“Well done good and faithful servant…” these are the words that every believer wants to hear from the Master when He returns and we give an account of what we have done with what He has given us. In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, we read of a master who gives instructions to his servants before departing on a long journey:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.” Matthew 25:14-15
A talent was a weight, or a sum of money, but it is appropriate to see this talent as a resource in a person’s life (time, money, ability, authority). The story goes on to reveal that the first two servants felt the responsibility of their assignment and went to work without delay. They used what had been entrusted to them, and gave the master a return on his investment. We read of the 3rd servant that he was afraid and went and hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground. At the very least, he did not lose what was entrusted to him, but he only gave his master “what was his” and no more.
We discover that each servant did give an account of what he had done in his master’s absence…
“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’…He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’
It is good to note that both servants received the same reward, even though they were given different measures, or weights, of responsibility. They both heard equally:
‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Note also that each servant gave an account individually. As a group they would have done well – 8 talents given, 15 returned; however, each ONE gave his own personal account before his master.
“Remember, my hearer, that in the day of judgment thy account must be personal; God will not ask you what your church did – he will ask you what you did yourself.” (Spurgeon)
Much to the third servant’s surprise, he was not commended for returning to the master what belonged to him. He seemed to believe – because his master was so powerful – that he didn’t need his help. With boldness and perhaps even pride he says to the master, “Look, there you have what is yours.” He seemed to have no idea that his master expected a return on his investment – at least some interest!
As we finish out the parable we see that the third servant was deemed to be “wicked & lazy,” or unprofitable & unproductive. He received no reward from his master, but rather what little he did have was taken away. His fears and assumptions were no valid excuse. He was afraid but his fear was misplaced – He should have feared God rather than fearing risk or failure.
Every time I read this passage it is sobering to me. We don’t have the luxury of not using what God put in our hands. We all want to hear, “Well done.” We all want to hear, “Good and faithful,” when the Lord is addressing us, but we often let our own fears and assumptions about God’s greatness and our “smallness” deter us from fully developing in the gifts and graces He has entrusted to us. Saying, “I was afraid,” is not a valid excuse! Fearing risk or failure rather than God will only lead us into being unprofitable and unproductive, but we are called to live lives that bear much fruit!
Listen, the qualities God is looking for are goodness & faithfulness. He didn’t say, “Well done thou mighty and anointed man of God.” Nor did he say, “Well done thou popular and well recognized Christian celebrity.” No, no – He is looking for faithfulness. He simply wants us to do something to serve Him with what He has given us. It might be serving in your church, raising up children in the spirit of faith, running a profitable business that advances His kingdom, or painting, dancing or performing for His glory. Whether He has given you 1 talent, 2 or 5 – give Him a return on His investment! Bear fruit with what seed He has given you!
In a very unfaithful world, God sees and recognizes and rewards FAITHFULNESS! What is the weight or measure He has entrusted to you? USE IT for His glory, and live excited for the day when you get to stand before Him and hear, “Well done.”
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” ~ Sun Tzu, Author of “The Art of War”
Whether it is widely acknowledged & accepted or not, the fact is, we are engaged in spiritual warfare on a daily basis. We are not fighting for the victory that Christ already won for us, but the Bible exhorts us to occupy until His return. We are to enforce His victory through faith in the finished work of the cross. We have been commissioned to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and the mission is to turn every creature from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the power of God.
Did you know that the enemy of your soul has strategies and schemes? (Ephesians 6:11) As the war hero quoted above reminds us, the strategy of war is to avoid what is strong, and to strike at what is weak. The devil knows this strategy all too well, and unfortunately many Christians that don’t strengthen themselves spiritually become the weak targets that the enemy looks to strike at. Even the strongest of believers have areas of inherent weakness where they must shore up their defenses so as not to get caught in a trap.
Many Christians get uncomfortable talking about the devil, and others deny that a devil even exists; however, denying that gravity is a reality won’t stop it from affecting you when you step over the ledge of a building. In the same way, denying the reality of the devil won’t stop you from becoming the target of his strategies & schemes! In order to do what we have been commissioned to do, and to lay hold of the promises of God that Jesus died for us to have, we MUST know our enemy, and we MUST become spiritually strong by exercising our faith in God’s word on a daily basis.
Let’s begin this study by first looking at knowing our enemy:
“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11
According to this scripture, Satan can actually gain an advantage over us when we are ignorant of his devices; it’s like giving him free ammunition. I know that you don’t want any enemy of yours getting free ammunition to shoot you with! Neither do I! One way we can find out about his devices, schemes, tactics and plans is by understanding some things about his nature and how he operates. The nature of our adversary is outlined in John 10:10:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” ~ John 10:10a
Three words in this verse describe the nature of the thief by outlining what it is that he comes to do: steal, kill & destroy. I want to look at each of these words, not to instill fear in your heart, but to ignite faith in you to lay hold of the things God has promised you, and encourage you to NOT LET GO!
