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Jesus loves to bless His children. He loves to have us praising Him for His abundant mercies towards us, and to reveal in our lives the exceeding blessedness of righteousness by faith! When we have Jesus abiding in our hearts, we will long to impart to others what we have seen and heard and known of the loveliness of Jesus! I love His matchless charms and how when we are daily spending a "thoughtful hour" upon His life and lessons, communing with Him in prayer as we are brought into fellowship with the mind of the infinite, we are truly being transformed. Such transformed lives will be the blessing God desires this world to see--lives that reveal Christ to a world that is soon to perish. May we let His glory be our joy today!

"Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them 'high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.' 'All people of the earth,' said Moses, 'shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee." "The nations which shall hear all these statutes" shall say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' Deuteronomy 26:19;  28:10; Deuteronomy 4:6. But because of their unfaithfulness, God's purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation." {The Desire of Ages, page 28, paragraph 2}

God will fulfill His purpose. But are you willing to be humble and teachable so that He can reveal His character through your honor and exaltation (through abiding in Christ bearing all of the fruits of the Spirit)? The other choice is to be vacillating in unfaithfulness, which means that adversity and humiliation are necessary for God to fulfill His purpose through you. Let us learn the lesson Israel struggled to learn and failed to learn in putting Jesus to death. Let us learn to appreciate the infinite sacrifice made for us, surrender fully to Christ moment-by-moment, and allow God's grace and glory to bring praise to His name.

Abraham is mentioned in chapter 2 of the Desire of Ages. God wants to bless us like He did Abraham. But how did Abraham reveal faithfulness so God could bless him? It was in his home:

"A well-ordered Christian household is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the Christian religion--an argument that the infidel cannot gainsay. All can see that there is an influence at work in the family that affects the children, and that the God of Abraham is with them. If the homes of professed Christians had a right religious mold, they would exert a mighty influence for good. They would indeed be the 'light of the world.' The God of heaven speaks to every faithful parent in the words addressed to Abraham: 'I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'" {Patriarchs and Prophets, page 144, paragraph 3}

May every home that names the name of Christ be such a powerful witness in these last days--a witness that God can bless so many thousands can be converted in a day--tracing their first convictions to literature, online ministries, or beholding the godly impress of a well-ordered family! Praise God!!
Friday March 16

Further Thought: Every natural ability, skill, or gift comes from God, whether we were genetically born with it, influenced and educated by our environment, or both. The important part of the equation is what we do with the abilities and skills we have. God expects stewards to learn to be masters of their skills and abilities through education and practical experience (Eccles. 10:10).

Bezalel was filled “with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship” (Exod. 35:31, NKJV). He and Aholiab (Exod. 35:34) had the ability to teach others their craft.

It is true they learned things, and developed character. So did Lucifer. But, when Lucifer turned from God, it made no difference what he learned. Separated from Christ, he was evil. So it is with us today. If we are not vitally connected with Christ daily, we cannot do what is right for the right reason.

We can learn to be better stewards and specifically to eliminate debt while living in a materialistic world. We should always be developing our skills through reading, seminars, formal education, (whenever possible), and ultimately practice what we have learned. Growing our skills enables us to give our best to God and to be good stewards.

Jesus grew. He learned obedience through what He suffered, so will we. It is the heart God wants, and it is character that He is developing in all who will come unto Jesus. The rest will fall into line when we love Jesus supremely.

The parable of the talents indicates that each servant received talents “according to his own ability” (Matt. 25:15, NKJV). Two servants doubled their amounts; the third hid his in the ground. We should always strive to improve what we have, but burying the talent did not show any ability or skill. Managing money, getting out of debt, cultivating discipline, and practical experience develop competencies that are blessed by God. To become successful and good at something, we must repeat it again and again.

Amen. When we continually repeat something, it becomes a habit, and habits form character. If we will repeatedly spend time each day beholding Jesus, all else will fall into order. The character will be a reflection of Christ, and we will turn to Him continually for wisdom and grace.

