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Every Member Ministry, Part 2

Every Member Ministry, Part 2

October 25, 2009 | Andrew Davis
Romans 12:1-8

sermon transcript


In light of the 2008 stock market crash, many people are asking, "What is a good investment? What is the wisest investment you can make?" Many people mean by this question, "What will give me the most return on my investment?" But others looking, I think, especially in light of the events of 2008, for more security, are asking, "Okay, how can I get some return on my investment and still have the principal,  and not have it get wiped out?" Now, the science of investment, I have not studied. It's not something I am up on. But there's a famous real estate investment years and years ago that I was reading about this past week, and it's the sale of Manhattan Island to the Dutch investors that bought it for $24 from the Indians that were there. Many have talked about this as one of the greatest swindles of all time. The article was saying they're not really sure who swindled who because the Indians didn't really think of in terms of land ownership. They came and went as they pleased,  so who swindled who is a real question. But what this article did is it took the $24 that the Indians actually obtained from Manhattan Island and said, "Let's see what could have happened with that $24. If they had invested wisely and gotten 6% return annually, compounded annually, by the year 1988, it would be up to $28 billion. By the year 2000, it would double again and get close to $60 billion."  But they didn't stop there. This article said, "Suppose at a key moment, when Microsoft went public in 1986, they took what was available, at that point, 20 billion, and bought $20 billion worth of Microsoft stock." Now, of course, this whole thing is ludicrous, I don't know what that would have done to the market, but forget all that, let's just run with it for a while, shall we? "So they run Microsoft until 2000 when it peaked out and then dump it, get all of their return back, and then wait a few years, 6%, a couple more years, and then invest the $12 trillion dollars that they would have had at that point into Google, and run Google for a while." See, this is unbelievable, this is ridiculous. Nobody could ever figure that out, but that's what they did. "And after four years, dumping that, when it peaked out, and you'd take that $24, you know what you have? You have $189 trillion."

 Now, you say, "This is ridiculous. It's easy to invest wisely if you know precisely what's going to happen." Stop right there, dear Christian friend. You know exactly what's going to happen, don't you? What's going to happen? Jesus Christ is coming back, isn't He? And when He comes back, He's going to reward with eternal rewards all who have invested in His Kingdom now. You know what's going to happen, don't you? Frankly, the stronger you believe in that, the more you're going to invest in that return, aren't you? You're going to invest hour by hour, day by day, year by year in the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ. How certain is that investment? Jesus said, "Even if you give a cup of cold water," to one of His disciples because He is one of His disciples, "You will never lose your reward." That is an eternal investment. The cup of cold water, then, is a good investment. Do the cup of cold water, you get eternal return on the investment.

Jesus then expanding this whole concept in Matthew 6:19-21 said, "Do not store up yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal, but store it up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." So how do we do this? How do we store up treasure in heaven? We can't do it by using good works to pay for our sins, as though somehow, we can justify ourselves by works. We know that that absolutely is not what Jesus is talking about. He must be talking about the Christian life after we have been forgiven for our sins. Then and only then are we in a position to store up treasure in heaven. How do we do that? By doing the good works that God has ordained for us to do.

 Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance, that we should walk in them." Every single one of you, dear Christian friend, brother and sister, every single one of you has a whole pattern of good works that God has crafted for you ahead of time that you should walk in them, and therein lies your eternal investment. Invest your life in that. What I'm going to argue today is that God is going to organize many, not all, but many of those good works along the pattern of a spiritual gift ministry. It's going to organize many of your good works and service to the church and to the Body of Christ. What I'm going to do is explain that from Scripture.  I'm going to exhort you to do those ministries, that you should identify for yourself a pattern of spiritual gift ministry and throw yourself into it and invest yourself in eternity. 

