Zach Zehnder takes us into week five of the Serving Challenge, a 40 day journey to serve like Jesus.
Have you ever had a mountaintop experience? I have, and I was hoping to have at least one, if not a couple of these a couple of months ago when me and my two boys went to Peak Challenge in Colorado. Peak Challenge is an annual men's trip here at King of Kings, led by our president of our congregation, david Reddle, and we go to Colorado and we camp out for a few days and nights and the culmination of this is that on Friday we hike a 14er, a 14,000 foot or higher elevation mountain, get to that top of the mountain and just get to see God's creation and all of its glory, beauty and majesty. Two years ago, my oldest son and I, nathan, went to Peak Challenge and we had not one but two mountaintop experiences, as we not only conquered the Friday but we went on the optional hike on Thursday. And so this year, going in, I took Nathan and my youngest son, brady, and our intention was to have mountaintop experiences. But a couple things have changed since two years ago. Number one I turned 40, and when you turn 40, how many of you know, your bodies just don't all of a sudden act in the same way. And let's just say I went into Peak Challenge this year, not in as good of shape as I was two years ago. And so on Wednesday, when we all gathered, dave Rattle stood up and said hey, everybody, the hike on Friday is going to be. This is going to be great. There's an optional hike to the Mount of Holy Cross tomorrow, thursday. If you want to join us, that's fine, but just so you know, this is for experienced hikers, in shape hikers. It's going to be really hard and so don't do it if you didn't come in shape. And I was like okay, dave Rattle, you said the same thing two years ago. No big deal, everybody listens to you, it's going to be easy, and that's what we're there to do. We're there to hike, so we're going to do it. And so Thursday morning we woke up and we drove to the Mount of the Holy Cross and as we started hiking, I realized very quickly Dave Rattle was right. This hike was a bear. It was literally the hardest hike of my life, and I used the word literally in its proper context, knowing that literally is literally the word we misuse the most often. It was the longest hike of my life 11 miles. I hiked 4,800 feet of elevation. That day, my watch battery drained out after eight hours of activity and I had burnt over 2,000 active calories already. It was that sort of a hike. But even with all those impressive numbers, here's the truth. I didn't make it to the top. I did 11 miles. The total hike was 12 miles. I went up 4,800. If I wanted to reach the top I needed to go up 5,300. And so on the way down I was. I couldn't do it. I was physically exhausted and I was disappointed that I couldn't make it to the top in this moment, and so I didn't have a mountaintop experience that day. So I did have, and I felt like God met me and gave me a mountain middle experience where the Lord revealed something to me and reminded me of something really important when it comes to serving others and making our biggest difference in this world. So I'm going to get to what God revealed on my mountain middle experience, but first let me let me back up and tell you where we're going today, this morning. My goal in today's message is that you would believe in and act upon the fact that you have a unique God given ability that you would believe in and act on that God given ability I want to talk about how to use that unique ability to make the biggest difference that you can in this world. And so, king of Kings, we've been going through a 40 day challenge called serving challenge. In this challenge, we're learning to serve like Jesus. How did Jesus serve us? He's the goat of serving, and so let's learn how did he serve us and then let's practice how he served us to others. And so we're learning five different aspects of how Jesus served us and challenging ourselves to put those into practice. And so today we're on that fourth aspect, which is ability. By the way, if you're coming in late or wondering like where we are, you can download and see all you know. You need to download and just go to our website, download our app, and then you can watch all of the past messages and catch up. You can learn about the first three aspects, which were attitude, availability and action, but today we move to ability. So when we look to Jesus, we see that he, and he alone, had the unique ability to save the world. Philippians 2 8 says it this way and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. And so Jesus had the unique ability to save the world through his death and resurrection. You and I don't have that ability. Last week we said we can't do everything, but you know we can do, we can do something, we can do something. And I really believe it's when we combine our availability, that second aspect that we learned when we show up, but when we show up with our unique ability, that man, god can move in mighty ways. I say it in this way in the book that we can't make God move, but we can make room for God to move. And it's when those of us show up, when we're available, but we also show up with our unique God given ability, that God can move in mighty ways. And so I want to look more at how we do