Donate to Support

Support the church that supports this blog. Donate at - Click the donate button in the upper righthand corner.

Monday, August 28, 2023

What Did Jesus Mean: You are the Salt of the Earth?

Have you ever heard the expression:  “That guy ain’t worth his salt!”  What does that mean? It means they aren’t worth their pay.  There’s a reason someone is or isn’t worth his salt. In the ancient world, salt was sometimes used as currency—the Greeks, Romans, and Spanish Moors all used salt for money in certain situations.  In fact, our modern word “salary” comes from the ancient Roman word salarium, which was the salt sometimes paid to solders (instead of Roman coins).  Salt in the ancient world was rare and as valuable as money.  That brings us to today’s lesson from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

You are the salt of the earth
If you are Christian, a follower of Jesus, you are the salt of the earth.  Christians provide something essential this world needs.

We’re a bit spoiled in our modern world and we take salt for granted.  Usually, we consume too much salt, but a certain amount of salt is essential in your diet.  If you don’t have enough, it can lead to muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.  Eventually, lack of salt can lead to shock, coma and death.

Have you ever noticed the slightly salty flavor to Gatorade or Powerade sports drinks?  That’s because they put sodium in the drinks (one of the minerals found in salt).  Intense sweating during strenuous exercise can flush sodium out of your body—leaving you lethargic, even when you drink enough water. The sodium in Gatorade puts it back.

In biblical times, salt was expensive and hard to come by, but salt was also essential.  In addition to being required in a person’s diet, salt was essential for preserving meat before refrigeration.  In case you didn’t know, modern refrigerators didn’t become common until the 1930s (less than 100 years ago).  Before that, one of the most common and reliable ways to preserve meat was with salt.  If you pack enough salt around a big hunk of pork, you get a perfectly preserved and delicious ham—something that can be slaughtered in November and enjoyed for Easter dinner 4-5 months later.

Not only does salt preserve meat and provide and essential minerals in your diet, salt also brings out the flavor of our food.  Can you imagine how bland your food would be without any added salt?  Can you imagine how a potato chip would be without any salt?

So when Jesus says His followers are “the salt of the earth”, He is making a bold statement.  Christians are incredibly valuable and essential—like the right amount of salt in your diet, without it you cannot live.  And Christians are a preservative in this decaying world.  Without our preserving influence, evil would completely take over and consume this world—causing it to rot and completely spoil.

And when Christians faithfully follow Christ, we bring out the flavor of life.  True Christians are not boring—as the world often claims.  We are full of life and joy and love.  Jesus and His New Testament followers were never accused of living dull lives.  It was the opposite.  Their detractors accused them of spending too much time feasting and drinking with sinners and having a good time.

Losing Our Saltiness
Now, this second part of verse 13 confuses people.  How can salt lose its flavor?  The salt in your salt shaker doesn't really have an expiration date.  It doesn't lose it's saltiness.  However, in Jesus’ day in Israel, they mined salt from the Dead Sea.  The concentration of salt in the dead sea is about 33%--10 times as salty as the ocean.  Salt water can be collected into shallow pools until the sun evaporates the water leaving behind the salt.  Then, the salt was stored in a cave or barn—usually right on the ground.  Over time, the salt on the bottom of the pile would leach into the dirt on the ground and some of the dirt would get in the salt too.  This “bottom salt” was too dirty and nasty to eat.  And the dirt was too salty to use in a garden—the high salt content would kill the plants.  So this salt that had lost its flavor was only good for one thing—to be thrown on the walkways where it would kill weeds and anything else growing and people could walk on and a barren path where nothing would grow.

Now what does that have to do with you?  If you follow Jesus, you are the salt of the earth—adding flavor and essential things to this world, preserving a broken world from spiritual decay.  But being salty for Jesus inevitably means being different from the world.  Most people don’t want to be different.  There’s something in our DNA that we want to fit in.  We don’t want to feel like outsiders or outcasts who are different.  We want to be part of the group.

Well, God designed us to be social creatures.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to fit in.  That’s just part of being human.  Unfortunately, sin takes that natural desire inside us and twists it all out of wack until we are willing to do anything just to fit in with the group.  We may even adopt attitudes and behaviors God says are sinful because society says it’s fine.  At the same time, we may turn our backs on holy living because the worldly people all around us live unholy lives.

