By Pastor Bob Miller
I don't know about you, but I want to be used by God. I'm not satisfied living with Him in the periphery of my life. I want to know His heart and what His will is for my life. I also want to receive His blessing and to live in such a way that I can be a blessing to others!
If that has been your heart's desire as well, then you've been leaning into this series of posts which have been geared to helping us to grasp how it is that we can more fully trust God.
I want for us to continue looking at the Spiritual Principles of Stewardship. When we understand these principles of how God chooses to work in our world through us, as revealed in the Word of God, then we can better know how to open our lives to Him so that He can not only bless us but also make us a blessing!
Looking at the Spiritual Principles of Stewardship, when properly understood and followed, opens the door for us to be used by God in such a manner that our life is enlarged. It overflows to become a blessing to others as well as ourselves.
Paul in Romans 12:1, urged us to, "present our bodies as living sacrifices" to God so He can use the gifts and talents He has given to us for His glory. I think so very often that when I read, I overlook the fact that He says: "bodies," not "body." This is plural. Now, I've only got one body to present to God and the last I looked so do You! But together, as we present our BODIES to Him to be used – there is a SACRED BLEND which takes place – We call it the "Body of Christ" or the Church. As we function together, using the gifts, talents, skills, and possessions that He has given to each of us individually, TOGETHER we can accomplish so much more than we could ever do alone! And so the Church isn't just us, coming together to worship and sing and pray and read Scripture and listen to an incredible message by your wonderful pastor – and then going home until next Sunday – when you go to Church again. But sadly, that is what many of us in America have made it out to be.
That isn't what God intended at all. Instead, it is to be a coming together of those who have been filled with the Spirit of God and whose gifts, talents, skills, and possessions are available for God to use. He puts them all together and uses us to work together to accomplish His purposes, TOGETHER!
As we continue our journey through God's Spiritual Principles of Stewardship, let's be mindful that not only are these principles to be applied individually but corporately as we together present ourselves to God.
Let's look at three principles of Godly Stewardship.
The first of these is the Big Shovel Principle. It's the idea that you can't out give God. God has a bigger shovel than you or I do.
Jesus said in Luke 6:38,
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap."
Notice the next phrase,
"For with the measure you use it will be measured to you."
In Jesus' day, when you went to buy your rice or grain, they would pour the grain into a sack in such a way that you didn't truly get a full bag. You didn't shake the bag to make room for more rice to be poured into the container. But Paul is saying that when God gives, He is generous and not stingy when He pours out blessings. He shakes and presses it down and returns the blessing until it overflows. He wants to make sure that you make room for more blessing! No cutting corners in God's economy of wanting to bless our lives.
Now the principle is that in the same measure that we treat others, so will be the measure that God uses in blessing us in return. God is saying, "If you do your part, I'll do more." He says, "I have a bigger shovel than you do."
I heard of a person who was quite generous being asked how it was that He could give so much away and still be prosperous. The man replied, ‘Its very simple, I shovel in, and God shovels back. And God has a bigger shovel than me."
The next principle is the River Principle. Our life is to be like a river, not a reservoir. In other words, we are to let the blessings of God flow into, through, and out of our life. We're not to take God's blessings and store them up. We are called to receive God's blessings and to pass them on. In the same week that He would be crucified, Jesus said, "anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25)
When I was going through my office recently, I found a series of old-time books written by a preacher named S.D. Gordon. One of his books was entitled Quiet Talks on Prayer. In one of his devotionals, he says that there is one inlet of power in our lives and that is the Holy Spirit. There are five outlets of power through which the Holy Spirit reveals His power in us. Those outlets are:
1. Through our life- what we are.
2. Through our lips – what we say.
3. Though our ministry – what we do.
4. Through our money – what we give.
5. Through our prayer - what we claim in Jesus' name.
Life isn't about ourselves. As we give our lives away, we find them. Our highest calling is to lay down our lives daily. The Lord keeps pouring His life into us, and the resources for living and loving keep on coming!
Now I think sometimes we get the idea that as God fills our life – we will naturally give out of the overflow! But I think it is wiser to see ourselves as a garden hose. We merely turn on the spout and let God's blessings flow through us. We will be surprised how those blessings keep on coming!
Lastly, I want to share with you what I believe to be the first and foremost principle. It is the First Shall Be Last Principle. This also might be called the Who's #1 Principle.
This principle is simply that God deserves the first of everything. Not only the first but the best of our life, not the left-overs.
Once this principle is settled, it's interwoven into all these other principles. The principle is simply that God deserves the first of everything. Instead of giving him our best or our "first," we tend to give God our leftovers. Instead of giving God the "first of our income," we want to see if there is anything left over after we pay the bills and care for ourselves. In Matthew 22:27-28, we hear Jesus as He answers the question, "What is the greatest commandment?"
Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."
The Proverbs writer said in Proverbs 3:9-10, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first-fruits of all your crops." Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." We are called to put Him first.
God tells us that we are to give Him the first, not the last of everything. If our practice is to wait until we see if we have anything left for God, not only will God be cheated, but you will continually find yourself coming up short. The question for us to answer is, "Where do I put God in my life?" Is He first, second, fifth?