Stewardship: The Purpose of Prosperity; God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
Monday: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 8
The Corinthian believers were great at many things….they were great in their faith, their speech was excellent, they were knowledgeable and displayed great diligence. Paul wanted them to be great givers too. Giving is a response to love and here he is speaking, not through authority, but as an encourager. He is testing their sincerity. Would you pass the test?
Tuesday: Greedy Troubles
A couple weeks ago, we learned that the antidote for materialism is giving. If we aren’t giving as we are commanded to do, there is more room for our hearts to grow cold about the subject.
Proverbs 28:25 says “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.”
Greed is overwhelming and causes trouble. Look up the following verses about relationships destroyed by greed.
Wednesday: The Reason for Wealth
Why would God ever make anyone wealthy? The more you have, the more you want, right? Generosity is a hard pill to swallow but not as much for the poor as the wealthy. Oftentimes it is through our most blessed times that it is hardest for us to give. But God blesses us with the intention that we in turn, bless others.
Thursday: Blessing Others
Regardless of your financial situation, God desires for us to actively seek ways to bless others. This can include our tithes, our extra giving, time, talents, and belongings.
Look up the following verses to learn about people in the Bible who were generous with their money, their belongings, and even their own tomb!
Friday: Test the Tithes
Last week we were issued a challenge to test God’s faithfulness in our lives by participating in Test the Tithes.
Each family is challenged to begin tithing or continue tithing in the month of December. The purpose is to show faithfulness to giving according to scripture and to combat the materialism of this season. This is not an authoritarian mandate for money, but rather an encouragement to test God and experience the blessings He has promised to those who will give according to His word.
December is here and now is the time to place your faith and trust in God’s hands. He cares about the sparrow, how much more must He care about you?
Monday: Testing God
In Malachi 3:10, God says “Test Me in this.” In Deuteronomy 6:16 we are told “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Are these scriptures contradicting?
The answer is no. These are two very different situations with two very different attitudes behind each. In the later, God is warning the Israelites about their doubt. Their doubt and lack of faith resulted in them demanding that God prove Himself to them. In Malachi, we see where God is inviting the challenge. The Hebrew word for test in this text is “bachan” which means to examine, scrutinize, or prove. God wanted the Israelites to give and watch Him increase their blessings. Just as gold is tested with fire, God was asking Israel to test Him with their offerings and their tithes and see that He proves His faithfulness in response. He is giving us the same challenge. Take time today to pray about ‘Test The Tithe’ and how God would have your respond.
Tuesday: The Cheerful Giver
Read and study the following ideas presented in the Word and consider what God wants you to give in obedient response.
Wednesday: Giving is a Privilege - 2 Corinthians 8:2-4
During his third missionary journey, Paul had collected money for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. The churches in Macedonia - Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea - had given money even though they were poor, and had given more than Paul expected. This was the sacrificial giving they were poor themselves, but they wanted to help. God desires for us to give with the same attitude as these churches. They gave because of their dedication to God and their desire to be obedient. How well does your giving measure up to the standard set by the Macedonian churches?
Thursday: Why Tithe?
Look throughout the Old Testament and find examples of tithing.
Abraham tithed unto Melchizedek, Isaac tithed, His son Jacob and many others also even before the law was given. Many Christians do not tithe because they have been taught that they are not under the law, but under grace. While this is a true statement, God did not institute the tithe to bring us under the law, but to get blessings to His children. Abraham tithed before the law, and God blessed him supernaturally. We’re under grace that we might establish the law; not turn from it. Jesus said that He didn’t come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it. Because He fulfilled it, we are to establish it. His Words are forever settled in heaven, therefore we establish His Words upon the earth.
Friday: Taking The First Step
To a ‘non-tither,’ ten-percent of your income can be a bit overwhelming. And to those who are obedient to God’s call to give, giving above that amount can seem scary or undoable. God never promises that stepping out in faith will be painless. He only asks that we do it and have faith that He will be with us for every step. There are many instances in the Bible that we can refer to for the promise that God gives to take care of us. See if you can find several of them and write in your scripture journal how each pertains to your giving.
A good place to start is Psalm 9:10. God will never forsake those who seek Him. Actively seek God through ‘Test The Tithe’ by worshipping Him with your giving. Give Him the opportunity to carry you through what may seem impossible.
Monday: Lessons from 1st Timothy
The books of 1st and 2nd Timothy, as well as Titus, are referred to as Pastoral Letters. This is because they are full of advice on how to pastor a church. Today, we look into 1st Timothy, written by Paul, just prior to his final Roman imprisonment. The letter holds many lessons that are just as much relevant for us today as they were then to the Ephesian Church.
There is warning about false teachers (1:3-11)(4:1-16), teaching about the importance of prayer (2:1-7), pastoral care to the young, old, widow, elders, and servants (5:1- 6:2)….and much more! As you read through 1st Timothy, take note of what we can learn from this letter. Also, give special attention to Paul’s words of instruction to the wealthy people of Ephesus in chapter 6. Meditate on 6:17-19.
Tuesday: What is wealth?
