Separating the Livestock | Matthew 25:31-33

sheep-goat
sheep-goat
Mat 25:31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. Mat 25:32 All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Mat 25:33 He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left. Mat 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. Mat 25:35 For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. Mat 25:36 I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.' Mat 25:37 "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Mat 25:38 Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? Mat 25:39 When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?' Mat 25:40 "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!' Mat 25:41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. Mat 25:42 For I was hungry, and you didn't feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give Me a drink. Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and you didn't invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit Me.' Mat 25:44 "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?' Mat 25:45 "And He will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.' Mat 25:46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

This passage is the results of the judgement defined. All the people (sheep and goats) are being separated into two groups; those who did good to others and those who did not. Jesus is very clear..by their fruits He will separate them.

Works vs Grace

I find it interesting that most Christians today say that our "works" won't get us into heaven. However we often see ( as in the text above ), when Jesus is talking about the Judgement or entering into the Kingdom of Heaven He mentions our actions as a guide for judging men and as proof of our right to enter. What does this mean?

How do we reconcile this needed resume to enter heaven with the idea of "your works are like filthy rags"?

It is important to notice one thing. The sheep are not aware of their good deeds. They do not feel that they have done anything good for Christ or to Christ; they ask the same questions of the returning King as the goats do. They are being made aware of their good deeds only after the Good Shepherd comes to tell them that they were good sheep.

It is our full and complete dependence upon Jesus Christ as our Savior that will create "good" in us. We will never take the credit for any of our own deeds and we will always feel the deep need for His covering blood to save us. Good deeds will never be done as a source of self righteousness but as a response to the selfless sacrifice of our Redeemer. Now ask yourself this question...have you had that response? Repent of your sins and surrender to the Good Shepherd, He can and will make that change in you.

What does it mean that it is Jesus that we are always interacting with in each of the scenarios that is presented in the passage?

It is Him that the good deeds are done to because His presence is what determines whether or not the deeds where done in our own power, or whether they were done in His power. He reads the heart; we cannot. He is the only one that can do the separating of the livestock and He is the only one by which we can be saved.

Do we take the prison, stranger, naked, sick definitions as actual directives? What about those who are spiritually in prison, spiritually naked, spiritually underfed? 

There are two definitions to the state of those being helped by the sheep. One is the literal definition, the other is the spiritual. Some people are not in prison, but they are definitely behind bars. Some are overfed, but hungry to the point of starvation for the Word of God. Some are very religious, yet they are a stranger to Jesus. Some wear expensive clothing, but are naked in the eyes of God.

Jesus wants us to literally help those who are in prison, feed those who are hungry, cloth the naked and invite the stranger in; but, we must also recognize those spiritual conditions in others and seek to alleviate those needs as well.

Jesus sees the heart. He did when He was alive on this earth and He did it through His walk with the Holy Spirit. We too can have that power through a relationship with Him. That relationship has got to be as important as Jesus' relationship was with His Father. Spend more time in prayer. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."

Prayer:

Father in Heaven,

I repent of my sin today. I repent that I have not put you first as I should have. I have let frivolities and time-wasters become more important than my time with You. I have felt the loss of Your presence and I am truly sorry for neglecting our relationship. Forgive me Lord and fill me with Your Holy Spirit today. Thank You for what You did at the Cross of Calvary.

Please be with my children today. I lift them up to You and ask that You would come into their lives and help them to see You and learn to love You. Forgive their sins Lord. I ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.

 

The Fearful Follower | Matthew 25:14-30

talents
talents
Mat 25:14 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.Mat 25:15He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.Mat 25:16"The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.Mat 25:17The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.Mat 25:18But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money.Mat 25:19"After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.Mat 25:20The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, 'Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.'Mat 25:21"The master was full of praise. 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together! 'Mat 25:22"The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, 'Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.'Mat 25:23"The master said, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!'Mat 25:24"Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, 'Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate.Mat 25:25I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.'Mat 25:26"But the master replied, 'You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn't plant and gathered crops I didn't cultivate,Mat 25:27why didn't you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.'Mat 25:28"Then he ordered, 'Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.Mat 25:29To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.Mat 25:30Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

There are a few things we should note about this parable before proceeding.

1. All of the players in this story are "servants", meaning they are all believers.

2. The silver represents the talents, abilities and resources that God (the man going on a long trip) gives us.

3. The talents are given with the intent that they should be multiplied.

4. The gist of the story is summed up in verse 29. If you use what you are given well, then you will be given (entrusted with) more. If you do nothing, what little you have will be taken away.

