Sunday, May 13, 2018

Home

This blog all began with a Bible study on the expression, "the kingdom of God is like" this.  By putting together all of the similes the Lord used to compare to the kingdom of God, we were able to get a relatively good picture of God's kingdom -- a mosaic of sorts.  Later came other articles of a similar nature that helped to show us what the kingdom of God is like.  I hope these prove useful to you as you grow in your understanding of how things operate in God's kingdom.  If you have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, you need to re-learn how to live, since the way God works is very different from the world.

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.'"  (Luk 18:16-17)

The Kingdom of God is Like This The Secret Kingdom God's Supernatural Hand in Crisis
The Link Between Two Realms God's Supernatural Provision Using People The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James Agboola
A Time for Everything The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom An Incomparable Inheritance
All of His Works Praise Him Thy Kingdom Come The Day of Small Things
Why is the Body So Divided? A Biblical View of the Poor Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God
God's Way to Greatness Faithful in the Little Things Multiplying Your Talents
Against Entropy Changing the Atmosphere

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Image credit: "Suffer the Children to Come Unto me" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Changing the Atmosphere

We hear a lot these days about how the earth's atmosphere is changing. We also hear about geoengineering, in which man is intentionally changing the atmosphere. While that can and does occur in the natural realm, it can also occur in the spiritual realm.

Here is another illustration on a smaller scale that we can all relate to. Have you ever walked into a room and discovered that it had an odor you didn't like, and you decided to open some windows to refresh the air? That's just a simple example of one way to change the atmosphere in the natural realm. Likewise, there are times when the spiritual atmosphere needs to be changed, and there is a biblical way to do so, which we will examine together in detail here in this article.

Link Between the Spiritual and Natural Realms
As I explained in my previous article, The Link Between Two Realms, there is a direct connection between the natural and spiritual realms. Things that we do in the natural realm transfer over into the spiritual realm, and things that are happening in the spiritual realm transfer over into the natural realm. For example, if there is an oppressive spirit in a particular place, then it will be reflected in the way people feel. Consequently, their words, actions, and attitudes in that place will be in accordance with that oppressive atmosphere, unless they resist it. Likewise, if the music in a place glorifies satan, like the way rock music does, then there will be a tangible darkness in that place and the actions of the people there will be in accordance with it.

Conversely, if there is a spirit of faith in a given place, then it will lend itself to a tangible openness and a heightened expectation for miracles and healing to happen. I recall that it was this way on the Bible school campus that I attended at Zion Bible Institute in Barrington, Rhode Island. And indeed miracles were rather commonplace there. On the other hand, I have been to other places where there was a spirit of darkness, doubt, and unbelief. In Jesus' own hometown, even He was unable to do many miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them, because they didn't believe in Him. (Mar 6:4-6). In fact, He wondered at their unbelief.

Now let's give some examples from Scripture of changing the atmosphere.

Jesus Changed the Atmosphere
At the synagogue ruler's house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. Let's observe how:

"While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, 'My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.' Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples." (Mat 9:18-19, NIV)

"When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, 'Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.' But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region." (Mat 9:23-26, NIV)

Why did Jesus put the crowd out of the house? It was because they were noisily mourning the girl's death, playing sad and mournful music on the flutes, and the atmosphere was not one in which to raise her from the dead. It was not conducive--in terms of faith--to her being raised up, but a disorderly one that gave way to grief over the girl's death. It was an atmosphere of fear, doubt, and unbelief.

By putting them all out of the house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. That is also why he did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, James, John, and the child's father and mother (Lk 8:51). Then He went in and took the girl by the hand, her spirit returned to her body, and she got up.

Perhaps you think that Jesus raised her from the dead, because He was God. Certainly He was God from His very birth and even before He was conceived in the womb (see Is Jesus God?). The apostle John says that in the beginning He was with God and He was God (Jn 1:1). But the apostle Paul also tells us that Jesus emptied Himself of the glory and power He had with the Father before He came to earth. He said, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Phil 2:6-7, NIV).

This is known in Christian theology as His kenosis or self-emptying. In simple terms we can all understand, it was essentially His humiliation. He reduced Himself to the same level that all other men are at without ceasing to be God. It was like He tied both His hands behind His back in a sense, and had to do things the same way He expected His followers to do them, which is through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. That means that all of the miracles and healing He performed were done by the power of the Holy Spirit, as I wrote in my article, By the Spirit of God Alone. He Himself was baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, and then declared that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, because He had anointed Him to preach the gospel, bring recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed captives free. (Lk 4:18). Therefore, He was our example in all things, and the way He went about doing things is the way we must go about them, too.

Peter Changed the Atmosphere
Following Christ's example, Peter also changed the atmosphere before raising Dorcas from the dead. All healing and miracles are done by faith, and he first removed all distractions that would interfere with faith, which meant the weeping mourners had to leave the room. Scripture states:

"Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, 'Do not delay in coming to us.' So Peter arose and went with them."

"When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord." (Act 9:36-42)

Elisha Changed the Atmosphere
Do you remember how Elisha changed the atmosphere? It was through music.

"Then the king of Israel said, 'Alas! For the LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.' But Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?' And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.' Jehoshaphat said, 'The word of the LORD is with him.' So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."

"Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, 'What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.' And the king of Israel said to him, 'No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.' Elisha said, 'As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you. But now bring me a minstrel.' And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him." (2Ki 3:10-15)

He called for the minstrel to play his instrument, and when the minstrel did so, the hand of the Lord came upon him, so that he was able to prophesy. The music effected a change in the spiritual realm. Something changed in the atmosphere that made it conducive to prophesying. 

