Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Thank you to Pastor Skip and of course Lenya for having me. Nate and Janae. You know, the last time I was actually here, I was just telling Janae, I think it was actually just almost 10 years ago and it was for Nate and Janae's wedding. And it was actually right here. But just over 10 years.
But man, I'm so happy to be back here in the ABQ with all of you here tonight. And I'm just-- yeah. Listen, and like you said, I've known Pastor Skip and Nathan for pretty much as long as I can remember. I've known them since I was from a very young age. And the cool thing about Pastor Skip-- you know how you have different uncles in life?
You've got the uncles that, like, you're related to, and they're usually kind of a drag. But then you've got your dad's friends that are, like, they become your honorary uncles. Skip was one of the fun uncles, OK? He was one of the fun uncles, and he was just he was one of the fun uncles. He was the tall one, right?
But I remember growing up going to different preaching conferences that my dad would go to. Of course, my dad is pastor Greg Laurie, and so I grew up in a similar place as Nate being the PK. Were part of the PK Posse. Pastor's Kid Posse. It's a very small club, but we're a part of that together.
But we grew up going to these different board meetings, different preaching conferences. There we go. Different preaching conferences. I thought they were kicking me off. My time up already? Different preaching conferences, all that stuff. And Skip, and Lenya, and Nate and I got to spend a lot of time together. Our families got to be friends.
And I actually considered Nate-- even though I lived in Southern California and Nathan lived out here in Albuquerque, I considered Nathan to be one of my close friends. We had sleepovers at each other's hotel rooms. We'd go to the beach in Hawaii together. We got to spend time at Billy Graham's home on a number of occasions.
And while our parents were absorbing all the wisdom they could from Billy and Ruth Graham on the topics of evangelism and ministry in America, Nate, myself, and Franklin Graham's daughter, Cissie, we'd be playing in Billy Graham's front yard thinking it was no big deal. This was just a normal day in the life of the PK Posse, right?
But now I come to this place today and I just I'm so thankful for how the Lord has used Skip and Lenya in Albuquerque. I look here tonight and I know this is a healthy, Bible teaching, truth filled church. But as I look at your church tonight with this many people here on a Wednesday night, know this, Calvary Albuquerque. This is not normal, OK? This is not normal in the best way.
When pastors in the same place in life as Skip are beginning to phone it in or thinking about retirement, Pastor Skip and his team are re-envisioning what ministry looks like for millennials, my generation. And listen, take it from me. We're weird, OK? We're weird. And it's important that you are intentional about how you do ministry.
But for real, your pastor is the real deal. He's the real guy. You know, you look around-- amen. I hear about things like the freedom celebration that is happening. It's like, who does that kind of stuff when they're this far into their ministry?
Trying to reinvent themselves, trying to impact Albuquerque. And I'm so thankful for men like Pastor Skip. Albuquerque for sure has been impacted because of what the Lord has done through Pastor Skip and Lenya Heitzig. Amen?
Amen. Well, listen, I was born and raised in the church. Maybe that's a bit of an understatement. Some of you were aware of who my dad is, he's Pastor Greg Laurie, and my dad started-- yeah. Awesome.
I kind of consider us to be sister churches, really. I know that Pastor Skip and my dad have been friends for so many years and are very similar in their evangelistic heart and their heart for the Word, and I'm just thankful for that.
But my dad actually started Calvary Chapel Riverside in 1973, and it was the first Calvary Chapel church plant outside of Costa Mesa. Now, some of you might be familiar with my dad's story. It's a pretty radical one.
He was born out of wedlock, he never had a proper father figure in his life growing up. His mom, my grandmother, was married and divorced seven times that we're aware of. She was divorced seven times and had relationships in between dragging my dad along through that.
Now, in the '50s, this was not the norm, right? This was not the norm. This was the Leave it to Beaver era, right? This is maybe normal for today to be married and divorced that many times, but in the '50s, that was a novelty. That was not common.
Now, my dad, a young boy less than 10 years old, he would be helping his mom to bed as she'd be coming home from a night of drinking, a night of partying. He'd help her to bed, he'd be making her breakfast, he'd be making her meals instead of the other way around.
He had to make his own lunch for school. He had to make his own breakfast. He'd be making her coffee. He was drinking coffee at a young age because he was working so hard. But at a very young age, my dad really had to learn to fend for himself.
And one day, my grandmother married a man that was unlike any other guy that she had married before. His name was Oscar. His name was Oscar Laurie, and he actually adopted my dad. And that's where we get our last name Laurie from. We got it from this gentleman named Oscar.
But he was different than all the other guys. He wasn't a bar fly. He was a lawyer. He was moral. He was upright. And actually while many of these men that my grandmother married didn't pay much attention to my dad, this guy took a very special liking to my father.
Oscar paid attention to him. He gave my dad some chores. He gave him an allowance. He took him to the local jail to show him what could happen if you make the wrong decisions. And when my dad was just starting to get into a groove and really start to call this guy dad and get to trust this man, my grandma showed up at school one day and picked him up with the car all packed up.
