152. Resources and Responsibilities

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

The first step in our ‘training for reigning’, as we saw last time, is to give up control of our own life and learn to be an obedient and willing servant.

Stewards

Beyond servanthood, there is training to be a steward. A steward has responsibilities – and access to resources – that a servant does not. Stewardship carries a higher level of authority and responsibility, and Jesus will train us to be stewards of all the resources He has made available to us for our lives and for the works He has prepared for us to do.

In Matthew 25 Jesus taught about responsibility in the kingdom:

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them (Matt 25:1-3).

All ten were entrusted with a task, but only five of them took their responsibility seriously. Five did not, and Jesus’ response to them was ‘I do not know you’ (Matt 25:12). I do not believe He meant that they were not in relationship with Him, He meant that He did not recognise Himself in them. They were not operating in good stewardship.

Talents

For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability (Matt 25:14-15).

We have been entrusted with Jesus’ possessions while He has gone back into heaven. All of us have calls and destinies in God, which He will give us the resources to fulfil. A talent was an amount of money, and each of us needs a different level of resource to achieve our particular calling.

Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money (Matt 25:16-18).

Trading is taking something God gives us and putting it to work to achieve a desired result. Here, the two servants who traded with their master’s money acted responsibly, and doubled his money for him. The one who hid it in the ground was an irresponsible steward.

Whatever God has given, He has given for a purpose. We can hide it in many ways: ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m not worthy’, ‘I can’t do it because of my past’ and so on. We can come up with any number of excuses why it is too difficult or too risky to go after our destiny in God, but Jesus will not accept any of them. He knows what He has called us to do, and He has given us the means of achieving it. He expects us to use our gifts for His glory.

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. (Matt 25:19-21).

All of us will have to settle the account of our life, before the judgment seat of God. I have been there, and I know it is not somewhere you want to go if you have messed up, and not used the resources God has given in the way He intended. God wants to train us to be faithful in using what he has given us. If we are faithful with a little, He will entrust us with more. That is a principle of good stewardship in the kingdom, and it applies both in this age and in the age to come.

As for the servant who did not act responsibly with His master’s resources:

But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy servant… you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless servant into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 25:26-30).

This is not ‘hell’, but the outer courts. The weeping and gnashing of teeth will come as people realise how they have failed to fulfil the call of God and squandered His resources. The good news is that we can go before that judgment seat now, repent and pursue our destiny, beginning to act as faithful stewards. Then we do not need to find ourselves in that situation.

Faithful

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much (Luke 16:10).

God tests us. He gives us opportunities to demonstrate whether we are going to be faithful with what he has given us. Those of us who are looking for something from God, whether it is anointing, finances, gifts or anything else, need to be faithful with the little things first. God will not give us a huge international healing ministry if we are not prepared to minister healing to the person next door. God’s training involves giving us opportunities to grow.

Authority comes as a result of learning to be a good steward:

And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities (Luke 19:17).

Trustworthy

And here is Paul, talking about the things that God revealed to him when he went to heaven and had a face to face encounter with Him. He sees himself as a steward, who would wisely use those resources to bring blessing to others:

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (1 Cor 4:1-2).

God wants to entrust us with all that He has for us, but He starts us off with a little, so that we can learn to be faithful, and acquire the wisdom to handle greater anointing, greater revelation, greater levels of finance, greater honour.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).

In our finances, if we are faithful with what we have, He will give us more. When we honour Him by faithfully administering a little, He is able to entrust us with everything. Are we faithfully using our gifts and abilities, whether spiritual or natural, for the purposes for which God has given them? How are we using our covenant relationships, with one another and with Him?

Heart attitude

Everything we have belongs to God, and He wants to train us to be good, faithful stewards. After all, we are only stewards of everything we have. Our money, homes, cars and possessions all belong to Him. When we make Jesus Lord, we make everything we have  available for His use. If it all belongs to him, then He has first claim on it, whatever and whenever He wants. When He asks us to give something away, it will reveal the attitude of our heart (particularly if He asks us to give something precious).

Are we willing to surrender everything to Him? An attitude which says ‘It all belongs to You’ – that is the hallmark of a good and faithful steward.

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151. Abdicate and Serve

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

When Jesus lived on earth, He had power over nature, power over sickness, power over demons, power over everything. He taught about speaking to the mountain and telling it to move. He operated in the power of the kingdom to bring everything into subjection to God’s will and purpose. He wants us to live the same way.

‘Training for reigning’

Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17)

It is clear from this verse that we will reign. Reigning is what is done by a king, on a throne, over a territory or an area they govern (their kingdom). Notice that those who are to reign need to receive it as a gift. It is not achieved through our own strength, self-effort or self-worth. It is through receiving the gift of righteousness.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth (Rev 5:10).

There is a period of training we have to go through for this. Many of us find ourselves in that place of training right now. If we try to remain in control, seated on the throne of our life (which contains the scroll of our destiny), there is no seat of rest or government for us. We have to abdicate the throne of our lives in favour of Jesus. We have to give up the throne, give up control of our lives.

When we make Jesus Lord, He can then train us to be lords. That training involves trials, troubles and tribulation, circumstances which teach us to overcome and to grow, situations in which we manifest His kingdom.

Servant

But the first thing He wants us to do is to learn to be servants.

We sing about ‘lifting Jesus higher’. The first way of lifting Him higher is for us to go lower. When we have abdicated the throne of our lives, when we are on our faces in obedience, He is higher. The servant does the works of God. This is part of our training to occupy the throne and the seat of government.

