Dreamers Live in a Renaissance Church
I want to start this morning by looking at a fascinating passage in the book of 1 Kings. Let me read it to you. 1 Kings 22:48 "Jehoshaphat also built a fleet of trading ships to sail to Ophir for gold." Jehoshaphat was a good guy, he was the King of Judah in the Old Testament who built this entire fleet of ships to sail for gold. He was headed out; he had a mission and he had a purpose. But something happened, because in the same breath the writer pens: "But the ships never set sail for they met with disaster in their home port."
When I read those words I was struck with how that same epitaph will be the legacy of so many individuals and churches as well. Everyone of us has a dream, a passion. We all have things that God has put inside of us that we long to accomplish. And while everyone has a dream, unfortunately so many of those dreams never get lived out. So many of those ventures never make it out of the harbor. Just like Jehoshaphat, our ships get stuck in the harbor. Those dreams crash. We bury them. We go from living our dream to just sort of living life.
We have a dream in this church of being a renaissance church, but we have to be careful with those dreams. We have to be willing to put forth the work and effort if we want to reap the rewards. This morning I want us to consider how can we live out our dream of being a renaissance church. If we are going to be serious about this call we need to learn how to manage the gifts, the talents and the abilities that God has given you. Everyone of us has something to contribute. Everyone of us has a difference, an impact, that we can make in this world.
Our text this morning will come from Matthew 25 and starting in verse 14 we read: For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
It’s a bit difficult to translate the term used for money here. The New Living Translation said he gave them "five bags of silver, two bags of silver and one bag of silver." God’s Word for Today says that he gave one man ten thousand dollars, another four thousand dollars, and another two thousand dollars. Here’s my point, don’t picture the talent as a small, silver coin. Actually a talent is formed in the shape of a huge block of gold or silver, with a handle on top for ease. It weighed about 75 pounds; or 6,000 denarii, which was what you would make for a days work. So each talent was worth the salary of sixteen and a half years. This is a crazy amount of money, and the opportunity of a lifetime for these individuals.
But I want you to notice that these guys weren't owners of the gifts, they were managers. He gave it to them and went away on his trip. He said, manage this for me. When you are a manager, one of the first questions you want to ask of your owner is, how do you want me to manage your stuff, right? It's your stuff. I'm managing it. I'm a steward of it. That's exactly where these individuals are.
So the first thing we need to learn this morning is If we are going to live out the dream of being a Renaissance Church we must learn to manage God's gifts.
The Bible is pretty clear in it’s teaching that God doesn’t call us to be owners of anything. We like to say, I own this, or this is mine, but that’s not the picture we get in the Bible. Actually the Bible just challenges us again and again saying everything is God's. Everything is His. You and I are managers of the gifts that He gives us.
That’s what David says in 1 Chronicles 29:11 Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, oh Lord, and this is your Kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Riches and honor come from you alone. David knew his job was to manage what God provided.
God made some of you brilliant. He gave some of you amazing minds. He gave others of you amazing athletic ability. Some of you can do very creative things. We all have different gifts and abilities, but when was the last time that you thought about how you can use those gifts and abilities for His kingdom? Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:10 "God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another." God has given you certain talents and certain abilities to serve one another.
In our parable this morning everybody gets a gift. No one was left out. He didn't give five talents to one person, two talents to the other and this other guy has to go stand in the corner and not get anything. Everyone got a gift. Jesus is making a point. God has given all of us unique talents, unique abilities, unique contributions, that we can make. If these are really God's gifts, then that means that it doesn't do us a lot of good to stand back and get jealous about other people who may have other gifts than we do.
Now I understand that it wasn't equal distribution, one got five, one got two, and one got one. But they didn’t sit around and compare talents. Have you ever wondered why your neighbor invented some crazy thing and made millions of dollars and here you are grinding it out nine to five? Have you ever looked at a friend of yours from high school who has had incredible success or so much talent and said it’s not fair? We have to understand that fair is a weather condition, and it’s up to the Master to choose how He is going to distribute the gifts.
What we have to determine is how am I going to manage the gifts that God has given to me? That's the question. Some of you have an ability to sing, and some of you didn’t get that gift. Some of you have the gift to teach, some of you have the gift to lead. Maybe you have a different gift, but we must all realize that it’s not yours; that gift belongs to God. We need to be honest enough to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses so we can reach our dreams.
The Second way that we live out the dream of being a Renaissance Church is to make the most of today's opportunities.
Look in Matthew 25:16, He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. I love the fact that Jesus says this guy goes immediately to work. He has the opportunity of a lifetime and starts investing, starts making deals, starts doing whatever he needs to do.
He doubled his gift, and the master praises him for being a great servant for taking what he had been given and basically bringing a great return. We see the same thing happen with the man who received the two talents. They were given and opportunity and they acted immediately.
But in verses 24 and 25 we see that not everyone took advantage of what the master had given them. The one who received one dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money. Have you ever wondered why he would do that? Why would you take 16 years worth of income and go dig a hole and bury it? Well he explains that he was afraid he would loose the money so he hid it.
Fear has tremendous control over us. It can paralyze us and hold us back. We all have different fears, like the fear of failure, or death, or clowns, but if we are going to be dreamers we must learn to face those fears. Unfortunately many churches are so afraid of failing that they just keep to themselves in a little Holy Huddle. We want to strike out when everything is perfect and we allow our perfectionism to fuel procrastination.