What do we mean when we talk about Every Member Ministry? The elders have set that as a goal for 2009, that we be very clear on that, that we exhort people. It's not going to end in 2009; and then in 2010, we're not going to do Every-Member Ministry, it's not that. We would be very clear this year what it means and exhort people to consider how they are serving the Lord. When we talk about Every-Member Ministry, we're talking about members of First Baptist Church; people who have joined this church by Covenant, that this will be their local church and they will be members of it. That the whole ministry of the church will minister to that individual member, and that that member will use their own, his or her own spiritual gifts, to minister to the whole body, like the three musketeers, kind of an all for one and one for all mentality. That's exactly what we're called on to be, that's what we're convening to be together. The individual members of the church should be concerned for and look after the health of the whole church, all of FBC. The whole church in turn should be concerned about and look after the needs of the single individual member, You can pause right there and say, "Is Church membership biblical? Is this even a biblical concept?" When we talk about membership in a church, I think it absolutely is biblical. In Romans 12, we'll talk more about this passage in a minute, but Romans 12:4-5 says, "Just as each of us has one body with many members," and these members do not all have the same function, "So in Christ, we, who are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." So there's your church membership. If you need to be that literalistic, that is membership in the Body of Christ. Or again, 1 Corinthians 12:12, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ."

What about the local church? That may be just the worldwide Body of Christ. What about local church membership? In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is dealing with the issue of church discipline, and there's a member of that church that has sinned egregiously, scandalously. Paul says, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? God will judge those outside. Our business is with those inside the church." When he uses that outside-inside language in 1 Corinthians 5, it shows a line of demarcation so that the people in Corinth knew who the church was. It was a local church, and those members knew each other, and they knew what was going on in this individual's life, it was a scandal, it had to be dealt with.  Paul, in teaching church discipline, says, "Expel the wicked man from among you." That, in somewhat of a negative way, teaches, again, this idea of church membership. You can't do all of that if there's no such thing as membership.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks at great length using a body analogy of the members of that body. 1 Corinthians 12:14 and following says, "The body does not consist of one member, but of many. Now, if the foot should say, 'Because I'm not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I'm not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? And if the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God has arranged the members in the body, each one of them just as He chose. If all were a single member, well, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. Now, the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor, again, the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" These verses taken together, I think, prove the concept of church membership. 

What the elders are advocating is that every member of this local body have a pattern of ministry, employing spiritual gifts, that you would use your spiritual gift ministry. Our desire here is to go right at... What I learned in seminary is something called the 80-20 Principle; 80% of the work in the local church done by 20% of the members. That's just really not good. It's not good for the 20%, it's not good for the 80% that aren't serving. It's not good for anybody. I find that as we use our spiritual gifts, as we're involved in ministry, that we're growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ. We're storing up treasure in heaven, we have connection with one another, we are ministering to one another, we're involved together, and you never do those things alone. And so we minister one to another. Generally, if you're not using your spiritual gifts in the context of local church ministry, you tend to drift away. I've seen it happen again and again. At that point, you tend to look at local church as an uncaring, unfeeling place, where no one really knows what your needs are, nobody really seems to care when you have this or that going on. You might have a significant issue, but then, you could say, "Nobody called, nobody cared, nobody came, and I find that that tends to happen when people aren't using their spiritual gifts. It’s a two-way street, both sides, and so we very much desire to see every member in this church using their spiritual gift ministry to the glory of God.

I want to look at two key passages, and these are familiar to you, and I'm not saying anything new, but I want to exhort you based on Ephesians 4 and Romans chapter 12. Turn your Bibles to Ephesians 4.  Let's look together at Ephesians 4, this is a key passage on the spiritual gift ministry. As we desire to exhort every member to have a spiritual gift ministry, this is a key place to start. Ephesians 4:7-16. "But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says, 'When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men.' What does He ascended mean? Except that He also descended to the lower earthly regions. He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order fill the whole universe. It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith, and then the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men and their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will, in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is Christ."