1. Steal (klepto) – this word communicates the idea of a bandit, a pick pocket, a thief that is so cunning and so strategic, he will take from you and you won’t even know you’ve been stolen from.
When I was younger I stayed in Guatemala for several weeks, and during that time I remember walking through the market with a friend. As we looked around at the trinkets and souvenirs there was a point that his Passport was stolen right out of his pocket, and he was unaware until he reach in and realized it was gone!
This is the kind of thief we are dealing with. He is subtle, crafty and he prefers that you don’t even acknowledge his existence! He attempts to steal the joy that strengthens you, the peace Jesus gave you, the love the Holy Spirit poured out in your heart, the passion in your marriage, the prosperity God blessed you with, the health Jesus purchased for you with every stripe laid on His back! DON’T LET HIM STEAL FROM YOU!! Realize that your enemy is not flesh and blood – when feelings of sadness, fear, doubt, worry, unforgiveness, sickness and the like begin to creep in with subtlety, grab that pick pocket’s hands and say, “No! You will not take what God has given me! It’s mine!”
I like to imitate my two year old. He says, “No! Dats mines!” That’s how we have to talk to the devil!
2. Kill (thuo) – to sacrifice in a religious way
The killing that is spoken of here does not imply murder; it carries the meaning of sacrifice. Jesus used this word to describe the work of the thief. Whatever he has been unsuccessful in stealing from you, he will try to convince you to sacrifice. His aim is to get you to give up that which God has already blessed you with. Now listen to me closely: it is in the season of waiting that he is most successful with this strategy.
The Bible teaches us to follow after the example of those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. (Hebrews 6:12) Faith requires a season of waiting while we do not yet see! It is during this wait that our faith is tested, and our enemy will create circumstances, use people’s words, plant seeds of doubt, bring us thoughts contrary to God’s word – he will strike, and strike, and strike, attempting to wear us down so that we finally let go of the promise, and SACRIFICE what we were believing God for! This is why the Holy Spirit exhorts us:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” ~ Galatians 6:9
There is a two letter word in that verse that Satan exploits to his advantage: IF. We will reap at the right time IF we don’t give up! SO DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t let the thief convince you to kill, cut off, abort, or sacrifice the promises and dreams God has placed inside of you! Be strong. Be courageous. Hold on until your faith becomes sight! The harvest IS GUARANTEED if we just don’t lose heart.
3. Destroy (apollymi) – to annihilate, to trash, to destroy
One Bible scholar sums up the nature of the thief in this way:
“The thief wants to get his hands into every good thing in your life, in fact this pick pocket is looking for every way to wiggle himself so deeply into your personal affairs that he can walk away with everything you hold precious and dear. And that’s not all! When he is finished stealing all your goods and possessions, he’ll take his plans to rob you blind to the next level. He’ll create conditions and situations so horrible that you’ll see no way to solve the problem except to sacrifice whatever remains from his previous attacks. The goal of this thief is to totally waste and devastate your life. If nothing stops him, he’ll leave you insolvent, cleaned out and flat broke in every area of your life. Make no mistake, the enemy’s ultimate aim is to annihilate you.”
Now remember what I said when we started: Let the awareness of the nature of your enemy ignite faith in you to never let that sorry rascal get away with stealing from you ever again! Don’t give him any place, or any access. Don’t allow him to take from you. Fight the good fight of faith!
You know, sometimes the nature of people is to let themselves get pushed around a little here and there until they get so fed up with the situation that they say, ENOUGH! Maybe that is where you are at with certain circumstances in your life right now. Let’s agree together as touching this thing, that when the enemy tries to steal, kill, or destroy us the Holy Spirit will sound the alarm in our hearts, and stir up the “fight” in us so that we stand and keep on standing until we see the victory come to pass. Amen?
I encourage you this week to use your fighting words in prayer, and to reclaim any ground that you have allowed the enemy to set foot on. Then, set your face like flint and stand until you see God’s promise come to pass!
Are you overwhelmed by the circumstances that you find yourself in? Are you stuck in sadness, self-pity or depression? Do you want someone to show you the way to victory?
What if I told you a simple truth; that gratitude is the key to having victory in your circumstances. Not long ago our pastor did an amazing, life-changing teaching series called Thanksgiving Victory. I’ll never forget the impact it had on me as I considered what God had to say about being thankful, and in contrast, what He had to say about self-pity. Now, any time my thoughts and emotions start to move me in the direction of sorrow or self-pity I am quick to rehearse my blessings.
The truth is that we can all easily take for granted the good in our lives, and focus on the “bad.” As humans we tend to magnify problems. We focus intense amounts of energy on thinking about those problems, and those thoughts are expressed in our lives through worry, fear, anxiety, sorrow, anger and general STRESS.
