Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God … Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? … Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.” Acts 3:1-9, 12, & 16
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12
Again, heaven’s kingdom realm is like the wealthy man who went on a long journey and summoned all his trusted servants and assigned his financial management over to them. Before he left on his journey, he entrusted a bag of five thousand gold coins to one of his servants, to another a bag of two thousand gold coins, and to the third a bag of one thousand gold coins, each according to his ability to manage. The one entrusted with five thousand gold coins immediately went out and traded with the money, and he doubled his investment. In the same way, the one who was entrusted with two thousand gold coins traded with the sum and likewise doubled his investment. But the one who had been entrusted with one thousand gold coins dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After much time had passed, the master returned to settle accounts with his servants. The one who was entrusted with five thousand gold coins came and brought ten thousand, saying, “See, I have doubled your money.” Commending his servant, the master replied, “You have done well, and proven yourself to be my loyal and trustworthy servant. Because you have been a faithful steward to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, ‘Come celebrate with me!’” Then the one who had been entrusted with two thousand gold coins came in and said, “See, my master, I have doubled what you have entrusted to me.” Commending his servant, the master replied, “You have done well, and proven yourself to be my loyal and trustworthy servant. Because you were faithful to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, ‘Come celebrate with me!’” Then the one who had been entrusted with one thousand gold coins came to his master and said, “Look, sir. I know that you are a hard man to please and you’re a shrewd and ruthless businessman who grows rich on the backs of others. I was afraid of you, so I went and hid your money and buried it in the ground. But here it is—take it, it’s yours.” Angered by what he heard, the master said to him, “You’re an untrustworthy and lazy servant! If you knew I was a shrewd and ruthless business man who always makes a profit, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? Then I would have received it all back with interest when I returned. But because you were unfaithful, I will take the one thousand gold coins and give them to the one who has ten thousand. For the one who has will be given more, until he overflows with abundance. And the one with hardly anything, even what little he has will be taken from him.” Then the master said to his other servants, “Now, throw that good-for-nothing servant far away from me into the outer darkness, where there will be great misery and anguish!” Matthew 25:14-30
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
What follows is an overview of what have considered so far this week:
In telling this story that shows what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus is also showing what it is not like. This story about the kingdom of heaven is told in contrast to and in confrontation of conventional life on earth and the troubling religious system of the day that did more to draw its adherents away from God than it did to bring them closer to him. In showing what the kingdom of heaven is like and what it is not like, Jesus sought to gain and train followers who would embrace and serve the true kingdom of God. This week’s devotional set, through various Scriptures and our story on what the kingdom of heaven is like, helps see how heaven and earth intersect.
God is Spirit, but Jesus Christ took on human form that God might be revealed to us. And now as believers in Christ, He dwells in and through us by means of the Holy Spirit for the purpose that God might be seen by those around us so that they too can believe. This is how the kingdom of heaven is advanced through our lives and it happens when we let spiritual (heavenly) realities predominate and not physical (earthly) realities. We have been entrusted with the kingdom of heaven and as such we are truly called to be good and faithful stewards who work to advance it.
The presence of God transforms the way we live and it is this transformed living that makes the presence of God real to those around us. Transformed living is essential for advancing the kingdom of heaven on earth. Without transformed living through which people are impacted by the reality of God’s presence in our lives, we will have little hope of advancing the true kingdom of heaven that we have been entrusted with.
Someday we will give an account for how we did at investing the heavenly treasure which we have been entrusted with. The true essence of the kingdom of heaven is Jesus Christ himself, who in the fullness of time was sent forth (from heaven to earth) by God and born of a woman (Mary) to redeem us. Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of heaven intersecting with earth. It began when he was here in human form and continues as he manifests himself in and through us. Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of the treasure that has been entrusted to us. As Lord of hearts, we must let him prepare us for explaining the hope within us (the good news message) and then faithfully share it when asked.
Yesterday we saw how the first two servants did with increasing the money (earthly treasure) entrusted to them by their master who has returned from his long journey to settle accounts with his servants. They were each entrusted with an amount of money and by increasing (advance) it’s value they each proved themselves to be good and faithful stewards and received the commendation of their master. Today we look at how our third servant fared. He did absolutely nothing to increase (advance) the value of the money entrusted to him by his master and did not fare very well before his master.
Those who don’t let the realm of heaven predominate in their lives rather than the realm of earth, don’t let Christ’s indwelling presence transform them and impact the people around them, and don’t let Christ, as Lord of their hearts, prepare them for explaining the hope within them (the good news message) and then share it when asked, are ones who are not advancing the kingdom of heaven as good and faithful stewards and are in some ways like the third servant who did not fare well before his master.
We have been entrusted with the kingdom of heaven and all that is inherent in it. We are called to be good and faithful stewards who work to advance it and we will when we make the decision to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Christ, our Savior and Master. Jesus Christ alone is the one who changes lives. The more we exercise the eyes of faith and embrace the one who is unseen, the more he will make a difference in our lives. The more he makes a difference in our lives, the more he will be seen in us and through us by others who desperately need Him in their lives as well. We must be humble, dependent, and truly just a bridge between others and the Lord. It is not about us but about Jesus Christ, the true treasure we have been entrusted with.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, touch the lives of others through me as they see the reality of your presence in me. Make my life a bridge that helps others connect with you in lasting and personal ways. Grant that my influence be neither too little nor too much. What a treasure you are. What a privilege to be a channel of your grace and truth in the lives of those who so desperately need you. Amen!
Posted on Thu, December 5, 2019
by Ken Hart