this today, and I want to look specifically at this passage of scripture in Matthew 25, 14 to 30. This is the passage where Jesus would actually say the words well done, good and faithful servant. What does it take for a servant to hear those words from Jesus? It's called a parable, called the parable of the bags of gold, and so what I want to do today is I want to read through these verses. I want to make two observations about God and then two options based on those observations give you two calls to action and then remind you of a really important truth on the way out. So we got a long way to go today, starting in Matthew 25, verse 14. Again, it will be like a man going on a journey who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. From the very first verse, we see an upside down, counter cultural thing happening that the master would entrust his wealth to the servants. Now, the master would usually put his servants like in charge of his estate or to be stewards, but to just give over his wealth to the servants like that's crazy. And remember, this is a parable. Parables are stories or illustrations that have a deeper meaning, and in this parable, the master is representing God and the servants are representing you and I. And so my very first observation in this parable is simply this that God trusts you. That God trusts you, he entrusts something to you, and so my question for you is does God trust you more than you trust you? Because sometimes I think we can be so down on ourselves or doubtful of ourselves that we don't trust ourselves, but we have a God who's willing to give something of value to us. In this case, in this story, it was the master's wealth. That's wild, that God would give something of value to any one of us. How can God trust us after all the ways in which we've failed? And yet, friends, this is the beautiful gospel that, even in our failure, god gives us through His unique ability, death and resurrection, the gift of grace and forgiveness. And one of the byproducts of receiving that grace and that forgiveness is now he entrusts to us the here and now of God's kingdom. It's crazy, but it's what God's always done. He's always trusted His people to represent Him to the rest of this world. And, at the end of the day, what God wants is to be our God and we to be His people. So you see this all throughout the Bible. It's why, in the Old Testament, god chose the nation of Israel to represent Him to the rest of this world. I think it's one of the most common misunderstandings of the Bible to think that God is pro-Israel and anti-everyone else. He's not that. No, he chose Israel not at the expense of, but for the sake of, the rest of this world. He rescued them that then they would be this representation to the rest of the world so that they can see that God also loves them and invites them in and they get to be a part of it too. God wants them to be His people as well. And when the Israelites failed time and time and time and time again, god did what God does. He made things right. And one time, things had gotten so bad that he chose to send His one and only Son into this world to right the wrongs forever. And that's what Jesus did. When he died on the cross and rose from the dead, he perfectly fulfilled the law that you and I were not able. He showed us what it's like to have God be God and we be His people, as he lived in perfect relationship. And again, when Jesus rose from the dead, he defeated sin, death and the devil Not a bad day at the office, by the way, and that was His unique ability. But then, after he rose from the dead, what did he do? He poured into the disciples even more, in Acts, chapter one. Then Jesus would actually ascend into heaven. And when he ascends into heaven, what does he do with the disciples? He entrusts to them the kingdom of God, here and now, that now you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth and this group of ragtag guys, 12 followers would take Jesus to the world as they embarked on the life of service and generosity and the marks of a disciple, and so much so that that extension. We're feeling that as part of the church today, and the goal is always the same that the church, now we are now the physical embodiment of Jesus. It's not God is pro the church and anti Everybody else. Know it's. God is pro everybody, but he's using you and I, the church disciples in the church, to go out there and bring people to the good news of Jesus. He entrusts the kingdom of God here and now to us and you might think God's I know I do, god, it's kind of crazy that you would entrust something of value like that to me. How can you trust me after I've failed you so much Sometimes? Think God, you can do better. I think sometimes I get more in the way than help point people to the way. And yet he still entrusts His kingdom to us. But he doesn't just entrust the kingdom to us and leave us empty handed, because God also brings and gives something to you, and here's we see it in the next, this next observation in the next verse. The second thing God not only trusts you, but God invests in you. God invests in you. Check it out. The next verse. That says to one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags and to another one bag. Each according to His what Ability. Then he went on His