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Mark 11:22-25 NLT – Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.
In this short lesson from Jesus, He gives us four things that determine our ability to receive miracles from God:
We’ve talked about all four of these in detail already (find them here). We also talked about another foundational subject, your God-given authority. It’s very important for us to understand that God has given us all authority here on earth and all authority over the devil.
Yet, most Christians willingly give their authority to Satan. That’s what Adam and Eve did when they ate of the forbidden tree and that’s what we do when we habitually live in sin.
Honestly, the American church is pretty pitiful right now because we’ve bought into the idea that in order to love people, we have to tolerate sin. And in many cases, we are celebrating sin so people feel accepted.
The problem is, if we don’t resist sin, we hand our authority and power over to Satan to do what he wants to in this world when we should be the ones using our authority to bring forth the kingdom of God into our world.
Love others AND stand for truth.
I don’t have time to get into it, but it is absolutely possible to love people and stand for the truth at the same time. We don’t have to tolerate sin. We can confront it and love people at the same time.
Actually, I’d argue that you really don’t love someone unless you are willing to confront sin in their life. Because sin always leads to bondage. If you don’t speak up and help your friend see the truth, it’s like leaving them in prison when you have the keys.
This all comes back to our own fear of rejection. We know if we confront sin, they may not like us anymore. And we’d rather them like us than have a hard conversation to help them step into freedom.
That is not the topic for today, but somebody needed to hear it. If you struggle with everything I just said, I want you to go find the series on our website called “Truth or Dare”. It will help you out.
The Origin of Multiplication
Everything we’ve talked about the past two months has set us up to receive miracles from God. He has always been ready to perform miracles, but we tend to get in the way through doubt and unbelief.
Now that we are ready to cooperate with what God has always wanted to do in our lives, let’s talk about the miracle of multiplication.
Multiplication was set in motion the moment the earth was created. Consider an apple. In it, you’ll find several seeds. It just takes one of these seeds to grow an entire apple tree that will produce countless apples that each contain multiple seeds.
Talk about divine multiplication. We can’t even comprehend how many apples can be produced from one apple seed. And get this:
Our first command from God was to multiply.
Take a look:
Genesis 1:28 NKJV – Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…”
The first thing God asked us to do was multiply. And wrapped up in the same command was to subdue the earth, or take the authority God has given us over the earth and multiply it for good.
Now you can see how my previous message about your God-given authority ties into seeing the miracle of multiplication in your life. If you don’t understand your authority, you’ll struggle to multiply.
If you still struggle with the authority thing, go back and listen to that message over and over until you get it. It’s one of those subjects that you have to hear more than once to fully understand it.
So, divine multiplication has been around since the beginning of time. It’s so important to God that He didn’t just ask us to multiply, He commanded us to multiply.
Jesus demonstrated multiplication.
Of course, Jesus gave us an example of this many times. One time, Jesus was just trying to get some time by himself. He had just gotten the news that John the Baptist had been killed and Jesus just needed some time.
But, someone spotted Him and then the word got out that Jesus was in town. So a bunch of people gathered to receive healing from Jesus. When I say a bunch… I mean like tens of thousands of people. Here’s what happened:
Matthew 14:15-21 NLT – That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
It’s believed that when you add women and children to the count, this crowd was probably more like 15,000 or more. That’s a lot of people to feed! And all it took was five loaves and two fish combined with divine multiplication.
The early church demonstrated multiplication.
Or how about in the early church? There were 120 believers in an upper room waiting on the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. They all received the Holy Spirit, spoke in other tongues, and then Peter gave a powerful message to people who were struggling to believe what had just happened.
After his message, look at what happened:
Acts 2:41 NLT – Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
In one Sunday, this church went from 120 people to 3,000. In one Sunday! That’s what you call divine multiplication!
Y’all, this is just three places in scripture where you discover the reality of divine multiplication. And we could keep going. But what I am trying to get you to understand is that multiplication is a big deal to God.
