Holland Methodist Church

Author: HMC-Media Team

Lesson From A Canny Manager

The parable recorded in Luke 16:1-15, and generally captioned, The Parable of the Shrewd Manager, can be thought-provoking if not confusing. On the surface, it appears to be about the use and abuse of money or possessions. Here we witness the actions of a canny employee, about to be fired because of mismanagement. There is no mention of the actual deed; however, it is made evident that he used his control over his employer’s possessions to acquire the friendship of his subordinates, so that he could secure himself against an uncertain future.

He decided to “cook the books” by reducing his master’s debtors’ invoices by 25% on wheat and 50% on oil. This must have both shocked and pleased the debtors. If this parable is about money and possessions, then it is wise to remind ourselves that one’s attitude to earthly possessions can indicate one’s shrewdness or silliness, trustworthiness or untrustworthiness, or miserliness or generosity. So, yes! There is the very fundamental issue of honesty and using someone else’s possessions to “feather one’s bed”; but I am sensing that there is a deeper message.

The actions of the protagonist of this parable highlight the value of relationships and community. His anxiety about falling from grace and losing his job, about not being strong enough to dig, and too ashamed to beg (16:3), forced him to contemplate the alternative course of securing community support. When he was fired, he wanted people to welcome him in their homes (16:4). He did not want to become friendless. He wanted to avert his impending situation by applying the principles conveyed in the Guyanese proverb: “Hand wash hand make hand come clean”.

Human relationships and community acceptance and support are critical for meaningful existence. Humans are made for relationships; we need each other to survive. As John Donne put it: “No man is an island. No man stands alone …We need one another, so I will defend each man as my brother, each man as my friend. The steward’s actions and intentions speak to the fact that stigma, discrimination, isolation, and loneliness are counter to true humanity. It is only through being together that can we move through darkness, sickness, divorce, unemployment, and brokenness, and become whole and healed people of God.

It is most regrettable that this man only knew the value of his community when his back was against the wall. When all was well and he was in his master’s good books, he didn’t seem to have given any thought about others. It is conceivable that he may have priced the goods unreasonably high. Now that he was heading for a crash, he quickly sought the support of the community.

For various reasons, we often find ourselves in circumstances where we need each other to survive and live meaningful lives. So, Charles Wesley was correct when he made his plea:

Help us to help each other, Lord,
Each other’s cross to bear,
Let each his friendly aid afford,
And feel his brother’s care.

Help us to build each other up,
Our little stock improve
.

Thought:  We are created for community and interdependence.

Prayer:      Lord, help us to always remember that we are made to embrace community all the time, and not only when our backs are against the wall. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

By: Everald Galbraith
October 2022

Christian Stewardship

Sisters and Brothers,

A month has already gone by in the new Connexional Year! I trust that we are travelling with the Lord, from the old things to the new, as the hymnist Sydney Carter suggests we do.

It is October, the month we agreed to focus on Christian Stewardship. Apart from what we will do in Bible Study, the focus for the five Lord’s Days is indicated on the circuit plan:

2nd – Stewardship of Time
9th– Stewardship of Talent (Gifts)
16th– Stewardship of Life
23rd– Stewardship of Money (material Resources)
30th – Stewardship of Earth’s Resources

A good place to start is to ask and answer the question, “What does it mean to be a steward?”

A steward is a manager, a trusted servant, responsible for seeing to the affairs of the employee. In the Bible the steward was responsible for such things as administration- purchasing supplies, overseeing the other servants, keeping records. The Greek word for steward, oikonomos literally means “manager of the household. “

The idea of stewardship is rooted in God’s Word. This biblical concept includes the idea that God is the architect of an entire household. To be included in this household means participating in the new life which emerges from God’s constant process of creation. A place in the family of God implies devotion to the welfare of all who are included.

