WEEK FIVE, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK FIVE THEME: STEWARDSHIP
DAY ONE THEME: WHAT IS STEWARDSHIP
SCRIPTURE: I CORINTHIANS 3 (CEB)
“Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t talk to you like spiritual people but like unspiritual people, like babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink instead of solid food because you weren’t up to it yet.
Now you are still not up to it because you are still unspiritual. When jealousy and fighting exist between you, aren’t you unspiritual and living by human standards? When someone says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ and someone else says, ‘I belong to Apollos,’ aren’t you acting like people without the Spirit? After all, what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants who helped you to believe. Each one had a role given to them by the Lord: I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.
We are God’s coworkers and you are God’s field, God’s building. I laid a foundation like a wise master builder according to God’s grace that was given to me, but someone else is building on top of it. Each person needs to pay attention to the way they build on it. No one can lay any other foundation besides the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
So, whether someone builds on top of the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, or hay, each one’s work will be clearly shown. The day will make it clear, because it will be revealed with fire — the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work survives, they’ll get a reward. But if anyone’s work goes up in flames, they’ll lose it. However they themselves will be saved as if they had gone through a fire.
Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, because God’s temple is holy, which is what you are. Don’t fool yourself. If some of you think they are worldly-wise, then they should become foolish so that they can become wise. This world’s wisdom is foolishness to God. As it’s written, ‘He catches the wise in their cleverness.’ And also, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are silly.’
So then, no one should brag about human beings. Everything belongs to you — Paul, Appolos, Cephas, the world, life death, things in the present, things in the future — everything belongs to you, but you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: We belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God. What a overwhelming thought! Belonging ultimately to God through Christ and all that Christ did to make that happen makes us really, really special. It takes time to get all that absorbed into our being – probably our whole lives. Someone helped us to begin to understand that fact and allowed it to become more than head knowledge as it began to sink into our heart. Once it permeates our heart, a lot of work has to be done to mature into God’s very own.
Many servants participate in this very personal project along the way. None of those servants are to be worshipped, but appreciated for the willingness to radiate God and God’s plan for us. They are vessels of our own growth, but they are not our salvation. God’s true servants do not need glory for any of their participation in God’s work with God’s people. A true vessel holds and receives great joy as a child of God, and giving God thanks for the honor of working for the betterment of God’s Kingdom.
This broader understanding of eternity and everything leading us in the direction of eternity is our daily work. We keep ourselves on course and we bring others along through the way we live our lives and how we are used by God at the right moment for each one. God’s order is beautiful and amazing and God realizes all along that we begin as babies and yet he continues to mature us and guide us until we are able to be full-blown vessels of His.
It is interesting the analogy of life taking us through fire. When you consider all the distractions and all the influences that we encounter on a daily basis, it is amazing that any of us survives. Yet this is our fire. This is the purifying agent that keeps bringing us back. I think back over all the times that life has honed in on me and overwhelmed me beyond my abiities to endure and cope. In those moments, the circumstances that surrounded me whether it be personal or situational or the concern of others, the event would have me reassess my relationship with God. Sometimes it was obvious that I had gotten off course and allowed myself too much authority and control. It would be extremely difficult times, yet God used them to help me reframe myself in Him so that the “thing at hand” became less and He became more.
When you realize that EVERYTHING is under God’s umbrella, it helps with your own perspective in dealing with the situation. In human terms, any situation has limited solutions. But in God’s realm, there are solutions that make no earthly sense. As long as I try to control the situation, I am limited. But as I place the situation in God’s powerful and capable hands, things start happening. Then, as I share that experience and I see other experiences overlapping in the same ways, I am more mature myself as a more and more valuable witness for God’s greatness. If I never had any struggles – if accepting Christ into my life really did mean that life would always be rosey and easy, I would then never know the power of our Almighty God.
A song from my teen years that we sang in Youth Choir said that, “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine.” This one line comes to me in all kinds of situations. Obviously when financial struggles come along, I ask God if it would be possible to sell a cow for the need! But realizing this in the financial realm extends further to the whole rest of life. ANYTHING that I need, God has in abundance and is more ready to use it for the good of all than I often give Him credit for.
A common recurrence in my life comes back to me wanting to take control and do what I think is best. I assume that it is what God thinks is best too, because I feel that I have God’s Spirit with me. However, if the focus of “the thing” gets too intense, I will find time and time again that I am assuming God’s Spirit, but not releasing everything to God’s Spirit. I have not actually stopped and prayed about the situation. Maybe I’m even too overwhelmed to know how to pray. But I get into a dangerous spot of assuming that I can do no wrong and that God will bless my actions regardless…. I begin to take my relationship with Him for granted. I become a bit spoiled and childish. I begin to just ask for forgiveness rather than seek direction.
Today, I am ever more reminded of the importance of spending that one on one time with my God, my true Father, my Deliverer, my Light, my All in All, the Great I AM. I must return my focus and my release and my energy to the one true God of the Universe who can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Holy Spirit, dwell within me and keep me alert of who I am – in all things first and foremost – God’s!