Called to Serve

This editorial is taken from Daniel Pel’s last presentation of our North Island camp last month as a sample for you, to taste the blessings from the camp.

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This editorial is taken from Daniel Pel’s last presentation of our North Island camp last month as a sample for you, to taste the blessings from the camp. Daniel spoke on the parable of the workers in the vineyard, combined with the parable of the talents.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.”  —Matthew 20:1

This parable begins with the kingdom of heaven being like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the labourers for a penny a day and sent them to their work in his vineyard. In the setting of the day, it was a very common scene. Often labourers, or day workers, would wait at the market place in order to be employed for that day. They did not really have contracts like we have today to secure their employment.

Their method of work was on a day to day basis. If a landowner had work to be accomplished, they would go to the local market place and find a queue of people, waiting for a job for the day.Matthew 20.1.jpg

The typical working day for those times, consisted of twelve hours. In his dialogue with the workers, this landowner said to them, “If you will work for me this day, I will give you a penny.” —verse 2. A day's labour for a penny was a very reasonable wage. Now they start working from the very beginning of the day, probably being around 6.00am and would work until 6.00pm. They knew their reward to be a penny.

While the day progressed, the landowner saw that the workload was larger than the existing hired workers could accomplish in the day, so about the third hour, he went back to the market place to hire more workers. This time though, he didn't mention the  figure of reward, he said, “whatsoever is right I will give you.” — verse 4

A few hours further into the day, the landowner realises that he needed still more workers, so he goes back to the market place at the sixth hour, and again at the ninth.

Now there is a big difference when you pay attention to this parable between the first hour workers and those hired later in the day. The first hour workers agree to work for a penny for the whole day. When he goes out and invites the third and sixth and ninth hour workers, he merely says to them, “I will give you what is right.”

Maranatha P100.jpgThis would be a very strange way of approaching a contract in today's employment market. Just to put it into perspective for our day, if we went for a job interview and the employer is explaining the position and you are working through the negotiation process. You become quite excited about the job and it looks like you may be the right person and the employer thinks you are too, and you are getting to the end of the agreement. And the employer says, “Oh, by the way, regarding wages, “I will give you what is right.”

How would that come across to you? Maybe you would immediately think, is right for him, or is it right for me? A true answer would be as to how well you knew the employer.

But in the parable, the meaning is deeper than a first century scenario. The landlord is the picture of God who has the vineyard and he is inviting us to work in His vineyard.

The gospel is to spread to all nations before the end comes and God is inviting workers into His vineyard, He is inviting you and I to participate in that work.

Called to Serve

Back in Genesis, God called Abraham. He told Abraham that out of him would come a great nation. He told him that through his descendants, He would bless the whole world and that others would receive blessings.

So the first to be invited to work in the vineyard of God, as a nation under God, were the Hebrews. If they would follow the Lord, He would reward them. It was clear what kind of expectation God had upon Abraham's children.

Just so, like in the parable, the first workers knew that at the end of the day, they would receive a penny. Now as time progresses, we can take the parable and stretch it over earth's history. Just like at the beginning, God called the Hebrews and gave them a work to do, then through the succeeding generations, all had a work to do in God's great vineyard.

When Jesus was physically here, He called His twelve disciples to go out, and they surely did go. Just a few years later, Paul went and raised up churches among the Gentiles, and this generated more people who were invited to come into God's vineyard to labour for the spreading of the gospel.

“And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.” —Matthew 20:6,7

At the eleventh hour, the landowner saw the work was going to be too much for the present workers, so he again goes to the market place and finds more workers waiting for work. He says to those waiting, ‘you go also to my vineyard and I will give you what is right.’

Now to focus on our day, we are not living in the first hour, nor the third, nor the sixth or the ninth hour. Figuratively speaking, we are in the eleventh hour. God is calling each one of us to work in His vineyard in this last hour of earth's history and know with confidence we can enter into the agreement He is offering, because He will give what is right.

Ask yourself questions, “How can I be more involved in my local church?  How can I be involved in ministry? While we are admonished to get into God's work, there are facets of ministry where we can work alone, but in many lines of ministry working with others accomplishes more than a lone worker. You will never regret engaging in a work for our God.  Work in a work that will last for eternity. Make friends for eternity.

“So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. When they lined up, and the eleventh hour workers received every man a penny.

Maranatha P103.jpg“But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, ‘These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.’ 

“But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”  —Matthew 20:8-16

Rewards Distributed

So at the end of the working day, the landowner calls the workers to distribute their reward. Some had been there 12 hours, some nine hours, some six, some three and some only one hour. They barely got going and the day was already done.

As the wages were distributed, the parable takes an interesting twist. The landowner began from the last to the first in verse 8. So beginning at the eleventh hour workers, he gave them their penny. With those that had worked for the twelve hours saw this, they would have been enthused that if those working for one hour received a penny, they would have done some maths and worked out their income would be twelve pennies.

But when those full day workers received their wages, they were surprised and a bit deflated when only their one penny was given them. They complained against the landowner, “These last men have worked only one hour and you have made them equal with us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day. The landowner answered, “Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”

There is more going on here than meets the eye. The eleventh hour workers receive the penny and the first hour workers receive a penny, surely that just is not fair.

Well, to think about it in the spiritual sense, the gospel is not fair, in the sense of we do not deserve it. None of us deserve to be saved. It is only by God's grace and mercy that any of us are saved. We are wretched miserable, poor, blind and naked. None of us have any claim to heaven.

If those first hour workers had been occupied with the finished work, they would be rejoicing over the eleventh hour workers that had come, because it was not about comparing, who did more who did less, it was about finishing the work and completing the work of the day.

