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Early in our life we learn about possessions and ownership. There is something within us that wants us to stake claim to something…to own or possess something! This word “mine” goes well beyond the toddler years and sadly many adults, even those within the church, are very good at using and living with this mindset of “mine”.
In today’s episode we want to go back to the starting blocks of Biblical stewardship. Without having this firm benchmark in the life of the believer in Christ, one will think, process and rehearse mixed messages in their heart and mind. Without settling this in the heart and mind of the believer, there will be many, many financial and stewardship challenges that they will face, and most, if not all of them would have been settled before they had to actually face them.
So what is this baseline?
It is settling once and for all in your heart and mind that God is the owner of everything. We all want to “own” things. For some, it makes them feel good, positive, powerful and meaningful. And this is what they strive for day and night. We often have the concept that ownership is permanent, but it is not. We are sojourners here on earth and we enter the world with nothing and will leave the world with nothing! All that is in our care is temporary! Through the lenses of Scripture, we, as believers in Christ have been put in charge, are called to steward what GOD owns for HIS purposes, for HIS Kingdom sake, and ultimately for HIS Glory!
Let’s take a look at some passages of Scriptures together that speak to God being the owner of ALL things. If you have not settled in your heart and mind your relationship to the “things” of this world, you will begin that process even as you are listening right now. And our prayer is that you will sooner than later settle this issue of “ownership” in your heart and mind so HE can work in and through you in even greater ways for His Kingdom’s sake this side of Glory.
God Owns the Heavens and the Earth
“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14, NIV84)
Some observations about this passage of Scripture:
- The heavens are owned or belong to God.
- The heavens above the heavens are owned or belong to God.
- Moses states that earth is God’s.
- EVERYTHING on the earth is owned by God.
To parallel this verse, lets look quickly at Psalm 50:12
“…for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” (Psalm 50:12, NIV84)
In the previous verse, Deuteronomy 10:14 Moses is stating to Israel about God owning everything. But, here in Ps. 50:12, the speaker here is none other than GOD Himself! He is the one speaking, clarifying HIS ownership of the world and ALL that is in it!
“God Owns The Dirt”
I was listening to Dr. David Jeremiah the other day and he shared this joke in his message:
There was a debate between God and an Agnostic. The Agnostic said to God, “Anyone can create something.” Our God responded, “then show me.” The Agnostic bent over and picked up dirt to form a creation to which God replied, “Get your own dirt!”
I know it is not Scripture, but love the statement “get your own dirt”, for this speaks the truth…God even owns the dirt around us!
God Owns the Animals… The Cattle on a Thousand Hills
Here is another verse that we see God stating ownership…but this time it is over something very specific…
“for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10, NIV84)
God here is the one speaking, and He takes ownership of EVERY animal in the forests and the cattle on a thousand hills! It is an unimaginable number of cattle that reside on those thousand hills (one thousand is a number of completeness) and He, God says that he is the owner of them all!
God Even Owns Everything That We Value as Precious
And next, God speaks again about HIS ownership of something of great value even for us today.
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty.” (Haggai 2:8, NIV84)
God now is making it clear of HIS ownership of those things that we hold near, dear, precious and of great value! HE IS THE OWNER of all things (like the “dirt” in the joke we shared) and the precious metals that we covet! God is the owner.
Do Humans Truly Own Anything?
All of what we have already shared was to lay a benchmark on God’s ownership on all things…ALL THINGS! Remember you, the believer in Christ, own nothing! You are just a steward of what God owns for this short time on earth! Now, I am sure that some that are listening are about to ask a question and/or challenge our benchmark. The question at hand is this: Don’t some Bible verses refer to people owning possessions??? Absolutely! Let’s look at two verses:
- Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
- Col. 4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
Both of these two verses speak directly to “personal ownership”. We can dig deeper and find many more verses like these two! The fundamental and basic understanding according to the Word of God that HE owns everything! Everything is God’s.
Everything is the Lord’s.
