Encompass ‘Dimension’ of Total Stewardship

Encompass ‘Dimensions’ Of Total Stewardship

Chapter Four

Encompass 'Dimensions' Of Total Stewardship
The Stewardship Of Time 59 Take Time For Leisure And Recreation! 67
The Stewardship Of Influence 61 Stewardship Of Your Body 69
How Powerful Is Your 'Influence'? 63 Benefits Of Physical Exercise 71
Influencing Others – Incense Or Insensitivity? 65 Questions 73

Ephesians 5:15-21

The Stewardship Of Time

A person has no control over the time in history in which he is born. God has a purpose for every age and for every person, and God gives each person a limited number of years to fulfill his distinctive mission in the unique age in which he lives. Because life is so short, you must make your life 'count' for God! Someone wisely said: "Only one life; it will soon be gone; only what we have done for Christ will last!" When you view time in the 'light of eternity', life takes on a new meaning and a great sense of urgency.

"I have only just a minute 
Just sixty seconds in it; 
Forced upon me - can't refuse it, 
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it, 
I must suffer if I lose it, 
Give account if I abuse it; 
Just a tiny little minute, 
But eternity is in it."

(Author Unknown)

Be diligent to make the most of your God-allotted time, to "use it with all economy". The Christian must always view time as the gift of God, and earthly life as the "dressing room for heaven". Time is brief: "We are but dust, and our days are few and brief, like grass, like flowers, blown by the wind and gone forever." (Psalm 103:14-16, Living Bible)

"When as a child, I laughed and wept, 
Time crept; 
When as a youth, I dreamed and talked, 
Time walked; 
When I became a full grown man, 
Time ran; 
When older still I daily grew, 
Time flew; 
Soon I shall find in traveling on 
Time gone."

(Author Unknown)

Time is one of the greatest gifts that man has received from God, and yet this gift is abused and misused perhaps more than any other gift. A disciplined Christian has firm convictions of how his time should be used, and he realizes that his times are in God's hands. He knows that whatever he does, or wherever he is, he must do all things to the

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glory of God. Someday he must give an accounting to God for the use of his time.

"Loving Father, 'my times are in Thy Hands whatever they may be, pleasing or painful, sad or glad, as best may seem to Thee.'"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Despite all the difficulties of these days, I desire to make the best use of my time! (Ephesians 5:16)

– Ron Christian –

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Romans 14:7-12

The Stewardship Of Influence

Influence is that intangible communication of an idea or personally trait from one person to another, with a result in a change of behavior or a change in a way of thinking. When you throw a large rock in the middle of a lake, the ripple from the impact of the rock sometimes reaches to the very edge of the lake. You never know how far reaching your influence may go in touching the lives of other people! You have a responsibility to use your influence for good and for God. The spread of Christianity depends largely upon how influential Christians are. If enough Christians can exert a strong enough influence for Christ, the world can be saved. Everyone is exerting an influence on someone. No one is an island to himself. One's words and actions are either 'building up' or 'tearing down' another person ! Jesus recognized the power of good influence when he said, "Ye (Christians) are the salt of the earth." In other words, the world has been preserved from total destruction because of the goodly influence of godly persons.

Words are important, but words that are not 'backed' by godly actions, lose their power to influence or to persuade. For instance, one who declares that he believes in racial equality and then goes out and discriminates against a member of a racial minority group, obviously will be wasting his words. There is a popular saying: "Your actions speak so loud that I cannot hear your words." In fact, at times the only effective way to influence another is through actions, not words. Wrote Peter to Christian wives who were married to non-Christian husbands: "Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives." (1 Peter 3:1) The influence which loving action has on an unsaved husband is more powerful than the influence which debate and persuasive tactics have on an unsaved husband. The parent who teaches by example, as well as by precept, is the most effective parent. Words are important and powerful to influence, but words must be coupled with loving actions. Children are probably shaped more by the silent attitudes of their parents, lived before them daily, than they are by the words of instruction which their parents give. Words and actions must be coupled together if either is to be truly effective.

