Psalm 119:105-112 Bible Life

English: The Bible

Psalm 119:105-112 Bible Life

Psalm 119:105-112 Bible Life

Either you believe the Bible is God’s Word or you don’t. If you believe that the Bible is God’s Word, then you should obey it. If you don’t obey it, then you don’t believe God’s Word. If you believe God’s Word, then you really don’t believe God.

The number eight is stamped all over this psalm. Each section has eight verses; there are eight special names for God’s Word listed; there are eight symbols of the Word given; the believer has eight responsibilities to the Word. The word “eight” in Hebrew literally means “abundance, more than enough”; it is the number of new beginnings. It is as though the writer is saying, “God’s Word is enough. If you have the Scriptures, that is all you need for life and godliness.” Indeed the Bible points us to Christ: He is the Living Word about whom the written Word speaks.1

“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22, HCSB)

In keeping with the number eight theme, let’s look at eight ways the Bible helps me to keep a God-focused life.

EIGHT WAYS THE BIBLE HELPS ME TO KEEP A GOD-FOCUSED LIFE

1. The Bible LEADS me.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105, HCSB)

The light illuminates the darkness. It reveals what is in the the dark. It can reveal a positive path. The light can reveal a negative path. When I following God, the Bible helps see which way to go. When I am not following God, the Bible will bring out to light what is wrong with me. It is not my words that tell someone they have done wrong. I point to what the Bible says is wrong and God uses His Holy Spirit to convict of sin.

For a disobedient Christian who still wants to be led by God’s Word, the Word of God will truly reveal what is wrong to that the Christian.

““This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.” (John 3:19–20, HCSB)

The Bible teaches me integrity, it teaches ethics, it teaches me right belief, but also right behavior.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, HCSB)

“For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,” (Titus 2:11–12, HCSB)

Grace and truth teach me. They go hand-in-hand. If I lean too much on the truth, I become a lover of the law (a legalist). If I lean too much on grace, I become a lover of the world (a liberal) and open the door for sin to deceive me.

The Bible helps guide me in the right direction. The right direction is show Jesus by my good works.

2. The Bible DIRECTS me.

“I have solemnly sworn to keep Your righteous judgments.” (Psalm 119:106, HCSB)

The law of God is like an X-ray. It will reveal a problem but it can’t fix it.2

Laws are made for direction. If I obey laws, they send me in a positive direction. If I disobey laws, it sends me in a negative direction. The psalmist here is teaching that people who follow God follow His laws.

When I made a decision to become a Christian, I made a commitment to Jesus Christ and His church. The basis of living in that spiritual society is the Bible.

A citizen of the United States makes a commitment to be an American (whether by birth or immigration). In making that commitment, they choose to live by American laws, and specifically according to the Constitution. We are a society that abides by the “rule of law.” We have freedoms, but they don’t violate the law we set down for each of us.

In the same way, a Christian has “sworn” to follow the Bible. God’s righteous judgments, His “rule of law” is something we decide to follow. It includes a moral code, but it also includes a Commission.

Sometimes the Christian order is in conflict with the world order. Jesus said:

“Then Jesus told them, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.” (Mark 12:17, HCSB)

His language is legal and emphatic. He will uphold the law of God as it applies to the situations of this life. His ethics are absolute rather than relative. They are not determined by the particular context within which he finds himself. At the same time, such a stance provokes persecution.3

3. The Bible REVIVES me.

“I am severely afflicted; Lord, give me life through Your word.” (Psalm 119:107, HCSB)

The Bible is there to give me life (or revive me) when I am hurt. I don’t know about you, but there have been many times when I been hurt, or I am feeling down. During this times, I go to God’s Word and it refreshes my soul. The words have healing power. Not because the book itself is magical, but because these words come from a God who is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful. He knows what I am going through. He is there beside me. He has the power to help me.

In the movie Batman Begins, This scene is repeated in the final movie of that trilogy The Dark Knight Rises. Bruce Wayne is riddled by guilt because someone killed his parents. He feels the need to avenge their deaths by becoming a masked crime-fighter. So he goes around as Batman and fights with all these gadgets. At one point in the first movie, Batman gets attacked he his cape gets on fire. He is really scared and he asks for help from Alfred, his butler – who is a father figure. As he asks, the film reflects back to a scene in his childhood. As a child, Bruce Wayne fell into a well. He is completely scared and cries out for his father to help. His father comes down on a rope and tells him: “Why do we fall, Bruce? We learn to pick ourselves back up.” This scene is repeated in the final movie of that trilogy The Dark Knight Rises as Bruce Wayne (whose back is broken and has been placed in a prison) gets ready to climb out of the prison. In the same way, when we fall, we may hurt ourselves. When we read God’s Word the Bible, God is there to pick us back up.