Look at a key verse, Ephesians 4: 16. “From Him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work". It's powerful. There's so many things we could go through here, and I'm not going to go in detail, but I just want to draw some quick ideas. First of all, spiritual gifts and the pattern of ministry, that's just an important concept in the sermon, a pattern of ministry. It's a habit of ministry. The pattern of ministry that flows from spiritual gifts are called grace from God. It is a gracious gift of God to you, that God involves you in anything at all. Meditate on that. I'm not trying to be insulting in any way; it's true of all of us, that God would actually involve us in anything at all is grace from God. Do you realize how many angels are up in heaven waiting just for a job to do? It says in Daniel, thousands upon thousands attended Him, and 10,000 times 10,000 stood before Him.  I'm not saying that they're standing, waiting for a job, but maybe. That's 100 million angels that He could call on and send  to go do something, and they would do it well, dear friends. Instead, He's called you. He's called on you to speak to a brother or a sister, to witness to an unsaved relative or neighbor. He's called on you to give some money or to pray, fast and pray for something. He's called on you to lead and worship or to do something. He's calling on you to serve Him. What a gift of grace! Oh, that we would always see it that way. You know what it does? It saves us from worthless lives.

It could have been that God would have saved us, justified us, forgiven all of our sins, and then said, "Get out of My way. All you're going to do is mess it up anyway. Stand over here on the sidelines, and let Me keep on going with this angelic evangelism team that have been unbelievably faithful." He could have done all that, but instead, He wants us involved. It's intrinsic to our salvation, to our sanctification that we get involved in ministry, and it's such grace from God. He says, "But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned.”  It says to each one of us, nobody gets exempted. If you're a Christian, you get this kind of grace that Paul is talking about, the spiritual gift ministry. Everybody gets one. It says, "To each one of us, grace has been given according to the measure of Christ," that's a literalistic translation. The “metron”, the measure of Christ, Christ measuring out to you grace.

Not everyone receives the same gift, nor do all of those who receive that kind of gift received the same measure of that gift. Some are extraordinary teachers of the Word of God, and I have benefited from that. I've read their books, I've sat onto them at conferences.  I know that my gifts don't line up with theirs. I'm not jealous of them. I just thank God that God gave them such a great measure of that gift. Others are just tremendous leaders and administrators.  He just gives different measures of those gifts, but everybody gets something, and it's the measure of Christ. What that means is it's so beautiful. Christ has considered you. He's thought about you. You know how it says “He's the good shepherd and He calls His sheep by name.” Because more than just call you by name, He knows you intimately, and He has measured out to you by name, personally, this spiritual gift ministry for you to do. He's entrusted it to you. How powerful is that? It's a sweet thing.

These gifts are definitely related to Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. In verses 8-10 of Ephesians 4, Paul talks about Jesus descending down from on high, and then ascending back up to where He came from, and leading captivity captive, is one translation, but the idea, I think, is a triumphal procession based on the victory of Jesus at the cross. Jesus wins His victory at the cross and at the empty tomb, and He's ascending up into heaven, up into the heavenly places to bring the fruit of His victories, and He's just throwing off gifts. It's a picture, I think, of a Roman emperor or conqueror who's come back to Rome and there's this huge victory parade. Maybe he's won a victory on the frontier of Germania, and he comes back with captives in his train, and he's giving gifts to the populace. Maybe that's the image, I don't know. But I know this, that my gifts are based on the shed blood of Jesus Christ at the cross and the empty tomb. Based on that, I get this ministry. Jesus won this for me at the cross and for you, too. This is foundational.

