Archive for January, 2015

STEWARDING YOUR YEAR (Pt. 4)

As he was preparing his disciples for his departure from this world, Jesus intended that they understand the responsibility being in trusted to them.  He does so by telling them some stories with Kingdom truths found in Matthew’s Gospel (Chapters 24& 25). The moral of the stories were clear… They needed to be good stewards; faithfully attending to the duties given them by their Master.  They also were to stay watchful and alert for his unknown hour of return.

STEWARDS OF A HOUSEHOLD
In Matthew 24:42-51, Jesus likens his disciples to stewards of a household. The main steward had been given the responsibility of caring the household; feeding each their portion at the proper time.

Today,there is still the need for good stewardship of ministry gifts for the household of God. The apostle Paul wrote,”Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy”(‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭1-2‬ NASB).
From Jesus story(Matthew 24), we learn that those called to minister the Word of God should not do so with an eye of covetousness and greed; using and abusing the flock under their care. They are called to feed God’s people with a faithful Word from the Lord.  Like the prophets of old, they were approached to find out “Is there a word from the Lord?” Those who minister the things of God to His people are only stewards of a gift to which they will one day give a strict account  (See 1 Peter 5:1-4).
Our Lord knows the heart and gives warning to the unfaithful that they will experience “Weeping, gnashing of teeth”(Vain regret). And they will find themselves in a place with the “hypocrites”.  A hypocrite is a Greek word that was used in theatre meaning “A person who wears a large Mask to exaggerate the stage character they were playing” for the audience. Hypocrisy is pretending to be what you, in reality, are not.   The apostle Paul may have had this in mind when he wrote to Timothy regarding his public ministry, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2‬:‭15‬ NASB).

STEWARDING THE TALENTS
In Matthew 25:11-30, Jesus tells a story to highlight the importance of being faithful stewards of the Master’s “talents”(Money).  In the story we discover that the Master was going away for some time. He left three servants in charge of his Business affairs. He set up each servant as a winner, giving “each according to their ability”(Matthew 25:15). The first two servants recognized that their GIFT(Talents) + TIME = OPPORTUNITY! They made an investment for the Master so that upon his return they were able to show him that they had made a profitable gain.   The Master was both delighted and grateful, rewarding and honoring each with at least twice as much as they previously had received!
But not so for the third servant. Why not? Because he had a wrong view of his MASTER. “I knew that you are a hard man…harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have scattered seed…I was afraid…and hid YOUR talent in the ground”(See Matthew 25:25).
The Master is not only disapproving of this servant but tells him, “Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭27-30 NASB).  

CHARACTER & ACTIONS

The Master summed up his judgement, based upon both the servant’s character and actions.  “You wicked, lazy servant!”(Matthew 25:26).

Character is about what you are and what you do when no one is watching.  Also, never forget that when it seems that no one knows or is watching…there is always One watching.  As the old plaque on the wall in someone’s home read, “Thou God seeth me”.  As stewards, our work should always be done “For the audience of One..The Lord Himself”.

Returning to the Master’s evaluation, the problem with the last servant was that he was lazy. He was ungrateful for the gift given and therefore did nothing with it.  He did not consider that investing time and God-given energy was his OPPORTUNITY to receive a good return on his God-given INVESTMENT.
A JUST REWARD
Jesus teaches us in the story, that if we steward well our God-given “talent”, the Master will reward us with MORE in order that we can still accomplish MORE.   But the Master also stated that there was no reward for a “wicked, lazy” servant.  Only a fearful judgement awaits those who squander the Master’s gifts and talents.
In every field of life, in God-given endeavor, there is profit and a good reward. Stewards must be faithful. Look through the eye of faith and arise to your place of God-given influence. “Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be”(Job 8:7).  God assures us,”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:11).

(c) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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STEWARDING YOUR YEAR(Pt.3)

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:14-16 NIV)

 A praying leader understands the value of potential team members. They add value to your vision and help you achieve your goals. They also are recognized as those who can be promoted to the next level in a business or ministry.