“As the lessons of the Bible are wrought into the daily life, they have a deep and lasting influence upon the character. These lessons Timothy learned and practiced. He had no specially brilliant talents, but his work was valuable because he used his God-given abilities in the Master’s service.” - Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 205.

Discussion Questions:

    Though self-control is always important for the Christian, it is especially important when a lack of self-control can lead to financial hardship or even ruin. What can we as a church do to help those who could be in danger of this problem?

The answer is always the same, we point them to Jesus. Why? Because when they yield self to Christ, the Holy Spirit takes possession of the heart and brings with Him every one of the fruits of the Spirit. One of them is temperance.

    Read Romans 13:7, 8.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

How can we apply these words to our daily lives and in all our interactions with others?

The answer is always the same. We need to love Jesus with the whole heart. Then we shall love others, even our enemies. We will be content in all situations, for is God be for us, who can be against us!

    Some argue that we shouldn’t worry about getting in debt, because Jesus is coming back soon. How would you respond to that assertion?

I would not. Why argue with someone who has such an attitude? Point them to Jesus and what we must do in order to be ready for His soon coming.
Thursday March 15

Saving and Investing

Ants labor to save provisions for the winter (Prov. 6:6-8). We are wise to consider their ways when we save money routinely for a specific purpose. The point in saving is to have resources available for our living expenses or needs as opposed to wasting or hoarding what we earn. Managing money requires wisdom, budgeting, and discipline. If all we do is save for ourselves, we are pilfering God’s possessions instead of stewarding them.

“Money needlessly spent is a double loss. Not only is it gone, but its potential for earnings is also gone. Had we set it aside, it could have been multiplying on earth through savings or in heaven through giving.  . . .  Saving is a discipline that develops authority over money. Instead of letting money take us wherever our whims incline, we take control.” - Randy C. Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity (Carol Stream: Illinois, Tyndale House Publishers, 2003), p. 328.

Better said, is we let God take control. Our wisdom is foolishness.

Read Proverbs 13:11, Proverbs 21:5, and Proverbs 13:18. What practical words are here for us that can help us deal better with financial issues?

Stewards save for family needs and invest in heaven when managing God’s assets. It is not about how much one possesses, but about having a biblical management plan in place, whatever your financial situation happens to be. Saving for family needs should be done wisely. To minimize any loss, spread out the risk (Eccles. 11:1, 2). Working at such minimization prior to your wants (Prov. 24:27) and then seeking qualified advice from others (Prov. 15:22) are two successful tools in this model. As needs are met and wealth grows, we must “remember the LORD your God, for it is [H]e who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:18, NIV).

The most secure investment model for God’s steward is to invest in “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:44). There are no recessions, risks, thieves, or market downturns. It’s like having a purse or wallet that will never wear out (Luke 12:33). Accepting Christ opens the account, and returning tithe and giving offerings are deposits. That is, however much we need to take care of our worldly and earthly things here, such as paying the bills, we must still always keep our focus on eternal truths.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:18. How can we keep this truth always before us while at the same time living as responsible stewards here?

When we awake in the morning, it would be well to spend a thoughtful hour with Jesus, beholding His Words and deeds, especially the closing scenes in His life on Earth. By beholding such glory (character) we shall be changed into His image (character) by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). Being a partaker of God's divine nature insures that we have power to do what is right.
Wednesday March 14

Saying No to Debt

Read Deuteronomy 28:12. What does this teach us about getting into too much debt? What principle do we see at work here?

It’s just common sense to avoid debt as much as you can. Scripture discourages us from cosigning other people’s debts as well (Prov. 17:18, 22:26). Debt leverages the future and obligates us to submit to its demands from our position of financial weakness. It is a smooth elixir that Christians find difficult to decline and manage. Debt may not be immoral, but it does not strengthen our spiritual life.

“There must be a strict regard to economy or a heavy debt will be incurred. Keep within bounds. Shun the incurring of debt as you would shun leprosy.” - Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 272.

Debt can become financial bondage that makes us a “servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7). Because debt is so intertwined with the fabric of our economic world, we think of it as just the norm. After all, whole nations exist on debt; why shouldn’t individuals do the same thing? This is a wrong attitude to have.

