Thursday, December 15, 2016

“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” ― John R.W. Stott

     The majority of the words of today’s blog are not mine, but Christ’s.  These are the words that keep me awake at night as they are crystal clear in what they call for me to do.  These are the words in red letters in many Bibles (I’m a “red letter” kind of guy) that I take super seriously.  There are thousands of sermons that I can hear and feel good about the kind of life I live, but these sermons are preached by humans and not the Son of God.  The following are sermons preached by the Only Begotten Son of God the Father and therefore, in my mind at least, more important than anything I may hear designed to make me feel good about myself.  These words are my call to action and a very severe warning to me about the consequences of my disobeying.  This is really just a reminder to me, I am not writing to you or about you.  If these words have meaning for you as well, then we stand together in knowing how we are to live.  Remember, these are not my words.  These are “RED LETTER” words.

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)
     14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

     When Jesus returns, will he find us faithful over that which he has entrusted us? Not only does he want His talents back, but He wants them back with interest! Instead of doing just enough to "get by," we must be active and busy bearing fruit lest we suffer the same fate as the one-talent man. Do we feel satisfied with simply not doing the "bad things," all the while neglecting doing "good things" like spreading God's word, attending to the needs of widows and orphans, or being a friend to those who are suffering?  For those who do, Christ says “Enter into the joy of God.”  Also consider the fig tree that Jesus cursed for not producing any fruit (Mark 11). What good is a fig tree without figs? God expects us to use the abilities he has given us to further his kingdom.  I happen to believe that I was not given just the one talent, but several—thus my sleepless nights.  I suspect that most of you reading this are also blessed with multiple talents.  Please use them.

And if that wasn’t enough there are the consequences He lays out in Matthew 25.41-46.  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Christ makes it very plain: He offers eternal life and joy to those who use their gifts to help others and who care for those in need.  But there are rather severe consequences for those who only serve themselves.  As Christ himself said, “Let those with ears hear.”  Remember, this is not meant to criticize anyone but myself as I alone am responsible for what I do with my life.  These are the “red letter” words that keep me awake at night—the ones that are crystal clear.
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