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“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.” Matthew 25:14-15 (Read v. 14-30)

We do not know when our Lord Jesus Christ will return. That day could be very soon, or it may be many years from now. What are we to be doing while we await the return of our Lord and Savior who died upon the cross to redeem us from sin, death and the power of the devil?

With the parable of the talents, Jesus teaches us that we are to be faithfully serving Him and carrying on the work of His kingdom until He returns. All of us, as Christians, have been given talents, abilities and spiritual gifts, as well as resources, to use in carrying on the Lord’s work until He returns on the Last Day (1 Peter 4:10f.; Romans 12:4ff.; 1 Corinthians 12-14). Whatever our gifts, talents and abilities are, we are to faithfully use them for the Lord and for the upbuilding of His kingdom and Church.

We have also been entrusted with the Word of God, which we are to faithfully use and proclaim (Mark 16:15; Hebrews 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 4:1ff.). Since Christ Jesus suffered and died upon the cross to redeem us and make us children of God, He expects us to respond to His gracious gift of salvation by living our lives for Him. And, as a fruit of our faith, we also desire to do this (2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 John 4:19ff.).

When Jesus returns on the Last Day to take to heaven all who trust in Him for salvation, He will examine our faithfulness. We are His stewards, having been entrusted with His Word and with His gifts, abilities and resources to use for the work of His kingdom. The Bible tells us: “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

If, as a result of our faith in Christ as Savior, we faithfully serve Him, we will be graciously rewarded with greater opportunity for service when we enter the joy of our Lord in heaven.

But if, on the other hand, we are found to be unfaithful servants who cared to do nothing for our Lord but were afraid and hid our talents away, we will lose not only what has been entrusted to us, but eternal life as well; for such unfaithfulness is a denial of true faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior (cf. John 15:1-6).

O God of mercy, God of might, in love and pity infinite, teach us, as ever in Thy sight, to live our life to Thee … And may Thy Holy Spirit move all those who live to live in love till Thou shalt greet in heaven above all those who live to Thee. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #439, Verses 1,6)

[SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION®. COPYRIGHT © 1982 BY THOMAS NELSON. USED BY PERMISSION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]

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And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29

This parable of Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a man who sows his seed in the soil and waits until the seed of itself springs up and grows, maturing until the harvest. Then the farmer puts in the sickle for the harvest. The farmer can only sow good seed, cultivate the crops, and wait for the fruit to mature. He cannot himself make the seed grow and produce fruit.

The kingdom of God is like this in that all we as Christians can do is sow the pure Word of God. We cannot make it grow or produce fruit. The power to create spiritual life and produce fruit lies in God’s Word and His Spirit and not in us as the sowers.

It is our task to sow the Word of God; but the results must be left up to the Holy Spirit, who brings people to saving faith in Jesus Christ and also sanctifies them through God’s Word. We cannot see how faith is created in the heart, nor should we expect to harvest immediately after the seed is sown. Our crucified and risen Lord Jesus has given us the simple task of sowing the good seed of God’s Word. The rest is up to Him!

Let us then diligently sow the Word! By means of God’s Law, the Holy Spirit will convict men of their sins and show them their guilt before the Almighty God. By means of the Gospel, He will comfort them with the assurance that their sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death in their stead.

If we only sow the Word, we need not worry about the results. They remain in God’s hands, and He has promised that His Word will not return unto Him void (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11). Let us sow the Word and await the harvest!

On what has now been sown Thy blessing, Lord, bestow; the pow’r is Thine alone to make it spring and grow. Do Thou in grace the harvest raise, and Thou alone shalt have the praise. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #46, Verse 1)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” Hebrews 11:4 (Read Genesis 4)

Both Cain and Abel offered gifts to the Lord God, Abel from his flocks and herds, and Cain from the fruits of the ground. Why was it that God accepted Abel and his sacrifice but rejected Cain? Hebrews 11:4 tells us the answer: ”By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”

Abel offered his sacrifice in faith. He trusted in the Lord God to accept him and his sacrifice for the sake of the promised Seed of the woman, that promised Messiah and Savior who would redeem him and all mankind from sin and the just condemnation of God’s law.

Cain, on the other hand, though he too offered up a sacrifice to the Lord God, did not offer it up in the confidence of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Rather, he went through the outward motions of serving his Maker, but his heart was far from the Lord (cf. Matthew 15:8; Isaiah 29:13). Cain’s works are described as evil in 1 John 3:12 and Jude 11. Even though he brought an offering, he was not walking with the Lord by faith; and his gift was unacceptable since the Lord looks upon the heart.