What good, though, is salt that has lost its saltiness?  What good is a Christian who lives an unholy life?
Not only have you lost your flavor and preserving power, somehow your unholiness now poisons the world like salty dirt thrown into a garden.  There’s nothing more bitter in this world than Christians who know they’re supposed to live for Jesus, but who are still caught up trying to live for the world.  They can’t be happy living for Jesus because they still want to sin, but they can’t be happy sinning because they feel guilty for not being faithful to Jesus.  So, they live divided lives, pulled completely in two by these competed convictions.  

It’s OK To be salty, to shine bright, to stand out.  Don’t be afraid to be different.  That’s the definition of Holy—when you’re set apart from everything else by God as different.  

We take salt for granted.  We also take light for granted in our modern world.  Of course, we have just as much sunlight today as people in ancient times.  What’s different now is what happens when the sun goes down.  We can just turn on a light today but in Bible times, you had to burn up expensive oil in a lamp or wax candles.  And the amount of light these gave was roughly 100 times less than an electric light we use today.

That’s why looking up at the trillions of stars in the night sky in ancient times was so dazzling.
King David said in Psalm 8:3-4, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

And when Jesus and his disciple were camping on the outskirts of Jerusalem, they would look across the valley and see the shining city on Mount Zion, shining like twinkling jewel—with thousands of oil lamps flickering from afar, contrasted against the utter darkness of the night.  And with the glow a campfire shining on their faces, Jesus could say something like: 

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

We are called to be different—to be salty, to shine brightly.  When Christians truly live the way Jesus calls us to live—when we love others the way He loves us—it shines out for all to see.  You don’t even necessarily have to say anything.  Sometimes your actions speak volumes.  

On the other hand, when Jesus is Your Lord, you can’t help but say His name and talk about how He’s saved you and changed you and how He’s filling your life with His light and love.  People will see His light in you and you need to be ready to explain it when they ask:  “Why are you so different?  What is this light that shines inside you?”  Be ready to tell them “so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Don’t hide your lamp under a basket.  Place it up high on a stand, where it gives light for everyone to see.  And like a moth is drawn to a light, people will be drawn to the Lord.

Some of you may say, “My life’s so messed up. There’s no light there to see.”  I get it.  Sometimes we go through dark trials and it can feel like there’s nothing good there to talk about.  But what you don’t realize is everyone’s going through something.  It’s not about having a perfect, bright and sunny life all the time.  It’s about seeing a perfect God pulling you up out of your brokenness and filling you with His wonderful light.  You don’t have to lie and tell everyone your life’s perfect.  Tell the truth.  Share your struggles.  But also have faith to see how Jesus is there with you in the midst of your darkness.  He hasn't left you.  He is there.  You just have to recognize Jesus is there and share how you’re trusting Him to save you.  God is the light in your story.  So don’t you hide it under a basket.  Let your light shine and be salty!

Monday, August 21, 2023

Explain the Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-2
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.

Today, we begin a study of Matthew chapters 5-7, what are known as Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount .”  The sermon gets its name from the big hill (or mount) where Jesus shared these teachings.  Many consider these to be Jesus’ central teachings about how to live as His disciple.  The Sermon is only three chapters long, but it is packed full of wisdom that challenges us to be a better follower of Christ.  So, we will take it slowly, lesson by lesson, until we work all the way through. 

We start with  Matthew 5:3-12, what is commonly called The Beatitudes.  Beatitude is a fancy word that means “A state of supreme happiness and blessing.”  People will often say, “I am blessed!”  If you ask how they are doing, they might respond, “I am blessed!”

What do you think of when you think of being blessed?  Does it mean life is good, all is well, you're happy and content? Well, Jesus’ definition of Beatitude—supremely blessed—may surprise you.  Let’s take a look at what He says about being truly blessed.  Let's go through the blessings one by one.

Matthew 5:3
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Right off the bat, we get a clue Jesus is going to turn our ideas of blessings upside down. Do you honestly think you are blessed when you are poor?  Does anyone actually go around saying (without sarcasm): "Yep, I'm so broke I can't afford to put gas in my car. My rent is passed due, and I have no money to buy food.  I'm truly blessed!"