Jesus is our example of what it means to be a servant. Even though He was a king, he came to serve. Everything in the kingdom of God starts with having a servant heart:

“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt 20:26).

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him” (John 12:26).

When Jesus talks about ‘where I am’ in this verse, He is referring to the relationship He has with the Father: He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. He says that we can be part of that relationship too.

Humility and obedience

When we humble ourselves, when we bow down in obedience to serve Him, the Father will raise us up. It is not for us to raise ourselves up, and try to get on a throne. We certainly do not try to lord it over other people, or seek to control or manipulate situations. We bow down in humility, and we surrender our lives to Him who will equip us to be on a throne. If we sit on a throne, and do not know how to use authority correctly, we will abuse that authority. The correct use of authority will bring blessing to ourselves and to others. And God will honour us.

Jesus was obedient to do the works that the Father directed Him to do. In absolute strength, He surrendered that strength to His Father. He learned to allow God to work through Him.

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).

Obedience is the training to know that we are a habitation of God’s presence; to know that God will work through us as a channel of His glory and power – if we surrender.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).

Doing greater works than Jesus may sound pretty impressive, but it is actually just being a servant.

Bond-servant

“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5).

In the Old Testament, when someone was sold into slavery, they could go free after seven years. Many chose not to go free, and became bond-servants. So a bond-servant is someone who could have gone free, but chose not to; someone who chose to surrender their freedom in order to serve their master. They wore a ring in their ear to show that was their status. This is how Paul describes both himself and Jesus:

…although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8).

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (Heb 5:8).

Through the things that Jesus went through in His life (and death), He learned obedience.
We learn to obey through exactly the same process, even through the difficult things that sometimes happen to us. Jesus totally humbled Himself and surrendered His authority and power so that the Father could use Him for His kingdom purposes.

Jesus was a bond-servant, and God is looking for those who are willing to become bond-servants, just like Him. Because they can be trained to be kings, and ultimately revealed as sons.

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150. Eye Of The Storm

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Be still

It is really good to simply sit in the presence of God, and do nothing. That may sound like it should be really easy, but actually it is not. I remember going through a period of two to three months in which God taught me simply to rest in His presence and do nothing. I could hear His voice, but He kept me in a dark place under that shadow of His wing so that I could not see anything. I am not used to that at all.

If we want to build our spirit, we have to quieten our mind. Then we are not going into His presence already thinking about all kinds of other things, and we can really focus our attention on Jesus. It is our spirit that we want to engage, not our mind. When our spirit begins to engage with God, we will find that it starts to develop and grow, and to discern the presence of God so that we can engage with Him more readily.

In that place, we can worship and adore Him. Worship is not really about singing. It is an attitude of surrender and obedience to God. From there we can go on to listen and receive revelation from Him.

If we practice these things, our spirit will continue to grow stronger. We will find ourselves able to engage more clearly with the spiritual realm around us, engage with the realms of heaven, and see God face to face as we meet with Him.

We looked last time at the seat of rest, one of the most important things we can understand if we are to engage with God’s kingdom in the heavenly realms and then to outwork things here.

Weary and heavy-laden

Come to Me, all you who are weary and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. (Matt 11:28-29 AMP)

This is the time to take Jesus’ yoke and be joined to Him. When He sets the field, the path and the direction, then He will carry the weight. We are all called to live in a state of rest regardless of what is going on around us in our lives. What wears us out is trying to do things in our own strength. The storms of life come to everybody: it is how we respond to them that will demonstrate to what extent God’s kingdom is manifested through us.

We are called to live in the eye of the storm. There may be violent winds blowing all around us, but in the eye, everything is completely peaceful. Jesus never promised we would have no troubles – the very opposite, in fact. But He gives us His love, joy and peace, so we can live at rest all the time.

This is not automatic: we have to learn how to do it.

Peace, be still

Jesus is our example. He was asleep in the boat, crossing the lake, when a great storm rose up. His disciples were in a panic, even though He had already told them they were going to the other side. They woke Him up, and He brought peace. He rebuked the storm and everything became calm (that particular storm was demonic, designed by the enemy to stop Jesus getting to the other side of the lake where He would set a man free from a legion of demons).

I know we can sometimes feel up or feel down according to our circumstances, but true joy and peace comes out of our relationship with God. We need to be able to live in the peace and joy which comes from that relationship and does not depend upon our circumstances. We need to live with an attitude of thanksgiving and praise, rejoicing always. That will keep us in the eye of the storm.

Choices

Bringing a sacrifice of praise is a choice. Sacrifice means it costs us something. We may not feel so good because of what is going on in our lives, but still we choose to praise Him. We choose to acknowledge Him, His mercy, His goodness, His love.

Treating trials and tribulations as joy and an opportunity for growth and transformation: that too is a choice. When something happens, we can choose not to react; we can choose how we respond to it. We can choose to sit in that seat of rest and live in the eye of the storm.

What Jesus did, He has called us to do. So just as Jesus said ‘Peace’, we can say ‘Peace’. When He said ‘Peace’, the storm was stilled. We need to take authority and live from the place where we can change situations around us. We cannot change the situation around us while we are ourselves being swept around at 200mph, caught up in the hurricane. But from the seat of rest we can.

The seat of rest is the Kingdom of God within. It is the manifestation of the fullness of the government of God in us to bring revelation of the kingdom to the world around us. When we live from the seat of rest, the world sees a manifestation of God’s kingdom.

From the place of rest, Jesus wielded the power of the kingdom in order to bring everything into subjection to God’s will and purpose. He wants to train us to live the same way.

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Image: Typhoon Haitang 7-15-2005 1402 UTC.jpg via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

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