Parable of the Ten Virgins – Matthew 25:1-13
The prepared will be received into the kingdom to enjoy its bounty, but the unprepared will be excluded.
Parable of the Talents – Matthew 25:14-30
Rewards for faithfulness and judgment for unfaithfulness await those who are anticipating the Messiah’s coming.
A squirrel gathering nuts scurried across the ground on his way to one of the many oak trees grouped together in a small grove. Paved bike paths worked their way through the grove in three different directions. Scattered here and there were concrete picnic benches, all of them empty except one. Emily and Josh sat across from each other with Josh presenting Emily with one of several acorns he gathered from the ground.
“There’s another tree just like the one we’re sitting under, inside this acorn,” Josh said.
“Isn’t that amazing!” was Emily’s sincere response.
“That simple fact is enough for me to believe there is a God. That’s just one of the many miracles we take for granted every day.”
“It’s also an example for us to apply to our own lives. Our commitment to God needs to grow like this oak tree.”
“Agreed. We go from hearing the Word, to reading and digesting the Word, to studying the Word more deeply, to sharing the Word of God with others.”
“And feeling the power of God’s Word. Going to work living the Word. Working together for his purpose.”
Both Emily and Josh were connected in thought and spirit as they expressed their faith to each other. They sat for a moment at peace with their surroundings.
“You know what we haven’t been doing enough of?” Josh asked.
“I can think of a lot of things, but what’s on your mind,” Emily said.
“We need to work together with other churches more!”
Josh’s concern rang true to Emily and she was nodding her head as he continued.
“A group of churches working together could make a big impact on our community,” Josh concluded.
The grin on Emily’s face told Josh she was on the same page. He could see the gears in her head turning. He could feel the Holy Spirit guiding them both in a new direction.
Pastor Mark had been the lead pastor at Faith Bible Church for ten years. His office was tastefully decorated with warm earth tones, leather furniture, and a contemporary desk made from beautifully crafted walnut. Josh and Emily sat on the leather couch across from the desk and Pastor Mark sat on the other side of a glass coffee table in a small leather chair. Josh and Emily had a special relationship with Pastor Mark; throughout their college tenure they had helped him develop several community outreach programs. This was to be their crowning achievement.
“It was really Josh’s idea, but yes, we’re thinking a big public event in the park,” Emily explained to Pastor Mark.
Pastor Mark had learned to trust the instincts of these two college disciples. “I’m all for it!” he said. “I can give you a list of churches that I believe will want to partner with us.”
“We’d like something that appeals to believers and unbelievers alike – something those who attend church and those who don’t attend church will all enjoy,” Josh indicated.
“Absolutely!” Pastor Mark agreed. “Let’s just make sure that each church has an opportunity to present the gospel in some way.”
Emily’s eyes lit up with Pastor Mark’s response. “Wouldn’t it be great if each church came up with some new creative way to present the gospel?” she imagined.
Pastor Mark had no doubt Josh and Emily would turn this event into something special. “You guys are pointed in the right direction,” he said. “Keep me posted!”
Josh and Emily left the meeting with a list of churches to contact in preparation for their upcoming event. As they left Pastor Mark’s office, they knew something amazing was forming but they were not yet aware of exactly what would eventually develop.
Several days later, Emily stepped into Josh’s sparsely furnished and barely decorated apartment and found him watering a small potted plant. Josh was expecting her and immediately got down to business.
“I hope you have some good news for me,” Josh said as Emily walked in the open door.
“I have great news! Emily announced. “We have eight churches joining us for our community event.”
“Did you get the suggestion surveys back from all of them?” Josh asked.
Emily held up a stack of papers and flopped down on the couch. “I did,” she said as Josh flopped down next to her to look over the suggestion surveys Emily gathered from their partner churches. “Everyone seems to think the international food festival and craft fair are the best choices,” Emily explained as Josh flipped through the paperwork.
“Those are my favorites,” Josh conceded. “We need to include lots of activities for the kids,” he continued.
“Right,” Emily said. “And I think we should set up two stages for live music; that way when one group finishes another can start right away because they’ll already be set up on the other stage.”
Josh liked the idea. “That’s smart! He said. “Non-stop entertainment.”
Josh’s tiny potted plant was directly in Emily’s line of sight sitting on the kitchen table. Josh was not known for his gardening skills and Emily was intrigued. “What’s that you’re growing?” she asked.
“Josh smiled with pride. “It’s an oak tree I grew from an acorn.” He said.
“That’s awesome! Where will you plant it?
“I’m going to ask if I can plant it somewhere at the church. I like your analogy that our commitment to God should grow like this mighty oak.”
“It doesn’t look so mighty right now.”
“No, but if we remain faithful to that little guy and give him water and sunshine, we will be rewarded with a vivid demonstration of God’s awesome power.”
“And if we remain faithful to following God’s direction in planning this multi-church event, we will be rewarded with another example of God’s awesome power,” Emily reminded Josh.
“Our God is good!” Josh concluded.
“All the time!” Emily agreed.