As Christian Stewards, we recognise that:

  1. God is Creator and Owner of everything. The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it (Psalm 24: 1) This principle is seen clearly in Genesis chapters 1 and 2;.
  2. Human beings are called to be managers- stewards of God’s world. (Luke 12: 16 – 21)
  3. The human is not the owner but is given dominion over all that God created and owned. (Gen. 1: 26ff); Gen. 2: 15)
  4. Human beings are responsible and accountable to God for the management of God’s creation, including the very life that God has entrusted to us. (Mat. 25: 4 – 30; Luke 12: 42 – 45)

God has honoured humans, giving us a part to play in creation. We have been placed in the God’s Garden to “dress it” and “keep it.” (Genesis 2: 15)

The Bible shows clearly that we are all stewards to whom God has entrusted such gifts as life, time, varied abilities or talents, material possessions including money, the gospel, our relationships at home, at work, in the church, etc, health and the environment.

What then is Christian Stewardship? Christian Stewardship is man’s recognition of God’s sovereignty over creation and is a grateful response to God’s manifold gifts. Man’s response is expressed his dedicated and creative use of all these gifts towards the fulfilment of Christ’s mission in the world.

Christianity is a response to the love of God as revealed in Christ and expressed in terms of proper stewardship of all the resources available for the sustenance and enrichment of life. Christian Stewardship is humankind’s grateful and obedient response to God’s redeeming love, expressed by the resources for the fulfilment of Christ’s mission in the world.

Let us endeavour to be good stewards who do not take God’s gifts for granted, but rather, live in grateful response to the one who so generously gifted us.

May we always praise the Lord, even as we use our gifts to the glory of God.

Yours in Christ
Joan Delsol Meade
Pastor.

Commencement Connexional Year ’22 – ’23

Sisters and Brothers,

Through grace, we commence another Connexional Year. The assurance is ours that the grace that saw us through last’s years complexities is more than enough for all that is to come. All that the Lord requires of us, the Lord will enable us to fulfil. For this though, we must be ready to discern and available to follow the leading of God’s Spirit.

Life in Christ is not always easy, but rather, often demanding. The District’s theme Trusting God in Difficult Times: transforming obstacles into opportunities, reminds us of this. In the context of challenges we shall face during the year ahead, we need to prove not just to ourselves, but to the communities we serve, that we are a church. We are registered as such – a movement of people committed to sharing in God’s mission in the world.

This means that we have taken on, in both an ecclesiastical sense as well as a socio-political sense, the imperative to do mission. We agree to serve the world beyond the walls where we meet for communal worship and fellowship. We must come to church, yes; join in fellowship with believers, yes; learn the faith, yes; be constantly praying and growing in grace, yes; but there must be more to us than that. Outreach is key. We must go out and make disciples as our Lord commands. This we do through Christian Service and Witness.  We cannot ignore those who are not part of our present fellowship for it is to those whom we are sent. We are sent out to love and to serve and as we do, some will love in return.

Therefore, with COVID distancing in perspective, we resume Operation Andrew- friendship based evangelism. Everyone can be an Andrew leading another into friendship with Jesus. How you do that depends on your special gifts. The Bible teaches that each one of us is specially gifted. With your gifts, you will serve and win persons to whom others do not have access. You have what it takes because you are God’s special gift to somebody else. Don’t belittle what God can do through you. It is in our weakness that God’s perfect strength is realised.

It might sound a bit cliché when we say “Little is much when God is in it” but please put your little gift of love and friendship into the Operation Andrew basket. We will all look back with grateful hearts as we rejoice, “See what the Lord has done!”

Let us follow the Lord as the Spirit of God leads us into a world needing to know more of God. We can show that love through service and witness.
For God’s sake, let’s just do it.

Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor

Lest We Forget God’s Goodness

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after themDeuteronomy 4:9 NIV

Moses, the leader of God’s people and statesman of the Hebrews, wanted to ensure that all God’s chosen people, young and old alike, remembered all that God had done to and for them. Consequently, he urged parents to educate their children in the knowledge and activities of God. By doing so, parents would have the opportunity to recall God’s faithfulness while conveying the narratives of God’s goodness from one generation to the next.

