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Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Parable of the Talents

14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30, NRSV)

This is an interesting story. And people have wondered for a while what it is meant to teach us. It is about a man who is going on vacation or a trip and gives the servants in his home talents to take care of while he is gone.

A talent is a measure of weight for gold. 1 Talent is equal to about 75 U.S. pounds. So just to give an example in today’s values, on February 22, 2019, when I typed this devotional the value of 1 ounce of Gold was $1,323.24. So 1 Talent would equal $1,587,888! and 10,000 would be $15,878,880,000! That is over 15 Billion.

So he gave one servant 5 talents, one two and one one. He left expecting them to use the talents to get more.

And 2 do but one doesn’t want to risk losing the talent because he is afraid of what the master will do to him. He doesn’t do anything but bury the talent.

If we say that talent is a gift we get, how many of us bury our talent? We don’t use the gift we have been given for fear of what others will say. But we are gifted to use that talent so the world can see the love God has for all of us.

Now the story is hard to take that way because God is not one who reaps where He doesn’t sow and I don’t want to think that God is one who would take away from one who has little and give to one who has much. But how else can we see this story?

God gifted us. Don’t bury it.

 

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Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

17You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:17-18, NRSV)

You can’t hate any of your family and you have to tell your neighbor when they are wrong. How many of us actually do this?

Don’t take vengeance or bear a grudge against anyone but love everyone as you love yourself.

This is easier said than done. Our human nature is to hold grudges and want revenge on those who hurt us but the Law says to not do but to love everyone as God loves you. Forgiving you when you didn’t deserve it.

 

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Hear O Israel

4Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NRSV)

This is a very important passage of scripture for Jews. This is known as the Shema and is used as the central prayer for morning and evening prayer so this is prayed twice daily. It is also on a scroll that Jews will place in each doorway as to bless their homes. As it says in the passage, “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”

This is also a pivotal verse for Christians because it tells us God is one and we are to love God, which Jesus quotes as the greatest commandment.

We should share this faith and keep it close to us.

Here is a link to hear the Shema prayed in it’s original Hebrew.

 

 
 

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The Greatest Commandment

34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”37He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40, NRSV)

Why were people always trying to trip up Jesus?

Does it matter what the greatest commandment is if we break all the rest will keeping 1 really make a difference?

But really Jesus tells them that all of the Law and Prophets hang on these 2 things that we love God and love others. All of the scriptures tell us that we should love God and love neighbor.

Do these things and all will be good.

 

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The God of Your Father

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6, NRSV)

What would you do if you saw a Bush burning but it wasn’t being consumed?

And then as you got closer to it you heard a voice calling your name from it?

I would probably run away screaming and not continue closer and take my shoes off. I would be scared.

But Moses approaches and listens to God’s calling.

But we are all actually called to the Bush. To remove our shoes and to walk on the holy ground that God has placed before us.

Sometimes God has to go to the extreme to get our attention and make sure we are listening.

Are you ready to walk on holy ground and listen to God?

 

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The Sadducees’ Question

23The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 24“Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.’ 25Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother.26The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. 27Last of all, the woman herself died. 28In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.” 29Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. 30For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 32‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” 33And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching. (Matthew 22:23-33, NRSV)

God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not was the God. God is the God of the living.

So when Jesus finally returns and we are gathered into the new heaven and new earth there will be no marriage and we will all be like angels.

And God will be our God forever.

So don’t worry about what will be. But live here and now and know that God’s love will always be with us.

 

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It’s a Trap

15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22, NRSV)

When I read this passage it made me think of the scene from Return of the Jedi, when Admiral Akbar says, “Its a trap!”

Jesus knew the Pharisees were trying to trap him by saying you shouldn’t pay taxes. But Jesus asked for a coin and asked whose picture was on it. Then he said Give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and give to God what is God’s.

Seems pretty easy. But is it?

We need to support our government in as much as we give them there due but also keep ourselves aligned with where God is leading and calling us.

God comes first in our lives. So give God what is God’s.

 

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