Monday, April 25, 2016

Serving Now & Reaping Later

Serving Now & Reaping Later

Luke 19:11-27

Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Luk 19:12  He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
Luk 19:13  And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
Luk 19:14  But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Luk 19:15  And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
Luk 19:16  Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
Luk 19:17  And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
Luk 19:18  And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
Luk 19:19  And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
Luk 19:20  And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
Luk 19:21  For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
Luk 19:22  And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee,thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
Luk 19:23  Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
Luk 19:24  And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
Luk 19:25  (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
Luk 19:26  For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
Luk 19:27  But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

     The very starting point of this parable is to grasp the understanding of the disciples in their current thinking.  The idea that overwhelmed their minds was the thought that the literal Kingdom of God should appear very soon.  This was not the case however, for it has been 2000 years and Christ has ascended into the heavens and He has still not returned to the very earth He created.  So then we surmise quite easily that the parable is granted to prepare the misdirected disciples for a long abstinence from their King.

     First Christ would address the fact that He is going away to receive the Kingdom and would return to rule it.  He did ascend 40 days after His resurrection and will come back to rule and reign.  The parable would serve as an object lesson to the disciples no doubt.  The  obvious and recent events in the history of Jericho would play a major role in illustrating His teaching, as He is in Jericho at the time of this lesson.  This lesson would be based on an actual historical event to help them understand His lesson better, and it shall help to serve us as well.

"He said therefore, A certain noblemen went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. There was a singular fitness in the Master’s choice of a framework for his parable, which at first sight would seem strange and unreal. Two nobles, Herod and Archelaus, in that age had literally gone from Jericho, where the Speaker of the parable-story then was, to a far country across the sea—to Rome, to receive a kingdom from Caesar.
Pulpit Commentary 
     Herod the Greats son Archelaus, took the necessary journey into Rome (as was the official customs and duty in that day under Roman rule) to receive the official blessing to rule the area left by his father for him.  Josephus the Jewish historian records this significant event for us in his own work and writings (Antiquities of the Jews 14.14;17:9).  Many Jews hating the oppression of not being free also sent and followed after Archelaus, traveling to Rome (50 men) to lodge complaints against him.

But his citizens hated him. Again history supplies the framework. This was what the Jews had done in
Remains of Herod's Palace in Jericho
the case of Archelaus. They had sent a hostile deputation to complain of their future king before the emperor’s court at Rome. In the parable, in these "citizens who hated him" a thinly veiled picture is given of those Jews who utterly rejected the mission of Jesus, and by whose designs the Crucifixion was brought about.
Pulpit Commentary
     Archelaus was granted the right to rule, not as a king, but still a ruler of the land.  As you can suppose the faithful would have been rewarded, and cruelty would be given as retribution to those who stood opposed as enemies to his rule.  Archelaus was known as a cruel man, and very immoral at that.  He took his brothers wife as his own while his wife was still alive.  Augustus (Caesar) would eventually respond to the surplus of complaints that were mounting by Jews and Samaritans alike by exiling Archelaus to Gaul in 6 AD for his terrible incompetence at ruling the land.  However the Jews would have to live in his insensibilities for a time.  Archelaus was the full brother of Herod Antipas.

     The lessons will now become clear as Jesus applies this historical understanding of the Roman custom to himself.  He is going away to receive a kingdom from the Father.  The Jews and others do not want Him as their King.  However He is receiving the kingship and authority regardless of who accepts the reality.  When he comes back, He will find many types of people, caught in time and forever anchored in their spiritual condition in that day, and He will proceed to judge them accordingly.  His command is occupy, or reside in His place of business, until He returns.  Some will be doing just this very thing, and others, they will be rejecting the kingdom and rebelling against it all together.  We must be very clear, this parable speaks of rewards for work, not working for entrance into the kingdom.  To be saved it is a free gift.  To earn rewards as citizens of the kingdom, it takes being busy about the Kings service.  

     First we shall observe the ones who serve faithfully.  They invest in His work by taking what they have been given and multiplying it.  These are workers for Christ.  They serve out of love and loyalty.  They are working for the coming kingdom. In the coming kingdom they will be rewarded accordingly, and nothing will go unnoticed.  Some will be able to do greater things than other, as we all have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit, and this is noted in the parable of the talents, which is not this parable.  Here the servants are given the same amount, not differing amounts.  Each was given about 3 months wages, and the message becomes very clear, that all will be rewarded who invest in the Kingdom and it's glory.  Since we all have the same starting point (which seems to be representing the gospel - we all have the same message) to what measure you invest will be the measure in which you are rewarded. 

     Secondly there will those who do nothing with what they have been entrusted with.  They will not be judged as the rebells, but they are not rewarded on par with those who invested in the kingdom.  What they have is taken and given to another.  To him that has it shall be given, and to those who have not, what they have is taken and given to him that has (Luke 19:26).

