By Colleen Donahue

Jesus has been giving his disciples a clear description of what will happen in the last days before He comes back to earth. Peppered throughout the Olivet Prophecy (Matthew 24) is the command to watch and wait for Him.

Jesus now presents us with three stories about what it means to be watching and waiting for his return. These stories are directed to his disciples -- to believers. Nonbelievers will not be watching and waiting or even be interested to look beyond this earth.

If you are doing this study then you are open to Jesus' words and will be eager to learn with me about.....

Watching and Waiting For the Lord - Part 1

Study from Matthew 24:45-51

Faithful and Unfaithful Servants

In Matthew 24:45-51 Jesus links belief with behavior. If we believe He is coming then we will act accordingly.

Day 1- Who is this story directed to?
Matthew 24:45a

It is especially directed to those with the spiritual gift of teaching such as ministers, pastors, Christian writers, Sunday School teachers etc. They are Christians in charge of other believers. What is their responsibility?
Matthew 24:45b

Day 2- The task of any Christian leader is to unfold the message of the Bible to his/her flock at the proper time. A leader feeds them with the word and then shows them how to feed themselves. The teaching of the Bible is the only instrument provided by God to produce mature, well adjusted, and whole people.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Day 3- In Matthew 24:45, the Lord also gives us the qualifications that a good teacher must have. Reread the verse and find the two qualities.
Matthew 24:45

We learn about the first quality - faithfulness -by looking at God the Father and His Son Jesus. God is faithful:
1 Corinthians 1:9

How long will he act this way?
Deuteronomy 7:9

Is His Word always trustworthy?
1 Kings 8:56 / Hebrews 6:18/ Hebrews 10:23

Will he be faithful even if we aren't?
2 Timothy 2:13

From this we can form a picture of God's faithful servants. They can always be found doing what they are supposed to be doing, their word is as good as gold, and they will stay at their ministry even if others abandon it.

However, it is quite possible for a servant of God to be faithful and yet at the same time to be foolish, rude, inconsiderate, and independent. In this way God's works can be spoiled by faithful servants lacking in wisdom.

Day 4- Wisdom is the second characteristic of God's servants. What is it to be wise? From these verses you'll see how to become wise.
Psalm 25:4-5 / Psalm 27:14 / Psalm 37:7a / Psalm 40:1 / Psalm 62:5 / Psalm 123:2 / Isaiah 40:31

Day 5- A wise servant in learning how to wait upon God then intends to obey him. Christ set an example for us in this.
Hebrews 5:8

Obedient servants mark those who are truly members of Christ's family.
Matthew 12:50 / Luke 8:21

Because of their obedience they are able to receive from God the things that they ask Him for so they can carry on the work God has given them.
1 John 3:22

Obedience brings the blessing in their life.
James 1:25

Day 6- A wise servant says and does what God directs. Here are some examples.
Genesis 6:22 / Genesis 22:2-3 / Exodus 36:1 /Joshua 11:15 / 2 Kings 18:6

Day 7- A wise servant elevates God's will above their own or others.
Matthew 7:21 / Acts 5:29

Again, Jesus sets us an example in this.
Matthew 26: 39, 42

Desiring to do our master's will should be the rule of everyday life.
James 4:15

In most translations, Matthew 24:45 is a question. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant....?" The answer is those servants who are always found doing their responsibilities. It is those who have learned to:
W=Wait upon God
I= Intend to obey Him and then do so
S=Say and do what God directs
E=Elevate God's will above their own.

Day 8- We might think that we should head for the monastery so that we can be found in prayer and Bible study when the Lord comes. But what does the Lord say we should be doing when he returns?
Matthew 24:46

He expects to find us engaged in the responsibilities we have been given. If we are praying or doing Bible study when we should be attending to our household, we will be walking in disobedience.

Day 9- What is the reward for being found by God as being a faithful and wise servant?
Matthew 24:47

The reward for doing your work faithfully and with wisdom will be more work! God will give you authority over all His possessions. He can only do that with His most trustworthy servants.

Day 10- In contrast, the unfaithful servant has the same ministry and the same word to teach and preach. But -- his attitude is quite different. What has he begun to think?
Matthew 24:48

He believes in the Lord and is waiting for His return but his fault is in thinking he will be a long time in coming.

Day 11- When a servant of the Lord loses their faith and hope in the Lord's return, the effects are devastating. What are the faults of this unfaithful servant?
Matthew 24:49

FIRST, he beats his fellow servants (other believers) through a misuse of authority and loss of self control. Beating stands for anything causing others pain and wounding them. It's most often with words. All who are proud, independent and ill tempered tend to "beat" people.

SECOND, he eats and drinks with drunkards, an action taken with unbelievers. When our hearts are filled with worldliness then we become spiritually dull like a drunkard. Whenever a believer detests a brother but delights in an unbeliever he is fallen. They may call themselves Christian but they neglect the ministry, mistrust others, and then feed and engage in worldly ideas. Inside they are hypocrites and faithless.

"The loss of hope for the Lord's return is a primary cause for the neglect of Bible teaching in the church. The lack of systematic Bible teaching in the church today has produced widespread ignorance within the church. The result has been a powerless, quarreling, materialistic church that is little more than a worldly corporation." Ray Stedman

Day 12- The cause of these actions is a sinful heart and the false thinking that the Lord's coming is a long way off. But when the Lord does return what will happen to those that have been unfaithful?
Matthew 24:50-51

We will be revealed for what we are -- i.e. that we were never a true servant in the first place. For a hypocrite is a person who plays the role of God's servant but proves false to that trust.

Day 13- Those who are hypocrites will be revealed for who they are. Here are some of the marks of a hypocrite.

A-How do they see others in comparison with themselves?
Matthew 7:3-5

B-How does their talk and action match up?
Luke 6:46

C-They walk in a harsh legalism.
John 7:23

D-What are they blindly guilty of?
Romans 2:1 & 21

E- What false claim do they present to the world?
Titus 1:16

F-What kind of language do they speak?
James 3:10

Whether faithful or faithless we will have to account when Jesus returns. If we have been faithful, there will be no fear -- only a joyful expectation.

This ends the first story of what it means to be watching and waiting.

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