Using our Talents…

12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman [Jesus?] went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.

13 “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’

15 “And so it was that when he returned, … he then commanded these servants, … to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

16 “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’

17 “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’

20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.

21 ‘For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’

22 “And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.

23 ‘Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’

Our Heavenly Father has given each of us gifting’s and abilities. Actually, according to this story those gifts are all about the same in quantity though they me be different in substance. We have them and we live the life that we live using them as we will. Are we excited about things of God and His Kingdom, and use our talents and gifts to build it? Then maybe we are like the first servant who turned one portion into ten times as much. In the story there was another that returned 5 times as much in verse 18 and 19, which I skipped to save time and space.

Then comes the last dude. His concept of “fearing God” is based on actual fear of what God will do if he fails! So rather than try and perhaps fail, he just hides what he has been given so that he can give it back for no return. I am pretty sure that the “Master” would have been happy to have received only ½ a Mina back if the servant had at least tried to put it to use.

How does this story fit you and me today?

Seems somewhat obvious to me, for my own life. God gave me talents and abilities for this life (my Mina). I used those talents and abilities to build a life, raise a family and whatever else I chose to do with them. If that’s all that I did – then perhaps I did hide my Mina in the dirt and will have only the Mina given to return to my Master. But if I Accepted Jesus as My Lord, If I supported my church and did the minimum – then I at least can return the Mina wit interest. But if I chose to work at my Christian calling and did those things “that I could do” within the church setting, then I begin to have multiple Mina’s to return, don’t I? If I introduce someone to the Lord, or if I pray with people, or if I use teaching abilities to help others to understand the Gospel. I may even be so blessed as to use singing talents to lead worship, or to use speaking talents to teach and preach.

No matter what the gifting, we can use it for Kingdom or for self. We’ll receive reward for Kingdom work with (whatever the “Cities” symbolize). There’s no eternal reward for using the talents (Mina) for buying Mansions and Mercedes! Nothing wrong with those except if that’s all we use our talents for.

What can you do, how can you use the talents and abilities that He gave – to build the kingdom today?

Ron

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Give what you have…

Matthew 14 – (NKJV)

16) But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17) And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

18) He said, “Bring them here to Me.”

19) Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

20) So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.

21) Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

“Bring them here to Me.” Do you have that level of faith to bring your lack and your short supply to Him? Have you even thought of it that way? When I am lacking something I usually whine and ask for what I need. Am I supposed to bring what I have to Him first and then let Him multiply it and make it enough? That’s what I’m hearing today in this scripture.

It’s OK if you really don’t see how this is going to work. The disciple didn’t either! But in their doubt they still did what he said and brought what they had to Him. It’s interesting – He used “the five loaves and two fishes” which they had mentioned as an excuse, perhaps, for not doing anything.

“Bring them here to Me.” I’m seeing that we need to give Him what we have. I can’t hold back anything because I lack faith or understanding for a given situation. I just hand everything over to Jesus and let Him bring Glory to the situation and to Himself.

He will accept whatever I bring: this is implied in the command to bring it.

He can make a little go a long way.

Is that a challenge to you today? It certainly is to me. But I think that if we do this – we will see great miracles.

That’s what Jesus does. He’s in the miracle business!

 

“… those who had eaten were about five thousand… “

I’m working hard to trust Him and to follow His lead…

Ron

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Is He speaking of you and I?

Luke 13 (NKJV)

6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
7 “Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’
8 “But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.
9 ‘And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'”

Some thoughts that I gleaned from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on these verses:

This parable is about the Nation of Israel, but I’m thinking that it’s also about us.Follow my thinking and see if you don’t agree:

The first thing I had never thought of before – This tree had great advantages.

  • It was planted in a vineyard, in better soil,
  • Fig trees did not usually grow in vineyards, but by the way-side, Mt 21:19.
  • This fig tree belonged to a certain man. It’s not a wild tree.

2. The owner had expectation from it:

  • He came, and sought fruit from it.
  • He did not send someone else, but came himself “seeking fruit.”
  • Our Heavenly Father requires and expects fruit from those that have a place in his vineyard.
    • He has his eye upon us who hear the gospel, to see whether we live up to it;
    • Leaves will not serve, crying, Lord, Lord;
    • Blossoms will not serve, beginning well and promising fair;
    • There must be fruit.