And my dad's like, wow, where are we going? She said, oh, we're going to Hawaii, Greg. Wow, Hawaii! That sounds awesome. Where's dad? And she said, he's not coming. She divorced Oscar and my dad didn't see Oscar again until much later in life. They lost all contact.
But that was my dad's story. He was broken hearted as a result of that. And according to the statistics, my dad was very likely to end up repeating this very same behavior. Marriage, divorce, alcoholism, substance abuse, even suicide and prison were likely outcomes from my dad's life statistically.
But in 1970 when my dad was 17 years old, God intervened. But God. And 48 years later now today, he's still walking with Jesus. He's pastoring the same church for over 45 years, married to the same woman for 43 years, and it doesn't look like he's slowing down. So when I say that God intervened, you can see that He had His hand on my dad's life.
So to say I was raised in the church as he's been pastoring that same church now for over 45 years, maybe a bit of an understatement. For Nathan to say, yeah, I'm a pastor's kid, that could mean a lot of different things. But to be raised in a ministry like this means something totally different.
But when I was a kid and I got to spend time at people like Billy Graham's home and in different pastors', I just looked at them as these are my dad's friends, you know? These are my dad's friends. This is part of my life.
Now, growing up, I always believed that there was a God. I always believed that God loved me, but there's a difference between knowing that and having that relationship with him. Notice that saying that God has no grandchildren.
And as I got into my early teen years and into junior high and high school, I really began to hear this question a lot-- are you going to grow up and be a preacher like your dad? Are you going to grow up and be a pastor like him? Well, I guess I kind of answered their question by standing here today.
But I didn't know what I wanted to be at that age. And I tell you, as you get to hear that question a lot, you kind of just-- I grew tired of it, to be honest. And as I got into my teen years and into my high school years, I began to rebel and want to get out of that notoriety. Being known just as Greg Laurie's son.
I wanted to be known as my own person. So the more I heard about drugs, and alcohol, and partying, that stuff began to look somewhat interesting to me and I decided that I was going to try some of that stuff. I decided I was going to go into that lifestyle when I was about 16 years old.
And I remember the first time I tried drugs. I remember I was nervous. I was afraid. I didn't know what that was going to be like, but I was kind of peer pressured a little bit. Well, from that first time and then fast forward six months, I'm now getting high multiple times a day. I'm regularly drinking, and doing pornography, and partying, and lying to my parents. All of this while still living at home and living a double life, really.
High school is a real transitional age. How many of you are in high school here tonight? Some of you in high school here? Awesome, there's a few of you. How many of you even remember high school? But when I was in high school I was told by my teachers, oh, you've got so much potential. If you just apply yourself. You know, just apply yourself. You've got so much potential.
Now, I don't know if it was because I was afraid of failure or I lacked motivation or discipline. It's not that I wasn't smart because I could certainly grasp a concept if I tried but, ultimately, I think it was just that I didn't care. You know? I just didn't care. I had a bad attitude.
And in my sophomore year, I somehow got placed into the English AP class. The English AP class. Now, AP, for those who don't know, is advanced placement. Now, I did not belong in this class. I can tell you that for sure.
I barely did my project. I rarely did my homework for it. And as the end of the semester came around, my teacher actually came and told me that he had put something very special on my report card for me, and I could only anticipate what that was going to be.
But actually, believe it or not, I actually really liked this teacher. He was a decent teacher, he taught me some stuff, but I just didn't apply myself. Well, our report cards came and I was shocked at the grade I received for this class.
My bad attitude manifested itself through study habits and my AP English teacher sent home on my report card an F minus. He gave me an F minus on my report card. He actually had to go through the admin and actually say, no, he needs a minus. It's not enough to just put an F on there.
I feel like today if a teacher did that, they would lose their teaching credential, you know? I mean, do teachers even give out Fs any more, or do they just give out trophies? I'm not really sure.
But I didn't invest myself in that class. I didn't try hard, I didn't put forth any effort, but I did care when I got grounded for my grades. And that's the right thing to do as parents, by the way. But I was short sighted at that point and I got what I deserved. I didn't pass that class, and I ultimately had to repeat it.
Now, listen, I was given every resource I needed to pass that class. I had the brain, I had the books, I had the pens, the paper, the computer access, everything I needed to not just pass that class but to get an A plus in it. Well, listen, in the same way, God has given us everything that we need to be spiritually successful in our lives.
Second Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory in virtue." Isn't that good news? That's good news, church. We don't have to get our master's degree in Christianity in order to be spiritually successful.
My message title tonight is Wasted Potential. Wasted Potential, and it's in Matthew chapter 25. You can open up your Bibles there now. Matthew chapter 25 starting in verse 14. What a beautiful noise that is to hear the rustling pages of a Bible. How many of you here tonight are using the New King James Version? Hold your Bible up. Awesome. That's the majority of you.
How many of you are using the ESV version? English Standard Version. OK, there's some here. How about the New Living Translation? Any New Living Translation? OK, very good. How about the New World Translation? No, nobody raised their hand for that one. We've got to have a talk if you're doing that.
But listen, I have a good insight for you. I know what the best Bible translation is. You ready? It's the best Bible translation. OK, this is bar none. This is the best Bible translation. It's the one you read the most. It doesn't really matter that much, as long as you read it. So just read it.
