Saturday, 5 November 2011

Faith Applied is Faith Invested

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Parable of the Talents 
“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:7
Bottom line! Share Your Sandbox And All What's In It.

I remember my childhood.  I was carefree.  I never got hungry. My dad with the little salary he made by working on the railroad always managed to put food on the table.  My mom, who absolutely knew little about cooking before marriage, learned to prepare good meals. She became so good at cooking that my friends requested to be invited to my place.  Most of our clothes were second hand, and I didn’t careless because for me fashion was not even on my mind.  On the other hand, shoes and running shoes, they were new.  I remember the smell of new leather shoes coming out of the box. 

I hated school.  I preferred to play. I preferred to be outdoors and play with my friends.  Young families mainly populated our small town of less then 250 in population. Therefore, there were many children. There was no organized sport. We just gathered, and then decided what we were going to do. We had a black and white TV, with a few channels. Boring, except Saturday morning, I would watch my favorite comic shows, ‘Mighty Mouse’. Summer vacations were the best.  On the first Saturday of the summer holiday I would have a haircut, ‘the brush cut’ we called it. I loved the feeling of running my hand through my hair.  It was like stinging needles.  Summers were also very hot then as they are today.  Every day was an adventure, discovering new territories. With my friends we would explore all the surrounding forest. We would prepare a small lunch and we would be gone all day.  Building a tree house was fun. Wherever I went, my dog would accompany me. I have only found memories of my childhood.

I realize as I am writing this that some of you who are reading this did not have a carefree childhood.  That some have been abused.  Some had to work to help out with the family finance. Some were taught young, the law of the jungle. Some can’t imagine what a carefree childhood could be like. So when Jesus said, in this following statement is difficult to grab, “I tell you the truth. You must change and become like a little children. If you don’t do this, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.  Jesus continue by saying, “The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child,” Matt 18:2-4.  This is what I am aiming to become like, to return to, to makes myself humble like a child. You may be surprised by what that means.

Dependence on God

To be humble like a child is to have a carefree attitude. It is to completely depend on God and to enjoy life as He meant for us to be now.  America and Canada in particular had been bless abundantly since it foundation. The constitution of both countries allowed it citizens to live free from oppression, free to choose our destiny, free to make choices out of your life, at least for the majority of us. Humble like a child is about being worry free from all are needs; from the next meal, from the clothes we are to wear, from the bed we sleep in and the roof that protect us from the weather. As a child, I did not think about any of these things because my mom and dad were looking after me.

But then you will argue that my mom and dad did worry about these things, and I would reply that you are right. They did not understand the will of God.  They were taught, as so many Christians did that God helps those who help themselves. Guess what?  You will not find that teaching in the Bible. What you will find is that God help those who completely depend on Him (Psalm 18:30), (1Timothy 4:10) just as a child does toward his/her parents, (Matthew 7:11). Secular society has made God so small and so powerless that we as Christians have been influenced by it and now have difficulty to understand the will of God and how to apply it in our lives. I was one of them.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification, 1 Thess 4:3, which means you belong to Him, so that in everything give thanks, 1 Thess 5:18, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, 1 Peter 2:15, for you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise, Hebrews 10:36, therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commits their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator, 1 Peter 4:19.  Doing good can only be accomplish by being as humble as a child, depending on God for all things as He had promises to take care of all things, Matthew 6:33.

Most Christians stop living at salvation.  They go through life trying to figure out why God allow suffering, poverty, despair and not answering prayers?  We are saved from a terrible destiny in eternal fire called hell, but we do not live the joy of being free from an oppressive master who is Satan. Jesus is now our new master and Lord.  Salvation is only the beginning of freedom. Jesus wants us to have an abundant life of joy, peace, and good living.  I am not preaching the false gospel of prosperity.  This is the will of God your sanctification, (1 Thess 4:3).  He did not create heaven and earth with all it complexity only for us to live a mediocre life in servitude. All things have been created for us.  It is our sandbox.  Does not a child enjoy the pleasure of playing in a sandbox, building imaginary house and road?  God created a humongous sandbox call earth for us to enjoy.  

It is no secret.  It is only hidden from our eyes.  I thank God for giving me eyes to see the beauty in His creation.  And I thank God for giving eye to see the intent for His creation.