God’s activities on behalf the Hebrews formed the groundwork of their religion, the base of the covenant relationship and the covenant legislation. These activities also served to distinguish the Hebrews and their religion from their neighbours. They would understand and appreciate that the God who had done all these things was also the God who demanded and deserved their allegiance, obedience, and commitment. 

However, this plea to “watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget” comes against the background of the human tendency to forget. We are prone to forgetfulness, and that’s not because of Alzheimer’s. Some persons are guilty of forgetting where they came from and what God has done in their lives; some forget the rivers they have crossed, the battles fought, and the compassion and amazing grace of God with which they have been blessed. When we forget, there is the likelihood of becoming puffed up with pride and being deluded into believing we have accomplished all these things on our own.

Every believer can say with Donnie McClurkin, “We’ve come this far by faith/ Leaning on the Lord/ Trusting in His holy word/ He never failed me yet; and it is highly recommended that we remember, reflect on, and reveal what the Lord has done in our lives. We must develop the habit of telling our church, co-workers, children, classmates, and family members, about the wonderful deeds of God. Remembering and advertising God’s actions will strengthen our faith and brighten our path. We will grow in confidence in God.

I agree with Dottie Rambo who wrote:

Roll back the curtain of memory now and then,
show me where you brought me from
and where I could have been,
oh remember I’m human and humans forget,
so remind me remind me dear Lord.

I appeal to you today: Do not forget what God has done in your life, and tell others about it.

Thought: Memory is one of God’s greatest gifts to humans. Prayer:    Lord, help me to use my memory to retain good things and not evil things and evil thoughts. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Judgment

“For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive due recompense for actions done in the body, whether good or evil” 2 Cor. 5:10

The Bible is replete with references to judgement in the temporal and spiritual realms. When I ponder the subject, I contemplate its scope and purpose. Who will be judged and why? Will all persons, including believers, face the judgement? There will be separate rewards, but will there be a separate judgement for believers and non-believers? Is the purpose different for the believer and the non-believer?  

In the selected text, Paul told the Church in Corinth that all believers must appear before the judgement seat of Christ. This is not for the judgement of our sins, because our sins were judged, and Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross. The word “appears, or better yet, “manifest”, means to be investigated into, to be searched and examined thoroughly. In this judgement, Christians will give an account of the lives they have lived—whether good or ill.

The Corinthian Church was riddled with divisions and competitiveness of a potentially destructive nature. In the previous chapter, Paul assured the believers that the glory of eternity with Christ outweighed the suffering experienced in this temporal realm. Assured of this, Paul was willing to courageously risk more suffering to advance the cause of the Gospel. He was motivated by the desire to please Christ in the temporal realm.

So, the judgement will be an examination, an appraisal, of what each Christian has done “in the body” since putting faith in Christ.  Paul told the Romans that each believer will “give an account of himself to God” Rom. 14:12. That’s the judgement.

We are assured that every good and bad action will be rewarded. The Bible says, “the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free” (Eph. 6:8). Believers whose actions were designed to glorify Christ will receive God’s “well done”. Actions designed for selfish gains, and which failed to glorify God, will be “burned up” or shown to be worthless. This what Paul said: “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” 1 Cor. 3:15.

Therefore, believers must live circumspect lives. Followers of Jesus should live righteous and sober lives and not according to the dictates of the world. The guiding principle must not be  “when in Rome do as the Romans do”, but what the Holy Spirit impresses upon our hearts. In the face of obvious injustice, discrimination, evil, and wrong-doing, Christians should not remain silent, blind, and deaf.  When there are persons seeking refuge or needing a helping hand, and we can help, we should not pass by on the other side. Why? Because we must stand before the judgement seat of Jesus and be examined. Paul was motivated by this awareness, and so should we. 

Thought: Our actions should prepare us for the judgement.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that nothing can separate me from your

love; but help me to remember that all my deeds will be judged by you and your standards.

By Everald Galbraith
August 4, 2022