4. The Bible INSTRUCTS me.

“Lord, please accept my willing offerings of praise, and teach me Your judgments.” (Psalm 119:108, HCSB)

When God’s Word helps through a difficult, painful time, I am more inclined to worship. As I worship, because I am more in-tune with God, I am more willing to listen to what He wants to teach me.

What does the Bible teach me? Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his catechism of the Holy Scripture taught that the Bible teaches three things:

  1. Christ—only one thing is preached throughout the entire Bible, Christ the Lord, that he is our Lord and is the Son of God.4In both the Old and the New Testament. “… seek in Scripture!” John 5:39; Rev. 10; Acts 17:11.

  1. The commandment and the good news.

The commandment is to love God and love one another. The good news is that Jesus Christ came to save us and lead us to eternal life – this is something precious we should share. Finally, the Bible:

       3. It is the word for us: teaching and doctrine, chastisement, improvement, discipline in righteousness so that we ourselves may be perfect. 4

5. The Bible PREPARES me.

“My life is constantly in danger, yet I do not forget Your instruction.” (Psalm 119:109, HCSB)

There are so many difficult situations in my life. My life is continually at risk. So I need to get prepared each day for whatever life throws at me.

In her book, Set Free to Live Free: Braking Through the Seven Lies Women Tell Themselves, Saundra Dalton-Smith says:

The Word of God is like seeds that can be sown into your life. These seeds contain the potential to blossom into new hope, renewed joy, and a peace that passes all understanding. However, these seeds can easily be consumed before they have time to take root. Those things that bog down your life, leaving you mentally fatigued and unsatisfied, are like weeds taking over the fertile ground of your mind. Before reading God’s Word, spend a few moments cultivating the land. Remove rocks of unforgiveness, pull up weeds of anxiety, and plow through the hard soil of anger. Prepare your heart and mind to receive the seeds of promise in his Word. Allow his love to shine upon you. Allow his peace to flood you wherever you are each day.5

6. The Bible PROTECTS me.

“The wicked have set a trap for me, but I have not wandered from Your precepts.” (Psalm 119:110, HCSB)

I can choose to follow God’s Word, or not. The “wicked” are people who refuse to follow God’s Word. They don’t DOUBT the Bible’s authenticity. They DEFY the Bible’s instruction.

Because of this, I need Someone more powerful to help me. God, through His Word helps me. So I learn it and memorize it so that I would not forget it. God’s Word doesn’t just PREPARE me when I memorize it, God’s Word also PROTECTS me.

When I was in Boy Scouts, they taught us to never wander alone away from the group. If you did, you could get lost, or you could end up getting hurt. Of course, they taught us what to do when we got hurt and how to get help. But that didn’t mean we should go out and get lost.

Lost people are not protected. The Evil One in this world is out to set a trap for them. That is why the Bible teaches here that we have to keep God close to our lives. We need to get into His Word. The tendency is to say that even though I am a Christian, I don’t need God. I can get along without Him. The problem is that Satan wants you to use that lie to get you into a trap. So God teaches here that we should not wander off from His Word, from what He teaches us. Stay close to God’s Word and when you encounter difficult times, His Word will be there to protect you.

Looking back on this Psalm, we realize that God’s words are the means by which He imparts Himself to us. This is profound. Do you wish to be close to God? Draw close to His Word. 6

7. The Bible ENCOURAGES me.

“I have Your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart.” (Psalm 119:111, HCSB)

Psalm 119, sometimes referred to as the “psalm of the whole heart,” mentions putting the whole heart into one’s relationship with God. Whether in seeking God, keeping God’s law, praying for His favor, walking in His precepts, or crying out for help, the psalmist is committed to doing everything with his whole heart (verses 10, 34, 58, 69, 145). God wants whole-hearted people, not half-hearted people, to serve Him. He wants people with no backup plans whatsoever, people for whom He is the only resource.7

There are some things people can’t take away from you. That is your heritage. One of those things is your relationship with Christ. One of the reassurances of that relationship is the Word of God He shares with you. There is the written Word of God and the personal Word of God. The written Word of God is objective and it never changes. It speaks to us through all ages. The personal word of God (Rhema) is the specific way God speaks to you through your experience as that objective Word of God intersects with your life.

