I are managers, not owners.

Your time is a gift extended to you, which God expects you to use for more than your own pursuit and pleasure. Your talents and abilities were provided to you by God’s hand and grace. Your possessions and resources are provision for your use and for your service to God and others, not yours to own and spend as you will. Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” Luke 12:48 NKJV.

True joy comes when you release your need to “own,” and embrace your privilege to manage on another’s behalf. Jesus taught, “If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will commit to you that which is your own?” Luke 16:12 NKJV. As a student entrusted with the opportunity of an excellent education . . as an employee given opportunity to serve others on their behalf . . and as a steward of God’s practical and daily grace, you are qualifying yourself to receive the greater blessings of God, and be shown the gratitude and good will of others.

Life works best when you truly understand that, “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1 NIV. Not just figuratively, but literally. The apostle Paul reminds every Christ-follower, “A person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is to hold things lightly, love others greatly, and serve God fully.

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