God has not just asked us to multiply – He commanded us to multiply!
Yet somehow we’ve gotten off on this idea that multiplication is a bad thing. You’ll hear people say things like:
- “God just wants our church to be small.”
- “God just wants me to be poor to keep me humble.”
- “I can’t handle more than one kid.”
Well… I’m going to call it. BS! God commanded us to multiply. Therefore, any idea that is contrary to multiplication is deception. If you believe multiplication is a bad thing, you’ve been deceived.
So, cast off the deception and buckle up because I am about to fill you with truth.
Faithful = Multiplication
Since God has given us authority over the earth, that means we are stewards of the earth. In other words, God put us in charge of what He owns and we are responsible for taking care of it.
Since we are stewards, we need to find out what is required of a steward:
I Corinthians 4:2 NKJV – Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
There is only one requirement for stewards mentioned in this verse. You have to be faithful. And it is not a suggestion – it is a requirement.
How would you define faithfulness? Loyal? Committed? Dependable? Trustworthy?
All these things you’ve mentioned are great qualities to have. And they even line up with what the dictionary says about faithfulness. But there is one very important definition that we missed: multiplication.
You are faithful when you multiply.
Some of you might be really concerned for me about now. You’re wondering how in the world can I define faithfulness as multiplication. And that’s a fair argument. But hang with me, because the Word of God will reveal it to you too.
To explain, let’s head to the parable of the talents.
Matthew 25:14 NLT – The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.
This story is a parable, which means it is a made up story to help us understand something. And if you’re like me, you struggle with anything that is not literal. So, us literal people have to think a little deeper to understand the symbolism.
Let me help you out. In this story, the man going on a long trip represents Jesus and the servants represent all of us.
Notice it’s a long trip. If you were wondering what is taking Jesus so long to return, now you know. He gave us a heads up. In the meantime, while He is gone, He has fully entrusted us with His possessions.
Another thing to notice is that this man who went on a long trip didn’t occasionally come back to check up on the servants to make sure they were doing what they were supposed to do. No, he told them what to do and entrusted them to do it for a looooong time while he was gone.
We have a hard time understanding this because most managers and supervisors are micromanagers. They give us an assignment and then check up on us a thousand times to make sure we are doing it right.
God doesn’t do this. He gives you an assignment and then fully entrusts you to do it. If you are a manager or supervisor, take some tips from God here. You’d have a much healthier team if you didn’t micromanage.
Let’s continue the story:
Matthew 25:15 NLT – He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
Most Bible translations use the word talent instead of silver in this verse. The reason the NLT uses silver is because a talent is a measure of weight and is mostly used for gold and silver. One talent is roughly 75 pounds.
Most experts agree that one talent of silver is worth about $18,000. So, the first servant was given about $90,000, the second $36,000 and the third $18,000.
The exact amount is really not what is important here. What we need to get is that these servants were entrusted with a significant amount of responsibility. I mean, 75 pounds of silver is no chump change!
Now, I have to take a moment and help out all my literal friends. Since we are talking about money, you might get stuck into thinking this parable is about money. But remember, this isn’t literal. This is a parable.
Most likely, the money here represents the gifts God gives us to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
And notice that not everyone is given the same amount of gifts. We all know people that seem to be more gifted than us. There are even people who share the same gift as us, but the magnitude of the gift is much greater.
For example, there are a lot of great singers out there that inspire those who hear them. But then there are those who seem to rise above them all, like Michael Buble or Kelly Clarkson or Natalie Grant.
So, the silver in this story represents the gifts God gives us and we all have a different amount. Let’s continue:
Matthew 25:16-18 NLT – The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
Let’s make this story more real. I am going to give all three servants a name:
- Moe: Started with 5 and ended with 10.
- Larry: Started with 2 and ended with 4.
- Curly: Started with 1 and ended with 1.