“Make a solemn covenant with God that by His blessing you will pay your debts and then owe no man anything if you live on porridge and bread. It is so easy in preparing your table to throw out of your pocket twenty-five cents for extras. Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves. It is the mites here and the mites there that are spent for this, that, and the other, that soon run up into dollars. Deny self at least while you are walled in with debts. . . . Do not falter, be discouraged, or turn back. Deny your taste, deny the indulgence of appetite, save your pence and pay your debts. Work them off as fast as possible. When you can stand forth a free man again, owing no man anything, you will have achieved a great victory.” - Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 257.

Debt is a weak foundation for Christians to stand on. It can do damage to our spiritual experience and impact our ability to fund God’s work. It robs us of our ability to give to others with confidence and steals opportunities for God’s blessings.

What are some choices you can make right now that could help you avoid any unnecessary debt? What might you need to deny yourself of in order to stay out of debt?

Deny self by giving the whole heart to Christ and the rest will fall into line. We we follow Christ and His ways, life will be a blessing.

Tuesday March 13

Living Within Your Means

“There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it” (Prov. 21:20, NKJV). This text contrasts the stewardship of economic responsibility with luxurious and wasteful management. Foolish people make no plans to live within their means. They greedily spend wealth at their disposal, even borrowed wealth, feeling that financial wisdom or frugal living is a hardship, like an unwanted diet. Yet even when we need to borrow money, such as for a house, we must do it with careful consideration and the realization that we need to live within our means.

The wealthy can live within their means out of their wealth. Their problem is that they always are worrying about their wealth and how to keep it. When people have very little and live from paycheck to paycheck, they worry about sustaining life, not wealth. Still, the Bible gives counsel on living within our means, regardless of how much we have. Paul recommends what we might consider extreme simplicity: “But if we have food and clothing [could include housing], we will be content with that” (1 Tim. 6:8, NIV). Paul doesn’t consider earthly possessions all that important because for him, living in Christ is enough (Phil. 1:21).

What principle must be remembered before anything else? Matt. 6:33. How can we be sure that this is how we are living our lives?

We should think of our means not as income but as resources that we have a responsibility to manage. A budget is the method we should use to accomplish this task. Planning a budget is a learned skill that needs to be studied thoughtfully. Disciplined practice and effort are needed to be successful in managing a balanced financial plan (Prov. 14:15). If we make the commitment to succeed in our financial stewardship plan, we will be able to avoid embarrassing financial mistakes.

If you are having a problem with money management, set up a budget. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as totaling all your expenditures for a few months and then averaging in your monthly expenses. The key is to live within your means, no matter what, and to do all that is possible to avoid debt.

Paul was content because he understood God's promises to provide what he needed. What verses in Scripture do we see that gives us peace, no matter what happens. Job understood when he lost all, do we?

Read Luke 14:27-30. Jesus illustrates here the cost of discipleship by giving the example of a builder estimating the cost of building a tower and what happens if he can’t finish it. What lesson on stewardship should we take from here?

We can lose what we have if we do not count the cost of building.
Monday March 12

Stewardship and Instant Gratification

“And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:34, NKJV). Esau was a rugged outdoorsman who followed his passions. When he smelled his brother’s stew, he wanted the lentils immediately, even though it was unlikely that he was dying from starvation. Controlled by his emotions and feelings, he allowed the pressure of the moment to overpower reasoning, and traded his birthright for some instant gratification. When he wanted his birthright back, and “though he sought it diligently with tears” (Heb. 12:17, NKJV), he did not receive it.

If it taste good, eat it, if it feels good, do it. If you want it, take it now. This is the fallen nature that keeps man a prisoner to self and sin. The only hope is found in Christ. Only when the heart is fully given to Christ, can we do any good thing for the right reason.

In contrast, we have the example of Jesus. After a 40-day fast and near starvation, Jesus was tempted by Satan three times (Matt. 4:3-10). But Jesus saw the temptations for what they were, and even in His weakened condition He did not give in to gratification. Jesus lived His entire life denying the pleasures of sin and gratification, and by so doing He showed that we could have power over sin, too. He did not trade away or lose His birthright, and He invites all to share in being joint heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17, Titus 3:7). We keep our birthright by following the example Jesus gave when tempted (1 Cor. 10:13).

