May 24, 2015
For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’
And he also that received the two talents came and said, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’
And he also that had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own.’ But his lord answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest.
Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.’
Each person is God’s unique creation. Even identical twins have differences. God is the Master Creator and Designer. He created each one of us with specific abilities and characteristics and gifts.
Because He is a purposeful God with each unique person He had a plan in mind. One day the Almighty said, “I AM going to create a Jew. I will arrange to have him born into a family of Jews that are Roman citizens. I will arrange for Him to have both an extensive classical education in Latin and Greek. He will also be tutored intensively in the Jewish Scriptures. He will have great management ability, be an excellent writer, courageous, zealous, an inspirer of men. His name will be Saul of Tarsus.”
What did Saul do with all these gifts? He used them in his efforts to crush the Jews who became involved in the heresy of believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. He worked aggressively to seize these believers in the Nazarene, confiscate their property, jail them and kill many.
Was he a good steward of God’s gifts? Of course not. He misused God’s gifts, causing pain and suffering to God by persecuting God’s elect.
The Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit allowed Saul to misuse God’s gifts only so far, and then Jesus halted Saul and turned him completely around. From a hater of Jesus and His believers, Saul was transformed into Paul, a lover of Jesus and His people. He became the foremost evangelist of the New Testament. Properly using God’s gifts, Paul reached thousands individually and by writing; and brought them to faith in Jesus, Son of God, Savior. Did Paul become a good steward of the gifts given to him by Almighty God? The answer is a resounding yes!”
Each one of us here has been endowed with gifts from our Father. He placed them in your innocent baby hands at the beginning of your life. He charged you to use all He gave you, everything in you, even your life itself, all to accomplish His purposes. As the Master in the parable gave talents to his servants, just so God, according to each one’s ability, charges you with the responsibility to turn His gifts unto great results.
To get an idea of the gifts God gives, you can look at the lives of the people God chooses to lead, prophesy, teach and minister. In Scripture there are great examples; King Hezekiah, Rahab and the Prophet Hosea, to name just a few.
Our Lord has not just saved us and left us on our own to live our lives. He has given us the responsibility to grow up in Christ and to be His ministers to believers and to those who do not have Jesus as Savior.
To show us how to grow He has given us the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He was sending the Spirit who would teach us all things and remind us of all Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit also assists us in our ministering to others. God has given us gifts. They are built into us from conception. They are encoded in our DNA. God has distributed them to individuals. Each person will have several complementary gifts. No one but Jesus has them all.
There are three lists of gifts, manifestations and offices in the New Testament.
All your lives you have been using the gifts your Lord has given you. As you reflect on how you have ministered in the past, you will understand how God was ministering through you.
When I was seeking an executive job, they counseled me to just list my previous employments, and then for each one describe in detail an incident that displayed an ability of mine. In this way, I was able to build a picture of the characteristics that made me fit for the job. It was not until later that I connected the skills I had with the gifting of my God.
Do you like to be with people? That may be the gift of hospitality.
Do you like to encourage people to see the movie you enjoyed or go to your favorite restaurant? That may be the ministry of evangelism.
Do you like to help people understand things? That may be the ministry of teaching.
What you like to do and do well, is most likely the talent God gave you to invest for Him and return the dividends. You can ask one another what gifts they see in you.
Jesus wants you to minister to the folks around you. As you pass someone in the hall, send a silent prayer to your Lord. “Jesus, how do you want me to serve her? How would you like me to pray for Him?” As you go by a room, stick your head in and ask how you can help. For those who want prayer, you can step in and pray for them. Lay your hands on them as you pray.
When you wake up each morning ask, “Jesus what ministries have You for me to do today?” During the day keep your eyes open for opportunities to exercise your gifts. Keep your ears open for the Holy Spirit’s direction.
Before you go to sleep each night pray for the people the Holy Spirit has brought to your notice during the day.
You cannot do everything. You can do something; but you must not do nothing.
And then when this life is over and the Lord God Almighty calls you in for an accounting of your use of His gifts, you can say. “Lord, here are the talents you gave me and here is how I multiplied them.” And He will say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!”