journey. So I'm entrusting you with the kingdom, I'm entrusting you with the gospel message, but I'm also filling you with the Holy Spirit so you don't go alone. I trust you so much that I'm putting my spirit inside of you. In this parable, the master gives them money. He gives money to each one of them for no reason. But in our Western culture sometimes we'll lose sight of the fact that God gave them a ridiculous blessing to begin with, money that they did not earn or deserve, and sometimes in our Western culture we'll focus more on how unfair it is that one person got one, one got two and one got five. That's not fair. They should have each been given the same amount. So let me talk about that for a minute Before we go too far. This parable also is known as the parable of the talents, because a talent was a measurement of money back in that day, and I looked up what a talent is and how much it was worth on this new thing called Google and found something pretty fascinating that a single talent in our case bag of gold, a single talent is worth 6,000 days of wages. Yeah, that sounds cool, which is like 25 years of work, which in our day, in the median salary in our nation, that means a talent represents about $1.5 million. Let's round it down to a million. And how many of you say you know what? I'll take a bag of gold, I'll take a talent I could use a million. It's a ridiculous amount of money that God is giving to each person in this story. And so let's bring this story to life a little bit and you'll meet these characters a little more on day 31, if you're reading through the books. I like to call the three guys I like to call them one bag Willie, two bags Timmy and five bags Philly. And you know what? I bet one bag Willie was pretty excited about just getting a gift of a million dollars, just for no reason. I bet he was pretty pumped until he ran into two bags, timmy and Willie's like what do you mean? You call yourself two bags? Timmy it's bag singular and Timmy's like no man. It's bags. I got plural double two and I bet, two bags. Timmy felt pretty good about his life and his little vacation to the Lake of the Ozarks until he saw five bags. Philly parting up on the Instagram we just went on a Mediterranean cruise with his family, got the perfect little collage and the music behind it to back it up. Wait, how do you get five bags? I only got two bags. When, again, we lose sight of the fact that everybody got a million, everybody got a million in this. And if we're looking to our own lives, for sure, spiritually, and I bet for a lot of us, even materially and physically, we have been ridiculously blessed by God. We have been ridiculously blessed by God. But yet when we look to the left and the right and we start comparing what God has given to us with what God's given to others, that's when we can lose sight of how much God has given to us, and comparison is the enemy of joy and so. But really, this isn't a story about fairness. It's about what do we do with what God gives us, whether it's a bag or five bags or more or less. What do we do with God's investment? The first two servants do the same thing. Let's check that out in verse 16. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained how many more? Five bags more. So also the one with two bags of gold gained two more. We're gonna skip verse 18. That's gonna tell us what the third servant does. We're gonna come back to that in a moment, at verse 19,. After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who received five bags of gold brought the other five, master. He said you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more. His master replied well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things. Now I'll put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness. The man with two bags of gold also came, master. He said you entrusted me with two bags of gold. See, I've gained two more. His master replied well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things. I'll put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness. The first two servants doubled their investment. They put it to work. They experienced some gain, and that pleased their master. He was happy, he was joyful when they put his investment to work. And that's option number one for you is you can double. You can double what God's given to you. You can double it. I wanna ask you a question, and you gotta pick one or the other, both campuses. If I were to, here's the options I can give you a million dollars today. You get one talent, one bag of gold. Or I can give you a penny today and it will double every day for a month. Which one would you take? How many of you would say I will take the million today. I want the million dollars right now. Give me that bag of gold, a few, not many. How many of you say I can see this is a trick illustration and I'm gonna take the penny and I'm gonna let that compound double every day. Yeah, and like, honestly, half of you didn't choose either one. Like you're like start giving more money away than if you're in that good of a place. And it's true, the penny it may not look like much on day one and some of us even when we see a penny on the ground, we walk right by it. But if you take that penny and you times two times two times two, if you double it. I got a