Dreamers know that the church was made for rough waters. Churches were made to have their best moments and their best ministries in the midst of chaos. I still believe that some of the best ministry we did as a body of believers happened in the aftermath of Rita and Ike. While the conditions were not perfect, God’s love and compassion was shown through the work that we did in less than perfect conditions. It’s time once again for Park Central to head out into the ocean, because that's where we do our best work. There is never going to be a perfect opportunity. There will never be a perfect moment to try new things or take risks, so we need to step out in faith because our community desperately needs it.
Jesus calls it being fishers of people. We're going to find people out in the deep waters of life that are emotionally hurting, that are drowning financially and upside down in every way. Our call and our responsibility isn't to batten down the hatch and wait for the storm to be over, by then it will be too late. Our call is to use everything God has given us to bring about His glory.
Renaissance Churches are filled with dreamers that have conquered the fears that hold others back. Renaissance Churches are filled with people that will follow where ever God leads. Maybe God is leading you to step out into relationships with other people and get to know some people. Maybe God is leading you away from a job that you really don't like, that leaves you frustrated and stressed, so you will have more time to devote to Him. Maybe God is leading you to opportunities where you can use your talents and treasures to bring Him the glory and honor He deserves.
Today is the day you step away from fear and realize that it’s time for you to manage what you have and make the most of today.
Finally if we are going to live out the dream of being a Renaissance Church we must recognize our responsibility.
The saddest words in this story are the ones that the Master says to the servant who was entrusted with one talent. Starting in verse 26 we read, You are a wicked and lazy servant! You say you knew that I harvest things I did not plant and that I gather crops where I did not sow any seed. So you should have put my gold in the bank. Then, when I came home, I would have received my gold back with interest.' "So the master told his other servants, 'Take the bag of gold from that servant and give it to the servant who has ten bags of gold.
We have a responsibility to use what God has given us to bring Him glory. The principal states if you use what God has given you, you have even more. If you bury it, you won't. The struggle we have is our wonderful ability to come up with excuses in an effort to try to get out of different responsibilities. What we really want is to get rid of all of the responsibility in our life, even when it comes to all the things that God has given us. Yet here in this story the master is so frustrated with this servant who avoided the responsibility that he was given.
Dreamers realize that every gift they have, everything they own, comes with a responsibility. Think about your stuff and the responsibility that comes with the things that God gives you to manage. When a teenager first get’s behind the wheel of a car, we talk about the HUGE responsibility they have as a driver. But do you often think about the responsibility you have as a manager of that blessing. It’s not your car or truck, it’s God's car and you get to manage it. You manage that gift by giving someone a ride. It could be as simple as helping someone make a grocery store run; simple things make a big difference.
How do you manage your house, or your kitchen. You manage that gift by making food for someone who is sick or hurting or going through difficult time. We could allow someone to stay in our home, or allow them to use our vacation home, or use the other things God has allowed us to manage. Some of you open your homes on a weekly or every other week basis to host a care group or small Bible study. You do that because it's God's home and you're recognizing your responsibility over that property, over what God has given you.
This even reaches out to the clothes you wear. Maybe you go through your closet and give one of your jackets to someone who is going to endure January without one. Or maybe you you make sure that the clothes you wear are modest and bring honor to God. We must remember that we are called to manage what God has given us to bring Him glory. God has given us so many things, and He expects us to be generous and bless other people.
In 2 Samuel 24 and in 1 Chronicles 21, we find parallel versions of the same story. In verse 24 of each chapter, King David makes the statement, “I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which cost me nothing.” That last part has captured my attention and my dreams. David a man after God’s own heart said that he would not offer a sacrifice to God that didn’t involve a cost. He understood that a true sacrifice must cost or it is at best worthless. Like David we must understand that God deserves everything and nothing less.
Maybe it costs us some of our time, or talents, or treasure. Maybe it costs us some of our standing in the world, maybe it costs us some of our comfort. While it might not be easy or more fun, I believe that if we are going to be dreamers, we must take a huge often times uncomfortable step of faith.
In 1577 Sir Francis Drake became one of the first humans to circle the globe. Just before the ship sailed he prayed this prayer. "Disturb us oh Lord when we are too well pleased with ourselves. When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little. When we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us oh Lord to dare more boldly and venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery and loosing sight of land we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes and push us in the future in strength, courage, hope and love. This we ask in the name of our captain who is Jesus Christ."
That's my prayer for this church and my prayer for you. Ships weren't made for the harbor; they were made for the open seas. It’s time for us to push away from the shore and bring a renaissance to our community.
It’s time for us to become better managers of the gifts God has given us and make the most of our opportunities. But before a renaissance can happen in our community it must happen in this church and in your life.
Questions For You To Consider
If you knew that you would not fail, what would your dream be for your life?
If you knew that you would not fail, what would your dream be for your family?
If you knew that you would not fail, what would your dream be for this church?
What is it about failure that keeps you from moving towards your dream?
What are some things that God has allowed you to manage, that you can use for His glory?
Jeremy said that you have a responsibility with the gifts that God has allowed you to manage. What does that mean to you?
What would it mean in your life if Sir Francis Drake’s prayer was answered in your life? (The prayer is located on the last page of the sermon third paragraph from the bottom)