“He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:12-13
I welcome you to the fifth month of the year, the month of Grace. Grace is God coming into your situation and announcing you a winner before you have even begun the race. Grace is God completing before you have started. It is God declaring you a winner and a conqueror before the battle. It is God being always steps ahead of the enemy. Grace is God is at the end, yet introducing you at the beginning that you have already won!
In March, God taught us that “The greatest is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). It shows how God has been pursuing man from the foundation of the world, to do us good. Then in April, God made us to understand that He has set “…fire in our bones” for us to be His witnesses. This month God is telling us that because of this amazing grace, He has given us amazing opportunity to be “…workers together with Him” to win souls into the kingdom (2 Corinthians 6:1).
Christ will return and this should motivate us to work hard on the end time harvest. In the parable of the ten pounds in our text, Jesus essentially said that we are to remain occupied in working hard for His kingdom until He returns. Last words are lasting words. The last words before the departure of Jesus Christ pointed to the end time with the expectation of a Global Harvest. The words are accompanied with a specific task in mind.
What is the Task?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).
The expectation of the LORD is that God’s glory and Kingdom fills the earth (Habakkuk 2:14) so that there is worship from “every nation, tribe, people, and tongue” (Revelations 7:9). The summary of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 is found in the same commission of the nobleman in Luke 19:13 – “Occupy till I come.” Unfortunately, there are two broad categories of Christians as far as the great commission is concerned just as the servants of the nobleman in our text are in two categories: “The Profitable Servants” and “The Unprofitable Servant.” The difference between the two has to do with our topic – “Occupy till I come,” which we shall examine in three outlines:
1) The Signs of His Coming.
2) The Occupation
3) The Rewards
The Signs of His Coming
Not understanding road signs will always lead to disaster just as ignoring road signs is a potential ticketing offence.
- Signs point us to what lies ahead and prepare us for what must be done. 1 Chronicles 12:32 says, “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”
- It is one thing to know the signs, but it is another thing to understand it and yet another thing to know what to do.
- Are we like the sons of Issachar in understanding the times?
What are some things the Bible says about the End Times?
The Bible provides us with a long list of the signs of the second coming of the LORD Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:3-14.
- The summary of the list is as follows: false Messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, famines, earthquakes, tribulation, the persecution of Christians, the falling away of many, Israel becomes a nation again, and Jerusalem in the hands of Israel.
- Almost all the above have happened. The principal one was the LORD’s response to the vital question in Matthew 24:14, which says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
As we approach the time when the final whistle will soon sound, there shall be fierce competition for souls between light and darkness. This is certainly the reason the LORD has commanded us to “OCCUPY.”
- What then is the Occupation? We shall examine this in the second outline.
When you look at the modern church:
- You see that she is busy, but are we accomplishing what God has given to us?
- Is the church occupying, or just setting on laurels and waiting for the LORD to return?
- Is this what He called us to do? Is this what will hasten His return? Jesus said this to the church: Revelation 3:16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.”
Profitability in God’s Kingdom is measured in souls and not in dollars. Just as there are profitable and unprofitable companies in the corporate world, so are there profitable and unprofitable servants in the Kingdom of God.
- What then is the occupation of the profitable in the Kingdom? What must we be busy doing in obeying the command to “Occupy till I come?” It is important to know because many are busy albeit doing the wrong things.
There are at least six of the major elements of occupying in the Kingdom and we shall attempt to spell O-C-C-U-P-Y as follows: O – Outreaches; C – Church Planting; C – Church Growth; U – Unity of Brethren; P – Prayers; Y – Yadah (Praise). Now, let us discuss them one by one:
O – Outreaches “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men…” (Matthew 4:19).
· We can talk about fishing for men, read about it, discuss it, pray about it, meditate on it; but if we do not cast our lines, we are not fishers of men. If we do not reach out to those in need, we are not fishers.
· It is a calling for the church to reach Beyond the walls of her buildings. Jesus had outreach programs, going beyond the walls of Jerusalem. Outreach is reaching beyond one’s limits. Jesus said “Go ye,” not stay home.
Why do we need outreaches?
- Our outreach efforts must reach out in love to the people in these categories and much more. Matthew 25 34 Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in:36 Naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me.
C– Church Planting
- Throughout history, men and spirits have sought after power.
Church planting switches on the light everywhere; we plant churches to drive darkness away.
- The quickest way to drive darkness away from a city or a nation is to switch on the light of the gospel through church planting.
- You cannot claim to be occupying for Christ without occupying the cities and the nations with church planting.
