When Moses was given a special mission by God, the doubts seeped in and he didn’t have the confidence to move forward. God provided a staff. When tossed down, the staff became a serpent. If that wasn’t strange enough, God told Moses to stretch out his hand, to reach, to grab the serpent by the tail. Talk about a scary moment. Yet when God said, “Stretch out your hand,” the Bible says, “so he stretched out his hand.” Moses did as God commanded and was able to experience something awesome.
If Moses did not stretch out his hand, if he let fear dictate his actions, Moses would not have enjoyed the moment of watching God move in this amazing way. If Moses would have planted his feet firmly and made the decision not to listen or not to trust, he would have missed the crucial part of the sign God was providing. He would have also lost the opportunity to bring this all before Pharaoh and live out his destiny.
Today, ask yourself what you need to stretch out your hand toward and what God wants you to grasp. What is God leading you toward? What is before you, and are you ready for the next step? If you cannot think of anything, open the Word and let His Truth seep beneath the surface. Often if you believe there is no movement on the forefront, the true need is to draw near to God.
“But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail’—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—‘that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’” – Exodus 4:4-5 [NASB]
Action alone does not mean there is faith; however, faith without action is “dead and useless.” If you have faith, it should result in some fruit. People should see your good deeds. People should see something different in you, something that will point them to the One with whom you have faith.
The fruit isn’t going to come if you don’t have action. If you say you have faith, but no one can tell, you may need to reevaluate this thing you call faith. James notes knowing that your brother and sister are without and simply telling them to have a good day, appearing oblivious to their needs, does no good. To know something and not act upon it makes no sense at all.
Today, test your faith. When was the last time you demonstrated your faith? When was the last time your faith was challenged?
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’–but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” – James 2:14-17 [NLT]
[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.
Every morning as I get ready for work I find myself brushing my teeth and glancing in the mirror. The mirror reflects what I look like at that moment. It is the truth. It is real. There is no façade, no clouded view, no distortion. But when I leave the bathroom and can no longer see that mirror image, the mirror is useless to me. It means nothing. My appearance will change throughout the day. Hair will stick up. I might get a scratch from my dogs. One never knows. But the mirror image is useless.
In James we read about self-deception. People hear the word of God and it goes in one ear and then out the other. The Bible says that it’s like someone who looks in the mirror and walks away and doesn’t remember what they look like. What the passage is referencing is how the mirror is useless when we walk away. It means nothing. When people hear the Word of God and walk away without acting upon it, it’s like that useless mirror. It is useless. They are deceived. The word is irrelevant in their opinion and ignored.
James spent the time speaking about self-deception because it is something we all fall prey to if we just take the Word of God and nibble on it but do nothing else. It gets us nowhere. It’s like pushing the gas pedal on a car that has a dead battery. There is no action. When you truly hear the Word of God, you act. You embrace. You love. You live the Truth.
“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” – James 1:22-24 [MSG]
In Proverbs 20:24 we read, “The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we’re going?” (MSG). The Lord directs our steps. We are not going to understand everything along the way. But still we are to walk in faith.
I have planned many plans. I thought they were the best possible plans for me. They looked good. They sounded good. But after I followed those plans, I stumbled, failed, or simply didn’t get the outcome I expected. It didn’t make any sense. God’s plans are now the plans I follow, but still the plans don’t make sense. How can man understand his way? I often wonder what is going to happen next because I only see with limited sight while God has the big picture.
There were many occasions when I walked in faith and expected a particular outcome, but got something so very different than I could have imagined. Remember, His thoughts are not like our thoughts. Our God is a God of the impossible. We often limit God by coming up with our miniscule plans. We think they are grand plans, but if we could see His plans, we would laugh at our little ideas. Today I challenge you to seek God as you envision what He has for your life. Walk forward taking the steps he directs. Praise Him along the way and don’t forget to tell people when you have a “Boom” moment. What’s that? That’s when you finally reach the end of a season and you see what He has done. Boom. So much more than I imagined. Boom. Wow, that’s incredible! Boom. Get blown away by God. Don’t limit Him. Fly with Him. Soar high my friends.
“A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?” – Proverbs 20:24 [ESV]
Today I had Chinese takeout for lunch. The end of the meal always consists of eating the fortune cookie. It said something like don’t just think about it, act on it. Though I am not into fortune cookies, despite finding them tasty for being crispy bits filled with air, the words on the little slip of paper are a great reminder to us all.
See we can all think about living for Christ. We can all think about being a shining light. We can all think about what is good and pure and holy. We can think about how it is good to help the needy. We can think about how it is important to love others. But where does thinking get us? What happens if we all just sit and think and no one does a thing?
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today I pray that thinking isn’t the only thing you are doing. Actions speak louder than words. James said to be doers of the word. It’s important to ponder things. It’s important to not rush into things. But if we do nothing else but think, if we never be the hands and feet of Christ, then we miss so many great opportunities. Take advantage of each opportunity. God put these people in your path for a reason.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:22 [NIV]
We often get absorbed in things. Before you know it you were online for an hour. Before it was realized, you played the video game half the night. When you had planned to get work done, something else grabbed your attention. While at work, you became so focused on a task, that you stayed late at the office and did not take note until long after. We all get absorbed.
Today’s passage talks about being absorbed with God projects. The people were so absorbed with the God projects “that they didn’t notice God right in front of them.” He was right there but they were so busy taking over their lives, focusing on what they were doing. What happened? “They stumbled into Him and went sprawling.”
Are you taking on a lot of God projects disregarding what James said about works, trying to earn your way into the Kingdom? Remember there’s a stumbling block—God is right in front of you. If you are missing Him, if you are not trusting Him and thinking you can earn your way, you’ve missed it all—and you too will go sprawling. There was a time in my life that I thought the more good I did, the better chance I had. But there’s only one way to Heaven, through Jesus Christ, through the blood of Jesus. There is no other way. If you are focused on God projects, you’re missing the boat.
“How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling.” – Romans 9:30-32 [MSG]
Recently my son had a problem with his gaming system. I decided to reveal my tech geek side and began to look deeper into the issue. I realized that the disc drive was malfunctioning and had another drive ordered. When it arrived, the sticker on the box said, “new.” I quickly learned that it was anything but new. It had a padded wrapper over it but inside told another story. I found things broken and a stripped screw.
The people who sold me the disc drive can easily slap a sticker on a box and say the merchandise is new even though it is anything but new. With us, we can pretend to be a particular way; however, if we have the Spirit, if we accepted Jesus into our lives and were baptized, then there should be a sign of fruit—fruit from our lives.
You cannot fake a relationship with Christ. You cannot slap on a label (ex: “Christian”) and think it makes the reality change. There’s a song that says, “You’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Today, are you a box with a deceptive sticker or are you the real deal? If people look around will they see the fruits of your labor or will they get lost and confused from the image you try to uphold?
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:16-18 [ESV]