Satan motto; ‘they must not believe, they must not see’. Why? If people would see and understand the purpose of God’s creation they would easily accept salvation the free gift of life. It is not only Satan that causes obstruction.  Our sins cause blindness and separate us from our heritage.  That is where the simplicity in the gospel comes in.  Jesus did all the works.  All we have to do is to believe in Him and accept Him as Lord.  He only wants to share all He has with us.  He wants to share His sandbox and all what in it.  He wants to play with us.   Do you understand what it meant to be humble like a child?  To be humble like a child we must totally depend on God.  We must believe Him, we must trust Him, and therefore we must rest in Him.  Please take the time to read an article entitle “Rest in the Lord is simple, all you have to do is to take him by His word.’

God has given you your own little sandbox.  That sandbox is your present condition and circumstance that you are in now.  It is your family environment, your job or no job and even your health condition, good or bad. It is God’s gift to you.  Do you not understand?  It is not what you have that important to God, it is your mindset of what you do with your sandbox.  Humble like a child. When things are not turning out like as it should, what does a child do?  A child makes modification or even starts over again knowing that lunch has been prepared.  A child even keeps on humming a song as he/she in creating/building a castle.  Do you understand what it meant to have a humble spirit as a child?   So, what is Jesus meant to say by “The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child?”  It is not to worry about making a living to take care of you; it is about a carefree heart and mind, totally depending on God by enjoying the sandbox God gives.  It is about sharing with others the entire blessing you had received. Carefree is worry free so that you can let Jesus do His work through you, therefore doing good works.

Are you now in financial difficulties due to the present depression?  Than please read this article title, “Economic Crises, What are we to do? The answer is ‘REST’.

Example of doing good works


Look at the example of the Macedonians in Chapter 8 and verse 2 of the letter to the Corinthians. “... and now brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God gave the churches in Macedonia. They have been tested by great troubles.  And they are very poor. But they have much because of their great joy.  I can tell you that they gave as much as were able. They gave even more than they could afford.  No one told them to do it.  But they asked us again and again – they begged us to let them share in this service for God’s people.  And they gave in a way that we did not expect:  They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us.  This is what God wants.

So we asked Titus to help you (the Corinthians) finish this special work of grace.  He is the one who started this work.  You are rich in everything – in faith, in speaking, in knowledge, in truly wanting to help, and in the love you learn from us.  And so we want you to be rich also in this gift of giving.”  Paul goes on teaching the Corinthians about sharing their sandbox and everything in it. Have you not witness a parent teaching their children to share their toys?  So what’s the difference here?


An anthropologist proposed a game to African tribe kids. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad? UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are"

 The Macedonians did not give for the soul purpose to receive blessing from God, no, this is the false gospel of prosperity. They gave because of the grace that God gave the churches in Macedonia.They have developed a mind, carefree by trusting God for all things. They understood to give not to receive but because they received first. What they received is God’s promise. They took Jesus by His word. “Seek first the kingdom of God and it righteousness and all these things will be added to you, (taken care of) Seek to live now as one who makes himself humble like this child. Share your sandbox and all what in it.


David taught his man that followed him while he was in hiding from King Saul this concept to share with his fellowman.  It became a model for Israel for a long time. You will find the story in Samuel 30. David's two wives, his man's wives, children, and all their belonging including their cattle were taking by the Amalekites.  We pick it up at verse 18 after David defeated the Amalekites:

David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing. They found all the children and old people, all their sons and daughters, and all their valuables. They got back everything the Amalekites had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the sheep and cattle. His men led these animals to the front of the group and said, “This is David’s prize.”

 David came to the 200 men who had stayed at Besor Ravine. These were the men who were too weak and tired to follow David. They came out to meet him and the soldiers who went with him. They greeted David and his army as they approached. There were some troublemakers in the group who went with David who started complaining, “These 200 men didn’t go with us, so why should we give them any of the things we took. These men get nothing but their own wives and children.”

David answered, “No, my brothers. Don’t do that! Think about what the Lord gave us. He let us defeat the enemy that attacked us. No one will listen to what you say. The share will be the same for the man who stayed with the supplies and for the man who went into battle. Everyone will share alike.” David made this an order and rule for Israel. This rule continues even today.
Paradox of the Promises and Faith

Here’s a paradox.  What came first? Is it the chicken or the egg?  For the evolutionist it is a continual debate.  Millions of dollars are spent to research the origin of mankind.  What a waste.  As for Christians, it is not a paradox.  We believe in a God who created earth and heaven, man and woman, therefore the chicken came first. 