LOGOS

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, HCSB)

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, HCSB)

RHEMA

“Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 11:16, HCSB)

Let me give you an example:

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10, HCSB)

This is my wife’s favorite verse. Because when she was going through a very hard time, God spoke to her personally through this verse. She was weak, but God was strong for her. Now, that verse is a testimony that she can share about her personal experience. She looks back at it and encourages her. The same will be true with you. God will speak to you through His Word. You will also experience Him through His Word as well. That experience when coupled with the Word of God will encourage you in times of difficulty. God’s Word is designed to give you joy during your journey.

8. The Bible MAINTAINS me.

“I am resolved to obey Your statutes to the very end.” (Psalm 119:112, HCSB)

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, HCSB)

“For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.” (1 Peter 1:24–25, HCSB)

God’s Word is going to outlast this world. There will be an end to our lives here on Earth as we know it. God’s Word will still be there to help us to the end. The Scriptures help prepare us in this world to get ready for the next. Jesus says that His words would not pass away because He doesn’t pass away. The Bible will outlast every government, every natural disaster, every season. It is tried and true. For the Christian, the Bible is not just my guide in this life, it is my life.

When a plane takes off, it needs a control tower. The control tower can see what the pilots cannot. The pilots have a limited vantage point. They can’t see underneath or above them. The pilots, even with all of their instruments, cannot see all the weather conditions that will affect their flight plan. The folks in the control tower can provide the pilots information they wouldn’t have because of their limited vantage point,

The Word of God is the control tower for the Christian. Where we have only a limited vantage point, God’s Word can communicate to us what is going on in the spiritual realm that we can’t see.8

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993), Ps 119.

2 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 185.

3 Donald Williams and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Psalms 73–150, vol. 14, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989), 368.

4 Marginal addendum, deleted: “so that we might obey Christ and be blessed through Christ alone.” [This statement reflects Luther’s interpretation of Scripture, which he understands to be “the cradle of Christ.”—HGB]

4 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935–1937, ed. Victoria J. Barnett and Barbara Wojhoski, trans. Douglas W. Stott, vol. 14, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 654.

5 Saundra Md Dalton-Smith, Set Free to Live Free: Breaking through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011).

6 Mary Farrar, Reading Your Male: An Invitation to Understand and Influence Your Man’s Sexuality (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2012).

7 David Jeremiah, Powerful Principles from Proverbs: Study Guide (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002), 116.

8 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 344.

Bible Belt Infographic

 

 

americas-most-bible-minded-cities-infographic-2014-american-bible-society

 

 

Bible Belt Infographic

This Bible Belt Infographic comes from the American Bible Society and Barna Research. It shows a list of 100 cities. It lists from the most Bible-minded cities to the least Bible-minded cities in the United States.

 

 

1 Peter 4:12-19 Personal Persecution

1 Peter 4:12-19 Personal Persecution

“Why me?” we ask when fiery trials come upon us. The real question is, “Why not?” If suffering loosens sin’s grip on us and causes others to see us differently, if it places us in good company, keeps us focused on eternity, and frees us to participate in ministry—why wouldn’t we embrace it as a necessary part of our growth?1

FIVE REALITIES OF PERSONAL PERSECUTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN

Expect personal persecution as a Christian. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Jesus went through trials and persecutions and you will too.

“You are the ones who stood by Me in My trials.” (Luke 22:28, HCSB)

James also echoes this idea:

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,” (James 1:2, HCSB)

Paul shares this as well:

“so that no one will be shaken by these persecutions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.” (1 Thessalonians 3:3, HCSB)

It is not if you go through trials. It is when you go through trials.

Personal persecution is a blessing from God. (1 Peter 4:14)

BENEFITS FROM SUFFERING IN TRIALS2

1. It gives you fellowship with Christ (1 Peter 4:13)

You can connect with Christ. You can understand and relate to Him better

2. It means glory in the future (1 Peter 4:13)

Suffering and glory are twin truths. God will not replace suffering with glory. God will transform suffering into glory. You cannot expect just to escape suffering. You must let suffering change you. We pay a price today to get a pleasure later.

3. It brings the ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 4:14)

The presence of the Spirit will rest upon you. Just like the Shekhinah glory of God rested on the temple, the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon you when you suffer. In essence they can receive a little bit of glory now.

4. It enables us to glorify His name, the name of Christ. (1 Peter 4:14,16)

Tell people you are a Baptist, and they will have an opinion. Tell people you are a Christian, and you will get their attention. The world may speak against His name, but when we suffer because of it, the name spreads, and it brings glory.