As a steward of God you are responsible for the way you use your influence. Your influence may be one of the greatest powers you will ever possess. Will your words and actions lead others to fruitful living or to futile living? Will others be the better or the worse for having known and associated with you? Are you leading people to Christ or away from Christ?

'Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.' (Psalms 19:14) Then, as a result, my life will be magnanimous and winsome and, like filings that are drawn to a magnet, others will

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be drawn to me and eventually to You, O blessed Christ, whom I love and serve."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I want to help shape the lives of everyone around me, for good, by the words I speak and by the way I act and react.

– Ron Christian –

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Philippians 2:12-26

How Powerful Is Your 'Influence'?

By your words and by your actions you can powerfully influence others to 'consider the claims of Christ', leading eventually to their salvation!! This is also true regarding your prayers for the 'lost ones'. Frank Laubach believed that prayer is the most powerful influence in the world! He said, "If you pray for a man a thousand miles away, his unconscious mind may at that very moment be attuned outward toward you. If so, he will get your prayer and that may start in him a desire for God. Desire is what tunes men into God. If you thus help turn a man toward God, you perform the service of a telephone operator, you connect the man with God. That helps God to speak to him directly." How powerful is your influence for God, through your 'life of prayer'?

It is most exciting to realize that your influence for God can live on, long after you have died! Of Abel (in the Old Testament) it is recorded, "though he died, by faith he is still speaking." (Hebrews 11:4 b) Doubtless, all of us are being influenced in our decision making and personal behavior by someone who has already died! My grandmother (a godly lady) died in 1971 at the age of 89. I was 27 years old at the time of her death. I spent much time with her when I was a child and youth. She still 'lives on' because of her influence in my life. Her quiet trust in God, her faithfulness in church attendance, her good humor in the face of her many adversities have influenced me in my outlook on life. She being dead, yet speaketh – to me. Remember, what you do today may influence your great-grandchildren!

"An old man traveling a lone highway, 
Came at the evening cold and gray, 
To a chasm vast and deep and wide. 
The old man crossed in the twilight dim, 
For the sullen stream had no fear for him, 
But he turned when safe on the other side 
And builded a bridge to span the tide. 
"Old Man", cried a fellow pilgrim near, 
"You're wasting your time in building here. 
Your journey will end with the closing day. 
You never again will pass this way. 
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide, 
Why build you this bridge at eventide?" 
The builder lifted his old gray head: 
"Good friend, in the path I have come", he said 
There followeth after me today 
A youth whose feet must pass this way, 
This stream which has been as naught to me,

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To that fair-haired youth may pitfall be. 
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim; 
Good friend, I am building that bridge for him." 
(Will Dromboole)

– Ron Christian –

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2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Influencing Others – Incense Or Insensitivity?

And through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him (2 Corinthians 2:14,NIV)

There is scarcely a moment in our lives that we are not influencing others. Blaise Pascal said, "The least movement is of important to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble." Just so, in the ocean of life, our influence moves on as it is picked up, spreading from person to person and from generation to generation. Preacher John Donne said it tersely: "No man is an island."

Our daily lives exude fragrance much like a vase of lilacs on the dining-room table discharges an aura through the entire house. When I was employed eight-to-five, entering my home after work could greatly affect my tired body and mind, either adversely or delightfully. What a pick-up it was, on those days the cleaning lady had come and done her magic! I'd stop and inhale the fresh, clean smell of toilet bowl cleanser, furniture polish, and just plain soap and water. It infused my whole weary being with hope and pleasure. Just so, the influence of our lives.

Walking down crowded grocery store aisles, my olfactory equipment is assaulted by an assortment of wafting aromas – and I don't mean the heady smell of fresh coffee. The aggressive attack of alcohol, tobacco breath, and other secondhand aromas punctuate the air as certain people pass. I skip what I want from that aisle and hurry away.

