How Do You Know You Value the Kingdom? | Part 3

Treasure

Maybe you have called yourself a Christian for a long time, but how do you know you value the kingdom?

The Parable of the Householder

The Parable of the Householder not only tells us what Jesus’ disciples should do, but what those who value the kingdom will do.

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52, ESV)

Jesus not only compares His disciples to the Scribes – the learned teachers of the day – but also to a household master. He pictures the master bringing out and showing off his old and new treasure.

The old treasure represents the familiar teachings of the day, while the new treasure represents the teachings Jesus revealed to the disciples.

What’s Jesus point?

Jesus’ point is that His disciples are to teach the people how the old and new truths He revealed integrate together. Jesus’ message doesn’t wipe the slate clean. It doesn’t replace the old. It fulfills it, and it is the disciples job to show how that’s the case.

Why Spread Jesus’ Message?

Problems will arise, if Jesus’ disciples carry Jesus’ message to the people. People will reject and hate them. Life will not be easy. Knowing that, why spread Jesus’ message?

The value of the Kingdom should cause Jesus’ disciples to spread His message.

You see, those who value the kingdom will tell others about it. They will talk about it, no matter the cost.

That’s because we talk about those things we value.

How do you know if you value the kingdom?

(1) Is Jesus apart of your conversations with others?

Do you talk about Him with you friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers?

We talk about those things we value. You can know if you value the things of God, you can know if you value the kingdom, you can know if you value Jesus, if you talk about Him.

How else can we know if we value the kingdom or the things of God?

(2) Do you read God’s Word?

If you value the things of God, you will want to learn more about Him. The way to do that is to read His Word.

(3) Do you pray?

If you think God is valuable, you will set aside time in your day to talk with Him.

(4) Do you seek to live according to God’s Word?

If you think His wisdom and commands are valuable, you will want to live by them.

(5) Do you give your money, time, and resources to kingdom work?

Those things we value, we invest in. Do you invest in the kingdom by giving your money, time, and resources to it?

(6) Do you put Jesus first in your life?

The things we value get first priority in our lives. So is Jesus first in your life, or is He 2nd or 3rd, or even at the bottom of your list? We give first priority to those things we value. So is Jesus first in your life?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do the questions above reveal you value the Kingdom or not? Why or why not?
  2. What other questions would you add to the list of six above?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

Image

Why is Jesus’ Kingdom So Valuable? | Part 2

Treasure

Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world and you should want to give up everything to follow Him. But why? What makes His Kingdom the most valuable thing in the world?

(1) Jesus’ Kingdom is valuable because those who are apart of it have a restored relationship with God and eternal life.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 13:47–50)

Jesus compares the fishermen picking out the bad fish with the angels work when Jesus returns. The angels will separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will face God’s punishment, while the righteous enjoy a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life.

Those who are apart of the kingdom, those who follow Jesus are no longer enemies of God. They enjoy a restored relationship with the Father because Jesus paid the price for their sins, taking the punishment they deserve.

How great is that? How valuable is that? It’s worth more than anything this world could ever provide.

(2) Jesus’ Kingdom is valuable because it will never fail us.

It’s the best investment we could ever make. It is guaranteed. It is no risk because Jesus follows through on His promises. He promises us eternal life. We get it. He promises us joy. We get it. He promises us acceptance. We get it.

On the other hand, the world promises us all kinds of things, but doesn’t come through. And if it does, it’s not lasting.

The World Promises Joy

You might find joy in a new car or home or phone. The joy, however, it provides is only momentary. It’s easily taken away. A car wreck. A dropped phone. A house fire.

The World Promises Satisfaction

You might find satisfaction in your job. What happens, however, if you are fired, disabled and can’t work, or if old age has caught up to you and you are forced to retire?

The World Promises Success, Fame, and Wealth

Take fame for instance. People chase fame all their lives, but it is fleeting and short lived. Think about all the sports stars, actors and actresses, and musicians who are now labeled “has beens.” They were famous for a while, but eventually grew too old or a new rising star stole the spotlight.

Fame is short lived. The same with success and wealth and whatever else the world promises.