We must be found abiding in Christ and He in us in order to do as Jesus did.

The best this world can offer is to experience the here and now, because it cannot offer an experience in the hereafter. To live for yourself is the opposite of living for God.

What do the following texts teach about the potential dangers of instant gratification, even for faithful people? 2 Sam. 11:2-4, Gen. 3:6, Phil. 3:19, 1 John 2:16, Rom. 8:8.

The desire for instant gratification is symptomatic of an uncontrolled mind; it is an enemy of patience that undermines long-term goals, mocking and injuring accountability. To delay gratification is a learned principle; it is a life skill that helps us manage situations and pressures, especially the temptations that the world has to offer, such as borrowing money unwisely. This idea, however, is not popular in a world built on the indulgence of instant reward, quick fixes, and get-rich-quick schemes. Once we have experienced instant gratification, we are more likely to choose the short-term reward again, and then again, and again.  . . .  Stewards of the gifts God has given us must not fall into that trap.

We will yield to temptations to sin unless we are fully surrendered to Jesus. Pharisees think they can do what is right without dying to self. Amazing thought!
Yes, Wally, today it is like what happened before the crash in the 20s. People are betting each day that it will go up. Or if they like, they can bet a stock will go down. We will see a crazy ups and downs as speculators play the market like they play the wheel in the casinos.
Thursday March 22

Habit: Self-discipline

Self-discipline is one of the most important character traits a steward can have. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7, NIV). The Greek word for discipline, sophronismos, appears only here in this verse in the New Testament and involves the ability to do what must be done with a balanced, sound mind that will not deviate from God’s principles. Self-discipline can help us “to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14, NIV), understand situations at hand, and yet calmly and meekly withstand pressures and distractions regardless of outcome. Daniel pursued what was right despite the lions, as opposed to Samson, who lived a self-indulgent life and showed little restraint or sound judgment. Joseph pursued what was right in Potiphar’s house, in contrast with Solomon, who worshiped other gods (1 Kings 11:4, 5).

Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. What does Paul say here about self-discipline? What does he say is ultimately at stake in the whole question of self-discipline?

“The world is given to self-indulgence. Errors and fables abound. Satan’s snares for destroying souls are multiplied. All who would perfect holiness in the fear of God must learn the lessons of temperance and self-control. The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word.” - Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 101.

Self-discipline improves through habitual practice. God has called you to “be holy in all you do” (1 Pet. 1:15, NIV) and to “train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim. 4:7, NIV). Stewards must practice and train to be self-disciplined just as much as the most talented athletes or musicians. We must, through God’s power and our own diligent effort, discipline ourselves in the things that really matter.

How can we learn to surrender to the power of God, who alone can give us the self-discipline we need to live as faithful and godly stewards in a fallen and corrupt world?

Friday March 23

Further Thought: Enoch and Noah made it a habit to walk with God in an age when few remained faithful amid excess, materialism, and violence (Gen. 5:24, 6:9). They understood and accepted God’s grace, and were thus good stewards of the possessions and tasks entrusted to them.

Down through the ages, people have walked with God just as Enoch and Noah did. For instance, Daniel and his friends “realized that in order to stand as representatives of true religion amid the false religions of heathenism they must have clearness of intellect and must perfect a Christian character. And God Himself was their teacher. Constantly praying, conscientiously studying, keeping in touch with the Unseen, they walked with God as did Enoch.” - Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 486.

“Walking with God” defines what a steward does, that is, living with God day by day on earth. A wise steward will make it a habit to walk with God amid a world of corruption, for only by this connection with God can we be protected from falling into the prevailing evils.

Being a faithful steward entails an all-encompassing life that begins with being in agreement with God (Amos 3:3). We must walk in Christ (Col. 2:6), walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), walk in love (Eph. 5:2), walk in wisdom (Col. 4:5), walk in truth (Ps. 86:11), walk in the light (1 John 1:7), walk in integrity (Prov. 19:1), walk in His law (Exod. 16:4), walk in good works (Eph. 2:10), and walk the straight path (Prov. 4:26).

