Summary: The parable of the talents.
Matthew 25:14 (NLT)
"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone.
Until Jesus Comes...
God has given each of us management over His resources
Matthew 25:15 (NLT)
He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities—and then left on his trip.
The Distribution of Resources
Given in proportion
– Some receive greater proportions
– All are appropriate for the individual
Proportions determined by abilities
– Proven faithfulness
– No one is given more than they can handle
Matthew 25:16-18 (NLT)
The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it.  The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money.  But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money for safekeeping.
What Are You Doing With What You Have Been Given?
Investing God’s resources for greater return
– Serving others
– Supporting God’s work with your time and money
– Building up others
Squandering God’s resources
– Sitting and soaking
– Failing to use your gifts and abilities
Matthew 25:19 (NLT)
"After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.
What Have You Done?
There is accountability for the use of our resources
– It is expected that they will be used
– It is expected that they will bear fruit
– It is expected that God’s kingdom will increase through our faithful stewardship
Matthew 25:20-21 (NLT)
The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of gold said, ’Sir, you gave me five bags of gold to invest, and I have doubled the amount.’  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!’
A Reason To Celebrate
Faithful stewardship honors God
– He is exalted through your faithfulness
Faithfulness in small things opens the door for greater responsibilities
There is an increased intimacy with God
– We celebrate together
Matthew 25:22-23 (NLT)
"Next came the servant who had received the two bags of gold, with the report, ’Sir, you gave me two bags of gold to invest, and I have doubled the amount.’  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!’
The first two servants were received the same reward
– The criteria was faithfulness and effort not outcome
– God rewards not according to your performance, but according to His faithfulness
Matthew 25:24-25 (NLT)
"Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ’Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.  I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.’
The servant hid the master’s resources out of fear
– Fear of failure
– Feelings of inadequacy
The servant was indifferent and self centered
– The master’s priorities were not his
– The servant’s comfort was the priority
Matthew 25:26-27 (NLT)
"But the master replied, ’You wicked and lazy servant! You think I’m a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn’t plant and gathering crops I didn’t cultivate?  Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest.
At The Very Least...Do Something!!!
The third servant did not even make an effort
– Even our smallest efforts will produce some fruit
– God will use those efforts to build confidence and boldness
Matthew 25:28-30 (NLT)
Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold.  To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away.  Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
How Faithful Are You?
God does not reward unfaithfulness
– Faithfulness comes from obedience
– If you have not been faithful with the things God has entrusted you with, don’t expect Him to give you more
It’s never too late...any effort is better than no effort
**Powerpoint available upon request