The world is always going to fail us. Jesus, however, will never fail us. The kingdom will never fail us. It will be there for all eternity.

Conclusion

Jesus’ kingdom is valuable because:

  1. It provides us with a restored relationship with God and eternal life.
  2. It will never fail us.

With something so valuable, why would you ever want to go after anything else?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can you think of other reasons Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world?
  2. Do you believe Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

Image

How Do We Live Like the Elder Brother?

In my last post, I made some observations from the parable of the prodigal son. In doing so, I highlighted the Gospel as the third way to live, with the other two ways to live being the way of the Relativist and the way of the Moralist. You can read my post here.

In the parable, the younger brother represents the Relativist, and to him everything is about self. The elder brother represents the Moralist, who lives outwardly for God, but inwardly his heart has not changed. In an effort to help us see how we live like the elder brother, so we can correct our thinking and actions, I want to ask and answer the question: How do we live like the elder brother?

We Act Like The Elder Brother:

When we believe we are saved by our works

  • This manifest itself in the following ways
    • We do this so, so we get salvation type thinking
    • When we do not think of our sin as being offensive to God.
    • When we think we are not that bad saying, “Sure Christ died for me, but I really was not that bad.”
    • Comparing ourselves to others saying “I needed God’s grace, but not as much as this person over here does. Look at their sin and look at mine.”

When we believe our works earn us favor with God

  • This manifest itself in the following ways:
    • We show up to church every time it is open thinking if we miss a service we are not in God’s favor.
    • When we believe we may get in a car wreck, or lose our job, or fail a class, or that one of our kids will not turn out right, if we are not consistent with our quiet times because somehow God will pay us back for not spending time with Him.
    • When we believe God will not use us or bless us if we are not reading His Word or doing Christian type activities often.

When we believe we must pay Christ back for our salvation

  • This manifests itself when we say things like: 
    • Christ died for you, witnessing to others is the least thing you can do for Him.
    • Christ suffered for you, the least you can do is read your Bible and pray to Him everyday.
    • Christ went to the cross for you, the least you can do for Him is go on a missions trip, part with some of your resources in order to help the church, or show up to services on Sunday.

When we believe God owes us for being such a good Christian.

  • This manifest itself when:
    • We do not receive the recognition we thought we should have received at church for helping with a ministry project, serving the church, attending regularly, and we get mad about it.
    • When we get jealous when another person who obviously has not done as much as we have gets recognized or asked to help with another ministry/task even though we said we wanted to serve as the chairman of that committee, teach that class, or serve those people.

The Christian disciplines mentioned throughout this post are good, but they can become corrupted when we believe they: 

  • Earn us salvation
  • Earn us favor with God
  • Become a way to pay Jesus back for what He has done for us
  • When they are done because we want to gain things such as recognition, or opportunity.

Should we stop coming to church, serving the body, doing our quiet time, praying, teaching a class, etc? 

  • No, we should not. The reasons we do them though should change.

Who do you trust? Riches or God?

Do you trust God? I mean do you really trust God, or have you placed your hope in something other than Him? In Luke 12 we encounter a man who put his trust in his possessions rather than in God. The reason was that he thought they would bring him happiness, comfort, relaxation, and protection. Does not this hold true? It is what the world tells us is the key to happiness. We see this message portrayed through countless magazine ads, movies, television shows, and bill boards plastered on our cities walls. However, Jesus has something different in mind. Lets pick up the narrative in verse 13.

The Narrative

A man in the crowd, who has obviously not been listening to Jesus’ teaching, says to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replies by asking him, “who has made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then Jesus turns to the crowd and gives them this command: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” With that one sentence Jesus shakes up the world’s idea of possessions. He tells us that our life does not consist in our possessions, or you could say it this way, our possessions are not an essential element for our life. We do not need them to live. This immediately prompts the question, well, what do we need to live? This is exactly what Jesus is going to tell us, but in order to do so, he gives us an illustration in the form of a parable.

The Parable

Jesus tells us that the land of a rich man produced plentifully and as a result he had no where to store the excess. His barns were not big enough to hold the crop, so he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. After building the new barns and storing his excess crop in them, he believes that his life is now complete. His soul can now enjoy rest and relaxation, and he can eat, drink, and be merry. This man believed possessions were essential for his life. Without them, he could not enjoy life, nor could he live. This is because this man trusted in himself, rather than in God.