A few years ago, I was hired as the Chaplain for a Marketplace company. My primary role was to be available, providing any counsel and spiritual care to the employees and their families. But within just a few months of joining the company my position changed. I was asked to help design an entire Department that would direct a group of Intercessors. Their primary job description was to pray for the Company.

At the time, this was a novel idea; having people on site whose sole was to pray for the various departments and their managers. But the owner understood the importance of seeking God’s assistance as a daily component of business. We understood that God did not want to be on the “sideline” of business but “in the game”. The company became well known for its productivity and success, having both a national and international presence.

PRAYER IS STRATEGIC

Prayer was a strategy that increased the potential effect service of the company.   When you think about it, this was not the first time that someone thought it important to have God’s presence to change their fortunes.

JABEZ

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request” (2 Chronicles 4:10). Apparently, Jabez changed his misfortunes to fortunes when he turned his life and business management over to God.   God turned his sorrows or setbacks into joy when he turned his business over to God. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things will be added unto you”(Matthew 6:33).

Make God the CEO of your business or ministry. Watch it become what it was meant to be…a kingdom business!   Then you become the junior partner of His business.   God wants to unlock your potential to grow and expand what He has put inside you. “It is God that gives you power to get wealth”(Deuteronomy 8:18).   It all begins with praying for a release of the potential.

 MOSES & JOSHUA

Joshua would prove to be a great servant-leader. As a servant to Moses, his potential and capacity as a leader grew.

Under Moses, he led the Army of Israel into battle against the Amalekites and defeated them (Exodus 17:9-16). Joshua proved LOYAL to God’s servant Moses. He did not rebel as some had done and bring a “bad report” into the camp to divide or discourage the people (Numbers 14).

But the greatest capacity that Joshua had was spiritual. He had a heart to follow after God. When Moses climbed the Mount to meet with God…so did Joshua. When Moses moved the Tent of Meeting outside the Camp so only those who sought God, Joshua was right there. While others stood watching from a distance…Joshua followed Moses into God’s presence (lingering there in the glory long after Moses had left!). Perhaps he understood his need for a greater capacity for God. In the words of A.W. Tozer, “Most people are as close to God as they choose to be.”

Prayer helps us steward well our capacity as a leader. We are not all called to be outwardly successful. But we each are called to be faithful.

PAUL & TIMOTHY

Another great example in the New Testament was Paul and Timothy.  Paul recognized Timothy’s POTENTIAL and helped to develop and steward his gifts for leadership. While was doing some ministry travel a name that was mentioned with a GOOD REPORT was, “Timothy”. “Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him” (Acts16: 1-2 NIV).

As Timothy joined Paul’s team, he was seen to have PROVEN CHARACTER. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel” (Philippians 2:19-22 NIV).

Paul understood that character is not built in a day. It is proven over time. It was Paul’s prayers for young Timothy that caused his potential to FLOURISH!

SCRIPTURE IS KEY

Ultimately, Paul knew that Timothy would steward well his gift and calling if he made God’s Word his priority in life.  As someone said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing THE MAIN THING”.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV)

May God help you to place godly folks around you in order that you may steward well your potential for your good and God’s glory.

(c) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr.  All rights reserved.  This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content.  Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

STEWARDING YOUR NEW YEAR (Pt.2)

STEWARDING THE FAMILY

“Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him.” (Isaiah 51:2 NASB)

What is true of marriage is also true of the family.  The family is God’s idea and therefore a sacred trust.  “And God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28).  James tells us that “Every good and perfect gift comes down from above from the Father of lights”(James 1:17a)). The psalmist proclaimed, ”Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward”(Psalm 127:3 NASB).

Every child is a gift from God and therefore is intended to be a part of the human family.  There maybe an “unwanted pregnancy”.  But from God’s point of view, there is no such thing as an “unwanted child”. Men and women may “make love” but God alone “makes life”.