So Matthew chapter 25 starting in verse 14. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own slaves and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. To each according to his own ability. And immediately he went on a journey.
Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. And likewise, he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug it in the ground and hid his master's money. Now, after a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents saying, master, you delivered to me five talents. Look, I have gained five more talents besides them,"
Verse 21. "His master said to them, well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.
He also who had received two talents came and said, master, you delivered to me two talents. Look, I have gained two more also besides them. And his Lord said to him, well done, good and faithful slave. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, master, I knew you to be a hard man reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed, and I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there. You have what is yours.
But his master answered and said to him, you wicked and lazy servant. You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed, so you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming I would have received my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be
Given and he will have abundance. But from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Now, this parable told by Jesus immediately follows Matthew chapter 24 which, for you Bible students, is referred to, is called the Olivet Discourse. And Matthew chapter 24, the preceding chapter here, it's there that Jesus prophesies the destruction of the temple. Where he speaks of his own second coming and he speaks of the tribulation that will soon follow.
The parable we just read in Matthew 25 is pretty easy to understand, and we're going to unpack some of those things here tonight. But the first thing I want to do here is give you some context. Give you some context. You know, it's so important that we know and understand the historical context of a particular scripture.
There's many Bible historians, and secular historians I should say, at the same time as Jesus was alive and they record and fill in different parts of biblical history. And what's interesting is that these secular historians not only confirm what scripture has to say about the first century church, but it also provides us with some valuable insight.
For example, when Jesus is speaking in Matthew 24, he talks about the destruction of the temple and he shares a very interesting detail. He says, "not one stone will be stacked upon another." That's an extremely specific detail, and it just so happens to be confirmed and recorded with great detail by the Jewish historian, Josephus, around 40 years after Jesus made this prophecy.
He notes that there was gold that was placed between the stones in the temple. And when Titus came in and burned down the temple and sieged Jerusalem, that when they melted down the temple and burned it down, that goal that was in between those stones melted down into the foundation.
And he notes that there was gold placed between those stones and when it melted down, that they had to remove the stones brick by brick in order to retrieve the gold that was beneath them. Josephus can firms exactly what Jesus had prophesied over 40 years earlier.
But in Matthew 24, Jesus, he's prophecying of his own return and how to be ready for that. And he continues to do that in Matthew chapter 25. And Jesus is still speaking to his disciples about being ready for his return in our text tonight. And he's comparing it to a fig tree, he compares it to a wedding, and he shares how to live with anticipation of his return in tonight's text, the parable of the talents.
How many believe Jesus could return at any time? Yeah. Yeah, me too. The scripture is full of charges to go and take advantage of opportunity while it's available. In Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 11, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days." Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55, "Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near."
Jesus called on men to make the most of spiritual opportunities and invest them for His glory. Jesus said in John 12:35-36, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become sons of light."
Now, in this particular parable tonight, there are three examples that we learn from. Two are great, and one is alarming and should hopefully light a fire within us. Again, Matthew 25:14-15 says this, "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own slaves and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one one, to each according to his own ability. And immediately, he went on a journey."
So let's note a couple of things here tonight. First, these were a master's slaves. OK? They were slaves. The master is about to leave for a long trip, maybe months or even a year or more, and so he leaves his possessions with these trusted slaves.
So the fact that these are called slaves means that Jesus here was not just speaking about mankind in general. Not all of mankind has been entrusted certain spiritual talents or spiritual gifts. But Jesus was speaking exclusively here about the Church and those who profess to belong to Jesus.
Many people through the gospels are referred to as disciples, and even Judas had the privilege of being called a disciple of Jesus. So even false followers by virtue of the fact that they are attached outwardly to the church have been entrusted with certain talents. Just like today. We've all been given different talents.
Now, in context here, Jesus is actually referring to a specific amount of money. This parable extends beyond that into our own God given talents or God given abilities or gifts. Now, some of us-- listen, some of us are really creative, some of us are great at playing guitar, some of us are great administrators. Listen, we can use those gifts for God's glory and invest them by serving here at Calvary Albuquerque.
Now, some of us have-- listen, that great musical ability or that administrative skill, it doesn't matter. God's given you that ability, you should invest it in what the Lord is doing. Well, maybe you think, I'm not talented at all. I can't sing. I can't draw. I'm not a leader. I can't talk in front of people. I'm ugly. Oh, sorry. Maybe I'm just talking about myself here.
But OK, I get that. OK, I get that. But again, let's look back at scripture and look at every single person that God has chosen to use. Every person that God has chosen to use without exception.
The disciples were fishermen. They were fishermen. They had no formal education. They commit their lives to Christ and pursue ministry, the Lord uses them, and they become scholars and write some of the most articulate pieces of literature that we have in the history of the world.
Look at David and Goliath. You think that was David's strength that he did that on his own? Look at Samson. He proved that it was God's enabling that gave him that strength after Delilah cut off his hair. Look at Moses. All the miracles he performed, he was used by God because all these men have one thing in common with you and I.