Are you afraid of God?

Believers today have done an excellent job of learning and teaching about the love of God. God is love. He gives it unconditionally and completely. His love is perfect and it is just. His love is a gift that we cannot earn...but we are held accountable for how we treat that gift. What we do with it, is how we are judged.

John 3:19-21And the judgment is based on this fact: God's light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. " [emphasis supplied]

Let me ask you again: Are you afraid of God? Should you be?

If we look at the parable above we see a scene involving a "fearful servant". He was afraid of his Master. Afraid of what he would do if he misused the small amount of responsibility that he was given. It was his fear that kept him from doing anything with the silver except hiding it in the ground.

So, what are some ways that we are afraid today?

  • I don't want to stand out or look different. If I give myself over completely to God He will make me "weird" and strange and I might be ridiculed.
  • I might have to do something that makes me uncomfortable. Knocking on the neighbors door and talking about Jesus is what those "weird" people do. That's not for me. I'll just make sure I'm really nice to people and that will be my ministry.
  • What if He asks me to give all my money to the poor? I don't trust Him enough to care for me so I need to hold on to what I have earned. Sure, I pay my tithe, but did Jesus REALLY want me to drop EVERYTHING and follow Him?
  • I don't want to give up that treasured sin. I'll submit some of me, but not all of me...I'm sure God will understand. Besides I gave up all those other things, He must give me some credit for that; right?

Fear always has it's roots in self protection. Selfishness is the root of sin. I'm not talking about the natural instinct to not walk off a cliff because you know it will kill you, I'm talking about that fear that keeps us from letting go of self so that Jesus can change us into His image once again.

Do you really think that when God created us in "His image" that that just meant our bodies. If we are created in His image then we were originally intended to love perfectly, just as He does. It is sin and the enemy that have made us into a false image of God. He wants to bring us back to that image, but we must surrender and give it over to Him freely. We must allow Him to change us back into what we were intended to be. And He will if we let Him.

He does it every day with common ordinary people. People who have overcome their fear "by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of their Testimony". Don't let fear keep you from submitting to Jesus and allowing Him to change you. Use the talents He has given you to love others, do good to those who persecute you, heal the sick, cloth the naked, care for the widows and visit those who are in prison.

Ask yourself this question...How much have you been forgiven? How much "silver" was in your bag?

Luke 12:48But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord God for sending Your Son to take my place on the cross. I am amazed that Your love is so powerful. I am ashamed at my unbelief and I ask you today Lord to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Cover me with the blood of the Lamb. I receive today the gift of the Holy Spirit because You have promised that You will give that Good Gift. I want to have the Mind of Christ today.

Thank You for all that You provide in my life. Thank you for watching over my children and keeping them safe. Please bring them home to us Lord, safely and with You in their hearts. Thank You thank You for Jesus. Amen.

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The Stupid Good People | Matthew 25:1-13

Foolish Virgins
Foolish Virgins
Mat 25:1"Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.Mat 25:2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.Mat 25:3The five who were foolish didn't take enough olive oil for their lamps,Mat 25:4but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.Mat 25:5When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.Mat 25:6"At midnight they were roused by the shout, 'Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!'Mat 25:7"All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps.Mat 25:8Then the five foolish ones asked the others, 'Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.'Mat 25:9"But the others replied, 'We don't have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.'Mat 25:10"But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.Mat 25:11Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, 'Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!'Mat 25:12"But he called back, 'Believe me, I don't know you!'Mat 25:13"So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of My return.

Who are the ten bridesmaids?

The bridesmaids represent two groups of believers. We know they are all believers because they are all bridesmaids, aware of the wedding feast that is coming and they are all going to meet the bridegroom. They are all "virgins" or "good people" and they all have oil in their lamps to start out the "long night". But, they are separated from the beginning of the parable into two groups; the smart good people and the stupid good people. Let's take a closer look at each group.

The Smart Good People

The five wise virgins, or the smart good people, are ready for the wedding. They have brought their lamps and they have even brought extra oil to help them through the long night and the procession to the wedding feast. The five smart good people are made drowsy and fall asleep during the delay from the bridegroom. Then the "midnight cry" is given and they are all roused from their sleep and are prepared for the coming of the bridegroom.