Notice the Trinity is involved in personal persecution. If someone ridicules you because you share the name of Christ, God is blessing you. God doesn’t hate you. It is a blessing to be ridiculed by others for Christ.

“A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12, HCSB)

It is a good thing to go through trials for Christ. This leads me to my next point:

It is ok to suffer for the right reasons. (1 Peter 4:15-16)

Christians should not be suffering because of sin. Sin naturally destroys people. We are called to stay away from sin.

The word “Christian” only appears three times in the Bible: twice in the Book of Acts (11:26; 26:28) and once here. Meaning “little Christ,” it was initially a put-down. The early church, however, said, “That’s okay. We’ll wear with pride what the world intends as derision.” Believers have claimed it ever since.3

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna about the middle of the second century. He was arrested for his faith and threatened with death if he did not recant. “Eighty and six years have I served Him,” the saintly Bishop replied, “and He never did me any injury. How can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

“I have respect for your age,” said the Roman officer. “Simply say, ‘Away with the atheists!’ and be set free.” By “the atheists” he meant the Christians who would not acknowledge that Caesar was “lord.”

The old man pointed to the crowd of Roman pagans surrounding him, and cried, “Away with the atheists!” He was burned at the stake and in his martyrdom brought glory to the name of Jesus Christ.4

However, it is ok to suffer because we are called a Christian. We should wear the name “Christian” as a badge of honor. Every time we encounter people who are opposed to Christ and they talk ill of us, we should glorify God. Praise God that we are encountering persecution as a Christian.

Now notice the contrast: If you are sinning, that can destroy you and it doesn’t honor God. If someone is sinning by causing you trouble as a Christian, that glorifies God. Yes, the Bible says that God honors a nation which honors Him. However, He also honors Christians in a nation that does not honor Him. Remember what Peter called us in the first chapter:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen” (1 Peter 1:1, HCSB)

Be responsible with what God gives you. (1 Peter 4:17-18)

Because there will be a judgment, I need to continue to examine my life. There are several questions we should ask ourselves as we examine our own lives.

Why am I suffering? (1 Peter 4:15) We noted before that not all suffering is a “fiery trial” from the Lord. If a professed Christian breaks the law and gets into trouble, or becomes a meddler into other people’s lives, then he ought to suffer! When Abraham, David, Peter, and other Bible “greats” disobeyed God, they suffered for it; so, who are we that we should escape? Let’s be sure we are suffering because we are Christians and not because we are criminals.

Am I ashamed, or glorifying Christ? (1 Peter 4:16) This statement must have reminded Peter of his own denial of Christ (Luke 22:54–62). Jesus Christ is not ashamed of us (Heb. 2:11)—though many times He surely could be! The Father is not ashamed to be called our God (Heb. 11:16). On the cross Jesus Christ despised shame for us (Heb. 12:2), so surely we can bear reproach for Him and not be ashamed. The warning in Mark 8:38 is worth pondering.

“Not be ashamed” is negative; “glorify God” is positive. It takes both for a balanced witness. If we seek to glorify God, then we will not be ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ. It was this determination not to be ashamed that encouraged Paul when he went to Rome (Rom. 1:16), when he suffered in Rome (Phil. 1:20–21), and when he faced martyrdom in Rome (2 Tim. 1:12).

Am I seeking to win the lost? (1 Peter 4:17–18) Note the words that Peter used to describe the lost: “Them that obey not the Gospel … the ungodly and the sinner.” The argument of this verse is clear: If God sends a “fiery trial” to His own children, and they are saved “with difficulty,” what will happen to lost sinners when God’s fiery judgment falls?

When a believer suffers, he experiences glory and knows that there will be greater glory in the future. But a sinner who causes that suffering is only filling up the measure of God’s wrath more and more (Matt. 23:29–33). Instead of being concerned only about ourselves, we need to be concerned about the lost sinners around us. Our present “fiery trial” is nothing compared with the “flaming fire” that shall punish the lost when Jesus returns in judgment (2 Thes. 1:7–10).

“If the righteous will be repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and sinful.” (Proverbs 11:31, HCSB)

The phrase scarcely be saved means “saved with difficulty,” but it does not suggest that God is too weak to save us. The reference is probably to Genesis 19:15–26, when God sought to rescue Lot from Sodom before the city was destroyed. God was able—but Lot was unwilling! He lingered, argued with the angels, and finally had to be taken by the hand and dragged out of the city! Lot was “saved as by fire” and everything he lived for went up in smoke (see 1 Cor. 3:9–15).