What the owner found:

  • He found none, none at all, not one fig.
    • How many of us enjoy the privileges of salvation, and yet do nothing at all pass it on.
  • He had waited long,
  • He was disappointed.
  • He was not high in his expectations, he only expected fruit, not much fruit,
  • He was not hasty, he came three years, year after year:

The Father says “Cut it down.”

5. The dresser’s intercession for it.

  • What it is he prays for – Lord, let it alone this year also.”
    • He does not pray, “Lord, let it never be cut down,”
    • Instead he says, “not now. Lord”
  • Sometimes it might be desirable to reprieve a barren tree.
  • We need the mercy to give them space to repent.
  • Maybe we also ought to do our duty to help them.

The final warning is that God will not bear with us forever. His patience will have an end.

Barren trees will be cut down at last, and cast into the fire.

However – we gotta let Him do the cutting. Our hands have no business in the process.

Praying for fruitfulness:

Ron

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What’s your cross today?

Luke 9 (NKJV)

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Some unknown past author wrote this: “A man might heroically do it (“deny himself, and take up his cross”) as a one-time event, and he would have plenty of people to honor him, and probably have books written about him;
But it is terribly difficult to go on every day denying oneself, and no one knowing anything about it.

Those who are reading this are likely to be those who “desire to follow Him” so that part is not too difficult…

Those who follow Him should also know that our life in Christ is a daily affair making that part of this scripture is easy also…

But what is this “…deny himself and take up his cross …” part of the scripture?

I like what Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying – “There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.” But the new church teaching seem to water down this taking up our cross concept. It must not be watered down!

I will leave you with this for “Food for thought”:

The New Cross

Study By: admin

“From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life; and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique—a new type of meeting and new type of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as of the old, but its content is not the same, and the emphasis not as before.

“The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into the public view the same thing the world does, only a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

“The new cross does not slay the sinner; it re-directs him. It gears him to a cleaner and jollier way of living, and saves his self-respect…The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

“The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of DEATH. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took the cross and started down the road has already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise; modified nothing; spared nothing. It slew all of the man completely, and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with the victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

“The race of Adam is under the death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear, or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him, and then raising him again to newness of life.

“That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world; it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life to a higher plane; we leave it at the cross….

“We, who preach the gospel, must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, or the world of sports, or modern entertainment. We are not diplomats, but prophets; and our message is not a compromise, but an ultimatum.”

The Biblical Evangelist, November 1, 1991, p. 11

http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rmbrndt_etchings/etchings_h/iv.htm

Identifying my crosses…

Ron

 

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Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears

1 Samuel (NKJV)

9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

11 Then the LORD said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

A cute story that we have probably all heard. Samuel does not recognize the voice of God speaking to him, and Eli at first does not understand what is going on either. When Eli does finally figure what’s going on he tells Samuel what to do as in Verse 9 above – “you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.'”

Can we take this story to heart, for ourselves?

First of all, Gods individual word to me will not come through the Boom-Box or the Idiot box against the wall in the living room! There is some good teaching about Scripture out there, but it is “teaching” about God – not His Voice. Is that to strong? I really don’t think so, if you think about it. There might be a rare exception where a word heard over the media speaks strongly to a situation in our lives. For the most part though, He speaks to us in the quiet times, one-on-one, as we take the time to spend reading His Word, praying and just “desiring” to hear from Him.

When we hear that voice / that word, we than acknowledge it and most importantly – we do what it says.

Remember, Jesus said in Luke 6:46 “… why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” His words are meant to be acted upon and to bring life.

Consider this — The Word Amuse looking back to Old French = amuser to cause to be idle… Turn off the Amusement boxes and seek His voice.

Spend some time with Him today. Tell Him that your there to listen. Then get busy doing what you hear Him telling you…

Listening Hard for His Voice

Ron

 

 

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Snares & Traps

Judges 2 (NKJV)

2 ‘And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?

3 “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'”

11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals;

12 and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger.

