Luke 21:1-4, Matthew 25: 14-30. Folks this is a message about investing our prayers, and presence, our service, our witness and yes,… about investing financially in the future of our mission and vision here at Harmonie Church.
Linde read from the Gospel of Luke about the poor widow who put two small copper coins in the church offering. Some believe this is a message of pity for those who are poor. Some believe it’s the scripture that “gets us off the hook” for tithing our income to the mission of the church. But in fact, it’s neither. Jesus said, “…they gave out of their abundance, she gave out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
It is a reminder that all of us are called to give extravagantly …to give in proportion to what we have received. If we have been blessed with a little, we are called to give a little…and if we have been blessed with plenty, then we are called to give accordingly.
Luke’s story of the poor widow giving her coins is a great example from scripture that helps us establish the need for to give extravagantly. And adding to that the parable of the talents from the 25th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is in my estimation, is one of the most practical parables that Jesus taught…
It is a rather long parable, 16 verses, so I’ll not read it to you, again. You already know the parable. Some of you have heard it many times. Let me condense it to just a few sentences.
Jesus said that a master was getting ready to take a long journey. So, he called in his servants & distributed his wealth among them. Then he left, for quite a whild. And then he came back. And when he came back, he called for an accounting, & those who had invested wisely, he rewarded. And the one who did not invest, is condemned.
That’s the parable. As I said, it is practical. It applies to our lives because it shows how God treats us, how He reacts to us, & how we oftentimes treat His blessings.
Scene One opens with the master calling in his servants.
He says to them, "I am going to entrust you with my wealth." So, he gives 5 talents to one, 2 talents to another, & 1 talent to the third. "Talents, money, dollars," - all are synonyms for the same thing. He distributed his wealth among them & said, "While I am gone I want you to be STEWARDS of this wealth."
He is the master. They are the servants. He owns everything. They own nothing. They depend upon him. If he were not generous with them, they would not be able to live. Now he has called them in & said, "I have been watching you. I have studied you, and I have concluded that you are faithful stewards."
We instantly draw some parallels, don’t we? We realize that this master represents God, who has everything.
God, who is the giver of life. God, who gives us air to breathe. God, who gives us healthy bodies so that we can see & think & plan & make decisions.
This parable also covers all of the commitments we make to Jesus and the church: Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness; and of course, that includes our money!
God is always looking for faithful servants. When they are faithful with those talents, God gives them more talents. God is constantly studying our lives, looking for faithful servants.
One of the alarming parts of the story is that He didn’t give the servants the same amount. He gave 5 to one & 2 to another & 1 to another. Some would say that is not fair. But then we realize that this master knows His servants. So, He gives to each of them, verse 15 says, "according to his ability."
That’s the way God works, isn’t it? God gives, & then He gives us free will to do our thing. He doesn’t coerce us. He gives, & then He leaves it in our hands. He does open doors of opportunity. He gives us visions & dreams.
He allows us to see just a little bit of what might be. But then He waits for us to use what He has given, & to see if we will be faithful with it.
Scene Two. The master comes back. When He came back, the 5 talent man came in & said, "Look, master. I have taken the 5 & invested them, & now I have 10." The Master said, "Well done, good & faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things.
I’ll give you many. Enter into the Joy of your Master."
The 2 talent man came in & said, "Look, master. I have taken the 2 talents you gave me & I invested them. Now I have 4." " Well done, good & faithful servant," He said. "Because you have been faithful over a few things, I’ll make you a ruler over many. Enter into the Joy of your Master."
I hope and pray that each of us hears Jesus saying to us, “Well Done Good And Faithful Servant. Enter into the Joy of your Master."
Then the 1 talent man came in. He said, "Lord, I knew that you were a hard master, & that you reap what you have not sown. So, I wrapped up the talent & I buried it in the ground.
The master called him a "wicked, lazy servant," & in verse 30, a "worthless servant." And He threw him out into the darkness where there is weeping & wailing & gnashing of teeth.
It’s a tough parable, isn’t it? It’s a story meant to get TO KNOW GOD!!
Jesus tells us the man was afraid. He was afraid because he had analyzed the master as being a hard master. You see, he didn’t understand the master. God has expectations, no question about that. But God is not hard. He is gentle & understanding & forgiving & merciful. THE MAN DIDN’T KNOW GOD SHOWED MERCY AND GRACE, FOR THOSE WHO WILL BOW DOWN AND SUBMIT. Therefore, he was afraid, & buried his talent in the yard.
Check out this story!! It show us a different way to deal with the blessings from GOD. There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.
The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need".
Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die.
Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out.
So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed and MORE. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveler.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make, do we hold on to what we have because we don’t believe there are better things in store for us, and settle for immediate satisfaction? Or do we trust God and give up all that we have to get what God has promised us? I think the choice is obvious. We need to pour in all the water, trust God with everything.
Then once we have experienced what God has to offer, the living water, we need to tell other people, “Go ahead prime the pump, believe me it works”!
Friday Evening 5-8:30 and Saturday Morning 9-11 we met for our Strategic Ministry Planning Retreat at College UMC in Warrenton, led by Pastor Bill LaMora.
Janet Gerdman, Laura Grayson, Don Vetrone, Jan Payne, Linde Flanders, Pat and Jim Bubash, and myself.
Pastor Bill took was able to get excellent demographics for the community that surrounds Harmonie Church; and therefore we now have our “Demographic Target: Harvey and Harriet Harmonie and their two children Hannah and Harry.” We will share much more soon. We looked at the top ten “Life Concerns,” at the top ten “programs and ministries the folks were seeking,” and the top ten reasons “Why Aren’t You Going To Church?”
Then we set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2024
You now hold in your hands the result.
2024 DRAFT GOALS FOR HARMONIE CHURCH
Strategic Ministry Planning Retreat
Goal #1—Create a “Reach Team” to create a community outreach presence by offering our Fellowship Room for outside groups (AA, NA, Grief Support, Cancer Support, Grandparents Raising Grand Kids.) Creating relationships to make disciples by February 1, 2024.
Goal #2—Develop four “Life Groups” of at least four people by June 1, 2024 who will meet at least once a month whose purpose is to develop relationships and care for one another. A Survey with no names and ten options will be presented to church by February 1 to choose groups.
My friends, I calling our church to a time of prayer.
Please pray with me…
Please rise as you are able and let us sing,
“GOD Be With You”