Hey, look at my dad's story. Statistically destined for a life of destruction, God intervened. And here's my point, God isn't looking for ability. He's not looking for ability, he's looking for availability. God's looking for availability tonight.
First Corinthians 1:26-31 says this, "For consider your calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise according to the worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth, but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are nought, to bring to nothing things that are so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him, you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. So that as it is written, let the one who boasts boast in the Lord."
Hey, I boast of my weakness tonight so that the power of Jesus Christ might work through me. And listen, that same power of Jesus Christ is available to each and every follower of Jesus Christ. So again, back to our text. The master here in Jesus' parable, he had those three slaves, right? He had the three slaves that he trusted very much with his possessions.
He gave one slave five talents, he gave one slave two talents, and he gave that last slave one talent. Now, your Bible might say something different than what I'm reading here or saying here. Instead of slave, it might say servant, or worker, or bond servant. Now, if you look at your English Bible, our Bibles that we have here today, you won't find that word slave very often.
In fact, if you look at the Old Testament in the King James, you'll find the word slave one time. One time. But the Hebrew word for slave in the Old Testament appears 800 times in the noun and nearly 300 in the verb. What does that mean? What?
Now, that same word in the Old Testament, in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, that Greek word for slave appears 1,100 times, but in your English bibles it's only translated as slave one time. Listen, if you go to the New Testament, you'll find that Greek word for slave about 150 times in all its forms. And you will actually find it translated as slave only a handful of those 150 times.
Listen, the New Testament translators only translate the Greek word slave for slave when it's referring to an actual physical slave, or as slaves of sin, or slaves of righteousness. So here is this concept of slavery in scripture that has been completely hidden to us today.
Now, this was by design because that word slave is the most important, all encompassing, and clarifying word to describe a Christian used in the New Testament. And whenever a Christian is in view, it is not translated as slave. That word that I'm speaking of tonight is doulos. Have you ever heard that word before? Doulos.
In the Greek, that word means slave. It never means anything but slave. It doesn't mean servant, doesn't mean worker, it doesn't mean hired hand, and it doesn't mean helper. There are six or seven different Greek words that mean servant in some form, and doulos was never one of them. Doulos only means slave.
A servant is hired to do something. They're hired to do a job. The slave is someone owned. There's a big difference, and yet all through the New Testament that word slave is marked by the word servant or some form of the word servant.
And the reason for that, of what I've read and what I understand, is the King James Bible was translated from the Greek in the 16th century. Now, they, the Bereans, who were the translators of that text, much like today, decided that the word slave had too much stigma. Too much negative stigma. There's too strong a downside, too humiliating for a follower of Christ to be likened to a slave.
They thought it too belittling, so they opted to cover it with the word servant or something like it. The scholars in the 16th century thought that then that word slave had too strong of a stigma? How about when the first century writers were using that word doulos when they were writing it in the first entry in the New Testament.
In that time, there were as many as 12 million slaves in the Mediterranean world alone. One out of every five people in the Roman Empire was a slave, OK? The Holy Spirit inspired that word doulos, and it's important that we recognize that as well tonight.
Since we don't have that word in our Bibles, we're missing an insight into our relationship with Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters," right? Well, you could if you were a servant, right? You could have a day job and a night job. But you can't be a slave owned by two masters. You can only be owned by one.
But Jesus Christ does not own any slaves. The word doulos does not just mean slave, it means slave by choice. Slave by choice. You can choose to serve Jesus as your master, he will not force you. You can be a voluntary slave.
Listen, Christ paid an incredible debt for us. He's pardoned us. He's forgiven us. Now we should become his doulos, his voluntary slave. Serving him because we want to.
But in John 15:15, Jesus again, he says, "I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me." So back to our text. Verse 15. It says, "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability. And immediately, he went on a journey."
Now, there's no significance in that number of talents given to the slaves, but is just there to show a wide range of responsibilities ranging from the very high to the relatively low and easy. The owner knew his slaves intimately and he gave each one the appropriate amount of responsibility.
Now, a talent was not speaking of a literal talent like juggling, or card tricks, or something. A talent was actually a specific weight measurement. A talent of gold would be extremely valuable, while a talent of brass or copper would be significantly less than that.
In its context, it would have referred to monetary value, but of course, that was irrelevant to Jesus' point. Each slave was given according to their own ability. Now, listen, we're all born into different families. We're born into different homes, different backgrounds, different beliefs, different traditions, different practices, and Praise Jesus that he is gracious with all of us.
A while back while I was still in high school, my brother, Christopher, took me to a church, a local church that was up by our house. A friend of his was one of the youth pastors there and I'd never been there before, and so we went there together. Our dad's church was about 50 miles from where we lived at the time, so we decided we're going to visit a local church.
And as we walked in there, I noticed that the crowd was a little bit different than what I was used to. I was raised in a church like this, and so people like my dad and so forth. So as we walked into this church in Santa Ana, we walked to him and the first thing I see is there's some guys outside that are smoking cigarettes outside of an ashtray. I'm like, well, that's not normal. I don't normally see that at church.