On the mission to determine wealth, I discovered that there are many facets of wealth. Webster defines wealth as a large amount of something. It could be money or possessions, information, resources, etc.
Let’s compare two ‘wealthy’ characters of the Bible.
In Genesis (13:2, 24:35) we learn that Abraham was wealthy. He was very blessed by earthly possessions, even to the point of being overwhelmed by them. However, we learn in Isaiah (51:2) that Abraham was blessed above and beyond the blessing brought by any material possession. If we stand before Abraham today and ask what his most precious wealth was, I doubt there would even be the slightest mention of livestock or silver or gold. Abraham’s priorities were in line and he knew the richest blessings given by God were not ones that would pass away.
The infamous king of Babylon. It is hard to consider wealth and material possession without this man popping into your mind. He reigned for 43 years over Babylon, erecting a palace that is often considered the most magnificent build that ever existed. 14 square miles, surrounded by a brick wall 300 feet tall, 250 towers, the Hanging Gardens, a golden image of Baal and the Golden Table (both weighing over 50,000 lbs of solid gold)…it is hard to image the splendor. However, Nebuchadnezzer was far from the happiest man alive. All throughout the book of Daniel, we can read about the troubles of Babylon’s wealthy king. The problem? Earthly wealth does not contain happiness!
Wednesday: God-Given Wealth
Read Ecclesiastes chapter 5. We will focus on 5:19, 20. Solomon authored Ecclesiastes later in his life. Much of the book is a reflection of his life, much of which was lived without God. In these two verses, Solomon sums up God-given wealth. Someone who is wealthy is not automatically guilty of chasing earthly wealth. God blesses his people in different ways. Solomon reminds us that it is all about perspective. How do you view the things that God has blessed you with? Possessions should never be a source of joy but rather a reason for rejoicing. We can be content with what we have w hen we realize that God has given us exactly what He wants us to have and with Him, we have all we will ever need.
Thursday: Giving Beyond Our 10%
Giving to God should be proportional and doesn’t always include monetary giving.
1. Proportional giving: Read the following verses giving attention to what they say about the amount we should be giving. (remember that these verses speak of giving, not tithing….giving is anything given beyond tithing)
God’s word will never instruct you to go into debt while giving. He asks that we give according to what we have.
2. Giving without money: We are required to serve others. We should seek out the gifts that God has given us and search to know how God desires us to use them to serve. God will give us what we need to carry out the responsibility He has for us, according to His will, not ours.
Friday: Instructions for Giving
Look up the following verses. Consider what each verse is saying to you. Record in a scripture journal so that you can pray over each instruction and refer back later to remind you to keep a giving heart.
Monday: The first principle of stewardship is: God owns everything.
Webster says that "Stewardship is the responsibility of managing someone else’s assets, affairs, or property.” And Genesis 1:1 says that “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” He owns… everything.
Psalm 24.1 says, The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it.
Tuesday: The second principle of stewardship: Getting rid of the “me”-mentality.
We don’t own anything… it is all God’s. Oftentimes, we try to trade places with God. We start acting like the owners, as if we created the world. We start using words like me , I ,mine, my life , my plans , my possessions , my time. Who gave all that to us? The ultimate control in any business always resides in the owner, not the manager. We get to use it, we get to manage it, we get to enjoy some of life's resources... but God owns it. That's stewardship. Look at Genesis 1, verse 28 where God said, "I want you to rule over everything." In the King James it says, "I want you to have dominion over the fish… God’s intention was for humans to rule over things. But what happened? We got it all mixed up. Now things rule over us. We're possessed by possessions... by the very things we were asked to manage. We love to think about all the things we own... but the truth is that we really don't own anything. At best, what we have is on loan from God.... and after we die, they are passed on to somebody else.
Wednesday:The third principle of stewardship: It’s not just about money.
When we hear stewardship…we think, “give to the church”. It’s probably one of the most misunderstood words in the church today. We immediately think of money. But stewardship is so much more than that. We are to be a steward of absolutely everything God has entrusted to us. Everything!
Thursday: The fourth principle of stewardship: It’s all about the first-fruits
I heard a story one time about a lady who called a popular turkey manufacturer wanting to know how long a frozen turkey would last. After discovering that the turkey had spent the last 22 years in the back of her freezer, the company recommended that she not eat the turkey. “Well, that’s okay,” said the woman. “I can just give it to the church.”
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to make an offering of their first fruits. They would choose not only the first, but the best of the first. They would then offer this to God as a sacrifice. A first fruit was anything that was produced for the purpose of living. It was crops or livestock, or fruit that was used for food. It was the thing that they lived on and made a name by. God wanted their first priority. He not only wanted their first but the best of the first. He has presented us as His best and He wants us to present Him our best. We have been presented to the world as God’s best. Fruit makes fruit. To grow the best trees you must use the best seed.
Friday: Make a list of everything you have learned over the past weeks about stewardship. Write down changes that you will implement in order to be in God’s will on the matter. Pray, committing your changes to God.
