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    Sep 30, 2012

    Winning the Game

    Passage: Luke 19:11-27

    Preacher: John Repsold

    Series: Getting Your Head in the Game

    Keywords: evangelism, stewardship, gospel, mina, sharing christ


    This message looks at the challenge Jesus gives in this parable to be multiplying our witness of the Gospel of Christ and looks at how this can be accomplished in every person's life and specifically at Mosaic Fellowship.


    Winning the Game

    Part 4—Getting Your Head in the Game

    Sept. 30, 2012


    How many of you watched Monday night football last week between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks?  That was a game to remember…unless you were the replacement referees! J  For those of you who missed it…or hate football…let us fill you in on the particulars via video.  This says it all. 

    VIDEO:  http://www.seahawks.com/videos-photos/videos/Highlight_Seahawks_Hail_Mary/0be1977c-775e-451b-9802-6ab3f50f8914


    That’s NOT how you want to win a game, is it?  Well, today we’re wrapping up the short series we’ve been doing in September on “Getting Your Head in the Game”…spiritually speaking, that is.  Today we’re talking about actually “winning” the game. 


    To do that, I would like to go back to the parable we looked at two weeks ago.  I feel a bit like the preacher who gave a sermon one Sunday…and repeated it the next week…and the next…and the next.  People started talking, wondering if their pastor was getting lazy and not studying enough each week for a new sermon.  Finally someone in the congregation asked him, “So Pastor, what’s up with the same sermon Sunday after Sunday?”  He responded, “When I start practicing it, I’ll stop preaching it.”  That might as well have been me.  J


    Actually practicing what we talked about two weeks ago is, I believe, one of…if not THE…hardest things for all of us sitting here today to actually live out.  All the powers of hell are against us living it out.  All the other religions of the world are against us living it out.  Many governments of the world are opposed to us living it out.  Many of our friends, family, neighbors, fellow students, clients and work associates don’t want us to live this parable out. 


    But God does.  Our Lord Jesus does.  The Holy Spirit does.  And every Christian I know who makes this a top priority has more life and joy and zeal for God than 95% of Christians.  Every church that actually makes this one of their top priorities sees more spiritual passion than 99% of the churches in America today. 


    But the interesting thing is that Jesus didn’t appeal to any of that when he told this parable.  He didn’t talk about what it would do to the church or to your life here on earth or to your family and friends.  He talked about what it would do to YOU and to YOUR life right now and YOUR life in the not-too-distant future


    So let’s go to that parable in Luke 19 and see what God has for us today. 



    READ:  The Parable of the Ten Minas

    11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

    14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

    15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

    16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

    17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

    18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

    19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

    20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

    22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

    24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

    25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

    26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”


    Two weeks ago I pretty much exegeted this parable, so that won’t be my focus today.  Suffice it to say that Jesus told this story in the house of Zacchaeus over dinner with people who were used to making and handling lots of money.  Jesus was speaking their language with this parable. 

                We asked the question what this “mina,” roughly 4 months of salary, represented in this parable.  It’s pretty clear that Jesus is comparing himself to the “man of noble birth” who would leave his estate for a period of time, entrust his “wealth” to some servants, and then return after he was crowned “king” in that distant land to reign in power.  The eschatological significance is obvious.

    • Jesus has plenty of enemies who didn’t want him to be crowned king and did everything (including killing him) to try and stop that.
    • He did go “to a distant country to have himself appointed king….”  I’d say ascending to heaven and being “exalted…to the highest place” and given “the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9) qualifies. 

    Jesus will one day return in awesome authority, subduing his enemies by the force of his power and setting up his millennial rule on earth.  The book of Revelation is replete with this truth.  Just look at Rev. 11:15ff—The 7th Angel & Trumpet of Judgment in Revelation.

    15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

    “The kingdom of the world has become
        the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
        and he will reign for ever and ever.”

    16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:

    “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
        the One who is and who was,
    because you have taken your great power
        and have begun to reign.
    18 The nations were angry,
        and your wrath has come.
    The time has come for judging the dead,
        and for rewarding your servants the prophets
    and your people who revere your name,
        both great and small—
    and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”


    So part of this parable has already been fulfilled and part of it is still future

    But the really important part of this parable is not the eschatology/future events teaching; it is the present importance Jesus wanted it to have on those of us who are called to be His servants. 