David Changed the Atmosphere
Not only did Elisha use music to change the atmosphere, but David did, too.  He did this in the presence of King Saul, who had an evil spirit that made him experience outbursts of anger.

"Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul's servants then said to him, 'Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.' So Saul said to his servants, 'Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.' Then one of the young men said, 'Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.'" (1Sa 16:14-18)

"Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, 'Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.' So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him." (1Sa 16:21-23)

The Scripture says that whenever the evil spirit came to Saul, David would play his harp, and Saul would be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him. The music of his harp produced a change in the spiritual realm that changed the atmosphere such that the evil spirit would not want to remain there. Glory to God!

Praise Changes the Atmosphere
In the same way, praise changes the atmosphere. That can happen when someone is praising the Lord without musical accompaniment (i.e., a Capella), or it can happen when someone sings praises to the music of instruments. The reason is simple: God builds His throne upon the praises of His people. David wrote in the twenty second psalm, "Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel." (Psa 22:3). Therefore, when the praises go up, the glory comes down. He lives within the praises of His people. I encourage you to try it yourself. Praise His name and you will never be the same. The glory of the Lord will fill the place where you are.

When I was in the Army, I came to know Christ, and He set me free from my life of sin. Now I found myself living in a military barracks as a young, single man with other soldiers that were still bound by sin as I had been, yet they had no intention of changing. The rock music, pornographic videos and magazines, cigarettes and alcohol, course joking and foul language, were all around me. The atmosphere during off duty hours was similar to college dorm life in that respect, except with a little more discipline. One thing I did to cope with this dark and ungodly atmosphere was to wear a portable audio-cassette player clipped to my belt that I could carry about as I went about my tasks in the evening. That was before the days of CD players and MP3 players. I wore my light headphones and listened to Christian music that changed the atmosphere for me and made it one that glorified God, so that I was able to bear living in that environment.

My wife Jennifer tells me of what she did on one particular occasion when she was a teenage girl experiencing a sense of darkness about her. At that time she was probably fifteen or sixteen years old. She went into her bedroom and put an album on her record player and the first song that came on was called "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." The vocalist on the album began singing the opening lines that go like this:

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

So she knelt down beside her bed and turned her face upward, turning her eyes upon Jesus. As she did so, the atmosphere in her room changed and she experienced the light of His glory and grace upon her.

On another occasion when she was a young, single adult in graduate school at Regent University, she was in her apartment feeling rather depressed. So she turned on her radio in her bedroom and listened to a two-hour, praise-and-worship radio program. She occasionally prayed, but she mostly just sat and listened to the praise and worship music. At the end of that time, her friend Janice came and knocked at the door to her apartment to get her for work. They both worked for Regent University's Housekeeping Department cleaning apartments there in the village. When Jennifer opened the door, Janice took one look at her face and said something to the effect that, "Wow! What's happened to you? You're glowing!" What happened was that she changed the atmosphere through praise and worship.

Likewise, in our home today, our children change the atmosphere through praise and worship. Sometimes it is when one of them is going about her chores, sweetly singing praises to the Lord. At other times, it happens when they gather around together while one of them plays the guitar, and perhaps another plays the keyboard, while they all join in singing praises to God. It creates a wonderful atmosphere in the house, which I am able to sense even when I am downstairs in my office. Heaven comes down and fills the place.

Paul and Silas Changed the Atmosphere
When Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi, they changed the atmosphere in that place through their prayer and praises. Prisons in those days were not like the prisons we have today, where there are beds, sinks, toilets, heating, and a cafeteria. They were cold, dark, probably dank, and infested with pests such as spiders, centipedes, perhaps lice, and various bugs, as well as mice, rats or bats. First they were beaten with many blows, and then after being thrown into prison, their feet were fastened in the stocks. Here is what happened in that place.

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." (Act 16:25-26)

At midnight, they could have been complaining or sleeping, but they didn't yield to their flesh. Instead these two men chose as an act of their will to pray and sing praises to the Lord. Prayer and praise changed the atmosphere, such that it actually caused a sudden great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. What they did in the natural realm caused something to change in the spirit realm, which in turn affected a change in the natural realm in the form of an earthquake. Not only did the ground shake, but all the doors opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.

Scripture Reading Changes the Atmosphere
There are many other things that can change the atmosphere. One of them is reading Scripture aloud. When you begin to read the Word of God out loud or play back a recording of someone else reading the Bible, such as you can find on various audio Bibles available for free on the internet, you will notice that it changes the atmosphere. Light comes into that place. In fact, even if you read your Bible silently, it changes the atmosphere. When you open up the Bible, it is like a great flood light is shining up at you and as you read, that light will enter your soul. But reading it aloud is the best way to experience the most powerful effect of it.

Proclamations of Faith Change the Atmosphere
Another one is making proclamations out loud like the ones I have written about in my article, Personal Proclamations of Faith. If you begin to activate your faith and declare what you believe out loud, it will change the atmosphere. The demons fear your faith, and they will not want to be around if you keep boldly declaring those things aloud.

Thanksgiving Changes the Atmosphere
Finally, it will change the atmosphere when you begin to just give thanks to God for everything you can think of, such as I have written about in my article, Giving Thanks in Everything. Thanksgiving to God is a type of offering, and while it may be a sacrifice for you to do so, assuming you have your fair share of burdens and cares, it will bring a change in your environment. It will create an atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit feels welcome and God's presence envelopes you. Try it and you will see what I mean.

