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Tough Questions 2

Intro: It was a rule of the club that anyone asking a question which he himself could not answer must pay a fine. One of the members presented a question as to why a ground-squirrel in digging left no dirt around the entrance to its hole. He was finally called on for the answer, and explained that of course the squirrel began at the bottom and dug upward.

"Excellent!" a listener laughed. "But how does the squirrel manage to reach the bottom?"

"That," said the other with a grin, "is your question."

Read Matthew 25:

Recap from last week:

  1.  Am I faithfully keeping watch for Christ? Does my life reflect the fact that Christ will return. Is that reflected on my calendar, my appointments and everything else that I do.
  2. Am I faithfully following Christ? If someone were to look at your monthly schedule, what would they conclude about how serious you are about following Christ. If it would be a mystery to a stranger, would it be a mystery to God.
  3. Am I trusting Christ? Are you living with the power of the risen Christ within you? Do you know that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
  4. Am I serving Christ? Each of us has been given invaluable spiritual gifts. We are to invest those gifts in order to get a return on our Master’s investment.
  1. Will you be Commended for your love?
  1. Do you wait for Christ to return because you are so absolutely in love with Him?
  2. In our fast paced culture of today if we have to wait on something for more than a few seconds we either get angry or we get disinterested.
  3. Last month, a man placed a 911 call to his local police station and calmly reported to the police operator, "My wife, Gertrude, is
    missing."

    The switchboard officer asked, "Sir, how long has your wife been gone?"
    The husband replied, "I think about one month."
    Why did you wait so long to report it?" asked the policeman.

    The husband replied, "Well . . . Until yesterday, I thought it was just a dream."
  4. Don’t be like that man!!
  5. Rather wait with a sense of love and expectancy in getting excited about the Return of our Lord.
  6. This is the kind of anticipation that we ought to have.
  7. John 15:10-11 “ If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
  8. That kind of love has to overflow in our hearts, leading to action.
  9. Francis Chan “Lukewarm living and claiming Christ's name simultaneously is utterly disgusting to God.”
  10. So many love God in an employer/ employee relationship. You think that if you don’t go to church, or if you don’t say your bedtime prayers then God will fire you.
  11. It’s like Spiritual Apprentice. (talk about show’s scope)
  12. That kind of love leads our lives to be like a job. You know a job. When you go up and ask somebody what they do and they I am an customer service operator. You say that’s great, what do you love about it? They say, I don’t know it’s a job.
  13. What does that tell you immediately? They really don’t like what they do. It’s drudgery, all day they just sit there and it saps their souls.
  14. Friends. Our lives are nothing like that in Christ! You are a co-heir with Christ. Not an employee. You can’t be fired. So live like you’ve never lived for Christ!
  15. Let your life be marked by a crazy devotion to Christ that you’re excited about.

         II.  Will you be condemned in your Laziness?

  1. Let’s look at this again.
  2. Vs 24-27 “ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.”
  3. The 3rd slave certaintly wasn’t commended by His master. But it’s interesting that he wasn’t condemned by what he did, but rather  by what he didn’t do.
  4. What excuse does the man give for not doing anything for his Master? He says ‘he’s a difficult man, because His Master wants to reap where He has not sown.”
  5. So this servant blames the Master for his own lack of responsibility.
  6. Boy don’t we see stuff like this all the time? We blame someone else rather than accept our own responsibility.
  7. “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Benjamin Franklin
  8. Consider this story told by Bernard L. Brown, Jr., president of the Kennestone Regional Health Care System in the state of Georgia.
  9. Brown once worked in a hospital where a patient knocked over a cup of water, which spilled on the floor beside the patient's bed. The patient was afraid he might slip on the water if he got out of the bed, so he asked a nurse's aide to mop it up. The patient didn't know it, but the hospital policy said that small spills were the responsibility of the nurse's aides while large spills were to be mopped up by the hospital's housekeeping group.
  10. The nurse's aide decided the spill was a large one and she called the housekeeping department. A housekeeper arrived and declared the spill a small one. An argument followed.
  11. "It's not my responsibility," said the nurse's aide, "because it's a large puddle." The housekeeper did not agree. "Well, it's not mine," she said, "the puddle is too small."
  12. The exasperated patient listened for a time, then took a pitcher of water from his night table and poured the whole thing on the floor. "Is that a big enough puddle now for you two to decide?" he asked. It was, and that was the end of the argument. 
  13. Many of us deal with God in this way. We say, that’s the preacher’s job. Not my job. That’s the Sunday School Teachers deal, not mine.
  14. That’s the secretary’s problem. NO, NO, NO
  15. If the Bible teaches anything, it is accountability.
  16. Romans 14:12 “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
  17. Hebrews 4:13 “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  18. Mt 12:36-37 “36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
  19. This failure to serve the Master with what has been given is an indication that there is a lack of love and a desire for the Master.
  20. You see, if you sit around and point out all the stuff others should be doing instead of you, it’s a symptom of a love problem between you and your Master.
  21. It has nothing to do with anyone else.
  22. Now this accountability isn’t an attempt ‘to earn your keep’ either.
  23. This is a demonstration of your love for Christ and your thankfulness for what He’s given you. In other words, your love pushes you out of laziness for the Kingdom.

