We have so much.  We really do.  Cars, for example.  When I was very young, our family had just one car.  Today Stacey and I each have our own.  Remember having just one phone line?  Maybe your house had two phones but one line.  Today everyone has their own!  And it’s our computer, our calendar, our camera, our connection to anyone and everything!  I had two pair of shoes.  One for church and one for everything else.  We have so much!

And chances are you have it better than your parents.  Chances are you children have it better than you.  Compared to our parents we are spoiled.  Or are we blessed?  Which is it?  What’s the difference?  It’s all about attitude.  It’s about appreciation.  It’s about thankfulness.  And this is so very important—being thankful for everything.  Because Thankfulness leads to Faithfulness.

            Jesus just left the temple courts.  And he is sitting on the Mount of Olives with his disciples, teaching them about the kingdom of God.  You see, the kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a journey. He called his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to still another one talent, each according to his own ability. Then he went on his journey

               Three different servants.  Three different amounts of money.  We’re talking about $90,000 given to the first.  $35,000 to the second, about $18,000 to the third.

            Immediately, we are told, the one with five talents put that money to work and he doubles it!  Another $90,000!  The second one does the same, doubles his master’s money—another $35,000!

            The last one who was given one talent, went out like all the others.  The last one graciously received a talent.  The master knew his servant and knew exactly what he could handle, what he could manage. He didn’t give him too much.  He didn’t give him too little.  The master graciously gave him what was right and he went out, dug a hole in the ground, and buried his talent in the sand.

            What good did that do?  What good was the talent buried in the sand?  It was useless.  It was useless sitting there buried in the sand. Talents are not given to be buried.  They are given to be used.

            After a long time, the master comes back and wants to settle up with his servants.  And the first two servants could not wait.  “Look, Master!  The talents you gave me—I made five more!  I made two more!”  So thankful for the privilege!  So honored to serve their master!  So happy to share with the master what their work produced!

            And it’s almost as if the master has not been gracious enough—he praises the two servants.  It was His money!  They were just doing their job!  And yet HE praises them, “Good job! (You know those two servants were smiling) “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.”

            Of course, Jesus is the master teacher!  You know something’s coming!  And it’s something surprising, even shocking!  The servant who received what was right for him, one talent, comes up and says, “Master, I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter seed. 25 Since I was afraid, I went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”  He blames the master!  And his excuse is a lie!  And the master calls him on it.  “You should have put my money in the bank and not into a hole! “Take the talent away from him…throw that worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

            “This is the gospel of the LORD.”  Not a whole lot of good news, right?  But it’s easy to understand.  The man going on the journey?  Jesus.  Who are his servants?  WE are.  WE ARE HIS. WE belong to HIM.  And what has Jesus entrusted to us? HIS Property.  All that we have is thine alone.  A trust O LORD from thee. 

            Where did this wicked servant fail?  It wasn’t because he buried his talent in the sand.  That was the result of a deeper problem.  His problem was he didn’t appreciate the master and what he master gave him.  He lacked thankfulness for what he master gave him.  And without thankfulness he lacked faithfulness.

            Brothers and sisters--your church leadership is hoping that the members of New Hope will do something we have done for a while here.  We are going to ask you to fill out a commitment card.  To sit down, consider all that God has given to you and write down an amount of money that demonstrates your thankfulness to your LORD and Savior for all that he has given you.  And believe me, I will not be going through those sheets to see how much you are giving. I don’t concern myself with that.  But let me ask you--should I be concerned if you are not giving?  Should I be concerned if someone is not giving anything at all?  Next Sunday we will see a poor widow put in everything!  All she had to live on!  And you can say it was nothing!  But it was everything--all she had!  Her whole life!  You see, how much we give does show how thankful we are.  Offerings are a fruit of faith.  And if offerings are not there, which is something we can see, I have to wonder if faith is there, which is something I can’t see.

            Listen my friends, I haven’t always been thankful, and I haven’t been faithful.  And I haven’t always given to God my best and my wife, my children, my family, my friends haven’t always gotten my best.  So often I save my best for me and they get leftovers--you know what I mean?  And they don’t deserve leftovers.  And neither does God!  And to hear those words, “Throw that worthless servant outside?”  Weeping and gnashing of teeth?  This is gospel?  This is good news?  No, it’s not.

            But this is.  Our LORD doesn’t treat us like worthless servants.  He doesn’t treat us as our thankless hearts deserve.  He doesn’t repay us according to our unfaithfulness.  He doesn’t throw outside into the darkness where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Instead he praises you.  And he praises me.  He says, “Excellent!  Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful!”

            And you want to say, “Wait a minute!  I haven’t been faithful.  I’ve been wasteful!  I know. And so does God.  But you are faithful—full of faith—full of faith in your God who gave his best for you. Full of faith in your God who is faithful in his love and his forgiveness for you even when you are unfaithful to him!  He forgives you for being lazy, wasteful and unthankful.  He forgives you for your pride and thinking you deserve what you have.  He faithfully forgives you time and time again because of that perfect and faithful servant, your Savior and mine, Jesus Christ, who endured the darkness of hell for us, who bled for us and died for us so that one day we could hear those beautiful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Come and share your master’s happiness.”

            Now respond to his faithfulness with thankfulness!  When it comes to your time, when it comes to your talents.  But the emphasis of 10 for 10 is our treasure.  And when it comes to our treasure, don’t say “I won’t have enough” or “I need more for me”.  Be faith-full.  “LORD, you gave me your best in Jesus.  You gave me everything.  I have everything because of him.  I have all that I need.  May what I return to you with my offerings reflect how thankful I am, how truly faith-full I am in all of your promises to me.”

            Spoiled or blessed?  Both, aren’t we?  Because we do not always appreciate the blessings our LORD, sometimes it can be said that we are spoiled.  And yet our lack of appreciation, our lack of thankfulness and faithfulness does NOT stop our LORD from blessing us.  It doesn’t!  That is who he is!  That’s what He does!  And he has given us so much!  We have so much to be thankful for!  Be thankful for all that he has given you.  And be faithful with it.  Amen.

Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net