The next aisle draws me close to the unpleasant odor of unattended human anatomy. The smell may not be as malicious as it seems, but the message it sends is a lack of consideration for others. I feel violated by this exposure that is emphasized by scanty attire.

In the next aisle I chance to meet an acquaintance who has taken the time and care to be clean, pleasant smelling, and properly clothed. I stop to chat, for his spirit conveys the same pleasant aura.

Our lives send forth waves of influence that are picked up much like the aromas that attack our noses. The "fragrance" will attract others to join our victorious procession, or will repel them.

We who are made clean through the blood of Jesus Christ, renewed by His Spirit, may go forth and spread the sweet fragrance of His triumphal grace to a hurting world. This requires a holy sincerity. Anything less – selfish motives, wrong attitudes – will be picked up by those around us.

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On the other hand, those who are repelled by the aroma of Christ that emanates from truly holy lives, have a spiritual cold in the head that distorts the fragrance, making it unpleasant to them ("To the one we are the smell of death, to the other, the fragrance of life". 2 Corinthians 2:16) To God the emanation is sweet incense ascending from clean, Spirit-filled vessels.

"Lord Jesus, make the essence of my life that which will draw others to you, revealing your goodness, your holiness, your love. Because there is nothing good in me, renew the aroma of yourself in me as I am faithful in daily prayer, devotion, and worship of you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will imitate him who "gave himself up, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." (From Ephesians 5:1-2)

– Nina E. Beegle –

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Mark 6:31-32; Mark 10:13-16

Take Time For Leisure And Recreation!

It is almost certainly only a legend, but it has truth in it to ponder. The story is told of a man who came upon the Apostle John (the disciple whom Jesus deeply loved) and found this beloved follower of the Lord playing with a 'bow and arrow'. "What!" said the man to John, "you are spending your time playing rather than meditating on the Scriptures and serving humanity!" Said John to the man, "What would happen to the strength and the power of the bow string if it were always stretched and tense and were never released?" "Well," said the man to John, "I suppose the bow string would lose some of its power and its ability to send the arrow." "Yes," said John, "and all study and all service without periods of play, causes one to lose strength and effectiveness in that study and service. The bow string must sometimes be released."

Someone wisely said, "A strained piety is a dangerous piety." Holiness and joy are not contradictory but compatible. 'All work and no play' makes a Christian strained and stressful.

It is important that one guard against 'workaholism'. Yes, laziness and indolence must be avoided like the 'plague' but so must 'workaholism'. As in so many areas of life, there must be a 'balance' between work and play in life. Be sure to take time aside for play. Bear cubs and tiger kittens play. Children play. Healthy adults play too – whether 'touch football' or table games. Play should be to the Christian life what dessert is to a good meal. Every family should play together – for this draws the whole family together. It is true that the family that prays together and the family that plays together is the family that will likely 'stay together'. One caution: Don't get too involved in 'spectator sports'; rather, get involved in play together as a family.

Laughter is 'therapeutic'. The Bible says: "A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22) Says E. Stanley Jones: "There are three levels of laughter: the lowest level, the one who laughs only at his own jokes; a little higher, the one who laughs at the jokes of others; third, the one who can laugh at himself. I would add as the highest, the one who laughs at the rhythm of things – a constitutionally happy laugh." Someone asked the sainted Rufus Moseley, "Did Jesus ever laugh?" And Rufus replied, "Well, I don't know, but he certainly fixed me up so I could laugh." When Jesus took up the children in his arms to 'bless' them (Mark 20:13-16), I think He surely must have spent a little time laughing and playing with them. Jesus was serious-minded, but He was not somber and sour. In some of Jesus' parables, one can discern a 'sense of humor' (how could the crowd not laugh when Jesus talked about the Pharisees 'straining at nats and swallowing camels'?). And remember, even Jesus needed at times to leave the crowds to be alone with his dearest friends (Mark 6:31-32). Everyone needs time for re-creation!