chart here It'll show you exactly what happens. By day 10, you still don't have much. Five dollars and 12 cents, like if you borrow and lend some money to pay the tax, you can get one Mexican pizza at Taco Bell to get that splog nidzo mai we were talking about last week, if you remember that. And on day 20, it's good, but it's still not even close. It's five grand, but this is where things start escalating and compounding that by day 30, you're gonna get to over $5.3 million. And let's pray to God. This was a 31 day month Because it's 10.7 million on that particular day and I wanted to bring that up to tell you not to despise small starts but be faithful with what you have and what God gives you. Because, again, let's not lose sight in this story. The good news is that everybody gets a bag. You get a bag, you get a bag, you get a bag. All y'all north of Somalia, y'all all get back. Everybody gets better than Oprah, by the way. Everybody's getting a bag. I did try to talk leadership into this legitimately today and they said no, we can't give out millions upon millions of dollars to everybody. But these first two servants. What did they do? They put it to work. The text says at once they didn't wait, they put it to work and when the master returned, they doubled. That's option number one double. Let's read about the third servant. We're gonna get option number two, verse 18. We skipped over it. So now let's enter back. But the man who'd received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money Verse 24,. Then the man who received one bag of gold came. Master, he said I knew that you're a hard man, harvesting where you've not sown and gathering where you've not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. His master replied you wicked, lazy servant. So you knew that I harvest where I've not sown and gather where I've not scattered seed. Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the banker so that when I returned I would at least have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has 10 bags, for whoever has will be given more and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have. Even what they have will be taken from them and throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness where they'll be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whoa. A much different response. Second option is down. What will you do with God's investment, what he puts inside of you? You can put it down, you can bury it, you can hide it, you can keep it inside. In this story, two guys doubled. One put it down. Double or down, what's it gonna be for you? Because the truth, again in this story, is that all three were given an extraordinary gift that they did not deserve or earn. And what matters in life is not how much you start with, but what you do with what you start with. And so, again, making it personal for each of us, every single one of us, by the grace of God alone, has been given much. We've been entrusted with much to carry the gospel and to bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, right here, right now. And God doesn't just give us that message but, just like then, he fills us with the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit inside of us means so much. It means that we walk with Him, that God goes with us, which means that we have power and we are able to do things that nobody else in this world can do. It also means, because he's a comforter, that we can have courage and go places that nobody else is willing to go. And the other thing you read it time and time and time and time again in the New Testament is there's so many times where it talks about how the Holy Spirit has not only dwells inside of you, but he gives to every believer what's called a spiritual gift. And the truth about spiritual gifts is not a single one of us has every gift, but every single one of us has a gift, and God has invested in you and he's put that inside of you so that you would move mightily in this world. And so we are not a people that put it down or bury it or hide it or keep it to ourselves. In fact, the very definition of spiritual gifts is that it's not meant for you, it's meant for the body of Christ, so that we would be our fullest and greatest and truest and biggest expression of Jesus. The reality is, king of Kings cannot be who God fully intended us to be unless every single part does its work, and that includes you, and that's why the last couple of weeks we've been talking a lot about this serving challenge, that one out of 720, there's more than 720 hours in one, 720 hours a month and can you give at least one to serve with our mission here at King of Kings? Because that's what you do with spiritual gifts you put them to work at once. So if you have not yet filled that out, fill that out and drop those cards off at either campus, because God desires that all of us would do something with what he puts inside of us. A few weeks ago, pastor Greg preached on what's your life verse and I did the QR code and I submitted mine after the fact and I told him and others that my life verse is Luke 12, verse 48. Small part of that verse where Jesus says to whom much is given, much is expected, and sometimes that verse others. When they see it it can seem like law, but I don't see it that way because