Most of those folks Jesus ministered to were that kind of poor. But Jesus said they were blessed, because He knew it gave them an advantage over rich people because they knew they must depend on God.  When we have money, it's easy to forget how much we need God.  Why do you need God?  You can take care of yourself.  Or at least we think we can take care of ourselves.  We have a false sense of security.  Let me remind you:  your money cannot save you.

But most Bible translations render this verse to say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  And that is important, because Jesus isn’t just talking about your finances.  There are people—in Jesus day and in our own—who feel as though they are spiritually safe and secure.  They say to themselves: “I’m a good person.  I treat people fair.  I live the right way.  Therefore, God will be good to me.”  This was the basic philosophy of the Pharisees in Jesus time.  And it’s the way many people think today.  But, God doesn’t owe you anything.  Our so-called righteous deeds are but filthy rags in the sight of a pure, perfect, and holy God.  And so Jesus says, “You are truly blessed if you really know you are poor in spirit and realize you desperately need God to save you.”  It isn't those who think they are good; it is those who know they are not good and rely completely on the mercy of God that He welcomes into His Kingdom.  And Jesus goes on, smashing our preconceived notions of what it is to be truly blessed:

Matthew 5:4
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

We’ve had a lot of deaths in our community lately.  It seems like the last few months have been particularly hard.  Our bereavement committee has been working overtime to provide meals for the families.  According to Jesus, that means we are truly blessed.  Does it feel like it?  Do you feel blessed when someone you love dies?

Jesus is pulling from Old Testament Scripture in Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 where it says:  “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.  After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart.  3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.  4 A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.”

We live in a culture where we want to avoid pain at all cost.  And yet the cliché really is true.  No pain.  No gain.  We live in a broken world.  Things are not as they are supposed to be.  We are not as we’re supposed to be.  If we never realize this (and feel this), we are missing out on something really important.

Matthew 5:5
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

This beatitude is a difficult one to translate.  The NIV says:  Blessed are the meek.  The NASB says:  Blessed are the gently.  The NLT uses the word humble.  The Greek word is praus, which means mild of disposition, gentle of spirit.

In Jesus day, the Romans were the one’s who possessed the Holy Land.  They were the powerful and proud ones.  They used violence to subdue the Jews and anyone who resisted them.  Some in Israel wanted to use violence to rise up and overthrow the Romans.  Jesus says, no.  It is not the violent or proud or powerful who will possess the land.  It is the humble, the gently, the meek.  These are the kind of people who will possess the Holy Land.  In fact, they will possess the whole earth when God's Kingdom comes on earth.  So, you are blessed if you are humble, gentle, and meek.

Psalm 37:7-9 – “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.  Stop being angry!   Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.  For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”

Matthew 5:6
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

Most people know what it’s like to be really hungry.  Can you remember the last time you were famished?  Or what about a time you were truly parched?

One day, some are going to be truly satisfied—like a starving man who finally gets food; like someone dying of thirst who finally gets cool, refreshing water.   Those who hunger and thirst for justice—for all that is wrong in the world to be made right—will finally be full and satisfied because God will make it all right.

Matthew 5:7
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

This one goes right down into the core of Christianity.  We say it every time we pray the Lord’s prayer.  “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

There are so many offences in this life that just cannot be repaid.  If we demand every wrong done is repaid in full, it will make our life (and everyone else’s) a living hell.  And at the end of it all, we will not be satisfied, because some debts cannot be repaid; they can only be forgiven.  So, you are blessed when you show mercy, because you will receive mercy too.  Do you want to be angry and full of pain and resentment all your life?   Or do you want to be at peace with God and yourself and the world around you?  You don't forgive for the sake of the one who wronged you; you forgive for the sake of your own peace of mind.

Matthew 5:8
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

If I were to put this in my own words, I would say it this way:  You’re blessed if you’re totally sincere, because you will actually see God.

When you’re your thoughts are pure, when you’re motives are pure, when you are totally sincere,
then you will see God.  Most of us have a long way to go on this.  Often, we don’t even know the impurities that lie within us.  We need God’s help to root them out.  The Christian journey is walking alongside Christ every day, allowing Him to reveal the impurities within us until we are totally sincere and blessed to actually see God, face to face.

Matthew 5:9
God blesses those who work for peace,
 for they will be called the children of God.