Like a hamster on a wheel, those thoughts run and run and get us nowhere! The problems aren’t resolved, the circumstances haven’t changed, and we have only succeeded in “spinning our wheels in the mud” and getting more stuck than before.
The danger is when we entertain self-pity. The belief is that our circumstances are somehow more difficult than everyone else’s. Our problem is unique, and the pain far greater than what anyone else is experiencing. It is unfair and we are entitled to be experiencing something better (like everyone else)! Here is why it is so dangerous to think this way: you make it impossible for God to extend grace to you. Why? You feel you deserve it! Grace, by its very definition, is undeserved. It is favor that is given, not because it is owed, but because of the loving kindness of the one who extends it.
When you wallow in self-pity and depression you are absolutely cutting yourself off from the grace of God which is the ONLY thing that is going to affect REAL change in the circumstances you are so depressed over!
So what is the answer? Gratitude. Gratitude expressed in giving thanks for all the GOOD in your life! If you are reading this and scoffing at the narrow-minded simplicity of this solution in the face of your “very real” problems then you are exactly the person this message is for! Truth will set you free, but it does leave some feeling offended. Jesus set a lot of people free AND He simultaneously offended a lot of people. You can’t control every circumstance that surrounds you. You live in a fallen, cursed world where people have a free will to do all kinds of things that aren’t the will of God or the plan of God. Sometimes their free will infiltrates your world and the result is bad things happening to “good” people. You can’t control every circumstance around you, but YOU CAN control how you choose to respond!
You can stand right now, lift your hands and your heart to God and say THANK YOU LORD that I’m alive!
Are you healthy? Thank God! Do you have a roof over your head and clothes on your body? Thank God! Do you have food to eat today? Thank God! Do you have an income? Thank God! Do you have friends that love you? Thank God! Do you have a God that loves you and is for you? Thank Him! Are your children healthy? Thank Him! Is your car running? Thank Him!
As you begin to SAY, out loud, all that you are thankful for, as you rehearse how blessed you are, as you declare God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of even the WORST circumstances, you give God permission to release His favor and grace in the situation! So do it! Right now where you are. Be grateful! Be thankful! Rehearse your blessings, and continue to do it daily! Then stand back and watch how God brings you out of the pit and into victory!
Sipping coffee on a cool February morning and thinking about how quickly time passes….
I believe that is something we reflect on more and more with each year. We are actually encouraged to do this in the Word of God:
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 KJV
As we think on how many days we have, or number our days as the Bible puts it, we realize that it does prompt a response from us to “apply our hearts unto wisdom.” We need wisdom in order to make the most of every day.
I’m sure you can identify when I say I want to live life well, to cherish and value what really matters, and to give God my ALL – to be whole-hearted toward Him.
I’ve recently talked a lot with my husband about these things – about our family, God’s plan for us, our future, what to make priority, how to live this year – and every year – with INTENTION. As we have been talking and meditating on this, God brought up some things in my heart, and I hope they can be a blessing to you as well.
Here is what I believe He spoke to my heart:
Seasons, seasons, seasons of life. You’ve got to know what season you are in and BE THERE. Be the best you in your present season that you can be. Don’t be constantly trying to get to the next season. There is something about being too “future me” minded that robs you of “present me” joy & contentment.
Paul learned in whatever state he was in not to be content WITH the situation, but to be content IN the situation.
We all desire to “be more.” We all know that there are greater levels of potential to be discovered, that there are places of greater development and maturity in Christ; yet, we can fall into the “I’m not yet where I want to be” trap that keeps us frustrated and sometimes disappointed with where we presently are.
Looking forward, looking at the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and tenaciously laying hold of it like a bull dog with a bone – this is how we develop into the fullness, the FULL LIFE of God. Yet we must remember in our passionate drive to DO more for God, He did not just call us to DO, He also called us to BE.
We must learn to BE as much present minded as we are future minded; otherwise, in our quest to finally “arrive” at our ultimate place and final destination we can miss the absolute beauty of every step we took to get there. Love your steps! Rejoice in your steps! Dance before the Lord in your steps! Every step counts. Every step makes up the journey, and every season makes up the life. LIVE in your season! OWN your season! Whether it’s finishing school, or being a stay at home mom, or taking a new job, or moving to a new city, or being a wife, or starting a ministry!
God is not disappointed with you because you haven’t yet “arrived.” My gosh, He is FOR US! He is WITH US! He is our biggest cheerleader! He is the one giving you the grace to do this thing!
We as parents find so much joy, and we are so pleased in seeing our children develop. Every season of their development is precious – not just the end of their days. How much more does God, our Heavenly Father, find joy in seeing us develop through every season of life!?