Some of the gifts are named in the New Testament. Here, it's not so much gifts that are named, but offices, and there’s a pattern of ministry for them. He gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers. Now, that cluster of offices, I believe, all has to do with the ministry of the Word of God in Ephesians 4. They all are ministry connected with the Word of God. The apostles and prophets give us the Word of God, saying, "Thus says the Lord." The evangelists take the Word of God out to who've never heard it before, and share the Gospel and win converts. Then the pastors and teachers, the pastor-teachers build them up in doctrinal maturity. But if you look across to Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, you get a wider variety of spiritual gift ministries such as administration, or giving, or faith, healing, other types of things that are listed. Again, I don't think that Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 is meant to be exhaustive, but rather suggestive, just different kinds of patterns of ministry. I don't think you got just one like, "I'm a teacher and that's all I do." I think you get an array or cluster of gifts that sets you up for a pattern of ministry. A senior pastor should not just be a teacher of the Word of God, but he ought to be in some measure leader and an administrator as well, and have a gift of faith or vision for the church. He doesn't have to have all of that cluster of gifts in equal proportion, but there's just a mixture of gifts that enable him to do his job. So also you are given these ministries. Verse 12 and 13 in Ephesians 4 tells the purpose of these gifts, "To prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure, the fullness of Christ."

God's people, here I take to mean the Elect, both those who have been converted and those who have not been converted. Ephesians 1 talks about how God shows us in Christ before the creation of the world. So your gift might be evangelism and you go out and you win Elect to the body of Christ, and they are now included and brought into the body of Christ. How exciting is that? But when they get in there, all the other ministries start to get to work in that person's life. They definitely get some good teaching, they get some encouragement, people pray for them, they're part of the family of God, and they grow up in their salvation until every one of them.  All the Elect reach maturity in Christ, fullness in Christ, that's God's plan. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it majestic? It's glorious.  You're  building up this kind of vast three-dimensional puzzle. That's kind of the way I see the body of Christ is every elect person gets put in and only that person can fit in there and everyone gets brought to faith in Christ and built up the full maturity. How sweet is that? That's the purpose of these spiritual gift ministries. They're done as God's people do works of service.  So  our health fare has dozens, hundreds of works of service that are connected with it, everything from photocopying to beating the pavement and knocking on doors to invite people, to just bring your skills as a doctor or dentist or whatever into the walls of the church and using them for ministry, all kinds of works of service, but that builds the church. Some people with the gift of prayer, God uses that to build the church, and they build up the body of Christ to full maturity.

Look at verse 16, this happens as each part does its work. We need everybody, friends.  We need all of you who are members of this church, all of you to use your gifts fully, so the body of Christ can be built up to fullness in Jesus. As each part does its work, every supporting ligament, Paul talks about that. You can talk about the systems, the nervous system, or the circulatory system, the digestive system, and the immune system, different things. As each system does its work, the body is healthy and grows. We've got to have everyone working together so that we can achieve all of the good works that God has for us to do, as each part does its work equals every member ministry. Do you not see it? They're the same thing. It's just another way of saying the same thing.  

Now let’s go to Romans 12 and  talk about practically how do we do it. What steps do we take to actually begin and get going in a spiritual gift ministry?  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you, do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourselves with sober judgment, and according to the measure of faith that God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so we who are in Christ, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to the faith. If it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently. And if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Those are eight key verses on how to get involved and be fully fruitful in your spiritual gift ministry.

Let's start with this, "Therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercy". Just pause there for a moment. Romans 12 begins a new section in the Book of Romans, that it basically takes the fruit of the Gospel, Romans 1-11, the power of salvation for everyone who believes the Gospel, and then puts it in action. Romans 12-16 is all about action and application, "What should I do?" What's Romans 1-11 about? It's about getting lost sinners like we were saved in the sight of a Holy God. How can a lost man like me, a lost sinner, be actually righteous in the sight of God? Dear friends, if you are not righteous in the sight of God, you can't store up treasure in Heaven. You can't do a spiritual gift ministry, you can't do anything. You're dead in your transgressions and sins. But there is a life-giving power at work in the world today, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, yet God demonstrated his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. To those people, Paul is going to give spiritual gift ministry. 