EVERY CHILD UNIQUE

What makes families special (apart from culture & ethnicity) is that they bare witness to the uniqueness of God’s handiwork. David extolling this wonder and mystery declared, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:14-17 NIV) Every child is unique by God’s design. Someone rightly observed, “GOD DOES NOT MAKE ANY JUNK!”

EVERY FAMILY UNIQUE

There is no such thing as the perfect family (Within the first family we have a homicide! -Cain murders Abel).   Again, within families you don’t get the sister or brother you want, necessarily, but the one you need.  The LORD God, apparently, was making a point of this in fulfilling His promise to Abraham by having his grandson, Jacob, have sons from different wives (& concubines).  These 12 sons became the sons of Jacob through which we know as “the children of Israel.   From this we understand that God’s family was not about a pure race of people but about a people baring witness to the transforming grace of God.  The apostle Paul wrote regarding God’s family, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”(‭Galatians 3:26, 28-29 NIV).

THE SMALLEST TABERNACLE

The family is the smallest “Mishkan”, meaning “tabernacle or sanctuary”.  One of the earliest mentions of the word where “sanctuary” or “tabernacle” is found is in Exodus 25:8 “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them”(Exodus 25:8 NIV).  The family like the tabernacle was to be a dwelling place for God.  If the family represents the smallest sanctuary for God, several things must be truly stewarded (or restored) today. (1st) The family must be a place where God is welcomed and acknowledged.  This is what is behind the meaning in Deuteronomy “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Speaking, teaching, praying, sacrificing and keeping God’s Word before the family was not some legalistic, moralizing exercise but a LIFESTYLE to be observed. (2nd) A God-honoring family honors one another.  This means that you may not have much space (Size of home) but you give one another “space to be”; treating each other with honor and respect within the home.  Even as Husbands and Wives are to honor and respect each other, so children must honor their parental authority (In all things, BIBLICALLY, that honor God).

HONOR

Honor is the first command with a promise for the future blessing of the child. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”(Ephesians 6:1-4 NIV). Notice, it does not say, “Parents obey your children”(That is out of order and has caused idolatry throughout the land. Selah). Learning to give honor is also the first building block for healthy and stable communities. This brings God’s peace into our homes and neighborhoods.

FATHER ABRAHAM

This no doubt, is what made Abraham not only a “family” man but also one who was known as “God’s friend”.   When God came down to see if what had been reported regarding Sodom and Gomorrah was true, He stopped by to visit Abraham first saying, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (Genesis 18:17-19 NIV).

I wonder, today, when family unit is under such assault like never before, would God find us to be those who seek to instruct & guard our family? Or would He find us to be like those who neglect our home to its ultimate destruction?

Like Joshua, may we declare, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”(Joshua 24:14b).

 

(c) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr.  All rights reserved.  This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content.  Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

STEWARDING YOUR NEW YEAR (Pt. 1)

Lets start the New Year off with a bang!   For some that will mean making sure that appropriate or well thought out business goals for this year are established. These types of goals are important. For some setting personal exercise and weight loss goals must be taken into account. But I am also thinking about goals for  those who are married? (Or wish they were).

BACK TO BASICS

Whether you are recently married or an older married couple you cannot afford to neglect the marriage relationship. “As goes a marriage so goes the family.” Starting the New Year off as a couple may well mean returning to the things that are basic. For a car to run well it requires periodic tune-ups and maintenance. Periodic storms with adverse winds do come whether we like it or not. You must get ready to weather the storm. So, too, marriages face adversities that will test the foundation of the home. The enemy sends them to destroy a marriage and home. But God allows rain and strong winds to come in order to test the marriage foundation. The ultimate purpose of a test is to prove you are ready for the next level. God wants to strengthen and create rock solid marriages.

Let’s be honest the enemy has does his work well. Broken lives resulting in broken homes have never been at a more all-time high. The challenge of marriage has been both “politicized” and “socialized” with the times. Nevertheless, if we want to see restoration in families we must get back to basics. Let’s start where God starts, Genesis 1: 1, “In the Beginning God”. In the Book of Genesis we have the story of God’s creative design for Marriage. “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”(Genesis 1:16-27a).

