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Summary: Part 3 in a stewardship series. This sermon covers our faithful ministry.

A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES

Part 3

Seeing the Opportunities God Brings

November 22, 2005

Pastor Brian Matherlee

Matthew 25:31-46

Let’s look at a story Jesus told in Matthew 25 to discover 3 truths and then make 4 applications of truth.

3 Truths

1. Everybody has a role to play

a. All the nations will be gathered before him.

2. True blessing is Kingdom oriented

a. “You who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance.” This is a reference to what they are coming into, not what they are coming out of.

b. This idea is revealed also in Jesus statement that the poor man Lazarus was poor in the world and rich in heaven while the rich man was rich in the world and without in heaven.

c. Furthermore Jesus spoke of the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom of heaven.

3. Some people see and some people don’t

What’s the difference?

a. Those who don’t see:

i. Simply aren’t looking

ii. A.W. Tozer would say it’s because of veiled hearts.

1. self-righteousness

2. self-pity

3. self-admiration

4. self-love

iii. These self made veils insulate us from the world around us. If we don’t feel any need except our own we cannot see.

iv. Have never recognized their own need

v. Are constantly afraid of being “taken advantage of”

vi. Think helping is “someone else’s” responsibility (the church). Of course it is the responsibility of the church… not institutionally, but rather, personally or individually.

b. Those who do see

i. Aren’t looking for credit

ii. Risk being put out (parable of the Good Samaritan)

iii. Recognize that the Bible is a “playbook” meant to be executed.

iv. Know what it’s like to be in need

Four Applications:

1. Give simply

a. Food for the hungry

b. Drink for the thirsty

c. Compassion for the down & out (stranger, prisoner, sick)

d. Clothing

2. Give to what touches you

a. The sheep who were commended had no idea that they were doing something extraordinary in the eyes of Jesus, they simply were acting on the things they saw.

b. Keep your eyes open.

 If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of one hundred people; here’s the way the world would look: There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, and 8 Africans.

50 would suffer from malnutrition and one would be near death. Only one would have a college education, and only one would own a computer.

80 would live in substandard housing.

70 would be unable to read.

6 would possess 59% of the world’s wealth and all 6 would be from North America. We attend church without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death. We are better off than 3 billion people in this regard. We have money in the bank and spare change in a dish, food in the refrigerator, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. We are richer than 75% of this world.

c. Giving to what touches you is best done when you do it personally. Why? Not to get credit or to receive a pat on the back. Do it because it will reinforce the humanness of your gift, it will be a touch that someone needs, and it will be an opportunity to share the Good News.

3. Give unselfishly

a. Jesus tells them that they gave to “the least”.

b. These people had no means to repay; they were in a vulnerable position.

c. If you have never been in need you cannot possibly imagine the feeling of those who are truly in need by their own fault or by no fault of their own.

d. Unselfish giving breaks the grip of greed

• In his book, Jumping Hurdles, Hitting Glitches, Overcoming Setbacks, Steve Brown writes, “The most unhappy person in the world is not someone who didn’t get what he or she wanted. The most unhappy person is the one who got what he or she wanted and then found out that it wasn’t as wonderful as expected. The secret of a happy life is not to get what you want but to live with what you’ve got. Most of us spend our lives concentrating on what we don’t have instead of thanking God for what we do have. Then we wake up, our life is over, and we missed the beauty of the present. You think about that.”

• Some might say, “Start small” but I encourage you to think big and where affordability is an issue budget well or think of something besides money.

e. Unselfish giving may also require time. Andy

Dufresne character in “Shawshank Redemption”

–“time and pressure”.

4. Give—because that is who you are!

a. Verse 34 tells us that people act out of who they really are.

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