Reminding Ourselves of God’s Ownership
I read in an article that it would be good and healthy for the Christian to do this simple exercise periodically, especially when stewardship issues and challenges are at hand. This exercise is to speak out loud to God’s ownership of your “belongings”. Like:
- God…you are the owner of my house…let me use it for Your glory!
- God…this bank account and what is in it is a blessing from you…let me use these resources for life, ministry and Kingdom building
- God…thank you for allowing me to have and use this car. Let me care for it and use it in ways to build your church and Kingdom.
- Especially Luxuries!
- God…you have allowed a secondary home for this family to relax and refresh and have great memories. God, show us others that we can bless in the same way…especially for those serving you in full time ministry!
- God…allow me to use this old car and motorcycle to connect with others who have the same passions in order to speak into them the Gospel of Christ…let me always be ready to speak of the hope that I have in you, and the forgiveness that you offer in Christ!
Another way to do this same thing is to do something like this:
- God, this is Your house…
- And I am sitting in Your chair…
- And I get to look outside through Your window…
- Enjoying your handiwork of flowers, trees, animals and insects…
- Writing this on Your computer that you have put into my care
The Nebuchadnezzar Illustration
If you read through the book of Daniel, you would read about one very powerful king. King Nebucadnezzar expressed out loud what his heart and mind was thinking:
Dan. 4:30 says, “he said, ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’” (Daniel 4:30, NIV84)
I love that at times, God does not delay and responds immediately. This is God’s response to King Nebuchadnezzar:
Dan. 4:31-33 says, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled…. (Daniel 4:31–33, NIV84)
As decreed by God, immediately Nebuchadnezzar was removed from his kingdom for 7 years and lived among the land and animals. Here we see that God decided to help Nebuchadnezzar redirect his heart and mind in an extreme way! I pray that this extreme way of God’s correction does not come upon our listeners. Hear the Word and loving actions of the Lord!
When the 7 years ended…listen to the heart and mind of Nebuchadnezzar:
Dan. 4:34-37 says, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:34–37, NIV84)
We need to learn from Nebuchadnezzar! He not only got a wake up call, but also a course correction! In God’s grace, He restored Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity, position and “possessions”. He now has a very different view of his possessions! God is now the focus of exaltation in his life, not himself, his accomplishments and his “possessions”!
“I Worked Hard for This!…”
I am sure that you have heard something similar to this statement that I heard in my years of Pastoral ministry: “What I have, I have worked for and earned! I did not get any gifts or handouts…all this was my work…my HARD work!”
I caution the one that thinks this way. Nebuchadnezzar’s sin was PRIDE! It was his illusion of being self-sufficient! His attitude and thinking of “look at me, look at what I have done, look at what I own” was his downfall!
Let me call to your remembrance, a corrective passage of Scripture in Deuteronomy 8:17-18:
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…(Deuteronomy 8:17–18, NIV84)
Yes, you worked hard, saved diligently and put in some very long hours. You may have made “it”, but remember this clear passage that we just read that God, your creator, gave you the ability, thinking, processing, talent and strength to get you to where you are today, to make the money you have, or one day will have in the future!
God gives the gifts, talents and abilities, which in turn, through His grace, allows you and me to become all that God wants us to be. God equips to us steward all that He puts into our care!
We Need an Attitude Shift
A grateful and redirected attitude toward God is what we need. Solomon stated this in Eccl. 2:24:
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, (Ecclesiastes 2:24, NIV84)
The wealthiest man that ever lived, or ever will live, made it clear that talent and satisfaction in our labors and possessions is a gift from God…and NOT from yourself!
Before we close out, listen to this passage of Scripture that can help you and me point true north again. This is King David’s prayer, and consider it to be yours also!
1 Chronicles 29:11–16
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. … I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. (1 Chronicles 29:11–17, NIV84)
Let’s remember that God owns everything. We are just stewards of His possessions!
And, let’s use His possessions to generously increase His work, His Kingdom and His Church to the point that as David implied in verse 17, our stewardship and giving would be a catalyst for others to joyfully steward His belongings and give of it unto the Lord’s work…until He comes again!
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