a) Questions put to Jesus
Mt. 24:3 Following his foretelling - the destruction of the temple.
1) When shall these things be?
2) Sign of thy coming?
3) Sign of end of world (age)?
· Jesus response - various signs that indicate the time and season.
· One key sign - worldwide evangelism. (Mt.24:14).
b) Several Signs Jesus gave
1) Fig Tree (24:32)
· Fig tree - symbol of nation of Israel (Note just completed 50th year as nation)
· Coming into existence of Israel as a nation is a modern miracle.
· Spontaneous returning to Israel of people scattered throughout the world.
2) Days of Noah (24:37)
· Noah’s day characterised by earth filled with violence and corruption (Gen.6:11-12).
· Also characterised by unusual demonic activity and resistance to Gospel (Gen.6:1-2).
· Warning = Watch!
3) Thief in the house (24:43)
· Thief = demons (Jn 10:10) that come to rob, kill and destroy.
· “Broken into” = increase in demonic activity in people’s lives, demonisation, occult.
4) Servants in the Household (24:45) (cf Leaders in Local Church)
· Servant - can only become servant of Lord by personal faith in Jesus Christ.
· Household - household of God = local church (1 Tim. 3:15)
· Wise Servant - Productive in building and ministering in local church - rewarded!
· Evil Servant - Neglecting the local church - abusive of fellow servants (gossip, criticism). Lifestyle associated with ungodly denies Christ (Tit.1:16; 2:11-12).
5) Wise and Foolish Virgins (25:1) (cf members of local church)
· All are virgins - pot defiled = people who have come to Christ by new birth (2 Cor.11:2-4).
· ‘lamp’ = spirit of man (Prov.20:27), ‘oil’ = Holy Spirit - anointing needed to give spirit life and vitality.
· ‘Buy for yourself” = must pay the personal price of prayer and obedience to receive spirit life.
· Major emphasis in world on work of Holy Spirit and openness to anointing.
· All churches experiencing reviving place high importance on prayer and yielding to Holy Spirit.
6) Talents 25:14 (cf Members of local church).
· Evaluation of servants of the household to establish how productive they are.
· Purpose of evaluation is to increase their stewardship.
· Result of master’s evaluation is reward or loss.
· God is very interested in what you do with what you have.
· Ps 35:27 Lord takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants.
· He delights in helping us prosper and rejoices when we do prosper.
2. 4 CHARACTERISTICS OF PRODUCTIVE SERVANTS
a) Perspective Seeing beyond the majority - seeing the bigger picture.
· Perspective - ability to see the bigger picture and how the different parts fit in. i.e. viewpoint.
· The faithful stewards were both productive. They had proper perspective of:
i) The master - v14 “man travelling to a far country”
· Understood that he was good, generous, wanted increase and set heart to please him.
ii) Their placement - v14 “his own servants”
· Need to know who we are - servants of the living God by faith in Christ.
· Christ has given us freedom - freedom has responsibility.
· Gal. 5:17 Called to liberty - use not liberty as occasion of flesh but by love serve.
iii) Their money/possession - v14 “his goods”; v18 “his Lord’s money”.
· Primarily this applies to use of money (especially for harvest of souls Mt.24:14).
· It also applies to all else received from Lord.
· Everyone receives something! Responsible to guard and cultivate so productive (Gen.2:15).
iv) Prospects of Reward and Loss
· v19 “Comes and reckons with them” i.e. calls to account for their productivity.
· Every servant of Jesus Christ must be accountable to Him for their servant-hood.
· Purpose of this is reward 2 Cor. 5:10. Each man shall receive according as he has done.
· God desires to prosper and increase what we have.
· Faithful stewards recognise the heart of the master is to bless and to increase.
· Our potential for increase is dependent on how productive we are with what we have.
· Heb.11:25-27 Moses forsook life of riches and privilege and identified with the church of his day and the purposes of God - Why? Respect for the reward God offered.
b) Purpose Having a sense of direction.
· Purpose gives meaning and direction to life and brings sense fulfillment and focus.
· E.g. Jesus had strong sense of purpose and direction.
· 1 Jn.3:8 For this purpose was the Son of God manifest - destroy works of devil.
· Only the one who created you can unveil His purpose for your life.
· Success in life is related to your purpose -what God intended for you.
· General purpose of God is clear -
i) Build a godly people, the church (Ro.8:28-29)
ii) Evangelise the world (Mt.28:19).