Are you one of those people? Have you ever come to faith in Christ? Can I just urge you for a moment? If you've never come to faith in Christ, set every member ministry aside. You're not a member yet. You're not in the body of Christ yet. Judgment Day is coming, and you're not ready. You're under the wrath of God. You're not ready to stand before Him on Judgment Day. Your sins will rise up and testify against you. But God sent Jesus to be a propitiation, an atoning sacrifice for our sin that we might have eternal life. I just urge you, trust in Jesus, look to the blood that was shed on the cross by Jesus to be your only hope. God raised him from the dead for our justification, that we might have eternal life. In view of that mercy, dear friends, if you've come to faith in God through that mercy, then I want to talk to you about spiritual gift ministry. That's what Paul is saying there.

Let's talk about spiritual gift ministry. Let's say I'm a Christian. Let's say I have received the mercy of God. My sins are forgiven. What should I do? How should I live? How should I spend the rest of my life? You know what Paul is basically saying in Romans 12? Use your spiritual gifts. That's what he's saying. If I could just boil it all down and said, "Now that you're a Christian, now that your sins are forgiven, you know what you need to do? Use your spiritual gifts."  So what are my spiritual gifts? Let's follow some steps. In view of God's mercy, I urge you first, present your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Start there. Start by presenting yourself every day, once and for all, at conversion, yes, but day after day. "Here I am oh, Lord, I want to serve you. Here's my body, here are my hands, here are my eyes, here's my mouth, here I am, I want to serve you." Just present your body as a living sacrifice. Sacrifice means it's costly. It's holy and pleasing to God, but you're going to give of yourself. It's going to pinch a little, it's going to be tight. Sacrifice. Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. You got to be holy, you got to put sin to death by the power of the Spirit. Then you're ready. Okay, do that day by day. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Don't think like the world is, don't conform to the world, don't think about your life the way the world does. Don't be selfish. Don't be materialistic. Don't be lustful. Don't be a pleasure seeker in that manner. Don't do those things, but be transformed. Think about Jesus and His kingdom. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then once you are, you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is for you. You say, "What is my spiritual gift?" Let God show you, and He will work in you. You could pray this, say, "Lord, I presented myself, I want to serve you. I need to know what is my spiritual gift ministry. Enable me to know so I can test it and approve it." 

"For," says Paul in verse three, "by the grace given to me, by my spiritual gift ministry as an apostle, I say to every one of you, don't think of yourself more highly than you ought." Don't think, "Boy, God is lucky to have me. Isn't it... Boy... God, I know you need me and I'll get to you by and by, I'm going to do some other things, but... " Look, God doesn't need us at all. Read Psalm 50, God says, "If I were hungry, I wouldn't tell you. I don't need anything. I have no needs." God is not needy. You need. You need to serve him. Don't think too highly of yourself. You need to do that more and more because as God blesses your ministry, you're going to start to be tempted to think highly of yourself, don't, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment. Now, that's an odd command. Paul is actually commanding you to think about yourself. You ought to think about you, but not in that way. You know what I mean. Don't be thinking about you in that way. Just say, "God, what have you made me? Who am I? What have you put in me? What kind of gifts have you put in me? What do other brothers and sisters say about me? What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at? When do I feel the pleasure of God as I minister?" I'm going to think about myself with that sober judgment. Do not think of yourself more highly than you are but think of yourself with sober judgment and according to the measure of faith God has given you. Then it gives you that idea of body, many members, we've already covered that, and then simply basic concept, use your gift.

 Look at verses six through eight. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve. If it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently. If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Do you see it? I just highlighted these things. Let him use it, let him serve, let him teach, let him encourage, let him give, let him govern, let him do it. Do it, dear friends. Frankly, do it even if you don't know what your spiritual gift is. Just get involved.  Start doing ministry. God will adjust, he will trim your wings, he'll get you flying in the direction He wants you to.