Notice throughout the parable the heavy use of the first person pronoun “I” and “my”. This shows the man had no regard for anyone other than himself, nor did he recognize that his riches and excess crop came from God. Notice in verse 16, the text tells us that “the land” produced the crop. God, as the sovereign ruler of this world, provided for this man, but he still did not trust in the Lord. Rather he placed his trust in himself.

God comes to him after he has finished storing all his crops and says, “Fool! This very night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared whose will they be?” To put your trust in your riches is foolish. They are temporary, finite things, that have no bearing on your life after you die. But what does have bearing on your life is your relationship with God.

Jesus comments in verse 21 saying that those who lay up treasures for themselves and are not rich toward God will end up in the same predicament as the man here in the parable. They will face eternal damnation, rather than eternal rest, relaxation, joy, and comfort for all of eternity with God. Oh, don’t get me wrong, things may satisfy us momentarily, but that satisfaction will wane quickly. Notice that the man in the parable was a rich man. He already lived a life of luxury, but the satisfaction, comfort, and relaxation his things once brought to his soul, did not last, and his soul was once again troubled until he was able to amass more riches. Surely, the cycle will continue to repeat in this man’s life because he has a giant hole in his heart that only God can fill. No earthly riches will do. That is why only those who are rich towards God will truly be satisfied.

Conclusion

So then, we must understand that it is God who provides for us, it is He who knows what we need. Once we understand that our possessions are not essential for our life, they are not necessary for us to live, but that our relationship with God is necessary, then we can be freed from the sin of covetousness – desiring what we do not have. We are freed from coveting others things: talents, abilities, jobs, homes, cars, clothes, families, etc because we understand that those things are not essential for our lives. They do not bring us everlasting rest, relaxation, comfort, and joy like our relationship with the Lord. Once we understand that, we are able to stop trusting in our possessions and start trusting in the Lord.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are You Using Your Talents?

There are many in the church today, who are not using their gifts. There are many who sit on the sidelines week after week instead of getting in the game. For many, the reason they sit watching idle, as the pastor and other staff members feed the flock, is because they do not understand we are all to be doing the work of ministry (Eph 4).

However, there are others who are sitting by watching idly because they are fearful, not knowing the love, mercy, and grace God has extended to those who are His people. Since they are ignorant of God’s love, mercy, and grace, they see Him as one who deals out wrath on those who do not perform up to His standard. So then, instead of trying to exercise their gifts, they freeze, like a deer in the headlights, not realizing what God has given them is theirs to be used for the furtherance of the kingdom. In not realizing what God has given them is theirs to use, they prove they do not understand their masters actions.

The Parable

We meet a man like this in the parable of the talents. It is found Matthew 25:14-30 and reads accordingly:

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (ESV)

Explanation

The point Jesus makes here in this parable is that those who are Christs must work diligently with the gifts entrusted to them. Everyone of Jesus’ followers have been endowed with a gift to be used in service to the body, those gifts differ according to ability, but, nevertheless, they must be put into service. In the kingdom of God, there is no room for benchwarmers.

Those who take what they have been given, such as the men in the parable, and put it to use, prove they believe their master is loving, merciful, and gracious because there is a chance they will fail and lose his money, but they take the risk nonetheless. They also recognize that what God has given them is theirs to use.

However, the man who does not put his gifts to use, proves he does not truly know God. For if he did, he would understand that God expects much from His people, while at the same time He is also loving, merciful, and gracious when they fail. He would also understand that what God has given him is his to use.

So then, as God’s people, we must put our gifts to use in His church and world. If we do not, we may prove to be like the last man in the parable, an unbeliever.

Questions

So then, I ask: How are you putting the gifts God has entrusted to you to work? How are you participating in the ministry of the church? If you are not participating, are you disregarding what God has called you to do out of ignorance, or are you not participating because you are afraid of God, not recognizing He is a loving, gracious, and merciful God?

Image: hinnamsaisuy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net