Most people agree a little more peace in the world would be nice.  Then we wouldn’t have wars and fighting.  The problem is:  you want things your way and I want things mine.  And this country wants this and that country wants that.  And it seems like the only way to settle it is to fight and see who comes out on top.  Of course, the one that comes out on top can’t stay on top forever.
The biggest, baddest bully grows old and weak and someone takes their place.  Even the strongest empires rise and eventually fall.  It always happens--always has, always will.

Jesus came to end all that.  He came to bring true peace.  It’s not a peace where the weakest people must submit to the strongest rulers.  It’s a peace where we all finally live in a right relationship with our loving Creator God—as we were originally intended to live.

God's true children spend their lives working to bring this kind of peace on earth, more and more.

Matthew 5:10
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Living for God and doing the right thing may make you blessed in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, but it may not feel much like it in this world.  In fact, it may make you a lot of enemies in this world.  Those who want to remain in darkness will fight to keep your light from exposing them. Even if you aren't overtly calling them out on their wrong behavior, your righteous life exposes their unrighteousness.  So, if you are truly living for Jesus, people who aren’t will mock you, persecute you, lie about you, and say all sorts of evil things because you follow Jesus.  But don’t worry about it, because you are blessed.  The Kingdom of Heaven is yours.  And Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12:

Matthew 5:11-12
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

The Kingdom of God is Not of this World
As we review what Jesus said about who is truly blessed—supremely blessed and happy—we can clearly see Jesus’ definitions are not at all the same as the world’s.

You can strive to be blessed according to this world’s definitions.  You can strive for:
wealth, comfort, power, prosperity, and selfish fulfillment.  But this world and what it stands for is passing away.  At most, you may have 100 years to scrape and scratch and fight to hold onto the things of this world.  But the end will come.  You will have to stand before God and give an account for your life.  And then you will have all eternity to answer for it.

But those who repent and turn to Jesus, turn their back on this world and its values.  They become children of God and royal priests in the Kingdom of God.  And Jesus atones for all their sins.  They are made pure and righteous before God.  They offer mercy and receive mercy from God.  And theirs is the glorious Kingdom of God,  in which they will dwell for all eternity in everlasting life--where there will be no more sin or sickness or suffering or sorrow or death.

Which Kingdom do you choose?  The kingdoms of this world or the Kingdom of God?

If you choose God's Kingdom, pray to Him today.  Ask Him to forgive you.  Promise to follow Jesus from this day forward.  Thank Him and receive His Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you and empower you to live for Jesus every day.

Monday, August 14, 2023

What is Consecration?

Probably one of the best known verses of Scripture in the whole Bible—memorized by people all over the world—is John 3:16. Say it with me.

John 3:16 (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus Himself, the one and only Son of God, spoke these beautiful words that summarize His mission.  If there was one verse that could sum up the whole story of the Bible, John 3:16 would probably do it best.  But most don’t know the full historical context of this verse.  It is grounded in the whole story of Scripture, going all the way back through Genesis.

In the wild and disturbing story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, on Mount Mariah.  Then, as Abraham’s knife is poised to slaughter his son, God stops Abraham and provides a ram to take Isaac’s place. 

In Exodus, we find the Israelites living in slavery in Egypt.  God sends Moses to deliver them, but Pharaoh refuses to let them go.  So God sends 10 plagues to torture the Egyptians and convince them to let God’s people go.  The was blood and frogs and gnats and flies.  All of Egypt’s livestock died.  Then there was boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.  And do you remember the last plague?  It was the most terrible of all…  Every firstborn son not sheltered in a home marked by the blood of a Passover lamb died in a single night.  Every male offspring, from the livestock to the servants and all the way up to Pharoah’s own son, died in that single night.  It was a costly sacrifice brought on by the hard hearted, stubborn Pharoah who would not submit to the God of Israel and let the Israelites go free.

A Day to Remember
It was a day to remember forever.  God does not take death lightly--even the death of those who would be called His enemies.  Jesus said Our Heavenly Father knows and cares if even a single sparrow dies.  How much more when the entire nation of Egypt—every family—loses their first born sons.  It’s devastating.  But that was the cost of that nation’s sin and the cost of Israel’s freedom.

So God wanted His people in Israel to remember that day forever.  He gave them a special way to remember and honor God for saving them. We read about it in Exodus 13:1-5

Exodus 13:1-5
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Dedicate to me every firstborn among the Israelites. The first offspring to be born, of both humans and animals, belongs to me.”

