Being Humble Stewards – 5-20-22

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!” 1 Corinthians 4:8 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of First Corinthians chapter 4 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Stewards of the Mysteries of God

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human [a]court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the [b]counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

Fools for Christ’s Sake

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be [c]puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who [d]makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle [e]to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we [f]entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

Paul’s Paternal Care

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

18 Now some are [g]puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 4:3 Lit. day
  2. 1 Corinthians 4:5 motives
  3. 1 Corinthians 4:6 arrogant
  4. 1 Corinthians 4:7 distinguishes you
  5. 1 Corinthians 4:9 Lit. theater
  6. 1 Corinthians 4:13 exhort, encourage
  7. 1 Corinthians 4:18 arrogant

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

This is a transitional chapter – Paul begins to wrap up the his answers to the division and problems while continuing to build on the other things happening that could lead to it or are a result of it (which is implied – maybe he is just speaking of other things because he wants to).

He starts this chapter off with saying we should steward the mysteries of God and a mini lesson on stewardship.  Stewardship is a word we do not use often anymore except maybe when talking about tithing and Bible verses that use it.  The lack of use and understanding of this word is actually huge!
My son’s generation, for example, do not like when you say: MY child, or MY husband, or MY wife, etc. Because we are not slaves and not possessions to be owned. If they understood stewardship they would understand that ALL children are a gift from God to us, they are ours – not to treat poorly, but to love. We then dedicate those children back to God and we become their stewards. In a godly marriage we take the covenant oath to give ourselves to the other person – or your father gives you away. Then if truly godly – you both give the marriage to God and become stewards of it. As a good Steward, I can say it is mine because it is mine to steward. And yes – God does believe we are possession, but not in a mean slave master way, but in a tender fatherly way. Is there nothing godly, that the enemy doesn’t try to corrupt?

To steward means it’s your job to manage and care for another person’s property, as an agent, overseer, custodian, caretaker – and in old English it usually described a servant who was loyal who cared for another’s property as if it was their own.
Now that we have a better understanding of the term…

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”

Are you a good steward of the mysteries of God (aka the gospel message)? Are you faithful enough to be a steward? Paul doesn’t ask the questions, but leaves this concept out there for us to ask ourselves these questions on the heels of his lengthy discussion of God’s wisdom vs man’s wisdom in relationship to division. We must not forget yesterday’s reading or it all becomes disjointed and out of context.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”

Even with reading it all together Paul sometimes seems to jump around and contradict himself. Last letter we read he wanted us to judge evil from good and flee from evil (yes, over simplified). And now we cannot judge?! What is he really saying? Because – YES as Christians we do need to judge right and wrong to avoid getting involved in the wrong.
The key words in this passage are “human court”.  Recalling that we are speaking of division and wisdom – Paul is speaking of taking Christian’s dirty laundry out before the world to be judged. The Bible says we will judge angels one day – and we want to subject ourselves to ungodly man for a corrupted justice?! You see if Christianity worked the way it is supposed to we are wiser in God.  It is better to concede for the good of the unity in the body than to prideful defend your innocence (even if you are innocent, especially if you are innocent)! Your praise will come from God.

You see those who are wise in the Lord will pray that in the Lord’s time, He Himself will shine a light down and expose hidden things of darkness and reveal the hearts.  Make sure your own heart is repentant and humbled though, because God’s judgement fall first on the righteous then on the unrighteous.

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may bepuffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

“Have figuratively transferred to myself…” Here is where Paul states what is obvious to the church of Corinth and helps us understand – He substituted his own name and Apollos’s name instead of the names of the people involved in the situation.

