The Great Purpose of Christian Stewardship
Retired missionary Paul R. Lindholm begins a reflection on what he views as the overriding purpose of Christian stewardship—glorifying God—with a humorous vignette:
A church choir director asked a clerk in a music store for a copy of an anthem with the title, “The Glory of the Lord.” The clerk called to the person working in the storage shelves for a copy. Finding none, the clerk called down: “The Glory of the Lord” is out of print.
In print and in thought, the shekinah glory of our Lord does not have the prominence nor attention it should have.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism highlights this subject in its very first question and answer:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
What a mind-boggling thought: God created us for the purpose of glorifying and enjoying him! Are you tempted at first glance to question God’s motivation? The fact is that God is a spiritual being who is social. Certainly he enjoys intimacy within the Godhead and among the angels. But beyond that, he desires authentic and voluntary fellowship with the beings he created to be in relationship with him. The enjoyment part is reciprocal (see Zep 3:17). And Psalm 8:4–5even proclaims that God crowns us with a measure of glory and honor. When we think of stewardship, how readily does this aspect occur to us? Lindholm goes on:
Before Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, his father King David had the Ark of the Covenant that contained the two stone tablets on which were engraved the Ten Commandments brought there.
The Ark was the symbol of the presence of God. When the Ark was first placed in the tabernacle in Jerusalem many offerings were made. Then a long hymn of thanksgiving was sung with the chorus accompanied by a large instrumental band. In the hymn were the lines:
The words, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” [appear] many times throughout the Psalms.
Think About It:
- Going back to Lindholm’s opening anecdote, how readily do we think of proclaiming and reflecting back the glory of our Creator as key to our God-ordained stewardship role?
- In what ways has proclamation of the shekinah glory gone “out of print”?
- What role does praise play in your daily prayers?
Pray About It:
Dear Father God,
I praise you and worship you. Thank you for your mighty works and deeds!
Our relationship with the Lord in to be held in High Reverence (Psalm 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.)
Praise the Lord in all occassions, prayer and supplications. Worshipping the Lord in spirit and truth! Amen
- John 4:23
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
- John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
- John 14:17
even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
- John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
- Ephesians 5:9
(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth😉
Making a joyful noise to the Lord sounds good and right, doesnâ€™t it? Itâ€™s a no-brainerâ€”so much so that itâ€™s easy not to engage our brains all that actively over a praise passage. Weâ€™re inspired and uplifted when we read such words. Our gait may even be livelier and our gaze focused higher for a while afterward.
The trouble is, our days are often characterized by an operative word other than praise. Despite our best intentions, that word too easily morphs into busyness. Author Cynthia Heald reflects on this issue:
One day when I was reading Oswald Chamberâ€™s My Utmost for His Highest, I was struck by his insight about a rather obscure and easily overlooked verse in Genesis: â€œ[From there he (Abram) went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD.]â€ Chambers writes, â€œBethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with him. Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.â€
As I meditated on these thoughts, I concluded that I needed a tent! Since my journey usually takes me into Ai (the world) or to Bethel (which literally means â€œhouse of Godâ€), I realized that I needed to pitch my tent (spend time with God) between the world and my times in church. Because I was in church only once or twice a week, I knew that if I wanted to keep my hand in Godâ€™s, I needed to spend time alone with him, one-on-one, every day. In order to do this, I found a â€œtentâ€ and put my â€œaltarâ€ in it. My tent is a cloth bag in which I have placed my altar: my Bible, a journal, and a devotional book. I usually include a Bible study book or a current book that I am reading. A tent can be a cloth bag, a backpack, or a briefcaseâ€”anything that is portable and can be taken with you whenever you leave your home.
My tent stays near my chair in my study, and itâ€™s ready to be pitched early in the morning. But if circumstances keep me from spending time with the Lord at the beginning of the day, I pick up my tent and take it with me when I leave the house. (In fact, I take it with me even if I already have had time with the Lord.) Then throughout the day, I look for pockets of time when I can pitch my tentâ€”unplanned times of waiting or having a few extra minutes before a commitment. I can set up my tent in an airport, a doctorâ€™s waiting room, a coffee shop, a library, a park â€¦ I have found that I am much more consistent in spending time with the Lord because I always have my tent with me.
Think About It
- How much time would it take for you to benefit from a meditation on Psalm 98:4â€“9?
- What difference would it make if you were to reflect on these words several times during the course of a single day or week?
- In terms of your worship tent, does the â€œstow and goâ€ method sound like a possible aid for you as you steward your God-given mandate (and privilege) to praise?
Pray About It
Lord, let me rejoice before you! Let me praise you and worship you!
From Despair to Hope
Throughout the day, many thoughts flow through our mind’s from what we will cook for dinner to wondering if our friend’s struggling marriage will survive. In the midst of our thinking, an undercurrent of despair can creep in while we watch the nightly news, hear of a cancer diagnosis, sort out a misunderstanding or deal with whatever we’re facing that day.
Exiled north to Jordan and overflowing with a longing to return to Jerusalem, the psalmist voiced his deep sadness. Rather than denying or minimizing his pain, he clearly identified his sorrow and proclaimed his thirst for God.
Then what? The psalmist spoke to his soul! Was he mad? Did he have a personality disorder? No! He practiced the secret to overcoming hopelessness; the hopelessness that can trickle into our hearts and minds until we find ourselves in the rushing current, tumbling toward a waterfall of despair. Three times in Psalms 42 and 43, the psalmist admonishes his soul to hope in God, for I will yet praise him!
The psalmist encouraged his soul to praise God in other words, to acknowledge, affirm and adore God character, even when he was feeling downcast in spirit or disturbed in heart. Our souls need similar encouragement. When we choose to dwell upon God’s character, we always have something to praise him about: his loving-kindness, goodness, power, faithfulness and mercy. If we want to bolster our souls with hope, we can start by filling our mouths with praise. When we choose to dwell on God’s light and truth, our souls can overflow with the comfort of being guided by God (see Psalm 43:3). When we choose to live close to God’s heart, we overflow with delight and joy (see verse 4).
If you are submerged in pain, sorrow, despair or confusion, maybe you need to give your soul a good talking to. What will you say?
- What thoughts are threatening to overflow and leave you feeling hopeless?
- What words does your soul need to hear right now?
- What are some specific reasons why you can hope in God? Spend some time meditating on God’s loving-kindness, goodness, power, faithfulness and mercy. Practice sitting quietly in his presence.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
New International Version (NIV)
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
God is always calling us back to him
Have you ever rebelled against God? My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.“ Jeremiah 3:22 NLT
“Create in me a new heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me… Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 41:10,12
Rebellion is like a great tug-of-war; the authoritative figure holds one end of the rope while the rebel pulls on the other. This is the trap that satan loves to use on the body of Christ. (John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.) The adversary lays the trap and sometimes we as Christians fall for it. Hence, we rebel against God’s righteous decrees and precepts! God pulls on the rope, not to ruin our lives, but to lead us toward safe footing. (Isaiah 48:17 This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.)THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Psalm 42:8
By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life AMEN
Hope in your eternal inheritance:
“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.
I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him.” Ephesians 1:18-19 NLT