Putting it All Together
As I have just explained, there are positive ways that we can change the atmosphere we are in, according to the Word of God. They include removing the noisy voices of fear, doubt, and unbelief that are all around you, and entering into prayer, praises, and thanksgiving, as well as faith proclamations and Scripture reading, especially aloud. As you do these things, you will experience the shift in your environment. You'll be blessed because you did so. Something will change in the spirit realm and that will in turn be tangibly felt in that place.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted. Image by First Assembly Roxas Missions, Inc. in the Philippines is used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. It may be subject to copyright.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading The Link Between two Realms, Praise the Lord, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Crying out to God Loudly, Giving Thanks in Everything, Songs of the Holy Fire, and The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Against Entropy

My seventeen-year old daughter and I took an evening walk together hand-in-hand a couple days ago, and I asked her what she had been learning in school. She began to tell me what she was learning about entropy in science, so we discussed it a bit. Then this morning I had a dream in which I saw the words, "Against entropy," so I decided to write this article about it.

The second law of thermodynamics states that "the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. The total entropy can remain constant in ideal cases where the system is in a steady state (equilibrium), or is undergoing a reversible process." In order to understand that definition, you must know what entropy is.

Entropy is "a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system." So for layman's purposes, entropy could be defined simply as the degree of disorder in a system. Or entropy could be defined as "a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder." Some synonyms for entropy are deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, and collapse.

Using my simplified definitions for entropy, my layman's definition of The Second Law of Thermodynamics, (which may not be technically and precisely correct), is that "the total degree of disorder in a system can never decrease over time, but generally increases." Put differently, "Everything is generally moving from a state of order to disorder." Or "All things are experiencing a gradual decline into disorder." We could also say that generally speaking, "Everything is undergoing some sort of deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, or collapse."

This law should be fairly obvious to most people, as examples of entropy abound all around us. The body of a human or animal that dies decomposes. In fact, even while we are still living we are decomposing! According to kidshealth.org, "Though you can't see it happening, every minute of the day we lose about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells off the surface of our skin. So just in the time it took you to read this far, you've probably lost about 40,000 cells. That's almost 9 pounds (4 kilograms) of cells every year!" Much of the dust you find in your home is made of skin cells. Another example is the way that meat and fruit spoil and decompose. Meat becomes rancid and bacteria grows on it as it decomposes. Fruit goes through a rotting process and ferments. Wood becomes brittle over time and crumbles. Wooden structures that become very old eventually collapse. Trees die and collapse, too. Metal goes through an oxidation process known as rusting, which can eventually leave holes in it. Computers eventually break down. Mental disorders occur, and when people get sick and grow weak, this too is an example of entropy.

We also see the effects of entropy in the world. To borrow the words from a song that was recorded of heavenly angels singing in China during the 1990's in the Mandarin language, "The famines are becoming more and more critical. There are more and more earthquakes. The situation is becoming more and more sinister. People are fighting against each other, nation against nation. Disasters are more and more severe. The whole environment is deteriorating. Disasters are more and more severe. People's hearts are wicked, and they do not worship the true God. Floods and droughts are more and more frequent. There is more and more homosexuality and incurable diseases. The climates are becoming more and more abnormal. The earth is more and more restless. The skies have been broken. The atmosphere is distorted."

The world is experiencing many fearful events, including plane crashes, severe weather, volcanoes, and terrorism. Many strange signs are occurring throughout the world, such as mass animal deaths and water turning blood red. For more on this, please see my articles The Land Mourns in the Last Days, The End Time Plagues, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Cosmic Rays Intensifying, Fukusima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, The Contractions Are Coming Closer and Closer TogetherSomething's Going on in 2013, and Something's Going on in 2018.

Who can deny that society is becoming more and more disorderly and that there are more random acts of violence, school shootings and riots in the streets? The crime rates are increasing, divorce is on the rise, families are breaking down, and the love of most is growing cold. For Jesus Himself predicted this would happen in the last days before His return. He said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold." (Mt 24:12, NIV). That too is a type of entropy.

Entropy in Scripture
The Bible speaks of this process. For example, the apostle Paul said, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." (Rom 8:20-22). Put simply, all of creation (i.e., everything in the natural realm including plants, animals, bodies of water, the sky or atmosphere, and the earth itself) is subjected to futility and is presently in bondage to corruption. Everything is in slavery to decay, which is exactly what the Second Law of Thermodynamics states.

Grass and flowers are good examples, too. Isaiah prophesied, "The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:7-8).

According to the prophet, we as humans are undergoing that same process as the grass and flowers. Likewise, God said to Adam in the garden, "By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:19). This is fate of all people, "All came from the dust and all return to the dust." (Ecc 3:20b).

Hell is a place where entropy never ends. Every moment is filled with pain, torment, sorrow, regret, loneliness, and fear. It stinks terribly in hell, because of all the rotten, decaying flesh. The intense heat is unbearable, and the atmosphere is stifling, so you feel like you are suffocating. There is no water to drink, so there is nothing to quench your thirst. It's a place of outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 8:12, 22:13, 25:30), where the worms that eat them do not die, and the flames are never quenched (Mk 9:44,48). Don't go to that terrible place! Repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ to save you.

The Lord spoke about the things men treasure on earth that are destined to rust, rot, decay, or be stolen. He said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal." (Mat 6:19-20)

The apostle Peter said, "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Pe 1:4, NIV). This means that there is corruption in the world, which is caused by evil desires or lusts. Sin has brought about death to mankind and all creation. But the Lord has given us promises whereby we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world. This means that we can defy entropy.

