Girl draws a heart with a light“God fashions the hearts of them all”         Psalm 33:15

God has made every one of us to live as a part of God’s entire creation. Life itself is a wondrous gift given to us moment by moment, to shape and to use as we see fit.

This is stewardship: whatever we do on God’s behalf with all of God’s gifts. And we can begin with the gift of life itself.

When we are good stewards, we live our lives not as possessions to be owned or as burdens to be carried, but as gifts to be celebrated and shared with the people and creatures around us on this earth.

Give a few minutes this week to ask yourself: How has my life been a gift to me? To others? How can the way I live more fully show the One who gives me life?

God’s heart is forgiving and teaches our hearts to give.

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“I will give them a heart to know”              Jeremiah 24:7

God offers to forgive us so we can begin anew, even when we’re not sure we can trust God. We only need to accept this forgiveness and start over right where we are.

When the people Israel were in exile far away from their homeland, God promised, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God – for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”

Returning to God is not a matter of ritual, formulas or mind games. It is simply turning our hearts back to God, trusting God to guide our lives from this point on. During this week ahead, ask yourself: Where has my heart been – with God, or somewhere else? Then put your life one more time into God’s hands.

God’s heart is forgiving and teaches our hearts to give.

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“An undivided heart”           Psalm 86:11

We are barraged by choices these days, from strategic, life-changing decisions to everyday choices that can consume us. A clear focus on God can simplify the maze of options before us.

Our dilemmas aren’t new; others have struggled with choices, too. “Teach me Your way, O LORD,” the person praying asks, “that I may walk in Your truth. Give me an undivided heart to revere Your name.”

It’s hard to keep our hearts undivided. Jesus said we cannot serve two masters at the same time. If we put God first in our lives, then all the choices we make about what we do and how to use our resources can be made in the light of our relationship with God.

This week, ask God to help you have an undivided heart.

God’s heart is forgiving and teaches our hearts to give.

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“The delight of my heart”                Jeremiah 15:16

In one of the prophet Jeremiah’s complaints to God, he confesses, “Your words were found, and I swallowed them whole! Your Word became to me a joy, and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name.”

What a great glimpse into Jeremiah’s personal relationship with God. When we choose to belong to this holy God Who loves us, we begin to delight in God’s Word –in personal encounters, through the Bible, in and out of church in countless ways. We can feel God’s presence through all of creation and listen for God’s teachings every day.

This does not mean we always get the message clearly, or that we never complain. It just means we are in a real relationship with the Living God.

Which isn’t a bad start.

God’s heart is forgiving and teaches our hearts to give.

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“Our heart is glad in God”              Psalm 33:21

“Our heart is glad in God because we trust in God’s holy name,” says the psalm. Yes, there is suffering, but it isn’t the last word. The final word is trust.

When we trust someone, we are willing to both receive and give. Trusting God urges us to risk giving of ourselves in more significant ways.

Yet the only way to give to God is to give to people: our time, concern, prayers, and resources. We don’t give just because they need to receive, or because we need to give. We give because in them we see the face of Christ himself and our deepest nature is to respond.

A main issue is not how much we have to give. It’s what givers can become when we share with others from whatever we have: energy, compassion, resources, or personal involvement. As we trust God more deeply in our hearts and see Christ at work around us, we learn to risk giving more of who we are to those around us, whom God loves.

God’s heart is forgiving and teaches our hearts to give.

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Note: I wrote these reflections (here tweaked just a bit) for weekly worship bulletins during a local-church stewardship program. You can use these prompts in a worship setting, or write your own reflections on different Bible passages for a retreat, personal study, or meditation.