Of course, when we read Genesis 4, we learn not only that Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable; he hated his brother Abel and killed him because Abel was counted righteous. Those who do not follow after the Lord God continue to this day to hate those who walk by faith in the Lord because the witness of the righteous pricks the guilt-ridden consciences of those who go their own way.

Does this mean that Abel was of himself without sin? Not at all! Rather he was counted righteous in God’s eyes through faith in God’s promise to send a Savior to bear his punishment and redeem him from sin’s condemnation (Cf. Genesis 3:15). The lambs sacrificed in Old Testament times pointed ahead to the Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29).

What about you? Do you walk with the Lord God by faith in His Son, as did Abel, trusting that God accepts and forgives you for the sake of that Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Or do you walk as Cain walked, serving the Lord outwardly with gifts and lip-service while inwardly you are far from the Lord and go another way?

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God who has atoned for my sins and for the sins of the whole world by Your innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, forgive me, cleanse me and lead me. By Your Spirit, move me to walk with You by faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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What has happened to Christian churches in America? Christian churches and, perhaps, especially the mainline denominational churches, have been infected with the error of doubting the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of the Bible.

Though this error can be traced back to nineteenth-century Europe and from there into the colleges and seminaries of the United States, it is really nothing new. In the Garden of Eden, Satan brought doubt upon God’s Word when he said, “Has God indeed said …?” (Genesis 3:1). This same question is and has been asked in many colleges and seminaries concerning all or parts of the Bible: “Has God indeed said…?”

Doubting and challenging the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, many modern scholars have questioned the authorship and the accuracy of what is written in the Bible: “Did Jesus really say the words attributed to Him in the Bible?” “Could the miracles really have happened?” “Was Jesus really virgin born?” “Did He rise bodily from the dead on the third day?” “Could God have created the world in six days?” “Were Adam and Eve real people?” “Did a flood actually cover the whole earth?” On and on the questions go.

Instead of accepting all of the Scriptures and each and every word of the Scriptures as the inspired and unerring Word of God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21; John 17:17; 10:35; Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:5), many modern religious scholars and now many pastors and teachers have doubts as to whether or not all of the Bible really is God’s Word. Instead of saying that the Bible is the Word of God, you may hear them say that the Bible contains God’s Word. Instead of saying that all the Bible is historically true and accurate, you may hear them say that the stories in the Bible may not be literally true, but they teach and illustrate God’s truth. Instead of accepting and teaching all that the Bible says as God’s truth, you will find them trying to dissect the Scriptures into what is God’s truth and what was only a “cultural mandate.”

As a result, more and more ministers and teachers often ignore clear and plain statements of Scripture and attempt only to use the examples of Scripture to teach faith, love, kindness, and other social and moral issues. Think about it. How often do you hear ministers calling violations of God’s commandments sins deserving of God’s eternal wrath and punishment? And, how often do you hear ministers proclaiming forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation, available only through the shed blood of Jesus? If all ministers accepted the whole Bible and each and every word of the Bible as God’s true and unerring Word, do you think there would be women in the pulpits, joint worship services and prayers with non-Christians and erring churches, or the acceptance of homosexual clergy?

The saddest part of this ever-growing problem is that the members of so many churches suffer grave danger and harm to their souls. They are lulled into feeling comfortable in their churches even though they hear little of God’s Word there anymore. Little is heard of sin and God’s judgment — in fact, all sorts of open sin is tolerated and accepted within the churches – and little is taught regarding genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Sunday school and Bible study materials are full of interesting stories and projects but are often devoid of the Bible itself. Sermons are full of interesting illustrations and religious words and concepts, but how much of it actually comes from the Bible?

What can you do? First of all, if you haven’t done it already, pick up that Bible from the shelf, blow the dust off, and start reading. You’ll be surprised at how much of it you’ve never heard taught or explained in sermons or Bible classes. Secondly, pray for your church and your pastor. Pray that they would read and study the Bible and accept it as God’s inspired and unerring Word and then proclaim it unashamedly. Thirdly, talk to your pastor and let him know that you want him to preach and teach the Bible in your church — nothing more and nothing less! Let him know in a kind way that, though his thoughts and orations may be interesting, you are coming to hear God’s Word and to learn of God and His ways.

And, finally, if your church won’t faithfully preach and teach the Bible, even after your prayers and urgings, find a church that does and go there. Don’t let the devil rob you of God’s Word and take from you the eternal blessings which God offers and gives through faith in Jesus Christ!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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