DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Are We Afraid?
 

Matthew 25:24-25
24 "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'


Why was he afraid? Perhaps he thought he would be judged with the same expectations as the first two. Ever feel we have to compete with people that are way more awesome than we are? Maybe he had a bad relationship with the master. Relationship problems produce insecurity. Even when our marriages get strained, we lose confidence and stop leading our families spiritually. Maybe he even had a bad relationship with his dad. Many of us can relate to that as well.

1. Attitude

The man says the master harvests where he has not sown, and gathers where he has not scattered. That's because the first two servants brought more back than they had been given at first. This is not completely untrue, but the third servant's conclusion is inaccurate and unfair. He withdrew from the Master's expectations, became quiet and gave up. Didn't even try.

Let's look at some other passages . . .

John 6:7-9
7 Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up,
9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" You can either be a Philip or an Andrew. At least Andrew was willing to do what he could.


What about the women who gave the two small copper coins? Look at her attitude . . .

Mark 12:44
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

What about David and Saul? We have read the contrast between their responses to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:32-37.

1 Samuel 17:32-37
32 David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."
33 Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."
34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,
35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.
36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.
37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you."


Every passage in the Bible can be looked in different ways. You've heard of the cup that's half full / half empty. That doesn't change our heart, though, not unless we really want it to change. Some of us have been around a long time. What are some of our fears? The best days are behind, not ahead. Not sure who's lost and saved. How's our life when we're dwelling on these fears? We're miserable! Not happy, not victorious.

There are two viewpoints, but we have to deliberately choose between the two each time. We either have to choose (a) God is out to get me, or (b) God is out for my good

If we choose incorrectly, according to Matthew 25 we will lose our salvation. If we deliberately decide to choose the faithful attitude, though, we can be the blessed servant. This is what all of us want, but we have to face it first. If we change our attitudes, we can change our destiny and that of everybody around us.

2. Action

The wicked servant in this parable acted out of fear, and it led him to the wrong decision. The master represent's God, and his comments show his perspective on the servant's heart. He didn't call him "misguided, confused or overwhelmed." This is a moral issue. What happened to this servant was the product of a choice he made. That's important. The other guys may have been afraid, but their fear motivated them to work hard.

The first servant went at once and put his money to work. In the English language it's rendered "talent" In the original language, it's really talking about money. It's our field of expertise We know what it takes to put money to work. It takes effort, education and risks. This servant realized it was going to take a lot of work, and he just didn't want to do it

Why was he called "wicked?" What was so wicked about what he did? He failed to fulfill the righteous requirements of his relationship with the Master. How about thinking that he hid the money hoping the other two guys would fail. When the master came back, he would be the one that looked good in the end. He thought he was being smart by putting the money away while the others failed

Faith is like that one talent this man had. To put our faith to work, we have to take risks. We're going to risk our reputation when we take a stand for the Christian faith. We'll risk the trust of our family, people's friendship toward us, even our job. We might face physical risks, and like this man we hide that one talent in the ground. Our fear causes us to hide because we don't want the risk, we don't want to get hurt.

The church is described as a family. That teaches us about relationships. It's the body. That teaches us about the unity we need to forge, even though we're different. The church is the kingdom of God. This highlights our destiny and purpose.

a. Romans 7:22-23
22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law;
23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.


b. 1 Timothy 1:18
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight,

c. Philip 2:25
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.

d. 2 Timothy 2:3-4
3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer.


e. Revelation 12:7
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

f. Revelation 12:17
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

g. Revelation 19:11
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.

The church is a nation at war. Perhaps the activity that best describes us is war. War reshapes the character of nations. War changes societies and cultures. War has casualties. War involves casualties, though.

What do we do with the wounded in war? Criticize them for getting shot or maimed? We take them home, we bind them up and we hope they can go back to their lives. When we're out there with fellow soldiers, we don't worry about our rapport and bonding times. When we're out there with a fellow soldier, we hope that soldier is alert and guarding our back. The battlefield shapes those relationships. Maybe we didn't know each other before the war. War makes the soldiers buddies, it makes them depend on each other, calls them higher.

When we look at our problems that way, it gives us a different perspective. We'd all be afraid in war, but it moves us to follow our training, to execute, to overcome. War can redefine the nature of our relationships. It's not just about getting along We need to be able to count on one another, or we may get shot down. The enemy is cruel. He won't hold back. He's powerful and vicious.

When we see the situations around us, they're casualties of war. People have been shot down We can't let that crush our ideals. We're at war. It needs to motivate us to move forward, to act and not to hold back

We have a choice. Let us look in our heart and see what we fear. Then let us ask ourself whether we're going to hide the talent of faith, or watch it multiply.

The best formula to be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 1:6-9
6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.
7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."