Monday, February 24, 2014

The Parable of the Talents

Longest parable in Matthew.  Matt. 25:14-30
(talent = largest piece of currency in the Jewish culture at that time)

The setting?  the context?  - Matt. 24:1-3    Two chapters dealing with end of the age, return  of Christ (can mean literal return, or return upon our death where we will meet Him), judgment he brings with Him. 

Here particularly the judgment is on how we handle (manage) the wealth He's given us.  He will call us to account for what we did with what we were blessed with.
Greek word in English = economy/economist ==> "steward/ship"
In the NIV = entrusted (committed with)   NAS = steward/ship - manager of estate

Examples:  1 Cor. 4:1
Note 1) the use of the word
         2) the application of the word.... ie:  more than monetary/material things.
Titus 7:7   1 Pet. 4:10 - Stewardship goes far beyond money, property, etc.  We are stewards of the mysteries of God.
The Clear Picture:
1)  We are appointed managers of the wealth He's given us.  (trustee, overseer, administrator, steward!!)  He expects us to use it.  Really not ours anyway.

2)  Wealth is far more than monetary/material. = $$, stuff, but also = abilities, talents, giftedness, influence, opportunity, time

3)  We are to use this wealth to further His Kingdom.
WHY??  Because His Kingdom is  A)  beneficial to everyone  B)  Good  C)  eternal - and yours is not!

How???   1)  Surrender it
                2)  Ask Him  - "seek and you will find"
Meanwhile - is yours to enjoy!!

4)  There will be an accounting (reckoning) of wealth have received and what did with it.
BUT judgment doesn't have to be BAD!! - Matt. 25:23 - we determine what kind will be.

As His Steward - you are called to be:
#1.  Faithful = word most often associated with stewardship
Matt: 24:45  Matt. 25:21  1 Cor. 4:1-2
ie:  loyal, allegiant, dedicated, reliable, dependable, trustworthy
1 Pet. 4:10

#2.  Prudent  (old word) = wise, discerning
from Webster = sagacity or shrewdness in managing affairs.  Skill and good judgment in the use of resources.
Matt.  24:45  Eph. 5:15-17
Ex.  It may be legal to put last $5.00 in slot machine instead of buying groceries, but not prudent!!

#3.  Productive - we've lost the concept of this in evangelical circles
Eph. 2:8-10  2 Tim. 3:16-17  2 Pet. 1:5-8
We're created to do good works and BE productive.

"This is so condemning!!"
Yes, it is!!!  Because we all fall short!!!
BUT, purpose of parable is NOT condemnation, but correction and salvation!!

God's Son/God's Word - not to condemn but to Redeem - John 3:16-17.  Parables designed to give same correction, instruction as this.

Important to ask:  1)  How have I failed?
                            2)  Where do I stand?
More important to ask:  3)  where am I going?  from here??  The past is past!

The Beginning  of Good Stewardship is surrender to the Master.   No one can escape one of two scenarios:
A) - never surrendered
B) - have surrendered but took back control

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Rich Fool

Luke 12:13-21 - Jesus could have made a judgment call, but chose not to!

I.  the incident that prompted the Parable - Luke 12:13-14

II.  the setting in which the incident occurred - Luke 12:1-5, 8-11, 13 - enormous crowds

And so,
III.  The Parable / the Story (fictitious but lifelike)

Question:  What do we Know about this man  (in the parable)

#1.  He was rich - (vs. 16) - even before the bumper crop he was wealthy!!

#2.  He was a fool - (vs. 20) - by God's declaration.

Question:  Was he .... wicked?  mean?  a bad neighbor?  and oppressive master?  did he cheat workmen?  exploit the poor?  gain wealth by dishonest means?
These questions are not addressed, although some people make assumptions as to these.

Answer:  don't know - but called a "Fool" because he was "not rich toward God"

Question:  was he wrong to gain?  manage?  plan?  save?

Answer:  No - was wrong to allow gaining of wealth, managing his wealth, planning, saving, etc. to distract him from MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES!!

