Is it just me or do others find themselves stuck sometimes, not knowing quite how to get to where God’s called us. It’s like we can see the Promised Land over in the distance but it’s all we can do to stay alive let alone make the journey over there… and do battle. We know what God has called us to but we are stuck in a cycle of survival that often has us swinging between feast and famine at a heady rate. I heard Bill Johnson quoted recently contrasting heaven’s intervention in the wilderness with the miracles of the Promised Land: ‘in the wilderness, the miraculous was for the Israelites’ survival, but in the Promised Land, the miraculous was for the advancement of the kingdom.’ Perhaps sometimes we live as if we were still in the wilderness thereby recreating the reality of that place, when actually we need to start living by the ways of the Promised Land, which is where we actually are. I know that’s true for me.
Last time I shared a little about poverty, simplicity and heaven’s lavish resource. There are three more principles I have seen from Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s writings that have to do with stewarding the resources delegated to us. Discovering them again has been a series of light bulb moments – I’m a little slow so bear with me!
The first was the most surprising to me; when heaven gives something to us, heaven expects us to work with it so that it increases. We live in the blessing and favour of our Father, we are Children of the promise, walking in fellowship with Him in the Promised Land. This seems to be the basis of this expectation from heaven. When God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land he blessed them to work the already fertile land so that it would produce all they needed. For us this increase can come I think by two main routs: either through literal investment and enterprise or as a result of giving be that tithes, offerings, or ‘seed giving’. Either way, the idea and expectation is to take what God has given and put it to work so that it increases.
The second is similar and has to do with what we put these resources to work on; that is God’s rule and will being expressed on earth. Each of us is a member of God’s family with a role to play in bringing heaven to earth. Whether as individuals or ministries, we have been given special ministries, callings, tasks, jobs to do that will cause him and his ways to be known and experienced by others. That’s what the resource is for, whether we are applying the first principle of increase or simply making use of it. It could be your own ministry, or maybe it’s another one that cares for the fatherless, or protects the weak, one that clothes the naked or feeds the hungry. Anything that bring God’s rule and his Kingdom into everyday life.
The third principle that governs the stewardship of those resources that heaven has delegated to us is simply expressing the nature of God. Using our gifts and resources to show mercy, to lavish grace, to express forgiveness, and of huge importance, to demonstrate the generosity of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. In this area we are likely to be on the receiving end; but as soon as we receive we are able to give! Sometimes we have a need and what we receive is to meet that need but if this becomes perpetual and life and ministry become driven and drained by need, something is not right – most obviously we are not managing to increase the resources we have been given.
I have decided to try, with God’s grace, and use these three principles as a sort of checklist as I manage both my personal resources and those of the ministry I steward. I am looking forward to seeing what changes as a result.