Stewardship

January, February, March 2018

Want to learn more about Stewardship? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 14-part series.

Lesson 1: The Influence of Materialism (Luke 12)
It may seem jarring to go from studying righteousness by faith in Galatians and Romans to studying stewardship! Stewardship is not my favorite topic, but I cannot recall ever teaching the subject in any detail. It is, however, an important issue and a study in which we can all learn more about God's will for us. Let's dig into the Bible for our first lesson in our new series on stewardship!

Lesson 2: I See, I Want, I Take (Malachi 3, Luke 7, Hebrews 11, 2 Corinthians 8)
Our study of Luke 12 last week taught us some important lessons. First, Luke 12:30 tells us that our Father in heaven knows that "we need" the material things that the "pagan world runs after." Second, Luke 12:31 tells us that if we seek God's kingdom, God will give us the things the pagan world seeks. That is an interesting message, one that is easily misunderstood. Let's continue our study this week by looking at what the Bible teaches us about taking and giving to others!

Lesson 3: God or Mammon? (Matthew 19, Luke 16)
In our first lesson of this series we learned that if we seek the Kingdom of God, He will give us all of the material things that the pagans run after (Luke 12:30-31). If that is true, then is the title to this lesson misleading? Is being a servant of God incompatible with having money? If it is, how do we explain the heroes of the Old Testament who were generally very wealthy men? The heroes of the New Testament, on the other hand, were generally poor. So, is this a conflict between the two testaments of the Bible? Or, is there one unified message in the Bible about wealth? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see if we can find God's message on wealth!

Lesson 4: Escape From the World's Ways (Colossians 3)
Have you heard the claim that the rich are greedy? Does that seem right to you? If the rich are already rich, why would they be greedy for more? Or, is this a reference to a time when the rich were not rich? If it is a reference to the time when the rich were poor, then wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the poor are greedy? Think about the time in your life when you had the least money. Was money a focus? I know that my wife and I were a lot more focused on money when we were first married and we were very poor. Our lesson this week is about being different than the world, and avoiding a focus on money. I think this is a lesson that everyone needs, whether you feel you are rich or poor. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn about focus!

Lesson 5: Stewards After Eden (Genesis 1-3, Colossians 2, 1 Corinthians 4)
"Steward" is not a term used very much today. "Agent," "representative," "employee" or "manager" are more common terms. But, do those words capture the full meaning of being a steward? More important for our purposes, do they capture the Biblical meaning being God's steward? Let's once more immerse ourselves in God's word to learn more about His goal for us as stewards!

Lesson 6: The Marks of a Steward (Matthew 6 & 24, Hebrews 11, Psalms 12)
Assume you decide to hire a steward because you have considerable assets. What traits would you look for in someone to trust with your money or your other possessions? What characteristics could be ignored? You would want the person to be smart, or at least wise, right? Honest? Loyal, in the sense of having your best interests at heart? Competent? If you think these characteristics are important, perhaps even mandatory, would God's requirements be different? They might be, right? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more about being God's steward!

Lesson 7: Honesty With God (Luke 16, Act 5, Malachi 3)
Many years ago, I met with a group of public school teachers who wanted to explore what was involved in obtaining a job-related religious accommodation. They had religious objections to supporting a labor union. The short answer was that they needed to tell the union about their religious beliefs, and ask that they be allowed to pay the union fees to a charity that they and the union agreed upon. When the teachers drove up to the meeting place, I noticed one of them had a beautiful new Cadillac. Later, the Cadillac owner asked whether a religious accommodation meant that he would resign from the union. I was astonished, how could you have religious objections to an organization and want to remain a member? The mystery was solved when he said he needed to remain a member so that he could purchase low cost car insurance! His faith had a price, and that price was the difference in the insurance premium amount. Consider whether dishonesty is putting a price on your faith. Let's explore some novel ways the Bible defines dishonesty.