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
As a ten year old, I went “swimming” with my two cousins. They swam, but I could not, so I waded. The lake was small, but deep. The beach as about ten feet long and about 6 feet wide until it dropped off precipitously. The water over the beach was not up to my knees.
I walked around the lake until I discovered a large, perhaps 10-foot high boulder on the edge of the lake. I climbed up the backside and sat down facing the lake. The boulder sloped to the lake. I moved further out so I could look down into the water. As I leaned forward, I started slipping. The surface was smooth enough so my feet and hands could not make enough friction to stop. I plunged into the deep lake and was in serious danger of drowning. Phyllis and Dale saw my trouble, swam out and pulled me to shore. We all agreed that we would not tell our parents.
I was about 7 years old, hiding in my Dad’s closet (I do not remember why). I bumped against his pants hanging on a hook. Something solid was in his pocket. I reached in and took out a handful of silver dollars and half dollars. I did not think, just helped myself to several handfuls. That weekend I visited my grandmother in Seattle for a couple of days. As usual, she took me Downtown to the premier department store, Frederick & Nelson’s. We always went to the basement Paul Bunyan Room for lunch. I ordered a chicken pot pie. When it came time to pay, I proudly took out handfuls of silver coins and said I’d pay for the meal. Nanny did not say anything. When Daddy took me home at the end of my stay, in the car he handed me a Reader’s Digest open to the story by a man on death row. He told me to read it. The man had begun with petty thieving and graduated to major crime and ended on death row for murder. Nanny and Dad saved me from that slippery slope.
When I was 40 years old, I began cliff and mountain climbing. I did not have proper rock shoes, so I tried to use canvas boat shoes with sticky soles. They were barely okay for climbing up, but really dangerous on slabs. A slab is a sloping piece of rock that you cross with a cliff on one side and a significant drop on the other, a slippery slope. My shoes clung to the surface, but the canvas did not support me and my feet rolled out of my shoes, endangering me. I tried to cross with my toes up hill, but my heels wanted to slip out of the soft uppers. I finally went to a climbing store and bought rock shoes I could not afford. My life experiences have taught me of the real dangers of slippery slopes.
“That once abhorred, soon accepted, is finally embraced.” — Edwin Markham
This is a philosophical truth of the slippery slope. Human nature is prone to form habits. “Repetition is the mother of knowledge”. We learn to tie our shoes by struggling at first to make the manipulations necessary. Soon we just have to remember how we learned, and later we do it automatically without thinking.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” — Misattributed to Joseph Goebbels
Questions about the authenticity of the Bible began to circulate in the seminaries in the 1930’s. Christian denominations began to dispense with the authority of Scripture. By the time I grew up Jesus was discarded as God. Sin was bad, but without a concrete belief in Hell, the consequences of sin were only in this life.
I was raised a moral boy into a young man. In the 60’s, I considered the concept of “free love” immoral. So many of my contemporaries did not have the background I did felt the only consequence of sleeping around was pregnancy. Drug companies introduced the birth control pill in 1960. By 1965, over 6,000,000 women were taking the pill to make sexual relations nearly free of consequences of an unwanted child.
We are far down that slippery slope. Abortions are legal and frequent. Marriage and family formation has decreased significantly. Divorce has increased greatly with its attendant consequences of single mothers, emotionally damaged children, absent fathers. The reality is that those children are much more likely to do poorly in schools reducing their quality of adult life. They are much more likely to have problems with authority, leading to criminal behavior. I hasten to say this is not the direct cause of birth control. It is but one of the symptoms along the drift down the slippery slope.
Edwin Markham was right. In the early part of the 20th Century moral Americans abhorred birth control, “loose women” and “libertine men”, abortions, divorce, unwed mothers, and homosexuality. This social stigma, caused a few people pain, but the stigma preserved the intact family and the foundation of society. It fostered emotionally healthy children. It built into the family and society a sure foundation, strengthening individuals.