Here’s a paradox for Christians.  What came first, faith or God’s promises? Is it God’s promises that cause us to believe, and to have faith, or is it faith first then God’s promises?

I like most Christians doubt God’s promises. I'm like a yo-yo. "Doubt, trust, doubt, trust... etc.  The Old Testament is full of example of people refusing to trust God, to believe in Him, and therefore taking matter in their own hand.  To believe and to trust only at our five senses is easy.  We refuse to obey, to trust, to believe and therefore to have faith. To wait on the Lord is a blessing, Isaiah 30:18.  Faith is the substance of thing to hope for.  What are we to hope for?  We are to hope in His promises.  According to this statement, promises came first. 

Inasmuch as the chicken came with the ability to produce eggs,  promise made produce faith to apply.

Jesus’ Parable of the Talents can explain this paradox. 
Matthew 25:14-30

I will be using the New Century Version (NCV) for simplicity.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was going to another place for a visit. Before he left, he called for his servants and told them to take care of his things while he was gone. He gave one servant five bags of gold, another servant two bags of gold, and a third servant one bag of gold, to each one as much as he could handle. Then he left. The servant who got five bags went quickly to invest the money and earned five more bags. In the same way, the servant, who had two bags invested them and earned two more bags. But the servant who got one bag went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money.
After a long time the master came home and asked the servants what they did with his money. The servant who was given five bags of gold brought five more bags to the master and said, 'Master, you trusted me to care for five bags of gold, so I used your five bags to earn five more.' The master answered, 'You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.' Then the servant who had been given two bags of gold came to the master and said, 'Master, you gave me two bags of gold to care for, so I used your two bags to earn two more.' The master answered, 'You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.'
Then the servant who had been given one bag of gold came to the master and said, 'Master, I knew that you were a hard man. You harvest things you did not plant. You gather crops where you did not sow any seed. So I was afraid and went and hid your money in the ground. Here is your bag of gold.' The master answered, 'You are a wicked and lazy servant! You say you knew that I harvest things I did not plant and that I gather crops where I did not sow any seed. So you should have put my gold in the bank. Then, when I came home, I would have received my gold back with interest.' So the master told his other servants, 'Take the bag of gold from that servant and give it to the servant who has ten bags of gold. Those who have much will get more, and they will have much more than they need. But those who do not have much will have everything taken away from them.' Then the master said, 'Throw that useless servant outside, into the darkness where people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.'

In the NKJ the talents are referred to as a type of currency used at the time of Jesus among men. I have heard many interpretation of what the talent represents. I heard sermon where talent actually represent personal ability, literally talents received from God to share with others, such as ability to play a musical instrument, to sing, or special qualities used in one’s carrier. Some refer to talents as soul saver. In this case we have the responsibility to save souls by preaching the gospel.   I also read commentary about the talent representing God’s word. By investing time in studying and thereby increasing our knowledge of God’s word, we are rewarded.  I also heard that the talents represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  What really derails these interpretations is the consequences of not investing: perishing in eternal condemnation in hell, Matthew 23:33, Mark 3:29, John 5:29.  It just does not make sense. Especially to those who received gifts of the Holy Spirit, only those who believed and accepted Jesus receive those gifts.  It is clear that once saved we are always saved, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit,” Romans 8:1. 

Jack Kelly from gracethrufaith.com explain this clearly:  
“If salvation is by grace thru faith Eph 2:8-8, and faith come from God, and if the one condition to believe in the death and resurrection, Jn 3:16, Rom 10:9 and the Holy Spirit is seal within us Eph 1:13-14 seal until the day of redemption and God Himself accept responsibility for our security 2 Cor 1:21-22 and if He is faithful to complete the good work that He began in us Phil 1:6 and that no one can snatch us from His Hand Jn 10:29, and that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord Rom 8:38-39, then how can one fall away?” Get the point? 
  
Who then can fall into eternal condemnation, “into the darkness where people will cry and grind their teeth with pain?”  The answer is found in Mark 3:29; “but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.”  It is well understood that those who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit are those who refuse the teaching and the declaration that Jesus is Lord, Son of God.  The Sadducees and the Pharisees refused to accept Jesus as Son of God after all the power demonstrated by the Holy Spirit manifested thru Jesus to prove His deity.  They are condemned.  And those who believed are saved as Peter testified, Matthew 16:17.  It is obvious that this useless servant in the Parable of the Talents was never saved.  So what does the talent represent?