And as we walk up, I see there's this one guy in particular. And no exaggeration, he's wearing a leather jacket, they've got their motorcycles parked outside, he's got a shaved head, he looks like he's 80 years old, and he's got an eye patch on. A black eye patch. And he's got a skull and crossbones tattooed on his forehead.
And I was like, OK, this is a little bit different than what I'm used to. And as we came into the service and sat down, the preacher actually gave a really solid message and I was impressed. And as I walked out, that same group of guys were out there smoking cigarettes, the same tattoos. And it was like, man, these guys are pretty gnarly.
But at the time, I was living a double life. And I remember thinking to myself, I'm doing pretty good as long as I never look like those guys. I'm doing pretty good as long as I can keep up my outward appearance. Listen, I can keep my vice in control long enough to where I don't need to be smoking in front of other people.
Now as I look back on myself, I was literally being that legalistic Pharisee that Jesus condemned so many times. You know, I was raised in a church, I was raised in a Christian family with a strong foundation. Who knows what these guys were raised with? Who knows the kind of homes they came from?
They may have come from down here and the Lord had come into their lives, and now he was renewing them from the inside out. And they were coming back up, and He was using them, and they were being changed.
Meanwhile, I had started up here and jackhammered into my foundation working on my outward appearance, not worrying about my heart. I'm thankful that the Lord looks upon the heart, aren't you? I was good at keeping up my outward appearance. These guys were being renewed from the inside out.
In 1 Samuel, Samuel was out to anoint the next King of Israel who we know now was David. And as he saw one of Jesse's sons, he saw Eliab and he thought, oh, this must be him. This must be the next King of Israel. He was tall, dark, handsome. He looked like a King. And here's what the Lord said in response to Samuel.
He said this in verse 7. 1 Samuel 16:7. He said, "But the Lord said to Samuel, do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature because I have refused him, for the Lord does not see as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Aren't you glad that God cares about the heart and not about the external appearance? Amen.
And again in Psalm 51:16-17 it says this, "You do not desire a sacrifice, God, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, oh God."
So when you consider the amount of changes and baggage that someone like that has to give up and surrender when they commit their lives to Christ, it's amazing to see what the Holy Spirit can do. They were being good slaves to their master and being responsible with their gift of salvation. I was not.
Check this out in Luke 12:47. Jesus says this, "And that servant who knew his master's will and did not prepare himself or do according to his will shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know yet committed things deserving of stripes shall be beaten with few for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required. And to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
Listen, we are all given spiritual gifts from God in varying capacity and talents, and he wants us to invest them. You can find them in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. We're going to put some of them up on the screen.
Those gifts, those spiritual gifts that God entrusts to us are prophecy, teaching, serving, encouraging, giving, leadership, mercy, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, discernment, tongues, interpretation of tongues, and the gift of helps are all spiritual gifts that we have been given.
Now, you might think some of those are better than others. Yes, I got the gift of healing. I got miraculous powers. I got the gift of serving. I got the gift of interpretation of tongues. Well, listen, the master's desire here is not equal return from each of his slaves, but equal effort according to ability.
Even though the first two slaves were given different amounts and ended up with different prophets, they produced the same percentages of profit doubling what they have been given. And here's what's awesome for what we read here in scripture, they were given the exact same reward. The exact same reward.
Let's continue reading in verse 16. "Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. And likewise, he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug it in the ground and hid his Lord's money."
Now, in one translation it says the first man immediately went and traded. Immediately went and traded. This slave represents the genuine believer whose desire is to please and serve God, and strives to use every ounce of his or her ability to glorify and serve God.
Now, the second slave was given less than half as much to work with, but he performed just as faithfully as the first. He doubled his master's money and both of them traded. Not made a trade or made one trade and got lucky, but did this over time.
Multiple trades while the master was away. They maximize their opportunity. They looked for strategic places to invest their gift and made the most that they had to work with.
And then we come to the third slave, exactly the opposite of the first two. He had less responsibility than his co-laborers so he had less to lose. He should have been more aggressive than the first two. But he went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.
Now, in this context, hiding money in the ground is actually a common practice. There were no bank vaults or safety deposit boxes, and it was a simple and sensible way to protect valuables at the time. But it was also stupid because hiding resources in the ground was not a good way to carry on a business or to make a profit.
This slave was not asked to hide the talents or to protect it, but to use it wisely. He was given the same command from his master and the other two slaves to do what they had been charged to do, which was to use it to their maximum ability.
Now, let's read in verse 19 about the master's return. "After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents saying, master, you delivered to me five talents. Look, I have gained five more talents besides them.
His master said to him, well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.
He also who had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents. Look, I have gained two more talents besides them. His master said to him, well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord."
Verse 24. "Then he who had received the one talent came and said master, I knew you to be a hard man reaping what you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed, and I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there, have what is yours.
But his master answered and said to him, you wicked and lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed, so you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest." We'll stop there.
Now, whether the master was gone for a few months or around a year or longer, we don't know, but we do know that it was a long time. And knowing what Jesus said in Matthew 24 where he says, "No man knows the day or the hour when the son of man will return," basically, Jesus is saying that he will come back completely unexpected. And that is what has happened here.