WWII had a negative impact on the morals of America with the attitude, “Live today, for tomorrow we die!” Further down, the watershed decade of the 60’s made immoral behavior common. The movies played their part as a “hot media”, portraying immorality as normal. Soon even strong moralists were no longer aghast at the bed-hopping that occurred on screen and among the personal lives of the actors. Initially, an actor’s or actress’ career was ruined if their affairs became public. Later, their affairs were “only” juicy gossip.
All of this led to society’s tolerance of immoral behavior. It was something that “those kinds of people did, certainly not in our circle friends.” The Kinsey Reports, on males in ‘48 and females in ’52, at first circulated only among psychologists. Eventually, they came to public attention. They added apparent professional approval to the growing wave of immorality. “Well, if everybody is doing it, it can’t be that bad.” This is the argument that “40,000,000 Frenchmen can’t be wrong” (they can be)!
The next step down the slope was the embracing of immorality. We find ourselves in a society in which the peers of a teen boy or girl think there is something wrong if he or she has not had sex. We find ourselves in a world where we have murdered 58,586,256 babies in the womb as of January 2016. The divorce rate exceeds 50%. 24,647,000 children live in single-parent households; that is 35% of children. Thus, our American society has embraced what we abhorred just 75 years ago. Our society is fragmenting and appears to be dissolving in dissolution.
If you try to put frogs in boiling water they resist strenuously. If, however, you have patience and put the frogs into room temperature water they will swim happily. If you gradually increase the heat the frogs do not feel it and eventually they are cooked and they never notice it.
So, what’s wrong with having a “new morality”? Nothing, unless you want a live frog. The frog could be living happily in an environment that suited his makeup. That was changed when he was put into the pot. With gradual heating he did not suffer from scalding, no pain, but he died.
The “new morality” is like the water in the kettle, it is not what society was made for. It will eventually kill society. Unhappily, this death is not without pain. Men suffer, women suffer, children suffer, our nation suffers.
Society was made to provide stability for families. Without that stability the society itself frays. People become loose ends. Without connections they have no anchor and “everyone does what is right in his own eyes”. Cooperation breaks down and peolpe see one another as at least competitors and at worst enemies.
The “free love” propagated in the 1960’s has been instrumental in breaking apart families and in preventing formation of families. Without the restraints of morality, illicit behavior begins to dominate. It began with questioning the need for marriage, “Who needs a bit of paper?” Today 40% of children are born to unwed mothers. These children will have greater chance of failing in schools and ending up in prison.
The next step down was the breakdown of fidelity in marriage. The advent of no-fault divorce corrupted the marriage commitment, “So long as we both shall LOVE.” Husband and/or wives do not wait until divorce to destroy their relationship. This infidelity catapults the children into an unstable and broken world of divided loyalties, of children blaming themselves for the breakdown, and of manipulation of one parent against the other.
Another step down this slope is the recognition of the “legitimacy of homosexuality. This unnatural relationship defies logic. Men and women were created to fit together sexually to procreate. Homosexual copulation cannot reproduce, so it is unnatural. The body parts do not interchange, so it is unnatural. It corrupts the emotional connection with the opposite sex, so it is unnatural.
We saw the breakdown of society evidenced in Ferguson, Missouri, and copy-cat riots. Many if not most of those people were using the disruption as an excuse. There was no connection between the initial questions over the shooting and the brutal destruction of property and looting. Those store owners had no hand in the incident. The immoral vandals were taking advantage of the police distraction. It became a “get out of jail free” card. Their avarice and destructive behavior were the poster child of the breakdown of morality over the last half century.
The rioters had no sense of responsibility for those local merchants that had been serving their neighborhoods. They felt no compunction at destroying their neighbors’ businesses and livelihoods.
“They got everythin’! I got nuthin’! They owe me!” This avarice blinds one to the truth that “they” through hard work had earned what they have. The small business owner works long hours and makes enough profit to purchase replacement stock, pay the utilities and rent, put food on the table and save some for retirement. It appears to the uneducated that since they have all that stock, they must be rich. The uneducated do not realize that the stock does not wholly belong to the owners. Some, or much of it is on the shelves on the basis of borrowed money. Only the stock they own outright is their profit margin. When stolen, the shop owner loses the money he paid as well as his profit. If he has borrowed to purchase it, he still owes the debt. Either from ignorance or caloussness, the uneducated do not care, and most likely will not listen to an explanation.