I am doing an on-line reading program, with Shirley Carpenter, reading through the Bible in two years. We are in the Old Testament right now and I am surprised day after day, at how often the theme shown above is repeated. I believe that it is a warning for us today. We can make no covenants with the world around us that God does not tell us to make. Now it’s not exactly “covenant making” in the sense that we see it in the OT, but it is the “winking at sin” that we see everywhere. Not talking about at the corner bar – I’m talking at home and even in church! The church issue may be subtle, but it’s there. Have you heard the humor that can go just a little too far? I’m not against humor – but we can get to a point where we will stretch it a little too far just to get the “good” laugh.

In the home it’s an everyday battle. It’s like having a constant stream of door-to-door salesman coming to the door and trying to sell you stuff. All that junk that they want you to think you can’t live without. Stuff your neighbor has that you must also have. And as we accrue it all – we find that it owns us! Sports for the kids is great, until the Sunday morning games takes us out of church. TV programs we “have to” watch because everyone we know is talking about last night’s episode.

As we fail to “drive them out” or refuse them entrance into our lives, they then become thorns in our side and snares in our lives.

Is there a simple answer to this all? There is an answer but it isn’t simple.

How do we know what things are dangerous idols and snares? The Word of God tells us. So the obvious answer is to be studying the Word regularly. Not just reading it to check the box in a reading program. We must be reading with comprehension and understanding given by the Holy Spirit who was given to “… teach us all things, and bring to us remembrance all things…” (John 14:26). It’s the job of the Holy Spirit and as Graham Cooke likes to say in his teaching – “He’s really good at it!”

Get out the Bible today – make a covenant with the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit – to study it. Then follow the direction you get from it…

Ron

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Beware the dangers

Joshua 10

40) So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded.

The book of Joshua is full of statements like the one above. “They killed every one in the city” or they “utterly destroyed all the people who were in the country”. We hear so many times from believer and un-believer alike – that “it seems so cruel of God to do that…”

My first thought when I hear that, today, is I am amazed how flippantly we judge the actions of God. Note that I emphasized the word today in that last sentence. I suspect that I have been guilty of thinking and saying the same kinds of things in years past. However, as I grow and as I study the Scriptures, I find my thoughts are changing. I may not understand, but He knows far better than I what is the right and righteous thing to do.

To look at the action itself and try to discern the reasoning — God was raising up a nation to call His own. To build a nation that is different. They were the first people meant to model Gods way to live. He had given them the Law to show them the best way to live life. It was not to take away all the fun in life, but to allow His people to live life to the fullest.

However, this Law was a threat to the rest of the then known world. God knew the terrible influence that the nations that occupied this place called the Promised Land would have on them. The religions of the world at that time in history were full of idols, fertility rights, human sacrifices, and such. He knew that this small group of “different” people would be sucked in really fast. Annual Fertility rights were going to be much more enticing than to live with one wife for the rest of your life. Continue reading in the Old Testament and you see how quickly and often they did fall.

I think that there is a lesson here for us. We live in a world dominated by the current day “People of the Land.”

The false teachings and leadings of the world overwhelm our senses day after day. Scripture shows us many things that are not right and that we are not to do. And, day after day, the world around us entices us to do them. Lust is rampant via almost every media we can look at. The media constantly tells us that things are right, that the Bible says are not. Homosexuality and abortion being the top couple that come to my mind. Over half of the male, female couples in the country today live together outside of marriage. That statistic supposedly just went to over half in the past year or two. Divorce is more prevalent in the church than outside of it.

And we are constantly being told that we must be tolerant. But the meaning behind their word “Tolerant” is to “accept” these actions and to follow their lead. Don’t be tricked by the word Tolerant – there is far greater meaning behind it.

We can’t and are not called today to eliminate these people as they were in the Book of Joshua. But I believe we are wise to eliminate things to the best of our ability. If Television tempts us – perhaps we need to get rid of it. Or perhaps the 300 cable channels at least. We need to be in the Word of God regularly and expect the Holy Spirit to point out dangers that we need to get out of our lives. Spend time with the God of the Universe with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and expect to hear things that will keep you from dangers in your life. Not eternal Salvation issues, but dangers to your life right here and now.

There is much to be learned:

Ron

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