         III.  Am I serving the Christians whom God has put Around Me?

  1. This is the last question for today.
  2. You are not here by accident. But you are not here to be served, you are here to serve.
  3. Look at verses 40-46 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
  4. This passage confuses many who think that Jesus is saying that if you do something for someone, that it’s the same as doing it for Jesus
  5. An I totally get that line of thinking but it misses the point.
  6. Look at verse 40 ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’
  7. Gulp!
  8. You see Jesus is making the point that He’s speaking here about those who have trusted in Him.
  9. This isn’t talking about random people at all. Other verses teach that, but not this one. Here Jesus is talking about serving who? Other believers.
  10. You see, Jesus is saying ‘if you mess with them, your messing with Me.’
  11. Isn’t it sad when people can be so generous and loving with others but they cause disruption in the Church?
  12. This happens in the world too.
  13. This has proved true in world history. In 1249, a soldier serving in the army of the city of Bologna, Italy, deserted to Modena and took with him an old oaken bucket used as a water trough for army horses. Bologna waived her rights to the fugitive, but demanded the return of the bucket. Proud Modena refused and a twenty-two-year conflict ensued (Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, Paul Lee Tan [Assurance Publishers], #7166).
  14. It’s pitiful when believers can’t serve one another by putting others’ needs ahead of their own.
  15. Look what James 4: 1-3 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions[a] are at war within you?[b] 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people!”
  16. What’s the remedy? “ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
  17. Let’s me translate that in East Texas Vernacular. “It’s not about you! It’s about others. Get off your high horse thinking that the world revolves around you, your desire, what you want and get busy serving others.”
  18. Jesus says if you don’t you’re messing with Me.
  19. Wait, so is Jesus saying we can earn our salvation by serving others? Not at all.
  20. Look at verse 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
  21. They are shocked that their acts had even been noticed. You serve others not because you can earn favor but because Jesus has radically changed your heart and mine.
  22. This is a hallmark of salvation.
  23. I John 4:19-21 “We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
  24. I John 3:16-18 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
  25. We sit here today and we are surrounded by people in need. The call here is unmistakeable.
  26. It’s not to observe those in need, rather it is to give extravagantly to them as a means of demonstrating our extravagant love for the Father.
  27. Have you shown extravagant love for a brother in Christ in this place? Or for a sister in Christ in this place? What about a sister or brother in Christ in our community?
  28. This is a life that is marked by a heart that’s been transformed by Christ.
  29. I challenge you today. Will you be commended for your love? Will you be condemned by laziness? And will you show extravagant love towards your brothers and sisters in Christ?

       IV. Conclusion

  1. Pastor George Fisher was a missionary to West Africa during the horrible slaughter of the Liberian Civil War. He tells this interesting experience that took place one day as he was teaching African ministerial students about the Second Coming of Christ. Pastor Fisher had just read this passage and one of his students asked
    “Pastor, What will he say when he shouts?” The missionary said, “The question took me by surprise.” The student repeated the question “Pastor, I Thess. 4:16 says that Christ will descend from heaven with a loud command. I would like to know what that command will be.”
  2.  Pastor Fisher continues, “I wanted to leave the question unanswered, to tell him that we must not go past what Scripture has revealed, but my mind wandered to an encounter I had earlier in the day with a refugee from the Liberian civil war.
  3. The man, a high school principal, told me how he was apprehended by a two-man death squad. After several hours of terror, as the men described how they would torture and kill him, he narrowly escaped. After hiding in the bush for two days, he was able to find his family and escape to a neighboring country.
  4. The escape cost him dearly: two of his children lost their lives. The stark cruelty unleashed on an unsuspecting, undeserving population had touched me deeply. I also saw flashbacks of the beggars that I pass each morning on my way to the office.
  5. Every day I see how poverty destroys dignity, robs men of the best of what it means to be human, and sometimes substitutes the worst of what it means to be an animal. I am haunted by the vacant eyes of people who have lost all hope. “Pastor, you have not given me an answer. What will he say?”
  6.  The question hadn’t gone away. “Enough’” I said. “He will shout, ’Enough’ when he returns.” A look of surprise opened the face of the student. “What do you mean, ’Enough’?” “Enough suffering.  Enough starvation. Enough terror. Enough death.  Enough indignity. Enough lives trapped in hopelessness. Enough sickness and disease. Enough time.  Enough”