Now, after his long trip, the master returned and had them give an account of how the money had been used. Let’s start with Moe’s response:
Matthew 25:20 NLT – [Moe], to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, “Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.”
Now listen to the judgement of the master:
Matthew 25:21 NLT – The master was full of praise. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
Don’t miss this! He said, “You have been faithful.” In other words, Jesus directly attributes faithfulness to multiplication.
There was nothing else this servant had done that was highlighted. It didn’t say he was dependable, or consistent, or loyal, or anything else. Yes, those are all good qualities, but the only thing tied to faithfulness here is multiplication.
The same is true for Larry:
Matthew 25:22-23 NLT – [Larry] came forward and said, “Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.” The master said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
Once again, the servant multiplied what was entrusted to him and it clearly connected to being faithful.
And notice the master’s response was exactly the same. This means that when we get to heaven, God will pay no attention to the number of gifts. The only thing that matters is, did you multiply what He gave you?
So quit comparing yourself with someone who has more gifts, or “higher caliber” gifts than you have. The amount of gifts is irrelevant. The only score that matters is, did YOU multiply what God gave You?
An example would be a stay-at-home mom who multiplied her effectiveness by pouring into her kids day in and day out. She will be equally as praised as the entrepreneur who multiplied his business and his giving to the kingdom.
Now, let’s see what happened to Curly… the guy who hid his money:
Matthew 25:24-25 NLT – Then [Curly] said, “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.”
Before we read about Curly’s judgement, let’s examine what is going on here. First of all, Curly didn’t multiply – he maintained what was given to him. Don’t miss this. He didn’t multiply. He maintained.
Also, he didn’t understand the character of his master, so he incorrectly perceived him as harsh and unfair. Therefore, he was afraid. Fear shut him down and kept him from multiplying.
This happens to so many Christians. They don’t understand God’s character because of wrong teaching or not spending enough time in the Word of God. And so they think God is harsh and unfair and this fear causes them to go in their little hidey hole and live a pitiful life.
But God is love. He is just. He is righteous. And He loves you too much to leave you in your little hidey hole. That’s why he gives Curly a very stern rebuke:
Matthew 25:26-27 NLT – But the master replied, “You wicked and lazy servant!”
Oh man. Can you imagine someone saying that to you? What if I said that to you? You’d leave the church and go tell everyone on social media that I wasn’t a real Christian because I said something that hurt your feelings.
Nevertheless, this is going to be the response we get from Jesus if we fail to multiply what was given to us.
I can see how the word ‘wicked’ in this verse could throw you off, making you think this kind of servant would lose their salvation. So let’s dig into the greek word translated to wicked here for a better understanding.
Ponēros (wicked) – Full of labours, annoyances, hardships; of a bad nature or condition
Wow. Digging into these words brings such a greater understanding, doesn’t it? This servant lived a terrible life because he chose not to multiply.
He probably worked an annoying, dead-end job. He probably didn’t make enough money to care for his own family, so they lived under the stress of credit card debt. Something was always breaking down and going wrong.
And because his life sucked, he developed a bad nature. No one wanted to be around him because he was no fun to be around. In other words, he was called to make a difference in the lives of others, but all he did was run people off.
Now you see why the master called him wicked and lazy? He didn’t do what he was asked to do! God had an abundant life planned for him that would impact countless other lives, but because he refused to embrace multiplication, he lived a miserable life.
Let me summarize this for you:
Those who multiply are good and faithful. Those who maintain are full of hardships that cause a bad nature.
Ouch. That hurts. I think we could just stop here and all go lick our wounds. But we’re not going to do that. We are going to repent of all the times we’ve chosen to maintain instead of multiply.
Because whatever God puts in our care – whether it’s finances, or gifts, or kids, or a business – we are to return it to him multiplied. And here’s the good news – you don’t have to do it by yourself. God unloads His grace to help you.
You might feel discouraged right now, but that is not the purpose of this message. I simply want to make you aware that the call to multiply is on your life.