The master's been gone for a while. He comes back unexpectedly. Put yourself in those three slaves' shoes for a moment. How are you looking forward to the master's return if you're the first slave who traded with those five talents? You're stoked, right? You're looking forward to his return. You're excited to show him that profit that you've made.
How about the second slave? Same. You're excited for him to come back to show the Lord, to show your master what you have done. How about the slave who buried the talents? You're not looking forward to his return at all. So when the master comes back, the first order of business is to settle the accounts.
When you've done a good job, you're looking forward to the return of your boss, or your spouse, or your teacher, and the same is true for Christians. If you heard that Jesus is coming back tonight, the feeling in your gut is a great litmus test as to where you stand with him.
The first slave tells the master, master, you gave me five talents. I gained five more talents besides them. He wasn't bragging, he was just stating the truth, right? The second slave did the same. Master, you delivered to me two talents and I have gained two more talents besides them. Again, this slave wasn't boasting, he was just expressing the truth.
Hey, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars-- oh, never mind. That's a different story. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 the Apostle Paul said these words, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day. And not to me only, but also to all who have loved his appearing."
Now, the Apostle Paul, he wasn't bragging here, he was stating the truth. These two faithful slaves and the Apostle Paul were simply rejoicing and expressing a deep sense of fulfillment in doing the Lord's work. The master knew the hard work and the integrity of his slaves and how they were faithful, and that they would be rewarded accordingly. The Lord knew the integrity of Paul's heart and would be faithful to reward him according to his gracious promises.
Now, this third slave, though, he had a warped concept of his master. He had worked concept. Well, I know that you're a hard man reaping what you have not sown and taking what you did not water and plant, so I hid your talent in the ground.
The master responded by saying, OK, fine, you say I'm a hard man harvesting crops that don't belong to me? If that's the case, why didn't you invest my money? Even in ancient Rome there was a banking system that is very similar to what we have today. The maximum loan rate would have been 12% and the interest rate would've been close to 6%.
Now, this slave didn't even attempt to earn the simple interest on the money. This confirmed his total irresponsibility and his indifference to the master. His explanation was proof that he had no intimate or reliable knowledge of his master. This third slave can represent people who come to church with a corrupt view of God.
Their concept of God is skewed and even perverted. They're afraid to say to the Lord, here's my life, Lord. Here's my future, here's my resources, here's my time. I dedicate it to your glory. I can't do that. God's going to make me marry an ugly guy or he's going to send me to the mission fields to some malaria inflicted country. He's going to make me do something I'm not comfortable.
That was the problem with the third slave. Instead of seeing him like the first who slaves saw him, he had a wrong impression of his master. He had the audacity to tell his master that he was unmerciful and dishonest. The master was not angry with him because he had not turned a profit, he was angry because the slave wasted the opportunity. He wasted his potential.
Jesus' point was that having little work with is not an excuse for not using it at all. The third slave does not necessarily represent an unfaithful believer, he represents someone who has formed a skewed image of God in their mind.
I went to a Christian high school-- and this isn't a warning. Well, I guess it kind of is. But some of the kids that were classmates didn't want to be there at Christian school. And they didn't want to be a Christian at all, so they weren't. Now, they never sought the truth about God but only came up with lame excuses like this third slave to justify their behavior and why they aren't Christians now today as adults.
They would say things like, oh, God's a misogynist or God is a mass murderer. He's selfish. Those are so far from the truth it's absurd. I'd love to have you talk with some of the pastors up front if that's your belief. But that third slave was not unfaithful, he was faithless. He was faithless.
A true Christian who wastes their abilities, their spiritual gifts, and opportunities will have their, what we're told in 1 Corinthians 3:15, their work burned. "And he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved yet so as through fire." So you can have a saved soul and a wasted life.
Yeah, you'll get to heaven. Yeah, no worries. But one day, you'll come empty handed before the one who gave everything for you. And you're going to say what to him? I was busy. It was too hard. Listen, thanks a lot, Lord, for getting me here. I don't have anything to offer you. I didn't do any works for you here on Earth. I guess I'll see you later.
Listen, the greatest joy of heaven isn't that it's the absence of hell. What makes hell so terrible is the absence of Jesus. In heaven, we will have fullness of joy and life everlasting because Jesus will be there. You'll have loved ones there, you'll see the Apostles, you'll see Moses and Elijah, but you'll see Jesus face to face.
Do you want to hear God say, well done, good and faithful servant? Yes, then get on with it. Take what he's given to you and use it. But don't insult God by saying, I don't have much. My testimony isn't that dramatic.
Nobody's testimony is dramatic unless you include the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross for it. Don't insult God and say your life is worthless and that you were just a car salesman, or a stay at home mom, or a war veteran, or an IT guy. Jesus paid for it. It can become more.
As a Christian, it can be fanned into full flames. So take that ability, take that gift, take that strength, and dedicate it to His glory and watch what He'll do. Don't bury your spiritual gift in the ground. Use it, stretch it, grow it. It will cause you to look forward to Christ's return.