Times of persecution are times of opportunity for a loving witness to those who persecute us (see Matt. 5:10–12, 43–48). It was not the earthquake that brought that Philippian jailer to Christ, because that frightened him into almost committing suicide! No, it was Paul’s loving concern for him that brought the jailer to faith in Christ. As Christians, we do not seek for vengeance on those who have hurt us. Rather, we pray for them and seek to lead them to Jesus Christ.5

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom. But with God all things are possible” (see Matthew 19:24–26). Because the rich were considered to be especially blessed, the idea is not that the rich can’t be saved. The idea is that any man getting saved is impossible. It is only with God that all things are possible. Only God can squeeze sinners like us through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24).6

If you are doing what God tells you to do, leave it in God’s hands. (1 Peter 4:19)

Some of these persecutions will come from false teachers. People who do not care about your faith. Remember though, that you are in good company. 2 Peter 2 recalls three different people who encountered personal persecution. The same result which God showed them, He will show you.

“then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” (2 Peter 2:9, HCSB)

Christians ESCAPE temptations. ( 1 Corinthians 10:13)

As Christians, we encounter temptations. Temptations lead to sin and for these temptations, God gives us a way to “escape.”

Christians ENDURE trials. (2 Thessalonians 1:4)

1 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1571.

2 Jim Erwin, “1 Peter 4:12-19 Commitment to Prayer During Trials,” Sermon, 7 September 2001. Accessed on 21 June 2014.

3Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1571.

4Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 425.

5Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 425–426.

6Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1572.

 

 

Every possible USA outcome in one Group G elimination graphic

Below is a simple graphic to explain every possible USA outcome in one Group G elimination graphic depending upon today’s game with Germany and further on. Centerline Soccer provides this graphic.

Enjoy the game!

 

 

Matthew 25:14-30 My Responsibility

Matthew 25:14-30 My Responsibility

I have entitled today’s sermon “My Responsibility” (Matthew 25:14-30). I am beginning a series today about “My Responsibility.” In this sermon series, we will look at responsibility in various areas of my Christian life. We will look at the fact that I need to be responsible and the kinds of responsibilities that God gives me. In Matthew 25, we have three parables. Each parable describes two groups of people: believers and unbelievers. The believers are the virgins with oil in their lamps, multiple talents which are invested, and the sheep. The unbelievers are the virgins without the oil, the slave with the one talent that is never invested, and the goats. The first parable is about finding the gospel, the second parable is about figuring out my abilities and using them, and the third parable is about my fostering relationships with others.

The three parables talk about receiving the gospel and how we manage it.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that the point of the parable is to re-emphasize, the necessity to keep on laboring while watching and waiting. He states that the distinction is not between different kinds of believers, but between believers and unbelievers. The believers will keep on laboring while they are watching for the Lord’s return; but the unbeliever cannot labor in the work of the Lord, and therefore will have nothing to show at the time of the Lord’s return. This servant is declared to be the wicked one. He ends up in the place of outer darkness and the place of the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, the descriptive phrases of the Lake of Fire.1

Wayne Ward states that the three parables point to the final judgment. The parable of the virgins emphasizes eternal vigilance; the parable of the talents responsible stewardship; and the Son of man on the throne emphasizes the basis of final judgment: the way men have treated his “brethren” and, therefore, the king himself. Those who do the will of his Father are his brethren. Jesus means that if men ignore or reject his church, his followers, they are rejecting him; and they will be cast into everlasting punishment.2

So the big question in this second parable is this: Do I use what God has given me to share the gospel before Jesus returns? Or do I hide what God has given me in fear waiting for the mean Master to return?

Notice that the parable of the ten virgins and this parable of the servants is connected by this phrase:

“Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

This parable is clearly about how we are to serve before Jesus returns. The scene for this parable would be the judgment seat, where Christians are REWARDED for their effectiveness and faithfulness in sharing the gospel.

The unprofitable servant is PUNISHED, and not REWARDED. There will be two judgments: (1) Salvation judgment – salvation for those who followed Christ and condemnation for those who did not follow Christ. (2) Works judgment – Christians will be judged by their good works that they did in the body. The third parable is an application of the first parable – the separation of the goats and the sheep, and it is specifically for the Gentile nations. The third parable uses the same language as the mission that Jesus gave in Luke 4.

So as Christians, we can’t just sit and say that everything is ok because we are saved from eternal hell. We need to be ready to do good works and use what God has given us to help other people.