· Specific purpose must be discovered (Eph.2:10 created for good works God ordained.
· Our responsibility is to discover what God has given us and what He wants us to do.
· How? *Want or Lord *Desires of heart *Gifting *Passions *Insight of friends *Practical experience
· What direction, purpose do you have?
c) Priorities Doing first things first
· So many things pressure us demanding our time, energy, money, life!
· Key issue - what is the most important? Can only answer this if have purpose.
· Easy to start but takes focus, aligning all energy to finish.
· Magnifying glass - takes existing light and focuses until energy hot enough to start a fire.
· Priorities - How does this help me get to where I want to go.
· Saying NO to some things means saying YES to things high on our priority.
· Jesus continually said NO to things that directed Him from His purpose.
· Mt. 6:33 Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (actions of faith).
· How? 1) Time alone with God, 2) Clear goals, 3) Clear priorities established.
d) Principles of Increase
· You must walk with God in His ways to have increase.
· There is an increase that only God gives - it is supernatural.
· Great productivity occurs when you tap into God’s ways for increase.
· v16 He went, traded and made i.e. gained by trading.
· Trade -(2038 Strongs) to toil, labour, be engaged in a task.
-(1281 Strongs) to thoroughly occupy yourself, busy, totally pre-occupied with task.
· God desires you to be productive with what he has given so he can increase it.
· Key Principles
i) Diligent Work - take initiative, think, plan, apply yourself to succeed.
Ro.12:11 - “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit serving the Lord”.
ii) Generous Giving - sowing sets in motion the principles of divine increase - regular tithing and giving as directed by the Holy Spirit.
Lk.26:38 “Give and it shall be given to you”.
iii) Faith in God - God is the source of increase. There must be dependency upon Him to give it. Faith confesses increase over our work, believes God for increase, understands how sowing and reaping work.
Heb.11:6 “Without faith impossible to please Him”.
iv) Perseverance - sticking power. Never quit!
Gal. 6:9 “Not weary in well doing. Shall reap i) in due season
ii) if don’t faint.
3. INCREASE OR DECREASE?
· Masters Evaluation:
i) “Well done” - pleasure, joy, approval because productive.
ii) “Good and faithful” - commends character - kind of person they are.
iii) “Faithful in few” - commends service, performance.
Result is further increase, potential to be more productive.
B) v24 - 25
i) No approval or commendation - brought no pleasure to master.
ii) “Wicked and slothful” - reveals kind of person he is.
iii) “Take from and give” - loss of opportunity and of resources to serve.
iv) To everyone that has shall be given and shall have abundance.
· It is God’s principle of increase to give to those to have understanding of His prays (ears to hear) and who apply it and become productive.
· Wrong concepts of God (v24 ‘hard man’), wrong understanding (v24 reap where sow not) and fear (v25 afraid and hid) lead to servants being unproductive and losing what they have.
Do not answer all the questions. Sensitivity in this area is needed!
List God’s principles of increase and compare with how you are currently living. Are there areas for change? What do you plan to do.
1. Diligent Work
· How good a worker are you?
· Do you take lots of short cuts and give mediocre performance
· Do you reach out to excel in what you do or do you accept mediocrity.
· Would your boss, spouse, friends recommend you as a diligent worker?
· Do you take initiative often or do you wait until pressure rises from those around you.
· Do you have to repeat jobs because they weren’t done right the first time?
· What changes and improvements could you make.
2. Generous Giving
· Would you describe your giving as regular, generous? Why not?
· How do you view giving? - as losing something or sowing to gain increase?
· Where do you stand on the issue of tithing? (Prov.3:9-10)
· Do you hear the Lord speak to you about when and what to give?
· What changes could you make in view of 2 Cor. 9:6-7.
· What do you sow of your time, energy, giftings into - a) Building the Local Church; b) Evangelism - reaching the lost.
3. Faith in God
· Have you seen God supply in unexpected ways? Share your experience.
· What areas is God impressing you to trust him and extend yourself.
· Have you committed your finances to the Lord? In what practical ways does this apply to how you manage what you have.
· Do you apply the faith principle of confession - speaking forth God’s Word over your resources?
4. Honest Accountability
· Is God making you feel uncomfortable about any area of your handling your finances and affairs.
· What changes do you need to make?
· Can you identify any area you are concealing, covering or unwilling to be open.
· Do you resist being accountable? Why?
· Do you start projects and then not finish them?
· Why does this happen?
· What changes could you make?
· What unfinished project could you complete?
· When will you do it?