As I was trying to prepare the flower beds for Fall, I made yet another attempt to tear out the vines that are planted in many areas of my yard. These vines drive me crazy every time I take the effort to remove them. If you are not familiar with vines, you do not understand the nuisance it is to remove them. You begin to pull some of the vine, but soon realize you are not close to the root. Instead, you are pulling different strands of new growth, connected to other growth. It’s hard to even pull anything out because everything grows connected and is bound together underground, connected with the strong root. The root system keeps me from ever getting rid of the vines.
Imagine now how Jesus speaks of our need to abide in Him. He promises if we abide in Him, He will abide in us (John 15:4). He is our strong root system, our foundation. Paul wrote that we should let our “roots grow down into Him.” If we are rooted with Him, we are like those vines with the strong root, that is difficult to move. When we are rooted in Christ, our “faith will grow strong.” When we are rooted in Christ, we “overflow with thankfulness.”
Ask the Spirit to reveal to you your root system. If you are unsure if you are abiding in Him, consider how much time you devote to prayer, Bible reading and Bible study, and walking in the will of God. If these things sound foreign, or if these things are not of most importance on your list of priorities, it is time to start reviewing your list. Look at what you are trying to grow. Look at where you are investing yourself. Do you want to live a life growing with the strong vine, or are you trying to grow yourself to build yourself up? You’ll find that the little sprouts are easy to pull from the ground, very different from the strong rooted vines. Don’t live like a little sprout.
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
As I was preparing for a message on embracing God and embracing others, I considered the half hug. You all know the half hug. It is when you sort of hug someone, but do not truly hug the person. It’s a half hug. You have one arm around the person, but the other arm just dangles there. It’s like you almost embrace a person, but yet you don’t complete it. Some would even call this a fake hug.
I continued to be brought back to this half hug as I was preparing the message, and focusing on embracing God. Do we half hug God sometimes? Is that possible? Of course it is possible. Sadly, it is what most Christians do many times. Some compare this to having one foot in heaven and the rest of their body in the world. It’s when you are not all in when it comes to your walk with God. You believe in Jesus. You have been saved. Yet, you don’t have the close relationship that God always wanted since the creation of the earth.
When God created Adam and Eve, He walked with them. He wanted to have that kind of relationship with man. We all know sin damaged this relationship. But we also know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for a restoration of this relationship. The veil was torn. The Spirit was poured out upon believers. We can have that relationship again. The Bible tells us this truth. It’s awesome. Part of this relationship is described with the word abide. If we abide in Him, He abides in us. That sounds confusing but it’s simple. We abide (or remain) in Him, and He abides (remains) with us. How awesome?!? Understand there is no half abiding. The abiding is not to be a pick and choose type thing. You are either abiding or you are not abiding. Today, ask the Spirit to share with you where you currently are at, and if there is anything that is blocking your abiding in Him.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NLT]
It is one thing to talk the talk. It is another thing to walk the walk. In 1 John 2, we read that the one who says that he abides in Jesus should walk the same way that Jesus walked. This means that if a person claims to remain in Jesus, to be doing life with Jesus, that person would walk in the same manner as Jesus. In doing so, the person would appear to mirror Jesus. One would look at the person and see Jesus.
Walking like Jesus requires us to be in the Word daily so we can glean from the Word how He walked. He spent time in the Word. It was written on His heart. Is it written on yours? Walking like Jesus means we are continually in prayer – that we continually are aware of the presence of God. Remember how Jesus left the group to pray? Do you take time to pray? Walking like Jesus means we love like He loves, forgive as He forgave, serve as He served.
Today, consider your steps. Are you walking like Jesus? Are you a person of compassion? Do you love with all you have? Do you have the heart of a servant? You can talk the talk, but a true disciple walks the walk.
“Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” – 1 John 2:6 [ESV]
In Nehemiah 13, we read that the people were once again not keeping the Sabbath. Today, people do not understand the importance of the Sabbath. Many people consider that since most places are open on Sundays, that we need not celebrate the Sabbath. Some people may consider the Sabbath something people celebrated during “the time of the Bible,” but not something that we need continue nowadays.