Example: If I give a hairstylist a comb scissors, that person would know what to do. If I give a carpenter some wood, a hammer, and nails, he would know what to do.

The talents represent opportunities to use our abilities. If five talents were given to a person with minimal ability, he would be destroyed by the heavy responsibility. But if only one talent were given to a man of great ability, he would be disgraced and degraded.3

God has given you gifts and in this story if you don’t use them, you lose them. You lose the tools. You lose effectiveness. You lose the reward.

PROBLEM: What am I hiding from God?

AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY

Time

Talent

Testimony

Treasures

Teaching

So, too, Jesus has gone away to heaven to prepare a place for us. In the meantime, He has given us talents—money, energy, and abilities. It’s interesting to me that the fellow who didn’t show responsibility was the one with only one talent. That’s often where the danger lies with us as well. The person who realizes he has a great musical gift will more often than not develop his gift and seek to use it. But the person who says, “I can’t sing. I can’t preach. I can’t do miracles,” often buries his one talent, whatever it might be.4

MOTIVE: Why am I hiding it?

The wickedness and laziness are in the fact that I choose to hide things that God can bless when I serve Him. What excuses am I using to say? My evil and laziness is because I would rather make excuses about God.

HOW CAN A CHRISTIAN BE THIS LAZY?

A Christian gets this lazy because they start making excuses:

  1. God is a hard God. (25:24a)

  2. God wants too much from me (25:24c)

  3. God expects the impossible (25:24b)

  4. I need to be scared of God and His judgments (25:25) —> this is a lie.

God said He was coming back, but the lazy servant didn’t wait for Him. The problem with the lazy servant and me, is my desire to IGNORE God and IGNORE the consequences.

Instead, I should ask God for forgiveness for my poor judgment and ask for help in investing. Instead, I blame God, become afraid, and I hide.

Someone might say, “I don’t know what to do.” Well, what has God put in your hand? What has He given you? Whatever God has given to you as an ability, give it back to Him improved because you have managed it with all of your heart.5

RESULTS OF NOT REPENTING FROM MY EXCUSES

#1 – My blessing is taken away and given to someone else (Matthew 25:28-29).

If we don’t use our talent for God, we will lose it. It doesn’t remain dormant. It won’t remain hidden. We will end up not having the opportunity we had at the beginning. On the other hand, if we are faithful in the use of our abilities, God will multiply our opportunities for service. The way to grow in influence and service is to use what we already have—then the Lord will reward us with more opportunity.6

Notice that in the parable that the one who had one, it was taken away. Where did it go? The one talent went to the person who had ten talents. Why is that? God will lift the blessing He gave you and multiply it to someone who is more faithful and fruitful.

You wonder why you don’t have any money? You wonder why your ministry is not growing? You wonder why your family life is a mess? Maybe it is because you are a wicked and lazy servant who is hiding from God.

What does this make you when your blessing is taken away and given to someone else? It makes you miserable. This “misery” described here is not necessarily a physical description of hell. Why do I say that? Because all three of these men were God’s servants. God’s servants don’t go to hell. So this cannot be a physical description of hell. Instead, this is a description of isolation – “the outer darkness.” I take that to mean that this is a description of a “state of being” instead of a place. In this case, this is a form of isolation, or personal misery.

Let me say it this way: I will be miserable if I don’t let God bless me by helping me with what He gives me.

#2 – I get excluded from the awards party. (Matthew 25:30).

Example: The Oscars

If you work hard as an actor, you get nominated and you may receive a reward. If you don’t work hard, you are not even invited to the awards ceremony or the party.

“based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me.” (1 Timothy 1:11, HCSB)

And this is the gospel: “The gospel of the glory of the happy God.” It is good news that God is gloriously happy. No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God. If God is unhappy then the goal of the gospel is not a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all. But, in fact, Jesus invites us to spend eternity with a happy God.7

““His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’” (Matthew 25:23, HCSB)

Remember, someday we will have to give an account at the judgment seat of Christ. As Christians, we won’t be judged for our sins—they have already been forgiven. But we will be judged for the stewardship of those things God has given us. We’ll be judged on quality, not quantity. We have been given incredible potential for serving God. How are we putting ours to use?8

1 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : a Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 647.

2 Wayne E. Ward, “Matthew,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 612.

3 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 92.

4 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 188.

5 David Jeremiah, Until Christ Returns: Living Faithfully Today While We Wait for Our Glorious Tomorrow (Study Guide) (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 74.

6 David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2002), 93.

7 John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, Rev. and expanded. (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2000), 26.

8 David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2002), 93.