Defying Entropy
While our earthly life may not last forever and we eventually die, we can have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (Joh 3:16). The Lord said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." (Joh 11:25-26a).

The apostle Paul taught that eternal life is a gift from God given through Jesus Christ to those who believe in Him. He stated, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23). On the one hand, sin brings death to people and the rest of creation. This is a kind of pay back for sin. But God has not left us hopeless. He has given a gift that you cannot earn, but can only receive by faith in Jesus Christ, and that gift is eternal life. Hopefully you can see how that defies entropy.

Up in heaven there is no entropy at all. Everything is living. As I said in my article, To Sin or Not to Sin, in heaven there is no death, no pain, no tears or sorrow (Rev 21:4). The city is made of pure gold, as pure as glass (Rev 21:18). Even the great street of the city is made of pure gold (Rev 21:21 ). It's walls are decorated with every kind of precious stone (Rev 21:19). The city shines brightly with the glory of God (Rev 21:11,23). There is a pure river of the water of life there that is clear as crystal, and there are many mansions (Jn 14:2). The tree of life is there, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month (Rev 22:2). There are countless myriads of holy angels, as well as the spirits of righteous men made perfect (Heb 12:22-23; Rev 5:11). There is no sin there, because nothing impure may enter that place, and nobody who does what is shameful or deceitful will ever enter it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev 21:27). God is reigning over the universe there on his throne at the center of it all, and Jesus Christ sits at his right hand with great power and glory -- with angels, powers, and authorities in submission to Him (1 Pe 3:22).

The people in heaven are all young and healthy, and the grass is all green with no brown spots or withering of any kind. Since there is no death, decay, or entropy of any kind in heaven, there is no dust, dirt, grime, or disease. There is no garbage or waste of any kind. There is no rust, but everything is shiny and new. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." (Rev 21:5).

The kingdom of heaven is at hand, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Mt 3:2, NIV). Consequently, when the kingdom of heaven is at hand, we experience the effects of it here and now. One of those effects is that His kingdom comes into our midst and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. The glories of heaven are manifested here and now. When the kingdom of heaven is near, it reverses the usual effects of entropy, whereby disorder is normally increasing, not decreasing, and some unusual things can happen. The impossible now becomes possible. Let me give you some examples.

Free Not to Sin
In addition to having eternal life, there is a way to defy entropy while we are still alive on earth. I have alluded to one of them at the end of the last section, which is that the followers of Christ participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world. We have been set free from the law of sin and death and now live by the law of the Spirit of life. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Rom 8:2). Once you have been set free from the law of sin and death, you no longer have any obligation to sin. You are free not to sin! "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (Joh 8:36). Your mind is set on the Spirit. which brings about life and peace. "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom 8:6).

Abundant Life
As I said in my article, To Sin or Not to Sin, abundant life is a gift that those of us who know Jesus get to enjoy while we are still on earth before we die and go to heaven. Since I came to know Christ thirty-two years ago, I have experienced an abundant life in Christ filled with more joy, laughter, and fun than I could have ever imagined. There have been times when the Holy Spirit has come upon me and I have experienced a holy laughter that was pure and wonderful, unlike anything this world has to offer. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit and living the Spirit-filled life has been far more enjoyable than living that old life of sin and shame. I'm so glad I decided to give my life to Jesus and follow Him in this abundant life, rather than stay in sin. If I had remained in sin, I would never have come to know such joy unspeakable and full of glory! I would have probably ended up dead or in jail eventually, but instead he has blessed me with a wife and children and all the happy moments that we have enjoyed together. He has blessed me with the joy of preaching the gospel in countries around the world, as well as here in the United States, seeing people give their lives to Jesus. I have experienced the glory of His manifest presence, as well as the wonder of seeing people miraculously healed and set free from demons. I am able to sing and rejoice with a clear conscience. Nothing I had before Christ could ever compare with the abundant life He has given to me. This, too, defies entropy, because now there is order and peace, where there once was disorder and confusion.

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33a, NIV). So when you are right with God, order and peace replace disorder and confusion. It is the devil, not God, that brings disorder. The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus comes that you may have life and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10). 

Casting Out Demons
When demons are cast out, then whatever disorder they have brought into a person's life is also removed. When Jesus cast out the legion of demons from the demoniac, it went completely against the second law of thermodynamics (Mk 5:1-20).

The demons had brought such disorder to that man's life that he was miserable. "Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones." (Mar 5:5). He was like a wild, rabid animal. Nobody could go near him for fear he would hurt them. For a long time the man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. Once Jesus cast the demons out of him, the demons with the Lord's permission went into the roughly two thousand pigs in the nearby herd. Once the demons entered into the pigs, they rushed down a steep embankment into the lake and drowned. Just imagine how miserable that man's life must have been with all those demons inside of him! It's no wonder he acted the way he did. Even the pigs went crazy and hated their lives so much that they all wanted to commit suicide. The demons drove them mad. It was not a good outcome for the pigs that day.

However, look at the outcome for the man who had been demon-possessed and was now delivered. Scripture says that the man was sitting down, clothed and in his right mind (Mar 5:15). No longer was he naked and out of his mind as he had been, but now he was dressed and well composed. He was experiencing total peace the way God intended for him. How wonderful!

Likewise, God has given to those who believe in Jesus the power to cast out demons. He has given us the power to defy and reverse the effects of entropy in specific instances. I have seen and experienced such things firsthand, so I can testify it is really true. Jesus said, "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mar 16:17-18). That passage gives us an excellent picture of how we, by God’s power, can reverse various processes resulting from the second law of thermodynamics.