Now, listen, as I was in high school and I continued partying and living this double life, I found myself increasingly isolated and lonely. I found myself addicted and depressed. Drugs, alcohol, and depression? Who would have thought, right? No, the two go hand-in-hand.
But as I continued this lifestyle, I found myself becoming more isolated. I had one foot in the world and one foot in the church. I had too much of the world to be happy in the church, and I had too much of the church to be happy in the world. I'd be out partying Saturday night and then sitting in the front row Sunday morning being convicted about what I had done.
But I numbed myself and I pretended that it was OK. I'd be driving home after parting at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning and I'd have a Ziploc bag full of drugs on my passenger seat, and I'd be over it. I'd be sick of who I was and sick of the lies that I had been telling everybody.
I'd roll my window down, I'd throw that bag out the window, and I'd go to bed that night feeling pretty good about myself. Feeling like, oh, yeah, I'm going to be better now. I'm going to be clean, I'm going to give this up, I'm going to seek accountability. And I'd wake up the next morning, I'd go find that Ziploc bag, and I'd bring it back into my life.
You see, I was a hypocrite, I was living in two worlds, and I was lying to everybody. But there was only one person that I was really pretty honest with Not everything, but most of that stuff. It was my older brother, Christopher.
Now, Christopher had actually lived a similar lifestyle that I had. He was 11 years older than me. And as I told Christopher about what I was struggling with, he told me the same thing that I knew I needed to do. I needed to seek accountability. I needed to cut off those old friendships and make new Christian friends and grow in those relationships and grow those friendships, and cut off that life.
Christopher had quit that lifestyle, committed his life to Christ, was actually attending Pastor Skip's church back when he was at Ocean Hills down in Dana Point. That church made a tremendous impact in my brother's life. And as Christopher was down there, he found himself married.
He didn't find himself married, but he got married and he was walking with the Lord, and he had done a great work in my brother's life. And we had full restoration with Christopher because there was a time that he had walked away from our family. Similar to what I was doing at this point.
But Christopher was walking with God. He was having a Bible study at his house, he was married, he had a little, girl, he had another little girl on the way. He was doing well. And again, Christopher was that only person that I was really honest with.
Christopher is 11 years older than me and so he played that older brother role. But really, he was so much older than me, he kind of was a third parent. I really looked up to him in a lot of ways. He definitely was the tough love parent, though.
He was the guy that when I would go into the neighborhood and I'd be getting in a fight with somebody, he'd go pull me out of it and be like, don't ever get in a fight with somebody that you can't beat. And then he'd beat me up himself after saving me from that fight.
He taught me how to ride a bike, and he taught me how to skateboard, and all that stuff. And he was a good older brother so I really respected him. Well, one day we were driving home from church and Christopher asked me this question. You know, Jonathan, you've had a lot of wake up calls in your life. And I had.
I had friends who had overdosed on drugs. I had friends who were in jail. I had friends who had gotten STDs. Girls that got abortions, girls that had gotten pregnant and had children out of wedlock. And somehow I had come through unscathed. And I had my fair share of wake up calls, but Christopher ask me this question.
You know, you've had a lot of wake up calls in your life. What's it going to take for you to give your life to Christ? What wake up call is going to happen in your life that God gets your attention? Now, I don't really remember what my answer was, but his question stuck with me. What's it going to take?
I remember really thinking about that over the days to come. And then I was at work one day and my foreman came in to see me while I was at the office. And he came in and he said, hey, have you talked to your family today? Have you heard from them at all?
I said, no, I haven't heard from my family today. You know, I worked first shift. I was up at 5:00, so I was out of the house before I saw them. And he said, OK, well-- he actually happened to be a friend of the family, but he said, I think you better come with me.
And I thought it was going to be an intervention or something. I didn't know what was going to happen. But as we got into his car and started driving down the freeway, I realized we were getting off at my parents off ramp, and then we were turning into my parents' neighborhood, and on my parents street.
As we turned down that street, I saw there was cars parked all down the street in front of my parents' house. And I looked over across the street and I saw my dad. That same dad who never had a father growing up. He was a pretty strong guy, I never saw him cry very many times. And I see my dad absolutely falling apart, and he's weeping. And he's surrounded by a number of people from our church, and clearly something was wrong.
As I got out of the car and I ran across the street to meet him, I was actually stopped by somebody in the middle of the street and they said, Jonathan, Christopher was on his way to work-- where he worked at Harvest with my dad-- and Christopher was killed in a car accident. He rear ended somebody. He was killed instantly. He's with the Lord now.
And man, I just remember my heart being ripped out of my chest. Felt like my stomach was ripped out. I thought of his wife who was pregnant. I thought of his little girl just four days away from her second birthday. I thought of my dad who never had that father figure, who had a traumatic childhood growing up and now this was happening to him.
But then I thought of myself. The one person that really knew me, the one person I was ever really honest with was gone from this world. And as I was trying to process this stuff, Christopher's question popped back into my head. Jonathan, what's it going to take for you to give your life to Christ? And I knew what I had to do.
At that moment I ran up to my room and I got a bag and I just threw all my paraphernalia and all the stuff that I'd been living my life for. And you know what? It was a pile of trash. And I set it on the foot of my bed and I prayed, Lord, I've proven to you and to myself that I can't quit this on my own.
