Pul­pit Notes

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

Use it or Lose it!

Have you ever heard that phrase? If you’re like me, it kind of haunts you, think­ing of all the things I’ve lost through lack of use, whether that’s the abil­ity to speak Ger­man, play the pi­ano, run faster or lift more.

I’ve found it true: use it or lose it. Well, that’s the truth Je­sus brings out as he tells this para­ble in our text of a king who goes on a jour­ney and gives some gifts to his ser­vants to use for his king­dom while he’s gone.

But Je­sus ups the stakes a lit­tle. This story re­volves around Judg­ment Day — when our king re­turns — that day by which we set our eter­nity. That’s a big­ger deal than some lan­guage or ath­letic abil­ity. And he makes it clear that he is com­ing back. So what are we sup­posed to do while we wait? Use it. Use what re­sources he has given us. Af­ter all, think of the jour­ney our king is on.

It wasn’t quite the jour­ney some of the peo­ple trav­el­ing with him thought it would be. Verse 11 says that “peo­ple thought the king­dom of God was go­ing to ap­pear at once.” They thought that Je­sus was on his way to make the big po­lit­i­cal move, to over­throw Rome’s might and wear the crown as King of the Jews over an in­de­pen­dent Is­rael. But we know why he went there. We know about this jour­ney. This was the “Dead man walk­ing” trip of a con­victed felon on his way to ex­e­cu­tion — but this con­vict went will­ingly — and his con­vic­tion was based on our sins. Yes, he was go­ing to Jerusalem to take on a crown — but it would be made of thorns and shame and dis­grace. Yes, he was go­ing to wage a revo­lu­tion­ary war, but it was not against the prince of Rome, but of this world — a bat­tle against Satan and sin and death. And he would win. He would rise from that con­vict’s death as a vic­tor, gleam­ing with the in­no­cence that he had all along, but now vis­i­ble be­cause our sins that had been placed on him were now de­stroyed. He was go­ing to be de­clared king in his as­cen­sion into heaven and tak­ing his place at the right hand of the fa­ther. And Je­sus’ jour­ney was to a dis­tant place —where he is pre­par­ing our place.

Now that’s a jour­ney. So what does that mean for us, who are here wait­ing for his re­turn? Well, the same thing it meant for those sub­jects in the para­ble. Some will say — “No, don’t let him be king.” That’s hap­pened to us, hasn’t it — as the sports sched­ule or the hunt­ing or the kids or the bed or the sin wants to sit on the throne in our lives? There will be friends and fam­ily try­ing to pre­vent him from hav­ing the rule in our hearts. But our king doesn’t deal with those just yet. He cer­tainly will when he re­turns, but for now — he speaks to us.

Verse 13: “He called ten of his ser­vants and gave them ten mi­nas ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘un­til I come back.’” He has given us re­sources to use for his king­dom, and we are to use them, un­til he comes back. We don’t have room here to get into all of that, but check out the web­site for the full ser­mon if you’d like. For now, suf­fice it to say that all we have — our money, our time, our abil­i­ties, our re­la­tion­ships — and above all else — the Gospel — th­ese are our re­sources. Let’s use them for God’s Work. You know the truth of it: Use it or lose it. In Christ, Amen. The Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf

Abid­ing Grace Lutheran

The Church of Thy­atira, Then and Now

In Reve­la­tion, chap­ters 2 and 3, there are seven let­ters to seven churches from Christ. To each church He had a mes­sage. He still does to­day.

The let­ter to the Church of Thy­atira is recorded in Reve­la­tion 2:18-29. Christ in­tro­duced him­self as the one who has eyes that are a blaz­ing fire and feet like bur­nished bronze, in­di­cat­ing his ulti- mate author­ity and judg­ment over ev­ery­one.

Christ was quick to com­mend the Church of Thy­atira for their works, love, faith, ser­vice, per­se­ver­ance and their con­tin­ual growth.

How­ever, Christ was greatly trou­bled be­cause of a wo­man, sym­bol­ized by the name “Jezebel,” who had in­fil­trated the church and was mis­lead­ing, cor­rupt­ing, and caus­ing peo­ple to com­pro­mise with the pa­gan cul­ture, idol­a­try and im­moral­ity all around them. The church of Thy­atira was tol­er­at­ing this wo­man and her teach­ings, and for this, Christ sharply re­proved them.

In ev­ery age, there are those who in­fil­trate the church with mo­tives and agen­das very dif­fer­ent from that of Christ and his cause. We must care­fully guard against such de­cep­tion and dan­ger­ous peo­ple. One per­son can cor­rupt an en­tire church if left unchecked.

Christ had been more than mer­ci­ful to this wo­man and had given her time to re­pent, but she was con­tin­u­ing her di­vi­sive work in the church, so he said she would suf­fer great con­se­quences and would be cast on a bed of suf­fer­ing. Not only so, but also those who fol­lowed her teach­ings would be killed un­less they re­pented im­me­di­ately and changed their ways.

No one dam­ages Christ’s church with­out great peril to their own soul. Christ loves his church and takes per­son­ally those who do dam­age to it in any way.

To those in the Church of Thy­atira not in­volved in this, Christ gave them words of en­cour­age­ment to hold fast. He also gave great prom­ise to those who would over­come and re­main faith­ful to the end, promis­ing them author­ity to rule the na­tions and that they would be given the morn­ing star, speak­ing of him­self.

We too, face the same temp­ta­tions at the Church of Thy­atira to com­pro­mise with our pa­gan cul­ture and al­low peo­ple to get into the church to un­der­mine and bring di­vi­sion from the true pur­pose of the gospel of Christ. We too, must guard against yield­ing to the temp­ta­tion of bow­ing to mod­ern-day idols.

Each of us need to make sure we do not have the spirit of Jezebel, but that we are fully sur­ren­dered to the plans and pur­poses of Christ for his church.

As with all seven of the let­ters, Christ closes with th­ese words: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” If Christ wrote a let­ter to you or your church to­day, what would he say? He is speak­ing. Are you lis­ten­ing? The Rev. Wayne Ruther­ford LifePointe Church of the

Nazarene

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