    The question I posed 2 weeks ago was, “What does the mina represent?”

     Now just a word of caution when it comes to parables.  Parables are not meant to teach something in every detail of the story.  Details may have significance, but we shouldn’t seek to build a huge theological construct around minute details of a parable.  For instance, to say that the number of servants (10) signifies ten different periods of the church is to read more into the parable than is intended. Why Jesus chose 10 instead of 3 or 12 doesn’t seem to have significance. He simply chooses 10 of what looks like a bunch of servants.  And as the story unfolds, he only talks specifically about 3 of the 10.  So apparently Jesus is simply wanting us to focus on these three as perhaps types of servants in the story.  But it does seem to be significant in this story that the “servants” are different from the nobleman’s “subjects” who “hated him” (vs. 14).


    So back to the significance of the mina and the fact that they all received the same amount—1 mina (about 4 months wages for a laborer).  Since every servant is given the same amount, we concluded that it must be something that every true servant of the King shares equally.  And it must be something of value that can be multiplied. 


    So what are and what are not the possible options for what the “mina” refers to.  Let’s start with possible options that don’t seem to fit the entirety of God’s word. 


    1.)  The mina represents salvation of every servant of God.  The problem with making it our salvation is two-fold.  First, you and I cannot multiply or increase the amount of salvation we receive from God.  Salvation is a gift from God that we either receive or reject.  And once we have it, we can’t multiply the amount of salvation we have.  It’s one of those things like life and death, either you are alive or you are dead.  It’s like pregnancy:  either you are pregnant or you aren’t.  You can’t be “sort of” pregnant!

                In addition, salvation is not one of those things you can lose or have taken from you as the third servant had his mina taken away.  To be consistent with this parable, the servant would have to stop being a servant.  He doesn’t but rather just loses the stewardship trust that was given to all the servants. 


    Related to this possibility is what was mentioned a couple of weeks ago as something we all share in equally, namely the Holy Spirit that is given to us at salvation.  Nowhere does the Bible teach that we receive different measures or amounts of the Holy Spirit.  Yes, the Holy Spirit may have different amounts or levels of us depending on how much we are allowing him to fill and control us.  But you can’t multiply the amount of the Holy Spirit given to you by God through your own self-effort and good stewardship.  For that reason, I don’t think Jesus is referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit given to each of his servants in the church age. 


    2.)  Some say the mina represents God-given gifts and abilities.  While that possibility seems to fit the sort of sister-parable Matthew gives in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, it doesn’t fit real well here.  Does everyone have the same set of gifts and abilities in life?  No.  We don’t all have the same mental abilities or physical abilities or even spiritual gifts and abilities.  To pretend we do is to deny reality.


    3.)  Still others maintain that this mina thing represents the financial resources we all are given in life…or at least the capacity to earn some sort of monetary gain.  The statement of the nobleman-turned-king to the first servant would support this interpretation probably best when he said, “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (Luke 19:17).  Money is, in light of eternity, a “very small matter.”  And we have all been given some of it in this life, no matter how poor we are.

    The problem seems to be that the amount we are entrusted with varies widely from believer to believer and even over the course of our lifetime.  Some believers are born into poverty and others into wealth.  Some work jobs that pay handsomely while others work jobs that barely pay the minimum to survive.  Some are without jobs and have only what the state or people around them are willing to give them.  Based on that reality, this option doesn’t seem to fit real well.


    So what are we left with that every believer has been entrusted with but which can either be neglected, squandered, or multiplied?  Let me suggest two possibilities, one of which I think is a little stronger than the other.   


    1.)  We all have opportunities in life where we can serve others, right?  Depending on what we do with those opportunities, we can either multiply them and serve more and more people, or we can neglect them and become more and more isolated, losing what little people-connection and serving we have.  Every one of us lives around other people.  It may vary how many people we have around us but even someone who is incapacitated has people caring for them whom they can still serve whether by praying for them or blessing them with kind words and encouragement.


    2.)  But there is one thing that we have all been given in equal measure:  the opportunity to obey the King’s command to “Go and make disciples of all nations….” (Mt. 28:19).  We ALL have the same gospel that is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believers” (Romans 1:16).  We all have the same calling—as Paul said to Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:9—“God…saved us and called us to a holy life….” 