Monday: Seeking Fulfillment of God’s Purposes
Laying up treasures in Heaven is not limited to tithing but is accomplished by all acts of obedience to God. There is a sense in which giving our money to God’s work is like investing in Heaven. But our intention should be to seek the fulfillment of God’s purposes in all we do, not merely what we do with our money. How are we working now to further the kingdom? Pray for God to show you specific ways that He would have you accomplish this.
Tuesday: Where’s Your Heart?
What do you value? An easy way to discover what you value is to look at where you place your resources. What do you spend your time doing?
What do you spend your money on?
What is precious to you?
Read Proverbs 3:9,10
The ‘firstfruits’ refers to the practice of giving the first and best portion of harvest for God’s use. Consider what you value. Are you giving God your firstfruits or your leftovers?
Wednesday: Word Study- Firstfruits
Definition: the earliest gathered fruits offered to God in acknowledgment of the gift of fruitfulness
Giving our first fruits is a way to acknowledge what God has given to us.
Read Deuteronomy 26:9-11
Notice that The offerer is here appointed, when he has finished the service, to give glory to God: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God. His first-fruits were not accepted without further acts of adoration. A humble, reverent, thankful heart is that which God looks at and requires, and, without this, all we can put in a basket will not avail.
Thursday: Firstfruits or Leftovers?
What is the first thing you do with what God has given you?
Read Proverbs 3:9,10
Many people give God their leftovers. At the end of the week, if they can afford to donate anything, they do so. These people may be sincere and may also contribute willingly. Their attitude is simply backward. We should give God the first portion of all that we have to offer. First, this shows that we have faith that God will provide for all of our needs. Second, this demonstrates that above our possessions, we value putting God first in our lives and that we comprehend that all of our possessions belong to Him. We are simply managers of His resources. Third, giving helps us conquer greed and gives the opportunity for God to bless us.
Friday: Firstfruits Multiplied
Read: Mark 10:29,30
Jesus assured the disciples that anyone who gives up something valuable for His sake will be repaid a hundred times over in this life, although not necessarily in the same form. For example, someone may be rejected by their family for accepting Christ, but he or she will gain a larger family of believers.
Now read verse 31: Firstfruits- Giving Through Service
Jesus explained that in the world to come, the values of this world will be reversed. Those who are humble here will be great in Heaven. The corrupt conditions of our society encourage confusion in values. We are bombarded by messages that tell us how to be important and how to feel good, and Jesus’ teaching about service to others seems alien. But those who have humbly served others are most qualified to be great in Heaven.
Memory Verse: No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24
Monday: Understanding Our Nature
Leave something shiny lying around with a child in the room; it’s sure to disappear fast! And how often do we hear of a little one pocketing a piece of bubblegum only to have the loot discovered by mom on laundry day? We don’t teach our children to take things that aren’t theirs; that comes as a result of our fallen nature. The fall of man came from this very same concept. Misplaced ownership. Adam and Eve were given instruction to not take the forbidden fruit. They did so anyway in an attempt to gain something that was not theirs. This has resulted in severe consequences for every generation to come thereafter. Ask God this week to show you where you fall short of his blessings because of the desire to please a sinful nature.
Tuesday: Acknowledging God’s Ownership
Oftentimes we feel entitled to what we have, especially if we work hard to get it! God’s ownership of everything that there is can be a foreign concept. The Bible makes it very clear to us that everything belongs to Him. What can we learn from the following scriptures?
Wednesday: A Lesson From Good Ole Nezzar!
A lot can be learned from studying about the life of King Nebuchadnezzar. One of history’s most powerful kings learned a tough lesson about God’s ownership. Read through Daniel chapter 4. King Nebuchadnezzar was enjoying a stroll through his kingdom and boasted “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” God responded in a way that would make His point very clear. The king lost his sanity and spent seven years living outside; eating grass like a cow. What are some consequences that you are dealing with right now because of the lack of understanding of what actually belongs to you?
Thursday: The Illusion Of Self-Sufficiency
Nebuchadnezzar was proud of what he had done on his own. His was proud of all he had accomplished. He felt that his hard work had earned him that pride. What have you worked hard for? What have you earned? Read Deuteronomy 8:17-18. God has given us our gifts and abilities. It is God who provides what we need to attain what we have. God has given us all that we have and, as we can learn through Nebuchadnezzar, God can take away what He sees necessary to make His point clear.
Replace pride with gratitude. It is okay to take satisfaction in your work. (Ecclesiastes 2:24) However, we must remember that the skills and strengths that allow you to succeed were given to you by God. Thank God for creating you and giving you those gifts.
Friday: All Belongs To God, Including Us!!
I Cor. 3:23 - “And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s”
We don’t need to worry about our possessions and taking pride in those things that we own. Read James 4:14 and 2 Peter 3:8. This life is a vapor. What will matter in the end is not what we own but who we belong to.
Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-16.
What do these verses say to you?
How will you look at “your” possessions?
How can we remember to be thankful and not prideful?
Riverview Family Devotion Guides
Family devotion guides are provided to help reinforce the "Big Idea" that is studied in Sunday School and presented in the Pastor's message each week.