Discussion Questions:

    Define humility and explain its role in the life of a steward (Matt. 11:29, Eph. 4:2, Phil. 2:3, James 4:10). Why is humility important in our walk with God? (Mic. 6:8 ).

    In class, talk about ways we can help those among us who are trapped in bad, even self-destructive habits. What can you as a local church do to help these people?

    What are some other good habits that Christian stewards should have? See, for instance, Titus 2:7, Ps. 119:172, Matt. 5:8.

    In class, talk about time and the mysteries of time. Why does it seem to go so fast? How do we even understand what time is? And, most important, why is it necessary that we be good stewards of the relatively short amount of it we have while here on earth?

Tuesday March 20

Habit: Use Time Wisely

“For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, because our days on earth are a shadow” (Job 8:9, NKJV).

You can stop a clock, but not the movement of time. Time does not wait; it keeps moving forward even if we stand still and do nothing.

What do the following texts teach us about our time here on earth in this life? James 4:14; Ps. 90:10, 12; Ps. 39:4, 5; Eccles. 3:6-8. What is the basic message that we should take from these texts about just how precious our time is here?

With something so limited and nonrenewable as time, it is important that Christians be good stewards of it. Thus we should develop the habit of using time wisely by focusing on what is important in this life and the next. We must manage time based on what the Word of God reveals to us as important, because once time is up, it can’t be renewed. If we lose money we may eventually get it back, maybe even more than what we first lost. Not so with time. A moment lost is a moment lost forever. We can more easily put a broken egg back in its shell than we recapture even a moment of the past. Thus, time is one of the most precious commodities given to us by God. How important, then, that we develop the habit of making the most of every moment we have been given.

“Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.  The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin.” - Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 342.

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15, 16, NKJV). What is Paul saying here to us, and how can we apply these words to our present situation?

Wednesday March 21

Habit: Keep a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul

We originally were created perfect - mentally, physically, and spiritually. Of course, sin has ruined it all. The good news of the gospel, among other things, is that God is in the process of restoring us to what we were originally meant to be.

Read Acts 3:21 and Revelation 21:1-5. What hope is found in these texts for us? How are we to live as we await this final restoration?

Christ worked tirelessly when here for the uplifting of humanity spiritually, mentally, and physically, all as precursor to the final restoration at the end of time. Jesus’ ministry of healing proves that God wants us to be as healthy as we possibly can now until the end comes. Thus stewards develop habits for their minds, bodies, and souls that promote a healthy lifestyle.

First, the mind will grow stronger the more it is used. Habitually, fill your mind with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Phil. 4:8, NIV). Such thoughts bring peace (Isa. 26:3), and a “heart at peace gives life to the body” (Prov. 14:30, NIV). Healthy habits of the mind allow the citadel of power to operate in the best condition possible.

Second, good health habits, such as exercise and proper diet, indicate that we care about ourselves. Exercise, for example, lowers stress and blood pressure, improves our moods, and is an elixir that is probably more anti-aging than anything available on the shelves.

Third, a steward will develop good habits to invigorate the soul. Lift your soul up to God (Ps. 86:4, 5) and wait (Ps. 62:5). Your soul will prosper “as you walk in the truth” (3 John 3, NKJV) and will be “preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23, NKJV).

Think about the kind of habits you have and how they impact your spiritual, physical, and mental health. Are there some changes that you need to make that could help you improve in any or all of these areas? What choices can you make and what Bible promises can you claim that will help you improve the quality of your life now as you await your final restoration?
Lesson 12 March 17-23

Debt - The Habits of a Steward

Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Eph. 5:15-17, Col. 3:23, Luke 12:35-48, James 4:14, Acts 3:21, 1 Cor. 9:24-27.

Memory Text: “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:9-11, NKJV).