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"Joyful Christ, give me a 'holy hilarity' that is most contagious."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My countenance will 'give away' the joy I feel in my heart!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Corinthians 6:14-20; Romans 6:11-18

Stewardship Of Your Body

Wrote Paul, "Sexual sin is never right: our bodies were not made for that, but for the Lord, and the Lord wants to fill your bodies with Himself… Don 't you realize that your bodies are actually parts and members of Christ?… Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that He lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it." (Portions of 1 Corinthians 6, Living Bible)

Suppose someone gave you a beautiful car to USE. It is not your's to abuse, but it is your responsibility to take good care of it – to use it appropriately. God gave you the body that you call your own. It is a gift, on 'loan' to you. To abuse your body with sexual immorality is a great sin! Wrote Paul, "Run from sex sin. No other sin affects the body as this one does. When you sin this sin it is against your own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18)

If your body is created by God to be used for God, then allow God to use your body for His glory. If you have surrendered your body to Jesus Christ, then you will endeavor to take-care of your body. You will honor God by keeping your body physically strong, healthy, and pure. You will not use your body as an instrument or tool of wickedness, but you will use your body as a tool of righteousness (Romans 6:11-18). You will not destroy your own body (suicide), and you will have no part in destroying the bodies of other people (murder, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia). You will not abuse your body with harmful drugs, alcohol, tobacco. You will not engage in illicit sex. You will rest properly and eat nutritious foods. You will actively exercise the body's muscles including the heart and the lungs. You will see your body as a tool in God's hands to use throughout your lifetime for God's honor. You will build your body's resistance against disease, and avoid 'junk foods' that tear down your body's ability to endure.

Notes one author about the importance of keeping physically fit: "Your physical condition directly affects how you feel mentally. By achieving physical fitness an individual can engage in a lifestyle that produces health and happiness. Being physically fit gives us the qualities important for living the good life. It generates creative energy. Willpower. And personal discipline… Scientific evidence has shown a strong similarity between the changes normally associated with aging and those caused by inactivity… Chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes) have a direct correlation with out lifestyle." (Vibrant Life; pg. 17)

"Father, I thank you that I am 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. Help me to be a 'fit vessel' for the sacred indwelling of your blessed Holy Spirit."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If I don't 'keep in touch' with my body (through proper health-practices), then eventually my body will get 'in touch' with me (through physical illness and disease)!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Timothy 4:8

Benefits Of Physical Exercise

Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D. is one of the world's leading experts on physical health and fitness. This best-selling Christian author made 'Aerobics' a household word. Several years ago, he founded a medical facility that offers comprehensive physical evaluation, counseling, and recommendations for attaining and maintaining healthy lifestyles. Nearly 30 million copies of his several books have been distributed throughout the world, motivating many to begin a disciplined regime of daily exercise. Through research, he has shown that physical fitness helps overcome multiple diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Vigorous (fast) walking for at least one-half hour each day will greatly increase one's chances that he/she will live longer, feel better (increased energy level), and look better (weight control).

In his journal, John Wesley reveals his 'secret formula' for his long and healthy life. He believed it was because of several things: (1) "The power of God, fitting me for the work to which I am called"; (2) "The prayers of His children"; (3) "To my constant exercise and change of air… to my never having lost a night's sleep… to my having constantly, for about sixty years, risen at four in the morning… to my constant preaching at five in the morning, for above fifty years… to my having had so little pain in my life, and so little sorrow, or anxious care."