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that broken homes resulting in broken lives was never God’s idea. It was NOT so from the beginning.   “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh”(Mark 10:6-8).

GOD OF THE COVENANT

Before the subject of marriage became a social, political (or high court) matter it was a spiritual matter.  God who is a covenantal God deals with human beings on the basis of covenant relationships (Not merely “contracts”). God created mankind in such a way to indicate that they were two parts of a whole. Therefore, there was an understanding, from the beginning, that the “maleness” of man was not complete without recognizing, honoring and cherishing the “femaleness” of mankind. If we move away from that intentional design and reality… then we can make marriage whatever we want it to be.  And in so doing, we make it something less than God intended–Less than a sacred union. It becomes a state of convenience, as long as convenient.   (Please don’t misunderstand my motive in writing on this subject. This is not written regarding marriages that have ended in divorce or remarriage. But as an understanding of what the Lord Jesus said regarding the cause or reason that marriages break down and divorces occur.

 REPAIR & RESTORE

There is the need to help repair homes and restore marriages that suffer due “to the hardening of hearts” in relationships. The scriptures offer hope and help (Even guidelines for new beginnings).

According to the scriptures, marriage was designed to be both sacred and covenantal. It was intended to reflect the glory of God (Mother & Father, Male & Female, both being necessary to express His holiness and our wholeness).  The apostle Paul declared it is “a mystery”.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:31-33 KJV).

FAITHFUL STEWARDS

We are called as followers of Jesus to faithfully “steward” of this mystery.

(1) Marriage is a unit, a “oneness”.  Although God brings a man and a woman together, they really represent two-halves of a whole.  Adam said of Eve, “She shall be called woman”(See Genesis 2:18, 22-23). The uniqueness called “woman” that was recognized by Adam was the “she” that was already inside of him.  God took it (A rib) from his side so man could appreciate her beauty as the counter part, functioning emotionally and intellectually different than himself–but NECESSARY.  As someone observed regarding the uniqueness in a healthy togetherness in marriage, “If both of you are alike, someone will appear as unnecessary”.  Hence the differences will often appear as COMPETING rather than COMPLIMENTING.  This often will lead to one or the other marriage partner feeling threatened by the other rather than being seen as an ally.

When we begin to see the value in “the other” partner (Who is necessary to my “wholeness”) then we will value and love them for who they are, as my necessary “self”.  The responsibility of this recognition is placed upon the husband (Adam/Man) who is called to take the lead. Paul teaches us that a husband in loving the other (his wife) really loves himself.  When a man does not love his wife, it is therefore an indication he struggles in loving himself as God loves him.  The apostle John asks, “How can a man say ‘I love God’ whom he cannot see and yet does not love (In this case his wife) whom he can see?”(See 1 John 4).

(2) Marriage is also a prophetic picture. It speaks of the mystical Bride of Christ. Through faith we have a “One flesh” relationship with Jesus Christ, Our Husband, Our Head.  There is coming a great wedding celebration of this ultimate mystery (See Revelation 19:7).  

The apostle Peter gives practical instruction for God-honoring marriage. “Husbands… Be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. “(‭1 Peter 3:7 NIV)

The apostle Peter teaches us that stewardship in marriage involves husbands taking the lead by(1) Be considerate of the other. (2)Be respectful of the other (In both word and deed). (3)Recognize that BOTH are “Equal partners of the gracious gift of Life”. (4) LEARN how to become an effective prayer partner.   Remember YOU fight better TOGETHER rather than APART. “If one can chase a thousand, two can put ten thousand to flight”(Deuteronomy 32:30).

When a husband and wife are “one in the Spirit”, they multiply their effectiveness against the enemy.  Praying together helps them stay strong together.  This is good stewardship.

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr.  All rights reserved.  This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content.  Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com