    In short, I think that the mina Jesus chose to speak about in Luke 19 has something to do with the gift of the gospel message and the opportunities we all have to share that with others.  This is a calling we all have.  This is something Jesus and his disciples did their entire lives.  Mark 6:6 tells us that Jesus went from village to village preaching the gospel of the kingdom.  He sent the 12 Apostles (Luke 9) out to do that and he sent the 72 disciples out to preach the gospel (Luke 10).  He told the early church just before he ascended to heaven that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit” would come on them and they would be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Ac. 1:8). 

    Paul goes on in Romans 15:16 to tell us that part of the duties he (and any child of God) has as spiritual priests to the people who live around us is “…the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

     (I Peter 2:5 & 9 informs us, just in case there is any doubt, that we as redeemed saints in Christ are a “holy/royal priesthood.”  A good part of the responsibility of priests is to bring God’s message to people even as we are to intercede for people before God.)


    This would explain why sharing the Gospel is such a challenge for most of us.  It would explain why the nobleman-made-king would be so happy with the faithful servants and so upset with the wasteful servant. 


    Don’t get me wrong.  Our good or poor stewardship of the Gospel doesn’t cause God to love us more or less.  We are totally loved and accepted just as we are, with all our failings and immaturities.  But God wants to grow us into people who take what he has given us and multiply it for his Kingdom over and over again. 


    Isn’t that what has happened with the Gospel throughout history?  Some have taken it and shared it all over the place, knowing that it will bear fruit five, ten, even hundreds of times over in the lives of others if it is shared.  But if we keep it hidden in our pocket…or folded up in a handkerchief like the 3rd servant in this parable, never risking rejection or abuse by investing it in the lives of others, we have much to lose.  Not our salvation, but certainly something very important when Jesus returns. 

    Here in Luke 19, the stewards who multiplied the master’s mina over and over are given cities to oversee.  That fits perfectly with what we have over and over again in John’s Revelation of the future reign of Christ on earth in the millennium.  Look at what John says when quoting the words of the four living creatures in his vision in Rev. 5:9ff.

    “And they sang a new song:  ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you (Jesus, the Lamb) were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them [us, all believers around the world] to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”  This also fits what John saw in Rev. 20:4 where some of Christ’s followers are seated on thrones and “given authority to judge” while others who have been martyred during the millennium “came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” 

    (By the way, the martyrs are identified as “those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God,” Rev. 20:4.  The greatest persecution of Christians today worldwide is by Islamic radicals whose preferred means of killing is by beheading.)

    Even the prophet Daniel, in the Old Testament book that bears his name, says in Daniel 12:3 that “those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.”  While our salvation and eternity with Christ is not in jeopardy, Jesus wants us to know that some things that are very important and eternally significant will be determined by what we do with what we’ve been given as believers in this life. 


    God has given every one of us people and places where he wants to use us to multiply his Gospel.  Sometimes we’ll just be sowing the seed.  There may not be any visible response…or there may be outright rejection and a very hostile response.  But the seed of the Word of God is still being sown.  And if it isn’t sown into a person’s life at some point by someone who understands the importance of sharing the Gospel, there will never be a harvest later on. 


    So how can we do this?  How can we take this mina of the most powerful Good News people will ever hear, and invest it into the lives of other people.  Let me give you some very specific ways to do that…and then you talk it over and work it out with God wherever he has placed you. 


    First, we ALL need to know what the Gospel is.  The Gospel is simply the truth about how to get right with God through Jesus Christ.  It is helping people understand a reality so simple that even a little child can get it and respond to Christ.  Do you know how to share that?  Given 5 minutes with someone, could you do that?  Given the opportunity to talk about your own testimony of how God saved you, could you weave the truth of the Gospel into that?

    Let me review it with you in 60 seconds:

    1.)     We are ALL sinners who are separated from God by our sin.  (Rm. 3:23)  [Help people understand that sin is any rebellion against God and his truth/word.]

    2.)     The penalty for sin is separation from God.  The Bible calls it “death.”  (Rm. 6:23)

    3.)    Jesus paid our penalty for sin on the cross. 

    4.)    We must now decide to accept his offer of a restored relationship with God through faith in Jesus…receiving Him… OR reject his offer and face the penalty for sin on our own forever.  (Jn. 1:12; 3:16).  

    If you don’t know how to share that Gospel, your first assignment is to learn it!  There really is no reason why any of us here today don’t know WHAT the Gospel is and how to share it with just about anyone.