You're not only going to take that addiction away, you're going to have to take away the desire because right now more than ever, I seek to numb myself. I want to forget about what's happening, pretend that this is all just a dream. But I put that stuff in a bag and I gave it to a friend to get rid of me, and he did.
And that was July 2008, and it's going to be 10 years this July that God has redeemed me from addiction. That God has redeemed me from hell. God's redeemed me from sin. And he can do the same thing for you here tonight. My question to you would be the same. What's it going to take for you to give your life to Christ?
What wake up call is God going to send into your life to get a hold of you? You know, maybe you haven't put your trust in God yet. Or you've been listening and maybe you realize you're kind of like that third slave. Listen, you need to repent and know that God is a father in heaven that loves us.
God loves us like a lost son. Just like that parable of the prodigal son who goes off and spends the father's money on wild living and then he comes to his senses, and comes back, and the father welcomes him with open arms. Jesus said, this is what God is like. This is what God is like.
Or maybe you're here tonight and you're thinking, who wants to be a slave? That is literally the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Why would I want to be God's slave? Well, I guess that really all depends on who your master is.
We're all a slave to something. You can be a slave to success. You can be a slave to addiction. You can be a slave to status. You can be a slave to wealth, a slave to possessions. You can be a slave to sin. Listen, you can be freed from those things tonight.
And in turn, God doesn't enslave you and master over you, he sets you free. He frees you from sin. And it's only when you recognize that he is our Father in Heaven that we desire for him to be our master. Again, Jesus tells us in John 15:15, "No longer I call you slaves because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me."
So my question to you tonight is, what's it going to take for God to get your attention? What wake up call is God going to send in your life so that you would recognize what is truly important tonight? Listen, you don't need to wait for a wake up call to call out to God. You don't need to wait for a wake up call like I did to ask God to forgive you of your sin.
Now I want to give you that opportunity tonight. So let's all bow our heads and close our eyes, and let's pray. Lord, I thank you for what you did in my life. And Lord, I thank you that you can do the same thing in anybody's life here tonight.
Lord, I'm amazed at what you've done in my life and really, all I can say is I've just been weak. I've failed, I've fallen, but God, you've always been there to pick me up, and lift me up, and forgive me, and restore me, and use me, Lord.
And I just thank you for that. I thank you for your grace. I thank you for your love. And I know that it's available abundantly to anybody who would call upon it tonight.
So while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying, how many of you here tonight would say, Jonathan, I want to know that when I die I'll go to heaven. I want to know that I can have a redeemed life here on Earth.
Not just, oh, the hope of heaven. Yeah, fire insurance. But the fact that I can live a life of fulfillment. I can live a life of peace. No more turmoil. No more sadness, and depression, and isolation, but living for the purpose that I was created for, to know God and have a personal relationship with Him.
If that's your desire tonight, I'm going to ask that you would raise your hand up and I want to lead you in a prayer. A prayer of repentance, a prayer of asking God to forgive you. But not only that, a prayer where you're believing that God can do that. Believing that God can free you from those things here tonight.
So if that's you, I'm going to ask that you would raise your hand and I want to lead you in that prayer. Raise it up. God bless you. God bless you over on the side. God bless you, ma'am. Over here in the middle and the very back. God bless you.
Listen, you're among friends and family here. This is a decision that we are all hoping that you make. We want you to do this. There's no better place to make a commitment to Christ than in the church. So if you're here tonight and that's you, you want to know that when you die you'll go to heaven, that you can have what the locusts have eaten away restored.
You know, there's things in my life that I had messed up. My brain was fried from drugs. My relationship with my family was messed up. I had wrongful perceptions about things. But you know what? I trusted those things to the Lord, and he restored me, and forgave me, and made me a new creation from the inside out. He can do the same thing for you here tonight.
So if that's your desire, if that's what you want, you want to commit to that relationship with Jesus Christ, I'm going to ask that now you would stand up where you're at. I want you to stand up and I'm going to lead you in a prayer tonight. What's it going to take? What are you waiting for? What do you have going in your life that is worth waiting? Amen.
Anybody else? You stand up we'll pray together. Anybody else? Again, there's nothing in this world that's worth going to hell over. There's nothing in this world that's worth living for. Here's the amazing thing, yeah, heaven, I look forward to heaven, but man, God's given so much to me.
He's given me a wife, he's given me children, he's given me my family, he's given me fulfillment, and love, and a purpose, and a calling. He can do that same thing for you here tonight. So anybody else? You stand up where you're at and I'm going to lead you in a prayer. God bless you guys. God bless you.
All right. Now, for those of you that are standing with me right now, I'm going to ask that you would pray this prayer out loud after me. Mean it in your heart. This is you calling out to God. Believe this in faith. Pray this, Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you are the Savior and I thank you for loving me, and for dying for me, and for forgiving me.
And I turn from that sin now and I turn to you from this day forward. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to walk according to your commands. Re-sensitize my conscience, Lord God. And it's in Jesus' name that I pray, amen. Amen. God bless you. Awesome.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.