TITLE: THEBEST KEPT SECRET IN THE BIBLE
Subtitle: THE LIFESTYLE SECRET THAT CAN TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND!
It seems that a lot of people today are seeking some deep, dark secret which has been hidden from the masses; one which if used, will provide instant gratification for the one wise enough to recognize it’s worth. The tabloids constantly pander to such expectations—promising astounding weight losses from certain fad diets, fortunes to be gained by following the advice of the latest financial guru, and a host of other claims too numerous (and silly) to mention. Yet the astounding fact is that multiplied millions of dollars are made each year by those who promote and perpetuate such questionable advertisements. It would appear that for such "scams and rip-offs" to continue to be successful, there must be something within the collective public psyche that yearns for "a competitive edge". The ladies (bless their sweet hearts) very definitely want to keep ahead of the competition and they prove to be a ever-ending bonanza for the cosmetics and weigh loss industries—constantly seeking the latest information about what works and hat doesn’t. And let’s not leave the men out of this—personal appearance and finances often rate high on their list and they certainly aren’t above listening to "hot tips". As humorous as this human condition is at times, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that once in a while the "inside information" turns out to be true!
Pssst! Christian, do I have some news for you! The odds are very high that you have been taught something from the Word of God and have never grasped the full implications of it—let alone applied it to your everyday life. This "open secret"—one which has been fully revealed in the Word of God, but grossly neglected by Christians throughout the church age—concerns God’s plan for your duties as His steward. Unfortunately, whenever the word "stewardship" is mentioned in the average church, you can almost feel the instantaneous effect it has on the congregation. "That preacher is never satisfied! He’s begging for money again!" The unspoken message flashes through the pews faster than the speed of light. "Why, we pay him entirely too much now and I’m sick and tired of trying to feed all of the orphans in the world!" "Every time I turn around the offering plate is being shoved under my nose and if this doesn’t stop pretty soon, I’m going to quit giving altogether!" Honestly, now—have you ever had these thoughts or something similar? As a pastor, I know that the average church member would rather hear a sermon on almost any other topic in preference to one about giving! Why do you suppose this is true? I think there are several reasons, not the least of which is a total misunderstanding of what the Bible has to say about our individual responsibility as stewards and the tremendous rewards afforded those who take it seriously.
I have five grandchildren—four rowdy little boys and one precious little girl. It is very educational just to watch them fuss and fight! You see, sharing is a concept totally foreign to them. Where did they get their selfishness? Well, that’s a sermon topic we will have to reserve for another time, but suffice it to say they were "pre-programmed" to resist any and all attempts by others to invade "their space". In order to have obedient and well-mannered children, new parents must quickly learn that these "little bundles from heaven" must be consistently supervised and taught that selfish behavior is not acceptable. A few admonitions will rarely ever get the job done—most children are so strong-willed that it literally takes years of patient persistence by their parents to eradicate (at least) the outward manifestations of "me and mine". I think a pretty good case can be made for the premise that none of us ever fully overcome this most basic trait of human nature. Is it any wonder then that all of us have the tendency to be "tight-fisted" with our money and other possessions? It is to be hoped that when we are saved—born into God’s family through the new birth and become Christians— we will cooperate fully with the Holy Spirit in achieving victory over this childish sin of the flesh.
Thus we see that basic human nature plays a major part in our reluctance to be gracious and generous in giving, but there is another factor which is often overlooked entirely. I am convinced that most Christians do not even know what the Scriptural terms steward and stewardship mean—not really. Oh, they have heard them used many times in stewardship sermons—when the coffers are low and new buildings are needed—but to most they are synonymous with "the preacher wants more money!" To see what these terms really mean, turn with me if you will to the Book of Genesis, chapter fifteen—verses one, two, and three: "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram (Abraham) in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great. And Abram said, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am going on from this world childless, and he who shall be the owner and heir of my house is this steward Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram continued, Look You have given me no child, and a servant born in my house is my heir" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
The steward of Bible times was usually a servant, or in some cases a slave, who had earned the respect and trust of the master of the house. This trust was so complete that the master would turn over the entire operation of his estate to this individual. What is even more unique about this relationship was the fact that the steward essentially assumed the power and influence of his master and lived much the same lifestyle. As long as the steward remained faithful, he was allowed to continue these special privileges. As we would say today, "It was a very good deal for the steward!"
Another well-known Bible character was the man Joseph. We find his story also in the Book of Genesis, where we begin our reading in chapter 39 and verse 8. Joseph is speaking to his master Potiphar’s wife and is refusing her wicked advances toward him: "But he refused and said to his master’s wife, See here, with me in the house my master has concern about nothing, he has put all that he has in my care. He is not greater in this house than I am; nor has he kept anything from me except you, for you are his wife. How then can I do this great evil and sin against God?" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
From what Joseph has to say here, we can see that he was the steward of Potiphar’s house and acted as his personal agent in the everyday mundane matters of life. We all know the story of how Potiphar’s wife, in a rage born of rejection, falsely accused Joseph and he wound up in prison. Yet, in another remarkable illustration of stewardship, Joseph is later taken from prison because of his God-given ability to interpret dreams. The supreme leader of Egypt, called Pharaoh, is so impressed by the interpretation of his own dreams that he promotes Joseph to the position of being his steward—the number two man in all of Egypt! Joseph went from the prison-house to the palace and spent the rest of his days exercising the power and prestige of Pharaoh himself and in the process, saved God’s people from starvation.