Far too often churches, ministries and people compete to have the most popular church or ministry, gain the most finances, have the best speakers, the best buildings, who gets the most likes on internet. Friends, we are living in a time when God is calling every one of us. We need to unite in this work. Don't let the devil cause division among us, just for the sake of dividing us. Unite in the work together. Rejoice over any ministry, or any church, or any individual that is reaching souls for the kingdom. If faithful, we will all experience eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord and the call is for us to take an active step to be in that number when the roll is called up yonder. So now, let’s work on a contract basis and expect our wages. We can work gladly and rest in the fact that what our Lord gives us will be right.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. After Jesus returned to heaven, He promised He will come again to receive His people, that where He is, there we may be also (John 14:1-3), but in the meantime, what is happening on this earth?

Now lets look at another parable. In Matthew 25 is recorded the parable of the talents. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.”  —Matthew 25:14,15

Look at some important truths from this important parable. The kingdom of heaven is like a man travelling to a far county. Jesus is telling about His own travels. He calls on His servants, His disciples, and delivers gifts to them. To one he gave five gifts (talents), to another two, and to another one.

He gave to each according to their ability and immediately he went on a journey. This parable fits right into our end times on earth. We need to remember Matthew 24 continues into Matthew 25 and is all end-time prophecies. In Matthew 24, Jesus talked about the signs with earthquakes, pestilences, wars, rumours of wards, love of many would grow cold. He then said to endure to the end while the gospel was spread to the world.

Maranatha P72.jpgSpiritual Gifts

Whenever we read about spiritual gifts being given in the Bible, no one is left out. Everyone receives a talent – an opportunity. In Matthew 25, it varies as to how these gifts are used. As you read through the parable, one receives five and goes and multiplies it to make five more. The one that receives the two, multiplies his two and makes two more. The one that gets one, goes and buries his talent, because he is afraid of His Master.

Upon the return of the Master, he who received the one talent retrieved his talent to present it back to his Master, and said, Lord I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, gathering where you have not gathered seed, and I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground for safe keeping, knowing you would come back for it. Here it is, I give you what is yours.

Now, of course, our heavenly Father is not a hard and harsh father, He is a loving Father and our picture of God is very important when it comes to how we use our talents. Sadly too many have the same understanding and view of God as this man that received the one talent in the parable. They envisage God as exacting and callous. Other see God as those who received five or two talents. They will work with joy, their reward will be a crown of glory.

The same reward is promised to the first, the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh hour workers. All faithful workers will receive the same reward – the reward of eternal life within the environment of a pure heaven and a pure earth.

Step out in faith, enter into the vineyard, and use the talents that God has graciously bestowed upon you. Pour your life into something that matters for life and for eternity. “I was shown the saints' reward, the immortal inheritance, and saw that those who had endured the most for the truth's sake will not think they have had a hard time, but will count heaven cheap enough..” —Testimonies for the Church, vol.1,p.381

Too many believe 'I am just not good enough.' They are perplexed, they are discouraged, they fall into despair and they think, 'I just have this one talent, what does it matter any way? So I'll just bury it,’ and yet the whole time this parable is like screaming to us that it does matter, the one talent does  matter.

It matters to the point when you look at the spiritual gifts that are mentioned in I Corinthians 12. The church of God is likened unto a body with all its various members. We have the hands, the arms, the legs, the tongue and eyes, they are all various members of the one body. They work in unison for the building up of God's church and the proclamation of the gospel.

And then Paul says in I Corinthians 12 that what happens when one member is affected, the whole body is affected. If we have a broken finger, or burnt a hand, it doesn't just affect that part of the body, it affects the whole body, your thinking and mood.

The same way with God's church. It is a body and all need to work together to have a fully functioning church. That is why there is a call in Scripture for the eleventh-hour worker. The talents that we have, all are to be used to the glory of God, whether five, two or one. This is an important call that we have received in Scripture and it is a call for such a time as this.Counsels p487.jpg

“To his servants, Christ commits His goods. Something to be put to use for Him. He gives to every man his work, not some, not most, everyone has work. Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in close cooperation for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God.” —Christ's Object Lessons, p.326

When we dedicate ourselves to use our talents for the work of God, we will quickly find that being an eleventh- hour worker and increasing our talents, is not really a sacrifice, it is a privilege.

Joy, Not  a Sacrifice

David Livingstone, the great pioneer missionary to Africa spoke to students at Cambridge University. As he reflected back on the life of travelling through the continent of Africa, getting malaria multiple times to the point of almost dying. He said the following. “For my own part , I never ceased to rejoice that God had appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my time in Africa. Is it a sacrifice which brings its own blessed rewards in healthful activities? The consciousness of doing good, the peace of mind and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter. Away with the word sacrifice, say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with the foregoing of the common conveniences and the charities of life may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver, but let this all be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory that shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”

We can enter into this work. It is a privilege. It is a joy. Yes, there will be difficulties, it doesn't mean there will not be sleepless nights. It doesn't mean there will not be challenges and heartache, but through it all, in light of eternity, we will see that we are privileged to partake in this enormous work and partake in a work that angels would desire to do.

If we are going to accept the call from the Land-owner and go and work in His vineyard, exercising our talents to the full, we will all receive our penny, friends. And it will be better than a penny, it will be better than owning a mansion with its own gardens and vineyards on this earth. Our reward will be an inheritance of eternal proportions.

Don’t miss out. Make a concerted effort to use all the capabilities you have to further the gospel message in this world. Whether we are a part of it or not, it will go to all the world. “And this gospel of the kingdom, shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”  —Matthew 24:14.  Come now friends, join God’s mighty eleventh hour army and let’s make it through together.

While I did not write or compile this editorial, I want to include my name at this conclusion, not for credit to the article, that belongs to Daniel Pel, but more that we are still here and want to reach to you personally with this newsletter.

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