But in this section, Paul addresses the thing accompanying this division – Puffed up, prideful, and “I’m better than you” attitude. I speak against pride almost daily, as humility is the key to entering the Lord’s presence. But really what makes any of us any different – we all bleed red, if cut – we are the same. We may have received a deeper understanding than other, but we should not judge them for not knowing. Instead we should teach them and bring them up to speed. It is not about who gets to heaven with the most crowns – it is about who doesn’t get to heaven and why. Was it because we did not tell them? Was it because we judged them and caused offense? Was it because we made them feel they will never reach the depth they hunger for? Did we even inspire and nurture hunger for God and more of God?

Paul then tries to give the members of the church a different perspective.

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!”

This goes for everyone in the church body – you and me included! God put us, as long as we are humbly serving Him in a position of full. I say this from a position of lack in the world’s eyes – but I have used this time of being sick and not making money to press in and grow deeper, fulfilling my commitment to this ministry, and to my relationship with Jesus first and I am full in spirit and truth! I am already rich!!! I have reigned as a king, in the authority of the Name of Jesus and the power He has given me and flowed through me. We often forget we are the head and not the tail – we are above only and not beneath! We forget we are seated in heavenly places – written in present tense. If we could only remember our position, humbly so we do not fall – how much more effect we would be then sitting around complaining about being poor and sick! I may be sick, but I shared Jesus with someone this week. I may have covid and the enemy thought I would not see anyone face to face and yet – sitting 7 or so feet apart, I was able to share Jesus while sitting on my porch! The enemy meant for this to be a distraction and a terrible time and God has shown me all the blessing in it and given me opportunity to give as well as seed to give.

Here is another perspective – there are those out there trying to share Jesus in modern China. Where many cities are in lock down. Where many are forced into quarantine camps – a modern version of a concentration camp as far as we can tell from the outside. Or for perspective, there are women missionaries in Muslim countries! Or for perspective, there are missionaries in the center of many war zones. Or for perspective:

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

I suppose without persecution humans sometimes create their own drama, and in their own insecurities and desire for acceptance and admiration they do the same. Stirring up strife and division – forgetting to keep our eyes on Jesus and NOT to look away.  Why does God love us so much?!
Thankfully God using a letter to correct the church instead of letting a bunch of Pharisees beat and throw the whole lot in jail, like they did to Paul and Silas.
Although it wouldn’t be long until Rome tore down the temple and used the spoils to build the colosseum and then round up the first century believers and parade them through to be killed for public entertainment. I hope this church got its act together in time.

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”

Remember Paul arrived in Corinth and started gathering together all the believers – he formed the church there. In Corinth, he stayed longer than he stayed at most places. The Roman governor did not care about what the Jews or Christians were doing – so he did not support the Jews who wished to run Paul out of town. Without support everyone gave up on trying to get rid of Paul – so Paul formed a church and taught them well. The church in Corinth had some of the best and strongest teachings of all the churches – yet they still had problems.
If you are a teacher and you do your best and there are still problems in the church… it isn’t you. It’s the people. (Remember God gives the increase – wait on Him.) And…

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?”

…And you can use this tactic with your congregation. It is ok to stand up and call sin, sin and call out the problems in the church. It is ok to come with a rod like a disappointed father. But wake them up and warn them – let them choose which way you will come.

I assume all of you are perfect and ideal reader – you read, you look up to make sure I am not off base, you discern the spirit of the message, You listen for the voice of the Lord in it all, and the Lord guides you. And you are perfectly obedient to everything He says and requests. I am so much luckier than a pastor of a church! So I do not come to you with a rod.
But I have touched on a few thing that make me good and frustrated and I pull out my rod to show the world I have one! But y’all are sweet and perfect!

Well, no more perfect than me and I am a mess! But Glory to God – He still loves us! And as long as we remain humble steward of God’s mysteries, God will help us get to where He wants us, physical, financially, in health and in spirit. Even if God has to send a rod to correct us occasionally.

Join us this weekend for some wisdom reading from Psalms – keep in mind that God’s wisdom is NOT our wisdom and try to understand God’s ways while reading. And I’ll be back on Monday with a discussion of First Corinthians chapter 5, if the Lord wishes.
Have a blessed weekend!  

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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