The Stupid Good People

The five foolish virgins, or the stupid good people, are also ready for the wedding feast. They are dressed for the occasion, in the proper procession, and they have their lamps as required. However, they are stupid and forget to bring the extra oil needed for a long procession and delay. They also fall asleep during the delay of the bridegroom, but when they are all aroused by the midnight cry, their lamps are out and they have no extra oil to use. They ask the smart good people to provide them with oil, but the SGP know that they cannot give them any of their extra oil or they will all run out before the bridegroom comes.

So, what do all these things represent?

The Five Smart Good People represent the group of believers, or Christians, in the last days who are:

  • Waiting for the soon return of Jesus
  • Are prepared for that return
  • "Fall asleep" during the time of Jesus' delay.
  • Have enough Holy Spirit, which produces light, to get them through the delay and into the feast.

The Five Stupid People represent the group of believers, or Christians, in the last days who are:

  • Waiting for the return of Jesus
  • Are NOT prepared for that return, though they are "dressed" for the occasion.
  • "Fall asleep" during the time of Jesus' delay.
  • Do NOT have enough light producing Holy Spirit to get them through the delay and into the feast.

Virgins represents the fact that they are all good, but separated into two groups: Smart and Stupid or Wise and Foolish. I think we can surmise a couple of things from this:

  1. There will be two groups of people in the last days. Smart believers and Stupid believers, but they will all be believers. Can we surmise that this means the 3rd angels message is a success from the standpoint of "sharing the gospel to all the world"? At this point everyone has had an opportunity to believe.
  2. Both groups have the Holy Spirit but the light from one group runs out while the other continues to shine on.

The Oil in the Lamps represents the Holy Spirit.

Light from the Lamps represent the truth about Jesus shining out through the Holy Spirit, which is the purpose of having the Holy Spirit - to show the path to the bridegroom.

The Bridegroomrepresents Jesus, Our Savior.

The Processionrepresents the path to salvation or to Jesus our Savior. This also represents the need to have the light from the Holy Spirit to help keep us on that path.

The Sleeping Timerepresents that both parties will have a period of time during the delay of Jesus' return that they will be asleep, not even seeing the light from their lamps or being aware of the soon return of Jesus. They will have forgotten their purpose. They will have become "religious" (still dressed for the occasion) but unusable. Pew warmers.

The Midnight Cry represents a sudden awakening of both groups of people. They suddenly become aware of the fact that Jesus is coming soon, but unfortunately one group is unprepared.

The Inability to Give the Oil represents the fact that you cannot give the Holy Spirit to anyone else, they must find it for themselves.

The Directions from the Wise Virgins represents the fact that they know where to get the oil and they are able to point the foolish virgins to the place to get it.

While They Were Gone to Buy the Oil represents the stupid good people will be caught unprepared when Jesus comes again.

The Wedding Feastrepresents the gathering together in a safe place with the bridegroom. It represents being fully with Jesus.

The Locked Door represents the close of probation. There is no longer the opportunity to be with Jesus and the fate of the foolish virgins is sealed. This also represents the dire importance of being ready and prepared during the sleeping time. I think of the lie of the rapture and how it has lulled many to sleep with a lack of extra oil.

The Calling Out of 'Lord Lord'represents the fact that the foolish virgins will know Jesus, the one that could have saved them, but they were unwilling to prepare themselves properly for him. They know who He is, but they aren't ready for Him. Knowing Jesus is not enough...

'Believe me, I don't know you'represents the fact that the foolish virgins didn't have the Holy Spirit anymore. They had not allowed Jesus to come into them through the Holy Spirit. They had a head knowledge of Jesus but did not allow Him to come into them and change them and prepare them... and "know" them.

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Keeping Watch represents being ready at all times. Even while the group you are in is sleeping, maintain your hold on the light and the Holy Spirit.

Not Knowing the Day or the Hour represents a need to be less about understanding the "signs of the times" and more about being prepared for the coming of Jesus by having the lamp in your hand and a good supply of the Holy Spirit. Balance in all things.

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

I praise Your Name today from the bottom of my heart. You have done everything You can to prepare Your people for the end of this world. I thank You for loving me that much. I confess that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and I ask that You will fill me with the Holy Spirit today.

Please be with my family and friends and keep them safe. Thank You for all that You provide. Guide me so that I may be a good steward with what You have entrusted me with. I love You. Amen.

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