So Moses said to the people, “This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the Lord has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand. (Remember, eat no food containing yeast.) On this day in early spring, in the month of Abib, you have been set free. You must celebrate this event in this month each year after the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. (He swore to your ancestors that he would give you this land—a land flowing with milk and honey.)

This passage is the institution of the Passover Feast.  These instructions were given to the Israelites over 3,000 years ago and they have been celebrated by the Hebrew people every year since then as a way to honor God and thank Him for delivering them from slavery in Egypt.  It was a costly deliverance—the death of every Egyptian first born son.  In recognition, the Hebrew people were to eat a special Passover meal and dedicate back to God the first-born male of every Israelite family—both humans and animals.

The Pagan cultures all around Israel were known to practice human sacrifice.  Whereas God stopped Abraham and would not allow Abraham to actually sacrifice his son, Isaac, other non-Israelite people often did sacrifice their first-born sons (as well as other children).  Child/human sacrifice is one of the reasons the Bible says God drove other nations out of the Promised Land and gave it to the Israelites instead.  Those other nations sacrificed their children, thinking it would please and manipulate their gods into helping them.  But the one true God of the Bible abhors human sacrifice. He forbids anyone to do it.  And if you think how people made these evil sacrifice thinking they could manipulate their gods with them, you get an even deeper sense of how evil they are.  They do not trust God and think they should and can perform some type of magic to control their gods.  But the one true God is sovereign and we cannot and should not try to control Him--especially by taking the life of a child or any other person.

So God didn’t ask the Israelites to actually place their children on the Temple altar and sacrifice them.  Rather, God instructed them to “dedicate” or consecrate them to God.  Since God had purchased the Israelites at the cost of every first born son of Egypt, now the Israelites honored God by consecrating to Him their firstborn sons.

Consecrate is a special word for a special action.  To consecrate means to make or declare something sacred—dedicated formally to a religious or divine purpose.

When something is consecrated, it is dedicated for a holy purpose.  For instance, our altar is consecrated for use in religious services in our church.  It would be out of place to use this altar for just any old purpose.  Right?  We wouldn’t take it home and use it as a breakfast table in our house.  That would be disrespectful and sacrilegious.  That’s not what it was made for; it has been dedicated to be used for Christian worship services.  The only meal we place upon this table is a sacred meal—Holy Communion—dedicated to remember Jesus.  That is what it means to consecrate something.  It is to set it apart for God’s divine purpsoses.

We are here today on Consecration Sunday.  It is a day set aside to consecrate ourselves and our gifts to God for the coming year.  I have asked each of you to complete a Stewardship Survey and to indicate how you will serve God with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness.  You have had time to prayerfully consider what you will dedicate to the Lord.  We have not required you to dedicate any certain amount.  I’ve instructed you over the last several weeks about the biblical standards, but what you choose to give is a matter of prayer between you and God.  And today you have a chance to consecrate what you have chosen to give. 

In a moment, I will ask each of you to come forward and lay your survey upon the altar.  What you lay upon the altar, you consecrate to God.  It is set apart as holy for the Lord.  Therefore, it should only be used for His glory.  You shouldn’t take it back to use however you please.  It is for God.

John 3:16
But now we come back to John 3:16—that verse we love so much because it makes God’s Word in the Bible so simple.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who is it who gave?  It is God.

What did He give?  Jesus, His one and only son.

Who did God give Jesus for?  For the whole world.  That includes you and me.

Why did God give us Jesus? 
So that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Just like the Israelites in Exodus, we have been delivered from slavery.
But our slavery wasn’t to a Pharoah in Egypt.  Our slavery was to sin and death.
Our sin separates us from God and corrupts our whole world.  We are spiritually dead.
But, praise God, through Jesus we can be delivered from our slavery.
When we repent of our sin and trust Jesus to save, He does and we have freedom and eternal life.