- Church planting is the true occupation of territories for the LORD, and it is the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth.
- It is the occupation that we must all embrace to be profitable in the Kingdom of God.
C- Church Growth
- McIntosh defines church growth as “all that is involved in bringing men and women who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ into fellowship with Him and into responsible church membership.”
- In other words, church growth is effective evangelism, not a methodology for increasing membership.
The gospels record many occasions when Jesus addressed large crowds.
- The heart of Jesus’ ministry was His investment in the lives of His disciples. We call this process discipleship. It was the pattern that Jesus used, and He expects us to use the same, to carry on the ministry of reconciliation that He began.
The method that Jesus used, of investing His life into people, was continued in the early church.
- It is seen at Antioch with Paul and Barnabas pouring their lives into the believers at Antioch (Acts 11:21-26).
- We have a great number of new Christians, that is a blessing, but the task is far from over.
o If there is to be maximum impact, these new believers must be nurtured, trained up and helped to grow in their faith. This is discipleship! Paul’s theme statement on discipleship comes from his letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
o Here is the principle of great discipleship: spiritual multiplication. Not simply winning a person to Christ. Wining someone is adding to the kingdom.
o The emphasis goes beyond winning one person, to investing your life in that person, who will be qualified to nurture another disciple, who will in turn teach others. This is producing the kind of believers in Christ that make a difference.
- Discipleship is the most exciting and most challenging part of spiritual leadership and it is the true approach to “Church Growth” as different from “Membership Growth”.
o You can grow the Membership without growing the Church if the Members are not heaven bound because Christ is coming for the “Church,” not for the “Members.”
U – Unity of Brethren
- Our occupation as believers includes fostering unity amongst brethren. Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let Brotherly Love Continue.”
- A true worshipper works on having good relationships with his brethren as a way to glorify God.
- The early church did so well in this regard and no wonder the church grew and did many signs and wonders. Acts 4 32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the LORD Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
P – Prayers
· Prayer is a major assignment in our occupation. Jesus clearly said so in Luke 18:1 And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. The Apostle Paul, emphasizing the same, puts it so simply but so powerfully in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” Prayer is standing in God’s Presence like Elijah did (James 5:16-17). It is the railroad upon which God conveys His blessings. It unlocks the gates of heaven and closes the gates of hell. Prayer is the master key. A praying man will stop sinning and a sinning man will stop praying! Mark 1:35-38 teaches us that:
o The devil does not bow to a prayer-less saint.
o It is on the knees that every spiritual abortion of dreams is resisted; it is there all miscarriage of visions are appropriately dealt with.
o The man that will find God is the man who will seek Him. God is not found where He is not sought. He reveals Himself to the longing soul.
- Occupy till I come could be interpreted as “Keep praying till I come.” The early church did a good job of this in Acts 431 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Y – Yadah
- Yadah is a Hebrew verb with a root meaning “to throw”, or “the extended hand, to throw out the hand”; “to worship with extended hand.”
- Eventually it also denotes “songs of praise, to lift up the voice in thanksgiving, to tell forth and confess His greatness.” Google.com
- The praise of God must be always and continuous for every believer. Our occupation demands the praise and the worship of God, for God seeks worshippers. John 4 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.
- Psalms 34:1-3, 67:5-7
It is generally believed that the rewards to be given at the Judgement Seat of Christ will consist of crowns and other glorious things.
- 2 Corinthians 4:17 speaks of the momentary, light affliction which is descriptive of this world of sorrow, pain, tears, and problems. However, the moment that we cross to the other side, this moment of affliction will be over.
What Glories Are Believers To Expect?
Every born-again child of God, living a holy life and walking in the Spirit of God, must expect:
a) To be with Christ on the last day: John 14:3 says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” In this present life, everyone is happy to be in the presence of a great person, but nothing can compare with being in the Presence of the King of Kings!
b) To behold His face: Psalm 17:15 says, “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.” What glory it will be just to be able to gaze on that wonderful face (Revelations 22:4).
c) To behold the glory of Christ: John17:24 says, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory,…” We shall not only behold His face but also His glory. The disciples saw a glimpse of this glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. We shall see it in full when we get to heaven!
d) To be glorified with Christ: Romans 8:17-18 says, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together…not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” We are not just to behold His glory; we are to be glorified too! We do not know what this means but it is surely going to be marvelously wonderful!
e) To reign with Christ: 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him…” We shall reign with the King of Kings! In the parables of the talents told in Matthew 25:20-23, the faithful ones were made rulers over many things. That is a challenge to us today.
f) To inherit all things: Revelation 21:7 says, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” Not some things but all things!
g) To shine as the stars: Daniel 12:3 says, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” I believe we should increase the rate at which we are winning souls for Christ.