At this point you are probably saying to yourself, "These are well-known Bible stories, but what do they have to do with giving?" Just stay with me for a while longer and I will try to tie it all together. When the Lord Jesus Christ saved us, we became his "bond slaves"—a term which refers to slaves who served their master because they chose to do so. They could have been set free, but because of their loving relationship with their master they continued to serve him. As Christians we enjoy a Master-slave relationship with Jesus Christ and serve Him because we love Him. The apostle Paul often referred to himself as being a bond-slave of Christ. Since we have this type of relationship with the Lord, there is something which is very important we must understand concerning our earthly possessions—we do not own them, He does! This is precisely the point at which many Christians fail in their knowledge of Christ and wind up cheating themselves out of priceless blessings. The Lord has made each one of us His steward and with this tremendous position comes both opportunity and responsibility. In 1 Corinthians 4:2 we find the following words concerning a steward:
"Moreover, it is essentially required of stewards that a man should be found faithful—proving himself worthy of trust" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
Stewards must be faithful in the execution of their duties or they will quickly lose the trust placed in them by their master. The steward must constantly bear this thought in mind: "What would my master do in this situation, or how would he handle it?" Obviously the steward is expected to do that which the master desires in each and every case. The next logical question to ask is, "Do you live your life as a steward by these rules—specifically, do you seek your master’s will in the way you handle His money and possessions? From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible says much about God’s wonderful generosity and the desire that we follow His example. As stewards we do not give that which belongs to us—we distribute that which belongs to the Master and His Word tells us: "….he who sows sparingly, reaps sparingly" (2 Cor.9:6 KJV). In Acts 20:35 it is Paul who is speaking and he quotes something the Lord said about giving:
"In everything I have pointed out to you by example that, by working diligently thus we ought to assist the weak, being mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, It is more blessed—makes one happier and more to be envied—to give than to receive" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
We could cite many more verses to support God’s emphasis upon giving, but for the sake of brevity we will confine ourselves just to the point that it is his revealed will that we give. We cannot use the excuse that we do not know any better. What we must face from the human point of view is that we are basically selfish, "tight-fisted", and highly reluctant to "give away our hard-earned money!" In order for us to function properly as a steward, we must rely heavily upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and support.
Otherwise, we will fight a losing battle.
BEST-KEPT SECRET IN THE BIBLE -- IN THE WHOLE WORLD
Now we come to "the best kept secret in the Bible". It is technically "an open secret"—something that is known, but yet not widely believed or practiced. I certainly do not want to give the impression that it falls into the same category as the fad diets, stock tips, and other "inside information" we talked about earlier, because where they offer questionable rewards, this information has proven to be solid 24 karat gold! Are you curious as to what it is? Wouldn’t you like to get in on the blessings? I would like nothing better than to let you in on it, so here goes!!!!
YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY OUTGIVE GOD!
There you have it! This is the "secret" which eludes most Christians! Remember how the steward lives essentially the same life-style as the master? If the steward is unfaithful and causes the estate to suffer, he himself will suffer as a result. If through his efforts the estate flourishes, he reaps the benefits. While we cannot achieve salvation through our own efforts, it is a definite principle found in the Bible that we will be rewarded commensurate with that which we have done for Christ—not only in this life, but in the life to come. Notice that I said rewarded, not necessarily enriched. God’s blessings come in all types and sizes and they are not always monetary in nature.
To reinforce what we have given you, turn to Luke 6:38. This verse is part of what has come to be known as "The Sermon on the Mount", in which the Lord sets forth the principles of His kingdom.
"Give and gifts will be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will they pour into the pouch formed by the bosom of your robe and used as a bag. For with the measure you deal out—that is, with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others—it will be measured back to you" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
Principle #1: In order to receive you must give first. This is exactly the same lesson we try to teach our little ones about sharing. It is a simple concept, but very difficult to put into practice because of our sinful nature.
Principle #2: When you give—with the correct heart motive—you will abundantly receive from the gracious hand of our Lord. Notice that He uses an agricultural illustration to make His point: "….good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over…"
The mental image He wants us to see is that of grain being poured into a container. In order to ensure generosity, the grain is given in "good measure"—abundantly poured out with the intent of filling the container to the brim, with not even a hint of stinginess. Then the grain is "pressed down and shaken together"—this eliminates any air spaces between the individual kernels of grain and maximizes the amount given. Finally, the pouring is continued until the grain piles up and overflows the container—"running over"—and spills on the ground! King David, "The sweet psalmist of Israel", spoke of a similar blessing in Psalm 23:5 when he said, "….my cup runneth over…"
Principle #3: The Lord’s blessings will be proportional to the amount of your giving. In other words, your unit of measurement will determine the size of the blessing. If you are stingy, do not expect an abundant return. This is the very heart of the "secret" which eludes the majority of Christians and causes them to live like spiritual paupers when all the riches of heaven are there for the using!