This can be overwhelming. And even the Apostle Paul was overwhelmed with the call of God on his life in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. But look at the Lord’s response when Paul was crying out for help:
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT – “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
One of the Greek words for weakness is limitations. Just like you and I, the Apostle Paul had limitations. But limitations are actually a beautiful thing because when we reach our limit, God’s power can work through us to make up the difference.
That’s why Paul went from whining about his limitations to rejoicing about his limitations. He realized that God’s grace is more than enough to handle every area where he was lacking.
Isn’t that good news? You don’t have to have it all together. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to know how to do everything. But you do have to learn how to rely on God’s grace. This is called living by faith.
Romans 5:2 NKJV – …we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…
The only way to multiply is by faith.
You can’t do this by yourself. You can’t do this without confidence in God’s Word. You can’t do this without faith.
You must trust God to give you His grace every time you need it. You must trust in the promises of God even when it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. You must really believe our core scripture:
Ephesians 3:20 NLT – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
It would be overwhelming and discouraging to try to multiply on our own. Thank God we don’t have to! Here’s the good news:
Your calling is greater than your natural ability.
And since God has called you to do something that goes beyond what you can do on your own, He will fully equip you, by His grace, to accomplish what He has called you to do. But you have to stop trying to do it on your own and receive His grace by faith.
Believe it or not, this parable is not over yet. And we haven’t even covered the most shocking part yet! Take a look at what happens next:
Matthew 25:28 NLT – Then he ordered, “Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.”
What?! Take from the person who only had one bag of silver and give it to the person who had ten? That’s just not Christian. The right thing to do would be to take from the person who has more and give it to the person who has less.
Socialism, anyone? We’re about to find out that God is far from a socialist.
Socialism is not God’s idea.
Let’s recap. Moe has ten. Larry has four. Curly has one.
Now, because the master commanded it, Curly has to give his one to Moe. Now Moe has eleven and Curly has none.
That doesn’t seem fair. So let’s play this out as a nice Christian. Most people think this is how God would really handle it.
First, we have to go back to the beginning of the story to correct something. Everyone would start with the same amount. Moe would get three, Larry would get three, and Curly would get three. Ah, now my socialistic ideas are satisfied.
Staying true to the story, the first two would multiply but Curly would still be lazy. So here’s what the outcome would be: Moe would have six, Larry would have six, and Curly would still have three.
Now, we should all feel sorry for Curly for being lazy, so Moe and Larry must each give one to Curly so everyone is equal. Now, everyone has five.
Doesn’t that seem so much better? Isn’t this how Jesus should have told the story?
I wanted to play that out for you so you clearly see that socialism is not God’s idea – it is man’s idea. And because it’s man’s idea, it will never work. We learn the reason why in the very next verse:
Matthew 25:29 NLT – To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
As you can see, socialism goes against the very wisdom of God. It is actually an antichrist spirit that rewards laziness and penalizes faithfulness. No matter how hard culture pushes its socialistic agenda, this principle will always remain:
God rewards those who multiply with more.
And we all know what the more is for. It’s not so that we can have a bigger house or newer car. The more is for others. We are to live in abundance so we can be a blessing to those around us.
Let’s pause here and make sure we are all on the same page on something very important. God has also called us to take care of the poor. In no way am I saying that we should neglect the poor.
We just have to learn to identify the difference between lazy and poor. A socialist approach gives equally to the lazy and the poor. But if we give to the lazy, we just enable their dependence on us.
We don’t want people to be dependent on us. Our goal should always be to lead people towards God and discovering their own gifts so they, too, can multiply.
Now, let’s wrap this up by making it practical. Here’s the one commitment you need to make if today’s message has touched you:
I will multiply the gifts God has given me through faith.
It’s that simple. Make a decision today that you are no longer going to waste time maintaining, but that you are going to press in to the gifts God has given you and rely on His grace to help you multiply.