Another immoral attitude is, “I can defraud the insurance company. They’ve got plenty of money. Besides, they have reserves to cover this, don’t they?” The truth is every dollar the insurance company pays out in fraud, comes out of the insureds’ pockets in increased premiums, whether the company has reserves or not. Where do the reserves come from? Premiums paid for by the insureds.
Our culture has become so lacking in compassion and hardened to the innocent that society not only tolerates but also allows abortion clinics to ply their grisly trade. Practitioners think nothing of throwing out the body parts of dismembered babies by the garbage bag full. Some even sell the parts. People, in general, rarely confront this truth. Thus, they can ignore the logical yearly result of tens of thousands (compare this 58 M with the Holocaust of 6M that horrified the world) of aborted babies killed inside their mothers.
Contrary to the deception of the abortion promoters, science makes it clear that babies are viable from the instant of conception. Those two cells that come together are independently alive, even though they need the sustenance of the mother. Therefore, abortion providers seek to avoid showing mothers the ultrasound pictures that show their baby growing and moving inside them.
One of the carefully hidden prices that women pay for an abortion is the emotional damage to those who have had abortions. The more tender ones, emotionally, overtly suffer guilt, remorse and grief. The less tender become more calloused. Women suppress remorse and guilt. Those emotions are there and come out sideways in depression and other unhealthy emotions.
What’s wrong? Society is breaking down. Our society is developing a culture of lawbreakers—both moral and judicial. It has raised and is increasingly raising children that under-perform, have little or no family stability and are predisposed to destructive lives. Culture is fragmented and people are pitted against one another. The endemic lack of fidelity breeds a lack of trust and an “us-them” mentality. The callousness that this “New Morality’ has fostered has resulted in violent destruction of property in mob action, the slaughter of millions of innocent babies, destructive emotions, breakdown of families with tragic results. Yes, the cost of this “freedom” has been exceedingly high. Yet our culture refuses to acknowledge the truth of the American situation.
In the novel Winds of War by Herman Wouk, Jews deliver to the U.S. President authenticated documents from the Reichstag that proved the Nazi planned to exterminate the Jews. The Americans refused to believe them. The one who obtained the documents and knew the truth, observed, “They will not believe, because they choose not to believe.”
Human pleasure blinds one to the consequences of our actions. The woman who begins drinking in her sorority at college and later indulges in social drinking with others as a young married, is in no danger of becoming an alcoholic. Later, when she carries a flask in her purse, a bottle for replenishment in her desk and begins hiding how much she consumes each day, she has reached the steep slope. Her response to those who raise the question of drinking too much is sincere protestations. She refuses to see the truth that others can, because the drinking gives pleasure, no matter how much is hurts her.
Humans have a built-in survival mechanism that for the most part is a boon. Unhappily it is not logical. The instinct will not discern between good and bad survival. It always protects the emotional well-being. Unless the will is independent and sees the danger and overrules the erroneous self-survival efforts, those erroneous decisions lead the whole person into disaster.
The water is boiling now and we are seeing the results of the slippery slope in morality. Unhappily, we are still sliding down. Our culture is oblivious to the cliff at the bottom of the slope. I cannot tell how far we are from the edge, but it cannot be far. I cannot tell what will be the result of our sliding off, but I know it will be disastrous to our society. Our culture will deeply regret our obliviousness to the slide, and our refusal to stop, turn around and begin to climb back.
If we as a culture, as a nation turn back to God, He will save America. He loves people and longs for the best for all. Because He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent, God knows what is the best for each person. Putting one’s life in His hand and then following His very real directions for one’s life is the best thing in this world. He knows the end and all that leads up to it. It only makes sense to seek and follow His guidance. He knows when there is a slippery slope ahead and what to do to about it. Rely upon Jesus to save you in this life and ultimately for eternity.
ANSWER: This requires a subjective answer. Each person will likely have a different answer.
“Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.” — Teresa of Avila (16th century)
Some will know God, but have little passion for Him. I fear most people do not know God, are not even aware that He exists and is the Sovereign Creator of all that is.
God is a Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (contact me for an explanation). Mankind cannot avoid sin. Therefore, no one qualifies to live with the perfectly righteous God. God solved this problem when God the Son became flesh, born of a virgin. To remedy the reality of sin God planned to have a perfectly sinless Person die in the sinners’ place. Jesus was the God/man. His death on the cross made it possible for you and me to be with God. We must trade our sinful life to Jesus for a life of forgiveness. This means that we no longer belong to ourselves, but to God. Once that happens we discover the love of God, the only true love that there is (contact me for more explanation).
The quality and degree of love depends upon our relationship with Jesus.
Relationships are built upon shared experiences. The more time you spend with a friend the better you get to know him/her. Beyond that is cultivation. Exchange of complements, gifts, admitting the need for one another, all contribute to deepening of the relationship.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
This is the ultimate test of deep love for another person.
That is exactly what Jesus did for each of us. He died so that we might live eternally. When we become a member (by adoption) of God’s family, we demonstrate the quality of our love for him, by laying our life down for Him. Rarely, it means becoming a martyr for Christ. Regularly, day by day, it means that we put God’s desires for us first. He comes ahead of family, friends, and even (perhaps, especially) self.
The more we develop an ongoing dialogue with Almighty God, the greater will be our love for him. This dialogue incorporates prayers of intercession, (praying for others) singing hymns and gospel songs, praising God’s majesty, praying for oneself. We see people talking to themselves and we think they may be deranged. However, if one lives one’s life talking to God as did many of the saints of the past and many prayer warriors do today, then our joy in God, our love for Jesus and our listening to and obedience to the Holy Spirit will grow, causing us to talk often with the God we love.
Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.
My God and Father, You are so wonderful. You have created all things. Before You actually created, everything was in your mind. It is such a comfort to know that I was in your mind before the beginning of creation. You, the greatest thing in existence, included me in your plans.
My being cannot conceive, nor can it bear the reality of the extent of Your love for me. It is complete, perfectly expressed in Jesus. If You were to suffuse me with Your unfiltered love it would burn me to a cinder. Thus You became a man, limiting Yourself into a form I could see and touch and feel, a form that I could identify with.
I love you my God. I desire to know You more. Open up Your Scriptures to me to learn who You are. Reading truths You present in Scripture will educate me only so far. Therefore, I need to hear from Your Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would teach me all things and remind me of what Jesus taught when He was here on earth.
Father, show me how to love other people more. Give me a sensitivity to them that will bless them. Reveal to me how I am not present to my spouse or my children. Give me the way to be for them and with them. Show me how (beyond my natural abilities) to minister to the people around me. I desire to be a better friend to my friends. I want to share the life that you have for me with those people I meet in business, in shopping and in casual conversation.
Lord God Holy Spirit, our world is in a bad way. We have ethnic strife in numerous places around the world. That is because we as mankind are self-centered sinners. We embrace party spirit, “birds of a feather flock together”. It is Your will that all men be brought together in the spirit of Christ. When He prayed that last time in the Upper Room for His Disciples, Jesus prayed not only for them, but also for those who would believe because those there that night would teach others about Jesus. That chain has continued down to the present.
Thank you Father, for the Disciples and all those throughout history who faithfully transmitted the knowledge of Your love. Today I believe in You because 50 years ago two faithful men listened to the Lord and witnessed to Ruth and to me. They did not know one another, and yet You brought them to us at the same time.
Now, my gracious God, empower me to witness to those I contact. Give me the words to make them hunger and thirst after Your righteousness and Your love.
O, Holy Lord God, let all the angels in chorus proclaim your Glory. Let all flesh declare Your marvelous works among men. Let all the beauty of Your creation—snow capped mountains, rushing rivers, rainbows, flowers of spring—declare in their own shabby way Your inimitable and glorious loveliness.
Praise God! Praise the Father Almighty! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior of mankind! Praise the Holy Spirit, our Teacher! All glory to the One God!