We are stewards of the True and Living God and He expects us to make abundant use of His resources—first, and foremost, for the benefit of others and then for ourselves.
PUTTING THIS SECRET INTO ACTION IN YOUR LIFE
How can we put these principles into action? How can we gain these blessed promises? How can these things become a reality in our lives and not "just another Sunday-School lesson" which sounds good at the time, but is quickly forgotten? Unfortunately, the answer involves a word that has come to be thought of as a "stock answer" by most Christians: FAITH! Do you believe that God says what He means and means what He says? Do you believe that His promises of blessings are literal promises? Beloved, it all comes down to exercising faith in our heavenly Father and taking Him at His Word. He has promised to bless us when we obey and walk by faith. His Holy Word is filled with such promises, yet our unbelief causes us to doubt. The result is that rather than venture forth by faith, we allow our fleshly nature to continue to control our actions and we wind up behaving like my grandchildren! Stop it!
Take the Savior by the hand and allow His Holy Spirit to guide you into a life of faith in action. Faith is not faith unless it moves! Faith, in order to be real and tangible, must be acted upon. Sitting around thinking about it and entertaining good intentions just wont cut it! Don’t just sit there—Do something about it! What do I recommend that you do? I’m glad that you asked!
FIRST: Never adopt the attitude that you cannot afford to give. Actually you cannot afford not to give!
SECOND: Understand that giving involves much more than mere money. God desires that you give your Time, Talent, and your Treasury in order that your spiritual life will be "well-rounded". He does not need you, let alone your money so cast that ridiculous
thought out of your mind. Giving is a wonderful privilege in that God has allowed us to participate in His plan and program for the Church. It involves our entire being and is not just restricted to our bank accounts.
THIRD: Begin your step of faith by making the prayerful determination—with God’s help—that you are going to start by giving of your time and talent. If you are a genuine born-again, blood-washed, child of God, you possess at least one spiritual gift that God expects you to exercise within your church. If you are not regular in attendance and/or do not participate fully, you deprive them of your gift and the body of Christ suffers as a result. Give of yourself.
FOURTH: Again with God’s help, make up your mind that you are going to give a percentage of your income to the church so that it may be distributed to the various programs supported by the church. The "tithe", as such, is not required of us because we are not under the Old Testament system of law—however, the prevailing opinion among most fundamental Christians is that it would be a shame for us to give less than that which was required of the Jew. [Actually, they gave closer to 15% of their gross income (before taxes) when all of the various offerings are taken into consideration!] Yes, I know that the very subject of "tithing", or systematic giving, gives many people instant heartburn—but bear in mind that blessings received are in direct proportion to your system of measurement. Realize as well that I am trying to teach you how to live a life of blessing—something I have personally "road-tested" and know to be valid. I would never be so cold and callous as to recommend anything that I did not know from personal experience to be absolutely correct. Experience has also taught me that my offering should come first, as a step of faith. It should be the first check written, or the first cash set aside, on payday, thereby trusting the Lord for His provision in meeting the rest of the bills. Over the years, He has never failed to make our income stretch to meet the need. As a child my parents’ instructed me that this was the practice to follow and I have observed since then that most people never mature as Christians until they learn this basic lesson. To press the point even harder, let me ask you this: Why should we limit ourselves to 10-15% as a tithe? A Christian man who gained a reputation during World War II by building earth-moving equipment, gave 90% and lived on 10%! The abundant blessings of God upon his life were unmistakable.
FIFTH: After you "get your feet wet" and see that God does indeed honor His Word, then move on to the next level. (You thought that I was about through, didn’t you?) By the way, this subject of giving is the only place in the Bible where God challenges us to test Him! In Malachi 3:10 we read where God is speaking to the Old Testament Jews (but the principle is the same for us):
"Bring all the tithes—the whole tenth of your income—into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, (that means to test Him) says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
SIXTH: I recommend that you prayerfully select a missionary whom you can help with their monthly support. Determine what you are going to give and then do it. When you find out that this act of faith is not going to bankrupt you, then select another missionary! My wife and I help to support three missionaries and we are praying that the Lord will lay others on our hearts. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that we do not even miss the money—our bills keep on getting paid and God is good! Sharing this with you is not intended to "throw any roses on us", but should make it clear that we practice what we preach. As the old TV commercial used to say: "Try it, you’ll like it!" If you really get into this and learn from it, then I suggest that you go to the leaders of your church and challenge them to consider a change in the church’s approach to missions. In addition to monthly support, why not set up a separate fund for special mission needs? If a missionary is found to have a need beyond their ability to pay, why not meet that need with a lump-sum payment? They often need cars and other expensive items that we take for granted, but which pose great obstacles for them. Be creative in your approach to giving, because you cannot possibly out-give God! This principle holds for both individuals and churches. When you step out by faith, others will be blessed because God honors His Word. There are countless blessings are there for the taking—are you mature enough to claim them by faith? May God bless you and prompt you into action.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order -- Kingdom of Antichrist -- in their daily news.
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