So there are 3 simple lessons/applications that are
A)  clear in this text
B)  FOR US!!

#1.  Watch out:  Be on Guard:.  - Cry out - grave danger here.  (Vs. 15)  KJV - 'covetousness'
Against  A)  Greed - (Literally - "a thirst for having more") - akin to drinking salt water to satisfy thirst.  Only leaves you thirsty for more.
             B)  All kinds of greed

Are lots of different kinds of greed:  = want more, never enough, fears losing it, doesn't want others to have it, wants what you have (truest form of covetousness), dreams of having, actively pursues it.  Point = "many kinds"

Therefore, are "many kinds" but this in common - Col. 3:5 - your god whom you serve!!!   (can't serve 2 gods)
Phil. 3:18-19 - "stomach' = belly in KJV, appetites

So, watch out, be on guard, and understand this:
#2.  Life is not measured by stuff (v. 15)

Question:  If use "stuff" to measure life's richness, fullness, effect, success, significance, impact, value, worth, then EXAMPLE:  what about Mother Teresa?  

Question:  Why direct this warning at US??  - because, we all tend to be driven by this.

#3.  "this is how it will be with ANYONE who is not rich toward God" - (vs. 21)  Note emphasis:  ANYONE. - any age, any sex, any economic status, .....

Parable is over, lesson continues!!  Luke 12:22-23, 29-31
This is not against having riches, property, talents, etc.  It's about building up here and not toward God.

1)  This is more than preparation for death --- = preparation for eternity!!   Death is a momentary thing, eternity is forever!
2)  We're to use our blessings, gifts, opportunities that God gives us -- WISELY.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Parables of Jesus

Matt. 13:1-3, 24, 31, 33

Definition:  a short, simple story with a point, lesson, teaching, truth
Usually fictitious but lifelike - contrast with fables which tend to use animals, etc.
The fictitious nevertheless presents REAL truths.

Observation:  Jesus used Parables a lot!!  Matt. 13:34-35
(30 - 46 by count / roughly 1/3 of His recorded teachings)

Contrast parables of a wise man - (Rabbi, Sage, teacher, etc.) - used to teach a truth of some kind.

However, Parables of Jesus -
I.  Divine Revelation - John 7:16, 8:26-28
Point = Jesus parables were more than stories.  He spoke with authority = word(s) of God.

II.  Divine Instruction - information regarding how ought to live, act, respond
Some Parables = spiritual truth, life, information
others challenge behavior and = instruction  - Luke 18:1, 9

Because they = Divine Revelation and Divine Instructions, therefore impose upon the hearer ---

III.  Personal Obligation (wise men and sages' parables didn't have this authority)
Example:  Parable of the Good Samaritan - Luke 10:36-37 ("go and do likewise")
This is not a suggestion.  It = command/charge and therefore duty/obligation.

Jesus has absolute authority to say this is how you should live.  Will answer if do not apply.

Jesus used Parables to help us see truth (grasp, understand)
The word, parable from two Greek words - para - come along side
                                                                 - ballo - throw, cast, thrust
Therefore, parable = cast alongside the truth

But, on the other hand, Jesus also used parables to obscure truth!!!  (conceal, veil, hide, cloud)
Example:  Matt. 13:10-15  - they don't want to hear, understand, etc.
Parable is designed that person seeking truth will see truth, and the person who doesn't want to see the truth won't see it!

God desires all men come to Him?   1 Tim. 2:3-4
Could He not reveal Himself more clearly?  fully?  to this end?
Why doesn't He??

Answer:  He obscures truth about Himself -
A.  To weed out seekers - Deut. 4:29, Luke 11:9-10, Acts 17:27
B.  to honor free will (we have the right to choose) - John 8:42-44, 47, 12:37
C.  to reveal Himself to those who will to see, know and to follow!!! - Rom. 1:21, 28
BUT for others????   2 Thess. 2:9-12

Summary verse:  John 3:19

Application:  Matt. 13:9