Summary: One of the ways we can show our gratitude to God is by using the gifts he has given us.

1. Matthew 25.14-30

2. [Exquisite Dishes

Oliver and Florence were married for 58 years before she passed away. They had immigrated to the US from Sweden many years before. Here, they made a modest home and started a family.

A few weeks after Florence passed, Oliver decided to start putting the house in order and began going through the years of memories that he had with his wife. He found a box buried in the attic He opened the box to discover some dishes that he did not really recognize. He called his daughter and told her to come and take a look at the dishes. If she wanted them, she could have them, if not, he would give them away to Goodwill or some other agency.

His daughter came and looked at the dishes. She had never seen them. She was taken back by them. They were some of the most beautiful dishes she had ever seen. They were obviously expensive, with a hand painted design on each piece. The cups had a gold trim around the top.

Oliver did not know anything of the origin of the dishes, so they decided to call Florence's sister and ask about them. She told them that Florence had loved that set of dishes. She could not afford to buy a set, so she would always ask for pieces of it on gift giving occasions until she had collected a full set. She stored the set of dishes to be used on a special occasions. However, she never seemed to find such an occasion and simply left them in the box, buried by other boxes in the attic.

She had buried her most treasured possession. Some people could have accused her of ingratitude because she failed to use the great gifts she had been given.

3. How would you feel if you continued giving someone gifts that they never used?

4. Today, let's consider how using our gifts from God are indications of our gratitude toward him.

I. A Matter of Stewardship

A. As God's Servants, We are His Stewards -- Just as Adam and Eve in the Garden

1. A Good Master Recognizes the Abilities of His Servants -- [As a Good Coach, Tom Landry; Bear Bryant, etc.

2. A Good Servant Trusts His Master

B. ALL We Have is Ultimately God's -- James 1.17

1. Use -- INVEST -- what we have been given (loaned)

2. Here: 1 Talent = 20 Years Wages [$50K X 20 = $1 Million; $2 M; $5 M

3. To use your gifts from God is to INVEST in His Kingdom

II. To Be Successful, Grateful Stewards

A. Engage in Activity

1. "Get in the game" -- [TR, "It is not the critic who counts. ... The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly ... who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

2. God is not looking for Spectators -- He is looking for Participants -- Hebrews 11-12 "RUN"

3. All have gifts to use -- One Gift we all have is Jesus (John 3.16, etc.) -- when we share our gifts, we advance the Kingdom of God

B. Eagerly Participate -- At Once (Matthew 25.16-17)

1. No:

* Reservation

* Comparing with the others' gifts

* Misunderstanding of the Master

* Fear -- Matthew 25.25

* Sloth/Laziness/INDIFFERENCE (attached to Wickedness -- Romans 12.11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

2. Engage the work because the Master said you can

a. He is able to do more than we imagine (Ephesians 3.20 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,)

b. That power is at work in us

C. Ease Up on Yourself

1. The Master is in Charge -- even while he is away

2. It's not all up to me/us -- It is HIS CHURCH; HIS MISSION

3. We don't always get everything perfectly correct -- He did that for us so that we can EAGERLY walk by faith

4. We are partners with Him -- as Israel at Sinai

1. "The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." T. Roosevelt

2. Of course, doing nothing is the biggest mistake

3. Using what God gives us is a way of expressing gratitude

4. Let's take the time to get to know:

a. Our God/Master (revealed in Jesus)

b. The Gifts He has given

c. The actions to take in our partnership

5. This propels us into something greater than ourselves as we trust the Master.

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