Now open your eyes and see how great God’s grace is.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:6-7

The faithful servants in the Parable of the Talents represent those who accepted Jesus.  They are the servants who received 5 bags of faith and 2 bags faith.  Compare to the unsaved that received one bag of faith.  According to the scriptures, faith is measured and given in portions.  Here some example:

Romans 12:3
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Romans 12:6
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

1 Corinthians 13:2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, (Matthew 17:20), but have not love, I am nothing.

Luke 12:28
If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

Luke 17:6
So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Faith: A choice to use it or not to use it.

Faith is a gift of God.  Surprise! Every living being, man and women have a portion of Faith; Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” It requires only one measure of faith to be saved by grace.  Each individual person ever exists and to come have received and will receive the testimony that Jesus is Lord, the Savior, the Son of God.  Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all”, Romans 4:16. “All the seed” meaning the saved and the not saved.  Everybody is guaranteed to receive one bag of gold, talent- faith. It only takes one measure of faith to be saved.  The servant who refused to invest it or to use it was secular in his way of thinking.  He/she refused to use the one portion of faith to accept Jesus as the redeemer and Lord.

Listen again to his excuses: “I knew that you were a hard man. You harvest things you did not plant. You gather crops where you did not sow any seed. So I was afraid and went and hide your money in the ground.”  You hear that complaint everyday.  “God is unfair, and if there is a God why does He allow suffering?  How can He condemn those who never heard of the gospel?”  Secularism society does not understand God’s grace, therefore ignore Him instead and do not use the one measure of faith given to them.

Salvation is only the beginning. Faith Applied is Faith Invested.

There are many who received one bag of faith, Luke 19:11-27.  It is enough to make a choice: enough to invest in the bank in heaven and return faith back with interest, Matthew 6:20.  That choice to invest in the bank in heaven is to believe, to accept Jesus, and to trust in Him.  The interest received guarantied not only salvation but also rewards.  The one who buried the bag of gold made the choice not to believe, and to reject Jesus.  Those who refused to believe are condemned, and are to be thrown into hell.   As the old saying goes, “Use it or lose it”.  Faith is useless in hell, therefore faith is taken away from them and is given to those in heaven to enjoy for eternity.

The other servants, who have received 5 bags of faith and 2 bags of faith, are those who not only believed and accepted Jesus as their savior but also invested their portion of faith in any opportunities given to then according to their calling, Ephesians 4:7, Titus 1:1, Hebrews 2:4, Hebrews 11:7, 2 Timothy 1:9.  They were not stagnating in being satisfied with salvation only but invested their faith all through their Christians life.  They are the ones that learned to trust in the Lord, to depend on Him for everything with joy.   They are the ones that learned to walk with the Lord.  They followed the example of the Macedonians in Chapter 8 and verse 2 of the letter to the Corinthians.  They are the ones that invested abundantly in treasures in heaven, Matthew 6:20.  Great reward are awaiting them, Matthew 10:42, Matthew 16:27, Luke 6:23, 1 Corinthians 9:18, Colossians 3:24.

Hebrews 11:6; “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

2 John 1:8: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”

 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work,” Revelation 22:12.  Works by faith. "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead, James 2:20?" 1 Thessalonians 1:3, James 2:18.

Conclusion

We all have a measure of faith. Some have more then others according to our calling. Those with less have enough to make a decision to accept Jesus and receive salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.  Those who received more faith have responsibility to help those who have less faith.  These are the ones called into His ministry for different important positions, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11, Romans 8:28, Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 7:17. Here is an example in James 5:14, “if anyone among you sick, let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” 




Jesus stated that if we had faith inasmuch of a mustard seed we could relocate a tree.  I have not seen nor heard of anyone doing so.  None have faith for that. What was Jesus point?  The point is 'on our own, we can  do nothing'.  It is all Jesus doing.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.  Inasmuch Jesus was counting on the Holy Spirit to do all things through Him while He was a man; we are to be the same “humble as a child”.  Get it?




God has given you, your own little sandbox.  That sandbox is your present condition and circumstance that you are experiencing now.  Saved or not, you are exactly where the Lord wants you to be.  You have received a measure of faith according to your calling.  All have been called, Jn 3:16. It is up to you to invest it and reap your reward.  Therefore, if saved, use faith.  For those who refused salvation, you will lose what you have. “For many are called, but few are chosen,” Matthew 22:14.

Please listen to : Overcoming the World

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