In all of our thoughts and prayers about making the most of our days, I believe God wants us to apply this wisdom to our hearts: Know your season and BE THERE. Give God your all each and every day, with each and every step. You can cast the vision, you can write it down and make it plain, you can talk about your future and God’s plan for your family; but, the only way you will see the future vision come to pass in your life is to wake up to your present reality every day, and make a decision to live – really LIVE – in that moment with joy & thanksgiving in your heart, doing what God has called you to do, in the place He has called you to be TODAY.
Lord, I lift up whoever is reading this now and I pray that their spiritual eyes would be enlightened to this truth. I pray that it would bring a renewed sense of joy & satisfaction to their present season. I pray that they would see the good stuff in the hard stuff, and that they would mine, and dig up the gold – the precious treasure – in their PRESENT situation. I pray that you would help each one to know their present season. Help them to live in that season, choose to own it, and choose to rejoice in it as they move toward the future that you have for them. What a glorious future that is! I ask these things in the mighty name of JESUS!
YOU are uniquely designed for a God-given purpose & destiny. There is no doubt about it. There is no other person exactly like you in this universe. So why do we compare ourselves, belittle our gifts, talents and abilities, and come to the conclusion that what we have to offer would be insignificant or trivial at best?
I have been pondering many things in these last weeks as God continues to draw my family deeper into His plan and purpose for our lives, and for His kingdom. The Holy Spirit has helped me to see that I have allowed small thinking, insecurities, and even pride to keep me from fully developing the potential that He has placed within me. Perhaps you have had thoughts brought to your mind that go something like this:
“Why would you do that? There are thousands of (fill in the blank) out there already – how is yours, or how are you any different?”
“Why would you share (fill in the blank)? Your voice will just be lost in a sea of rhetoric – it really won’t make any difference one way or another.”
“How is this little thing you are doing going to make any impact on anything? Nobody’s going to listen to you anyway, and nobody really cares.”
“That’s a dumb idea. Do you really think that would produce anything beneficial in a million years? You’ll look like a fool.”
My friends, there is an enemy, Satan, that seeks to steal, kill and destroy your life. If he can’t get you to quit, he will seek to render you powerless by convincing you of the LIE that you are insignificant, that what you have to offer the body of Christ is of no value – or of very little value, and that your voice, your gifts, your talents, your dreams are better off remaining small, limited and underdeveloped; after all, it is the safer path to take. No risk, no looking like a fool.
HEY! Do you know that we don’t have the luxury of thinking like this!? Consider the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25. When the master came to the servant who buried and hid what he had entrusted to him (because of fear); he did not say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” On the contrary, the words “wicked and lazy servant” were pronounced from the master!
GOD has placed something inside of us that the world needs, that the body of Christ needs! He expects us to take what He has placed within us, yield to His great grace, and allow Him to work in us and through us to effect change in our sphere of influence! He expects a multiplication of what He has entrusted to us!
Are you a musician? A writer? Are you gifted in business or sports? Are you graced in communication or administration? Has God called you to preach or pastor? Are you a visionary or a pioneer? Do you work well with your hands – building, and fixing and maintaining? Or maybe acting, dancing, painting, or creating are your thing. DO NOT hide your gift. DO NOT belittle the grace that has been placed within you. DO NOT yield to fear over what others may think; how about what GOD thinks!?
Come on people! Let’s break free from the lies that bind us, and believe the truth that makes us free! There is so much inside of you! There is so much good, so much beauty, so much talent, so much ability – so much POTENTIAL!
BELIEVE that the good work that God has begun in you, HE will be faithful to complete. Let’s be a people that reject small thinking and safe, comfortable Christianity! Let’s be a people that hear from God and take risks – that fully trust in His enabling power to carry us through every assignment He gives us! I am just so zealous inside, in this season of my life, to encourage & exhort, to draw out and cause others to believe that they are valued and that they really do MATTER!
There is a great work to be done in these last days. God needs all hands on deck. Forget what others think. Forget about your reputation. Forget about being a people pleaser. Forget about comparison. BE YOU! Beautiful, uniquely designed, uniquely graced, uniquely gifted, amazing, fearfully and wonderfully made YOU! Be the best version of yourself you can be right now, and like pure gold, you will continue to be more and more refined with each season that you walk through.
I, for one, am tired of allowing the enemy to keep me from doing what God has called me to do. I choose to allow the grace of God to permeate and invade my life, to fill me and enable me to do and be all that God has destined for me. Let the chips fall where they may; and listen, it’s about other people! Get over yourself and get into God. This has never been about you. It has never been about me. It’s about people – especially those that don’t know Him.
So shine your light dear one. Be bold. Be brave. Take risks. At the end of your days it won’t be the things you stepped out in faith to do that cause regret, it will be the things you never even tried to do – the potential you never developed, the lives you were too afraid to impact. Choose to live a life worthy of your salvation.
I love you. I believe in you. I pray this has blessed you and planted a good seed in your heart that bears fruit in time to come.