July 8, 2012 INTRODUCTION – As we jump into Matthew 25, which is the second chapter of a two chapter discussion about the end times, let’s first do a quick review of Matthew 24 – Jesus answers the questions of His disciples – so that they can be familiar with the events that will lead up to the end of the age and the return of our Lord; and so that they can live in a way that will enable them to avoid the deception that will be rife in the last days; and not be tainted by the lawlessness that will also be rife in the last days; and instead be fully engaged in His kingdom agenda in the nations until He returns or death knocks at our door. Our emphasis as a fellowship in the whole realm of eschatology or the study of the last days or end times is Jesus’s emphasis: a general understanding of end time events; but focus on how to be found ready and prepared for His return.
The whole chapter of Matthew 25 is given to help us be found ready and pleasing in His sight when He returns.
As we jump in I want to bring your attention first to the call to be prepared or prudent and the reasons for that call. (read vs. 1-13) I. The Call to be prudent/prepared and alert for His return vs. 1-13 A. Jesus is looking for a prudent/wise (k.j. & niv) bride/church.
B. Definition of Prudence: To be prudent is to think and act wisely in the fear of the Lord.
C. Occurences in Matthew so far: Matt. 7:24 -27 wise man is the one who hears His word and acts on it, as opposed to the foolish who hears, but does not act/heed. Matt. 10:16 – “so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves Matt. 24;45 – “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household…”
II. Why it is important to be prudent/prepared/alert vs. 1-13 3 reasons A. Because our flesh is foolish; we all have a tendency to procrastinate and think we have longer than we do to get our act together – – just as the five foolish virgins did when they went out to meet the bridegroom with no oil in their lamps.
B. Because there will be no warning. The return of the Lord will be sudden and unexpected. Back then there was no specific timeline of wedding ceremonies. You just had to be ready and patiently watching and prepared. Even though it was midnight, and most people are normally sound asleep by then – the virgins were fully expected to be ready and prepared when the bridegroom came – because that was their assignment or role in the wedding. (midnight – vs. 6).
C. Because there will be no second chances. If we are not ready due to foolishness; He will not go, “Oh boys will be boys.” And our prudent acquaintances will not be able to help us either (vs. 9). The door will be eternally shut (vs. 10)
Five p’s = prior preparation prevents poor performance Perpetual Prudence Prevents Perpetual (Webster = continuing forever) Punishment Perpetual Prudence Provides Perpetual Presence
Often we waste time and energy trying to determine if a said person whether family member or friend made a genuine decision for Christ some time in history. The issue is not whether the said person received Christ 10 or 20 years ago. The issue is whether Christ will receive them when He returns; and that is solely based – not on some decision made 20 years ago, but whether they are living an ongoing prudent and wise life today. The rest of this chapter helps us know what a truly prudent lifestyle would look like.
III. How to be prudent/prepared/alert; how to live a wise and sensible lifestyle that the Lord will be pleased with when He returns. Two ways or two things He will be looking for.
A. Stewarding faithfully His stuff entrusted to us – vs. 14-30 1. Jesus consistently refers to us as His slaves & He as our Master and King throughout His earthly ministry & continued in ch. 25 (14-30)
2. Jesus consistently reminds us that everything we have belongs to Him (“his possessions”) (vs. 14)
3. Jesus fully expects us to steward well and wisely all that He entrusts to us (vs. 21,23, 27)
4. Great joy & increase awaits those who do (vs. 21, 23, 28, 29a)
5. Great destruction and dismay awaits those who do not (vs. 26-30)
B. Ministering to the least of these – vs. 31-46 1. The glorious throne of judgment (vs. 31-33)
2. The invitation to enter heaven (vs. 34-40)
3. The horrible command to enter hell (vs. 41-46)
4. When we minister as a lifestyle to the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and prisoners – – we are actually ministering to Jesus Himself.
5. Carrying on a lifestyle of ministering to the rejects of society – – to those who can do nothing for us in return – – dying to the right to feel strategic and fruitful for our efforts – – enables us to be prepared for our Savior’s return. It keeps our heart maleable and tender.
CONCLUSION – 1. Being prepared for the Lord’s return requires a lifestyle of learning to think His thoughts – – of evaluating our life choices and decisions in light of His priorities and purposes and principles. It requires a state of constant readiness based on acknowledging His Lordship over all; and submission to His word and way in every aspect of our lives.
2. Being prepared for the Lord’s return or our death requires a lifestyle of stewarding well everything that He has entrusted to us, whether that be our finances, our material things, our education, our family, our opportunities and responsibilities. The sooner we get to the place where we realize that nothing we have belongs to us; but rather it has been entrusted to us to steward – – the better. Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” Tending your Garden Sheets
3. Being prepared for the Lord’s return or our facing Him because of death requires a lifestyle of ministering to the least of these. Bread of Life is a very practical way. But nothing replaces face to face involvement with these kinds of people. Jesus has great compassion for the homeless and the poor and the sick and diseased and disenfranchised; and He wants to extend that compassion to them through us. Crucial that in your attempts to live out this kind of lifestyle that you are walking in unity and oneness with your family and with your church family. The needs are overwhelming and we must be wise and discerning in how deeply we get involved.
CONCLUSION – Tending your Garden or Talent Sheets