Lesson 8: The Impact of Tithing (1 Corinthians 9, Deuteronomy 14, Genesis 28)
While many debate what tithing means today, what cannot reasonably be disputed is that God consistently teaches that those who advance His gospel are entitled to support from those who benefit. To better understand what God has in mind for us today, let's start with Paul's teaching in the New Testament and follow that with what Moses taught in the Old Testament. What could be better than digging into God's word to see what we can learn!

Lesson 9: Offerings of Gratitude (Luke 7, 1 Peter 4, 2 Corinthians 9)
What does it mean to make an "offering" to God? In the Old Testament, it was often bringing an animal. To me, the phrase "tithes and offerings," brings to mind giving money. I recall fondly the many times when I was up in front of our church with our pastor. When it came time to collect the "offering," I would hand him a dollar to donate because he never remembered his offering. It became a point of humor between us, that I would automatically hand him a dollar. This week we will explore a different kind of offering, one that does not involve small amounts of money, but rather large amounts of your life. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 10: The Role of Stewardship (Genesis 1, Colossians 1, John 14, Revelation 14)
This week I listened to a TED talk about capitalism. The speaker said capitalism was not a political theory or merely a philosophy of economics, it was an "operating system." Just like your cell phone (or computer) has an operating system, the speaker argued that capitalism was the way that successful economic life operated. His example was that the two biggest economic systems in the world, the United States and China, have completely different political systems, but have capitalist economic systems. Our lesson this week considers whether stewardship is the "operating system" of the Christian life. Whatever may be your specific doctrinal views, stewardship is the common denominator for successful Christians. Let's plunge into the Scriptures and see if you agree!

Lesson 10: The Role of Stewardship (Genesis 1, Colossians 1, John 14, Revelation 14)
This week I listened to a TED talk about capitalism. The speaker said capitalism was not a political theory or merely a philosophy of economics, it was an "operating system." Just like your cell phone (or computer) has an operating system, the speaker argued that capitalism was the way that successful economic life operated. His example was that the two biggest economic systems in the world, the United States and China, have completely different political systems, but have capitalist economic systems. Our lesson this week considers whether stewardship is the "operating system" of the Christian life. Whatever may be your specific doctrinal views, stewardship is the common denominator for successful Christians. Let's plunge into the Scriptures and see if you agree!

Lesson 11: Debt - A Daily Decision (Deuteronomy 15, Proverbs 17, 2 Kings 6)
Forbes says that foolishly spending money is the number one cause for divorce. While others dispute the extent of the relationship between money and divorce, a common view is that financial problems tend to seep into other areas of family life and create friction. My guess is that couples are not fighting over how to spend extra money, they are in conflict over the debt that arises from foolish spending. Did you know that the Bible gives us counsel on debt? It does! Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about God's view of debt!

Lesson 12: The Habits of a Steward (Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 10, Matthew 5)
For a very long time I have attended a weekly Bible study group. Those groups change over the years. Sometimes I am in charge, and sometimes I am not. (I prefer it when I'm not in charge.) Recently, I told the friend hosting our current Bible study that we might have three new people show up that night. Turned out, none of them showed up. Why? Unlike the current members of the group, attending has not become a habit. Have you noticed that you can make new habits that improve your life? Recently, I've created the habit of going to the gym. What habits would you like to create? What habits does the Bible tell us to adopt? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 13: The Results of Stewardship (Matthew 7, Proverbs 3, 1 Peter 2, Philippians 4)
How then should we live? After studying all of these lessons on stewardship, now that we come to the last lesson, have you changed your attitudes and your actions? We learned that God is much more generous to us than He is demanding. We learned that being generous, like our God, is the key to a better life. We learned that generosity is not only about money, it is also about our time, our talents, and our attention. We've learned that stewards must have common sense. We've learned that stewards trust God. Let's finish this series by studying some passages from the Bible that help us understand exactly what living the life of God's steward looks like!

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