    CHALLENGE:  to accept Christ if haven’t yet.


    And learn to ask a few good door-opening questions:

    • Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?  What is it?
    • What has been your spiritual journey in life?
    • Have you ever wished you could know God personally?
    • If I could share with you in just a couple of minutes how you can know God personally, would you be interested?

    [Ask for others people use. If it seems “canned” to you, don’t discount it.  Canned food is better than starving to death…which is what people without Christ are doing spiritually every day!]


    Secondly, we ALL have been given people in our lives with whom God wants us to share the Gospel.  We ALL have…

    • Family
    • Neighbors
    • Friends
    • Fellow students or work associates
    • Acquaintances  (checkers, fellow sports parents, waiters, tellers, gas station attendants, etc.)
    • Strangers we meet (airplanes, buses, doctor’s offices, etc.)


    There are dozens of ways we can share the Gospel with each of these groups of people.  But first we need to be praying for people by name.  So here is your second assignment:  write out the names of people in each of those categories that you can begin praying for and asking God for opportunities to share Christ with.  [Use “Prayer Journal” sheets…& MINA


    Thirdly, we ALL have opportunities that leverage our abilities/inabilities to share Christ and make it easier for us to multiply the Gospel in others lives.

    • Church services:  when was the last time you invited someone to join you at church.  7 out of 10 unchurched people surveyed in the U.S. say they would come to church with a friend if that friend simply invited them.  How many more would come if we invited them more than once? J
      • We’re adding a 3rd worship service to Sunday nights starting October 21st[POLL for 5 or 6pm]
      • If you think another church does that better, then feel free to invite people to join you there.  Seriously, if you think they will understand the Gospel better at Life Center, then invite them there and go with them.  It will grow you to invite them and their soul is certainly more important than you sitting in a chair here!
    • ALPHA Course:  if you haven’t taken it yet, you’re invited to join one come winter.  If you have, then you know how great they are and that all you need to do to be a part of that again is come with some unchurched friend.  As you move into this fall, be asking God who you should invite and start making a list of people you are praying will accept that invitation.  Then when January rolls around and we launch new groups, you will already have talked with people about it and some will come. 
    • Special Events:  We’ve got several coming up in the next few months.

    Unpacking Atheism:  Sunday evening, October 14th, from 6-8.  Lee Strobel, Dr. William Lane Craig, Mark Mittleburg, Dr. Holly Ordway, Randel Niles—panel of ex-atheists;

    --1 in 4 Americans under 30 now describe their religion as “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “nothing in particular”

    --the number of Americans with no religious affiliation has doubled since 1990, to 15 percent

    --young people are dropping out of church at 5-6 times the historic rate, often because of intellectual doubts

    --books by the New Atheists have gone mainstream, many becoming international bestsellers

    --skeptic groups are becoming aggressive; the Secular Student Alliance has doubled in two years, and has established 250 chapters in U.S. schools

    • Christmas Eve services in Dec. 
    • Life Groups:  different groups in homes where people get to experience, over a period of time and in a non-threatening atmosphere, the love of God and his people and the power of the word of God.
      • We currently have 5 locations downtown where this will be unfolding:  Nancy’s condo, The Altedana (Mike and Daniel), the Washington Apts (Gary Gandy, David Ingram, Charlie, Brian, etc.), The Cooper-George Retirement Center, The Cornerstone Courtyard on Adams [needing leaders/facilitators]. 
      • Your home!
      • Any of the Mosaic ministries listed on the tear-off section of your morning program.  [Talk about.]
      • Investment into ministries outside of Mosaic
        • Mekong Ministries:  mention Water Filter Project, Fish Pond Project, English teaching need
        • Grace Giving in Uganda [sponsor a child; see Sandy Tidwell for more info]
        • Agros International:  take a trip to Nicaragua in January.


    God is working in the darkness of downtown Spokane.  Let me share with you a couple of very exciting developments of late.

    1.)    Central United Methodist:  Ian Robertson, interim pastor

    2.)    Orchard Christian Sunday outreach & noon-time evangelism under the freeway across from L.C.

    3.)    Building possibilities: 1 block away, 3 stories, investor partnership, chocolate/coffee bar, YFC partnership, etc.

    4.)    Conduit training:  learning to minister right where God has called you to live, work and play.