So summary, spiritual gifts are special abilities given by Jesus Christ to every single redeemed member of the body of Christ. The purpose of the spiritual gift ministry is His glory for the up-building of the body of Christ. They are essential to the growth of the body of Christ. They must be used by Christians or they have no benefit whatsoever. All of us will be held accountable by God, by how we use our gifts. What does that mean for us here at FBC? We have a variety of patterns of ministry at FBC that you can take advantage of.  I want to give you three major avenues. The first major avenue is deacon ministry teams or ministry teams. The  simple application is read over these ministry teams and  say, "I really have a heart for urban. I really have a heart for international students, or I have a heart for a senior adult ministry, or to work with family ministry. I want to do something with women's ministry." There's just a variety of ministries you can get involved in. This is just the way that the deacons are organizing people to do practical ministries, both within the walls of the church and out in the community as well. All I'm asking to do is pray over it and consider it. You may ask ,”If I choose one ministry, does that mean I can't do anything in any other ministry area?" That does not mean that. It's not rigid.  All of those questions you may ask can be answered. But basically the desire we have is if you don't have a recognizable pattern of ministry here at FBC.  

The second major avenue of ministry I want to give you is home fellowships. Many of you are involved in home fellowships. You can use all the gifts in home fellowship. Some have the gift of hospitality. They cheerfully and skillfully open their homes every week, and they make them warm and inviting, and it's a beautiful gift. It's foundational to the whole home fellowships, except for the one meeting down at Morgan Hall, then it's our janitorial team and we're grateful for them. But at any rate, all the others are welcoming people in. The gift of hospitality offered cheerfully, the gift of teaching, certainly involved there, or the gift of administration, or the gift of prayer, gift of service, missions, all of these things. This is a tremendous platform for lots of different ministries. Get involved in home fellowship. You may be involved, but you may not be really using your gifts the way you should. Make it better. Make home fellowships better by the use of your gifts. 

Third, and this is the most dangerous, but I'm going to say it anyway, initiative ministries. We're not looking for another 83 new ministries in 2010,  but I'm looking over the next 20 years. Some time in the next 20 years, we're going to start doing new ministries, and I would desire that the members of First Baptist Church, through the use of their spiritual gifts, may start those ministries with the blessing and the guidance and the administration of the elders. The church unleashed, dear friends. It's you guys seeing what you love and what you have a vision for, what you have a hope for, what you're excited about, and working with the elders so that everything's done decently in good order, using the ministries of the church, then the thing has a tremendous chance of success.  Initiative ministries. 

Those three things, I think are going to be excellent ways for you to use your gifts. I want to close by just exhorting you based on a Judgment Day reality. Jesus talked about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, and He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who's going away on a journey. As he began the journey, he called three servants to him, and he entrusted his property to them, each according to his ability. To one he gave five talents of money, to another, two talents, to another, one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. After a long time, the master of those servants returned to settle accounts with them. First, the one who had received the five talents came and he brought the five that he had gained. He said, "Master, I took your five talents and I went out and traded with it and gained five more," and his master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. I'm going to put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master."  Then the man with the two talents also came, and he brought the two talents that he had gained by trading and by laboring and by working, and he said, "Master, you entrusted me with two talents. Look, I have gained two more." His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things. I'll put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master." Then there was that man who had received the one talent. He had gone off and hid it in the ground and did nothing with what God entrusted him, but now the day has come to give an account. He brings that one talent with nothing else, and he said, "Master, I know that you're a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. See, here's what belongs to you." And his master replied, "You worthless servant. So you know that I'm a hard man, harvesting where I have not sown, and gathering where I have not scattered seed. Well, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I came back, I would have received it back with interest."  Dear friends, this parable stands over every moment of my life. God has entrusted to me many things. I want to take them, I want tomultiply them, I want them to grow and flourish, so that when I stand before Jesus, I have something to show him for what he has invested in me, but not just me. I want you to do the same. I'm zealous for each one of you to have a full reward on Judgment Day for faithful service with your spiritual gifts.

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