If you wish to be physically fit, you must eat properly, sleep well, manage stress effectively (through prayer and by trusting God in all things), and regularly exercise. My older brother has been a 'good example' for me in many areas, not the least of which is in the area of physical exercise. Even though he suffered great pain (in his feet particularly) for many years, as a result of being inflicted with polio when he was only eight years old, he has nevertheless overcome his physical disabilities and has become an active mountain climber. Among the many mountains he has climbed (many of them over 14,000 feet) is Long's Peak (in Rocky Mountain National Park). Just this last summer, he climbed it for the eighth time (when he was 61 years old)! Ironically, it was my brother who encouraged me (many years ago) to increase my distance in running from one mile to four miles! My son-in-law, who never enjoyed running when he was a teenager, now runs at least 40 miles each week (and he lost over 50 pounds as a result of proper eating and disciplined running)! He has greatly increased his 'speed', and is a 'strong competitor' in many races! Amazing results! For many years, I have run 4 miles most mornings. Benefits to me? Relieves my stress, builds my muscles, enables me to breathe mare deeply, increases my energy level, improves the quality of my sleep, improves my mental sharpness, provides opportunity for me to pray and to plan and to worship my Lord while enjoying the beauty of nature.

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"Father, renew me daily in my mind, body, and spirit. Help me to do 'my part' in this 'renewal process'. The I shall be a 'fit vessel' for the indwelling Holy Spirit!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will "add life to my years" as well as "add years to my life" – by vigorous physical exercise!

– Ron Christian –

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Questions

  1. Why should a Christian view his earthly life as the "dressing room for heaven"?

  2. What does Psalm 103:14-16 teach regarding time and man's earthly life?

  3. According to Ephesians 5:16, what should the Christian's attitude be regarding his God-allotted time on earth?

  4. Is there any way that you can measure the extent and degree of your personal influence on other persons?

  5. Tell with what degree of conviction you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "One who declares that he believes in racial equality and then goes out and discriminates against a member of a racial minority group, obviously will be wasting his words."

  6. What advice does Peter give to Christian women who are married to a non- Christian husband, according to 1 Peter 3:1?

  7. Have you seriously considered using the words of Psalms 19:14 as your 'daily prayer' (as many 'great Christians' have done throughout the centuries of the Christian Church)?

  8. Do you personally believe that earnest and believing (Christ-centered) praying is the most powerful influence in the world?

  9. Are you personally and presently being influenced in your decision-making and personal behavior by someone who has already died? (Remember, what you do today may influence your great-grandchildren someday!)

  10. According to 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, what are the two different responses of people who become aware of the 'fragrance' of your life as a follower of Christ?

  11. Tell with what degree of conviction you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "All study and all service without periods of play and recreation, causes one to lose strength and effectiveness in that study and service." Give your interpretation (and application) of the following statement: "A strained piety is a dangerous piety."

  12. Share from your own personal experience how you have learned to 'strike a balance' between work and play in your Christian life. When do you regularly (daily or weekly) take time 'to play'? Share the kind of 'play' which genuinely

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    re-creates and rejuvenates you, such that you are more effective in your Christian service as a result of your 'play'. Share your comments (i.e., explanation) of the following statement: "Play should be to the Christian life what dessert is to a good meal."

  13. Tell why you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "The family that prays together and the family that plays together, is the family that will likely 'stay together'."

  14. Is it possible for a Christian to be serious-minded and, at the same time, joy-filled and good-humored (instead of somber and sour in his attitudes and words and countenance)? According to Proverbs 17:22, what are the benefits of having a 'cheerful heart'?

  15. According to 1 Corinthians 6:18, why is sexual immorality considered to be such a serious sin?

  16. Practically-speaking, how does a Christian, who believes in the 'stewardship of the body', treat his body? (Note 1 Corinthians 6:14-20; Romans 6:11-18)

  17. Share your personal response (or reaction) to the following statements: "Scientific evidence has shown a strong similarity between the changes normally associated with aging and those caused by inactivity. Chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes) have a direct correlation with our lifestyle."

  18. Tell how the following statement has changed (or will change) your personal lifestyle (in terms of 'physical fitness'): "Scientific research has shown that vigorous (fast) walking for at least one-half hour each day will greatly increase one's chances that he/she will live longer, feel better (increased energy level), and look better (weight control)."

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