Summary: The parable of the talents has more importance than we often understand. We used this sermon as a way of introducing gift centered ministries.

OPEN: We use numbers all the time without knowing their significance or their meaning.

For example: How many feet in a mile (5280 feet). Do you know why? The term mile come from the Latin word "mille" - meaning 1000. To the Romans it was the distance a soldier could cover in 1000 paces - about 5000 feet. But British farmers measured their fields in "furlongs", which were 660 feet long and they didn’t want to change. So when the mile was introduced to England, it was changed to 5280 feet - or exactly 8 furlongs.

OR does anybody know the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate in baseball (60 feet, 6 inches) Do you know why? The pitching distance was 50 feet until 1893 - when some baseball executives changed it to 60 feet. But the surveyor they hired to remap their infield misread their instruction - he thought 60 feet 0 inches was 60 feet 6 inches. The extra 6 inches have been there ever since.

Now you might ask, “what difference does it make?” Not much. But it does point out that we often use numbers without knowing why they are there.

Andy Rooney (of 60 minutes fame) commented on the sometimes illogical nature of measurements we use: He says “Clothes sizes are the worst ones of all. I wear a size 8 ½ shoe but wear a size 11 sock. Does this make sense?

Why do I wear a size 7 ½ hat but a size 16 ½ collar? Doesn’t that sound as though I could put my shirt on over my hat with the collar buttoned?

Why is the average suit size for a man a 40 and the average dress size for a woman a 12? We’re not that much bigger.”

APPLY: We use numbers all the time without knowing their significance or meaning. It’s even true when we study Scripture. Take the "Parable of the Talents" for example. If you’re like me you’ve probably always thought that a talent might be worth a few hundred dollars. But I just read something last week that really impressed me

ILLUS: In Matthew 20 Jesus tells parable of workers hired to labor in a vineyard. We’re told there that a Denarius was a day’s wages. One talent was worth 6000 Denarii. It would take a person working 5 to 6 days a week for 20 years or more to earn 1 talent. So, if (say) we earned $30,000 a year for the next 20 years that would make a talent worth around $600,000. That’s a lot of money.

· Now since Jesus used this Parable of the Talents" to teach about the proper use of God’s gifts, what that tells me is:

1st - The talents that God entrusts to me are highly valuable

2nd - The master had good financial reason to be pleased or displeased with his servants.

ILLUS Consider how you’d feel. Let’s say that 10 years ago you inherited $600,000. You gave it to a Investment Company so that they would buy you stock in the market when the Dow was @ the 3000. Last Friday you learned that the market closed at 10,700 (more than tripling your investment $2,140,000). So you go down to the Investment Co. to cash out. (retire). To your surprise, they never bought stock for you… they went out back & buried your money in cigar box. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? Can you imagine why the master threw the unfaithful servant outside into outer darkness? Can you blame him?

I. What Jesus is saying…

God has given us talents. And when we use those talents for God, God’s kingdom “increases” or “profits” from our faithfulness. That is, God benefits. AND God is overwhelmed with joy & happiness (20-23)

· What is more…

- God wants to (and He will) reward us

- Each of the faithful servants was put in charge of greater things

- Heb. 6:10 tells us "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

- Hebrews 11: 6 declares: "God rewards those who diligently seek Him."

- In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says: "Seek first the kingdom of God…"

- And as God tells Joshua (Jos. 1:7-8) Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

GOD WANTS TO REWARD US… AND HE WILL REWARD US when we put the talents He’s given us to work.

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