Won’t you repent and turn to Jesus today?  Ask Jesus to forgive you.  Trust Him to save you.
Dedicate your life to serve Him as Lord.  Please join me in the Wesley Covenant Prayer as a way to consecrate ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Closing – Wesley Covenant Prayer
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

Monday, August 7, 2023

The Faithful Servant

I’m very proud of all my children.  They’re all responsible, dependable, trustworthy, and mature. Abigail has followed right along in the footsteps of her older siblings.  Now that she is 16 and can drive herself wherever she needs to go—to work, to school—I had no fear that we could trust her to take care of herself while Kelly and I were out of town last week.  She stayed home by herself and I wasn’t worried she would get into trouble, or be unsafe, or throw a wild party while we were gone.  She could be trusted to do good, to be safe, and also to take care of the house and all our pets while we were gone.

Isn’t it nice to have someone you can trust?  Isn’t it nice to be able to trust your children? Or, if you ask someone to to house sit for you while you are out of town, isn’t it nice to know you have someone there you can trust watching over everything--your pets, your plants.

But what if you hired a house sitter and paid them a good wage to take care of your home and then you came back and found your place was trashed because the house sitter threw a big party and tore up the place.  And on top of it all, you dog starved to death because of the sitter’s neglect. How would that make you feel?  What would you do?

Well, that brings us to the Scripture for today’s message – Jesus’ Parable of the Faithful Servant.

Luke 12:42-46
“A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

The Parable
Jesus was a masterful storyteller.  He taught important spiritual lessons with parables.  The characters and situations in His parables symbolize spiritual truths.  Let explain this parable.

The Master in the story represents Jesus, the Lord of all creation.  The Master is gone away on a trip just as Jesus has gone to be in Heaven.  While the Master (Jesus) is away, He has left the servant in charge of the entire household.  So, we are in this story with Jesus.  Who are is servant?  You are the servant in the story.  You have been left in charge of a household while Jesus is away from earth, in Heaven.

The Household represents those things for which you are responsible in this life.  What is that?   Your time. Your talent. Your money.  Your relationships.  Your witness and all of the things under your care.

Now, we usually assume we own our time, our talent, our money, etc. and we can choose to do with them whatever we please.  But Jesus uses this parable to say:  You are the Master’s servant.  You are Jesus' servant.  And household doesn’t belong to the servant.  All these things you “own” aren’t really yours.  The servant is in charge while the Master is away, but it’s not the servant’s household.  It all still belongs to the Master.

Another word for servant is steward.  Steward is where we get the ward, stewardship.  A steward is one who manages something important on behalf of a master.  We are all stewards of that which Jesus has entrusted to us and how we manage is our stewardship.  And that’s the way we should think about everything in our life.  How can I use my house to serve Jesus?  How can I use my car to serve Jesus?  How can I use my employment to serve the Lord?  How can I use my money to serve God?  How can I use my whole life and everything in it to serve Jesus, the Master (because these things don’t really belong to me)?

The Master (Jesus) left you in charge of some important things until He returns.  Jesus is coming back one day.  He promised He would.  And we don’t know when He’s coming, but He’ll come back when you least expect it.

Eternal Reward
Jesus says if the Master finds a servant has been faithful in His absence, that servant will get a reward.  The Master will put that servant in charge of everything He owns.  Now think of that.  The things we enjoy on earth are all temporary.  They wear out on earth and we can’t take them with us when we die.  But if we are faithful with the things God gives us in this life, He will out us in charge of everything He owns in Eternity.  Think of all Jesus owns…

Cut to Pieces and Banished
Now Jesus, who we usually see as kind and gently and merciful (because He is) also give a stern warning in His parable.  He warns what will happen to an unfaithful servant.  Verse 46, “He will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.”  Notice it says, he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.
How do you banish someone who has already been cut to pieces?  Apparently, when the Master returns, the rewards and punishments will be eternal.  So you can be cut into pieces and then suffer the pain and terror of that in eternal banishment.

That sound awful!  But if you think back to how you would feel if you hired someone to take care of your house while you were out of town and they neglected it and killed you pets and destroyed your home with a wild party, you may understand the anger of the Master.  And we’re not talking about a mere house.  We are talking about a world and people’s lives. 

Before Jesus left His disciples, He shared a special meal with them.  In this sacred meal, He showed them what He was doing for them and He told them to share this meal regularly to remember Him.

As we share this sacred meal of Holy Communion, remember Jesus.  Remember that He is Lord and you are His servant.  He has left you in charge of some things.  What are you doing them?

Take some time today to pray over the things Jesus has left in your care.  Think about all the resources He has given you:  your time, your talent, your money, your witness.  How are you using all the things God has given you for His glory?