     Thirdly, those who rejected the King will be judged by Him.  These are they who reject Christ.  Let us warn people faithfully that regardless of what the world wants or says, Christ is coming and He will be King.  Though this is the hope and joy of Christians, the world fiercely fights against the idea of His rule.  This should not surprise us though, for this is the nature of sinners to rebells against a holy God.  How sad for someone to be on the wrong side of this kingdom.  May we earn rewards by serving faithfully and spreading the good news of the gospel.  Let us serve from the heart, for that is proper motivation.  Let us serve for reward, for that is expecting motivation, but let us also serve out of necessity, for people are lost and need Christ.  How much hate must be in a persons heart to know about Jesus and mot share Him.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Wisdom of the Olive Tree pt2

  The Wisdom of the Olive Tree pt 2

      Now we may ask, how did this tree gain such wisdom?  It may be summed up in one word, grace.  If every man was given grace as he deserved, his reservoir would be depleted beyond empty.  But our grace is not based on merit, yet rather it is based on the promise to every believer, that God who starts a work in them, shall see it to the end,  Php 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.  What work would salvation be if the very God who gave you freely a pardon from sin, did not also freely give you a progression out of it?  Surely some may marvel at spiritual giants in our life, and well so, wondering how they became as this wise olive tree, so deeply rooted.  We may sum up their progression in one word as well, grace.  Every man must be taken from a spiritual baby, to a spiritual child, to a spiritual adult, and finally, to spiritual fatherhood.  And this is where we so deeply desire to be.  The same God who granted increase to this tree will grant it to you as well.

     Consider now how the water feeds the olive tree; how much has God poured out his blessing
which spurred our growth?  It is immeasurable.  Now think of the many droughts seen by this olive tree.  It is interesting, that upon drought, the tree will no longer grow up visibly, yet underground it sends its own roots  deeper.  This is because moisture may be found deeper in the soil, where the sun has not yet penetrated.  If we lacked times of trouble we should never be so diligent to dig our roots deeper past the shallow things of the Word so that we may find the deeper treasures of it.  This is all done by perfect grace.  Think of the storms over many years seen by this tree.  Winds are harsh, yet the turmoil itself stimulates growth in the roots which anchor them even deeper.  Let the storm pass and we find saturation in the ground in which the tree can recover from the wind and fury of the clouds.  So is it with our souls.  By grace God shall allow wind to test our resolve, and then He quickly sends the rain of His nourishment for our own recovery.  This is all done by grace.  So be of good cheer today my brother or sister in Christ.  Salvation is of the Lord!  It is not our business to bring about growth, but increase belongs to God.  Let Him have His way with you, yield to His dealings within; and soon you shall find your self stable and wise, as the olive tree.

Wise Application
It is good to cooperate with God and not resist Him if we are His children.   As He molds us into the image of God, if we are compliant, we are blessed.  If we are resistant and rebellious, we are chastised as children in whom God wished to delight.  Though grace is wholly a work of God, we are commanded to yield to the word of God and to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives

Wisdom of the Olive Tree pt1

The Wisdom of the Olive Tree pt 1 

Judges 9:9-But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

Today it may be well with us Christians to consider the astonishing wisdom of this olive tree.  And what may we charge this credit of wisdom to?  Alas, it is charged to a rejection of what was surely a deceitful promotion.  As the story is told this parable is a distinct lesson, in that, this tree did choose to reject the promotion of kingship of the forest, to simply remain an olive tree.  To what sensible aspect do we call this wisdom?  Is it wise to reject such a promotion of position and power?  In this account, yes.  

Consider these thoughts today about the olive tree.  Why should he leave his fatness?  His fatness is defined as the oil produced from the squeezing of the olives which grew on the tree.  How greatly used this oil was in Bible days.  Olive oil anointed kings, fueled lamps, and was a staple in cooking among many other things.  By what reasoning may we say it is better to make oil than to lead a forest as a king?  Let us think in this light, is it natural for an olive tree to produce anything other than an olive?  No.  Should we expect an orange to be produced on an apple tree?  By no means.  Here we see the temptation that satan delivers to God's people: disguise a demotion as a promotion.  Get God's people busy producing anything other than what is natural for them to produce and tell them their unnatural production is better. 

Dear Christian, this oil of the olives represented in your life is your God-given talents and abilities. To think, your talents are distributed by the Lord's own hand for use in God's glory and in the edification of men.  See the text verse, the fatness is good for God and man.  What God has gifted the believer with should be put to use for the good of men and the glory of a gracious God.  Why should we leave our fatness to follow that which is unnatural?  Why would we leave the service of the King for the business of the world?  How can we live guilty of trading our usefulness in the body of Christ for a job that requires us to miss the Lord's place of worship on Sunday?  Do we expect God's blessing on such unnatural production?  In no way; for it is written Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
So we see the wisdom of the olive tree, the wisdom which saw the demotion in the promotion.  We would be better serving God as a pauper than serving the devil as a king.
Wise Application

Has God called you to a purpose?  Has He gifted you with an ability for the glory of His Kingdom?  Ask God to help you sharpen this gift to maximize it’s effectiveness and prayerfully use it for His glory in the service of the King.