I love the Sabbath and thank God for this great gift. The Sabbath was instituted since Creation. It is something that is part of Creation. Consider the rhythms of the world that God has created. Part of the Creation was active, but then there was rest. This is how we were created, as we are part of Creation. We need to have a rhythm of life, where there is an active working part, and then a time of rest. I typically celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, but there are moments when I preach or teach, that I celebrate another day. Understand the Sabbath is about having that day of rest with God.
God gave us the Sabbath as a gift. We should show gratitude for this gift, and we should also want to celebrate the gift. This is a time we can get ourselves realigned with the Father. This is a time we can get ourselves refueled for the next week. This is a time we can grow closer to God. This is a time when we can fellowship with the Lord without distractions. This is a time of rest, reconnection, and renewal. Be sure that you take a day this week, and celebrate the Sabbath! Continue this rhythm in your life each week. You will come to realize the importance of this special, holy day.
“They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day” – Exodus 16:29 [NLT]
In Ecclesiastes 10, we read of splitting logs, breaking walls, digging pits, and removing stones from a quarry. Each of these items is linked with something that may happen as a result. If you break a wall, a serpent may bite you. If you dig a pit, you may fall into it. If you working in a stone quarry, you may get hurt by a stone.
With all of these cause and effect type scenarios, we read and maybe follow up with a chuckle at some of the items. Who would fall into a hole that he dug himself? Why would a serpent attack you if you break through a wall? We often cannot relate to what is being expressed in this passage. But if we take a step back and try to understand the people of a different time, these expressions are simply explaining the dangers of something negative happening as a possible result of your conduct. This is a message of caution.
Many times in life, we do not heed warnings. We think the warnings are for “the other guy” who doesn’t know what he or she is doing. We most always think we know what we are doing and we know what will happen afterward. Consider the time you may have thought you were doing something good, but it just so happened that after you broke whatever wall before you down, you were attacked by someone. We are to always tread with caution—meaning that we need to recognize and accept that after we do something or say something, there is a reaction to follow, and it might not be what we expect. This does not mean we do not do anything, but that we cling closely to our Father, and as we abide in Him and better understand His will, we trust Him with any outcome and press forward as He directs. No matter the outcome, we can trust He is faithful and we have a bright future in eternity with He Who created all things for His glory.
“He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones is hurt by them, and he who splits logs is endangered by them.” – Ecclesiastes 10:8-9 [ESV]
[The Loaned Money: Matthew 25:14-30]
- Also known as the Parable of the Talents
- A talent is a monetary unit worth about 20 years’ worth of wages.
- Talent is useless if it is not used.
- No one is without talent.
- Talents given according to ability – 5, 2, 1
Responsibility – Faithful over little, set you over much – Action is required
Time – Talent – Treasure
- We are to be RESPONSIBLE and CREATIVE
- We are all different but His expectations are always appropriate.
- Talents (Resources from God) + Action for God + Time (Gift from God)
= Profit for Kingdom
The third servant – the evil, lazy servant…
- Hid the talent because he was concerned with safety more than service
- To avoid not doing anything wrong, he ended up not doing anything right.
To be faithful, one must be:
- Focused on Jesus – All about Jesus, growing His Kingdom (Colossians 3:17)
- Founded in Jesus – Abide in Him (John 15)
- Fearless for Jesus – Hope in Jesus = Boldness/Courage (2 Corinthians 3:12)
Bible Study Questions:
1) What was the Master’s commendations for the two successful servants?
2) What did the Master do for the successful servants?
3) The unfaithful servant was described as three words. How was he described?
4) What happened to the unfaithful servant when the Master returned?
5) How do we bury the talents God has given us?
6) How can we discover our talents? How can we use them for God’s glory?
7) How can we encourage others with their talents?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.