What Crowns May Believers Win?
There are seven crowns for the overcomer. Crown means victory, reward, and honor. Those Christians who are faithful to the end will be given these crowns:
1. Incorruptible Crown: 1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” Also, 1 Corinthians 15: 54-57 says, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, and then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
2. Crown of Rejoicing: 1 Thessalonians 2:19 says, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our LORD Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”
3. Crown of Righteousness: 2 Timothy 4:8 says, “Hereafter there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love His appearing.”
4. Crown of Life: James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the LORD has promised to them that love Him.” Also, Revelation 2:10 says, “Fear none of those things which you shall suffer; behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days; be you faithful to death, and I will give a crown of life.”
5. Crown of Glory: 1 Peter 5:1-4 says, “The elders who are among you, I exhort, who am also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away.” Also, Isaiah 28:5 says, “In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, to the residue of His people.”
o Jesus was crowned by the world system with a crown of thorns. Matthew 27:29 says, “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!”
o Then He was exalted and crowned by the heavenly Father with glory and honor.
6. Crown of Honor: Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
7. Golden Crown: Revelation 14:14 says, “And I looked and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like to the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Your sickle, and reap: for the time is come for You to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
CONCLUSION:The entire essence of our being on earth is to occupy for Christ. When the Master comes, He shall require the accounts of stewardship. Some will be unprofitable and some profitable. What you do now or leave undone will determine which category you belong. Let us arise and occupy for the LORD before He comes. Great rewards await the faithful servants, while rejection awaits the unfaithful servants.
- 1 Peter 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” Thank You, LORD, for grace…amazing grace. Make Your grace sufficient for me, in Jesus’ Name.
- Thank You for making me an ambassador, laboring and working together; a bearer of Good News; an eyewitness; a bearer of glad tidings; a testifier; an evangelist; an attestor and a corroborator through Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” LORD, help me to be a faithful, dedicated, committed and obedient laborer in Your vineyard.
- I command the spirits of unfaithfulness’s, quarrels, immoralities, infirmities, disagreements, misunderstandings, and intolerances to lose their grips upon the church, in the Name of Jesus.
- Isaiah 44:26, “That confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof.” Father, renew Your grace upon our leaders as You continue to confirm every word of their mouth, in Jesus’ Name.
- Psalm 103:4, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy Name…Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies.” LORD, I pray for Your crown of grace, kindness, and tender mercies to help all of us “stay-the-course.”
- Acts 6:7, “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Father, let there be a continuous increase of Your Word, fresh from all our altars, leading to the supernatural growth of the church, in Jesus’ Name.
- 1 Samuel 10:9, “And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.” Father, I receive a heart for God and His kingdom.
- Father LORD, fill me afresh with Your fire, in the Name of Jesus.
- I refuse to give up at the edge of my breakthrough, in the Name of Jesus.
- LORD, I receive the mantle of power to be an effective witness, to do exploits, to manifest Christ, to prevent weariness/tiredness. Father, prepare us as battle axes and empower us to finish strong and well.
- Ezra 1:1-2 (TLB), “During the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, the LORD fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy by giving King Cyrus the desire to send this proclamation throughout his empire (he also put it into the permanent records of the realm):2 “Cyrus, king of Persia, hereby announces that Jehovah, the God of heaven Who gave me my vast empire, has now given me the responsibility of building Him a Temple in Jerusalem, in the land of Judah.” Father, fulfill Your prophecies spoken over my life. Please give every Cyrus in my life the responsibility of ensuring the establishment and longevity of conditions that favor me in thriving as a temple of the Holy Spirit. This is to see to the furthering and expansion of Your Kingdom till I see You in glory, in Jesus’ Name.
- Ezra 2:68-69, “Some of the leaders were able to give generously toward the rebuilding of the Temple, 69 and each gave as much as he could. The total value of their gifts amounted to $300,000 of gold, $170,000 of silver, and 100 robes for the priests.” Father, touch the heart of the King Cyrus of our day to do Thy desire and make them to give generously for the work of the kingdom, in Jesus’ Name!
- LORD Jesus, I pray that your Holy Spirit ministers to those who will give generously towards the vision of expanding our territory as a Mission with the desire to occupy till You come. May we all receive the grace to give as much as we each can, so that the work of God in this end-time harvest dispensation will not suffer, in Jesus’ Name.