If you believe in Jesus and have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, then you will have power to be His witness. Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."(Act 1:8). Besides the power to cast out demons, here are some other effects of the kingdom of heaven coming near and the power of the Holy Spirit being manifested.

Healing the Sick
Another example is healing. For the Lord promised that those who believe in His name will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. As I said, I have seen this first hand many times, and all the glory belongs to Jesus. The gospels and the book of Acts are full of many examples of Jesus and His apostles healing people of incurable sicknesses and diseases, such as leprosy (a skin disorder), as well as paralysis, blindness, deafness, muteness, hemorrhaging, lameness, and epilepsy (seizures). The Scripture says:

"And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was." (Mar 1:29-34)

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), so He is still performing healing and miracles like that in the world today through His disciples. Some people deny this and think that everyone with a gift of healing or miracles is a huckster that is pretending to do these things in order to take people's money. That is simply not true. As I said, I can testify to what I have seen with my own eyes, and I can produce other witnesses who can do the same. I know that I am not lying but speaking the truth. Why is it so difficult for people to believe that God can do anything and that He changes not?

Even under the Old Covenant, God made this promise: “The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” (Deut 7:15). If God could do this for those under the Old Covenant, who’s to say He can’t do that under the New Covenant, which is founded on better promises, and has a better high priest, and better blood? Why would anyone say that such things that were possible under the Old Covenant are not possible under the New Covenant? The answer is lack of faith and unbelief.

All God’s promises are ‘yes’ in Christ, but we must say the ‘amen.’ The apostle Paul said, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Cor 1:20, NIV). God has already given us many great and precious promises through which we may participate in the divine nature, and all we need to do is claim them by faith (2 Pe 1:4). As Jesus said, "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mk 9:23, NIV). And on another occasion He said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mk 10:27, NIV). Therefore, God still has the power to heal the sick and do anything He likes, even reversing entropy. And those who believe in Jesus are still able to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, but often times we limit Him by our own unbelief.

For more on healing the sick, please see my article The Power of God to Heal.

Drinking Deadly Poison
Another example of defying entropy is drinking deadly poison with no ill effects. Jesus said that one of the signs that would follow those who believe in Him is that if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them (Mar 16:17-18). This does not mean we are to be presumptuous and try drinking deadly poison to see what will happen. But if per chance we drink it, He promised that it would not hurt us. This is obviously impossible without God, since deadly poison causes death when it enters the human body.

For those who think that this Scripture is spurious and that we do not see it happening today where Christians are unharmed by deadly poison, let me share just one example of a case in point where it happened fairly recently. My brother and dear friend Michael Sambo, who is a preacher in Nigeria, was captured by Boko Haram terrorists while traveling on ministry. After they had already killed another one of their captives, who was lying dead right there beside him, they blindfolded him and made him drink poison. He drank it and suffered no ill effects, which proves that the passage in Mark 16 is true, and the power of God is able to defy entropy.

More than one of the terrorists also shot at him with assault rifles at close range while standing in front of him, but even though he heard the sound of the guns, none of the bullets touched him. In fact, God sent an angel to help him escape, just as He did for the apostle Peter when he was in prison. There are witnesses to corroborate his story, and I know him to be an honest man. Since this incident occurred, he has visited me and eaten in my home in the US, along with one of the witnesses, and I know that he would certainly not lie about this. For the full story, please see my article, Angelic Escape from Terrorist Assassins.

Raising the Dead
Jesus also raised the dead during His earthly ministry. There are many examples of this.

One example is when He raised the twelve-year old daughter of Jairus the synagogue official from the dead. The man had asked Jesus to come and lay His hand upon the girl, who was sick, so that she would be healed. But by the time Jesus arrived, she was already dead and people were mourning. Scripture says:

"Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, 'Talitha kum!' (which translated means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded." (Mar 5:41-42)

He also raised others from the dead like the son of the widowed woman (Lk 7:11-17), who was in a coffin, and Lazarus who had been in the tomb for four days (Jn 11:38-44). In the case of Lazarus, his body was already starting to stink from decomposition, but when he came forth at the command of Jesus and they removed the grave cloths, he was perfectly well.

And Jesus commissioned His disciples to do the same thing. He said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give." (Mt 10:8, NIV). The apostle Peter also raised Dorcas from the dead (Ac 9:36-42), and the apostle Paul raised Eutychus (Ac 20:7-12). If there was ever a perfect example of reversing the effects of entropy, raising the dead is one of them. 

Resurrection of Christ
Then there’s Jesus’ resurrection, which is the greatest example of all. If you want to talk about reversing entropy, just consider how He was raised from the dead. He had been beaten beyond recognition. His face was disfigured (Is 52:14). He had been scourged so much that the flesh on His back was ripped open and in shreds. He was nailed to the cross (Mt 27:35) and was left to hang there for six hours until He gave up His Spirit. His disciples took down His body, wrapped it in clean linen, and placed it in a tomb. But His body did not see decay.

The apostle Paul said, "God raised Him from the dead so that He will never be subject to decay. As God has said, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ So it is also stated elsewhere: ‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay." (Ac 13:34-37, NIV).

Putting it All Together
Since this world and the universe and all that is in them are subject to the second law of thermodynamics, they are in a state of gradual decline. There is entropy on every side -- physical entropy, mental entropy, social entropy, and even moral entropy. One thing you can count on is that entropy is not on your side. It's a bad thing, not a good thing.

Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ is the risen Savior of the world, who has brought the kingdom of heaven near to us. It is now at hand, and His disciples who believe in Him can and do receive power from His Holy Spirit to reverse the effects of entropy in specific instances right here on earth. This includes healing, miracles, casting out demons, drinking deadly poison without any ill effects, and even raising the dead. Those who have received the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus, where there is no disorder or decay. That's good news for mankind. Repent, therefore, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Attribution notice: Scripture taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV where noted. Images used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like reading The Kingdom of God is Like This, Baptized with the Spirit, The Power of God to Heal, The Role of Demons, The Cause of Disease, Demonology 101, To Sin or Not to Sin, The Land Mourns in the Last Days, The End Time Plagues, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Cosmic Rays Intensifying, Fukusima Daiichi Nuclea Disaster, The Contractions Are Coming Closer and Closer Together, Something's Going on in 2013, and Something's Going on in 2018. Here is a link to the audio recording of Angels Singing in China. For more articles like this one, please see the Home Page of this blog. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.








Friday, April 6, 2018

Multiplying Your Talents

The Lord compared the kingdom of God to a man giving talents to each of his slaves. Let's take a closer look at that passage in Matthew 25, and discover the implications for our lives. He said:

14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mat 25:14-30)

The Meaning of the Parable
As in all parables, the parts of the parable each represent something in real life. The Lord had told the parable of the Ten Virgins just prior to this parable, which is recorded in Matthew 25:1-13, in order to describe what the kingdom of God is like. And He followed that with this parable of the talents, which is recorded in Matthew 25:14-30, in order to continue with His description of the kingdom of God. He began with the words, “For it is just like..." (v. 14). The pronoun "it" in this opening phrase of verse 14 refers back to its antecedent, which is the kingdom of heaven that he referred to initially in verse 1.

Master
The master in this parable represents the Lord. He is introduced in verse 14 as "a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them." It's important to note that the master entrusted his possessions to his servants. This illustrates that in the kingdom of heaven, the Lord, represented by the master in this parable, has entrusted His possessions to His servants.

Talents
In order to understand this passage, it is necessary to know what the talents are that the master gave to his slaves. A talent is a certain sum of money, such as a bag of gold weighing 200 pounds (91 kg) or a bag of silver weighing 100 pounds (45 kg). The true value of the talent cannot be known, and it varied in different nations, but it was a specific weight or quantity of money. Someone has speculated that a talent today would be worth 1.25 million dollars. It should be noted that in this parable, the talents, or possessions of the master, are also referred to as the master's money in verse 18, so it was literally money in this story.

The master gave different amounts of talents to each of his servants, based on their individual abilities, since they did not all have the same level of ability. "To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey" (v. 15).

While the talents in the parable were literally money, they represent whatever gifts, skills, abilities, or talents the Lord has given to each of His servants who follow Him. It's interesting that the modern day word "talent" has come to mean those special abilities or faculties one has that are non-monetary. According to Webster's dictionary, a talent is: "Faculty; natural gift or endowment; a metaphorical application of the word, said to be borrowed from the Scriptural parable of the talents. Mat 25." Webster also defines a talent as one's eminent abilities.

Examples of Abilities
The following is a list of examples of abilities, skills, and talents that you may possess, which you may not have thought of or realized you had:

Biblical knowledge and understanding
Scripture memorization
Singing
Song writing
Scientific understanding
An aptitude for learning
Organizational skills
Administrative skills
Public speaking
Speaking a second language
Reading
Writing
Poetry
Drawing artistically
Calligraphy
Helping others, including the poor, the weak, and those in need
Feeding people
Loving people
Being a good listener
Driving a motor vehicle
Bicycling
Running
Using the computer
Technical skills
Mechanical skills
Carpentry
Playing musical instruments, such as the keyboard, guitar, etc.
Discipline
Photography
Graphic design
Website development
Cleaning
Cooking and baking
Food preparation
Knitting and sewing
Ironing clothes
Hospitality
Faith and healing
Shopping and purchasing (including online)
Frugality (saving money)
Teaching
Parenting
Encouraging others
Hair cutting
Typing (keying)
Proof reading and grammatical advice
Operating a cash register
Leadership

Of course, many more could be added to this list. Perhaps you have taken these things for granted, but I intentionally included common things in my list to show that these are all abilities in some way, even if they seem ordinary and not very glamorous. But not everyone can walk, run, ride a bicycle, drive a motor vehicle, such as a car or truck, and not everyone can operate a computer, fix things, build things out of wood, save money shopping, read, write, sing, play an instrument, compose songs and poems, create artwork, do cleaning, or iron clothes. Don't take anything for granted that you are able to do. It is all given to you by the Lord and was originally His possession. Don't underestimate or bury any of your talents.

Use of One's Talents
It's important to observe in the parable what each of the servants did with the talents they were given:

"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more." (v. 16-17). 

It was good that these two servants immediately put their talents to use. They went out and traded with their talents, putting their talents to work, in order to gain more talents than what they were originally given. This showed that they valued their master's possessions and wanted to be able to give him a return on his investment whenever he returned. These servants represent those who put to good use the abilities they have received from the Lord and gain more with them for the glory of God.

Unfortunately for the servant who was given one talent, he did not have the same attitude toward his master. Instead of going out and putting the talent to work to gain more with it, he dug a hole and buried it in the ground. This was based on his twisted view of the master and his inappropriate fear of the master as a hard man (v. 24-25). He did not gain any more with it, but only had the original talent to show the master upon his return. He represents those who serve the Lord that don't put their talent to use, perhaps because they view themselves as not being very talented or not having much in terms of abilities.

