Day Three Hundred and Five

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to always recognize and know that the LORD is the owner of all that I possess, and that I am only a steward of the things in my care; that I may be found faithful.

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1 (NKJV)

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2

B F & M – Stewardship

Many people, and even some Baptists flinch at the word “Stewardship”.  A pastor stands behind the pulpit, and proclaims his subject as “Stewardship”, and the first thing that goes through many minds is, “Here comes a sermon on giving our money”.

Stewardship involves much more than money.  It entails the care of what has been given us for use.  I have lived in a rented house.  I am a steward of this house.  We now live in a house of our own [and the mortgage companies], along with a few acres of land.  It is the place God has provided my wife and I to live.  We have a 2000 and 2001 model Mercury Grand Marquis automobiles.  They too, were given us by God, to care for and maintain, and to keep in as good of care as we possibly can.  We are stewards of these things.

We are also all stewards of this planet called earth which we live on.  We are to give of our tithes and offerings.  Our Statement of Faith does not mention “Titheing” per se, but rather, “…binding stewardship in their possessions”.  We should count titheing as a privilege.  One hundred percent of our income is God’s, and all we are asked to return to acknowledge God’s ownership is 10% of it.  Gifts and offerings come above this.

Here is our Statement of Faith on the matter of Stewardship:

“XIII. Stewardship

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.

Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1-4,19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 12:15; Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19.”

The tithe shows our recognition of God’s ownership.  There are many who want to tell us that the tithe is an Old Testament principle.  Jesus has taught it in the New.  Jesus tells us:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  Matthew 23:23 (KJV).

If you noticed He commends the tithe, but is condemning them for not practicing other matters of the law.  If Christians, and Baptists in particular would tithe to their local congregation, there is no church in the USA which would be hurting financially with the wise use of their resources, and missions and evangelism would be supported more effectively as well.

Be careful to take good care of the resources God has blessed you with.  Practice judgment, mercy, and faith, and take care of what God has blessed you with materially; and recognize God’s ownership of your income.

-T.A.

Mark Twelve – One through Twelve

“And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.”  Mark 12:1-12 (KJV)

In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet likens the nation of Israel to a “Vineyard”.  It to is a parable.  It is the story of a man who plants the vineyard, builds a fence around it, cleaned up the rocks, even built a tower for the vineyard, but then the vineyard does not produce anything but “wild grapes” – that is “worthless grapes”.  The vineyard brought forth no useful fruit for its owner.

It seems that these religious leaders were reminded that they were the vineyard.  Jesus is showing them as a prosperous vineyard, producing much fruit, but not giving the “Owner” what is due Him.  In this parable Jesus speaks of a “Landowner” who prepared the vineyard, and then “leased” it out to others.  The idea was that the “Owner” would collect his due when the harvest was over.

The story is really one of Israel, and their trek down through about 1500 years – from the time of Abraham.  They had had prophet after prophet come to them with the message of God and His Word, but would often refuse the word of the prophet, and beat, abuse him and drive him from their presence.  Just as the people leasing the land would not give the “owner” his due, these so called “People of God” would not yield to the “Messengers” which God sent them.

The message Jesus gives through this parable is that since they would not give God what was due Him, then the Kingdom would be given to others.

We might should pause and think about that.  Have we heard God and surrendered to His Word and His will?  Have we sent away His “Messengers” without even a thought of what He said?  Are we making a mess of God’s kingdom?  Have we sent His “Messengers” away empty handed, injured and bleeding?  Maybe not physically, but spiritually?

Jesus tells us in the parable that these “Husbandmen” would do the same with the “son” when he would come to collect his due.  The prophets of God were rejected, and ultimately the Son would be rejected and put to death on Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Land In Possession

In His journeys through the land of Canaan Abraham never owned a portion of the land.  For twenty five years Abraham had the promise of a son before that son was ever born to he and Sarah.  The promise is fulfilled.

In the time when Isaac is around twenty thirty seven years of age Sarah has died, and they own no land in which to bury her.  Abraham is trying to purchase the land, but it almost seems as though they do not want to sell it but give it to him.

One thing we must remember; it is God who owns the land.  He has placed it in our hands – many land owners in the world today.  However, the land owners are really only stewards of the land, and are  to be caretakers of what God has placed in our hands.

In the economy of land, though, land ownership is recognized by deeds and titles.  In the search for a place to bury his dear, and precious bride following her death; and yet owning nothing, but the promise of God for the whole land; Abraham, by faith offers to purchase a cave with some surrounding land from Ephron of the children of Heth.

They have finally reached an agreement.  Abraham now is a land owner in Canaan, and the rest is purely owned by faith.  This was indeed a transaction, a sale of land.  It was agreed to in public, before witnesses, there was an exchange of “money”, and there was a survey conducted to make sure the borders of the land (Genesis 23:17).  Most likely there was some sort of deed given in the transaction to seal the deal.

This was all done based on God’s call and promise that the land would be the descendants of Abraham’s of the seed of Isaac.

“And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.” Genesis 23:20 (KJV)

When God makes and gives us a promise we can be sure that He will carry that promise all the way to its completion.  Even our salvation. (Philippians 1:6).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Look God’s Direction

Looking God’s Direction

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD. Genesis 13:14-18 (KJV).

There is an obvious difference noted between Abram and Lot. While Lot was told by Abram to choose the land he “lifted up his eyes” toward what appeared to be the most prosperous, fertile, and probably beautiful land in Canaan and chose it without God.

Abram, however, was submissive to the Lord’s direction. Guided by God’s Spirit he sees through the eyes of God. God says, “Lift up now thine eyes”. Abram’s heart was set on the things of God. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34).

God’s promises incorporate all the land that Abram sees. It will be his and his children’s “Forever”. Now, who are the children, or seed of Abraham? “Children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:8). Those who have a faith like Abraham. It is physical and spiritual, because God has given the land to a people who are going to have faith in Christ Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. It is the Church which is made up of Jew and Gentile – spiritual including all races.

A promise of posterity numbering like the “Dust of the earth”.

God commands Abram to “Arise, walk through the land.” This, an act of faith also was a point of ownership, given by God.

Abram moved once again. This time remaining in Canaan claiming more land under God’s authority for the nation God would prosper and save the world. Again, he builds an altar. We need our altars to the Lord. It is an act of faith, submission, and worship to God. The altar is the place of our submitted, obedient, worshipping heart and life.