A Study in Stewardship – Week of November 4

Discovering God's Design

Blood in the Nile

Verse: Exodus 7:14-24

The plague of blood is a powerful testimony to the truth of God’s ownership and management of all creation. The Nile River is Egypt’s greatest natural resource, serving as the source of the land’s natural fertility and prosperity throughout history. By changing the waters of Egypt into blood, God demonstrated his control over the source of Egypt’s economic vitality.

Pastor James E. Mead reflects that [the very] air we breathe, the water we drink, the wonder of life itself, the planet we live on, the universe—we brought none of these things into being. They are gifts we enjoy out of the overflow of God’s love. The love of God, the gift of Jesus Christ, forgiveness of our sins, the call into Christian community, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, eternal life—none came from us, each is a gift to us from God.

To remember that God owns everything prompts a remarkable shift in our view of stewardship. Usually when we think of stewardship (of giving to charitable causes, if you want), we define it as our giving to God or to the church something that belongs to us. But in the Bible, stewardship is just the reverse—our freely using, enjoying, and giving what already belongs to God.

In the words of Generous Giving’s Stewardship Bible Study Notes for this passage:

Just before God gave Moses permission to perform the first plague which turned all the water in Egypt into blood, God reemphasized that the reason he had determined to bring such cataclysmic disaster and violent upheaval upon the land of Egypt was that Pharaoh’s “unyielding” heart had caused him to refuse to let God’s people go (Ex 7:14).

We should exercise caution in drawing too close a parallel between Pharaoh and ourselves because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 10:1) while he has promised to give us new hearts of flesh (Eze 36:26). Still, it is important for us to recognize that an unyielding heart always brings disaster. This truth applies whether it is Christians or non-Christians who are being unyielding and withholding what belongs to God.

In the end, God cannot be robbed, “For from him and through him and for him are all things” (Ro 11:36) … Everything in creation is at God’s disposal, so the question is whether we will give willingly, with yielding hearts, or whether we will harden our hearts and have our closed hands forced open by the Almighty God. We will either experience the joy of giving generously or, like Pharaoh, be smashed, having everything taken from us. In light of these ultimate ends, everyone should give what he has decided in his heart to give, “not reluctantly or under compulsion” from others but out of love for God’s Son, who became poor so that we might become rich [2Co 9:7].

Think About It

•God wants you to use and enjoy his creation. How can you do that with a proper attitude?
•Is there anything in your life that may alert you that some part of your heart is “unyielding”?
•How does God show us our heart attitudes?

Pray About It

God, reveal to me through your Holy Spirit any attitudes about my possessions that might point to an improper view of what you have entrusted me to manage.

This devotion is from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

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