Journey
The journey that the master went on in verses 14 and 15 represents the Lord going back to heaven after He rose from the dead. We read this in the book of Acts where His ascension is recorded:

"And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'" (Act 1:9-11)

Return of the Master
The master's return from his journey represents the return of the Lord Jesus Christ or His second coming. It says, "Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them" (v. 19). So we see that just as the master's return occurs a long time after he goes away on his journey, so the Lord's return happens a long time after He goes away to heaven. This is depicted the same way in the previous parable, in which the bridegroom's coming is delayed (v. 5). The Lord's return is also represented in the parable of the sheep and the goats that immediately follows the parable of the talents, in which the Son of Man comes back as King of all the nations (v. 31).

Settling of Accounts
The master returned specifically to settle accounts with his slaves, which represents the Lord returning to hold all of His servants accountable and render to each person according to what he has done with the Lord's possessions that were given to him. This refers to the coming judgment, which is also represented in the parable of the sheep and the goats. In that parable, he states,"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne" (v. 31). The Lord is depicted as sitting on His glorious throne with all the nations gathered before Him (v. 32).

There is coming a day soon when we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to settle accounts with Him. As the apostle Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.” (2Co 5:10-11).

It's important to observe the the master in the parable of the talents held each of his servants accountable for what they did with his possessions that he gave to them. Likewise, when the Lord returns, He will hold each of us accountable for what we did with what He gave us.

Outcomes 
The outcomes were different for the ones who put their talents to use than for the one who did not, and who buried his talent.

To the one who was given five talents and who gained five more, "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’" (v. 21). Likewise, the one who was given the two talents and gained two more was told the same thing. The master was pleased with them and told them that they did well, and that they were good and faithful servants. That's what I want to hear the Lord say one day to me. Don't you? They were told to enter into the joy of their master where they would be put in charge of many things, since they had been faithful with a few things. This represents the eternal reward of the faithful who put to good use what the Lord has given them. Those who are faithful with a little will be entrusted with much. They are depicted as the righteous sheep in the parable of the sheep and the goats, in which the king says, "Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (v. 34).

However, the one who buried his talent received a very different response from his master. “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’" (v. 26-28).

Sadly that servant's one talent was taken away from him and given to the one who had ten. He lost everything because of his inaction. His master did not view him as a good and faithful servant, but as a wicked and lazy servant, because he did not have any return on investment to show his master. 

The master said, “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (v. 29-30).

Not only was his talent taken away from him, not only did he fail to hear the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," but he was called a worthless slave and was thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That should put the fear of the Lord into all of us, lest we end up like him. May it never be that any of us be found wicked, lazy, or worthless to the Lord due to neglect of the talents He's given to us, or failure to put them to good use for His glory.

This same warning is given in the parable of the sheep and goats, in which the king says to those on His left, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels... These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (v. 41, 46).

The righteous and wicked will be judged based on what they did and didn't do. The righteous are the ones who use their talents, money, gifts, and abilities to do good to others like feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, visiting the sick and those in prison, and clothing the naked. The wicked are those who fail to do these things, and to the extent that they fail to do so to the least of these, they fail to do it to Jesus.

Ways to Multiply Your Talents
The final thing in the parable that I would like to explain, as the title of this article implies, is the manner in which each of the good and faithful servants gained more with the talents they were given by their master. In our lives, here are some ways we can do that. You should use your talents to glorify God. If you can sing, then sing for the Lord. Do it around the house, and also in church. Do it to bless others, to encourage the saints, and to lead people to Christ. If you can use a computer, then do it for the glory of God. If you can drive a car, then use that for the glory of God. The same goes for writing. You can write articles that glorify God and post them on the internet. You can write poetry, too, if that is your particular ability. On and on the list goes, and the possibilities are unlimited. So get to work immediately and take stock of the talents the Lord has given to you, make a list of them, and then put those talents to good use for the kingdom of God.

You can also gain more talents or abilities by increasing and enhancing your existing ones through constant use and practice. Practice makes perfect, so as you use what you already have, you will become more proficient at it, and that will also constitute an increase of your talent.

Another way you can gain more talents, abilities, or skills is by acquiring new ones. You can take lessons, obtain training, apply yourself to learn new ones using the abilities you already have. Perhaps you can use your money to pay for guitar lessons or voice lessons. Or perhaps you can give someone help with learning to use the computer or you can repair their computer in exchange for keyboard lessons. Or you can use your reading ability to read a book and take a course on how to cook, so that you can use that new cooking ability for the glory of God. Then you can cook meals for those in need and bless them in the name of Jesus.

As I said, put whatever gifts, talents, skills, and abilities you have to good use loving and helping others. Teach others in the area of your ability, and thus multiply your talents in others for the Lord's glory. Learn from others in their area of ability. Help others to find and use their talents for God's glory. Be faithful with the abilities, skills, talents, and money the Lord has given to you.

Let's not forget that any money you have is obviously one of the talents the Lord has given to you, since the talents in the parable were literally money. Be sure to be a good steward with those resources by spending it wisely and putting it to use for the glory of God. That can include looking for ways to save money, being frugal, blessing others, giving to the poor and needy, giving financially to ministries that are advancing the kingdom of God, and investing in people to make a difference in this world for God.

Putting it All Together
The master gave each one a certain number of talents each according to his own ability. Each went and traded with them, and gained more talents. They were faithful with a few things, therefore, the master considered them good and faithful servants. He invited them to share in His happiness and put them in charge of many things.