Your habits reveal purpose and direction in your life. Stewards who develop good habits are the most faithful stewards. Daniel had a habit of daily prayer (Dan. 6:10). Paul’s custom was to be in the synagogue (Acts 17:1, 2). He also writes: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor. 15:33, NKJV). We are to cultivate good habits in order to replace bad ones.

“We shall be individually, for time and eternity, what our habits make us. The lives of those who form right habits, and are faithful in the performance of every duty, will be as shining lights, shedding bright beams upon the pathway of others.” - Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 452.

The pathway that a habit creates is the fastest way that you can take to get the reward you seek. A habit is an ingrained decision. In other words, you don’t even have to think about it; you just do it. That habit can be very good or very bad, depending upon what it is you do. This week we look at powerful habits that will help a steward conduct God’s business.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, March 24.

Sunday March 18

Habit: Seek God First

We all have habits. The question is: What kind are they? Good or bad? Of all the good habits a Christian could have, seeking God first thing every day would have to be the most important one of all.

“Every morning dedicate yourself, soul, body, and spirit, to God. Establish habits of devotion and trust more and more in your Saviour.” - Ellen G. White, Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 15. With a habit like that, we surely would enter through the “narrow  . . .  gate” that leads to life (Matt. 7:14, NKJV).

God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exod. 20:3, NKJV). Jesus said, in the context of our basic needs, to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33, NKJV), and we have also been told: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13, NKJV).

Read Matthew 22:37, 38; Acts 17:28; Ephesians 5:15-17; and Colossians 3:23. What is said here that can help us understand how to put God first in our lives?

Of all our examples in seeking the Lord first, none is of course a better one than the example of Jesus. Jesus put His Father first in everything. We begin to see this priority during His Passover visit to Jerusalem as a child. When confronted by His mother, who had found Him “in the temple”, He said to her, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:46, 49, NKJV).

Throughout His life, Jesus craved communion with His Father, as evidenced by His habitual prayer life. This habit was something that the disciples did not fully understand. All the powers of darkness could not separate Jesus from the Father, because Jesus made it a habit to keep totally connected with Him.

We can follow Jesus’ example by making the decision to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul (Matt. 22:37). By praying, studying God’s Word, and seeking to emulate the character of Jesus in all that we do, we will form the habit of making God first in our life. And for a Christian, what better habit could there be?

Ask yourself: Have I really made God first in my life? How do you know?

Monday March 19

Habit: Look for the Return of Jesus

Read Luke 12:35-48. What does this parable teach us about how we are to relate to the second coming of Jesus? Why must all that we do always be in the context of the reality of the Second Coming?

Stewardship should be habitually practiced in light of Jesus’ return. The character of unfaithful stewards who act like faithful ones will eventually be known by their actions; for true, faithful stewards carry out their responsibilities by watching and working just as if the master were present. They live for the future and faithfully work day by day. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20, NIV).

Abraham looked for an eternal city (Heb. 11:10), and Paul looked for Christ’s return (Heb. 10:25). They were forward thinkers, anticipating, planning, and ready at a moment’s notice to meet Jesus. We must also develop this habit of looking into the distance with a steady gaze for the climax of the gospel (Titus 2:13). Instead of peeking now and then or casually glancing at prophecy, we need to be continuously looking, watching, and doing, always aware of the eternity that awaits us when Christ returns. At the same time, we must avoid wild and fanciful speculations about end-time events. The promise of the Second Coming gives us direction in our lives, provides a proper perspective to the present, and helps us remember what is important in life. The habit of looking for the return of Jesus gives a steward definition and purpose.

The cross has paved the way for us to have a rendezvous with the Redeemer. We look for waymarks revealed in Scripture that point us to the coming of Christ in the glory of the Father and angels (Mark 8:38). “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18, NIV).

Yes, death, and the ever-present reality of death, should always help us realize just how limited and transient our time here is. But the promise of the Second Coming also shows us that death itself is temporary and transient. No wonder, then, that we should live in light of the promise of Christ’s return, a promise that should impact how every Christian steward lives. Let’s make it a habit now always to live in the expectation of Christ’s return. Our very name reveals the reality of that expectation.
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