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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stewardship 5: Stewardship of our Bodies


 Stewardship of Our Bodies 


At the Global Leadership Summit yesterday we were addressed by former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and she spoke of the "universality of freedom" and I couldn't help but think of the verses I knew I would be reading today: As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. ......But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control youThe Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.  She reminded us of the huge responsibility which comes with our freedom. 

In the context of Stewardship of our Bodies, we have tremendous freedom to use our various body parts as we please AND an enormous responsibility as Christians to use them in a God-glorifying manner. As a text verse I have chosen Romans 12:1 
So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.

The Jewish people who first received this letter knew all about sacrifices. They were used to going to the Temple in Jerusalem (even from as far away as Rome) and making sacrifices.Taking the best bull or the best calf, or a perfect lamb and offering it at the Temple to be killed and burnt, becoming an offering that goes up to God.

Now Paul says: Offer yourself as a living sacrifice. Instead of finding a perfect bull, lamb ,dove… Offer yourself, your body… to God as you seek to live (and if necessary to die) for Him.

I think the call in this verse is to be willing to be living, crucified, Christs in the world, in Alberton.
To be a people who are prepared to be broken for the people around us… to be a people who are prepared to pour ourselves out… for the people around us.

People who look at our bodies and say: “This body is God's, it belongs to God, it is the house that God has given for my soul, my spirit, to live in.”

In this series we have looked at the fact that everything is God's: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof
We have seen that we should see ourselves as stewards rather than owners.
We are to see ourselves as stewards, not owners of creation.
Stewards not owners of our talents, abilities and gifts.
Stewards not owners of other people, especially of the poor.
Stewards not owners of ‘our’ time.
Today, our focus is our bodies: stewards not owners of our bodies.

How does God want me to use my tongue, heart, hand, feet, eyes, ears, my sexual organs?
Jesus sees the human body as so important that He put it on Himself in order to reveal himself and His Father to us.

He sees the body and it’s parts as so important that He says ‘If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eyes cause you to sin gouge them out
Our bodies are essentially what causes us to sin. The sin of our bodies pollutes and corrupts our spirits which live in them and lead to the need for a persecuted, crucified Christ.

As we learn to be better stewards of our bodies, we will grow in personal holiness, that holiness with out which no one will see the Lord. What we are looking at today is all stuff we’ve heard before but lets’ hear it in the context of being good stewards of our bodies.

Lets begin with TONGUE:

Jas 1:26 ‘Do any of you think your are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself.” In a few words here, true religion is directly linked to the tongue.

Mat 12: 36 You can be sure that on the Judgment Day you will have to give account of every useless word you have ever spoken”  These are the very words of Jesus!

Psa 39:1 “I said, I will be careful about what I do and will not let my tongue make me sin;”

Is God speaking to you, to me, about stewardship of the tongue which He has asked us to look after on His behalf?

The HEART:
In Scripture, the physical heart is seen as the body part which controls desire and motive.

Jer 17:9 Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed.
Do you feel that way about your heart and, unlike Jeremiah, believe that only Jesus can bring the healing it requires?

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
A good steward of the of the human heart will encourage God to do this often.

And Jesus then promises in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

HANDS:
Proverbs 12:14 “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things and the work of their hands bring them reward 
Proverbs 12:24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor. 
Acts 20:34-35 “You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I have needed. I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. 
1 Thessalonians 4:11 “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you

These verses all speak to the Christian work ethic. We are called to labour and not to expect handouts; BUT, and this is an important but,

Proverbs 31:20 “She stretches our her hand to the poor; she reaches forth her hands to the needy.” 
Deuteronomy 15:10-11 “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Yes, we are called to work and not to expect handouts, but at the same time these hands are called to hand out and reach out to the (truly) poor who will always be in the land. The poor are one of Gods gifts to you and to me, but I will explain that a little later.

FEET:

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,  “Your God reigns
!”
GO… GO… a good steward of God's feet will go and proclaim the mighty deeds of the God who owns the feet that go.

Psalm 119:101 “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.”
Don’t go down evil ways.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
God promises to guide the good steward's feet.

Romans 10:15 “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Paul remembering that it is via feet that the gospel is spread.

Ephesians 6:15 “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 
Part of the armour of God is the putting on to our feet the readiness to go out and proclaim the gospel of peace.


EYES:

Matthew 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.”

Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart

Be a good steward of the eyes God has lent to you.


EARS:

How should we use our ears in such a way that they bring glory to God?

Proverbs 21:13 “If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard.
I said earlier that the poor are  Gods gift to us, here you see why. Our reaction to their calls determines God's reaction to our calls.

2 Timothy 4:3”The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends.
Many say we are living in these times, where people will go only to the place where they hear the kind of message they want to hear.

Romans 10:17 “So then, faith come from hearing the message and the message come through preaching Christ.”
It is through hearing the preaching of the crucified Christ and our becoming crucified Christs, living sacrifices, that faith comes to the world around us.

John 5:24 “I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me will have eternal life.”

The ear is so important in the grand scheme of things. Let’s be good stewards of our ears.

Some final stewardship advice regarding the ears:
Jas 1:19 “Remember this my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak"


SEXUAL EXPRESSION:
What does it mean to be a good steward of our sexuality? 
1 Cor 6:13 “The body is not to be used for sexual immorality, but to serve the Lord; and the Lord provides for the body.”

1 Cor 6:18 “Avoid immorality. Any other sin a man commits does not affect his body; but the man who is guilty of sexual immorality sins against his own body.
There’s the negative part regarding our sexuality, sexual immorality is out. But please remember this; sexual morality is in.

1 Cor 7:1-9 “Now, to deal with the matters you wrote about. A man does well not to marry. But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and very woman should have her own husband. A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control. I tell you this not as an order, but simply as permission. Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift. Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do. But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry, it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Paul is saying here: HAVE SEX. As good stewards of our bodies, we should have good, moral sex. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But remember this, moral sex only takes place within the confines of Christian marriage.

Conclusion:

We are called to be good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Our bodies are part of the manifold grace which God has entrusted to us.
“So then my friends, because of Gods great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to him”


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