He who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. His master considered him a wicked and lazy servant. The master took away the talent from him, and give it to the one who had the ten talents. The master threw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Whether the master's servants enter into eternal reward or eternal punishment depends on what they do with the talents he has given to them. The extent to which the master increased their responsibilities depended on their faithfulness to put to use and multiply the talents he gave them initially.

Therefore, it behooves each of us as servants of the Master to be faithful to put to good use the talents that He has given to us, so that we may one day hear Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave." It serves as a warning to us not to make the same fatal error as the wicked, lazy servant, by being like him and burying any talent the Master has given to us.

Attribution noticeScripture taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Image may be subject to copyright. The "Bags of Gold" image is from Ballyfermot Community Church, and is used per the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes. The image of the bag of gold from First Presbyterian Church of Edwardsville.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend reading my articles Faithful in the Little ThingsThe Day of Small ThingsGod Chooses the Weak Things, What is That in Your Hand?Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Kingdom of God is Like This, Multiplication, Multiplication Illustrations, Better a Little, God's Amazing Plan for Your Life, and Success in God's Eyes. I also recommend reading two poems by my daughter adapted from Matthew 25 called Use Your Talents and The Sheep and the Goats. For more articles on this blog, please see the Home Page. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Faithful in the Little Things

In my recent article, God's Way to Greatness, I highlighted the lives of seven Hebrews whom God exalted to high positions. I emphasized that when He does that, it depends more on Him than on any striving for greatness on the part of the individual whom He is elevating. In fact, it is just the opposite. As I said in Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God, you must humble yourself beneath the Lord's mighty hand, and He will lift you up in due time.

The Bible teaches us not to despise the day of small things, but rather be faithful in the little things in the place where we now find ourselves. The Lord said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much." (Lk 16:10). This is true regardless of what the Lord has called you to be, whether it is a king, a president, a prime minister, a preacher, a teacher of the Word, or a lowly servant.

Consider the examples I gave in God's Way to Greatness, and what would have happened if they had not been faithful in the little things. If any of these people had not been faithful, things would have turned out differently.

Joseph
If Joseph had become bitter toward God or toward his brothers for being thrown into a pit, sold into Egypt, or ending up in prison for doing the right thing, then things would have been quite different. The same is true if he had given in to the seductive demands of Potiphar's wife and compromised with her by sleeping with her. The same is true if he had held a grudge against his brothers, or if he had given up his faith in God during those long years in prison. He would not have been elevated to second in rank to Pharaoh, nor would he have been used to save the nations of Egypt and Israel during the seven-year period of famine. But he was faithful in the little things.

Daniel
If Daniel had not refused to eat the king's food and drink his wine, things would have turned out differently. If he had not been a man of prayer, who continued to pray to God daily even when it was illegal, things would have turned out differently. What if he had feared being thrown into the lion's den and to save his own life had stopped praying to God? What if he had succumbed to fear rather than trust in God when they did throw him into the lion's den? What if he had not given the accurate interpretations to the king's dreams for fear that the king would put him to death? The Lord would not have exalted him to the third highest ruler in the kingdom. But he was faithful in the little things.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Likewise, if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had not been faithful in the little things, their lives would have turned out differently. They too, refused to partake of the royal food and wine, but lived on vegetables and water instead. But things would have been different, if they had bowed down to the idol for fear of being thrown into the blazing furnace, rather than trust in God. They would not have been promoted to administrators in the province of Babylon. But they were faithful in the little things.

Esther
The same could be said of Esther, too. If she had been a coward and feared for her life, refusing to go before the king on behalf of the Jews, they would have been annihilated, and even she and her family would have been killed. If she had not humbled herself with fasting, before she sought an audience with the king, things would have been different, just as they would have also been different if she had not first prayed for three days. Things would have been different if she had not given Mordecai the credit for exposing the assassination plot against the king. They would have turned out differently if she had not followed the advice of Mordecai and not kept secret her national identity during the king's selection process when he was in search of a wife. They would have been different, if she had not followed the advice of the chief eunuch assigned to the king's harem during the period of preparation before she appeared before the king, and if she had not taken with her only what he recommended she take. But she was faithful in the little things.

Mordecai 
Likewise, if Mordecai had not reported to Esther the assassination plot against the king, things would have turned out differently. Perhaps the royal officers would have succeeded at assassinating King Xerxes and made Haman king in his place. If Mordecai had bowed down to Haman like all the royal officials at the king's gate did, things would have turned out differently. If he had not raised his orphan cousin like a daughter, things would not have turned out the same for him. If he had not humbled himself with fasting and had not prayed to God when he discovered Haman's evil plot to destroy all the Jews, things would have turned out quite differently. But he was faithful in the little things.

Putting it All Together
Thank the Lord that each of these seven people were indeed faithful in the little things, and the Lord did exalt them to positions of greatness, in which he used them to save many lives. The same holds true for God's Amazing Plan for Your Life, too. Let this be an encouragement to each of us not to seek positions of power, not to seek greatness, but to bloom where we are planted and be faithful in the little things right where we are now.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Image may be subject to copyright. I would like to thank my wife Jennifer Lacroix for her contribution to this article.

Author's noteThe Day of Small ThingsGod Chooses the Weak Things, What is That in Your Hand?, Multiplying Your TalentsThe Ebb and Flow of Ministry for the Lord, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Servant of the Lord, The Kingdom of God is Like This, Multiplication, Multiplication Illustrations, Better a Little, The Beauty of Brokenness, One thing, The Secret Kingdom, and Success in God's Eyes. For more articles on this blog, please see the Home Page. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.