I look at that first part as to whom much is given and I realize God has given me much and, by the way, if he's only given me grace and nothing else, that's much and so much is expected. But I don't see that as like some responsibility or burden I have to carry. No, I see that as cool. That means my life is important, my life has meaning, my life has value, my life has purpose. To whom much is given, much is expected, and I didn't actually recognize it in this verse, because every number look at what it does. One to the two, two to the four, four to the eight. Double that's all God wants me to do with whatever he's given to me. I don't need to take it from the eight to the thousand. I got to take it from the eight to the sixteen in my life. I don't know exactly what that means and that number and doubling like. I can't tell you exactly what that means for you because, again, we all have different and unique gifts, but what we are called to do is put them to work at once and maybe, just maybe, we'll see double. And so two calls to action for most of you today. The first is this Discover your gift. Stop waiting for the perfect time and discover your gift. Find out how you are uniquely gifted and if you've never done this, there's a QR code that will take you to a spiritual gift assessment. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes. It's more than 100 questions, but at the end of it you'll see some gifts that you have that again are meant to be put to work at once for the sake of the body of Christ. I heard one pastor preach and he said 9% of people today that are sitting in our churches know that they're gifted. Another one I heard said 20%. Either way, it's a small number of people that actually know how they're gifted. And again, if we're one team and collectively, we want to be the greatest that we can possibly be together, which I think we all want to do, because we want to represent God and we want to take all these given to us and we're valuable and we're purposeful and there's meaning in all of this. We want that, and so discover your gift, find out how God is uniquely gifted. You take the time to do that and then, secondly again going to look different for you than me double your gift, double it. Don't put it down. Put it to work at once. Let's not wait any longer. And again, it's going to look different for you than me, and that's okay, but your single, solitary goal in life is to double whatever God's given to you. I mentioned failing in my hike and I had this revelation coming down the mountain, on the middle of the mountain. You know I can focus a lot on and I have in this message already on the what of your ability discover it and put it to use. All that's important, not negating what I just said, but I think we live in a world that likes to focus on the what we love, recognizing talent and ability, and we'll pay lots of money to watch peak athletes or performers or actors and actresses or singers. We'll pay lots of money to recognize talent, the what is important. But as I was coming down the mountain, god gave me this reminder of not just what is your ability, but who are you able to serve and that who is as important and many times more important than what. So my mountain middle experience I remember coming down the mountain and this was one of those weird hikes where, coming down the mountain, I still had three miles to go and coming down the mountain, I still had to go up a thousand footer, because it's one of those that's like a double thing and it's just stupid. The whole thing was stupid. Don't do that one again, david, let's pick a different mountain next time. But anyway, brady and I are coming down the mountain together and we're going back and forth with these three couples from Texas. We were exhausted, but we were also both really competitive and it always feels good when Nebraska beats Texas. So we're like let's just try to stay ahead of them and we're back and forth. So I had this image. Brady got this renewed energy going up that thousand foot. I'm like I wish I had that, but I don't. He got this renewed energy and so he's kind of climbing and scaling up this thousand foot. Nathan, my oldest, he made it to the top without us. He made it without his dad. So I got this image of both of my boys just ascending the mountain in their own ways, with their own ability, without their dad. I don't know what it was, but Brady was far enough ahead and those three couples from Texas were far enough behind that. I just started sobbing on the mountain, physically exhausted. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it physically. But it's like I preached a couple of weeks ago when you're at the edge end of your rope, you can still reach for the end of his robe. I felt like I was at the end of my rope the last couple of months prior to that had been challenging. There's a lot of things going on, even the 10 days prior. We were in Phoenix in the middle of July and I was speaking for a pastor that was trying to help for two weeks as he was on sabbatical. So we stayed down there for 10 days and I just tell you a little bit about this particular vacation, because it's kind of just the summary of how I felt like the last couple of months went. We went down to Phoenix, a place that my wife and I normally love, and our family went down there and it was record-breaking heat for 20 straight days. So we got into like the 118s it went to 120 one time and in the midst of being down there it was miserable. You couldn't go outside at all or it was just awful. In the midst of that, the car they loaned us, the air conditioning went out and so, as they're bringing a loaner to our house, the power in the house goes out and I'm like this is just kind of a microcosm of the last couple of months. Some stuff we're trying on the business side, on red letter, that I felt like would be a win, that I thought would be really simple, was really challenging Some relationships that I had that with good intentions, for whatever reason they weren't in the right place and I couldn't figure out why. And so I'm mentally, relationally and kind of physically exhausted and I had no ability and I felt like in that moment God's power and grace just poured over me and he reminded me, at a time when I think I really needed to be reminded, that it's okay to put to work at once your ability and to do the what, because I've given you that but don't ever lose the Do the what at the expense of the who. Because I had this image of my two boys and my oldest is 16, he turned that last week crazy and my youngest is up a mountain and he's seventh grade and I'm like I've probably got three to six years left before they're done with high school. And so if I need to kind of calm down on my own personal what and let the success of my own personal career go so that I'm able to invest more in my family, my boys and my wife, that that's a good trade to make right now. So I'm not saying like pause the what, but like maybe calm down on the what, zach, and so if it means that over the next seven years, one or two less books come out. No big deal If you produce two podcast seasons instead of three this year. Like genuinely nobody cares I mean they do, but they don't. You know what I mean. Like it's okay to stop all the stuff. The what for you? Because one of my goals in life maybe to take it from eight to 16, but what if I help my boys take it from 16 to 32? How can I pour into them? How can I serve them? How can I serve my wife that I'm gonna be with the rest of my life? So let's serve my wife. How can I do these things so that I can help them? And at the end of the day, that's what we preached a couple of weeks ago when we started. These are true measures of greatness. Are not you elevating yourself, but elevating others to their greatness? And man, I've only got so many years in this world, but I've got even less time in these formative years. And again, your story's different than mine. Maybe you're not in the same boat that I'm in, but I needed to hear this as a guy that just turned 40 and felt like you know, it's been long enough, like gotta keep priming the pump, just felt God's grace wash over me, and when I was at the end and I literally didn't know if I had the ability to make it up the mountain, not only did I make it up, but God met me and gave me this important reminder. And so I don't know what that means for you, but who's in your life? Who are you close in proximity with? Who are you able to serve? Are you focusing too much on the what at the expense of the who? Because the last thing that I would want is to go and preach somewhere else and walk off the stage and have them applaud, and yet my own family or those close to me think that I'm a fraud. It's not what I want. I wanna serve my family, I wanna help them, and if it means I'm less successful or you think I'm less successful, cool, because that's what God's given to me. I'm, at the end of the day, you'll have to figure out what is your ability and who are you able to serve, and I'm grateful that we worship a God that allows us and entrusts something of great value, and in his kingdom he'd say I'd rather you go out and put to work your investment and take a misstep than not to take a step at all. Because when we take a misstep which we will we'll sometimes put the what before the who, or we'll do things in the right intentions, maybe, but we'll get off track. So there's grace for all of that, because at the end of the day, it's not about anything. But how do you see the king? How do you see the master? How do you see God, the reason? The third servant buried it. He says I knew that you're a hard man. I was afraid. And if you see God as this distant kind of angry judge, then you're gonna do things like that. But he's not that. He's a God that loves you, he's a God that's kind, he's a God that's generous, he's a God that entrusts and believes in you. And so will you receive what God wants you to have, this gift of grace, and will you be moved by the power of the Holy Spirit and put to work at once whatever God's given to you. And may you one day hear the words from Jesus himself well done, good and faithful servant. Let's stand, god. We thank you that you've given us much. Your gift of grace we could not have ever earned or deserved. And to go on top of that and fill our lives with meaning and purpose, as the Spirit dwells and works in and among us. What an opportunity we have to live for you, and so may we. May we put to work at once what you've given to us, but not for our glory, for yours. We pray this in your name, in both campuses, said amen.