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Invest: Competitive Christians?

“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.’ ” (Luke 19:24-26)

How seriously do you take the idea that there will be rewards in heaven for those who have served Christ well during this life? Does it motivate you to try harder? Does it ignite your competitive spirit? Does it make you willing to sacrifice more, to get up earlier, to dig deeper?

invest_350We’re not talking about your salvation here, necessarily. However, this servant’s inaction could have been the result of not really believing the king would return. In Matthew’s version of a similar story, the inactive servant is thrown out of the kingdom. But many immature believers also seem to have decided that since works can’t save us, God doesn’t care about works.

That could not be more wrong. God created good works for us to do before we were ever saved. Paul describes his whole life as a kind of fierce competition to serve God faithfully for which he would be rewarded. And Jesus’ story here strongly suggests that some will receive more than others for their effective work for him.

Think: How are you investing your life, the one he gave you?

Pray: Thank God that he rewards those who serve him. Ask him to help you to be motivated by that in the best possible way.

Do: Make a quick list of the top 3 rewards you’ve earned so far in your life. Think about what makes those rewards valuable to you.

Invest: Wicked Lack of Effort

“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ ” (Luke 19:22-23)

Jesus pictures himself as the future king in this parable—newly crowned, returned, and seeing how his servants have done with the resources he told them to “put to work.” We’ve already noticed that his rewards for success are extremely generous.

invest_350But this king is no pushover. He doesn’t tell the servant who just hid his money that everything is okay. He doesn’t say, “No big deal; I understand. You were nervous; don’t worry about it.”

Instead, he spells out the right of kings and grills the man about why he didn’t even take the initiative to drive to the bank and make a deposit in a low-interest money market account. The king cared about the man’s lack of effort. He wanted to see results.

Think: Do you often think of Jesus as a King who will hold you accountable for how you invested your gifts for his glory? Does this story change your picture of Jesus?

Pray: Ask God to help you to make the most of the gifts he gives to you for his glory.

Do: The king called his inactive servant wicked. Look up the word wicked in a dictionary.

Invest: Don’t Bury Your Treasure

“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ ” (Luke 19:20-21)

Remember the king’s instructions before he left? “Put this money to work until I come back.” This servant told the king he was so afraid of losing the money by investing it that he just wrapped it up and hid it away—rather than make the king mad by doing something stupid with it.

invest_350The failure of this approach is obvious to us. Our first reaction is, “What a doofus!” But how many people do we know who have lived their whole lives so in fear of failing that they never got around to trying anything worthwhile for God’s glory?

But fear of failure was not this servant’s biggest problem. What we learn at the end of the story is that he had a faith problem. If he had truly believed the king would return, he would have done something with that money.

If we truly believe God has given us our potential, skills, talents, and spiritual gifts to use for his glory, we won’t just sit on them. We will get out there and put them to work.

Think: Have you ever failed to take a good opportunity to do something for God because you were afraid you would fail? Does that show more lack of trust in yourself on in God? Why?

Pray: Ask God to give you the courage to attempt to do good things with the gifts he has given to you for his glory. Ask him to make you very useful to him in this life.

Do: Make a quick list of 3 things you could try to do for God’s glory in the next year.

Invest: The Biggest Gainer

“Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ ” (Luke 19:15-17)

In Jesus’ story, the nobleman/future king gave 10 servants 10 “minas” each with instructions to “put this money to work until I come back.” A mina was about 3 months wages. Ten of them would be a lot of money. Today’s passage describes the best earner.

invest_350Jesus was saying to those who would continue to follow him after he had gone back to heaven, “I’m expecting you to invest what I have given to you and to make it grow until I return—and I will reward you for it in a big way.”

What had Jesus given them, especially the 12 disciples? As the Creator, he had given them strength, talents, skills, and abilities. As the Savior, he had given them 3 years of intensive training—3 years of himself.

What has Jesus given to you? How are you investing that for the King?

Think: In the story, the servant who earned the most for the king got the biggest reward. Do you think God wants us to be motivated to invest our lives for him because of the reward he will give to us in return? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help you to invest the gifts he has given to you in a way that pays off for his glory and usefulness.

Do: Make a quick list of things you did during this last month or so that could qualify as investing God’s gifts to you in a way to put them to work for him.

Invest: Can’t Stop the King

” ‘But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We don’t want this man to be our king.” ‘He was made king, however, and returned home.’ ” (Luke 19:14-15)

Although Jesus is telling a story about the nobleman who went away to become king — leaving money with his servants to invest — he includes this detail about his other “subjects.” The citizens he was to rule didn’t want him in office.

invest_350Since the parable is clearly about Jesus—who was about to die, be resurrected, and return to heaven before eventually returning to Earth as king forever—these subjects are clearly the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus’ story showed that they rejected him and that he would become king, anyway.

Many people reject Christ as Lord, but that doesn’t stop him from being the Lord of all. His poll numbers and approval ratings don’t matter. There will be no election by the people. He will rule and reign forever. At the end of the story, the question will be, “Who was truly living by faith in the king?”

Think: Why would anyone object to the kingship of Jesus? What is the evidence in a person’s life that he or she believes Jesus is the rightful king?

Pray: Thank God that he does what he will, even when some of us object. Ask him to help you to continue to put yourself under his will.

Do: In a few sentences, write your best understanding of a king’s job description.

Invest: While the King’s Away . . .

“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ ” (Luke 19:12-13)

We’re going to spend this week listening to Jesus tell a story, a parable. It’s one he told on the day or so before what we call the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday.

invest_350Jesus told this story at this moment for a few reasons. One was that many of his followers expected him to become the king of Israel right away. He wanted to help them see that, like the king in his story, he would have to go away first and return later as the king.

He also wanted them to see that they had work to do while he was gone. If they really believed in his kingdom, they would eventually remember this story and be challenged to make the best use of their lives after his death and resurrection.

Think: If you had been following Jesus for years, expecting him to overthrow the Romans and become the next king of Israel, how disappointing do you think it would have been when he died on a cross? How hard would it have been to keep living for him after he was gone?

Pray: Thank God for Jesus’ parable about the “ten minas.” Ask him to help you to understand and learn from it this week.

Do: Read in Luke 19:1-11 what happened between Jesus and a tax collector named Zacchaeus just before Jesus told this story.

No Money Week: Want What You’ve Got

“Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work — this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20)

Let’s be honest. Ninety-some percent of us reading these words would have to admit that on any kind of a global scale God has given us wealth and possessions. Are you willing to enjoy the ones you have?

nomoney_350Thousands of years later, the Apostle Paul wrote a chapter in 1 Timothy much like this one in Ecclesiastes. He said this: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Someone told me recently that one of the secrets to living with and without money is to learn to “want what you’ve got.” Don’t just collect toys; play with them. Don’t resent today’s work; accept that this is what God has for you today. Be great at it and/or have great fun doing it. It’s his gift to you.

Think: What are the top 5 things you want out of life that you already have? When was the last time to admitted that God gave you those things to enjoy because he loves you?

Pray: Ask God to help you to put all of your hope in him. Thank him that he richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Do: Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and 17-19. Notice the similarities between what we’ve read from Ecclesiastes 5 this week and what Paul had to say about money and contentment. Also catch what Paul wrote about sharing our money.